2 Cor. 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions
"Then he says, still contrasting himself to the false apostles, 'I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord' (see 2 Cor. 12:1). And here, surprisingly, the account suddenly shifts to understatement. After a dozen or more examples of dramatic persecution, we might expect a half a dozen episodes of dramatic revelation just to drive his point home. Instead, Paul's awe, humility, and gratitude for having received those revelations turn him from aggressiveness to reverence-even reticence. The fact that he describes the vision as happening to 'a man in Christ' is such an evidence of that humility, though he is obviously speaking of himself. The passage makes no sense if it isn't his own revelation, since he's reminding the Corinthians of his credentials contrasted to those of the 'false apostles.'" (Richard L. Anderson, Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, Neal A. Lambert, ed., [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1981], 71.)
2 Cor. 12:2 such an one caught up to the third heaven
"Paul also understood and taught the doctrine of various heavens, or degrees of glory. In fact, in his second letter to the saints at Corinth, he states that he knew a man who was 'caught up to the third heaven' (2 Corinthians 12:2). Naturally, if there is a 'third' heaven, there must also be a first and a second. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul identifies three degrees of glory and gives names to two of these heavens. In speaking of the order of resurrected bodies, he states: 'There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead' (1 Corinthians 15:40-42; emphasis added). Thus Paul indicates that the highest heaven, whose glory is like the sun, is called the celestial. The second heaven, whose glory is like the moon, is the terrestrial. The lowest order of heaven, whose glory is like the stars, is not named by Paul.
"The clearest and most comprehensive statement in all scripture on the three heavens, or degrees of glory, comes from modern scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants. This book contains the testimony of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who, on 16 February 1832, were shown these heavens in vision and who recorded their experience." (Daniel H. Ludlow, Selected Writings of Daniel H. Ludlow: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 412.)
"The revelations given to Paul and Joseph Smith tell us of our personal destinies. Nothing is more exciting than the brilliant scene of the three degrees of glory in Joseph Smith's vision, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76. The Christian world knows nothing of such degrees of glory-it believes only in a superficial heaven and a dismal hell...Paul and Joseph Smith's teachings agree with each other-and differ from those of the Christian world-because they personally received true revelation. In Joseph's words, 'When any person receives a vision of heaven, he sees things that he never thought of before.'" (Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith," Ensign, Apr. 1985, 15)
"Paul was caught up into the third heaven and the paradise of God, and he saw things he was not permitted to write. (See 2 Cor. 12:2-4) He must have seen something pretty wonderful by the time he had passed the first and the second heaven and the paradise of God into the third heaven, but he did say, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.' (1 Cor. 2:9.)" (Conference Report, April 1965, Third Day-Morning Meeting 119.)
"Paul informs us of three glories and three heavens. He knew a man that was caught up to the third heaven.2 Cor. 12:5 Now, if the doctrine of the sectarian world, that there is but one heaven, is true, Paul, what do you tell that lie for, and say there are three? Jesus said unto His disciples, 'In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come and receive you to myself, that where I am ye may be also.' [John 14:2-3.]" (History of the Church, 5:425-26.)
2 Cor. 12:3 whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell
Bruce R. McConkie
"Sometimes prophets go into trances in connection with the receipt of visions. That is, they are so completely overshadowed by the Spirit that to all outward appearances normal bodily functions are suspended. Such was the case with Balaam when he saw the coming of Christ and the triumph of Israel (Num. 24.) Peter 'fell into a trance' when he received the vision commanding him to take the gospel to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9-48.) Paul 'was in a trance' when the Lord came to him with the command to leave Jerusalem and carry the message of salvation to the Gentiles. (Acts 22:17-21.)
"A similar experience happened to the Prophet Joseph Smith in connection with the First Vision; he was not in control of all his bodily powers when the Father and the Son appeared to him. 'When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven,' he said. 'When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.' (JS-Hist. 1:20.)"
"...Similarly, when the Three Nephites 'were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things,' they were transfigured. 'Whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God.' (3 Ne. 28:13-17.) Paul had a similar experience (2 Cor. 12:1-4), as also did Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. (D. & C. 76; Teachings, p. 107.)" (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 802-803.)
