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2 Corinthians 11

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Verses 1-15

Paul’s Boast of a Godly Lifestyle Lived Before the Corinthians: Mental Testimonies In 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 Paul presents his credentials as an apostle of Christ by first showing them his godly lifestyle. He lived among them for eighteen months, and they had well observed his sincere devotion to Christ and to their well-being. His apostleship over them is expressed in his character by him being jealous over them with a godly jealously (2 Corinthians 11:1-3). The Corinthians had been patient with others, so they should be patient with him (2 Corinthians 11:4-6). He now boasts in the fact that he took wages from other churches in order not to burden them (2 Corinthians 11:7-9). He made this sacrifice so that no one would have an occasion to accuse him of any wrong doing, especially these false apostles who are opposing him at this time (2 Corinthians 11:10-15). Thus, Paul is boasting about his character by discussing his lifestyle lived before them, always making decisions for their well-being, so that the proof of his apostleship over them is manifested in the mental realm by the many decisions he made to sacrifice his personal interests in order to care for those whom he is jealous over.

Paul’s First Visit to Corinth 2 Corinthians 11:7-12 refers to Paul’s first trip to Corinth in which he founded the church there. In this passage he emphasizes how he worked with his hands as an example and would not take anything from new converts. In these two verses he explains how he received offerings from other churches (2 Corinthians 11:8) and laboured with his hands in order not to be chargeable to them (2 Corinthians 11:9). We find a reference in Acts 18:3 to Paul working as a tentmaker with Aquila and his wife Priscilla during his stay in Corinth. We have no other references to love offerings that came to him from other churches at this time.

Acts 18:3, “And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”

Paul refers to his willingness to work while planting churches in other epistles.

1 Thessalonians 2:9, “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”

2 Corinthians 11:1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

2 Corinthians 11:1 Comments - Paul asks the Corinthians to be patiently with him while he speaks somewhat foolishly. Then he reminds them that they have patiently endured his follies in the past until now.

2 Corinthians 11:2 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.

2 Corinthians 11:2 Note that in the culture of Paul's day, unlike America today, the fathers often chose a husband and espoused their daughter to him. Because Paul has emphasized his role to the Corinthians as their spiritual father (1 Corinthians 4:15), he freely uses this Middle Eastern analogy of a father espousing his daughter to a man of his choice. He chose Jesus as their spiritual husband and espoused them to Him.

1 Corinthians 4:15, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers : for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”

2 Corinthians 11:3 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.

2 Corinthians 11:3 Comments - The word “beguile” means to deceived or led astray.” The word “subtilty” means, “cunning, craftiness, trickery.”

The devil is ready to try anything to make Christians stumble and fall away. Satan beguiled Eve by taking advantage of a woman’s desire for a relationship, for communication (Genesis 3:1-24, 1 Timothy 2:14). A woman listens better than a man because she is more interested in communicating in a relationship.

1 Timothy 2:14, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

Paul does not want the Corinthians to have their minds corrupted from the simplicity, or “sincere devotion” in Christ. Paul is referring to a Gospel without the religious baggage of tradition that complicates it and dilutes its purity. How does Satan corrupt their minds? Read on in verses 4 thru 15. He does it with false teachers proclaiming a false message.

2 Corinthians 11:2-3 Comments - Paul Compares the Corinthians to a Bride Espoused to Christ In 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 Paul illustrates his love and devotion for them by comparing himself to a father who has espoused them to Christ. I have two beautiful young daughters who get lots of attention. My goal is to get them to marriage as pure virgins; and to do this, I keep them from the seductive words of boyfriends and from indecent television. I do not want their passions inflamed at an early age. I have learned to let their life simple and pure, not complicated and exposed to so much activity and worldly entertainment. This is exactly what Paul was doing for the Corinthians. He was protecting them from exposure to the wrong information so that they could grow up with a simple, pure lifestyle.

2 Corinthians 11:4 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.

2 Corinthians 11:4 “or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received” Comments - In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul uses the phrase “another spirit” within the context of someone coming and preaching another Jesus and another gospel. This phrase might well be understood to mean “another manifestation of the spirit,” which refers to miracles that accompany the preaching of the Gospel.

