Reading through the Bible together
Paul shifts to the third person in chapter 12: “I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven fourteen years ago.” It appears obvious that Paul is talking about himself, especially in light of the boasts from his opponents, which probably explains his reluctance to speak directly of his visionary experience. In order to remain humble he was given a mysterious “thorn in my body” so that “I wouldn’t be conceited” (vs. 7). In the midst of his pleading, he was told: “’My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness’” (vs. 9). Some type of weakness can readily be found in every person. Yet “when I’m weak, then I’m strong” (vs. 10).
Paul indicates his willingness to return to the church members in Corinth a third time. As before, he promises not to be a “burden on you. I don’t want your things; I want you” (vs. 14).
Tragically some people, Paul fears, think he is nothing more than a “con artist who fooled you with a trick” (vs. 16). Instead everything he had done for them was “meant to build you up” (vs. 19). On his return, how he hopes to not find contention, jealousy, outbursts of anger or backbiting among the believers (vs. 20).
I can imagine God also hopes to not find contention or backbiting among His people today!