2 Cor. 12:4 he was caught up into paradise
Paradise is different than the third heaven (v. 2). In verse 1, Paul promised to discuss 'visions and revelations' (both in plural). So we may safely assume that Paul is speaking of two different visions-one of the celestial kingdom and another of Spirit Paradise. The difference is not hard for Latter-day saints to comprehend. With only one exception in the scriptures (Rev. 2:7), the word paradise refers to the spirit world (see Lu. 23:43; 2 Ne. 9:13; Alma 40:12). LeGrand Richards noted, "From this scripture, it is evident that paradise is not the first, second, or third heaven." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 177.)
2 Cor. 12:4 he heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter
See commentary for 2 Corinthians 9:15.
"Some experiences are ineffable, so transcendently glorious that they defy human expression or description. Of these things it is not possible for man to speak. Some truths and experiences 'are not lawful for man to utter' in the sense that it is not permitted or appropriate to speak of them, except as led and directed by the Holy Spirit." (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987-1992], 3: 84.)
"...it is apparent that something is being withheld, and it is also apparent that it is being held back not arbitrarily but for a good reason, namely, that people are not ready to receive it. It is also apparent that people are to be given knowledge as they are able to receive it, so that the mysteries of the kingdom are imparted by degrees. There are, as it were, automatic safeguards built into the teaching to protect sacred things from common misunderstanding and to protect the unworthy from damaging themselves with them." (Since Cumorah, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988], 94.)
2 Cor. 12:7 there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me
"Many have speculated as to the nature of the 'thorn' Paul speaks of. Some have suggested that severe physical maladies were his lot. President Harold B. Lee has declared that the test the ancient apostle experienced was to spiritually strengthen him, a lesson that applies in principle to all who are called to serve in responsible places in the Church:
'The Lord has told us in the scriptures that Satan is an enemy of all righteousness; because of that fact, those who are standing in high places in our Father's kingdom will become the objects of his attacks. You may well expect, as the Apostle Paul understood, that you who preside in the various places in our Father's kingdom will be subjected to the devil's onslaughts. ... Sometimes there is given infirmity, difficulty, hardship upon you to try your souls; and the powers of Satan seem to be enrolled against you, watching and trying to break down your powers of resistance; but your weakness, through those infirmities, will give you the power of God that shall rest upon you even as the Apostle Paul was reconciled and comforted by the thought that through his trials the power of God might rest upon him.' (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 57.)" (Edward J. Brandt, "New Testament Backgrounds: 1 and 2 Corinthians," Ensign, Feb. 1976, 59)
James E. Faust
"My beloved brothers and sisters and friends, today I wish to speak of thorns, briars, slivers, and a crown of thorns...I wish that I better understood all of the divine purposes in having to contend with so many painful irritants in this life. Lehi explained one reason: that we will appreciate and savor the goodness and loveliness of the world. (See 2 Ne. 2:10-13.) Adam was told that the ground is cursed with thorns and thistles for our sakes. (See Gen. 3:17-18.) Likewise, mortality is 'cursed' with the thorns of worldly temptation and the slivers of sin so that we can be tested and prove ourselves. This is necessary for our eternal progression. The Apostle Paul explained, 'Lest I should be exalted above measure ... , there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.' (2 Cor. 12:7.)
"...It seems that no matter how carefully we walk through life's paths, we pick up some thorns, briars, and slivers...How are the thorns and slivers of life removed? The power to remove the thorns in our lives and in the lives of others begins with ourselves. Moroni writes that when we deny ourselves of ungodliness, then the grace of Christ is sufficient for us. (See Moro. 10:32.)
"Too often we seek bandages to cover the guilt rather than removal of the thorn causing the pain. How much we resist the momentary pain of removing a sliver, even though it will relieve the longer-lasting pain of a festering sore. Everyone knows that if thorns and briars and slivers are not removed from the flesh, they will cause sores that fester and will not heal.
"...All irritants of the flesh and the soul should be removed before they fester. However, though they ulcerate and though they torment, they can still be removed, and the healing process will take place. When the infection is healed, the soreness will leave. That process is known as repentance. Repentance and forgiveness are among the greatest fruits of the Atonement. It is not easy to remove the thorns of pride, the thistles of selfishness, the slivers of ego, and the briars of appetite.
