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2 Corinthians
Chapter 12

Theme: Revelation of Paul's apostleship

This chapter continues on the same general subject which was discussed in the two previous chapters. The general plan of the apostle Paul is to defend himself from the charges brought against him in Corinth; and especially, as would appear, from the charge that he had no claims to be an apostle. In the previous chapters he had met these charges head on, and had shown that he had just cause to be bold towards them. He had in his life given proof that he was called to this work; and especially that by his successes and by his sufferings he had shown that he had proof that he had been kept busy in the work of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The remark with which Paul opens chapter 12, again shows that his speaking about himself was distasteful to him, although he found himself forced to do it. He says that this boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord.

What Paul had to say about himself brought no profit or credit to him. The beatings, the perils, the hunger, the thirst, the nakedness, the infirmities, of which he had just spoken were not the kind of experiences which are considered profitable, NOT according to the standards of the world. Now here, he proceeds to speak of what he had received from the Lord, in the form of visions and revelations . . . and there is still no credit to him; for it was not exactly as an apostle that he received them, and much less as a man in the flesh, but as a man in Christ.

Paul's Experience (2 Cor. 12:1-6)

2 Cor.12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. (KJV)

It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord . . . Paul had just listed the many incidents of how he had suffered for Christ's sake in chapter 11.  There was no glory in that at all! It is the Lord Jesus who needs to be glorified, NOT man!
Having told us how much he had suffered for Christ's sake, now Paul will tell us of visions and revelations from the Lord. We already know that the Lord had appeared to Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9). Paul never has much to say about those personal appearances.

2 Cor.12:2 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. (KJV)

I knew a man in Christ . . . in Christ means that he was united to Christ, or was a Christian (Rom.16:7). It is possible that the reason why Paul did not speak of this directly as a vision which he had himself seen, was probably that he was accused of boasting, and he had admitted that it did not become him to boast. It is not uncommon for a man to speak of himself in the third person. The apostle John in his Gospel speaks of himself (Jn.13:23-24; 19:26; 21:20). John did it because of his modesty, so he would not appear to be proud. For a similar reason Paul may have been unwilling to mention his own name here; and he may have abstained from referring to this occurrence elsewhere because it might reek of pride, and might also excite the envy or ill-will of others. Those who have been most favored with spiritual benefits will not be the ready to proclaim it. They will silently cherish the memory in order to stimulate gratitude in their own hearts, and support them in trials. They will NOT blazon it abroad as if they were more the favorites of Heaven than others are. That this refers to Paul himself is evident for the following reasons:
#1. His argument required that he should mention something that had occurred to himself. Anything that had occurred to another would not have been relevant.
#2. He applies it directly to himself (verse 7), when he says that God took effectual measures that he should not be unduly exalted in view of the abundant revelations bestowed on him.
About fourteen years ago . . . on what occasion, or where this occurred, or why he concealed the remarkable fact for so long, and why there is no other reference to it, is not known; and any guesswork is foolish. IF this Letter was written, as is commonly thought, about the year 58, then this occurrence must have happened about the year 44. This was several years after his conversion, and of course this does not refer to the trance mentioned in Acts 9:9, at the time when he was converted. Some think that this vision was made to him when he was praying in the temple after his return to Jerusalem, when he was directed to go from Jerusalem to the Gentiles (Acts 22:17), and that it was meant to support him in the trials which he was about to endure. There can be little danger of error in supposing that its object was to support him in those remarkable trials, and that God intended to impart to him such views of Heaven and its glory, and of the certainty that he would soon be admitted there. The vision would have given Paul strength to support him in his sufferings, and allow him to be willing to bear all that would be laid upon him. God often gives to his people some clear and elevated spiritual comforts before they enter into trials, as well as while in them. God prepares them for trials before they come. This vision Paul had kept secret for fourteen years. He had no doubt often thought about it; and the memory of that magnificent hour was doubtless one of the reasons why he was able to bear trials so patiently, and was willing to endure so much.
Whether in the body, I cannot tell . . . I do not pretend to explain it. I do not know how it occurred. With the fact, Paul was well acquainted; but HOW it was brought about, he did not know. Was his body caught up to heaven? Was his soul for a time separated from his body? Or, was it just the scene that passed before his mind in a vision, so that he seemed to have been caught up to heaven? Paul does not know. It seems that at the time he was in a state of unawareness as to surrounding objects, and was not aware of what was happening. It was as if he had been dead. Since Paul confesses his own ignorance of what happened to him, it would be ridiculous for us to question how this was done. It is of NO importance to us. No one can doubt that God had power, if He so chose, to transport the body to Heaven; or that He had power for a time to separate the soul from the body; or that He had power to reveal to the mind clearly the view of Heaven, that he would have appeared to have seen it (Acts 7:56). It is clear only that Paul lost all consciousness of anything around him at that time, and that he saw only the things in Heaven. It seems that Paul obviously thought that his soul might have been taken to Heaven without the body, and that it might have separate consciousness, and a separate existence. He was not, therefore, a materialist; he did not believe that the existence and consciousness of the soul depended on the body.
God knoweth . . . only God knows how it was done, only God would be able to explain it. Paul could not explain it, and he did not even try. The ‘how’ of the vision was to him of little importance. Paul did waste his time in a hopeless attempt to explain it. Many have busied themselves with a useless attempt about the way things are done. Paul was contented with just the fact that it had happened.
Such an one caught up . . . (1 Thes.4:17) caught up means, to seize upon, to snatch away as wolves do their prey (Jn.10:12), or to seize with eagerness (Mat.11:12), or to carry away, to hurry off by force (Jn.6:15; Acts 23:10). In this incident, it seems that Paul was conveyed by an external force; or that he was suddenly seized and snatched up to Heaven. Caught up expresses the suddenness and the speed with which it was done. Most likely it was instantaneous, so that he appeared, at once to be in Heaven. Of the way in which it was done, Paul has given no explanations; and our guessing would be useless.
To the third heaven . . . the Jews sometimes speak of seven heavens, and Mohammed (Islam) has borrowed this idea from the Jews. Since I teach the Bible, I do not think it necessary to comment on seven heavens, because the Bible speaks of just three heavens; and among the Jews in the apostolic ages, the heavens were divided into three:
#1. The aerial, including the clouds and the atmosphere, the heavens above us, until we come to the stars.
#2. The starry heavens, the heavens in which the sun, moon, and stars appear to be.
#3. The heavens beyond the stars. That heaven was supposed to be the residence of God, of angels and of holy spirits. It was this upper heaven, the dwelling-place of God, to which Paul was taken, and whose wonders he was permitted to see . . . this region where God dwelt, where Christ was seated at the right hand of the Father (2 Cor.6:7; Col.3:1; Heb.10:12; 1 Pet.3:22), and where the spirits of the just were assembled.
See a detailed comment on Heavens at end of chapter.

