2 Corinthians 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities.—The thoughts of the Apostle go back to the sufferings of which he had spoken fully in 2 Corinthians 11 and elsewhere. One new word is added, “reproaches” (better, insults), which elsewhere in the New Testament meets us only in Acts 27:10; Acts 27:21, in the sense of material damage. Here the reference is probably to the taunts and sneers to which we have traced allusions in 2Corinthians 1:17; 2Corinthians 3:1; 2Corinthians 7:8; 2Corinthians 8:2; 2Corinthians 10:10; 2Corinthians 11:6; 2Corinthians 11:8; 2Corinthians 11:16. He was able to bear even these with satisfaction when he felt that he was bearing them for the sake of Christ. He had learnt to add another paradox to those of 2Corinthians 6:9-10, and to feel that the greatest weakness was not only compatible with the highest strength, but might be the very condition of its energy.

12:7-10 The apostle gives an account of the method God took to keep him humble, and to prevent his being lifted up above measure, on account of the visions and revelations he had. We are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it, and overruled it for good. Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. If an answer be not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we are to continue praying. Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer. Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: as he sometimes grants in wrath, so he sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.Therefore I take pleasure - Since so many benefits result from trials; since my afflictions are the occasion of obtaining the favor of Christ in so eminent a degree, I rejoice in the privilege of suffering. There is often real pleasure in affliction, paradoxical as it may appear. Some of the happiest persons I have known are those who have been deeply afflicted; some of the purest joys which I have witnessed have been manifested on a sick-bed, and in the prospect of death. And I have no doubt that Paul, in the midst of all his infirmities and reproaches, had a joy above that which all the wealth and honor of the world could give. See here the power of religion. It not only supports, it comforts. It not only enables one to bear suffering with resignation, but it enables him to rejoice. Philosophy blunts the feelings: infidelity leaves people to complain and repine in trial; the pleasures of this world have no power even to support or comfort in times of affliction; but Christianity furnishes positive pleasure in trial, and enables the sufferer to smile through his tears.

In infirmities - In my weaknesses; see the note on 2 Corinthians 11:30.

In reproaches - In the contempt and scorn with which I meet as a follower of Christ, note, 2 Corinthians 11:21.

In necessities - In want: see the notes on 2 Corinthians 6:4-5.

In distresses for Christ's sake - note, 2 Corinthians 6:4. In the various needs and difficulties to which I am exposed on account of the Saviour, or which I suffer in his cause.

For when I am weak, then am I strong - When I feel weak; when I am subjected to trial, and nature faints and fails, then strength is imparted to me, and I am enabled to bear all. The more I am borne down with trials, the more do I feel my need of divine assistance, and the more do I feel the efficacy of divine grace. Such was the promise in Deuteronomy 33:25; "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." So in Hebrews 11:24; "Who out of weakness were made strong." What Christian has not experienced this, and been able to say that when he felt himself weak and felt like sinking under the accumulation of many trials, he has found his strength according to his day, and felt an arm of power supporting him? It is then that the Redeemer manifests himself in a special manner; and then that the excellency of the religion of Christ is truly seen and its power appreciated and felt.

10. take pleasure in—too strongly. Rather as the Greek, "I am well contented in."

infirmities—the genus. Two pairs of species follow, partly coming from "Satan's messenger," partly from men.

reproaches—"insults."

when—in all the cases just specified.

then—then especially.

strong—"powerful" in "the power of Christ" (2Co 12:9; 2Co 13:4; Heb 11:34).

Amongst other reasons why I rather choose to glory in what I suffer for Christ, (which is what he here calleth

infirmities, and further openeth by reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses for Christ’s sake), this is one; that I never find myself more strong in the habits and acts of the grace that is in me, than when I am thus made weak. What the apostle here saith of himself, the people of God have ever since his time ordinarily experienced: then it is that they are made strong in the exercises of faith, and patience, and love to God. A child of God seldom walks so much in the view of God as his God, and in the view of his own sincerity, as when, as to his outward condition and circumstances in the world, he walks in the dark and seeth no light. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities,.... Not in them simply considered, but as they were made use of to his advantage, for the exercise of his grace, and for his more abundant consolation; and especially as they tended to the glory of Christ, and made his grace, power, and strength the more conspicuous: by infirmities are meant all outward troubles, everything that is mean and abject, distressing and afflicting, whether from Satan or the world; it seems to be a general term, which includes and is explained by the following particulars:

in reproaches; of Satan, the accuser of the brethren, who sometimes reproachfully insinuates that they are hypocrites, and serve God and Christ with mercenary views and selfish ends; and of the men of the world, who traduce them as deceivers, treat them with opprobrious language, and lead them with revilings and contumelies, endeavour to take away their characters, credit, and reputation; the faithful servants of Christ must go through bad report, and suffer shame for the name of Christ; but these reproaches with Moses are esteemed by them greater riches than the treasures of Egypt:

in necessities; not of the soul, the better part, there being a sufficiency of grace in Christ to relieve all its wants; but of the body, the apostle was sometimes reduced to very necessitous circumstances, wanting the common necessaries of life, being hungry, thirsty, and naked, and yet cheerful:

in persecutions; from place to place by the enemies of the Gospel, by whom he was severely handled by beating, scourging, and imprisonment; but his stripes were the marks of the Lord Jesus; his chains were his crown, and his prison a palace to him:

in distresses, or "straits"; both as to body and mind, encompassed with such difficulties that he knew not what way to take, or course to steer: and all

