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The True Apostle and the False Teachers. 2 Corinthians 11:1-Ezra :
Paul censures the spirit which gives ear to false teaching:
v. 1. Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly; and indeed bear with me.
v. 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.
v. 3. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
v. 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.
The apostle had condemned the false boasting of the opponents that had come to Corinth and were threatening to spoil the effect of his work. Continuing now on the same topic and in much the same strain, he administers a rebuke to the Corinthians, introduced with great skill: I wish you could bear a little with me in some foolishness; yes, do bear with me! In his effort to destroy the influence which was acting counter to his wishes, and to undermine the work of the false teachers who disparaged him. Paul emphasizes his apostolic authority with passionate earnestness, while apparently holding it lightly. It may seem to some of them like nonsense what he is about to discuss, his appeal may seem like mockery to them, but it is, in truth, a defense of his position which is demanded of him by the sacredness of the obligation resting upon him. To vindicate his ministry, it would be necessary for him indeed to speak much of himself, of his sufferings, of his success: hut this was not vanity, as some might suppose; it was rather, under the circumstances, a most urgent necessity.
That is brought out by the very next words: For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a pure virgin to Christ; but I fear lest in some way, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity toward Christ. Paul here does not refer to the jealousy of the husband, but to the official zeal of the paranymph, or bridesman, who, among the Jews as well as among the Greeks, arranged the betrothal and made it a point of honor to see that the virgins were properly educated and prepared for married life, who, above all, vouchsafed for the fact that their chastity was untarnished. Paul intimates, therefore, that the present state of affairs in Corinth reflected upon his honor, as though he had not done his work well, as though he had not been careful. He also implies that he resents the interference of rivals who were concerning themselves with matters not pertaining to their business. With godly zeal he was jealous, he was anxious on behalf of God. For as a part of his official duties he had betrothed or espoused the Corinthian Christians, as a Christian congregation, as a part of the Church of Christ, to their Lord, his intention and impression being thereby to present a pure, chaste virgin to Christ, undefiled by any false doctrine or unfaithfulness in life. Luther says of this: "Herewith he shows that the apostolate is nothing but the office of a wooer or bridesman that daily prepares and leads to Christ His bride."
But Paul expresses a deep disappointment and fear, namely, that the purity and unsullied virginity, of which he was so proud, may have been corrupted through the work of the false teachers, that their minds may have been led away from simplicity and one-mindedness toward Christ, just as the serpent completely beguiled Eve by his many arts, Genesis 3:1-Jeremiah :. As in the Garden of Eden, Satan, the tempter of mankind, is unceasingly active, deceiving and seducing into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice. This, Paul feared, had taken place in Corinth, for it seemed that the members of that congregation had shown themselves only too willing to listen to strange teachings; their minds were no longer directed toward Christ with singleness of heart, but they were rather giving heed to the voice of the tempter. Paul means to sap, in brief: "But something is worrying me and causing me care, yea, I am jealous and zealous about you (yet with godly zeal, not from anger or hatred), that I yield you to no one else; for I fear nothing so much as that the devil woo you away from Christ. Just as it happened to Eve in paradise, who also was a beautiful bride, decorated with manifold ornament, both external and spiritual, divine, and obedient, and subject to God. But the devil beguiled her and caused her to sin, so that she deserted God and followed the adulterer and led us all with her into the harm in which we are submerged. Thus, he says, I am anxious about you, who have once more been brought to Christ and become His bride. For the danger is great, since the devil attacks Christendom without ceasing, and since we are weak, and you must beware and be on your guard with all diligence, lest you, by the guile and craftiness of Satan, be led away from the Word and obedience of Christ, our Lord, who has loved you and given Himself for you."
