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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Corinthians 11

Verse 1

Would that ye could bear with me (οφελον ανειχεσθε μου). Koine way of expressing a wish about the present, οφελον (as a conjunction, really second aorist active indicative of οφειλω without augment) and the imperfect indicative instead of ειθε or ε γαρ (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1003). Cf. Revelation 3:15. See Galatians 5:12 for future indicative with οφελον and 1 Corinthians 4:8 for aorist. Μου is ablative case after ανειχεσθε (direct middle, hold yourselves back from me). There is a touch of irony here.

Bear with me (ανεχεσθε μου). Either imperative middle or present middle indicative (ye do bear with me). Same form.

In a little foolishness (μικρον τ αφροσυνης). Accusative of general reference (μικρον τ). "Some little foolishness" (from αφρων, foolish). Old word only in this chapter in N.T.

Verse 2

With a godly jealousy (θεου ζηλω). Instrumental case of ζηλος. With a jealousy of God.

I espoused (ηρμοσαμην). First aorist middle indicative of αρμοζω, old verb to join, to fit together (from αρμος, joint). Common for betrothed, though only here in N.T. The middle voice indicates Paul's interest in the matter. Paul treats the Corinthians as his bride.

Verse 3

The serpent beguiled Eve (ο οφις εξηπατησεν Hευαν). Paul's only mention of the serpent in Eden. The compound εξαπαταω means to deceive completely.

Lest by any means (μη πως). Common conjunction after verbs of fearing.

Corrupted (φθαρη). Second aorist passive subjunctive with μη πως of φθειρω, to corrupt.

Verse 4

Another Jesus (αλλον Ιησουν). Not necessarily a different Jesus, but any other "Jesus" is a rival and so wrong. That would deny the identity.

A different spirit (πνευμα ετερον). This is the obvious meaning of ετερον in distinction from αλλον as seen in Acts 4:12; Galatians 1:6. But this distinction in nature or kind is not always to be insisted on.

A different gospel (ευαγγελιον ετερον). Similar use of ετερον.

Ye do well to bear with him (καλως ανεχεσθε). Ironical turn again. "Well do you hold yourselves back from him" (the coming one, whoever he is). Some MSS. have the imperfect ανειχεσθε (did bear with).

Verse 5

That I am not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles (μηδεν υστερηκενα των υπερλιαν αποστολων). Perfect active infinitive of υστερεω, old verb to fall short with the ablative case. The rare compound adverb υπερλιαν (possibly in use in the vernacular) is probably ironical also, "the super apostles" as these Judaizers set themselves up to be. "The extra-super apostles" (Farrar). Also in 2 Corinthians 12:11. He is not referring to the pillar-apostles of Galatians 2:9.

Verse 6

Rude in speech (ιδιωτης τω λογω). Locative case with ιδιωτης for which word see on Acts 4:13; 1 Corinthians 14:16; 1 Corinthians 14:23; 1 Corinthians 14:24. The Greeks regarded a man as ιδιωτης who just attended to his own affairs (τα ιδια) and took no part in public life. Paul admits that he is not a professional orator (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:10), but denies that he is unskilled in knowledge (αλλ' ου τη γνωσε).

Among all men (εν πασιν). He has made his mastery of the things of Christ plain among all men. He knew his subject.

Verse 7

In abasing myself (εμαυτον ταπεινων). Humbling myself by making tents for a living while preaching in Corinth. He is ironical still about "doing a sin" (αμαρτιαν εποιησα).

For nought (δωρεαν). Gratis. Accusative of general reference, common adverb. It amounts to sarcasm to ask if he did a sin in preaching the gospel free of expense to them "that ye may be exalted."

Verse 8

I robbed (εσυλησα). Old verb to despoil, strip arms from a slain foe, only here in N.T. He allowed other churches to do more than their share.

Taking wages (λαβων οψωνιον). For οψωνιον see on 1 Corinthians 9:7; Romans 6:17. He got his "rations" from other churches, not from Corinth while there.

