This blog is the second in an exegesis of 2 Corinthian 12 concerning Pauls thorn in the flesh and Gods answer of His grace is sufficient. We pick up the study at chapter 12 verse 8.
Three times Paul prayed that the thorn would be removed so dilatating was the affliction that it must at times become almost unbearable for Paul. The number of 3 is significant because Jesus in the garden also prayed three times for his mission to be removed. Both times God answered the requests of a cry that comes from the heart based on the goodness and love of God the Father to do the right thing.
The number three in scriptures often represents resurrection as the culmination of Gods plan of salvation. It can also operate as a sign post in the text for the reader to pay attention to the significance of the next event.
In this instance the word ‘grace’ in verse 9 cannot be overlooked without an intense Spirit led in depth dig into the meaning of the word. This is a monumental promise of Gods goodness rich in mercy and deep in love.
I was intrigued by the word translated in the NIV as ‘pleaded in verse 8.’ Pleading to me suggests an attitude that is not grounded in the work of the cross coupled with a hint of a lack of faith on the part of the one praying. Would cajoling be too strong a concept to be associated with pleading?
Other translations have used ‘implore’ or in one instance the idea of ‘to beg.’ Personally, I am not happy with these translations. Going back to the Greek. The word used by Paul here is ‘parakaleo’ which can have the meaning of; ‘summon,’ to ‘call upon,’ to ‘address,’ to ‘appeal.’
I suspect the translators by using ton idea of pleading were trying to reflect the gravity of Pauls situation, but I believe in all instances they have erred on this occasion. To me Paul is crying out to God in the sense of, ‘Lord have mercy on me.’ I believe our prayers must reflect our position before God, that of redeemed, victors with authority, living in the heavenly places above all powers covered by the blood of Christ.
Sometimes our prayers can become whiny with a hint of complaining mixed in. Jesus always prayed from a position of strength, as a Son. As sons and daughters, we have the mind of Christ; may we use Christs position, his mind and intercessory skills when we pray coming from a position of strength and boldness
When I pray I try to remember these three spiritual principles
1/ We come before God in prayer with total confidence covered with boldness through the cross of Christ. Hebrews 10:22
2/ We come before God in faith knowing that without faith we cannot please God. Hebrews 11:6
3/ We come before God standing on the promise that the prayer of a righteous person has much effective. James 5:16
May the Holy Spirit continually teach us to pray effective Satan crushing prayers and to have our spiritual ears open to follow the guidance of Jesus.
Enjoyed this 2nd part. Well researched and done.
Perhaps my definition of pleading differs but I have to tell you, on the evening of December 8, 2007, I pleaded with God and I do not believe that was due to a lack of faith. In fact, I believe it was evidence of faith. I had a deadly cancer growing within me and I wanted God to get it out of me right now! Quite frankly, if I did not believe that God could heal me, I would have never gone to him about it in the first place. Why would I do that if I did not believe that Jesus Christ is our Healer?
I guess we often define the word "plead" as "to beg" but is that what it really means? Out of curiosity I looked it up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and interestingly enough that is not the first, second or even third definition of the word. It is a legal term, actually. It means to argue a case or a cause in a court of law. That sounds exactly like "parakaleo" to me which is why I suspect so many translators chose to English word "plead". Isn't that exactly what Paul was doing? Pleading his case before God?
I do not believe it is wrong to plead our case before God. In fact, I believe that is exactly what we should do. The problem arises when we reject what God says. Though God's answer was not what Paul wanted to hear, he accepted it and trusted God, no matter what.