2Corinthians 11 - Outline of 2Corinthians (MENU page)
I. Introduction. 1:1-7
II. The Characteristics of Paul's Ministry. 1:8- 7:16
III. The Collection for the poor. 8:1- 9:15
IV. The Vindication of Paul's apostleship. 10:1- 13:10
A. The divine authentication. 10:1-18
B. The godly jealousy. 11:1-11
1. Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly {foolishness}:
and indeed bear with me.
In ch. 11-12, Paul reluctantly engages in what he regards as foolish boasting about his ministry experience. While repeatedly apologizing for this inappropriate foolishness (eg., v.16,17,19,21; 2Cor 12:1), he considered it necessary, in order to expose the hypocrisy of false teachers who sought to undermine the foundation upon which the Corinthian church stood (2Cor 12:11; 1Cor 3:10,11). His great concern was not for his reputation, but rather for the well-being of Christ's church.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy {zeal of God}:
for I have espoused you to one husband,
{cp. Eph 5:25-32}
that I may present you as a chaste
{pure} virgin to Christ. {Col 1:28}
3 But I fear, lest by any means,
{cp. Gal 4:11}
as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty,
{Gen 3:1-5}
so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The word 'simplicity' connotes 'sincerity' and 'single mindedness' (eg., 2Cor 1:12). When applied to giving, the word implies 'liberality' or generosity (eg., 2Cor 8:2). Here (in v.3), "the simplicity that is in Christ" is in contrast to 'duplicity' concerning Him. (See Jam 1:5-8, where the wisdom of God is given 'liberally' {generously, simply}, but not to those who are double-minded.)
     Satan beguiled Eve to abandon the simplicity of God's clearly stated command, by causing her to question God's Word and intentions. Her duplicity concerning the command led to disobedience.
     Satan and his false teachers apply the same tactics today. The salvation which God has provided, requires simple faith in the Son of God who died for our sins, was buried, and arose from the dead (1Cor 15:1-4). Deceptive teachings concerning the Person and work of Christ can so confuse the simple truth, that deceived people cannot find the way of salvation (eg., 2Cor 4:3,4).
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached,
or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received,
or another gospel, which ye have not accepted,
ye might well bear with him.
Paul feared the Corinthian church would readily follow some newcomer, who proclaimed:
...another {GK=allos, another that is somewhat similar} Jesus...-
The true Jesus, who is the only Salvation provided by God for sinful men (Acts 4:12; 1Tim 2:5), has eternally existed as God (Joh 1:1-4), became a 'flesh and blood' man through the virgin birth (Luk 1:26-35; Mat 1:18-25), lived a sinless life (Heb 7:26,27), died the death which all sinners deserve (Rom 3:25-26; 2Cor 5:21), arose bodily from the dead (1Cor 15:4-8), ascended bodily into heaven, and will return from there, in the same way, at the appointed time (Acts 1:9-11).
     But there are many false Christs (eg., Mat 24:24; 1Joh 2:18,22; 2Joh 1:7). Those who promote a false messiah may call him "Jesus Christ." Their teaching may include a crucifixion and resurrection, while deceptively obscuring essential points in the biblical description of "the Christ" (to effectively deny any or all of the following: the virgin birth, the true deity and humanity of Jesus, the sufficiency of His one sacrifice for sins forever, His bodily resurrection and ascension, His future bodily return to earth to reign on David's throne, etc.).
...another {GK=heteros, another of a different kind} spirit... 1Joh 4:3
False spirits bear false witness to endorse false christs and false gospels.
     The Holy Spirit of God, bears witness to the true Christ, joins believers to Him, and reveals Him to them (Joh 16:13-15; Eph 4:4-6).
...another {GK=heteros, another of a different kind} gospel. Gal 1:6-8
False gospels cannot save, because they are dependent upon human ability, requiring sinners to do good works, and dispensing 'grace' through religious ritual administered by flawed institutions and priests.
     The true Gospel (which they deny) rests completely upon the all sufficient, finished work of Christ, by which He took away our sin. The sinner is saved through simple faith in Christ's Person and work (Joh 1:29; Rom 10:9,10; Eph 2:8,9; Heb 9:27,28; 10:14; 1Pet 1:18-21).