Verse 9

I was not a burden to any man (ου κατεναρκησα ουθενος). First aorist active indicative of καταναρκαω. Jerome calls this word one of Paul's cilicisms which he brought from Cilicia. But the word occurs in Hippocrates for growing quite stiff and may be a medical term in popular use. Ναρκαω means to become numb, torpid, and so a burden. It is only here and 2 Corinthians 12:13. Paul "did not benumb the Corinthians by his demand for pecuniary aid" (Vincent).

From being burdensome (αβαρη). Old adjective, free from weight or light (α privative and βαρος, weight) . See on 1 Thessalonians 2:9 for same idea. Paul kept himself independent.

Verse 10

No man shall stop me of this glorying (η καυχησις αυτη ου φραγησετα εις εμε). More exactly, "This glorying shall not be fenced in as regards me." Second future passive of φρασσω, to fence in, to stop, to block in. Old verb, only here in N.T.

In the regions of Achaia (εν τοις κλιμασιν της Αχαιας). Κλιμα from κλινω, to incline, is Koine word for declivity slope, region (our climate). See chapter 2 Corinthians 11:1 for Paul's boast about preaching the gospel without cost to them.

Verse 11

God knoweth (ο θεος οιδεν). Whether they do or not. He knows that God understands his motives.

Verse 12

That I may cut off occasion (ινα εκκοψω την αφορμην). Purpose clause with ινα and first aorist active subjunctive of εκκοπτω, old verb to cut out or off (Matthew 3:10; Matthew 5:30). See 2 Corinthians 5:12 for αφορμην.

From them which desire an occasion (των θελοντων αφορμην). Ablative case after εκκοψω. There are always some hunting for occasions to start something against preachers.

They may be found (ευρεθωσιν). First aorist passive subjunctive of ευρισκω, to find with final conjunction ινα.

Verse 13

False apostles (ψευδαποστολο). From ψευδης, false, and αποστολος. Paul apparently made this word (cf. Revelation 2:2). In verse 2 Corinthians 11:26 we have ψευδαδελφος, a word of like formation (Galatians 2:4). See also ψευδοχριστο and ψευδοπροφητα in Mark 13:22.

Deceitful (δολιο). Old word from δολος (lure, snare), only here in N.T. (cf. Romans 16:18).

Fashioning themselves (μετασχηματιζομενο). Present middle (direct) participle of the old verb μετασχηματιζω for which see on 1 Corinthians 4:6. Masquerading as apostles of Christ by putting on the outward habiliments, posing as ministers of Christ ("gentlemen of the cloth," nothing but cloth). Paul plays with this verb in verses 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Corinthians 11:15.

Verse 14

An angel of light (αγγελον φωτος). The prince of darkness puts on the garb of light and sets the fashion for his followers in the masquerade to deceive the saints. "Like master like man." Cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11; Galatians 1:8. This terrible portrayal reveals the depth of Paul's feelings about the conduct of the Judaizing leaders in Corinth. In Galatians 2:4 he terms those in Jerusalem "false brethren."

Verse 15

As ministers of righteousness (ως διακονο δικαιοσυνης). Jesus (John 10:1-21) terms these false shepherds thieves and robbers. It is a tragedy to see men in the livery of heaven serve the devil.

Verse 16

Let no man think me foolish (μη τις με δοξη αφρονα εινα). Usual construction in a negative prohibition with μη and the aorist subjunctive δοξη (Robertson, Grammar, p. 933).

But if ye do (ε δε μη γε). Literally, "But if not at least (or otherwise)," that is, If you do think me foolish.

Yet as foolish (καν ως αφρονα). "Even if as foolish." Paul feels compelled to boast of his career and work as an apostle of Christ after the terrible picture just drawn of the Judaizers. He feels greatly embarrassed in doing it. Some men can do it with complete composure (sang froid).

Verse 17

Not after the Lord (ου κατα Κυριον). Not after the example of the Lord. He had appealed to the example of Christ in 2 Corinthians 10:1 (the meekness and gentleness of Christ). Paul's conduct here, he admits, is not in keeping with that. But circumstances force him on.

Verse 18

After the flesh (κατα σαρκα). It is κατα σαρκα not κατα Κυριον.

I also (καγω). But he knows that it is a bit of foolishness and not like Christ.

