Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Poole’s experiential use of 2 Corinthians 12

Image:  Early Spring Scene, North Garden, Virginia

The morning Bible reading at worship at CRBC Sunday before last was taken from 2 Corinthians 12.  In the pastoral prayer that followed, I then drew upon Paul’s threefold request that the “thorn in the flesh” be removed, the Lord’s comfort to him (in v. 12:  “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”), and Paul’s contentment in his suffering (v. 10).

Over lunchtime we were discussing how Christian interpreters have long drawn on Paul’s experience as a parallel to the circumstances of ordinary believers.  That conversation sent me to Poole’s commentary to see how he made experiential use of this passage in his exposition:

On Paul’s threefold request in v. 8:

It is lawful for us to pray for the removal of bodily evils, though such prayer must also be attended with due submission to the wisdom and will of God; they being evils in themselves, but such trials as God intendeth  for our good, (as it were in Paul’s case,)and which issue in our spiritual advantage.

On the Lord’s comfort to Paul in v. 9:

Those dispensations of providence, in which the souls of men have the greatest experiences of the power and strength of Christ, are most to be gloried in; but such are states of infirmities.  The text confirmeth Christ to be God blessed for ever;  for by his power it is that we are supported under trials, his strength it is which is made perfect in the weakness of poor creatures.

On Paul’s reference to his taking “pleasure in infirmities” in v. 10:

A child of God seldom walks so much in view of God as his God, and in 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.

Indeed, believers can take comfort in laying the experience of Paul alongside our own experience in the life and faith.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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