2 Cor.12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (KJV)

And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) . . . it is not uncommon to repeat a solemn statement, that it may be made more forceful and vibrant. It is done here. Paul repeats that he was such a man, and that he did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body. All that was known to God.

This incident cannot be positively identified with a recorded event in Paul's career, although some think this may have been when he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20). Paul tells about this incident to show that he had been touched by God in a very unique way.

2 Cor.12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (KJV)

How that he was caught up into paradise . . . some think paradise is a place different from the third heaven before mentioned, and think the apostle Paul here speaks of more visions than one. I personally think that the third heaven (verse 2), is paradise, in regard to the delight and pleasures of it. Thus the term is used by our Saviour to the thief upon the cross: Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (KJV) . . . John also uses it in Rev.2:7.  
And heard unspeakable words . . . what these unspeakable words? Paul does not tell us! He has already told us twice that he could not tell us whether he was in or out of the body; and that the words or things were such as were unspeakable. I would want to say that what he heard, was not permitted for him to repeat. 
Which it is not lawful for a man to utter . . . these unspeakable words were either impossible to be uttered, or he was not allowed to repeat them. I do not think this fantastic vision was for Paul to communicate for the good of others. I think that this awesome vision was solely for his own confirmation, as sent by God, and for his comfort under all those hazards and dangers which he was to undergo in the ministry of the Gospel, to which God had called him.
The word paradise occurs just three times in the New Testament (Lk.23:43; 2 Cor.12:4; Rev.2:7). It occurs often in the Septuagint, as the translation of the word garden (Gen.2:8-10, 15-16; 3:1-3,8,10,23,24; 13:10; Num.24:6; Eze.28:13; 31:8-9; Joel 2:3).
Visions of Paul: (Acts 9:3-6; 16:9; 18:9; 22:18; 23:11; 2 Cor.12:1-4).               
See end of chapter for comment on paradise.

