Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 11
2 Corinthians 11
Paul continues to defend himself and Christian doctrine against the false accusers that had crept into Corinth.
1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
His foolishness or seeming foolishness. It's partially Paul vs. the deceivers but really it's the truth of God against lies (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Paul is defending the truth of Christianity but has to rebuke false accusations against him.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
A godly jealousy, a zeal over the condition of the church. God wants us to keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Just as a bride is kept pure before her wedding so God wants each church to do the same (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Exodus 34:14, For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Beautiful verse and so applicable when there are so many heresies that draw people away from the simplicity that is in Christ. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
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.
This is why doctrine is so important. Read your bible to know the truth and you won't be led astray by every subtle false idea. There is only one true gospel.
Ephesians 4:14, That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
Meaning, in no respect have I come short of the most well-known and important apostles (such as Peter, James, & John). Paul planted churches, performed miracles, was God's chosen vessel (Acts 9:15) and so on.
6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
Rude in speech, or only displaying common speech. Not the high rhetoric of the Greek scholars. Perhaps his accusers spoke well, spoke smoothly, like many false teachers do today.
We have thoroughly shown to you that we are true apostles.
7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
Sometimes people think that because something is free it isn't valuable. Quote the opposite with the gospel! While Paul had a right to receive payment from Corinth as its first pastor, they were such an unruly bunch that to show his intent clearly he didn't take any money from them.
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
He took wages from other churches (Philippians 4:15-16) for the ministry of the church at Corinth.
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: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
He preferred to be, for a time, even without the necessaries of life, rather than be a burden to Corinth. He's reminding them how deeply and genuinely he cares for their spiritual condition.
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
Out of context it looks like Paul is saying that he won't stop from proclaiming the truth of Christ and that he follows Him. In context it looks like nobody will stop Paul from being able to say that his service to Corinth is free. He won't accept any money or gifts from them.
This is like he's giving a solemn vow before the Lord, and most likely the false apostles were taking money from the people while Paul wasn't.
11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
Why do I do this? Because I love you as God knows.
12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
He will continue to serve this church at his own expense and the expense of the other churches supporting him so that his accusers will have nothing to say (see Titus 2:7-8).
The "found even as we" part seems to indicate that the false apostles hoped to use Paul as an example of collecting wages from the church so that they had an example from which to do the same and fleece the church of money. He wants to "cut off occasion" for them to have this opportunity.
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And here he calls them out in no uncertain terms. In this verse and the next our modern society would complain "that's not a very Christian thing to say" but false teachers need to be publicly rebuked.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Don't be surprised that these wicked scammers seem so genuine and convincing. Satan does the same.
They will be judged for their deeds in contrast with believers who are judged based off the righteousness of Christ.
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.
Repeating his intentions from the first verse to make clear that what he'll "boast" about is foolishness and only done out of necessity to vindicate his character. He's delayed doing this since 2 Corinthians 10:8.
17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
Again he gives a disclaimer that this boasting according to the flesh is not done from instruction or example from the Lord but that it is foolishness in order to silence his accusers.
18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
See Philippians 3:3-8 for his conclusion about his pedigree according to the flesh.
19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
Possibly the strongest sarcasm you'll find in Paul's writings. In other words, you tolerate or endure those who are really fools.
20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
Continuing the sarcasm, Paul says that they consider themselves wise yet tolerate blatant stupidity and people taking advantage of them.
This is possibly a hint that these false teachers were specifically judaizers trying to bring the church into bondage to the law (see Galatians 4:9 and verse 22 below).
21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
This has been variously understood, but I think he's referring to the previous verse about smiting on the face being not literal but concerning the reproach/criticism/deceptive words of the false teachers to the Corinthians. It is like they strike them on the face and the Corinthians allow it.
How ever these deceivers may be bold in what they boast in, Paul (speaking foolishly) can be bold also. It is foolish to place value on any of these things about to be described where Paul matches or exceeds the judaizers.
22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
All foolish things to boast in. Paul shows that these things don't elevate someone.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Yet again (how many times is this now?) Paul gives a declaimer about what he is about to "boast" in. Are they ministers of Christ and you believe them? I have been proven to be much more than that.
Look at all the things he endured for Christ. We should not complain when we bear our minor burdens.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
The law (Deuteronomy 25:3) allowed forty stripes; but they, pretending to be lenient, and to act within the letter of the law, inflicted "just" thirty-nine.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Preaching the gospel everywhere he went and caring for the young churches he planted.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
He has great empathy for those under trials. He burns with zeal or anger to support those offended or enduring persecution.
30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
If he has to boast on anything it will be (as he just did) the things he has suffered for Christ.
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
Romans 9:1, I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost
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.
See Acts 9:22-25.
See this happening in other similar circumstances: Jeremiah 38:6; Joshua 2:15; 1 Samuel 19:12