The apostle substantiates his suspicions: For, indeed, if he that comes were preaching another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you were receiving another spirit which you did not receive, or a different gospel which you did not accept, you bear with him well! Instability and gullible curiosity seem to be characteristics of newly founded congregations, since they are still lacking the solid doctrinal foundation so necessary to remain firm against temptations and persecutions of every kind. If any one comes, no matter who he is, and whether or not he has a call or authority, the Corinthians were exhibiting a tolerance and a willingness to hear him which certainly accorded finely with their assumed wisdom, as the apostle ironically remarks. For here were the false teachers, blandly insisting that they were really proclaiming the complete and perfect Christ, that their understanding of Jesus was so much more encompassing than that of Paul. But the latter tears the mask from their face and declares that the Christ whom they preached was not the Christ of the Gospel, but another Christ, a figment of their imagination; for Christ was not a new lawgiver. So the false teachers also alleged that they were imparting the Spirit properly and in the right measure, as befitted the city of Corinth with its traditions of culture and learning. But Paul calls that a different spirit, one having nothing in common with the true Spirit of holiness given through the pure preaching of the Gospel. The false teachers had proudly presented themselves as the true preachers of the message of salvation; but Paul declares their proclamation to be a different gospel, one which has nothing in common with the message of redemption through the blood of Christ. See Galatians 1:6-1 Samuel :. Note: The description of the false teachers, as here given, in a most remarkable manner fits those teachers of our day who arise in the Church and calmly proclaim a new Christ, a different spirit, a social gospel. And, alas! they find many whose facile acceptance of novelty causes them to bear with the glittering phrases finely.
Paul is not inferior to the "great apostles":
v. 5. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
v. 6. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things.
v. 7. Have I committed an offense in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the Gospel of God freely?
v. 8. I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
v. 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 burden so me unto you, and so will I keep myself.
The apostle here proceeds to take up the reasons why his apostolic authority was being questioned by the false teachers, namely, that he was not a trained orator, and that he had not claimed support from the congregation at Corinth. With biting sarcasm he writes: I think that in not one whit have I been behind the very superior, these superfine apostles. The false teachers not only claimed apostolic rank, but attached an extravagant importance to their persons and rights. The longer he considers the matter, Paul declares with another ironical thrust, the more he is convinced that his apostolic authority was fully on a level with that claimed by these false teachers.
Taking up, now, the first charge, that he is rude, bungling, uneducated, uneloquent in speech, that he lacks professional training, he lets that stand; it is true, he speaks in plain, unadorned phrase, he does not strive after polished elegance of expression, which appeals more by the sound than by reason of its content. But he maintains that he is not rude, unlearned, in his knowledge and understanding of divine things, of the sound truths of the Gospel. As a matter of fact, Paul was a forceful speaker, Acts 19:12; Acts 22:1; Acts 24:10; Acts 26:2; but he purposely avoided the glittering methods of the professional speakers. And this method of his had been effective, as is proved by the fact that in everything he has made the knowledge of God and spiritual things manifest among all men toward the Corinthians, or, by a slightly different construction: He and his fellow-workers have been everywhere made manifest as such that know the truth of God.
So far as the second charge was concerned, Paul asks: Or have I committed a sin in humiliating myself that you might be exalted, because without charge I preached to you the Gospel of God? Do they consider it such a grievous wrong that he waived his right to maintenance, that he humbled himself in their midst, making his living by his own hands, while at the same time exalting them in spiritual privileges by committing to them the glorious message of salvation? Will they insist upon deeming it a fault that he charged them nothing for his maintenance while he worked in their midst? Has he disgraced the apostolic office by descending to servile labor for his own support? Are they going to complain because they have been treated with such exceptional kindness? Surely they would not think of being so foolish! Note that in the expression "preaching the divine, precious Gospel without charge" there is a most effective contrast between that which is free and that which is of the highest price and value.
Paul frankly states: Other congregations I despoiled, accepting wages from them, that I might minister to you. He purposely uses the strong term "robbing" or "despoiling," in order to awaken shame in their hearts. From other congregations he accepted wages for services performed for a livelihood, and all the while he was doing service for the Corinthians. Other Christians contributed to his maintenance, in order that the believers of Corinth might make headway in spiritual welfare. How humiliating for them! And Paul further explains: And being with you and suffering want, I was a burden on no man; he did not bring his financial troubles to their attention, he did not rely upon any one in Corinth for his support. For his lack the brethren that came from Macedonia supplied, probably Silas and Timothy, Acts 18:5; Php_4:15 . Consequently in everything he kept himself from being burdensome to the Christians at Corinth, and this he intended to continue, as he shows in the nest paragraph. His argument here is: If it was right that he, in the midst of wealthy Achaia, gave a proof of his selflessness, although this redounded to the disgrace of his opponents, then his accepting of assistance from the Christians of Macedonia could not have been wrong, since the latter thereby brought a willing and cheerful sacrifice for the glory and praise of the Gospel.