Verse 19

Gladly (ηδεως). Irony again. Cf. καλος in 2 Corinthians 11:4 (Mark 7:9). So as to φρονιμο οντες (being wise).

Verse 20

For ye bear with a man (ανεχεσθε γαρ). " You tolerate tyranny, extortion, craftiness, arrogance, violence, and insult" (Plummer). Sarcasm that cut to the bone. Note the verb with each of the five conditional clauses (enslaves, devours, takes captive, exalteth himself, smites on the face). The climax of insult, smiting on the face.

Verse 21

By way of disparagement (κατα ατιμιαν). Intense irony. Cf. 2 Corinthians 6:8.

As though (ως οτ). Presented as the charge of another. "They more than tolerate those who trample on them while they criticize as 'weak' one who shows them great consideration" (Plummer). After these prolonged explanations Paul "changes his tone from irony to direct and masterful assertion" (Bernard).

I am bold also (τολμω καγω). Real courage. Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:2; 2 Corinthians 10:12.

Verse 22

So am I (καγω). This is his triumphant refrain with each challenge.

Verse 23

As one beside himself (παραφρονων). Present active participle of παραφρονεω. Old verb from παραφρων (παρα, φρην), beside one's wits. Only here in N.T. Such open boasting is out of accord with Paul's spirit and habit.

I more (υπερ εγω). This adverbial use of υπερ appears in ancient Greek (Euripides). It has no effect on εγω, not "more than I," but "I more than they." He claims superiority now to these "superextra apostles."

More abundant (περισσοτερως). See on 2 Corinthians 7:15. No verbs with these clauses, but they are clear.

In prisons (εν φυλακαις). Plural also in 2 Corinthians 6:5. Clement of Rome (Cor. V.) says that Paul was imprisoned seven times. We know of only five (Philippi, Jerusalem, Caesarea, twice in Rome), and only one before II Corinthians (Philippi). But Luke does not tell them all nor does Paul. Had he been in prison in Ephesus? So many think and it is possible as we have seen.

Above measure (υπερβαλλοντως). Old adverb from the participle υπερβαλλοντων (υπερβαλλω, to hurl beyond). Here only in N.T.

In deaths oft (εν θανατοις πολλακις). He had nearly lost his life, as we know, many times (2 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 4:11).

Verse 24

Five times received I forty stripes save one (πεντακις τεσσερακοντα παρα μιαν ελαβον). The Acts and the Epistles are silent about these Jewish floggings (Matthew 27:36). See on Luke 12:47 for omission of πληγας (stripes). Thirty-nine lashes was the rule for fear of a miscount (Deuteronomy 25:1-3). Cf. Josephus (Ant. IV. 8, 1, 21).

Verse 25

Thrice was I beaten with rods (τρις ερραβδισθην). Roman (Gentile) punishment. It was forbidden to Roman citizens by the Lex Porcia, but Paul endured it in Philippi (Acts 16:23; Acts 16:37), the only one of the three named in Acts. First aorist passive of ραβδιζω, from ραβδος, rod, Koine word, in N.T. only here and Acts 16:22 which see.

Once was I stoned (απαξ ελιθασθην). Once for all απαξ means. At Lystra (Acts 14:5-19). On λιθαζω Koine verb from λιθος, see on Acts 5:26.

Thrice I suffered shipwreck (τρις εναυαγησα). First aorist active of ναυαγεω, from ναυαγος, shipwrecked (ναυς, ship, αγνυμ, to break). Old and common verb, in N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 1:19. We know nothing of these. The one told in 2 Corinthians 11:27 was much later. What a pity that we have no data for all these varied experiences of Paul.

Night and day (νυχθημερον) Rare word. Papyri give νυκτημαρ with the same idea (night-day).

Have I been in the deep (εν τω βυθω πεποιηκα). Vivid dramatic perfect active indicative of ποιεω, "I have done a night and day in the deep." The memory of it survives like a nightmare. Βυθος is old word (only here in N.T.) for bottom, depth of the sea, then the sea itself. Paul does not mean that he was a night and day under the water, not a Jonah experience, only that he was far out at sea and shipwrecked. This was one of the three shipwrecks-already named.

