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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
2 Corinthians 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

2 Corinthians 11:1. ὄφελον ἀνείχεσθέ μου κ. τ. λ.: would that ye could bear with me in a little ( μικρόν τι only here and 2 Corinthians 11:16; cf. Hebrews 2:7) foolishness. ἀφροσύνη = “nonsense” (see ref. and cf. Romans 2:20, 1 Corinthians 15:36, Ephesians 5:17). He thus deprecates his insistence on his claim to apostolic authority, and at the same time introduces with great skill a passionate statement of it.— ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀνέχ. μου: nay indeed bear with me; i.e., he not only utters a wish, but entreats them directly. Others (e.g., R.V. marg.) take ἀνέχ. as indic., i.e., “but indeed ye do bear with me”.


Verses 1-4

2 Corinthians 11:1-4. HE BEGS THEM TO BEAR WITH HIM IF HE STATES HIS CLAIMS AT LENGTH IT IS NECESSARY TO DO SO BECAUSE OF THEIR READINESS TO ACCEPT NOVEL TEACHING.


Verse 2

2 Corinthians 11:2. ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς κ. τ. λ.: for I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy (cf. Zechariah 1:14, and for θεοῦ ζήλῳ cf. Acts 22:3, Romans 10:2; this “jealousy” of St. Paul is on behalf of God); for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ, sc., at His Coming. The figure of Israel as a Bride presented to Jehovah as the Bridegroom was frequently used by the O.T. prophets (Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5, Hosea 2:19); and, according to the Rabbis, Moses was the bridesman or paranymph. Here St. Paul conceives of himself as the paranymph (cf. John 3:29) who presents the Church as a pure Bride (cf. Revelation 21:2) to Christ, the heavenly Spouse, the “one husband” to whom she is bound to remain faithful. Some critics have found here an echo of Christ’s words at Matthew 9:15; Matthew 25:1-12; but the similarity does not extend further than the employment of the same image demands. ἁρμόζω in the act. is regularly used of the father of the bride; in the pass. of the bride herself (Proverbs 19:14); and in the mid. generally of the bridegroom, but sometimes (as here) of others.


Verse 3

2 Corinthians 11:3. φοβοῦμαι δὲ μή πως κ. τ. λ.: but I fear lest by any means, as “the serpent beguiled” Eve in his craftiness (in Genesis 3:1 the serpent is called φρονιμώτατος, but St. Paul changes the word to indicate the baseness of the serpent’s wisdom. Aristotle uses πανουργία in direct contrast to φρόνησις; cf. Nic. Eth., vi., 12), your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 6:6) that is toward Christ. It would appear that the belief of the synagogues was that the serpent literally “seduced” Eve (cf. 4 Maccabees 18:6-8, and Iren., contra Haer., i., 307), and it is probably in reference to this that St. Paul substitutes the stronger word ἐξαπατάω (as he does at 1 Timothy 2:14) for the simple verb ἀπατ. of Genesis 3:13. Carrying on the metaphor of 2 Corinthians 11:2, he expresses his anxiety lest the Corinthian Church, the Bride of Christ, should be seduced by the devil from her singleness of affection (cf. 1 Maccabees 2:37; 1 Maccabees 2:60, and see on 2 Corinthians 8:2 for ἁπλότης) and her purity, and so should be guilty of spiritual fornication. He assumes that “the serpent” is to be identified with Satan, the tempter of mankind, as he does also at Romans 16:20; the earliest trace of this identification, which has become so familiar, is Wisdom of Solomon 2:24, cf. Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2. He now gives the reason of his anxiety, lest they should fall away; viz., they were showing themselves too willing to listen to strange teachings.