Paul insists upon observing this course on account of the false teachers:
v. 10. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
v. 11. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth.
v. 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.
v. 13. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
v. 14. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
v. 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.
It was no mere caprice of an erratic genius that caused Paul to act thus in the case of Corinth, as he now brings out. First of all, he states, with the greatest emphasis, that he intended to continue his course as he had begun, by pledging the truth of Christ which lived in him, in opposition to all falsehood and hypocrisy, as a security for his statement that this particular boast was not to be obstructed for him, should not be suppressed, so far as the regions of Achaia were concerned; no one should ever succeed in stopping his mouth, in changing the firmness of this resolve. And lest someone in the Corinthian congregation might think that there was a personal reason in this determination, directed against the members as such, he hastens to add: Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! He calls upon God to be witness of the fact that his resolution to receive nothing from them did not originate in any absence of love for them. His affection for the members of the congregation as such remained unaltered: it was in no way concerned in this matter.
The apostle now states the reason for his resolve: But what I am doing, that I must I do in order that I may cut off the occasion from those that desire an occasion, that in the matter of their boast they may be found even as we. Paul was firmly determined to continue his course of not accepting financial help from the Corinthian congregation because he wanted to take away every valid reason on the part of the opponents for continuing their career of malicious misrepresentation. They boasted of their own unselfishness and disinterestedness without reason, and therefore Paul was determined by a course of absolute disinterestedness, not only to cut off all occasion for ascribing to him mercenary motives, but to compel them to assume a like position in actual practice Let them do what Paul was doing, and there would be some reason for listening to their claims; let them do at least so much before proclaiming themselves as the examples of superiority and excellence, as the paragons of true apostles and exemplary workers!
This was, of course, out of the question in men that sought only their own advantage, and so Paul characterizes them in their true colors: For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves outwardly into, assuming the appearance of, apostles of Christ. That is their proper place, that is their true character. Professing to be apostles of Christ, they were lying; urging their work in the interest of the Lord, they were deceiving; although nothing but base hypocrites, they were assuming the form of Christ's emissaries. As one commentator has it: "They disguised themselves, first, in respect to doctrine, inasmuch as they retained many words and names which belonged to Christianity, but which were only like empty husks wrapped around some seeds which belonged not there; secondly, in respect to conduct, inasmuch as they outwardly imitated the works which Christ's apostles wrought, but they were destitute of that benevolence which constituted the perfection of a Christian's doings."
This the apostle finds altogether natural: And no wonder! For Satan himself assumes the form of an angel of light. So it is no great surprise that his servants assume the form of the ministers of righteousness; whose end will be according to their works. The disguise assumed by the false prophets accords altogether with their character. Satan is a power of darkness, Ephesians 6:12; Acts 26:18, but for reasons of his own, as in the various temptations, he assumes the form and appearance of a pure and holy angel. And, so his agents, the false teachers, having learned to dissimulate just like their master, appear in the guise of messengers of righteousness: they resent the idea of their being impostors with a great show of righteous indignation. But the doom of such false apostles will be that of their lord, Php_3:19 ; Romans 6:21; 1 Peter 4:17. Their assumed form of saintliness will be removed at the Last Judgment, and they will suffer the punishment of the hypocrites of all times. Mark: The spirit of our times aptly illustrates Satan's ability to convert himself into the form of an angel of light, for the very words which are in the mouth of so many reformers today: enlightenment, progress, liberty, equality, culture, -are baits used to snare the unwary for unbelief. Mark also the uncompromising attitude of the apostle toward false teachers, entirely at variance with the false charity and unionism of our day which finds it expedient to accept even error for the sake of an outward union.
Paul's Boast of His Apostolic Calling.