"...I conclude with the words of Ezekiel, 'And thou, son of man, ... though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid.' (Ezek. 2:6.) In our constantly changing world, may we continually cling to those things that do not change: to prayer, to faith, to saving covenants, to love of families, and to brotherhood. By removing the slivers of sin and the thorns of worldly temptation in our lives, and by denying ourselves and taking up our own cross and following the Savior, we can change a crown of thorns to a crown of glory." ("A Crown of Thorns, a Crown of Glory," Ensign, May 1991, 68-70)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Paul indicated that 'there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.' (2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Italics added.) Use of the word given suggests that Paul knew wherefrom this affliction came. Further, as it must be with anyone who seeks sainthood, Paul had to be 'willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him.' (Mosiah 3:19.)
"There may be those who choose to debate the significance of whether or not an omnipotent God gives us a particular trial or simply declines to remove it. The outcome is obviously the same either way; God is willing for us to undergo that challenge. Yet He promises us that His grace is sufficient for us. (2 Corinthians 12:9; Ether 12:26-27.) He even indicates that some of the weaknesses and infirmities given to us can actually become a strength to us. It is in our weakness and extremity that God's power is fully felt. Only when, of ourselves, we are helpless is His help truly appreciated." (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 31.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"There are clearly special cases of individuals with special limitations in life, which conditions we mortals cannot now fully fathom. For all we now know, the seeming limitations may have been an agreed-upon spur to achievement-a 'thorn in the flesh' (2 Cor. 12:7). Like him who was 'blind from birth,' some come to bring glory to God (John 9:1-2). We must be exceedingly careful about imputing either wrong causes or wrong rewards to all in such circumstances. They are in the Lord's hands, and he loves them perfectly. Indeed, some of those who have required much waiting upon in this life may be waited upon again by the rest of us in the next world-but for the highest of reasons!" ("A More Determined Discipleship," Ensign, Feb. 1979, 71-72)
2 Cor. 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me
"No one really knows what Paul's 'thorn in the flesh' was...All we know for sure is that whatever it was, it kept Paul humble and forced him to his knees. His inabilities and his impotence in the face of this particular challenge were ever before him. I rather think that when Paul states that he 'besought the Lord thrice' for the removal of the thorn, he is not describing merely three prayers but instead three seasons of prayer, extended periods of wrestling and laboring in the Spirit for a specific blessing that never came. Indeed, as he suggests, another kind of blessing came-a closeness, a sensitivity, an acquaintance with Deity, a sanctified strength that came through pain and suffering. It was up against the wall of faith, when shorn of self-assurance and naked in his extremity and his frightening finitude, that a mere mortal received that enabling power we know as the grace of Christ. As the Savior explained to Moroni, when we acknowledge and confess our weakness-not just our specific weaknesses, our individual sins, but our weakness, our mortal limitation-and submit unto him, we transform weakness into strength (see Ether 12:27)." (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 502.)
"Indeed, some thorns in the flesh call forth prayers of great intensity (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), supplications and pleading that are certainly out of the ordinary. Such vexations of the soul are not typical, not part of our daily prayer life. Just as it would be a mistake to suppose that Jacob or Enos wrestled with God in prayer every day, so you and I are not expected to involve ourselves with the same tenacity, to be involved in the same bending of the soul on a regular basis. But now and then in the eternal scheme of things, we must pass through the fire in order to come through life purified and refined and thus prepared to dwell one day in everlasting burnings with God and Christ and holy beings." (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 438 - 439.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Paul thrice petitioned God that the unidentified thorn of affliction might be taken from Him. The answer was 'no.' In place of full relief came God's grace. We express our desires out of an imperfect perception, and upon learning the Father's desires, we yield to His eternal perspective and purposes. It is the only surrender that is also a victory!" (Even As I Am [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 47.)
2 Cor. 12:9 My grace is sufficient for thee
"The results of childhood abuse, whether sexual, physical, or emotional, can be devastating. Those who shared their stories related similar challenges as they grew into adulthood: fear, anger, distrust, depression, a sense of little self-worth-powerful, debilitating feelings that affected every aspect of these members' lives as they struggled to understand and deal with these emotions.