Verse 4

2 Corinthians 11:4. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἐρχόμενος κ. τ. λ.: for if he that cometh ( ἐρχόμενος may point to some one conspicuous opponent, but it would not be safe to press this, or to lay stress on the verb as indicating one who comes without authorised mission, as at John 10:8; it is probably a quite indefinite phrase, “if any one comes and preaches,” etc.) preacheth another Jesus whom we did not preach (not “another Christ,” “a new Messiah,” for of this false teachers at Corinth were not guilty; but “another Jesus,” i.e., a different representation of the historical Person, Jesus of Nazareth, from that which St. Paul put forward when at Corinth; see reff.), or if ye receive a different Spirit which ye did not receive, sc., a Spirit different from Him whom you received at your baptism ( λαμβάνειν is the regular verb with πνεῦμα; cf. John 20:22, Acts 8:15; Acts 10:47; Acts 19:2, Romans 8:15, 1 Corinthians 2:12, Galatians 3:2; it expresses the co-operation of the will in a degree which δέχεσθαι, the verb used in the next clause of “accepting” the Gospel, does not; see Acts 7:38; Acts 17:11, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, etc.), or a different Gospel which ye did not accept, sc., when the Gospel was first brought to you by me, ye bear with him finely! καλῶς is ironical, as at Mark 7:9 = praeclare. This facile acceptance of novelty is the cause of his anxiety; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11, Galatians 1:6-8. Such instability is always a danger in the case of newly-founded Churches.


Verse 5

2 Corinthians 11:5. λογίζομαι γὰρ κ. τ. λ.: for I reckon that I am not a whit behind these superfine Apostles; you receive them gladly; why not me? He then proceeds to refute the two reasons which were assigned for the disparagement of his apostolic authority, viz., (a) he had none of the arts of a trained rhetorician, (b) he had not claimed maintenance from the Church of Corinth, which he had a right to do, if of genuine “apostolic” rank. οἱ ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι, “these superfine Apostles” is thus, as at 2 Corinthians 12:11, an ironical description of the ψευδαπόστολοι (2 Corinthians 11:13) against whom he is contending. The A.V. and R.V. render “the very chiefest Apostles,” i.e., the original Twelve, who received their commission directly from Christ, and especially Peter, James and John; but to introduce any mention of them here would be irrelevant, and would interrupt the argument (they were ἰδιῶται ἐν λόγῳ), not to speak of the fact that ὑπερλίαν seems always in Greek literature to be used in an ironical sense.


Verses 5-15

2 Corinthians 11:5-15. HE IS NOT INFERIOR TO HIS ADVERSARIES ALTHOUGH (a) HE IS NOT A TRAINED ORATOR (2 Corinthians 11:6), AND ALTHOUGH (b) HE DID NOT CLAIM MAINTENANCE FROM THE CHURCH (2 Corinthians 11:7). THIS WAS NOT THROUGH WANT OF AFFECTION FOR THEM, BUT THAT THERE MIGHT BE NO ROOM FOR CAVIL.


Verse 6

2 Corinthians 11:6. εἰ δὲ καὶ ἰδιώτης τῷ λόγῳ κ. τ. λ.: but even if I be rude in speech (see on 2 Corinthians 10:10; ἰδιώτης is a “layman,” who is without professional training), yet am I not in knowledge, sc., of divine things (see on 2 Corinthians 8:7 for λόγος and γνῶσις); but in everything we have made it, sc., τὴν γνῶσιν, manifest (reading φανερώσαντες; cf. Colossians 4:4) among all men (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:7, Hebrews 13:4, or “in all circumstances,” as at Philippians 4:12) to you-ward. He claims that he both knows the truth, and has presented it to them openly and plainly (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 2:17, 2 Corinthians 4:2).


Verse 7

2 Corinthians 11:7. ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησα κ. τ. λ.: or did I commit a sin (note the irony) in abasing myself (cf. Philippians 4:12), that ye might be exalted, sc., in spiritual privileges (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:11), because I preached to you the Gospel of God for nought?


Verse 8

2 Corinthians 11:8. ἄλλας ἐκκλησίας ἐσύλησα κ. τ. λ.: I robbed other Churches, e.g., Philippi (Philippians 4:15. He expresses himself hyperbolically to bring out his meaning; συλᾷν is a very strong word, see Acts 19:37, Romans 2:22), taking wages of them ( ὀψώνιον primarily means the rations supplied to a soldier, and thence his pay; see reff.), that I might minister unto you. διακονία is not used here in special reference to the collection for the Judæan Christians, as it was at 2 Corinthians 8:4, 2 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 9:13, but in its most general sense; cf. 2 Timothy 4:11, Hebrews 1:14.— καὶ παρὼν κ. τ. λ.: and when I was present with you, i.e., during his first visit to Corinth (see Acts 18:1 ff.), and was in want (a condition which he recalls again, Philippians 4:12), I was not a burden on any man. νάρκη is the torpedo-fish, which paralyses its victims by contact, and then preys upon them; so καταναρκᾷν signifies “to oppress heavily”. The compound verb is not found elsewhere in Greek literature (we have ναρκᾷν in Genesis 32:25, Job 33:19); Jerome says (Ep. cxxi. ad Algasiam) that it is a Cilicianism, like ἡμέρα in 1 Corinthians 4:3.