5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. {2Cor 12:11,12}
{"For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles." [NASB]}
6 But though I be rude {simple, unskilled} in speech, yet not in knowledge;
but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
Paul's detractors complained that he was not an eloquent speaker.
Yet, Paul knew the Word of God and he knew the One of whom he spoke. 1Cor 2:1-5,13
He had hidden nothing from them. He had plainly declared the whole truth to them. 2Cor 4:1,2
7 Have I committed an offence {a sin}
in abasing
{humbling} myself that ye might be exalted,
because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
{'freely,' ie., as a free gift, without charge; cp. Acts 18:1-3; 1Cor 9:6,11-12; 1The 2:9}
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted
I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me
the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied:
{eg., Php 4:14-16}
and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you,
and so will I keep myself.
{cp. 1Cor 9:13-18; 2The 3:8,9}
10 As the truth of Christ is in me,
no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
11 Wherefore? because I love
{GK=agapao} you not? God knoweth. {see v.12}
Although Paul had the credentials of an apostle (v.5; 1Cor 9:1,2), some of the local church leaders disparaged him as not displaying their self-defined prerequistes. They thought an apostle should be eloquent in speech (cp. v.6), be dignified in appearance, and be demanding the support of the church (cp. v.7). In reality, they were seeking to elevate themselves into honored and paid positions of leadership (cp. Gal 4:17, where false-teachers professed warm concern for a church, in order to gain a following).
     Paul boldly defended his apostleship, in order to defend a deeply loved local church, from dangerous opportunists. In contrast to those who exalted themselves, Paul willingly took the humble role of a servant, for the benefit of those he served, that they might be exalted {ie., elevated} in their knowledge of, and walk with, the Lord.
C. The warning against false teachers. 11:12-15
12 But what I do, that I will do {ie., I will continue to do},
that I may cut off occasion
{opportunity} from them which desire occasion {opportunity};
that wherein they glory
{boast}, they may be found {perceived} even as we. {cp. 2Cor 5:12}
{ie., the boasting opportunists sought to be seen as apostles, just like, or better than, Paul.}
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers,
transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel
{ie., no wonder};
for Satan himself is transformed
{lit., transforms himself}
into an angel
{GK=aggelos, angel, messenger} of light. {cp. v.3}
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also
be transformed
{lit., transform themselves}
as the ministers of righteousness;
{cp. Mat 7:15-20; 1Joh 3:7-10}
whose end shall be according to their works.
{2Pet 2:1-3}
In every instance above (in v.13-15), the word 'transform' can also be rendered 'disguise.' Satan and his representatives do not actually become God's apostles or angels {messengers} of light and righteousness. Rather, they deceptively present themselves as such (cp. Mat 24:24; Rom 16:17,18; 1Tim 4:1-3).
D. The enforced boasting. 11:16- 12:18
     1. Credentials comparable. 11:16-22
16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool;
if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord,
but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
18 Seeing that many glory
{boast} after the flesh, I will glory {boast} also.
19 For ye suffer
{bear with, put up with} fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
20 For ye suffer
{bear with, put up with},
if a man bring you into bondage,
{Gal 2:4; 4:9, ie., legalistic bondage to the Law}
if a man devour you,
{eg., Mat 23:14, ie., religious exploitation}
if a man take of you,
{eg., Rom 16:17,18; 2Pet 2:3, ie., religious profiteering}
if a man exalt himself,
{eg., Mark 10:42-45; 1Pet 5:1-3, ie., domineering leadership}
if a man smite you on the face.
{eg., Mat 24:45-51, ie., hypocritical leadership}
21 I speak as concerning reproach
{dishonor}, as though we had been weak. {cp. 2Cor 10:10}
Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold
{courageous}, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
22 Are they Hebrews? so am I.
{Php 3:5}
Are they Israelites? so am I.
{Rom 9:3,4}
Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
{Rom 11:1}
The credentials listed in v.22, were shared by the original apostles (cp. v.5). But these things were also claimed by the 'Judaizers' (false teachers who taught that Christians must submit to all aspects of the Mosaic Law, as in v.20a; cp. Acts 15:1,6-11).