"'Part of being on the healing journey for me has included dealing with personal problems that have come as a result of the abuse,' wrote one member. 'It has been frustrating and sometimes frightening to struggle with these weaknesses, but the Lord has assured me that 'my grace is sufficient for thee' (2 Cor. 12:9). As long as I keep moving on the path of recovery the Lord will accompany and assist. I have a new appreciation for the concept of mercy and recognize the need for an Atonement. I have a deep appreciation for my Savior, who makes up the difference in price I cannot pay for myself.'
"Truly the Atonement plays the crucial role in the healing process as people with broken hearts and scarred spirits realize they are not alone in their pain and that the Savior has provided a way for them to find peace.
"'In October 1995 I was sitting in a chapel listening to general conference,' remembers one woman. 'Elder Jeffrey Holland spoke on remembering the Lord during the passing of the sacrament. He suggested we remember the Savior's humble birth and other aspects of the Savior's life. Then when Elder Holland spoke of remembering the Crucifixion, he said, `To those who stagger or stumble, he is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end he is there to save us, and for all this he gave his life` ' ("This Do in Remembrance of Me," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69)." ("The Journey to Healing," Ensign, Sept. 1997, 19)
Ezra Taft Benson
"It matters not what is our lack or our weakness or our insufficiency. His gifts and powers are sufficient to overcome them all.
"Moroni continues with the words of the Lord: 'My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.' (Ether 12:27; italics added.)
"What a promise from the Lord! The very source of our troubles can be changed, molded, and formed into a strength and a source of power. This promise is repeated in one form or another in many other scriptures. Isaiah said, 'He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.' (Isa. 40:29.) Paul was told by the Lord, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.' (2 Cor. 12:9.) In the Doctrine and Covenants we read, 'He that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom.' (D&C 52:17; see also 1 Ne. 17:3; 2 Ne. 3:13; D&C 1:28; 133:58-59.)
"Brothers and sisters, we must take our sins to the Lord in humble and sorrowful repentance. We must plead with Him for power to overcome them. The promises are sure. He will come to our aid. We will find the power to change our lives." ("A Mighty Change of Heart," Ensign, Oct. 1989, 4-5)
Gene R. Cook
"We should have great hope in knowing, however unworthy we may feel or weak we may be, that if we will do all we can, He will come to our aid and provide for us whatever we may lack. (See 2 Cor. 12:9.) That statement, to some degree, defines grace.
"Grace is a 'divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.' It is 'an enabling power.' (Bible Dictionary, p. 697.) The doctrine of the grace of the Father and the Son and how it affects us is so significant that it is mentioned more than two hundred times in the standard works.
"If we can obtain the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that divine enabling power to assist us, we will triumph in this life and be exalted in the life to come." ("Receiving Divine Assistance through the Grace of the Lord," Ensign, May 1993, 80)
2 Cor. 12:9 my strength is made perfect in weakness
"The truth is that we were born into an imperfect state in a fallen world. We chafe against our imperfection, but we cannot completely eradicate our humanity in this life. Here power is an attribute of God, not of man. We were created weak so that we would turn to the only source that could develop real spiritual stamina in us. Moroni recorded his conversation with the Lord on this subject in Ether 12:23-37. He feared that the Gentiles would not accept the precious records because of the weaknesses in their writing. (Ether 12:25.) The Lord comforted him with this wonderful principle: 'My grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; and if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they . . . have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.' (Ether 12:26-27.) When the Lord told the Apostle Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness,' Paul declared, 'Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.' (2 Cor. 12:9.)" (Catherine Thomas, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 8: Alma 30 to Moroni, ed. by Kent P. Jackson, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988], 277.)
Dallin H. Oaks
"...if we face up to our individual adversities or hardships, they can become a source of blessing. God will not give us adversities we cannot handle, and he will bless us richly for patiently doing the best we can in the circumstances.