Paul deprecates the necessity of boasting:
v. 16. I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me that I may boast myself a little.
v. 17. That which I speak; I speak it not after the Lord, but, as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
v. 18. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
v. 19. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
v. 20. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
The apostle has now sufficiently characterized the nature of the false teachers and rejected their claims to consideration. He now, by way of contrast, records a testimony of his own apostolic labors and trials, not for self-glorification, See chap. 10:17, but as a necessary defense against the charges and insinuations of his enemies. In doing so, he returns to the thought of v. 1: I say again, Let no man think me to be foolish, lacking in good sense; but if it cannot be so, if you refuse to listen to my pleading, if you persist in regarding me as one bereft of his proper mind, yet receive me as a fool. The section of the letter now following he wants to have considered with all seriousness, for he intends it as a defense; but if they mill regard it as utter nonsense, then let them at least extend to him the forbearance usually allowed to a witless fellow, let them listen to his ramblings, as they choose to regard them, in order that he also might boast himself a little. Here is a thrust at the false apostles, for they, as slaves of selfishness, were far too prudent to undergo human suffering, far too lazy and unwieldy for a flight of heavenly ecstasy.
Almost every sentence shows that the apostle is battling with his own humility and diffidence in bringing his own person forward into such a prominent position. This he expresses at the very beginning: What I speak, not according to the Lord speak I, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of glorying. What he has arranged in his thoughts, what he has begun to express in words, is of a nature that he would rather not claim inspiration from the Holy Ghost for it, so thoroughly out of harmony with his own tastes it is. And yet the Spirit has moved him to write of his own labors, in order to confound the false teachers. For himself, he would prefer to regard it as a species of foolishness, this confidence of boasting, though confidence it is beyond doubt.
In further justification of his unusual spurt of boasting, he writes: Since many boast after the flesh, I also will boast. That was the feature which stood out so prominently in the case of the false teachers; they made it a practice to brag and boast of their experiences and of their accomplishments. With them it was second nature, with Paul it required a special effort. They always took care to have all the praise strike their own persons; he, on the contrary, praises his office, his labors and sufferings, whereby the glory of the Gospel was enhanced. The Corinthians would be all the more willing to overlook his foolishness, since they were showing this disposition at the present time: For gladly you bear with the foolish since you yourselves are wise. The words are written in sincere love and kindness, and yet with gentle mockery and censure. They were bearing without a word of dissatisfaction that false teachers were boasting before them and condemning the person and the work of Paul. In the richness of their experience and wisdom they would surely not mind it, therefore, if he would also do a little boasting and join the ranks of the fools for once; there could be no doubt that they would extend the same indulgent toleration to him.
The apostle now reminds the Corinthians of the insolence and ill-treatment which they had cheerfully endured at the hands of these self-appointed spiritual guides: For you bear it if one makes you servants (slaves), if one devours you, if one takes you captive, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you in the face. While Paul humbly stated that he wanted to be only the servant of the Lord's congregation, chap. 4:5, the false teachers deliberately assumed the lordship in the congregation; they enslaved the people spiritually, they made them bow under the yoke of their false doctrine and commandments of men. While Paul worked with his own hands, earning his maintenance for himself, these men were the embodiments of avarice; they robbed the members of their substance by greedily demanding support; they had no thought for the salvation of their people, but only for their own advantage and benefit. While Paul worked in every way to preserve the individual liberty of the Christians, as under obedience to the love of Christ only, these men captured them in the nets of their false doctrine; wrapping themselves in the innocent garments of sheep's' clothing, they gained the confidence of the people, until they had made them their willing captives. While Paul at all times was a model of humility, these men exalted themselves at the expense of their hearers, being full of pride and scorn. While Paul always treated all men with all kindness, the false teachers finally reached such heights of insolence that they did not hesitate to lay violent hands on the poor dupes that had given them their confidence; they offered the people the highest form of insult in the form of a blow in the face. And all this the Corinthians suffered, just as men today will bear at the hands of false teachers what they would not dream of enduring from a true teacher of the Gospel. The very fact of the selfish impertinence of the false teachers seems to keep their people cowed in helpless suffering.
