Questions & Answers

Harold S. Paisley

Question: Could an explanation be given concerning the use of Paul’s experience being kept secret by him for fourteen years, finally narrated to the Corinthians?

Answer: The experience of being caught up into Paradise and hearing unspeakable words described in 2 Cor. 12:1-4 was special for Paul and for some reason was not made known for fourteen years. The use he made of the event was in order to defend his apostleship to carnally minded persons in Corinth. He described himself as "a man in Christ" and gave all the glory of his experience to God. What Paul saw and heard in the third heaven was not for communication to saints on earth. Indeed it could not be made known in human language. Following this happening, Paul was given "a thorn in the flesh" to cause his spirit to be marked by humility lest pride would rise in his mind on account of the unique favor bestowed upon him by the Lord. It is interesting that earlier when he was let down in a basket, he required no thorn as a follow-up to his experience.

A lesson is to be observed. Painful and humiliating happenings do not call for preventive experiences, but after exceptional blessings from heaven there is the danger of self exaltation. The "letdowns" in service may be times of greater dependence on the Lord than "uplifts."


Question: Paul uses the term "I have espoused thee as a chaste virgin to Christ" in 2 Cor. 11:2. Could an explanation be given as to the meaning and purpose of the figure of the Corinthians being espoused to one husband?

Answer: The background to the opening words were written on account of wrong teachings by false brethren who were undermining the credibility of Paul’s apostleship and ministry. Paul was jealous for the preservation of his converts. He did not want to see them being turned aside from their earlier love for the person of Christ. His was a godly jealously. He would seek to safeguard them from being unfaithful to the coming bridegroom. The day of the espousal is a reference to the day of their conversion when many of them hearing Paul preach, believed and were baptized (Acts 18:8). The final objective of the day when he, by the gospel, espoused them to Christ as a chaste virgin, had an ultimate goal, the marriage of the Lamb for whom they waited! He therefore is teaching faithfulness in view of that day. In the waiting period, one commited to her lover, remains faithful if her devotion is genuine.