2 Corinthians 11:4 “ye might bear will with him” Comments - That is, they handled these situations well.

2 Corinthians 11:4 Comments - In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul implies that the church at Corinth most likely allowed other traveling ministers to share words of exhortation with them. They patiently listened to anyone that proclaimed the name of Christ before judging their message and its truth. This seems to have been the method that Paul’s adversaries crept into the church, clocked as ministers of Christ.

The statement, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus,” reveals that some false teachers came to Corinth preaching Jesus, but with a different message, much as in many denominational churches differ today. They may have been saved, but still have the wrong motive. In a similar statement in Galatians 1:6 Paul tells them that they were hearing “another Gospel”, which referred to some Judaizers who were adding circumcisions and other traditions to the simplicity of the Gospel of salvation.

Scholars go so far as to suggest from 2 Corinthians 10:7 and 2 Corinthians 11:4 that Jewish emissaries came to Corinth with claims of having been with Jesus during His earthly ministry. This would account for Paul’s concern in 2 Corinthians 11:3 for the church being deceived and pulled away to follow another group or spiritual leader.

2 Corinthians 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

2 Corinthians 11:5 Comments - The “very chiefest apostles” should be a reference to the original twelve apostles, since there are number of other apostles referred to in the New Testament. In verse 13, he refers to “false apostles” who transform themselves into “apostles of Christ.” In 2 Corinthians 12:11, he again refers to “the chiefest apostles.” In Galatians, Paul calls them apostles who were “before him” (Galatians 1:17). This could mean temporal, in time, or in position, being above him.

2 Corinthians 12:11, “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles , though I be nothing.”

Galatians 1:17, “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me ; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:5 that he is not less than the leading apostles of the Church in any area. His divine calling equaled their calling; for both were called directly by Jesus Christ. His commissioning and sending out recorded in Acts 13:0 was not inferior to theirs. Nor was his preaching inferior in its power and miracles. Nor, was he any less inferior in his abundance of divine revelations and visitations, which he will mention in chapter 12. Finally, his ministry was establishing churches in a way that outdid any other apostle of his time. Thus, Paul saw his ministry as matching up to any other apostolic ministry as equal or better. None could place him in an inferior position in any of these areas to the leading apostles.

2 Corinthians 11:6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.

2 Corinthians 11:6 “But though I be rude in speech” - Comments - Paul’s adversaries had accused him of being contemptible in his speech (2 Corinthians 10:10). He acknowledges this weakness in him in 2 Corinthians 11:6 by saying, “though I be rude in speech.” The Greek literally reads, “But though I be unskilled in word.” However, in this context Paul is clearly referring to his lack of eloquence in speech. He had made a similar statement in his first epistle, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God,” (1 Corinthians 2:1).

“yet not in knowledge” - Comments - Paul declares that his knowledge of the Lord far outweighs this weakness of speech. Now this “knowledge” of the mysteries of the Gospel of Jesus Christ came through a number of divine revelations and visitations. Paul will refer to these revelations later in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5 when he is placing emphasis upon his spiritual qualifications as a minister and apostle of Jesus Christ. The emphasis in 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 is on his mental qualifications. Therefore, Paul calls it knowledge rather than revelations.

but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things Comments - Paul also explains how his manifested life with them outweighs any weaknesses seen by his accusers. He had lived and walked among the believers at Corinth for eighteen months. They knew his behaviour well. They had seen him at his best and at his worst, at work and at rest; in other words, Paul had been made manifest among them in every area of his life. In contrast, this was not the case with his adversaries who had encroached upon his territory. The Corinthians only knew them of recent by their speech and declarations, but not by their behaviour.

2 Corinthians 11:7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

2 Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

2 Corinthians 11:8 Word Study on “robbed” Strong says the Greek word “robbed” “sulao” ( συλα ́ ω ) (G4813) means, “to strip, despoil.” It is used only once in the New Testament. Alfred Plummer says this word was used in classical Greek to describe the stripping of a fallen foe of his armour. [83] We find the word ίεροσυλε ́ ω used in Romans 2:22, meaning “a robber of sacred things.” The verb συλαγωγε ́ ω is used in Colossians 2:8, meaning, “to spoil.”

[83] Alfred Plummer, The Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, Ltd., c1915, 1985), 303.

Romans 2:22, “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ?”

Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:8 Word Study on “wages” Strong says the Greek word “wages” “opsonion” ( ὀψώνιον ) (G3800) means, “rations for a soldier, his stipend or pay.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used four times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “wage 3, charges 1.” Alfred Plummer says this Greek word is derived from two words, ( οψον ), which means, “(cooked) food,” and ( ωνέομαι ), which means, “I buy.” He says that from the word ὀψώνιον we get “‘rations,’ or ‘ration-money,’ and hence a pay of any kind,” thus, “wages.” He says it is used in 1 Maccabees and often in Polybius “in the sense of pay,” and the word has been found “in an inscription of about 265 B.C. which records an agreement between King Eumenes I and his mercenaries.” [84]

[84] Alfred Plummer, The Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, Ltd., c1915, 1985), 303.

2 Corinthians 11:8 Comments - Alfred Plummer says in 2 Corinthians 11:8 Paul uses “extreme” language to make his point. [85] His use of the word “rob” actually applied to the “false apostles, deceitful workers” (2 Corinthians 11:13) who were probably unhesitant to ask financial assistance for their labours among the Corinthians. Paul may have been accused of being a common man rather than an emissary of Christ because he laboured among the common men of the city. The Greek aristocracy would have distained the labouring class. The Roman hierarchy would have employed slaves to do their work. Paul chose to humble himself and labour without wages. Thus, his crime was that he declined to be treated like the other leading apostles. These Jewish emissaries took the opportunity to accuse him of being abnormal in this respect.

[85] Alfred Plummer, The Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, Ltd., c1915, 1985), 303.

2 Corinthians 11:9 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.

2 Corinthians 11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

2 Corinthians 11:10 Comments - The city of Corinth was a leading city in the Roman province of Achaia. Therefore, Paul declares that no one in this immediate area of Corinth could find a fault with Paul’s conduct while he lived there.

2 Corinthians 11:11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

2 Corinthians 11:12 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.

2 Corinthians 11:12 Comments - Anyone who has ever served for a long time in the ministry knows that Satan raises up adversaries who look for an opportunity to accuse a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul knew that there were those who wanted him to fail, and looked for opportunities to find faults in him. Therefore, he did things in a manner day by day to avoid being trapped by such accusations.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:13 Comments - 2 Corinthians 11:13 suggests that these adversaries of Paul entered the church of Corinth cloaked with letters of recommendation from those who sent them. They came with the titles of “apostles.” Within Jewish circles, an “apostle” was not a title used in the specialized sense of the word to mean a missionary who was anointed and sent out by the elders of a local Church to evangelize the heathen world; but rather, it was used in the normal, more general, secular sense of the Hebrew word “shaliah,” which was an agent of those who commissioned him. These Jews were originally given the charge to unite the Jews of the Diaspora with the religious circles seated in Jerusalem. These Jewish Christians came to Corinth cloaked with the title of an apostle while believing that they were sent with just as much, or more, authority as Paul carried in his ministry.

Thus, Paul attempts to tell the Corinthians rather bluntly that such emissaries are “false apostles,” meaning that they did not carry the true office of an apostle that Christ Jesus placed within the Church. Paul says that they were “deceitful workers” because their motives were not pure. Perhaps they were sent to unite the Gentile churches under the authority of one leading church in Jerusalem. We can only speculate as to who sent them. He explains that they were “transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” because of the confusion brought when they attempted to identify themselves with the true office of an apostle. They too, were sent out from a church. They too, agreed with the Gospel message that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. I am sure these “false apostles” made their appealed to the believers in Corinth with many such comparisons. Thus, they attempted to transform themselves into apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:15 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.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Comments Signs of a False Minister - Benny Hinn gives us ten signs of a false minister: [86]

[86] Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

1. They hide their secret shame and dishonesty (2 Corinthians 4:2 a). They have a secret life, doing things behind closed doors. A true minister will renounce the hidden things of dishonesty. However, their sins will find them out, for God will eventually reveal them publicly, whether in this life, or the life to come.

2 Corinthians 4:2, “ But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty , not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”

2. They use the Word of God for their own personal benefit (“nor handling the word of God deceitfully” 2 Corinthians 4:2 c). They use the word to build themselves and their agenda. They do not focus on salvation and souls, but on how they can build their own ministry.

3. They look on the outward appearance, and not on the heart.

2 Corinthians 10:7, “ Do ye look on things after the outward appearance ? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.”

4. They commend and promote themselves.

2 Corinthians 10:12, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

5. They compare themselves with others, always competing (2 Corinthians 10:12). Many ministers compete with one another, but we are all working for the same Lord (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

6. They are greedy for income for themselves. However, Paul preached the Gospel freely, and not for his personal benefit (2 Corinthians 11:7-12).

