2 Corinthians 12

Talks for Growing Christians

Paul Continues to Defend His Apostleship

2 Corinthians 12

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Lesson Number 14

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. God may or may not give third heaven experiences to believers.
  2. God may or may not remove thorns in the flesh from believers.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t read too much into Scripture.


  1. Against what accusations is Paul defending himself in 2 Corinthians?
  2. What does Paul mean in verse 11 when he says he became “a fool in boasting”?
  3. What should the Corinthians have looked at as proof of Paul’s apostleship?
  4. What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?
  5. Give Paul’s three reasons why God did not remove his thorn in the flesh.


  1. The false teachers at Corinth were undermining Paul’s credibility as an apostle. Here he continues to defend his apostleship.
  2. Normally he would not have shared his spiritual experiences and qualifications as an apostle, because he would have needed to. Because of the Corinthians’ doubts he must.
  3. They should have commended him because: a. He had lead them to Christ and was their spiritual father. He had founded the Church at Corinth. Chapters 10-11. b. He had done signs, wonders, and miracles in their midst as God confirmed his words as an apostle. 2 Corinthians 12:12
  4. We don’t know. Many suggestions have been made, including eye problems, headaches, a speech impediment, etc.
  5. a. It kept Paul humble. b. The Lord said that His grace was sufficient for Paul. c. The Lord’s power is perfected in weakness.


  1. Discuss Paul’s spiritual experience described in 2 Corinthians 12. What can we learn from this about “third heaven experiences”? Do you need to seek such an experience?
  2. Do you have a “thorn in the flesh”? If God has chosen not to remove it, what good has come because of it? Be comforted by the promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9


  1. Many people are uncomfortable will the thought of Paul using irony in his writing (see verses 13 and 16.) Irony is a valid and effective literary style. Let God’s Word say what it says.

Key Verses

  • “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years agoÖ was caught up to the third heaven.” 2 Corinthians 12:2
  • “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

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