2 Corinthians 11
Paul and His Antagonists.
SUMMARY.--Compelled by His Opposers to Indulge in Folly.
His Jealousy for the Corinthians.
Compelled to Recount His Claims.
His Unparalleled Sufferings.
A Boast in Infirmities.
1-4. Bear with me a little in my folly. The disparagement of his
claims by the false teachers rendered it necessary that he should speak
of himself in self-defense. One so forgetful of
self and consecrated to Christ as Paul could only do this with a sort
of sense of shame. Hence he apologizes for doing so, though
2. For I am jealous over you. His course was induced because of
his jealousy for them, not in behalf of himself, but of Christ. He had
espoused them to Christ, the Bridegroom of whom the church is the bride
He has a fear lest this bride may be led astray.
3. But I fear. As Eve was seduced from God by the serpent
so he fears that the Corinthian brethren may be led from the
simplicity (single-minded devotion)
that is in Christ.
4. For if he that cometh. Most critics think that the verse is
shows that the Judaizers so perverted the gospel that it was really
another gospel. Hence Paul is supposed to say that if these men preach
another Jesus, another Spirit, and another gospel than those you
received, which they do, you might well bear with them! Perhaps,
however, he only means to say that these men discredit me, but have no
new gospel, Spirit or Christ to offer than what you have received
through me. This harmonizes better with what follows.
5, 6. I suppose I am not a whit behind the very chiefest
apostles. The Greek (see Revision in the margin) implies that these
men claimed to be apostles. Paul says he is not behind these
"pre-eminent apostles"--a stroke of sarcasm.
6. Though I be rude in speech. He had not the rhetoric of a
Corinthian orator, but he was not wanting in divine knowledge. See
1 Cor. 1:17, and 2:4.
His revealed knowledge had been manifest among them.
7-12. Have I committed an offense, etc. He had at Corinth
supported himself in part by his own labor
See note on
1 Cor. 9:13.
Yet these false apostles seemed to have charged that he did not dare to
ask for the support which was due an apostle.
8. I robbed other churches. Other churches sustained him when he
came to Corinth. This seems to have been the usual custom. Philippi
aided him more than once while preaching in Thessalonica
The churches of Macedonia aided him at Corinth.
9. When I was present with you and wanted. When his
supplies fell short, he worked at tent-making
until Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia with supplies
These were the
brethren which came from Macedonia.
10. No man shall stop me of this boasting. As he has done, so he
will do. It shall be his boast that his gospel was freely preached in
11. Wherefore? Why this course in Achaia? Not because he does
not love them, but
that I may cut off occasion, etc. One reason that he did this
was to give no excuse to these opposers to call on the church to
maintain them. He would force them by his example to be
found even as we, that is, to maintain themselves.
13-15. Such are false apostles. He now tears off the mask. These
men are not real, but false apostles, deceitful workers, pretending to
be Christ's apostles.
14. And no marvel. Is it said that they appear to be Christ's
ministers? Even Satan can take the shape of an angel of light. He
always seeks to destroy by coming in a false guise.
15. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers, etc. It is
not strange if persons really doing Satan's work should appear as
ministers of righteousness. The sorest wounds of the church are not
found from without, but from agents of Satan within.
16-21. Let no man think me a fool. Even though he should boast,
let no one regard him foolish (see
since he compelled to by the disparagement of his labors. Whether he be
regarded as foolish or wise, let his words be received.
17. That which I speak. What he is about to say, with an appearance
of boasting, is not compromising Christ. The folly, if there be folly,
is his own.
18. I will glory also. This is the folly for which he
apologizes. He will show that he is not behind those who have been
claiming so much credit at Corinth.
19. For ye suffer fools gladly. See
1 Cor. 4:10.
It was a part of their superior wisdom to tolerate fools. This is
perhaps said in derision. It is explained in the
20. For ye suffer. They must "suffer fools gladly,"
for they let men
bring them into bondage to the law
devour their property by their greed for gain; to
take them by the cunning snares laid for them; to
exalt themselves unduly.
Smite you on the face. This perhaps refers to an actual case of
21. I speak by way
of disparagement. The opposers had said that "his bodily
presence was weak"
They had suffered what he had described in
but he had never been so bold. Yet, wherein any were bold, he had the
right to be bold also. He next states grounds which he might have for
22-27. Are they Hebrews? Of pure Hebrew stock? So was Paul. See
Israelites. He was of the seed of Jacob, and the heir of the
promises to Israel.
Of the seed of Abraham. Not only of the fleshly, but of the
spiritual seed of Abraham.
23. Are they ministers of Christ? Speaking foolishly, that is,
commending himself (see
he is more; not only a minister, but a pre-eminent sufferer for Christ.
To show how much he exceeded them, he gives some account of his
In labors more abundant. The record of Acts shows how his labors
In stripes above measure. See
verse 24, 25.
In prisons more frequent. Clement, who wrote about the close of
the first century, says in his Epistle to the Corinthians that Paul was
imprisoned seven times. In Acts only one occurrence is named before the
date of this letter, that at Philippi.
It is evident from this enumeration that Acts is only a part of the
history of his labors.
In deaths oft. Often in peril of death.
24. Of the Jews fives times received I forty stripes save one.
The Jews were not allowed to exceed this number.
25. Thrice was I beaten with rods. This was the Roman scourging.
Only one of these instances is reported in Acts, that in
Once was I stoned. See
Thrice I suffered shipwreck. No account elsewhere is given of
these. The shipwreck, on the way to Italy,
was of later date.
A night and a day I have been in the deep. In an open boat, or
on driftwood, after a shipwreck.
26. In perils of waters. In crossing swollen rivers.
In perils of robbers. In his travels he was often exposed to
danger from this source.
In perils by mine own countrymen. The Jews, who constantly
persecuted him. See
By the heathen. The Gentiles. See
as an illustration.
In perils in the city. Damascus,
Antioch in Pisidia,
will at once occur as instances.
27. In weariness and painfulness. Often weary and in pain. The
verse shows the self-denial made necessary in preaching the gospel.
Often in want, hungry, naked and cold. Why should all these have been
endured? Nothing but overwhelming conviction and love could have led
him to this sacrifice himself.
28-31. Besides those things that are without. His physical
sufferings and labors were not all. There was constant care and anxiety
for the churches.
29. Who is weak? His sympathy for the
churches was so great that if they suffered, he suffered with them.
30. If I must needs glory. If compelled to boast, this boast
will be of his own infirmities and sufferings for Christ, such as he
has just narrated.
31. The God and Father . . . knoweth, etc. He has
given an astonishing catalogue of suffering. Yet, God knows that every
word is true.
32, 33. In Damascus. This seems to be cited to show that the
very beginning of his Christian career was amid peril. See
The governor under Aretas the king. Aretas was king of Petra,
and the father-in-law of Herod Antipas. Damascus was usually, at these
times, under Roman rule. Aretas engaged in war with Herod because he
sent off his daughter and took Herodias for a wife. He defeated Herod,
and became embroiled with the Romans. It is likely that in the contest
Damascus fell into his hands for a time. The language,
Kept the city . . . with a garrison, shows that it was
war times. The Jews, who were very strong in Damascus, doubtless
induced the governor to try to seize Paul.
33. Through a window in a basket was I let down. Houses in these
Oriental walled cities are built against walls with windows looking out
over them. It was, no doubt, from such a window that he was let down
and thus escaped.
Dean Stanley says that the catalogue of sufferings given in
shows that Paul's life was then without precedent in the history of the
world. The only explanation of such a life, continued now for more than
fourteen years, is that given by himself: "The love of Christ