2 Corinthians 12:5
Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in my infirmities.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Of such an one will I glory.—There is, if we rightly understand it, an almost exquisite sadness in the distinction which is thus drawn by the Apostle between the old self of fourteen years ago, with this abundance of revelations, and the new self of the present, feebler and sadder than the old, worn with cares and sorrows, the daily rush of life and its ever-growing anxieties. Then he saw with open vision; now he walks by faith and not by the thing seen. He can hardly recognise his own identity, and can speak of the man who had then this capacity for the beatific vision as though he were another—almost as if he were dead and gone. The “non sum qualis eram” of decay and age presents manifold varieties of form, the soldier recalling the stir and the rush of battle, the poet finding that the vision and the “faculty divine” are no longer entrusted to his keeping, the eloquent orator who had “wielded at will a fierce democracy,” complaining of slow speech and of a stammering tongue; but this has a sadness peculiar to itself. Faith, hope, love, peace, righteousness, are still there, but there has passed away a glory from the earth, and the joy of that ecstatic rapture lies in the remote past, never to return on earth.

2 Corinthians 12:5-6. Of such a one will I, or, I might, glory — As a person highly favoured of Christ; yet of myself — Considered as in myself; I will not glory — Willingly; but in my infirmities — See on 2 Corinthians 11:30. Instead of boasting of his raptures into the third heaven and into paradise, he will boast of those very weaknesses for which his enemies ridiculed him, because, the more weak and contemptible he appeared in the eyes of the world, the more clearly was his success in preaching shown to be the effect of the divine power. For if I should desire Θελησω, will, or, resolve; to glory — Referring to, I might glory, (2 Corinthians 12:5,) of such a glorious revelation; I should not be a fool — That is, it could not justly be accounted folly to relate the naked truth. But now I forbear — I speak sparingly of these things; lest any one should think of me — Whose presence is so mean, and whose speech is so contemptible; above that which he seeth me to be, &c. — Above what my spirit and conduct and the constant exercise of my ministry would warrant. Macknight thinks he addresses the faction here by way of irony, and that the sense is, “I might with truth boast of the visions and revelations of the Lord with which I have been honoured, but I will not, for fear any of you should think me a greater person than my mean bodily appearance which he seeth, and my contemptible speech, which he heareth, warrant him to think me.”12:1-6 There can be no doubt the apostle speaks of himself. Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there, but he set forth the doctrine of Christ. On that foundation the church is built, and on that we must build our faith and hope. And while this teaches us to enlarge our expectations of the glory that shall be revealed, it should render us contented with the usual methods of learning the truth and will of God.Of such an one will I glory - Of such a man it would be right to boast. It would be admitted that it is right to exult in such a man, and to esteem him to be uniquely favored by God. I will boast of him as having received special honor from the Lord. Bloomfield, however, supposes that the words rendered "of such an one should be translated "of such a thing," or of such a transaction; meaning" I can indeed justly boast of my being caught up to heaven as of a thing the whole glory of which pertains to him who has thus exalted me; but of myself, or of anything in me, I will not boast." So Rosenmuller explains it. But it seems to me that the connection requires that we should understand it of a person, and that the passage is partly ironical. Paul speaks in the third person. He chooses to keep himself directly out of view. And though he refers really to himself, yet he wound not say this directly, but says that of such a man they would admit it would be proper to boast.

Yet of myself - Directly. It is not expedient for me to boast of myself. "You would allow me to boast of such a man as I have referred to; I admit that it is not proper for me to boast directly of myself."

But in mine infirmities - My weaknesses, trials, pains, sufferings; such as many regard as infirmities; see the note on 2 Corinthians 11:30.

5. of myself—concerning myself. Self is put in the background, except in respect to his infirmities. His glorying in his other self, to which the revelations were vouchsafed, was not in order to give glory to his fleshly self, but to bring out in contrast the "infirmities" of the latter, that Christ might have all the glory. Of such an one will I glory: the apostle, as appeareth by what followeth, speaketh of himself; but he does it in a third person. The meaning is, that that man who had been thus dignified of God, in such revelations and visions, might well glory of such a favour; but yet (saith he) of myself will I glory. But how doth the apostle say, that of himself he will not glory, if he were the person intended?