2 Cor.12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. (KJV)

Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities . . . of such a one will I glory . . . Paul through humility, like John (Jn.13:23,25; 21:7,20), does not mention himself, although the account can be understood of no one else; for, had he meant any other, the whole account would be completely irrelevant.   

2 Cor.12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, for I will say the truth: but now I forbear. (KJV)

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool . . . if I should have a mind to glory, I should not be a fool; for I would not glory in things that were not true.
For I will say the truth: but now I forbear  . . . I speak nothing but truth; and the apostle seems to have intended to proceed with something else, but, finding some reason suddenly, says, I forbear, I will say no more on this subject. Paul says: If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I will not boast, because I do not want any of you to have a higher opinion of me than you have as a result of what you have seen me do and heard me say.

Paul's Thorn in the Flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-12)

2 Cor.12:7 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. (KJV)

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations . . . lest I should be exalted . . . the best of God's people have in them a root of pride, or an in-born nature to be exalted above measure, any time they receive any favors from God that is not common to others.
There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure . . . a thorn in the flesh means some infirmity or disease affecting his body. Whatever this thorn in the flesh was, it is not revealed in the Bible to my knowledge.

Paul says he will tell us about his infirmities, but he will not tell us about the third heaven. Why? Because I think that he was told not to talk about it. I think there are many times when Satan tries to remove God's witnesses from their earthly life. He wants to get rid of them. He uses many different ways: sickness, disease, a thorn in the flesh.
What was Paul's thorn in the flesh? I do not know. I also do not know what Paul saw and heard in the third heaven. I do not know because God told Paul not tell us. Why did God give Paul a thorn in the flesh? I can answer that one. It was to keep him humble, to keep him from exalting himself above measure, after having had such a vision. Someone has said that the reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue!

The messenger of Satan . . . another way of expressing what Paul calls the thorn in the flesh, is that he may refer to the false apostle at Corinth. The apostle Paul himself was, as he styles himself to this church (2 Cor.1:1), the apostle of Jesus Christ. The person in question is styled here as the apostle or angel of Satan. It is almost impossible to mistake the apostle's meaning and reference. Jesus Christ sent Paul to proclaim His truth, and found a church at Corinth. Satan, the adversary (enemy) of God's Truth, sent a man to preach lies at the same place, and turn the church of God into a synagogue of Satan (Rev.2:9; 3:9); and by his teaching lies and falsehoods, Paul was severely pounded.
But, many think that the apostle Paul really did have some bodily infirmity that rendered him possibly disgraceful, and was the means of obstructing the success of his ministry; and that the false apostle availed himself of this to set Paul at naught, and to hold him out to ridicule. I personally think this to be very unlikely.
No infirmity of body nor physical sufferings can affect and distress a minister of the Gospel, equally to the perversion or scattering of a flock, which was the fruit of innumerable labors, watchings, fastings, prayers and tears.

2 Cor.12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (KJV)

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me . . . I asked the Lord three times to remove it. The Lord here refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thrice . . . to Paul’s first and second prayer, no answer came from the Lord. To his third prayer, the answer came, which satisfied his faith and led him to bow his will to God's will.
So too, Paul's Master, Jesus, prayed thrice on the Mount of Olives, in acceptance to the Father's will (Mat.26:44). The thorn seems to have continued with Paul when he wrote, lest still he should be exalted above measure.

2 Cor.12:9 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 me. (KJV)

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee . . . the Lord told Paul that he would not be permitted to fall under these afflictions. The Lord assured Paul that his enemies would NOT be able to prevail against him.
My strength is made perfect in weakness . .  .the Lord told Paul that the more violently you are afflicted and tried, you shall being upheld by my power. Paul would prosper in all his labors, for he would see and feel the Lord’s power. Jesus told Paul that the weaker the instrument I use, the more the power of my grace shall be shown.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities . . . Paul says that I will choose to glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Those times of providence, in which the souls of men have the greatest experiences of the power and strength of Christ, are most to be gloried in; when the grace of God overpowers any of our infirmities. I think that this confirms Christ to be blessed by God the Father forever; for it is by His awesome power that we are supported under trials. It is then that His strength is made perfect in the weakness of His poor creatures.
That the power of Christ may rest upon me . . . that the power of Christ may overshadow me as a tent, or tabernacle, giving me shelter, protection, safety and rest.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (KJV) . . . The same eternal Word promised to make His tabernacle with the apostle Paul, and gives him a proof that he was still the same . . . full of grace and truth, and by assuring Paul that his grace would be sufficient for him.  Paul, knowing that the Promise of grace could NOT, nor would NOT fail, because of the divine Truth, says: Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my afflictions, that such a power of Christ may overshadow and defend me.

