Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 11

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

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Verses 1-15

Paul is not inferior to others (11:1-15)

Although he knows that boasting is foolish, Paul feels he must say a few things to prevent the Corinthians from believing the propaganda of these men who set themselves up as super apostles. He feels for the Corinthians with the kind of jealousy that a father feels for his daughter. He has brought them from the darkness of heathenism into the light of God’s world, so that he might present them as a bride to Christ (11:1-2). Paul is afraid that these false apostles will deceive the Corinthians just as Satan deceived Eve. He knows that the Corinthians have a tendency to accept wrong teaching very easily (3-4).
Even if Paul does not have the skilled speech and persuasive style of the false apostles, he is not inferior to them. At least he teaches the truth, and that is what is important (5-6).
Paul had a right to be financially supported by those to whom he ministered, but when he was at Corinth he had earned his living by making tents. He did this so that the Corinthians could be built up in their knowledge of the Christian teaching without having to worry about supporting him. He even accepted gifts from other churches so as to remain financially independent of the Corinthians. But he received no thanks for his efforts. The false apostles (who came later and who did accept money from the Corinthians) used it as ‘proof’ to the church that Paul was merely a labourer and not an apostle at all (7-9).
One reason why Paul supports himself is his love for the Corinthians. He has no intention of changing his practice of self-support, because he wants the Corinthians to see the difference between the true apostle and the false apostles (10-12). These men seek only their own gain. They make themselves look like servants of God, but really they are servants of Satan. Their ultimate punishment is certain (13-15).

Verses 16-33

Paul’s experiences as an apostle (11:16-33)

All boasting is foolish, but since the Corinthians have heard much boasting from others, Paul decides they shall hear some from him (16). This is not the way Christ spoke, but Paul hopes it may do something to bring them to their senses. After all, he says cuttingly, they tolerate other fools, why not tolerate him (17-19)? The false apostles had enslaved the Corinthians and then cruelly taken their money. In comparison with such slave-masters, Paul is weak indeed (20-21)!
The false apostles claimed to be learned Jews, pure Hebrews. So is Paul (22). Concerning the more important matter of service, however, Paul is far superior. He has worked harder and suffered more in the spread of the gospel, even to the point of death time and again. He quotes specific examples of his experiences, most of which are either not recorded or not detailed in Acts (23-27). More than all these trials was the inner trial of the constant anxiety from which he was never free, his concern for the churches. Paul felt every weakness and every problem among his converts as if it were his own (28-29).

Remarkably, Paul’s boasting is almost entirely concerned with things that the normally boastful person is ashamed to speak about, namely, personal humiliations. Yet God knows that in recounting these experiences Paul has not been exaggerating or twisting the truth (30-31). One final story comes to mind. It concerns the time he escaped from Damascus, when Jewish opponents had persuaded the governor to send soldiers to arrest him (32-33; see Acts 9:23-25).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.