2 Corinthians 12:10 Meaning of When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong

2 Corinthians 12:10
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Explanation and Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:10

Paul found spiritual pleasure in the horrible things that happened to him in his life because he felt that when he was beaten down, he could feel the power in God in him the most.

In this passage, Paul spoke of an event 14 years earlier where he went into the “third heaven,” which is the heaven where God is. The “first” heaven is where birds fly, and the “second” heaven is where the stars are. We do not know when Paul went into the third heaven, how this happened, or what happened when he was there other than that Paul heard “unspeakable words” (2 Corinthians 12:4).

After Paul went into the third heaven, he was given some sort of affliction (the “thorn” in his flesh) (2 Corinthians 12:7). He pleaded with God three times to remove this affliction, but God would not. Instead, God responded by telling Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Because God said this to Paul, Paul found pleasure not only in this particular affliction but in the other difficulties in his life.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of 2 Corinthians 12:10

#1: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight…”
In the previous verse, God told Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). So because of this, Paul took pleasure. The King James Version translates “delight” as “pleasure.”

#2: “…in weaknesses…”
The King James Version translates “weaknesses” as “infirmities,” and many scholars think this refers to diseases, or at least to the “thorn in the flesh” of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). We do not know what this “thorn” was for Paul, but many speculate it was some sort of physical disability or sickness, in particular affecting his eyes. One example of Paul having trouble with his eyes is in Acts 23:3-5 when he did not recognize a high priest who was sitting in front of him. Due to Paul having previously been a Pharisee, he would have been able to recognize the high priest easily with the priest’s special garments if his vision would have been decent.

#3: “…in insults…”
This refers to contempt, mockery, and rejection.

#4: “…in hardships…”
This refers to the lack of the physical basics for life. The King James Version translates “hardships” as “necessities.” It refers to things like shelter, food, water, and clothing.

#5: “…in persecutions…”
Paul was stoned and left for dead in Lystra (Acts 14:19), beaten in Philippi (Acts 16:23-24), almost killed him in Ephesus (Acts 19:29; 2 Corinthians 1:8-9), imprisoned in Caesarea, and killed in Rome (2 Timothy 2:9).

#6: “…in difficulties.”
This refers to various distressing situations, both spiritually and physically.

#7: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The more apparent Paul’s weaknesses were, the more obvious it was that his successes came from Jesus.

Bible Study on 2 Corinthians 12:10

Expert Overview of 2 Corinthians

Biblical Translations of 2 Corinthians 12:10

NIV
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

NLT
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

ESV
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

KJV
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.

NKJV
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.