Verse 9

2 Corinthians 11:9. τὸ γὰρ ὑστέρημά μου κ. τ. λ. for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia (very likely Silas and Timothy; see Acts 18:5, Philippians 4:15), supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself (note the aorists as pointing to the definite period of his residence in Corinth) from being burdensome unto you (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:6), and so will I keep myself.


Verse 10

2 Corinthians 11:10. ἔστιν ἀλήθ. χρ. κ. τ. λ.: as the Truth of Christ (we have ἀλήθ. τ. θεοῦ, Romans 1:25; Romans 3:7; Romans 15:8; cf. John 14:6, Ephesians 4:21) is in me (for the form of the asseveration see on 2 Corinthians 1:18; Romans 9:1 is not a true parallel to the constr. here), this glorying, sc., in my independence, shall not be stopped, as far as I am concerned, in the regions of Achaia (see on 2 Corinthians 1:1); cf. 2 Corinthians 7:14. The true reading is φραγήσεται; φράσσειν is “to fence,” but in N.T. (Romans 3:19, Hebrews 11:33; cf. also Daniel 6:22) is used with στόμα in the sense of “to stop” the mouth.


Verse 11

2 Corinthians 11:11. διατί; ὅτι οὐκ ἀγ. κ. τ. λ.: wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth, i.e., that I do love you.


Verse 12

2 Corinthians 11:12. δὲ ποιῶ κ. τ. λ.: but what I do, that I will do that, by refusing to accept maintenance gratis at your hands, I may cut off the occasion ( τὴν ἀφορμ., the definite opportunity for attack which my opponents desire) from those who desire occasion that in the matter of their boast, sc., that as of Apostolic rank free maintenance was their rightful due, they may be found even as we, i.e., they desire that I and they may be on equal terms so far as the taking of money is concerned. It is better to regard the second ἵνα, not as in apposition with the first, but as dependent on θελ. ἀφορμ. and as expressing the desire of St. Paul’s opponents, not his own. The situation seems to have been as follows: St. Paul held that the “labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18), and in 1 Corinthians 9:11-13 he gives a clear exposition of the principle as applied to preachers of the Gospel. On these grounds he more than once (Philippians 4:15-16) accepted money from the generous Church of Philippi. But it was not his usual practice. He reminds the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:9) that when with them he had worked for his living. So too he did at Corinth (Acts 18:2), any help he then accepted coming from Macedonia (chap. 2 Corinthians 11:9); and he did the same at Ephesus (Acts 20:34), Now his Corinthian opponents were very ready to take money for their teaching (1 Corinthians 9:12); indeed they prided themselves on doing so, as it was the privilege of “apostles”. This determined St. Paul that it should never be truly said of him that he was a hireling teacher, and so he was especially careful at Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:15-19) to avoid even the appearance of grasping after money (cf. Genesis 14:23). This honourable independence, however, created a difficulty in two directions. On the one hand, it gave his opponents a handle for saying that he was not really of Apostolic rank, inasmuch as he dared not claim Apostolic privilege; and, on the other hand, it hurt the feelings of his Corinthian friends that he should refuse maintenance at their hands. His reply is contained in 2 Corinthians 11:7-12 of this chapter. And the point of 2 Corinthians 11:12 is that his action is necessary, for if he were to take money as his opponents did, it would speedily be made a matter of cavil, and would tend to bring him down to their level (see also 2 Corinthians 12:14).


Verse 13

2 Corinthians 11:13. οἱ γὰρ τοιοῦτοι κ. τ. λ.: for such men (this explains the ground of his determination in 2 Corinthians 11:12 not to give opportunity for cavil) are false apostles (cf. Revelation 2:2. This speedy appearance of false teachers was one of the most remarkable features of the Apostolic age; cf. Galatians 2:4, Philippians 1:15; Philippians 3:18, Titus 1:10, 2 Peter 2:1, 1 John 4:1), crafty workers (cf. Philippians 3:2), fashioning themselves into Apostles of Christ, i.e., laying special claim to that great title (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 10:7). μετασχηματίζειν τι is to change the outward appearance ( σχῆμα) of a thing, the thing itself in essence ( μορφή) remaining unchanged (see reff.).