The apostle's commendation of himself:
v. 21. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit, whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
v. 22. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
v. 23. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
v. 24. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
v. 25. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
v. 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;
v. 27. in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness;
v. 28. beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Powerful irony and forceful reproach are contained in the first words of this section; for he truly must seem weak to the Corinthians in comparison with such spiritual bosses: To the disgrace (of you) I say it, as though it were so that we had become weak. It was a shame to the Corinthians that the apostle was obliged to write this way, as though he and his fellow-laborers appeared weak in comparison with the false apostles. The latter were regarded very highly in their eyes, from them they endured the most humiliating conduct, while the real teachers, to whom they owed all their spiritual riches, were despised in their eyes.
The apostle now changes to a tone of masterful assertion in bringing out his own claims: But in whatever things any one is bold, dares to boast, (I speak it foolishly), I also dare to boast. His whole life since his conversion, the whole course of his ministry, will justify him, will show what labors and sufferings he has borne. The apostle speaks in an altogether general way; he challenges any of the false teachers, although he regards his boasting as an act of foolishness. Thereby he intimates, as Luther says, that the opponents, that have nothing to show that will in any way compare with his record, are worse than fools with their bragging. For his own person, Paul begins with the very lowest advantage: Hebrews are they? I also. Israelites are they? I also. The seed of Abraham are they? I also. What the false teachers extolled beyond measure Paul places in the lowest place; even in this meanest and lowest advantage they were not ahead of him. For he was a Hebrew, a member of the Jewish nation, who retained the Jewish language and customs; he was an Israelite, a member of God's chosen people of the Old Testament; he was a descendant of Abraham, he inherited the Messianic promises given to Abraham. In this point, therefore, the false apostles could not exalt themselves above Paul.
But there is a more important comparison: Ministers of Christ they are? That was their boast, and Paul, for the sake of argument, lets it stand, saying, however, in turn: As one beside himself I speak, I am more. The great humility of the apostle compels him to use this strong word, accusing himself of madness for presuming to boast in this sacred matter. Nevertheless he insists that he is a servant of Christ in a higher degree than his opponents: he has a much better right to call himself a minister of the Lord. This assertion he proves not by the success which he has had in his labors, not by naming the number of souls that were gained by his preaching, but by a reference to his labors and his self-denial. For that is the test of a minister's faithfulness, that he denies himself for the sake of his Lord, that he cheerfully takes upon himself the shame and disgrace, the trials and sufferings and tribulations that are wont to accompany his office. Thus Paul was able to say of himself: In labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. That was a summary of his sufferings: Not only now and then, but continually he was struggling under the load of his labors; not once, but often he was in prison, not only in Philippi. Acts 16:1-Matthew :; Acts 23:1-Habakkuk :, but also at other places, as the later epistles show; time and again he was subjected to beatings; frequently he was in perils of death. In all these facts the false teachers cannot stand a comparison, for they had had no such experiences in their work.
The apostle now gives a few details to support his contention. Five times, by order of some synagogue council, he had been sentenced to the beating spoken of Deuteronomy 25:3, which incidentally prohibited more than forty stripes, for which reason the Jews, with hypocritical carefulness, applied only thirty-nine blows lest they transgress the letter of the Law. This punishment was often so severe, as Josephus relates, that death followed. Not only the Jews maltreated him, but the heathen also had sentenced him three times to be beaten with rods. See Acts 16:23-Haggai :. Once was he stoned, namely, at Lystra, on his first missionary journey, Acts 14:19. Three times he suffered shipwreck, all these occasions being different from that spoken of Acts 27:1-:. In one of these cases his life had been suspended by only a thread, since he had been a night and a day in the deep; clinging to some bit of wreckage, he had been tossed about by the waves for almost twenty-four hours before being rescued.
