Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 11

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Verse 1


Tolerate me. There is still a possibility that the false apostles may deceive the Corinthians with their claims that seem reasonable by worldly standards. Two key words are foolish (fools) and boasting (boast). Since the false apostles said he was being foolish to boast about himself being an apostle, Paul uses their own language.

Verse 2


Just as God is. Paul feels the same jealousy which God feels (Exodus 20:5) because in converting them to Christ he had promised them in marriage to one man only, that is, to Christ. Compare Revelation 19:7-9. Paul’s godly jealousy stands in contrast to the human jealousy of the false apostles (compare Galatians 4:17). Promised in marriage. See note on Matthew 1:18.

Verse 3


I am afraid. “I am afraid, that as the snake deceived Eve and led her into sin (Gen. ch 3), so your minds will be corrupted by false arguments and you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ and be guilty of spiritual immorality!” [Note Paul believes the account of Adam and Eve.]

Verse 4


For you gladly tolerate. Compare this with 2 Corinthians 11:1. Human nature loves new things (Acts 17:21), and this makes Paul afraid that they will adopt this new message which is phony (not genuine, but a distortion). [Sometimes, however, people are so rooted in tradition, that they reject PURE TRUTH because it seems new to them (because they never heard it before).]

Verse 5


The least bit inferior! Paul has proved himself by his loyalty to Christ-on-the-cross! He has the Holy Spirit, but the false apostles do not! It is almost certain that the false apostles (and the circumcision party???) preached a “Jesus without the cross.” As a true apostle, Paul is in no way inferior to such as these!!!

Verse 6


An amateur in speaking. Paul was not a gifted orator, as these men must have been. Yet he has true knowledge, and is in no way inferior to anyone! He has made this clear by his teaching and, by the gifts from the Spirit which he gave to them.

Verse 7


Charge you a thing. Paul would accept no pay from the Corinthians when he planted the church there. The false apostles said this proved he was not an apostle. Paul says that he humbled himself to make them important! Compare Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 9:15 and notes.

Verse 8


I was paid by other churches. Paul has been accused over the very thing he did for their own good! He did not take money from them to avoid even a hint of suspicion that he acted from worldly motives!!! But it was proper for an established congregation to support him (Philippians 4:15-17).

Verse 9


I did not bother you for help. Paul has already mentioned the generosity of the Macedonian churches (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). Paul must have been in desperate need during his initial work at Corinth, and these brothers supplied his need.

Verse 10


By Christ’s truth in me. This is a strong affirmation of what he says!!! Conditions at Corinth make it important that he does not allow them to give him money to live on!

Verse 11


Why do I say this? When Paul refused to be paid by the Corinthian church, the false apostles said it proved he did not love them! But Paul does love them and affirms it by saying that God knows I do! Since Paul was paid by other churches, what he did here at Corinth must have been to destroy the claims of the false teachers.

Verse 12


In order to. The false apostles were making themselves rich off the church! Since they will be compared to Paul, they feel they must discredit him. But if he allowed Corinth to pay him, he would be doing his opponents a favor!!!

Verse 13


They are false apostles. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “This speedy appearance of false teachers was one of the most remarkable features of the Apostolic age; compare Galatians 2:4; Philippians 1:15; 1 John 4:1, crafty workers (compare Philippians 3:2), fashioning themselves into Apostles of Christ, i.e., laying special claim to that great title (compare 2 Corinthians 10:7).” The heresies of today are really as old as the first century. See Introduction to the Letter From James.

Verse 14


Even Satan! A Jewish legend said that Satan once took the form of an angel of light and joined other angels in singing praises to God; and that Eve in the garden saw him as he “bent over the wall.” The point is that evil can counterfeit good.

Verse 15


If his servants. Paul says Satan’s servants are trying to deceive the church! Then the false apostles are Satan’s servants!!! Compare 1 John 2:18-19 and notes.

Verse 16


I repeat. “Bear with me as I boast a little bit, and see if I have as much to boast about as those false apostles!”

Verse 17


Not what the Lord. Paul is not now disobeying the Lord!!! What he is doing is to argue from a human point of view as the false apostles have done. In doing this, he is talking like a fool (which they have accused him of being).

Verse 18


I will do the same. “I can boast about worldly things also!” See 2 Corinthians 11:30.

Verse 19


Are so wise. He speaks in irony. Compare 1 Corinthians 4:10 and note.

Verse 20


You tolerate anyone. “You certainly have great patience! You tolerate these false apostles when they take your money to support themselves in luxury, and you tolerate them when they give you a hard time!”

Verse 21


We were too timid! “What a shame! I was too timid to treat you like that!” Just as daring. He now boasts on their own level.

Verse 22


Hebrews? This means a Jew who preserved his national language and customs, a kind of super-patriot. Compare note on Acts 9:1. Israelites? One of God’s own people. Compare Romans 9:4; Romans 11:1. Abraham’s. The messianic promise came through Abraham. Paul is completely Jewish in every sense of the word!

Verse 23


Christ’s servants? They called themselves both apostles of Christ and servants of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13). Like a madman. This implies that while they think they are wise, all they really understand is the babbling of madmen, and Paul must come down to their level to be understood. Paul now gives us an amazing picture of his life and work as an apostle of Christ!!!

Verse 24


The thirty-nine lashes. The Law allowed forty lashes (Deuteronomy 25:1-3), but they always stopped one short, to avoid breaking the law. Josephus says this sometimes caused death. The fact that Paul received this five times, shows that during his ministry there was no final separation between church and synagogue.

Verse 25


Whipped by the Romans. Compare Acts 16:22-23. Stoned. Acts 14:19. Three shipwrecks. A fourth is described in Acts 27:0 (at a later date). Twenty-four hours. Holding on to some of the wreckage.

Verse 26


In my many travels. Paul was constantly risking his life in many ways! A few of these experiences are mentioned in the New Testament, but we can only imagine what all Paul endured for the mission he had received from Christ!!!

Verse 27


There has been. Here he mentions hardships. This is a general picture, and he does not give specific details.

Verse 28


My concern. As an apostle, Paul had a great concern for all the churches, not just Corinth. Compare 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Corinthians 7:5.

Verse 29


When someone. By this Paul shows how close he feels to each Christian!

Verse 30


That show. This explains what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:18. The weakness of which he has been accused (2 Corinthians 10:10) is the only proper subject for boasting! In weakness (as the world sees it), Paul is imitating Christ, who died in weakness (2 Corinthians 13:4).

Verse 31


The God and Father. Paul affirms the truth of all these things he has just said, and says God knows he is speaking the truth!!!

Verses 32-33


When I was in Damascus. See note on Acts 9:23. Paul adds this account as an afterthought. It may be that the false teacher had widely circulated this account, hoping to embarrass Paul with it. Here he sets the record straight! What to them was a laughable situation, is to Paul an example of God’s mercy!!! Also, this account being circulated as fact (which it was) would help to increase the credibility of the other things Paul tells about in this chapter.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.