Verse 14

2 Corinthians 11:14. καὶ οὐ θαῦμα κ. τ. λ.: and no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. Light is the symbol of God (1 John 1:5, 1 Timothy 6:16) and His messengers (Matthew 28:3, Acts 12:7), as darkness is the symbol of Satan (Luke 22:53, Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 1:13). The μετασχηματισμός of Satan has just before been in the Apostle’s mind (2 Corinthians 11:3), and perhaps such passages as Genesis 3:1, Job 1:6, 1 Kings 22:19-23 sufficiently account for the image. But it is more probable that some Rabbinical tradition lies behind the word used by St. Paul; cf. Apoc. Moysis (2 Corinthians 11:17) τότε σατανᾶς ἐγένετο ἐν εἴδει ἀγγέλου. A reference has been here found by Ewald to Matthew 4:1-2, but while it is not improbable that the Apostle had heard the story of the Lord’s Temptation, there is no clear trace of it in his Epistles.


Verse 15

2 Corinthians 11:15. οὐ μέγα οὖν κ. τ. λ.: it is no great thing therefore, if his ministers also, sc., as well as himself, fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness (see on 2 Corinthians 3:9); whose end, notwithstanding their disguise (cf. Romans 6:21, Philippians 3:19), shall be according to their works (see on 2 Corinthians 11:10).


Verse 16

2 Corinthians 11:16. πάλιν λέγω κ. τ. λ.: I say again (the first time having been in 2 Corinthians 11:1), let no man think me foolish, i.e., senseless with the ἀφροσύνη of self-praise; but even if ye do (for εἰ δὲ μή γε cf. Matthew 6:1; Matthew 9:17, Luke 13:9; Luke 14:32), yet receive me as foolish (there is a somewhat similar ellipse in Mark 6:56, Acts 5:15), that I also, sc., as well as they (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:18), may glory a little ( μικρόν τι = “a trifle,” “a little bit”).


Verses 16-33

2 Corinthians 11:16-33. HIS APOSTOLIC LABOURS AND TRIALS.


Verse 17

2 Corinthians 11:17. λαλῶ κ. τ. λ.: what I speak, I speak not after the Lord, i.e., Christ (he refuses to claim Divine inspiration for his self-glorying; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:12; 1 Corinthians 7:25), but as in foolishness, in this confidence of glorying (see on 2 Corinthians 9:4 for ὑπόστασις).


Verse 18

2 Corinthians 11:18. ἐπεὶ πολλοὶ καυχῶνται κ. τ. λ.: seeing that many, sc., of the Corinthian Judaisers against whom this whole polemic is directed (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:17, where they are also alluded to as οἱ πολλοὶ, glory after the flesh, i.e., in external circumstances which are really no fit subject for glorying (see, on ἐν προσώπῳ, chap. 2 Corinthians 5:12 and reff.), I too will glory, sc., after the flesh; i.e., he proceeds to explain how much better external grounds he has for boasting than his Judaising rivals.


Verse 19

2 Corinthians 11:19. ἡδέως γὰρ ἀνέχεσθε κ. τ. λ.: for ye bear with the foolish, i.e., the false teachers, gladly, being wise yourselves, the latter clause being, of course, ironical, although (see reff.) it was true that φρόνησις was a quality which he had seriously ascribed to the Corinthians in a former letter. His point is that, as they have borne with the self-commendation of the pseudo-apostles, they should extend the same indulgent toleration to him. He then goes on to remind them of the insolence and ill-treatment which they had endured at the hands of these self-constituted spiritual guides.


