2 Corinthians 11

1 I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me.

Paul begins to tell the Corinthians a little bit about himself so that they can respect him sufficiently to pay attention to what he tells them.

2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you {as} a pure virgin.

Paul explains why he wants the Corinthians to respect him. It is because Paul took the responsibility to make them disciples.

3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity {of devotion} to Christ.

Paul understood that Satan’s mission was to prevent people from becoming Christians, and to prevent Christians from becoming disciples.

At the very top level, the Christian message is very simple – love God above all else, and love your neighbor like yourself. Satan tries to corrupt that message, and he tries to do it with craftiness, so that you won’t even notice that the message has been corrupted.

4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear {this} beautifully.

Paul realized that these Corinthians were spiritual simpletons. They had no discernment, and would be easily deceived. They were the type of people who would swallow anything anyone told them.

Are you like the Corinthians? Do you believe everything that a person with the title of ‘pastor’ or ‘Bible teacher’ tells you?

5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.

Paul knew his own status, and while he never went about telling everyone that he was the best apostle around, and the best theologian of the day, he felt compelled to tell these Corinthians who he was so that they would listen to him and not be fooled.

6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not {so} in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made {this} evident to you in all things.

His theology was impeccable, and the Corinthians should have known that. But unfortunately, they didn’t.

Paul wasn’t not able to communicate very well verbally. Here he acknowledges that he was unskilled in speech. Earlier, in 2 Cor 10:10, he describes his speech as contemptible. Perhaps, like Moses, who was charged with giving the Jews the Law, he (who was charged with giving the Gentiles the gospel) had a speech impediment or stutter. Later, in 2 Cor 12:7-9, he mentions a thorn in the flesh that humbled him. Perhaps he was referring to this impediment – stuttering is indeed a thorn in one’s flesh that humbles a man.

7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?

8 I robbed other churches by taking wages {from} {them} to serve you;

9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.

Paul notes that he was a person who didn’t let the Corinthians pay him for his services to them.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia.

11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows {I do!}

Paul interjects his boasting with explanations of why he is boasting. You can see that he feels very embarrassed to boast like this, but he realizes that if he doesn’t tell the Corinthians the value of what they have in him, they will never figure it out because they are that foolish!

Sometimes, we too have great people in our midst, and we just show them no respect and assign them no value. Only after God takes them away do we recognize their value and regret not esteeming them highly. I hope you won’t make that mistake.

Many children receive love and care from their parents, and in return mistreat their parents. Then they go out in the world, and find such love and care for them very rare, and then begin to recognize the value of their parents. But by that time, their parents are dead and gone, and then there is a great regret in their life for not having esteemed their parents highly. I hope you won’t make that mistake.

12 But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.

Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that there was no one who cared for them like he did.

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

From the above passage, it should be clear that there do exist false apostles, deceitful workers – people who come to you in the name of Christ, and then lead you astray. That is part of Satan’s strategy, and if you are unaware of it, you will be deceived and led astray, to your own misfortune and even doom. Such people will be punished, but if you let them pull you down, you too will suffer the wrath of God.

16 Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if {you do,} receive me even as foolish, so that I also may boast a little.

17 What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.

With all these dangers around, Paul was willing to look foolish as he explained to the Corinthians what a great man he was.

18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also.

19 For you, being {so} wise, tolerate the foolish gladly.

20 For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.

21 To {my} shame I {must} say that we have been weak {by comparison.} But in whatever respect anyone {else} is bold – I speak in foolishness – I am just as bold myself.

Paul was willing to make a fool of himself if that was what it took to help the Corinthians.

Some teenagers and children are just like the Corinthians. They won’t listen to their parents who love them and want what’s best for them, but they will listen to people who enslave them and devour them and take advantage of them. If you are one of them, please repent.

Now of course, sadly, not all parents wish the best for their children, and not all parents give their children wise advice, so I am not saying that one should always blindly do whatever their parents tell them.

22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.

23 Are they servants of Christ? – I speak as if insane – I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.

24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine {lashes.}

25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.

26 {I have been} on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from {my} countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;

27 {I have been} in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

You can see, from the above passage, what trials Paul had to face as he spread the gospel. What a remarkable man!

28 Apart from {such} external things, there is the daily pressure on me {of} concern for all the churches.

29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

Besides physical trial, he also had to endure spiritual and psychological trials.

30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.

31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.

32 In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me,

33 and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and {so} escaped his hands.

There were people out there trying to kill him.


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