2 Cor.12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (KJV)

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake . . . I not only endure my infirmities patiently, but am pleased when they come; for I do it for Christ's sake, on his account . . . because for His account I suffer.
For when I am weak, then I am strong . . . when I am most oppressed with trials and afflictions, then am I strong. The Lord supports my mind with His most powerful influences, causing me to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet.1:8).

2 Cor.12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. (KJV)

I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me . . .  I have been forced into speaking of myself until I admit I appear foolish in this kind of boasting. They had made it necessary for Paul to justify his character, and to state the proof of his divine commission as an apostle. Paul no doubt did NOT want what he had said of himself, to be considered as an example for others to follow. Faith in Christ curbed all vain boasting and self-exultation. TRUE faith prevents the saints from falling into a habit of boasting. The word saints is found 96 times in the Bible. I will list only those in the writings of Paul. I think these are enough proof that the pope nor any man, can MAKE saints: (Rom.1:7; 8:27; 12:13; 15:25-26,31; 16:2,15; 1 Cor.1:2; 6:1-2; 14:33; 16:1,15; 2 Cor.1:1; 8:4; 9:1,12; 13:13; Eph.1:1,15,18; 2:19; 3:8,18; 4:12; 5:3; 6:18; Phil.1:1; 4:22; Col.1:2,4,12,26; 1 Thes.3:13; 2 Thes.1:10; 1 Tim.5:10; Philemon 1:5,7). ONLY God can make saints!
For I ought to have been commended of you . . . I should have been praised by you, then this foolish boasting would not have been necessary. What a subtle reproof! All the fault of Paul’s foolish boasting was theirs. They knew him very well. They had received great benefits from his ministry, and they should have been grateful, and they should have spoken up to justify him.  
For in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles . . . Paul is apologizing again as he has done many times before. Paul considered himself the least of the apostles (1 Cor.15:9), yet he says: 2 Cor. 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. (KJV)
Though I be nothing . . . I do not know if Paul meant this as mocking or seriously. According to the former idea, it means that he was regarded by the false apostles as a mere nothing, or as having no claims to the office of an apostle.

2 Cor.12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. (KJV)

Truly the signs of an apostle. Such miracles as the acknowledged apostles worked. Such signs or evidences that they were divinely commissioned (Rom.15:19-21). 
Were wrought among you . . . signs and wonders that were done by me (1 Cor.9:2).
In all patience . . . I performed those works apart from the opposition with which I met. I patiently persevered in furnishing the evidence of my divine commission. There was a  succession of miracles demonstrating that I was from God, notwithstanding the unreasonable opposition which I met with, until I convinced you that I was called to the office of an apostle.
In signs, and wonders . . . in working miracles (Acts 2:22). What these miracles at Corinth were, we are not clearly informed. But, they probably were similar to those done in other places, in healing the sick, etc.; which one of the most vital proofs of the divine power.
Some miracles of Paul: (Acts 13:11; 14:3,10; 16:18; 19:11; 20:10; 28:5,8).     

Paul Plans To Revisit Corinth (2 Cor.12:13-21)