Verse 20

2 Corinthians 11:20. ἀνέχεσθε γὰρ κ. τ. λ.: for ye bear with a man if he (we cannot press τις so as to point to any special individual; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:7) enslave you (in contrast to any such tyranny, St. Paul describes himself as the δοῦλος of the Corinthians; see 2 Corinthians 4:5, and cf. Acts 15:10); if he devour you, i.e., robs you of your substance by greedily demanding maintenance, as these “superfine Apostles” did (see on 2 Corinthians 11:12, and cf. Romans 16:18, Philippians 3:19); if he take you captive ( λαμβάνειν is thus used of catching fish, Luke 5:5; cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 12:16. Field defends the A.V. “taketh of you,” i.e., takes money, by appealing to the Peshitto, and also by the usage of good Greek writers); if he exalt himself (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:12, 2 Corinthians 11:18); if he smite you on the face. A blow in the face was, and is, a common form of insult in the East (cf. 1 Kings 22:24, Matthew 5:39; Matthew 26:67, Acts 23:2, 1 Corinthians 4:11); and the despotic teachers whom the Corinthians tolerated had very likely inflicted this last indignity upon them, Cf. 1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7, where it is forbidden to the ἐπίσκοποι to be “strikers”. “Such are your teachers,” he says to them, “I am but weak in comparison with these strenuous spiritual directors.”


Verse 21

2 Corinthians 11:21. κατὰ ἀτιμίαν λέγω κ. τ. λ.: by way of disparagement, sc., humbly of myself, I say that we, i.e., I myself, ἡμεῖς being ironically emphasised, have been weak, i.e., I have not attempted to enforce my authority in any of these directions (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:10 and 1 Corinthians 2:3). He now changes his tone from irony to direct and masterful assertion, and in the splendid passage which follows he makes the “boast” which he has been leading up to with such prolonged explanations.— ἐν δʼ ἄν κ. τ. λ.: and yet whereinsoever any man is bold (I speak in foolishness—this he is careful to add once more; see 2 Corinthians 11:17), I am bold also. His whole life will justify him.


Verse 22

2 Corinthians 11:22. ἑβραῖοί εἰσι; κἀγώ: are they Hebrews? so am I. At a later period the term ἑβραῖος was not confined to Palestinian Jews (Eus., H.E., ii., 4, 2, iii. 4, 2), but expressed mere nationality. However in the N.T. it is used in contrast with ἑλληνιστής (Acts 6:1; cf. Philippians 3:5), and denotes a Jew who retained his national language and customs. Jerome states (de Vir. ill.) that St. Paul was born in Gischala of Galilee, but this cannot be true in the face of his own statement that he was born in Tarsus (Acts 22:3).— ἰσραηλεῖταί εἰσιν; κἀγώ: are they Israelites? so am I. The term Israelite expresses the sacred character of the nation, like the term Quirites for Romans, and is always used in the N.T. as a term of praise (John 1:48, etc.).— σπέρμα ἀβρ. κ. τ. λ.: are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. This is the highest dignity of all, to be an inheritor of the Messianic promises given to Abraham (cf. for the phrase Isaiah 41:8, John 8:33, Romans 9:7, Galatians 3:29). In the two parallel passages, Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:5, he adds that he is of the tribe of Benjamin—a fact which probably accounts for his name “Saul” (1 Samuel 9:1). It shows how strong the Judaising party were at Corinth that he thinks it important to put this proud statement of his descent in the forefront of his apology.


Verse 23

2 Corinthians 11:23. διάκονοι χρ. κ. τ. λ.: are they Christ’s ministers? (as they specially claimed to be; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:7)—I speak as one beside himself (sc., as if he would say “this is mad boasting indeed; for what office can be higher than this?”); I am more, i.e., I am that in a higher degree than they ( ὑπέρ being used adverbially), as is proved by my trials in the service of the Gospel. The summary which follows is of deep interest for the student of St. Paul’s life; he goes into more definite detail than elsewhere (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, chap. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 2 Corinthians 6:4-10), and gives us a more vivid picture of his extraordinary labours than would be possible to form from the narrative in the Acts alone. It will be remembered that his missionary career lasted for ten or eleven years after this Epistle was written, and that therefore we cannot regard these verses as giving us a complete list of his trials.— ἐν κόποις κ. τ. λ.: in labours more abundantly, sc., than they (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10), in prisons more abundantly (up to this point in his life we only know of one imprisonment, viz., at Philippi, Acts 16:23, but there must have been others; cf. Romans 16:7, where he speaks of Andronicus and Junias as having been his “fellow-prisoners” on some occasion to which no other allusion had been preserved. Afterwards we read of his being imprisoned at Jerusalem (Acts 21:33), at Cæsarea (Acts 23:35) and at Rome (Acts 28:30), besides which the evidence of the Pastoral Epistles gives another Roman imprisonment. Clement of Rome (§ 5) speaks of St. Paul as seven times in bonds; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:5 above), in stripes above measure, details of which are given in the following verses (cf. Acts 21:32), in deaths oft, i.e., in frequent perils of death (cf. Acts 9:23; Acts 14:19, etc., and chaps. 2 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 6:9).


