Questions From Readers
◼ Was Paul referring to Jehovah or to Jesus when he wrote: ‘The Lord said to me: “My power is being made perfect in weakness”’?
It seems that the apostle Paul was referring to the Lord Jehovah. By noting Paul’s words in context, not only can we see why this is so but we can also deepen our appreciation for the relationship between God and his Son. Paul wrote:
“That I might not feel overly exalted, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan, to keep slapping me, that I might not be overly exalted. In this behalf I three times entreated the Lord that it might depart from me; and yet he really said to me: ‘My undeserved kindness is sufficient for you; for my power is being made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast as respects my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may like a tent remain over me.”—2 Corinthians 12:7-9.
The thorn in Paul’s flesh may have been either some eye affliction or false apostles who challenged his apostleship. (Galatians 4:15; 6:11; 2 Corinthians 11:5, 12-15) Whichever it was, it tended to discourage Paul or keep him from exulting over his ministry. So he thrice asked that it be removed. But whom did he ask, and who responded by speaking of “my power”?
Since the passage mentions “the power of the Christ,” it might seem that Paul had asked the Lord Jesus. Unquestionably, he has power and can impart it to his disciples. (Mark 5:30; 13:26; 1 Timothy 1:12) In fact, the Son of God “sustains all things by the word of his power.”—Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17, 29.
However, the Lord God is the ultimate source of power, which he can and does supply to his worshipers. (Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:26, 29-31) Such power from God enabled Jesus to perform miracles and will yet enable him to act. (Luke 5:17; Acts 10:38) Similarly, Jesus’ apostles and other disciples received power from Jehovah. (Luke 24:49; Ephesians 3:14-16; 2 Timothy 1:7, 8) This included Paul, who ministered “according to the free gift of the undeserved kindness of God that was given [the apostle] according to the way his power operates.”—Ephesians 3:7.
Since Paul asked for the removal of the ‘thorn in his flesh, an angel of Satan,’ it is logical that he looked to the Lord God to do this, Jehovah being the one to whom prayers are directed. (Philippians 4:6; Psalm 145:18) Furthermore, Jehovah’s somehow encouraging Paul with the words, “My power is being made perfect in weakness,” does not leave out Christ. Power from the Lord God could be described as “the power of the Christ [that was] like a tent” over Paul, for ‘Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ (1 Corinthians 1:24) Thus, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 helps us to appreciate better the pivotal way in which Jehovah uses his Son in the outworking of the divine will.