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The Trials of Great Bible Characters (14 of 15)
The Trial of Paul
Clarence E. Macartney
2 Cor. 12:7
When a Roman emperor had a triumph, it was the custom
for a slave to ride with him in his chariot, and ever
and anon, amid the plaudits of the multitude and the
clouds of incense, remind his master that he, too, was
but a man. Paul, a man of many visions and
extraordinary experiences, as well as immense native
talent and genius, had a thorn in the flesh which
daily reminded him that he was a man of like passions
with those to whom he preached.
There were so many things of which Paul might have
boasted-his intellect, his talent, his learning, his
courage, his endurance, his achievements. But the only
thing of which he dares to boast is his infirmity.
Enemies at Corinth had sown the seeds of suspicion and
distrust in the minds of the converts and Christians
of that city. His right to be an apostle had been
questioned, and it had been broadly hinted that he was
either a fraud or a fool. It is in connection with
these charges that Paul comes to speak of his visions.
Yet he does it with reluctance, saying, "There is
nothing to be gained by this sort of thing, but ...I
am obliged to boast" (2 Cor. 12:1 Moffatt). What he
means is that he mentions these unusual experiences
only because he is compelled to do so by the false
charges of his enemies. Thus he comes to his visions
and revelations. There were many that he might have
mentioned, and with the circumstances of which we are
familiar. But the one which he mentions is an
experience of which we know nothing save this
reference to it. It occurred fourteen years before the
writing of this letter, which would seem to locate it
about the time of the beginning of his work as a
missionary at Antioch.
The experience is so wonderful that he cannot tell
whether his whole body shared in it or not; and as for
what he saw and heard, that was a secret which h ...
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