2 Corinthians 12:7-9
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
7 because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,[a] a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.(A) 8 Three times[b] I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,(B) 9 [c]but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,[d] in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.(C)Read full chapter
- 12:7 That I might not become too elated: God assures that there is a negative component to his experience, so that he cannot lose proper perspective; cf. 2 Cor 1:9; 4:7–11. A thorn in the flesh: variously interpreted as a sickness or physical disability, a temptation, or a handicap connected with his apostolic activity. But since Hebrew “thorn in the flesh,” like English “thorn in my side,” refers to persons (cf. Nm 33:55; Ez 28:24), Paul may be referring to some especially persistent and obnoxious opponent. The language of 2 Cor 12:7–8 permits this interpretation. If this is correct, the frequent appearance of singular pronouns in depicting the opposition may not be merely a stylistic variation; the singular may be provoked and accompanied by the image of one individual in whom criticism of Paul’s preaching, way of life, and apostolic consciousness is concentrated, and who embodies all the qualities Paul attributes to the group. An angel of Satan: a personal messenger from Satan; cf. the satanic language already applied to the opponents in 2 Cor 11:3, 13–15, 20.
- 12:8 Three times: his prayer was insistent, like that of Jesus in Gethsemane, a sign of how intolerable he felt the thorn to be.
- 12:9 But he said to me: Paul’s petition is denied; release and healing are withheld for a higher purpose. The Greek perfect tense indicates that Jesus’ earlier response still holds at the time of writing. My grace is sufficient for you: this is not a statement about the sufficiency of grace in general. Jesus speaks directly to Paul’s situation. Is made perfect: i.e., is given most fully and manifests itself fully.
- 12:9b–10a Paul draws the conclusion from the autobiographical anecdote and integrates it into the subject of this part of the boast. Weaknesses: the apostolic hardships he must endure, including active personal hostility, as specified in a final catalogue (2 Cor 12:10a). That the power of Christ may dwell with me: Paul pinpoints the ground for the paradoxical strategy he has adopted in his self-defense.