2 Corinthians 11:8, “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.”

9. They seek personal glory.

2 Corinthians 11:12, “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.”

7. They always seek a higher office or position (2 Corinthians 11:13). They make themselves to be something that they are not.

2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”

8. They pretend to be righteous ministers.

2 Corinthians 11:15, “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.”

10. They are boastful and self-exalting. They glory in things that are done in the flesh.

2 Corinthians 11:18, “Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.”

Verses 1-33

Paul Boasts of His Credentials as an Apostle In 2 Corinthians 11:1 to 2 Corinthians 12:13 Paul strengthens his argument as the rightful apostle over the believers in Corinth and all of Achaia by boasting in his credentials, or qualifications. His opponents had probably boasted before the Corinthian by bragging on their qualifications as men of God. So, if they have chosen boasting as a weapon, then boasting Paul will bring. The amazing part of this passage of Scripture is that Paul makes his boasts in his earthly weaknesses in a way that reveals his divine authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. He makes three essential boasts, which reflect his mental, physical and spiritual levels of maturity in the Lord. His godly lifestyle reflects his character and decision making (2 Corinthians 11:1-15). He then boasts in his Jewish ancestry and physical sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). His final boast is in the divine revelations and miracles and have accompanied his apostleship (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). It is important to understand that none of Paul’s opponents could equal Paul in any of these three boastings; for in each of these three boasts, Paul emphasizes the sacrifice and hardships that he endured as an apostle to the Gentiles. His mental maturity as an apostle of Jesus Christ is demonstrated by him choosing to deny himself the privilege of taking wages from them, but rather, robbed other churches (2 Corinthians 11:1-15). In his physical qualifications as an apostle of Jesus Christ he boasted in his Jewish ancestry, yet his maturity is seen in the physical realm when he endured persecutions and hardships (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). In his spiritual maturity of receiving an abundance of divine revelations he suffered the thorn in the flesh, which from a spiritual perspective is understood to be messengers of Satan to buffet him (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). Thus, Paul is boasting in his mental, physical and spiritual qualifications as an apostle, while showing the Corinthians the sufferings and hardships he endures to maintain those qualifications. Thus, he was boasting in an area that his adversaries had not boasted, which was in the hardships and persecutions that accompany a true apostle of Christ. He concludes with a final plea for the Corinthians to accept his apostolic authority over them.

Outline - Note the proposed outline:

1. Mental: A Godly Lifestyle 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

2. Physical: Jewish Ancestry & Christian Suffering 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

3. Spiritual: Revelations & Miracles 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Verses 16-33

Paul’s Boast of Jewish Ancestry and Christian Suffering: Physical Testimonies In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 Paul asks the Corinthians to patiently bear with him as he continues in his boasting (2 Corinthians 11:16-21). His next boast is in his ancestry as a Jew and in the amount of sufferings he has endured for Christ (2 Corinthians 11:22-33). These physical sufferings for their sake and for the ministry are the outward manifestations in the physical realm of his apostleship over the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 11:24-25 Comments Paul’s List of Hardships - Most of Paul’s list of hardships in 2 Corinthians 11:24-25 cannot be found in the book of Acts. However, we can find one of Paul’s stonings at Lystra in Acts 14:19 and one of his beatings at Philippi in Acts 16:22. In addition, we have a record of one of his shipwrecks in Acts 27-28, but this event took place several years after the writing of 2 Corinthians. Often, Satan tried to kill him.

2 Corinthians 11:26 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;

2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

2 Corinthians 11:27 Word Study on “watchings” Strong says the Greek word “watchings” ( αγρυπνι ́ α ) (G70) means, “sleeplessness, keeping awake.” It occurs two times in the New Testament, both times being translated “watchings.” The other occurrence is 2 Corinthians 6:5, “In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings , in fastings;”

2 Corinthians 11:29 Word Study on “offended” Strong says the Greek word “offended” ( σκανδαλίζω ) (G4624), means, “to entrap, to trip,” and figuratively, “to entice to sin.”

2 Corinthians 11:29 Word Study on “burn” - The Greek word ( πυρόω ) (G4448) means, “to burn with sympathy, readiness to aid or indignation,” ( BDAG), “intense concern,” ( NASB).

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.