Paul's Visions and His Thorn
Paul had a vision of a man who was "caught up to the third heaven" 14 years ago. The man saw things that cannot be told.
Why is he telling this story. Paul tells us of a vision where some guy goes up to heaven and sees stuff we can't talk about. So what? Is the whole point that someone went to heaven?
Also, what is 'third heaven'? A quick google search led me here which led me here. It seems people back then thought the heavens were basically concentric domes above our heads. Who still wants to use the bible as a science book?
To make sure Paul didn't get conceited because he got this amazing vision, God put a thorn in his flesh and a messenger of Satan was sent to harass him. Paul pleaded with God to remove these impediments, but God said his grace was enough for him and the weakness would make him strong, so he boasts about the weakness and is content with it.
This is just weird to me. Paul is boasting about his weakness, doesn't this just make him double conceited. He is conceited because he is amazed at how special he is to get the vision, then on top of it he is conceited to think he is special enough to deserve harassment from Satan and other weaknesses thrown on top of him. I also don't like the idea of being happy with persecution, it can really give someone a complex.
Am I being too critical here? Perhaps a good spin on it is if people are accepting of their failings they will live a happier life. This is a double edged sword though isn't it, if you are happy with your weaknesses will it hold you back from striving for more? This is the best I can come up with for an alternate view and I'm still not really a fan.
Concern for the Corinthians Church
Paul says he will come back to Corinth for a third time to try to convert them. He is afraid for their souls. He will make sure not to be a burden as he has done in the past.
He is concerned for them, that is good I suppose. He is coming back a third time, and apparently with not much success here. So I suppose this is encouraging persistence, and caring for your fellow man.
Final Warnings (ch13)
I'm coming again for the third time. You have asked me for proof that Christ is in me, Christ was crucified in weakness but lives in strength. Examine yourself and make sure you pass the test.
So his response to a request of proof is a declaration that Christ is real and a threat. That is the Christianity I am familiar with.
Rejoice, live in peace, and comfort one another, then God will be with you.
That sounds nice, but it doesn't match up with the rest of it. You can't preach doom and gloom and then end by saying all you have to do is be nice and everything will be cool. It's the sugar coating to make you swallow the rest of it.
For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)
12:10 Be happy with persecution
13:3-6 request for proof met with threat