     Prior to his conversion, Paul had placed great confidence in his status as an Israelite in good standing, until he came to understand that his self-righteousness was worthless before God (Php 3:1-11).
D. The enforced boasting. 11:16- 12:18
     1. Credentials comparable. 11:16-22
     2. Labors more abundant. 11:23-33
23 Are they ministers {servants} of Christ?
(I speak as a fool) I am more;
in labours more abundant,
{1Cor 15:10}
in stripes
{ie., beatings, scourgings} above measure {excessively},
in prisons more frequent,
{eg., in Philippi, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Rome...}
in deaths oft.
{ie., facing death many times, eg., 2Cor 1:9,10}
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
{cp. Deu 25:2,3}
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods,
{eg., Acts 16:22}
once was I stoned,
{eg., Acts 14:19}
thrice I suffered shipwreck,
{These were prior to the shipwreck of Acts ch.27.}
a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often,
{traveling was dangerous...}
in perils of waters
{ie., rivers, eg., hazardous river crossings},
in perils of robbers,
in perils by mine own countrymen,
{Jews, eg., Acts 9:23; 13:50; 20:3; 21:28-31; 23:12}
in perils by the heathen,
{Gentiles, eg., Acts 16:19-23; 19:23-30}
in perils in the city
{eg., Acts 17:5},
in perils in the wilderness
in perils in the sea
in perils among false brethren;
{cp. Gal 2:4}
27 In weariness
{wearisome toil} and painfulness {travail}, {1The 2:9; 2The 3:8}
in watchings
{sleepless nights} often,
in hunger and thirst, in fastings often
{ie., often without food, Php 4:12},
in cold and nakedness.
{1Cor 4:11; cp. Rom 8:35-37; Heb 11:37,38}
In great contrast to those who would exalt themselves to comfortably supported positions of power and honor over Christ's church, Paul had borne tremendous physical sufferings, in selfless service to Christ and His church.
     The enumerated difficulties were not the end of the story. Paul would endure many more trials and imprisonments, before his course would end in martyrdom. The references, above, merely illustrate a few of the cited incidents. For example, as Paul wrote this letter, he had already endured three shipwrecks (v.25), but the one recorded in Scripture (in Acts 27) had not yet occurred.
28 Beside those things that are without {external},
that which cometh
{presses} upon me daily,
the care of
{anxious concern for} all the churches. {eg., Acts 20:17-35; Col 2:1-4-f}
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak?
{eg., 2Cor 2:4,5; 7:5,6}
who is offended
{enticed to sin or apostasy},
and I burn not
{with anger and grief}? {eg., Php 3:18,19}
Paul's heaviest burdens were not in his physical sufferings, but rather in his great concern for the spiritual well-being of believers and the churches which he had established in the faith.
     This is very evident in his letters to the Corinthian church, where he decisively, yet, tenderly, addressed many types of danger, including tolerance of fornication (1Cor 5:1-5), injustice between brethren (1Cor 6:5-7), the necessity of personal purity (1Cor 6:15-18), disorder at the Lord's Supper (1Cor 11:22-f), false doctrine which denied the resurrection (1Cor 15:12-20), false teachers within the church (eg., v.13-15), and other matters.
30 If I must needs glory {boast}, {cp. 2Cor 12:11}
I will glory
{boast} of the things which concern mine infirmities.
{"...I will boast of what pertains to my weakness." [NASB]}
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which is blessed for evermore,
knoweth that I lie not.
Lest his readers misunderstand his 'boasts' (in v.23-29), of endurance under strenuous physical and spiritual burdens, as a claim of personal strength and superiority, Paul declares that he endured those things despite being a feeble person. The Lord could attest to the truth of that statement.
     Now, beginning in the next verse (and continuing through verse 10 of ch.12), Paul illustrates his weakness.
32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king
kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall,
and escaped his hands.
{Acts 9:19-25}
Not long after his conversion, Paul {Saul} preached "Christ... is the Son of God," in the synagogue in Damascus. Apparently, some of the Jews persuaded the governor that Paul should be captured and killed. Paul did not courageously depart the city through the guarded gates. Rather, he escaped over the city wall, under cover of darkness, and in dependence upon others to lower him in a basket. Although he was weak and cowardly, the Lord delivered him.

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