Answer. Some say, he distinguisheth concerning himself; as to his inward man, his soul, (which was rapt into the third heavens) he did glory; but as to his body, or outward man, he would not glory in any thing which he had done, but only in what he had suffered. I should rather interpret it thus: In this the Lord greatly dignified me; but here was nothing of myself; of myself therefore I will not glory in any thing, except those things which I have suffered for the name of God. Of such an one will I glory,.... The apostle in great modesty seems to speak of some other person, and not himself, as caught up into the third heaven, when he yet means himself; and does as it were distinguish himself from himself; himself in paradise from himself on earth; his sense is, that though he might lawfully glory of such a person so highly exalted and favoured, yet since this was his own case, he chose to forbear, and say no more of it:

yet of myself I will not glory; though he could, and might, and did glory in the Lord, who had done such great things for him; as that he was in Christ, and knew himself to be so, had been rapt up into heaven, and heard things unutterable; yet he would not glory of these things as from himself, as owing to any merit or worthiness of his, but as instances of mere favour, grace, and goodness; if he gloried of anything of himself in his present state and condition, it should be of his weaknesses:

but in mine infirmities; not his sinful ones, for these he mourned over, and was humbled before God and man under a sense of; but his many pressing difficulties of life, heavy reproaches, very great afflictions, and violent persecutions he endured for Christ's sake; see 2 Corinthians 12:10.

{2} Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

(2) To remove all suspicion of seeking glory, he witnesses that he brags not of those things as though they were of himself, but as outside of himself. And yet nonetheless he pretends nothing, lest by this occasion other men should attribute to him more than he indeed is: and therefore he would rather glory in his miseries.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 12:5. On behalf of the one so constituted I will boast, but on behalf of myself, etc. Paul abides by his representation begun in 2 Corinthians 12:2, according to which he speaks of himself as of a third person. The reader understood him! to the effect, namely, that apart from that difference of persons underlying the mere representation, the essential meaning of ὑπὲρ τοῦ τοιούτου καυχήσομαι was the same as if Paul had written: τὸ τοιοῦτο (or ἐν τῷ τοιούτῳ) καυχήσομαι. But this may not mislead us, with Luther, Mosheim, Zachariae, Heumann, Schulz, Rosenmüller, Rückert, to take τούτου as neuter; for in favour of the view that it is masculine (so after Chrysostom, most expositors, including Flatt, Fritzsche, Billroth, Olshausen, de Wette, Ewald, Osiander, Hofmann) we may decisively urge not merely τὸν τοιοῦτον, 2 Corinthians 12:2-3, as well as the personal contrast in ἐμαυτοῦ, and the otherwise marred symmetry of the whole mode of representation (see Fritzsche, Diss. II. 124), but also ὑπέρ, which with καυχᾶσθαι denotes the person for whose advantage (see on 2 Corinthians 5:12), not simply in regard to whom (Hofmann), the boast is made; the thing is afterwards by ἐν expressly distinguished from the person. The objection of Rückert, that Paul might not push the conception so far! is quite invalid, since, in fact, the readers, if they once knew that from 2 Corinthians 12:2 onward he meant himself, could not at all misunderstand hi.

εἰ μή is not for ἐὰν μή (Rückert), but it introduces an actually existing exception to that principle[366] ὑπὲρ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐ καυχήσομαι. It is, however, neither necessary nor justifiable to supply with ὙΠ. ἘΜ. Οὐ ΚΑΥΧ.: “of the visions and revelations which I have had,” so that ΕἸ ΜΉ would form an inexact contrast (de Wette), since Paul, quite in harmony with 2 Corinthians 11:30, absolutely denies that he wishes to boast on behalf of his own self otherwise than only of his weaknesses (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:30). Self-glorying otherwise is only then to take place on his part, when his own Ego (his work, toil, merit, etc.) does not come at all into consideration, but he is merely the dependent, receptive instrument of the Lord, and appears as a third person, on behalf of whom the καυχᾶσθαι takes place. The plural ἀσθεν. denotes the various situations and manifestations, in which his feebleness presents itself.

[366] Καυχήσομαι, namely, expresses a principle to be followed, not as Grotius and others would take it: “Futurum pro potentiali … gaudere et exultare possem.”2 Corinthians 12:5. ὑπὲρ τοῦ τοιούτου κ.τ.λ.: on behalf of such an one will I glory, but on mine own behalf, i.e., of myself in my normal state, I will not glory save in my weaknesses, as he has already done, 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.5. Of such a one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory] St Paul desires to put the fact in the background that it is of himself he is speaking (see next verse). He has been compelled by the folly and perversity of certain among the Corinthians to touch on these proofs of Divine favour, but he just glances at the topic and passes it by; nay, he even seems to make a distinction between himself as he is and the man once so highly glorified by God, and returns to a kind of boasting more in accordance with his own sense of propriety. So he expatiates on the thorn in the flesh as an instance of how human weakness does but serve to manifest the power of God.2 Corinthians 12:5. Ὑπὲρ τοῦ τοιούτον, in respect to such a one) in the Masc. The antithesis is, of myself. We ought to remove the I from important matters. This verse has two parts, the one has the reason assigned [aetiologia] in the following verse; the other is explained, 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.—καυχήσομαι, I will glory) i.e. I might glory; comp. 2 Corinthians 12:6 at the beginning.Verse 5. - Of such a one. These are legitimate subjects of "boast," because they are heavenly privileges, not earthly grounds of superiority. Except in my infirmities (2 Corinthians 11:30).
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