“Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2 Corinthians 12:14-15).
There is a difference of opinion among Biblical scholars regarding Paul the Apostle’s statement in 2 Corinthians 12:14: “…I am ready to visit you for the third time” (NIV), While there are a few possible ways to interpret this message, we can turn to the Scriptural accounts of Paul’s Corinthian ministry to help make an educated guess.
Paul’s initial visit to Corinth is recorded in the New Testament book of Acts and took place during his second missionary journey (see Acts 18:1-8). Many believe that his second visit to Corinth was referenced earlier in 2 Corinthians 2:1. That portion of Scripture reveals Paul’s distress over a “painful visit” he made to address the inappropriate and ungodly behavior of some within the church. Now it appears that Paul was preparing to visit the Corinthians once again- but as we’ll soon see, he was greatly concerned over what he might discover upon his arrival.
Nevertheless, one thing that was common to each of Paul’s Corinthian visits was this: “I will not be burdensome to you.” Unlike other spiritual leaders who sought to subjugate the members of the Corinthian church, consume their wealth, seize their property, and abolish their freedom (2 Corinthians 11:19-21), Paul was concerned for the Corinthians’ personal welfare and not for what they could offer him.
For Paul, this concern was analogous to the relationship that exists between a loving parent and his or her child. Just as loving parents willingly make sacrifices on behalf of their children, Paul the Apostle willingly sacrificed his right to financial support from the Corinthians because it was in their best interest for him to do so. And just as a child may grieve a mother and father by failing to appreciate an act of parental self-denial, Paul felt that same kind of emotional heartache in his relationship with the church at Corinth: “I am glad to give you myself and all I have for your spiritual good, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me” (TLB).