Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

Confraternity - Home | Free Downloads | Transcriber's Notes | Abbreviations | Contact Us

2 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 11

          < Previous Chapter                    -----                    Next Chapter >         

2 Corinthians 11

Supplemental Commentary:

III.  THE APOSTLE DEFENDS HIS APOSTOLATE  10, 1 -- 13, 10 (continued)

11, 1-33.  In the preceding chapter St. Paul vindicated his apostolic authority against his adversaries in Corinth and warned them to reform their ways before he would arrive.  In this chapter he makes a comparison between himself and them in order to show his readers how far superior to his opponents he really is.  If this seems like self-praise, it is done only for the sake of the faithful.  The Apostle is glad that he preached the gospel at Corinth without pay; he has all the reasons for boasting which his critics have; he rejoices at the thought of his apostolic labors and sufferings.

11, 1-15:  He Preached Gratuitously.    1.  Foolishness is the folly of self-praise which the Corinthians have forced the Apostle to indulge in for the moment.  Had they remained loyal to him and to his preaching, such folly would have been unnecessary.  Bear with me, may also be translated, "You do bear with me."    2.  Divine jealousy: St. Paul's zeal for the Corinthians was like God's for the people of Israel.  At the time of their conversion the Corinthians were betrothed to Christ, through faith and Baptism, and he hoped to present them on the day of judgment a chaste virgin, i.e., free from corruption in faith, to their heavenly spouse.    4.  The supposition here is impossible since there is only one Christ, one Holy Spirit, one heavenly gospel.  This verse may also be understood as ironical praise of an actual situation, thus: It is a fine thing you are doing in tolerating newcomers with their preaching of another Jesus, and their offering of a different Spirit and gospel.    5.  Great apostles may refer ironically to the false leaders at Corinth, or sincerely to the Twelve.  St. Paul was certainly far superior to the former, and not inferior to the latter.    12.  The pseudo-apostles at Corinth took pay for their ministry, and if St. Paul did also, their practice would have justification before the people.  That was what they wanted.

11, 16-33:  His Ministry of Labor and Suffering.    17.  Not according to the Lord: i.e., not in keeping with the general rule given by Christ to His Apostles (Matt. 6, 1-6; Luke 17, 10; 18, 11-14).  But St. Paul was justified in deviating from this rule in order to counteract the bad influence of his enemies.    18-21.  The Corinthians ought to be able to put up with a little foolishness from St. Paul since they themselves are so wise, and since they willingly endure all kinds of outrages from their false leaders.    22 f.  Over against the sham boasting of his opponents, St. Paul cites his own origin and some of his many labors and sufferings for Christ and the gospel.    28.  Those outer things: the sufferings so far cited were incidental.  What really mattered was his anxious concern for all his churches; this was a daily responsibility.    32 f.  Damascus was the capital of Syria.  It goes back to the days before Abraham (Gen. 14, 15) and was founded by Uz, the grandson of Sem.  It is situated at the eastern foot of the Anti-Libanus on the high road of commerce between Egypt and Upper Syria and between Tyre and the East.

There is some difficulty in explaining the isolation of the incident about Damascus here.  Perhaps the adversaries had attributed St. Paul's departure from Damascus to cowardice, and denied that he had been in real danger.


Confraternity Bible:

He Preached Gratuitously  1* Would to God that you could bear with a little of my foolishness!  Nay, do bear with me!  2 For I am jealous for you with a divine jealousy.  For I betrothed you to one spouse, that I might present you a chaste virgin to Christ.  3 But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his guile, so your minds may be corrupted and fall from a single devotion to Christ.  4* For if he who comes preaches another Christ whom we did not preach, or if you receive another Spirit whom you have not received, or another gospel which you did not accept, you might well bear with him.  5* For I regard myself as nowise inferior to the great apostles.  6 Even though I be rude in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; but in every way we have made ourselves clear to you.

7 Or did I do wrong when I humbled myself that you might be exalted, preaching to you the gospel of God free of charge?  8 I stripped other churches, taking pay from them so as to minister to you.  9 And when I was with you and in want, I was a burden to no one; for the brethren from Macedonia supplied my needs.  Thus in all things I have kept myself from being a burden to you, and so I intend to keep myself.  10 By the truth of Christ which is in me, this boast shall not be taken from me in the districts of Achaia.  11 Why so?  Because I do not love you?  God knows I do.  12* But what I do I will go on doing, that I may deprive them of the occasion who are seeking an occasion to boast that they are doing the same as we do.  13 For they are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  14 And no wonder, for Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light.  15 It is no great thing, then, if his ministers disguise themselves as ministers of justice.  But their end will be according to their works.

His Ministry of Labor and Suffering  16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish.  But if so, then regard me as such, that I also may boast a little.  17* What I am saying in this confidence of boasting, I am not speaking according to the Lord, but as it were in foolishness.  18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.  19 For you gladly put up with fools, because you are wise yourselves!  20 For you suffer it if a man enslaves you, if a man devours you, if a man takes from you, if a man is arrogant, if a man slaps your face!  21 I speak to my own shame, as though we had been weak.  But wherein any is bold---I am speaking foolishly---I also am bold.  22 Are they Hebrews?  So am I!  Are they Israelites?  So am I!  Are they offspring of Abraham?  So am I!  23 Are they ministers of Christ?  I---to speak as a fool---am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in lashes above measure, often exposed to death.  24 From the Jews five times I received forty lashes less one.  25 Thrice I was scourged, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a  night and a day I was adrift on the sea; 26 in journeyings often, in perils from floods, in perils from robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren; 27 in labor and hardships, in many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  28 Besides those outer things, there is my daily pressing anxiety, the care of all the churches!  29 Who is weak, am I not weak?  Who is made to stumble, and I am not inflamed?  30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my weakness.

31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forevermore, knows that I do not lie.  32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to arrest me, 33 but I was lowered in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands.
__________

*

1: Foolishness: the folly of self-praise which the Corinthians have forced the Apostle to indulge in for the moment.  Had they remained loyal to him and to his preaching, such folly would have been unnecessary.

4: The supposition here is impossible since there is only one Christ, one Holy Spirit, one heavenly Gospel.

5: Great apostles: may refer ironically to the false leaders at Corinth, or sincerely to the Twelve.  St. Paul was certainly far superior to the former, and not inferior to the latter in his apostolate.

12: The pseudo-apostles at Corinth took pay for their ministry, and if St. Paul did also, their practice would have justification before the people.  That was what they wanted.

17: Not . . . according to the Lord: i.e., not in keeping with the general rule given by Christ to His Apostles (Matt. 6, 1-6; Luke 17, 10; 18, 11-14).  But St. Paul was justified in deviating from this rule in order to counteract the bad influence of his enemies.