2 Cor.12:13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. (KJV)

For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you . . . this verse contains an unusual mixture of mockery and sarcasm. The sense is, I have given you abundant proofs of my apostolic commission. I have conferred on you the highest favors of the apostolic office. In these respects you are superior to all other churches. In one respect only, are you inferior, and that is, that you have not been burdened with the privilege of supporting me. If you had had this, you would have been inferior to no others. But this my fault; and I pray that you will forgive me this. I might have urged it; I might have claimed it; I might have given you the privilege of becoming equal to the most favored in all respects. But I have not pressed it, and you have not done it, and I ask your forgiveness.
There is a subtle insinuation that they had not contributed to his needs (2 Cor.11:8), an indication that it was a privilege to contribute to the support of the Gospel, and that Paul might have been a burden to them (1 Cor.9:1-12). Paul admitted that he was partly to blame for this, and had not really given them an opportunity to support him.
Forgive me this wrong . . . if it be a fault, pardon it. Forgive me that I did not give you this opportunity to be equal to other churches. It is a privilege to contribute to the support of the Gospel, and they who are permitted to do it should esteem themselves highly favored. I pray you to pardon me for depriving you of any of your Christian privileges. What the feelings of the Corinthians were about forgiving Paul for this, we know not; but most churches would be as ready to forgive a minister for this as for any other offence. You do NOT muzzle the ox (Deut.25:4; 1 Cor.9:9; 1 Tim.5:18).

2 Cor.12:14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. (KJV)

Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you . . . this is the third time that I have planned to come and see you, and have made preparation for it. Paul does not mean that he had been twice with them, and was now coming the third time; but that he had twice before intended to go, and had been disappointed (1 Cor.16:5; 2 Cor.1:15-16). His intension had been to visit them on his way to Macedonia, and again on his return from Macedonia. He had now formed a third plan, which he had in view of carrying into execution.
And I will not be burdensome to you . . . I resolve still, as I have done before, not to receive a compensation that shall be oppressive to you (2 Cor.11:6-10).
For I seek not your's, but you . . . (1 Cor.10:33. 1 Thes.2:8), I do  not want your property, I just want to save your souls. Although a minister of Christ has a claim to a competent support, his main purpose should NOT be to obtain an abundant support; it should be instead the high and noble object of winning souls to the Redeemer (Acts 20:33). In today’s world, many preachers are EXTREMELY greedy, very covetous, which is sin! See what some of these idolaters possess: http://worldlychaos.org/w_c_cults_rich_preachers.1.htm
Covetousness is SIN: (Ps.10:3; Lk.15:14; 1 Cor.5:10-11; 6:10; Eph.5:5; 1 Tim.3:3; 2 Tim.3:2; 2 Pet.2:14). Eph. 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (KJV)
For the children, ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children . . . I think that the meaning is, it is not normal for children to make provisions for their parents. The common way of doing things is for parents to make provision for their offspring. Paul felt like their spiritual father (1 Cor.4:14-15), and chose to act in the same way. He made provision for their spiritual wants; he labored and toiled for them as a father does for his children. Paul sought their spiritual welfare, as he did, by constant self-denial. All he wanted in return, was their love.

2 Cor.12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. (KJV)

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you . . . I am willing to spend my strength, my time, my life and all that I have for your welfare, as a father cheerfully does for his children. Any expense which may be necessary to promote your salvation I am willing to submit to. The labor of a father for his children is cheerful and pleasant. Such is his love for them that he delights to work for their sake, and that he may make them happy. The work of a pastor for his flock should be cheerful. Be spent for you . . . be exhausted and worn out in my labors. Paul was willing that his strength should be entirely exhausted and his life consumed in this service for your souls. The sense is, that Paul was willing to become absolutely exhausted if by it he might secure the salvation of their souls.
Though the more abundantly I love you; the less I be loved . . . the less I be loved this is no doubt intended as a gentle reproof. It refers to the fact that apart from the tender attachment which he had shown for them, they had not revealed the love in return which he had a right to expect. It is very possible that there may be an reference to the case of a fond, doting parent.

2 Cor.12:16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. (KJV)

But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile . . . this has to be a charge of his enemies against Paul; or at least a charge which it might be supposed they would make. Whether they ever in fact made it, or whether the apostle merely expects an objection, it is impossible to decide. Being crafty . . . being sneaky, meaning sending persons to obtain money on different pretenses. I caught you with guile . . . I caught you by deceit or fraud, by using fraud to pretend that the money was for poor and afflicted saints, when in reality it was for my own use.
It is impossible that Paul would have ever said this of himself. Anyone who supposes that this actually applies to him, and then plead that it is right to make use of craftiness, have greatly perverted the Passage, in trying accomplish their purposes. I am sure that Paul NEVER did anything dishonest, nor did he EVER justify fraud.

