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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 11

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-33

2 Corinthians 11:1-2 . Bear with me a little in my folly; for I must glory a little when the advocate of self-applause. I know it is folly for a man to applaud himself; and I doubt not but you will bear with me, being driven to it by the love I have for you. It is a love which amounts to a godly jealousy, having espoused you to one husband, as a chaste virgin to Christ; a virgin which should be like a nuptial robe without a spot. Hosea 2:19-20.

2 Corinthians 11:3 . I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, so your minds should be corrupted. See on Genesis 3:0.; and Milton’s account of Eve’s seduction, as abbreviated in the notes on Matthew 4:3. The apostle saw that those false teachers were playing the same game at Corinth, which had recently been attempted in the province of Galatia. What arguments could have been more appropriate to some of the brethren at Corinth, whose ears were somewhat delighted with the new teachers. He plays with his enemies at argument, being fully confident of victory. The Lord’s jealousy over the Hebrew church is enforced by the prophets in the strongest forms, to prompt the people to obedience. The Lord thy maker is thy husband. Jehovah of hosts is his name. St. Paul had betrothed the gentile church to Christ, that one husband. How then can the unitarian have the effrontery to say here, that Christ is not God? If Christ be the husband of the church, he is Jehovah her maker, and none else.

2 Corinthians 11:4 . If he that cometh, with so “fair a show in the flesh,” and preacheth another Jesus, as Saviour, Messiah, and Lord; another Spirit, with all the gifts, graces, and powers of the Holy Ghost, as promised in the ancient scriptures; or another gospel, more glorious in its plan, and better adapted to heal the earth of all the effects of the fall, then ye might bear with him. Instead of that, these pretended apostles offered nothing but the stale stories of the Talmud. In after ages, the Turk offers us the Koran, a book dipped in blood, full of rapine and lust. Here is the boasted religion of nature!

2 Corinthians 11:5 . For I suppose, or estimate, that I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. Here he honours Peter, and John, and others, but has confidence that in doctrine, in labours, in sufferings, and purity of life, he was not their inferior. If so, what then would be the contrast between him, and the emissaries of judaism?

2 Corinthians 11:7-13 . Have I committed an offence in abasing myself, or dishonoured my profession in working with my hands, when the church in Corinth were few and poor? I then worked for my bread, and shared it with my fellow- labourers. 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 9:12. But when the churches of Macedonia sent, and supplied my wants, I accounted it as a sweet-smelling savour to God. In this I robbed other churches to do you service, and preached to you a free gospel. And though the fine gentlemen looked down upon me with contempt, as poor and abject, they being in the pay of the great synagogue, what I then did, I will do. I will not allow them to call me a hireling. They are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14 . And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Φωτος , light, designates the pristine state of fallen angels. Isaiah has the same idea, when he says, How art thou fallen from heaven, oh Lucifer, son of the morning. הילל hailail, morning star. Satan’s presence created light, moving in his sphere as the first of archangels. Those false apostles in the plumage of the dove could, for a time, impose on the very elect.

2 Corinthians 11:15 . Whose end shall be according to their works. A word here is enough; they shall go with their master to Pluto’s dark house. Let all hypocrites read and tremble. Hypocrites can do what Satan, as such, cannot do. The old prophet of Bethel succeeded in destroying the young prophet, which neither the threats nor the rewards of the king could effect.

2 Corinthians 11:22 . Are they Hebrews? So am I. To a jew, these were questions of moment. Are they ministers of Christ? I am more abundant in labours. But where are their labours? Where are their scars in the fight, and love to the cross? St. Paul, like a skilful general, tries to bring the enemy to battle; but he concealed himself in the thicket, and escaped in the night.

2 Corinthians 11:23 . In prisons more frequent. “Seven times was he in bonds.” St. Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians, section 5. This statement, no doubt, is correct, though all the seven are not noted in the Acts.

2 Corinthians 11:24 . Forty stripes save one. Stripes were not allowed to exceed forty, lest faults should be punished too severely. The whip had three lashes of four plats each. With this they gave the offender thirteen strokes, which made thirty nine lashes.

2 Corinthians 11:26 . In journeyings often; and we must not suppose that oriental roads were like our present mail-coach roads. Men now living have seen forty roads, and frequent gibbet posts, over Nottingham forest. Ancient roads were mostly tracts for cattle, often preferring the hills to avoid the mire of the vales. In all the conquered nations, the Romans made great military roads, many of which still remain.

2 Corinthians 11:31 . The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ knoweth that I lie not. This form of speech is equivalent to an oath. The Father is called God, as the fountain of deity, from whom the Son, and the Spirit have the same Θεοτητα , divinity or godhead. Such are the illustrations of bishop Bull, professor Cocceijus, and others.

2 Corinthians 11:32 . The governor under Aretas. Dr. Hammond notes here, that the Gassanii reigned in Syria from four to six hundred years, and were called Harethi, or Aretæ, which is the name of the king in this place.


Violence having failed of effect, the jewish council adopted more wary measures with the church. They sent out men of address, and of some learning, to the synagogues among the gentiles to bring back the jews and proselytes to the law of Moses. Those most unprincipled men, adopting a subtilty like that of the serpent which beguiled Eve, came in a friendly manner into the christian assemblies, and availed themselves as teachers, of the liberty allowed in the synagogues, and insinuated themselves partly by gentile philosophy, and partly by the sanction of the Mosaic law, into the good affections of the christians. What Paul built up by day, those men pulled down by night, for in so great a work the common enemy must be busy. And what can be more afflictive to a faithful minister than to find, while he is promoting a work of God in his sphere, that Satan is promoting strife, feuds, and divisions. These evils Paul foresaw in the Spirit. Acts 20:29-30.

With a view to undermine the character of the holy apostle, they intimated in a dark and distant way that he walked according to the flesh, in seeking praise of men by austerities; adding withal, that his person was mean and contemptible. What charges, what insinuations. How holy was the blessed apostle, how upright when his professed enemies could find no occasion against him. How like the beloved Daniel, against whom the princes of Persia could find no charge, except concerning the law of his God. The missionaries of judaism were abandoned in character beyond a name. In the synagogue they were rabbins sent with authority; in the christian church they were brethren of Judea, and ministers of Christ to set things in order by enforcing circumcision and the ritual code. When men become hypocrites by profession, there is no saying what they will do. They are the fastest friends of Satan, who often transforms himself into an angel of light.

The church of God is under very great obligation to those false apostles for bringing the worth and excellence of St. Paul to light; it is their calumnies that brought these illustrious instances of his heroic faith, and the divine preservation of his life, to the knowledge of the church. Five times he was whipped in the synagogues of the great cities, where the jews had power, and where he had preached Christ. Thrice he was beaten with rods by the severe Roman lictors. Thrice he suffered shipwreck, and one of the times he was a night and a day on a raft, or a rock. His perils which menaced life were without number. Sometimes fording rivers, sometimes crossing deserts, where the simoon, or hot wind, a cloud of blue and sulphureous flame occasions immediate death, if both man and beast do not put their mouths into the sand. His sevenfold imprisonments he seems to have regarded as intervals of repose from the severer duties of his ministry. Oh my soul, when thou art weak and ready to faint, read this catalogue of sufferings, and hold thy peace about thy crosses. Approach to Calvary, and warm thy affections with redeeming love, that all thy complaints may be lost in grateful memory of the sufferings of thy Lord and Saviour.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-corinthians-11.html. 1835.
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