Verse 24

2 Corinthians 11:24. ὑπὸ ἰουδ. κ. τ. λ.: of the Jews five times received I forty stripes (there is an ellipse of πληγάς as at Luke 12:47) save one. The Law forbad more than forty stripes (Deuteronomy 25:3); and, to be on the safe side, it was the custom in the judicial scourgings of the synagogues (Matthew 23:34, Acts 22:19) to stop short at thirty-nine. This punishment was so severe that death often ensued (cf. Josephus, Antt., iv., 8, 21); we know nothing of the circumstances under which it was inflicted on St. Paul.


Verse 25

2 Corinthians 11:25. τρὶς ἐραβδίσθην κ. τ. λ.: thrice was I beaten with rods, i.e., “virgis caesus sum,” a Roman, as distinct from the Fewish, method of scourging—distinct too from flagellation with thongs (Matthew 27:26). It was forbidden in the case of a Roman citizen by the Lex Porcia, but nevertheless St. Paul had endured it at Philippi (Acts 16:23; Acts 16:37), and barely escaped it at Jerusalem (Acts 22:25). We do not know the other two occasions alluded to.— ἅπαξ ἐλιθάσθην κ. τ. λ.: once was I stoned, i.e., at Lystra (Acts 14:19, and almost at Iconium, 2 Corinthians 11:5), thrice I suffered shipwreck, of the circumstances of which we have no record, for the shipwreck on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27.) was subsequent to this, a night and a day have I been (there seems to be no special reason here for the perf. in preference to the aorist) in the deep, probably after one of the shipwrecks (cf. Acts 27:44). For ποιεῖν with words of time cf. Acts 15:33; Acts 20:3, James 4:13.


Verse 26

2 Corinthians 11:26. ὁδοιπορίαις πολλ. κ. τ. λ.: in journeyings often (of the extent of which the Acts gives us some idea; their dangers are now enumerated), in perils of rivers, sc., from swollen torrents dangerous to ford (Stanley notes that Frederick Barbarossa was drowned in the Calycadnus, not far from Tarsus; see Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, p. 23, for several illustrations of the dangers of the Pisidian highlands), in perils of robbers, on account of whom travelling in Asia Minor was, and still is, dangerous (the district of Perga and Pamphylia which St. Paul traversed on his first missionary journey was notorious for brigands; see Strabo, xii., 6, 7), in perils from my kindred, i.e., persecutions at the hands of the Jews which he had suffered (see Acts 9:23; Acts 9:29; Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5; Acts 17:13; Acts 18:12, 1 Thessalonians 2:15), and from which he was yet to suffer more (Acts 20:3; Acts 21:31; Acts 23:12; Acts 25:3), in perils from the Gentiles as, e.g., at Iconium (Acts 14:5), at Philippi (Acts 16:20) and at Ephesus (Acts 19:23), in perils in the city (Acts 21:31 and passim), in the desert (Arabia (?), Galatians 1:17), in the sea, i.e., in town and country, by land and by water, in perils among false brethren, i.e., probably the Judaisers who were his bitter opponents (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13 and Galatians 2:4).


Verse 27

2 Corinthians 11:27. κόπῳ καὶ μόχ. κ. τ. λ.: in labour and travail, in watchings often (see on 2 Corinthians 6:5), in hunger and thirst (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11, Philippians 4:12), in fastings often, i.e., plainly, in involuntary deprivation of all food (the idea of voluntary devotional fastings is quite foreign to the context here, and to bring it in spoils the rhetorical force of the passage; see on 2 Corinthians 6:5), in cold and nakedness (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:11).