2 Cor.12:17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? (KJV)

Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you  . . . did any person I ever sent to preach the Gospel to you, or help you in your Christian course? Did they ever get anything from you for me? In refuting this slander, Paul appeals boldly to the facts, and to what they knew. Paul says, name the man, who has thus defrauded you under my instructions. The phrase make a gain, properly means, to take advantage, to seek unlawful gain. Paul simply asks whether he had defrauded them by any means, or by any one whom he had sent to them.

2 Cor.12:18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? (KJV)

I desired Titus . . . to go and complete the collection which you had begun (2 Cor8:6).
And with him I sent a brother . . . (2 Cor.8:18). 
Did Titus make a gain of you? . . . they knew that he did not. They had received him kindly, treated him with affection, and sent him away with every proof of confidence and respect (2 Cor.7:7). How then could they now pretend that he had defrauded them?
Walked we not in the same spirit? . . . were not all Titus’ actions like mine? Was there not the same proof of honesty, sincerity and love which I have always shown? This is a very subtle turn. In Paul's course of life when with them, they admitted was free from guile and from any attempt to get money by improper means. He now boldly pleads with them, and asks whether Titus and he had not in fact acted in the same manner; and whether they had not alike shown a spirit free from covetousness and deceit?

2 Cor.12:19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. (KJV)

Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you?. . . do you think that we excuse ourselves? Do you think that we make an apology for our conduct; or, that I have sent Titus and that brother to you because I was ashamed or afraid to come myself?
We speak before God in Christ . . . I speak the truth before God; He is judge whether I was driven in this way by any sinister or unworthy motive.
But we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying . . . Paul says that whatever I have done in this or any other way, I have done only for your edifying (bring you closer to Christ Jesus); NOT for any payment to myself or friends.

2 Cor.12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: (KJV)

For I fear, lest, when I come . . . (verse 14). 
I shall not find you such as I would . . . not find you as I would like to find you, walking in the truth and order of the Gospel. Paul feared that the disorders would not be removed, and that they would not have corrected the errors which prevailed, and for which he had rebuked them. It was because of this account that he had said so much to them. His desire was that all these disorders might be removed, and that he might be saved from the need of exercising severe discipline when he should come among them.
And that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not . . . that I shall be forced to administer discipline, and that my visit may not be as pleasant to you as you would desire. For this reason Paul wanted all the disorder corrected, and all offences removed; that everything might be pleasant when he should come.
Lest there be debates . . . I fear that there may still be existing debates, which will require the rebuke of the authority of an apostle. More on the meaning of debate (Rom.1:29). 
Envyings . . . (1 Cor.3:3). 
Wraths . . . anger or hostilities between contending factions, the usual effect of forming parties.
Strifes . . . between contending factions or groups (1 Cor.3:3).
Backbitings . . . (Rom.1:30). 
Whisperings . . . (Rom.1:29).
Swellings . . . undue delight; pride, being puffed up (1 Cor.4:6,18-19; 5:2), such as would be produced by vain self-confidence.
Tumults . . . disorder and confusion arising from this existence of parties. Paul was deeply levelheaded of the evil of all this, had tried in this Letter to suppress it, that all things might be pleasant when he would finally be able to come among them.
Paul fearful of 3 things:
#1. Lest we not find each other as we should.
#2. Lest I find you full of:
a. Debates: squabbling (Rom.1:29)
b. Envyings: jealousies (Acts 5:17)
c. Wraths: indignation (Rom.2:8)
d. Strifes: contentions (Rom.2:8)
e. Backbitings: slanders (1 Pet.2:1)
f. Whisperings: murmurs (1 Cor.10:10)
g. Puffed up feelings (1 Cor.4:6)
h. Tumults: uproars (Lk.21:9)
#3. In case God would humble me among you because of some of you that have sinned and have not repented, and because I have to use my power to judge all such (1 Cor.4:18-20; 2 Cor. 10:8-11; 12:21; 13:10).

2 Cor.12:21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. (KJV)

Lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you . . . and even after all that has been done for you, I fear that when I do come, my God will humble me, will permit me to be affected with deep sorrow through what I may see among you; as I have been by the buffetings of the apostle of Satan, who has perverted you. Humiliation is repeatedly used for affliction, and here it certainly has that meaning.
And that I shall bewail many which have sinned already . . . who have sinned before; who were some of the first offenders, and have not yet repented.
And have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed . . . of the uncleanness, etc. There must have been a total letup of discipline, for such abominations should not have been tolerated in the Christian church.

