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2 Corinthians 12-13, Galatians 1
Jesus Christ plainly stated that He was the only man to have ever ascended to the heaven of God's Throne: "3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13 KJV; see also Heavens Below, Heavens Above and What Happens When You Die?; also Where Did Elijah Go? and What Happened To Enoch?). Paul's vision of heaven was of that Throne, just as the prophet Daniel had been given to see many centuries earlier (see The Ancient of Days) and as the apostle John was given to see about 30 years after Paul had been martyred (see A Vision of God's Throne; also What Is Jesus Christ Doing Right Now? and The Throne Of God, From Heaven To Earth).
"12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; such an one caught up to the third heaven. 12:3 And I knew such a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me." (2 Corinthians 12:1-6 KJV)
The apostles frequently were able, by means of The Spirit Of God, to heal the sick ("5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people ... 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one" Acts 5:12,16 KJV) and even raise the dead (e.g. Tabitha by Peter in Acts 9:36-43 and Eutychus by Paul in Acts 20:7-12). Ironically however, the apostles themselves were left powerless to heal problems of their own, such as Paul's "thorn in the flesh" which he counted among his "infirmities." Why? "9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27 KJV).
"12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations [see Apocalypse], there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 KJV)
Paul's concern for the Corinthians was based upon his keen understanding of human nature and how Satan appeals to human lusts and covetousness, "12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbiting, whisperings, swellings, tumults" (2 Corinthians 12:20 KJV; see also The Cure For The Carnal Mind).
"12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12:12 Truly the signs of an Apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 12:13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
2 Corinthians Chapter 13
Paul's admonition for the converted Christians of Corinth to "13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Corinthians 13:5 KJV) speaks of people who were at the stage after they had become aware of the truth, by means of the Holy Spirit, because it was only after the truth is "seen" (see When Their Eyes Were Opened) that one can become Reprobate from the truth.
"13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you [see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey] . In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 13:2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 13:3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
Paul ends his second epistle to the Corinthian church with a blessing and encouragement.
"13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect [see Perfection], be of good comfort [see The Comforter and The Advocate], be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Galatians Chapter 1
In Paul's time, Galatia (in the geographical connotation) was primarily an area of north-central Asia Minor (known today as Turkey). Many of the first Christians there were converted, by the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of Paul (see Paul's Ministry), hence Paul's foremost purpose and concern for writing this epistle to the Galatians: "1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8 KJV; see also The Warning About Grievous Wolves).
"1:1 Paul, an Apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ [see The Messiah], and God the Father [see The Holy Father], who raised him from the dead [listen to the Sermon Christ's Passover: The Death And Birth Of The Saviour from our Sermons page]; 1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world [see The End Of The World?], according to the will of God and our Father: 1:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Galatians 1:1-5 KJV)
The Gospel of The Kingdom of God is precisely that; it is not about man's political or religious movements - all of the many false "gospel" fallacies that have been invented, including some that had infected the Galatian church.
"1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ [see Growing In The Grace And Knowledge] unto another gospel: 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ [see also Grace Into Licentiousness]. 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Paul emphasized that there is only one true Gospel, The Gospel of The Kingdom of God. It is God's Gospel to man, not man's gospel to man.
"1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Fact Finder: Were the apostles Peter (see Peter's Ministry) and Paul (see Paul's Ministry) very much alike, or very different, in education and occupation? Despite their many differences, what made them "brothers?"