Verse 28

2 Corinthians 11:28. χωρὶς τῶν παρ. κ. τ. λ.: besides the things which I omit (see reff., and cf. Hebrews 11:32; the A.V. “those things that are without” = vulg. quae sunt extrinsecus, is wrong), there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches (see on 2 Corinthians 8:18). ἐπισύστασις of the rec. text means a combination for hostile purposes, and is used of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16:40; Numbers 26:9, in which latter place we have the same textual variants as here (cf. also: 1 Esdras 5:73). This may be the true reading, both here and at Acts 24:12, for the syllable συ might readily drop out in transcription. If it be adopted here it would refer to the cabals of the Apostle’s adversaries = “the daily combination against me,” and would thus indicate a trial distinct from “the care of all the churches,” which is next mentioned. But, although this gives a good sense, we prefer to read ἐπίστασις as better supported both here and at Acts 24:12 (the only places of its occurrence in N.T.). Polybius uses the word as = “attention,” “close observation,” but this will not suit Acts 24:12. It is found in 2 Maccabees 6:3 as = “visitation” or “pressure,” and the latter rendering seems best to satisfy the context here. We have therefore followed the Revisers in adopting the Vulgate rendering instantia = “that which presseth,” and in taking μέριμνα κ. τ. λ. as in apposition with ἐπίστασις.


Verse 29

2 Corinthians 11:29. τίς ἀσθενεῖ κ. τ. λ.: who is weak, sc., in prejudice (as at Romans 14:1, 1 Corinthians 8:11), and I am not weak, i.e., in Christian sympathy (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:22 ἐγενόμην τοῖς ἀσθενέσιν ἀσθενής); who is made to stumble, and I burn not? i.e., with the fire of righteous indignation (cf. πυρωθείς = “inflamed” at 2 Maccabees 4:38). The word ἀσθενῶ now suggests to him a new thought, that it is in his weakness as supported by God’s grace rather than in any strength of his own that his real boast may be made.


Verse 30

2 Corinthians 11:30. εἰ καυχᾶσθαι κ. τ. λ.: if I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my weakness (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 12:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9), such as are the perils and indignities which he has recounted in the preceding verses.


Verse 31

2 Corinthians 11:31. θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ κ. τ. λ.: the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed for evermore (see on 2 Corinthians 1:3, and for ὤν as applied to God, “the self-existent one,” cf. Exodus 3:14, Wisdom of Solomon 13:1, Revelation 1:8), knoweth that I lie not (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:6). This solemn asseveration belongs (see reff.) to what follows, and not to the statements which precede it. If the text is not corrupt, it would seem that the Apostle intended now to illustrate in detail the providence which overruled his life, the “strength which was perfected in weakness,” and that, beginning with one of the earliest and least dignified perils of his career as a Christian missionary, he then is led off through some train of ideas which we cannot trace into the quite different subject of his “visions” and “revelations,” which diverts him from his original intention. If, on the other hand, we might suppose 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 to be a marginal gloss (founded on Acts 9:23-25, and perhaps introduced in reference to the κίνδυνοι ἐκ γένους of 2 Corinthians 11:26) which was not part of the original text—though possibly an autograph addition made after the letter was finished—the argument would be quite consecutive. He feels the remarkable account in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 to be so incredible that he thinks it right to prefix the strong asseveration of 2 Corinthians 11:31 that he is telling the truth. But there is no MS. authority for thus treating 2 Corinthians 11:32-33.


Verse 32

2 Corinthians 11:32. ἐν δαμασκῷ ἐθν. κ. τ. λ.: in Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes, sc.; by placing a watch at the gates, to take me; and through a window (i.e., an aperture in the city wall, or the window of a house overhanging the wall) was I let down in a basket ( σαργάνη is anything twisted, and so here probably a rope basket; σφυρίς is the word used in Acts 9:25) by the wall, and escaped his hands. The incident took place on St. Paul’s return to Damascus from Arabia (Galatians 1:17) and is narrated in Acts 9:23-25. The date of it is important in the chronology of the Apostle’s life. It could not have been before A.D. 34, for coins of Tiberius prove Damascus to have been under direct Roman administration in that year. Tiberius was unlikely to have handed Damascus over to Aretas (fourth of the name), the hereditary chief (cf. 2 Maccabees 5:8) of the Nabathæan Arabs; for up to the close of the reign of Tiberius military operations were being carried on against Aretas by the legate of Syria. Hence Damascus was probably not ceded to Aretas until the reign of Caligula, and consequently this episode in St. Paul’s life cannot have taken place before the middle of A.D. 37. Instigated by the Jews (Acts 9:23), the “ethnarch,” or provincial governor of Damascus under Aretas (cf. 1 Maccabees 14:47), laid a plan for the arrest of the Apostle which was frustrated by St. Paul’s escape in the manner described (cf. Joshua 2:15, 1 Samuel 19:12).

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/2-corinthians-11.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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