Corinth was a vile city. It was known as a sin center throughout the Roman Empire. It seems that it was the Las Vegas of that time. It was the place people went to sin. It is true that where sin abounded there grace did much more abound (Rom.5:20). Yet it caused the people of Corinth to look far lightly on these sinful things. Rom. 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (KJV) . . . A TRUE Christian wants to obey God!

Corinth does not present an attractive picture of the church. Not only was it true of that church, but it is also true of many of our churches today. I will not even begin on the topic of sinful churches. Far too many!
Consider: Suppose the Lord Jesus came and took the TRUE church out of the world right now. What would happen if He removed all TRUE believers who are in the world? I believe that the Great Tribulation would then begin. The TRUE church today is the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and the Holy Spirit indwells the church today. When TRUE believers are removed at the Rapture, the Holy Spirit goes with them (Jn.14:16; Rom.8:9-11; 2 Jn.1:1-2). When all the TRUE believers are removed, what remains is wickedness!

Do you think that the world getting better and better? Personally, I think it is getting worse and worse. It reminds me of the following:
Genesis 6:5-7 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (KJV) 
Genesis 19:24-27 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25  And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. 26  But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. 27  And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: 28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. (KJV)
My friend, God is extremely patient! BUT . . . His patience shall come to an abrupt halt one day! I think that maybe He may have a certain quota of Gentiles He has in mind (Rom.11:25).
Once that quota is filled, the sky will burst open and there Jesus will be! (1 Thes.4:13-18).

Question: What do you think God’s opinion is of all the adultery, fornication, homosexuality, the drugs, the violence, etc., etc.? IF you read the Bible, you know the answer! He is going to come down hard on any and all who sin and refuse to obey Him!
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV)   
Ephesians 5:3-5 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (KJV)
Col. 3:5-8 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (KJV)
Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (KJV)
Rev. 22:11-12  He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (KJV) . . . A dire warning from our awesome God! Jesus IS God!

The church is a group of people who SHOULD be holy unto God, SHOULD be living for God, SHOULD be in obedience to Him, SHOULD be bringing the Truth of God’s Word to the people and SHOULD be preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save people’s souls! IF you can find one, do not leave it!

Three kinds of moral sins:
#1. Homosexuality, known in the lists of sins as uncleanness (1 Cor.6:9-11; 2 Cor.12:21; Rom.1:24-32; 6:19; Gal.5:19; Eph.4:19; 5:3; Col.3:5; 1 Tim.1:8-10; 2 Pet.2:10)   
Also see: (Lev.18:22-24; 20:13-16)
#2. Adultery, fornication (Ex.20:14; Mat.5:27; Rom.2:22; 13:9; Jam.2:11; 2 Pet.2:14;  . . . Rom.1:29; 1 Cor.5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Cor.12:21; Gal.5:19; Eph.5:3; Col.3:5; 1 Thes.4:3; Jude 1:7).   
#3. Lasciviousness (Mk.7:22; 2 Cor.12:21; Gal.5:19; Eph.4:19; 1 Pet.4:3; Jude 1:4). . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .See: Gal.5:19-21: http://www.godcannotlie.org/book_of_galatians_ch5.htm.htm

When the term heaven is not used symbolically in Scripture, it usually refers to one of three realms.

#1. Our Immediate Atmosphere
#2. Outer Space (The Sun, Moon, And Stars)
#3.The Home where God resides

So, we see that the Bible speak of more than one heaven.

More Than One Heaven
The fact that Jesus passed through the heavens (plural) gives evidence there is more than one heaven.
Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (KJV)  

Third Heaven
The Bible refers to the third heaven.
2 Cor.12:2 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. (KJV)  

So, IF there is a third heaven, common sense tells us that there must also be a first and second heaven. The Bible, however, does not mention a first and second heaven.

