2 Corinthians 12:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV: "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV: "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV: "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."

2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB: "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT: "Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."

2 Corinthians 12:9, CSB: "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me."

What does 2 Corinthians 12:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Few lies are as attractive, and poisonous, as the claim that following God is a means to worldly success (1 Timothy 6:3–5). The Bible is unequivocal in teaching that earthly life can involve hardship, even for those who are faithful (John 15:19; 2 Corinthians 5:2–6). Jesus' explicit teaching was that Christians should expect hardships, a warning He gave specifically to prevent discouragement in the face of hard times (John 16:33). Liars who teach that wealth, healing, prosperity, or other benefits are waiting for anyone with "enough" faith are not merely unspiritual—they are unbiblical. Paul's experience here is among Scripture's most potent proofs that "word of faith" and other forms of the prosperity gospel are false.

Prior verses included Paul's extraordinary heavenly experience (2 Corinthians 12:1–3). This moment provided him with insights he was not allowed to reveal to others (2 Corinthians 12:4). To prevent Paul from being conceited about this knowledge, God sent Paul an unspecified "thorn in the flesh," or a "stake in the flesh." Scripture doesn't explain whether this was something physical, emotional, or connected to some temptation. All it tells us is that a man of profound faith and deep commitment was stricken, causing him to cry out to God repeatedly for relief (2 Corinthians 12:7–8).

Somehow, Paul came to understand God's answer to his request was a clear and permanent "no." As prior verses indicated, Paul realized the purpose of the malady was to maintain humility. This persistent "weakness" in Paul's life helped keep him from becoming conceited.

Instead, God proclaimed that His grace was fully capable of providing everything Paul needed to endure this suffering. God told Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. The Greek word for "sufficient" here is arkei, which implies endurance, strength, or satisfaction. Paul has written that he would only boast in his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:5), and now he adds enthusiasm. He will boast gladly about his weaknesses, including this thorn in the flesh.

Why would someone like Paul celebrate being forever saddled with some painful struggle? Because Christ's power becomes most obvious in those areas where believers are weakest. The word translated as "perfected" here is teleitai, which mostly refers to completion or accomplishment. The focus is on something being achieved, not having flaws removed. This is the same root word used by Christ when declaring "it is finished" from the cross (John 19:30).

This reveals several truths about how God works in the worldly lives of Christians. First, God is willing to make use of Satan and his demons to accomplish His own purposes. Their attempts to harass God's work and servants can become part of God's strategy to accomplish His exact goals.

Second, God's answers to prayer are always subject to His overall will. He may answer "no" to a request to relieve a believer's burden, whether or not that burden comes from a demonic source. If the suffering is helping a Christian to be more dependent on God, it may be accomplishing in us exactly what He wants.

Third, it shows us that God's primary concern for His children is not a mortal life of ease and leisure. His first goal is that we trust Him. That means allowing Christ to be strong in places we are weak, and not to resent Him for allowing us to experience that weakness.