If you’ve merely stumbled upon this article, know it is the eighth in a series adapted from “Confident Weakness” bible study by Belinda Dunn. She is the framer of the study and author of a book by the same name. For a better understanding of the study’s premise and my part in it, you might wish to follow through each of the numbered articles as sequenced, beginning with “Hopeful Frailty.”
In the article previous we basically did a word study on the first part of verse 9, II Cor.12, “MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU." In this lesson, moving on to the next phrase, “MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS,” we will continue to break the passage for better insight.
(Word studies can tend to get a bit technical but with patience and the Holy Spirit we can work through these definitions to the high goal of a more profound understanding of God's word. When we mine deep, Jesus is pleased to reveal his most precious gems of spiritual truth.
(1.) My. Marvin Vincent, in his “Word Studies of the New Testament,” notes the following (paraphrase mine): "even though the best texts (these are original documents the translaters work from) omit the possessive article here (the possessive pronoun, "my"), to do so would require lifting the phrase out of its 'impassioned' context(Paul here is echoing Jesus' ardent plea to him that His grace is sufficient, His power is perfected in weakness). It is more correct, Dr. Vincent feels, to keep it as it is in the Revised version" “My” power. Because it is the specific power of Christ Himself, not a “cold” aphorism, strength [in general] is perfected in weakness.
(2.) Power. Strong’s concordance based on the KJV has the word "strength" rather than "power" as in the NIV. The Greek word of translation is “dunamis,” (1411) which according to his (Strong's) definition more correctly corresponds to the English word "power." Though they do seem to be more or less interchangeable, "dunamis" would be a special power, power with a miraculous connotation. It would be a "power" outside the realm of the mundane or that which might originate from within on the ordinary.
An example of another NT usage of 'dunamis' occurs in scripture where Jesus in His resurrection body is urging His disciples to come together in a certain prescribed place (Jerusalem) where the power of the Holy Spirit was to come upon them on the day of Pentecost.
“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with “power” from on high.” Luke 24:49: (same here, “dunamis.”)
Synonyms obtained from Webster’s for "power" are: force, energy, strength, or might. The word “strength” applies to the quality or property of a person [in this case, God] that makes possible the exertion of force or overwhelming power or strength.
(3.) Made perfect, or perfected. Strong’s (5048), “teleiosis” to complete, accomplish or consummate (in character), consecrate, finish fulfill, make perfect, entire.
"Teleiosis" is derived from “teleios” (5046)- it means complete [in various applications] of labor, growth, mental and moral character.
"Teleios" itself in turn is derived from “telos” (5057)- it means to set out for a definite point or goal; the point aimed at or the limit; the conclusion of an act or state [termination], literally, figuratively, or indefinite; result [immediate or ultimate - or prophetic]; puspose; specifically as in an impost or levy (as paid); continual; custom; end; or finally.
Webster’s has these synonyms for perfect: whole, entire, intact, not lacking in any particular. Implies soundness, excellence of every part, element, or quality of a thing. In the English sense, perfect would imply the unattainable, while whole would be something that could be gained. (In kingdom work we know that all things are possible with God.)
My personal preference would be the word "consummate." Our weakness is "consummated" in the flame of God’s power and love; His power finds its aim, or purpose in our weakness.
(4.) Weakness. At Strong’s on weakness he has astheneia (769) - meaning feebleness of body or mind, or by implication a malady, moral frailty, disease infirmity, sickness, or weakness. (See previous study for a list of possible weakness categories.)
"Astheneia" is derived from "asthenes"(772) which means strengthlessness in various application. More feeble, impotent, sick; without strength, or weak.
Webster’s on weakness - lacking strength, deficient in physical vigor, feeble, debilitated, not able to sustain or exert much weight, pressure, not able to resist external force or withstand attack, mentally or intellectually deficient, not firmly decided, vacillating, etc. Weak(ness), feeble, frail, fragile, infirm, decrepit.
From this language then might we conclude Christ’s POWER reaches it’s ultimate aim, is consummated, completed, his purpose realized, when it intersects the point of our human weakness?
Or to correlate this with a former derivation from session 7, His power, or strength 'tabernacles' over our weakness creating the perfection He desires, the glory of Christ.
This is truly awesome! No longer must we regard our weaknesses with fear or shame, but rather with exaltation that comes from knowing Christ's wonderful power, His strength, is at its zenith when we concede our weaknesses, whatever they may be, into His keeping, His grace.
This was the magnificent lesson Christ taught Paul regarding His grace, the knowledge that kept Paul's faith at fever pitch through all his hardships and the loneliness of imprisonment.*
Next lesson: "I WILL BOAST ALL THE MORE GLADLY IN MY WEAKNESS"
Adapted from "Confident Weakness" bible study by Belinda Dunn. Study questions, hers.
*Study question response by Janice Cartwright
Read more articles by Janice Cartwright or search for articles on the same topic or others.