2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Commentary: God’s Sufficient Grace

A great portion of the New Testament is a section of scripture called the Pauline Epistles. The Pauline Epistles are letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to different people throughout the region. Paul wrote letters to the Romans, James, and many other people. Many of the letters were directed toward churches, and they focused on specific topics related to those churches. In the Books of Corinthians, Paul wrote the Church at Corinth. He instructed and reprimanded them in their faith. An interesting part of the letters is found in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, but what might it mean? In this article, I will be giving you a 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 commentary to help us better understand the passage. 

Before 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Before we discuss the content of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we should look at verses 1-6 to gain a better understanding of what verses 7-10 mean. 

In 2 Corinthians 1-6, the Apostle Paul describes a man who had a vision of Heaven, but that God did not permit this man to share the things that he saw. Paul described the abundance of the revelations he saw as being in the third heaven. The third heaven does not mean there are multiple levels to heave, but the third Heaven refers to the abode of God. The first Heaven was the Earth’s atmosphere, and the second Heaven was space, but the third Heaven is the spiritual Heaven. The third would have been the highest Heaven. Many believe the man that Paul is describing is Paul, himself. 

A major theme of this part of scripture is the inability to boast. Paul wrote in verses 1-6 that the man who saw the vision might be able to boast about the things that he saw, but the man chose not to. 

Although  Paul might have the ability to boast about all the wonderful things that he saw and did, Paul chose to imitate Christ, and he was humble. He did not brag, but instead, he kept the visions to himself. Then, he even describes himself in the third person to show people, that the vision was not about himself. 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Commentary 

Verse 7

“7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

The Choice of Humility 

Paul has just described that he had a great vision from God. Here he is reiterating that he should not boast. He does mention that the vision was worthy of boasting about. The revelations of the Lord must have shown his great divine power and revealed to him much about the kingdom of Heaven. People would love to boast when they get revelation from God. They might think that the revelation brings them some spiritual authority over others. 

However, Paul knows the vision is worthy of boasting about, but he chooses to not boast about it from a stance of humility. He refers to the visions as unspeakable words. Christ Jesus also had a reason to boast, being the son of God, but he did not. Paul’s point was made in Philippians 2, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

He recognized the importance of being humble, in areas that we are worthy of boasting about. 

The Thorn in Paul Flesh 

After explaining the vision that is worthy of being boasted about, Paul pivots and draws attention to an infirmity that he has. Although Paul had seen great things from God, God gave Paul a thorn in his flesh. 

A thorn might sound like a minor inconvenience, however, the Greek word used by Paul is closer to that of a tent stake. 

We do not know specifically what Paul was struggling with, but we do know that God gave Paul a struggle so that he wouldn’t become conceited. The thorn may have been a physical ailment or a spiritual struggle, and it would have revealed to Paul his own weakness. Paul could not boast, because he too struggled against a battle in his flesh. 

Even though God placed this thorn in Paul’s flesh, Paul refers to the thorn as a messenger of Satan. God might not have given Paul this affliction, but He probably allowed Satan to have something on Paul for the sake of keeping Paul humble. This would have served as a reminder to Paul that no matter how close he got to God, he could never be perfect in his fleshly body. 

Verse 8 

“8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”

Paul did not go to the world to solve his problem, instead, he went to God. Whereas many people might go to self-help books, science, or other mediums to solve their problems, Paul went to God. The thing Paul was struggling with was causing him great trouble, so He went to God. 

Paul’s prayer was also passionate. Paul’s thorn must have been truly difficult to have because he doesn’t just pray to God, he pleads with God. 

People constantly look to the world to help solve their shortcomings, but Paul is reminding the Corinthians that God is truly the source of all power. Therapy might help a little, but spiritual training in a relationship with God is truly what changes lives. 

Furthermore, Paul pleaded more than once. He did not just ask once and was done with it. Paul prayed multiple times for the same situation. Many Christians will pray for something once, not get a response, and move on, discouraged. Paul prayed multiple times about this situation. 

Verse 9

“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God’s Answer to Paul 

God responded to Paul’s request, and Paul was receptive to it. It is common for us to stop listening to God whenever he gives us an answer that we don’t life, but Paul sets the example that listening to God is essential. Even when God doesn’t answer in the way that we would like. 

The response that Paul recorded was that God’s grace was sufficient for him. It was not that the power of God was not strong enough to save Paul, but rather it was that there was a purpose behind Paul’s pain. God’s strength was being shown through Paul’s life. Paul didn’t need to be perfect, but instead, Paul needed to rely on the grace of God. We can get frustrated with ourselves for our mistakes, but God knows our hearts. He knows when we want to do the right thing. 

Furthermore, God reminded Paul that God’s power is shown through Paul’s weakness. It is a testament to God’s power that although Paul struggles, God can still use him for great things. Paul doesn’t have to be perfect for God to use him. We don’t have to be perfect for God to use us. 

Paul’s Response to God’s Response 

Paul reveals the secret that for the power of Christ to rest on him, he has to boast about his weakness. Many people try to hide their shortcomings, but the kingdom of God is different. In the kingdom of God, the only thing worth boasting about is the power of Jesus. For the sake of Christ, Paul has been made weak. 

That is why Paul recognizes here that his failure is worth boasting about because God’s power rests on the humble. In the Christian life, humility is a true sign of a relationship with Jesus, since Jesus was humble. Difficult times and spiritual burdens are all different ways that God helps us discover humility and kill our spiritual pride.

Verse 10

“10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul, then, is reminded that he delights in his struggles. Throughout his ministry journey, Paul has faced many hardships, but they excite him. They make him happy because they remind him of Christ’s strength to overcome the world. God even has the strength to overcome Paul’s flesh. 

Following Verses 7-10

Paul finished this chapter by telling him that he wanted to come visit the Corinthian Church. However, Paul was concerned that they had turned to sin, and he was worried that he would be disappointed by their behavior whenever he came.