for Christ's sake; not for any real crime done by him, but for a profession of Christ, preaching his Gospel, and for the glory of his name; and which made all these afflictions so delightful to him, having in the midst of them the love of God to comfort him, the power and strength of Christ to support him, and the grace of the Spirit to assist him, and the presence of all the three Persons with him; this he suggests to be the ground and reason of his delight and pleasure, in such otherwise disagreeable circumstances:

for when I am weak, then am I strong; when he was attended with all the above mentioned infirmities, when laden with reproaches, surrounded with necessities, followed with persecutions, and brought into the utmost straits and difficulties, and was most sensible of his weakness in himself to bear and go through all these things; then was he upheld by the divine arm, and strengthened by the power of Christ; so that he was not only able to sustain the conflict, but became more than a conqueror, and even to triumph in the midst of these adversities; he could and did readily take the advice in Joel 3:10, and express himself in the same language there directed to, and to which he seems to refer, "let the weak say I am strong"; for he that is weak in himself, and sees himself to be so, is strong in Christ, and has a comfortable experience of renewed strength from him, as his day is. The Jews have a saying (h) somewhat like this,

"the righteous even , "when they are weak strengthen themselves"; as it is said, Genesis 48:2, and the wicked, though in their strength, fall, according to Esther 7:8.''

(h) Baal Hatturim in Genesis 48.2.

Therefore I take {k} pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

(k) I do not only take them patiently and with a good heart, but I also take great pleasure in them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 12:10. Διό] because, namely, in such circumstances with such a mood the power of Christ joins itself with m.

εὐδοκῶ ἐν ἀσθεν.] I take pleasure in weaknesses, bear them with inward assent and willingly, when they befall me. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:4. “Contumax enim adversus tormenta fides,” Tacitus, Hist. i. 3; Seneca, de prov. iv. 4. ἀσθ. are here, as in the whole context, situations of human powerlessness, brought about by allotted experiences of suffering. Afterwards four, partly more, partly less special, kinds of such situations are adduced. Rückert, quite at variance with the context, understands diseases to be mean.

ἐν ὕβρεσιν] passive: in cases of arrogant treatment, which I experience. On the plural, comp. Plato, Legg. i. p. 627 A; Dem. 522. 13; Sir 10:8. They bring into necessities (ἀναγκ.); and persecutions drive into straitened positions (στενοχ.), out of which no issue is apparent (comp. on 2 Corinthians 4:8).

ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ] belongs neither to all five elements (so usually), nor simply to the last four points (Hofmann), but to εὐδοκῶ: for Christ’s sake, because by such sufferings His honour and His work are promoted. That Paul meant sufferings for Christ, was, indeed, self-evident. But he wishes to assign the specific motive for his εὐδοκῶ.

τότε δύνατός εἰμι] inwardly through Christ’s power. See 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. τότε, then, is emphatic, here with the feeling of victoriousness. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:54; Colossians 3:4; Hom. Il. xi. 191 f., 206 f.; Plato, Phil. p. 17 D, Conv. p. 192 B. On the idea, comp. the expression on of Moses in Philo, Vit. M. 1, p. 613 B: τὸ ἀσθενὲς ὑμῶν δύναμίς ἐστιν.2 Corinthians 12:10. διὸ εὐδοκῶ κ.τ.λ.: wherefore I am well content in (for εὐδοκεῖν ἐν cf. 2 Samuel 22:20, Matthew 3:17, 1 Corinthians 10:5) weaknesses, in insults (ὕβρις is used for “injury” to a ship in Acts 27:10; Acts 27:21; it does not occur elsewhere in N.T.; but cf. ὑβρίζειν, Acts 14:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:2), in necessities, in persecutions and distresses, for Christ’s sake (cf. Matthew 5:11); for whenever I am weak, then am I strong. Wetstein compares Philo’s τὸ ἀσθενὲς ὑμῶν δύναμίς ἐστι (Vit. Mos., i., § 13). St. Paul’s words are more than a verbal paradox: they express the fact, to which history abundantly testifies, that the world’s throne is the Cross.10. in reproaches] Rather, perhaps, insults.

in distresses] See note on ch. 2 Corinthians 6:4.

for Christ’s sake] This refers to all the preceding list of things endured.

strong] Perhaps better, powerful (migty, Wiclif), as the word is cognate with power above. The word strong is scarcely adequate.2 Corinthians 12:10. Εὐδοκῶ, I am well contented [Engl. V. too strongly, I take pleasure]) He does not say here, I rejoice, which would denote more than he meant.—ἐν ἀσθενείαις, in infirmities) This is the genus; hence we have immediately after, I am weak; two pairs of species follow.—ἐν ὕβρεσιν, ἐν ἀνάγκαις, in reproaches, in necessities) which also the messenger of Satan occasions.—ἐν διωγμοῖς, ἐν στενοχωρίαις, in persecutions, in distresses) which were caused by men.—ὑπὲρ, for the sake of) construed with εὐδοκῶ, I am well contented.—τότε) then, in particular [then and then only].—δυνατὸς, strong) in the power of Christ.Verse 10. - I take pleasure in; I am content to bear them cheerfully (2 Corinthians 7:4; Romans 5:3). Strong; rather, powerful, mighty. The resemblance to Philo ('Vit. Mos.,' Opp., 1:613, "Your weakness is might") is probably accidental (see 1 Corinthians 15:54; Colossians 3:4).
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