Paul now resumes his proof of the fact that he was a servant of Christ in a higher sense or degree than his opponents. He had made many journeys, the extent of which is merely indicated in Luke's account; he had been indefatigable in going from one country to another, in order to bring the Gospel to the heathen. On his journeys he had endured perils of rivers, when crossing dangerous torrents; perils of robbers, who infested remote mountain fastnesses, as in the Taurus Mountains in Asia Minor; perils on the part of his own people, the Jews, who often attempted to take his life, as well as on the part of the Gentiles, as at Iconium, Acts 14:5, at Philippi, Acts 16:20, and at Ephesus, Acts 21:31; perils in the city, in populated districts with police protection; perils in the desert, in wild and remote regions; perils in the sea, such as he has just mentioned; perils among false brethren, very likely the Judaizing teachers, who now proved his bitter opponents. Paul had done the work of his ministry in hard labor and travail, often without an opportunity for sufficient sleep, since he used the nights to labor with his own hands. He had endured hunger and thirst, because he did not possess, or could not obtain, food. He had fasted frequently to inure his body against the hardships of his journeys and labors. He had suffered cold and nakedness, not having the necessary clothing to be provided for all the changes of weather in the various countries. See 2 Timothy 4:13. In this way Paul showed himself an example of a self-denying servant of Christ, for whom no trouble, no labor was too great, whom no hardships could deter, if the object was to serve the Lord.
But Paul endured also burdens and cares which came to him daily in the performance of his duty. He does not enumerate all the difficulties and hardships of either body and mind, but reminds the Corinthians only of the fact that there was the business which he had to attend to day by day, the many details which must be decided by him personally and which naturally pressed upon him, causing him many hours of anxiety and worry, with regard to all the congregations which he had founded.
A further recital of hardships and difficulties:
v. 29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?
v. 30. If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
v. 31. The God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed forevermore, knoweth that I lie not.
v. 32. In Damascus, the governor under Aretas, the king, kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me;
v. 33. and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
The first rhetorical questions contain a further explanation of the fact that Paul was burdened with the details of business concerning many congregations. If any important question of faith or of Christian life was to be decided, or when there was a quarrel, or when his advice was desired in any matter whatsoever, the apostle was invariably approached to give his assistance and decision. Not only the weal and woe of entire Congregations, however, rested upon his shoulders, but he also bore with the individual Christians. His apostolic sympathy went out to those that were weak in faith; he felt their weakness with them; he found the right word at the right time; he knew when to make allowances and when to use firmness; he became weak with the weak. On the other hand, when he heard that any person was being offended, was made to stumble, he was inflamed with righteous indignation. He felt the injury as though it had been done to himself. As a true pastor, he felt the spiritual troubles and perils of all his members everywhere and stood by their side with prayer and advice.
The principle which has guided the apostle thus far in his glorying he gives in the sentence: If it is necessary for me to boast, I will boast of my weakness. As though he would say: It is not my own free will, it is not my own choice to glory, but you Corinthians have compelled me to boast in order that the Gospel of Christ may remain in your midst. Since it is thus laid upon me as a necessity, I shall not boast as other people do, of my strength, of my successes, hut of that which belongs to my weakness, of my sufferings, of the persecutions and tribulations which I have endured. And herein the apostle solemnly protests that he is speaking the truth: The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. This exclamation shows the depth of the feeling which was agitating the apostle. God is his witness. Not his own person, not the truth of his doctrine, hut the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the honor of his Lord, is endangered, and therefore this solemn assertion in the midst of his impassioned speech.
Paul now adds an account of a which befell him shortly after his conversion It was after his return from Arabia, when he was preaching so openly and fearlessly in Damascus, that the Jews took counsel to kill him, Acts 9:23-Lamentations :. Their influence in the city was so great that they induced the ethnarch of King Aretas of Arabia, the father-in-law of Herod Agrippa, to guard the city by placing a watch at all the gates, while they themselves searched the city and made every attempt to apprehend Paul. But the Lord watched over His servant. It seems that one of the members of the Christian congregation at Damascus lived nest to the city wall, and so the disciples took him to this house. When night came, hey took him either to an opening in the city wall or to a window of the house where it was flush with the wall, and let him down in a basket. Thus he escaped from the city, and the plans of his enemies were frustrated, both those of the Jews and those of the ethnarch. Note that it is right for a Christian and also for a Christian pastor to flee for his life in times of persecution, when there is an opportunity and it may be done without a denial of the truth.
Paul censures the spirit which permitted the Corinthians to be led astray; he asserts that he as in no way inferior to his opponents, although he insisted upon supporting himself, a fact which served also as a challenge to the false apostles; he boasts of the perils and hardships of his apostolic labors.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25