"Elaine Cannon reminds us of an important way these blessings come and how we can make the most of them. 'When we are pushed, stung, defeated, embarrassed, hurt, rejected, tormented, forgotten-when we are in agony of spirit crying out `why me?` we are in a position to learn something' (Adversity, 47).
"The Apostle Paul demonstrated his understanding of that principle and provided a wonderful example of how to act upon it. Paul had what he called 'a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me' (2 Cor. 12:7). He prayed for the Lord to take that thorn from him, but the Lord replied: 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor. 12:9). Having received that answer, faithful Paul then said he would 'glory in [his] infirmities' (2 Cor. 12:9). 'Therefore,' he said, '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' (2 Cor. 12:10).
"Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a modern example of this in a conference address some years ago. He quoted a young friend who lost his hand when it was crushed in a hydraulic press.
"During the first night there were thoughts of 'Why me? Was it something in my past? What have I done to deserve this?' Then I thought, 'No more rodeo, football, or skiing,' and I wondered what type of a woman would want a one-handed husband."
"Then came a fast Sunday when this young man gathered the courage to thank everyone for their prayers in his behalf. He later recalled:
'After the testimony meeting, an admired friend gave me a special blessing. So many questions were answered during his blessing. He told me this accident was not punishment for anything I had done but, rather, an opportunity to help me become a better person and to amplify those particular traits which needed to be developed. He shared the thought that this challenge could make me more understanding of people, problems, and life. As I look back now, each point of his blessing and encouragement has helped in a very fulfilling way.'
"The young man concluded: 'Today as I look back, I see the challenge of adversity as something upon which to build' ("Adversity and You," Ensign, Nov. 1980, 59)." ("Adversity," Ensign, July 1998, 10, 12)
James E. Faust
"Here, then, is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner's fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. This pain is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd.
"Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful. The apostle Paul referred to his own challenge: 'And lest I should be exalted above measure . . . there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.' (2 Corinthians 12:7.)
"The thorns that prick, that stick in the flesh, that hurt-these often change lives that may seem robbed of significance and hope. This change comes about through a refining process that often seems cruel and hard. In this way the soul can become like soft clay in the hands of the Master in building lives of faith, usefulness, beauty, and strength. For some, the refiner's fire causes a loss of belief and faith in God, but those with eternal perspective understand that such refining is part of the perfection process." (To Reach Even unto You [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980], 98.)
2 Cor. 12:9 therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me
Great infirmities bring great power. Hence, great prophets glory in their infirmities. They understand that they are called to suffer more because of the threat they pose to Satan and his kingdom. They also understand that their sufferings don't last forever, and in the end, they will come off triumphant. Hence Joseph Smith declared:
'And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.' (DC 127:2)
2 Cor. 12:10 when I am weak, then am I strong
Elder Charles A. Callis
"We are walking in the path of humility, and God is making us a power for good in the world. After all, brethren and sisters, there is more strength in the humility that comes from trusting in the Lord Jesus than in the strength of worldly power. 'When I am weak,' said Paul, 'then am I strong.' So long as the Latter-day Saints put their trust in God; so long as they walk in the light, they will be clothed with a power that is invincible." (Conference Report, April 1911, Overflow Meeting. 80.)
2 Cor. 12:11 in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing
Occasionally in the mission field, investigators are surprised to find out that our church has 12 apostles. They skeptically ask, "how could you have apostles today since they were not witnesses of Christ's mortal ministry?" Reminding them of the apostle Paul answers this question.
However, as we read Paul's epistles, it becomes apparent that he was the subject of the same kind of skepticism. We might imagine the false teachers among the Corinthians asking, "why should we believe your doctrine of Christ, you are not one of the original apostles who walked and talked with Jesus?"
"As you know, Paul was, sadly, required to spend a significant amount of time defending his apostolic calling. Having been a zealous Pharisee and even a persecutor of the Christians before his conversion, and not having been one of the original witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ, he felt the need to testify to his detractors that his call had indeed come from God." (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 501 - 502.)
Hence, we find Paul defending himself with comments like this, 'in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles,' and 'I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles' (2 Cor. 11:5), and 'have I not seen the Lord Jesus Christ?' (1 Cor 9:1). Paul is not boasting. He is doing that which he should not have to do-defending his authority as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.