Friends: As Linda and I look forward to being with the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado September 23-24 for their “Heritage Retreat,” I will be speaking on one of my favorite passages, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. I want to begin fleshing out those four messages on this blog. Let’s take another look at the text first:
There is, of course, godly as well as ungodly boasting. Notice in our text that Paul uses the term “boast” five times (vv. 1, 5 [2x], 6, & 9). Paul feels the need to defend his apostleship, so he pulls out what we might call his “trump” card (that used to be a perfectly good word. Just saying).
What’s Paul’s final evidence of his apostleship? He has either had a VISION of heaven or he has actually TRAVELED there! Let’s make a few general observations on this passage before we look at four major themes in this text.
1. Paul pulls out this experience from FOURTEEN YEARS AGO! Why did he wait so long to tell us of his trip (or vision) of heaven? Perhaps it was because this has brought him a world of trouble!
2. It is fascinating how he speaks of his experience. He begins talking about a man he knew who got “caught up to the 3rd heaven.” But Paul switches from 3rd person (“he”) to 1st person (“I” or “me”) in verses 5 and following.
3. We are given some extremely brief (and tantalizing) details about heaven: “heard inexpressible things” (v. 4) + “surpassingly great revelations” (v. 7).
4. We learn what Paul got for his experience — not book deals and TV appearances, but a THORN in his flesh!
5. Paul serves as our example when it comes to PRAYER and responding to OUR WEAKNESSES!
We will unpack each of these points in subsequent posts. (to be continued)