Verse 26

In journeyings (οδοιποριαις). Locative case of old word, only here in N.T. and John 4:6, from οδοιπορος, wayfarer.

In perils (κινδυνοις). Locative case of κινδυνος, old word for danger or peril. In N.T. only this verse and Romans 8:35. The repetition here is very effective without the preposition εν (in) and without conjunctions (asyndeton). They are in contrasted pairs. The rivers of Asia Minor are still subject to sudden swellings from floods in the mountains. Cicero and Pompey won fame fighting the Cilician pirates and robbers (note ληιστων, not κλεπτων, thieves, brigands or bandits on which see Matthew 26:55). The Jewish perils (εκ γενους, from my race) can be illustrated in Acts 9:23; Acts 9:29; Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5; Acts 17:5; Acts 17:13; Acts 18:12; Acts 23:12; Acts 24:27, and they were all perils in the city also. Perils from the Gentiles (εξ εθνων) we know in Philippi (Acts 16:20) and in Ephesus (Acts 19:23). Travel in the mountains and in the wilderness was perilous in spite of the great Roman highways.

Among false brethren (εν ψευδαδελφοις). Chapters 2 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Corinthians 11:11 throw a lurid light on this aspect of the subject.

Verse 27

In labour and travail (κοπω κα μοχθω). Both old words for severe work, combined here as in 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, "by toil and moil" (Plummer). The rest of the list is like the items in 2 Corinthians 6:4.

In cold (εν ψυχε). Old word from ψυχω, to cool by blowing. See Acts 28:2. See the picture of the aged Paul later in the Roman dungeon (2 Timothy 4:9-18).

Verse 28

Besides those things that are without (χωρις των παρεκτος). Probably, "apart from those things beside these just mentioned." Surely no man ever found glory in such a peck of troubles as Paul has here recounted. His list should shame us all today who are disposed to find fault with our lot.

That which presseth upon me daily (η επιστασις μο η καθ' ημεραν). For this vivid word επιστασις see Acts 24:12, the only other place in the N.T. where it occurs. It is like the rush of a mob upon Paul.

Anxiety for all the churches (η μεριμνα πασων των εκκλησιων). Objective genitive after μεριμνα (distractions in different directions, from μεριζω) for which word see on Matthew 13:22. Paul had the shepherd heart. As apostle to the Gentiles he had founded most of these churches.

Verse 29

I burn (πυρουμα). Present passive indicative of πυροω, old verb to inflame (from πυρ, fire). When a brother stumbles, Paul is set on fire with grief.

Verse 30

The things that concern my weakness (τα της ασθενειας μου). Like the list above.

Verse 31

I am not lying (ου ψευδομα). The list seems so absurd and foolish that Paul takes solemn oath about it (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:23). For the doxology see Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5.

Verse 32

The governor under Aretas (ο εθναρχης Hαρετα). How it came to pass that Damascus, ruled by the Romans after B.C. 65, came at this time to be under the rule of Aretas, fourth of the name, King of the Nabatheans (II Macc. 5:8), we do not know. There is an absence of Roman coins in Damascus from A.D. 34 to 62. It is suggested (Plummer) that Caligula, to mark his dislike for Antipas, gave Damascus to Aretas (enemy of Antipas).

Guarded (εφρουρε). Imperfect active of φρουρεω, old verb (from φρουρος, a guard) to guard by posting sentries. In Acts 9:24 we read that the Jews kept watch to seize Paul, but there is no conflict as they cooperated with the guard set by Aretas at their request.

To seize (πιασα). Doric first aorist active infinitive of πιεζω (Luke 6:38) for which see on Acts 3:7.

Verse 33

Through a window (δια θυριδος). For this late word see on Acts 20:9, the only N.T. example.

Was I let down (εχαλασθην). First aorist passive of χαλαω, the very word used by Luke in Acts 9:25.

In a basket (εν σαργανη). Old word for rope basket whereas Luke (Acts 9:25) has εν σφυριδ (the word for the feeding of the 4,000 while κοφινος is the one for the 5,000). This was a humiliating experience for Paul in this oldest city of the world whither he had started as a conqueror over the despised Christians.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/2-corinthians-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.