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2 Corinthians 12:5

ESV On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses —
NIV I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.
NASB In behalf of such a man I will boast; but in my own behalf I will not boast, except regarding my weaknesses.
CSB I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses.
NLT That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses.
KJV Of such a one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
NKJV Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.

What does 2 Corinthians 12:5 mean?

Paul has been describing an astounding supernatural experience. Fourteen years prior, he was caught up to paradise and shown things by God, details of which he was forbidden from revealing on earth. He has shared this story reluctantly, though. His primary motive seems to be that the Corinthians were being captivated by false apostles teaching a false gospel. Those deceivers probably had their own tales of spectacular experiences. Was Paul really a true apostle if he did not have experiences of his own to share?

Paul has told the story, but he described boasting about such a thing as foolishness. To reduce the focus on himself, he has described it indirectly, as happening to "a man." The following verses make it clear that this man was, in fact, Paul himself. He is not being deceptive. He is illustrating how essential it is that he not be glorified for what God did.

He writes that he will boast, in a sense, about the experience of this other man, but he refuses to boast about himself. Paul's Christlike desire to divert glory from himself was exactly opposite of the self-promoting spirit of the Corinthian culture. Paul described boasting as foolish and un-Christlike (2 Corinthians 11:17).

The one exception Paul made to his rule about boasting was that he would boast about his weaknesses. Paul insisted that the way to be strong as a Christian was to be weak so that God's enormous power was more fully on display (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). He cataloged a long list of his extraordinary weaknesses, set-backs, and suffering in the previous chapter. These showed that his success was entirely due to the power of God, not his own ability.
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