Temple Baptist Church - 11-19-2008
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
A. We have been dealing with suffering over the past few weeks in chapter 11. Chapter 12 is a continuation of chapter 11. Chapter 11 gives a listing of some of the sufferings of the Apostle Paul but chapter 12 gives detail concerning one in particular: the “thorn in the flesh.”
B. There has been much speculation concerning just what this “thorn” was.
1. Some say that it was a weakness in Paul’s eyes. They use these verses:
Galatians 4:15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if [it had been] possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
Galatians 6:11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. (They say that this implicates that his writing was in large letters because he could not see.)
2. Some say that it was the memory of his persecution of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Galatians 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
3. I believe that this verse destroys this latter explanation:
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
C. I do not believe that it was either of these. The Scripture plainly describes the nature of the “thorn” in verse 7. “A messenger to buffet me.” I do not pretend to understand this other than to say that, evidently, Paul had a satanic angel that personally attacked him with God’s permission. Once again, the secret things belong to the Lord so we will not speculate any further.
D. I want to look at this particular “suffering” for a few minutes tonight.
1. The Purpose Of Suffering – vs. 1 – “Lest” It was given to humble the great apostle. Sufferings bring about helplessness which brings about humility.
2. The Providence Of Suffering – “Given” “Every good gift and every perfect gift”
3. The Particulars Of Suffering – “thorn…messenger of Satan” Everyone’s “thorn” is different because it is tailor made for the individual.
4. The Pain Of Suffering – “buffet” There was nothing pleasurable about the actual suffering as it was painful.
5. The Prayer Of Suffering – “besought” This is not a lack of faith but a prayer of faith.
6. The Persistency Of Suffering – “thrice” Suffering is not always short lived in spite of our faith praying.
7. The Promise Of Suffering – “grace…strength” God does not promise an easy path, just help along the way.
8. The Perfecting Of Suffering – “perfect in weakness” Tribulation worketh patience; patience experience; experience hope:
9. The Patience Of Suffering – “most gladly therefore” Patience is accepting a hard situation with giving God a deadline to remove it.
10. The Power Of Suffering – “power of Christ” It takes the power of Christ to accept a difficult situation and remain constant in it.
11. The Pleasure Of Suffering – “Therefore I take pleasure” The pleasure is not the pain but the power!
Conclusion: I want to leave you with three verses to help us all in light of suffering. I, once again, am not real good at suffering sometimes but I always fall back on my faith in a wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
a. God Allows In Suffering - 2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things [are] for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
b. God Is There In Suffering - Hebrews 13:5 [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
c. God Is Sufficient In Suffering - 2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency [is] of God;