II Corinthians 11:21 – 12:9
 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak.
Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the
seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ?
(I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes
above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered
shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In
journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils
by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city,
in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among
false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in
watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that
which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine
infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the
Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And
through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped
his hands. It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to
visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in
Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or
whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one
caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man,
(whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words,
which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one
will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will
say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above
that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the
revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger
of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from
me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I
rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon
I'll insert some excerpts from St. John Chrysostom's Homily 25 on 2 Corinthians…
Who is weak, and I am not weak? He did not say, 'and I share
not in his dejection?' but, 'so am I troubled and disturbed, as though I
myself were laboring under that very affection, that very infirmity.'
Who is made to stumble, and I burn not? See, again, how he
places before us the excess of his grief by calling it
'I am on fire,' 'I am in a flame,' he says, which is surely greater than
any thing he has said. For those other things, although violent, yet
both pass quickly by, and brought with them that pleasure which is
unfading; but this was what afflicted and straightened him, and pierced
his mind through and through; the suffering such
things for each one of the weak, whosoever he might be. For he did not
feel pained for the greater sort only and despise
the lesser, but counted even the abject among his familiar friends.
Wherefore also he said,
who is weak? whosoever he may be; and as
though he were himself the Church throughout
the world, so was he distressed for every member.
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the
things which concern my weakness.
Do you see that he no where glories of miracles, but of
his persecutions and his trials? For this is meant byweaknesses.And he shows
that his warfare was of a diversified character.
For both the Jews warred
upon him, and the Gentiles stood against him, and the false brethren fought
with him, and brethren caused him sorrow, through
their weakness and by taking offense:— on every side he found
trouble and disturbance, from friends and from strangers. This is the
special mark of an Apostle, by these things is the Gospel woven.
And continuing into Chrysostom's Homily 26 on 2
And that I should not be exalted overmuch, through the exceeding
greatness of the revelations, there
was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet
What do you say? He that counted not the kingdom
to be any thing; no, nor yet hell in
his longing after we declare this also. There are some then who
have said that he means a kind of pain in the head which was inflicted
of the devil;
but has so
termed such as were adversaries; and speaking of forbid! not
that He does chastise or punish, but for the Christ; did he deem honor from the
many to be any thing, so as both to be lifted up and to need that curb
continually? For he did not say, 'that hemightbuffet
me,' butthat hemaybuffetYet who is there would say this? What then is the meaning of
what is said? When we have explained what is meant at all by thethorn,
and who is thismessenger of Satan,then
will we declare this also. There are some then who have said that he means a
kind of pain in the head which was inflicted of the devil; but God forbid! For the body of Paul never could
have been given over to the hands of the devil, seeing that
the devil himself submitted to the same Paul at his mere
bidding; and he set him laws and bounds,
when he delivered over the fornicator for the destruction of the flesh,
and he dared not to transgress them.
What then is the meaning of what is
said? An adversary is called, in the Hebrew, Satan; and in the
third Book of Kings the Scripture, Solomon,
says, 'In his days there was no Satan,' that is,
no adversary, enemy, or opponent. (I Kings 5:4) What he says then is this: God would not permit the
Preaching to progress, in order to check our high
thoughts; but permitted the adversaries to set upon us. For this indeed
was enough to pluck down his high thoughts; not so that, pains in the
head. And so by themessenger of Satan,he
means Alexander the coppersmith, the party of Hymenæus
and Philetus, all the adversaries of the word;
those who contended with and fought against him, those that cast him
into a prison,
those that beat him, that led him away to death ; for
they did Satan's business. As then he calls those Jews children of
the devil, who
were imitating his deeds,
so also he calls amessenger of Satanevery
one that opposes. He says therefore,There was given to me a thorn tonot as if God puts arms into such
men's hands, Godtime
allows and permits them.