. . . . . #1. The Atmosphere . . . The First Heaven
The atmospheric heavens include the air that we breathe as well as the space that immediately surrounds the Earth. This supposedly extends about twenty miles above the earth. The space above this is called the stratosphere. The Bible uses the term heaven to describe this area.
Genesis 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (KJV)  . . . Emphasis mine.
Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (KJV)  
The word translated air is the same Greek word that is elsewhere translated heaven. We have another example of this use in the book of James.
James 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. (KJV)  

. . . . . #2. The Celestial Heaven . . . The Second Heaven
This use of the term heaven refers to outer space or the stellar heaven. It includes the sun, moon, and stars.
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (KJV)  
Stars are said to be in heaven.
Deut. 4:19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. (KJV)  

. . . . . #3. Heaven as the Home of God . . . The Third Heaven
The Bible is crystal clear that God is NOT and CANNOT be limited to any one geographical place.
1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (KJV)
Yet the Bible also teaches us that there IS a certain, definite geographical place where God resides. It is also called heaven.
The writer to the Hebrews said:
Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; (KJV)  
Stephen knew he was going into the Presence of the Lord.
Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (KJV)
Heaven is called the presence of God, but the definite location of God’s Home is NOT revealed in the Bible.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (KJV)  

. . . . . The Heaven of Heavens . . . does this also refer to God’s Home?
The Bible also speaks the heaven of heavens; which seems to be heavenly spheres beyond that which is visible from the earth. It is called the heaven of heavens.
Deut. 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. (KJV)  
The psalmist wrote.
Psalm 148:4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. (KJV)  

Summary: Sometime the word heaven is used symbolically in Scripture, but when used of an actual place, the Bible speaks of three heavens:
#1. The first is the atmosphere above us.
#2. The second heaven is the stellar heaven, the sun, moon, and stars.
#3. The third heaven is where God resides, above the other two regions.
But, please remember that God is NOT limited to one geographical place.

The Old Testament Dead
Luke 16 is the clearest Biblical account of what happens when a person dies. Luke 16:22-25 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. (KJV)

We learn from this awesome Passage of Scripture that the believer in Christ is escorted . . . CARRIED by angels at death to a wonderful place of peace. But, we also learn that the unbeliever goes directly to a place of torment. 

Abraham's bosom is another term for the Old Testament place called Paradise. It is found only in Luke 16.
Hell (Hebrew: Sheol, Greek: Hades) is located inside the earth.  Hades seems to have two  compartments, in two different places: Paradise and Torment.  We read in:
Ephesians 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? (KJV)  
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (KJV)  

When Jesus died on the cross, He first descended into the lower parts of the Earth . . . into Paradise. There are some who believe that Old Testament saints went immediately to Heaven, not Paradise, because of the following: 2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (KJV)  
Although both arguments are compelling, I personally think there is an existence of a place called Paradise, simply because of the abundance of Scriptures.  

Whether you believe Old Testament saints went to Heaven or Paradise . . . either way you still believe in eternal life. The doctrines of eternal punishment and eternal life, are important doctrines of Biblical faith. IF life were to cease at death, then there would be no reason for Jesus Christ to have died upon the cross for our sins.  IF there is no Hell, then there is no penalty for sin . . . so why worry about being saved? My friend, the doctrines of eternal punishment for the wicked, and eternal life for the righteous are VERY important to the Christian faith. 
It appears to me that paradise and heaven are the same place according to the Bible, the place where God dwells. It is also clear from the Bible that every TRUE believer who dies today goes immediately (2 Cor.5:6,8), to this paradise or heaven. Jesus promised the thief on the cross today he would be with Him in paradise.
Phil. 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (KJV) . . . WHY??? WHY is dying gain??? Because Paul would be with the Lord Jesus in Heaven. There was NO waiting period, but rather an immediate transition from our final breath here on Earth to eternal life in Heaven. Thank You Jesus!

Three kinds of moral sins:
#1. Homosexuality, known in the lists of sins as uncleanness (1 Cor.6:9-11; 2 Cor.12:21; Rom.1:24-32; 6:19; Gal.5:19; Eph.4:19; 5:3; Col.3:5; 1 Tim.1:8-10; 2 Pet.2:10)  
Also see: (Lev.18:22-24; 20:13-16)
#2. Adultery, fornication (Ex.20:14; Mat.5:27; Rom.2:22; 13:9; Jam.2:11; 2 Pet.2:14;  . . . Rom.1:29; 1 Cor.5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Cor.12:21; Gal.5:19; Eph.5:3; Col.3:5; 1 Thes.4:3; Jude 1:7).   
#3. Lasciviousness (Mk.7:22; 2 Cor.12:21; Gal.5:19; Eph.4:19; 1 Pet.4:3; Jude 1:4) . . . . . . . . . . . See Gal.5:19-21: http://www.godcannotlie.org/book_of_galatians_ch5.htm.htm

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