There are several chiastic structures in this chapter. The first one I was able to uncover picks up where yesterday’s chiastic structure left off:
2 Cor 11:30-12:10
1a) 2 Cor 11:30-33, Paul’s boast in infirmites + God’s protection:
— 1a.1) 2 Cor 11:30, If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity;
— 1a.2) 2 Cor 11:31, God knows that I am not lying;
— 1a.3) 2 Cor 11:32-33, Paul’s danger/ God’s protection in Damascus;
1b) 2 Cor 12:1a, It is not profitable for me to boast;
1c) 2 Cor 12:1b, I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord;
central axis) 2 Cor 12:2-4a, Three part theme repeated twice:
— 1.1) 2 Cor 12:2a, I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago;
— 1.2) 2 Cor 12:2b, Whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows;
— 1.3) 2 Cor 12:2c, Such a one was caught up to the third heaven;
— 2.1) 2 Cor 12:3a, And I know such a man;
— 2.2) 2 Cor 12:3b, Whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows;
— 2.3) 2 Cor 12:4a, How he was caught up into Paradise;
2c) 2 Cor 12:4b, I heard inexpressible words;
2b) 2 Cor 12:4c, It is not lawful for a man to utter;
2a) 2 Cor 12:5-10, Paul’s boast in infirmities + God’s grace:
— 2a.1) 2 Cor 12:5, Of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities;
— 2a.2) 2 Cor 12:6, For I will speak the truth;
— 2a.3) 2 Cor 12:7-10, Paul’s thorn in the flesh/ God’s grace.
As I was meditating on this passage, and asking, What are You saying by this Father? I realized the central axis is about the surpassing glory of the revelation that Paul experienced. He saw a vision of the third heaven where God dwells. In the biblical worldview, there are three heavens: the first is the atmosphere above the earth, where the birds fly. The second is the space beyond the earth – outer space. The third is the spiritual heaven where the Lord dwells. Only a very few people in history have seen what Paul saw. Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel … Stephen, at the point of his death … is that the sum total? So Paul is in a very exclusive club. His credentials for his apostleship are strong.
This glorious vision and revelation is wrapped, in the chiastic structure, by infirmities and weakness. The heart is glory unspeakable, covered over by what is natural, what is weak, what is infirm. It is covered over by what we pity, not what we esteem.
But isn’t that the way with all of us? Our true nature is waiting, groaning, to be revealed at the coming of the Son of Man. It is not visible now; and sometimes, not even to ourselves. We have this indescribable treasure, the glorious presence and nature of God, in earthen vessels.
Let us take care to treat everyone we meet as an indescribable treasure no matter their outward appearance or their present circumstances. That person is beloved and valued by God, and we do not want to touch the apple of His eye. But even more so … I am an indescribable treasure in the eyes of my Father God, and you are an indescribable treasure in the eyes of your Father God. Don’t let the temporary weakness and infirmity fool you as it might fool others. Remember who you are.
To be continued … in sufficient grace.