Paul's weaknesses

2 Cor. 12:1-10 Paul refuses to boast about anything other than his weaknesses. He tells the believers that he has been given a ‘thorn in the flesh’ – a painful physical ailment which keeps him from being puffed up with pride. This may have been recurring bouts of malaria, which was common along the southern coast of Asia Minor in Paul’s day.

Three times Paul prayed and asked the Lord to take this ailment away, but Jesus’s answer was, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).


View from C2nd AD Roman Theatre at Elaiussa Sebaste, Turkey

Malaria was common on the coast of Asia Minor near Elaiussa Sebaste


2 Cor. 12:11-21 Paul expresses his concern for the believers in Corinth. He reminds them how worried he was when he sent Titus and another fellow-worker with his first letter. Paul is afraid that he may still find quarrelling and jealousy, hot tempers, selfishness and immorality the next time he visits them.

2 Cor. 13:1-10 Paul says he is ready to visit the believers in Corinth for the third time. The date of his second visit is unknown, though it was probably during the three years he was staying at Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla (in 52-55AD) (see Acts 19:1-10).

2 Cor. 13:11-14 Paul finishes with a ‘benediction’ or farewell blessing that would have been well known to his readers: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

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