Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 2 Corinthians
Book: 2 Corinthians
Chapter: 12

The Apostle's revelations. (1-6) Which were improved to his
spiritual advantage. (7-10) The signs of an Apostle were in him,
His purpose of making them a visit; but he expresses his fear
lest he should have to be severe with some. (11-21)

1-6 There can be No doubt the Apostle speaks of himself.
Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body
was in a Trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether
his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up
into Heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together,
he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet
know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did
not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there, but
he set forth the doctrine of Christ. On that foundation the
Church is built, and On that we must build our Faith and Hope.
And while this teaches us to enlarge our expectations of the
Glory that shall be revealed, it should render us contented with
the usual methods of learning the Truth and will of God.

7-10 The Apostle gives an account of the method God took to
keep him humble, and to prevent his being lifted up above
Measure, On account of the visions and revelations he had. We
are not told what this Thorn in the Flesh was, whether some
great trouble, or some great Temptation. But God often brings
this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help
to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from
being exalted above Measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered
to cure spiritual pride. This Thorn in the Flesh is said to be a
Messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it,
and overruled it for good. Prayer is a salve for every sore, a
remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns
in the Flesh, we should give ourselves to Prayer. If an answer
be not given to the first Prayer, nor to the second, we are to
continue praying. Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are
continued, to teach us to continue instant in Prayer. Though God
accepts the Prayer of Faith, yet he does not always give what is
asked for: as he sometimes grants in wrath, So he sometimes
denies in Love. When God does not take away our troubles and
temptations, yet, if he gives Grace enough for us, we have No
reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards
us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient
to strengthen and comfort in all Afflictions and distresses. His
strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his Grace is
manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we
are strong in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel
that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive
strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine
strength and Grace.

11-21 We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defence of
their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those
from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual
benefit, to own them as instruments in God's Hand of good to us.
Here is an account of the Apostle's behaviour and kind
intentions; in which see the character of a Faithful Minister of
the Gospel. This was his great aim and design, to do good. Here
are noticed several sins commonly found among professors of
religion. Falls and misdeeds are humbling to a Minister; and God
sometimes takes this way to humble those who might be tempted to
be lifted up. These vast verses show to what excesses the false
teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. How grievous
it is that such evils should be found among professors of the
Gospel! Yet thus it is, and has been too often, and it was So
even in the days of the apostles.