It is no pleasure to a good man to speak well of himself, yet in some cases it is lawful, namely when it is for the advantage of others or for the vindication of the cause of Christ. Those who boast in the Lord can never boast of what they have done, though they may glory in what they have suffered for His sake. Thus are false teachers distinguished from true, for they boast of their works and shun sufferings.
II Corinthians 11
1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
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.
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.
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.
5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
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?
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
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.
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
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.
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
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.
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.
17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
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.
21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
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;
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;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
II Corinthians 11:1-3 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 11:4-6 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 11:7-15 – J. Vernon McGee
II Corinthians 11:16-33 – J. Vernon McGee
2 Corinthians 11:1-9 – A “Godly Jealousy”
As the Bridegroom’s friend, Paul was eager to bring the Corinthian church to the Bridegroom of souls. But false teachers disturbed the purity and simplicity of their faith, as in Eden Satan perverted Eve. There would have been excuse if these false teachers had given his converts another and a better Savior or a greater Pentecost; but since these were impossible, he was well able to hold his ground, even though they were pre-eminent apostles in their own estimation. Paul was very conscious of the rudeness of his speech, of which apparently he had many reminders, but he was equally conscious of the direct knowledge that God had imparted to him.
He acknowledges that he had not taken their pecuniary support, which in itself was quite legitimate; but he altogether denies the inference which his enemies drew, that therefore he admitted his inferiority to the other servants of the Cross. He answers that insinuation by saying that he expressly refrained from accepting gifts, because of his desire to rob his critics of their argument that he was evangelizing the world for the purpose of making money. That they should make such wanton suggestions proved that they were Satan’s emissaries. —Through the Bible Day by Day
2 Corinthians 11:10-21 – Constrained to Silence Boasters
In vivid language, which proves how greatly he had been moved, the Apostle contrasts the false teachers who were injuring his converts with himself. They brought their disciples under bondage, exalted themselves, and lived in self-indulgence. He did not hesitate to unveil their true character and to designate them as emissaries of Satan. We need to fear a white devil even more than a black one. Satan conceals his deeds under the guise of an angel clothed in light; and as it is with him, so with his instruments; as their deeds are, so will be their end.
In the succeeding category, II Corinthians 11:16-21, Paul confesses freely that his words might seem in conflict with the humility that Jesus taught, and might savor of boastfulness and pride; but for the sake of the truth he stooped to the level of these false teachers, and adopted their own methods. Though he would not think of plundering or of smiting the disciples as these intruders did, yet he would meet the latter on their own ground. The proverb says, “Answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:5), and this is an exact description of the Apostle’s defense. This much at least was clear: that the motive of his life was absolutely pure and selfless, and was capable of lifting him to a career of unparalleled heroism. —Through the Bible Day by Day
2 Corinthians 11:22-33 – Pre-eminent in Labor and Suffering
It has been truly said that this enumeration represents a life which up to that hour had been without precedent in the history of the world. Self-devotion at particular moments or for some special cause had been often witnessed before; but a self-devotion involving such sacrifices and extending over at least fourteen years, in the interests of mankind at large, was up to that time a thing unknown. The lives of missionaries and philanthropists in later times may have paralleled his experiences; but Paul did all this, and was the first to do it.
The biography of the Apostle, as told by Luke, comes greatly short of this marvelous epitome. Of the facts alluded to only two—the stoning and one of the Roman scourgings—are mentioned in the book of the Acts; from which we gather that the book is, after all, but a fragmentary record, and that the splendid deeds of the disciples and apostles of that first age will be known only when the Lamb Himself recites them from His Book. But even this enumeration omits all that the Apostle suffered after the writing of this Epistle, including, of course, the sufferings between his arrest and his appearance before Nero. —Through the Bible Day by Day
2 Corinthians 11:26 – In perils.
This enumeration was made before the imprisonment at Caesarea and the voyage to Rome. How little do we know of Paul’s life, after all! Every victory was hardly fought for and dearly won.
These sufferings attest the truth of Christianity.—Whenever a doubt crosses your mind with respect to the Resurrection, or any other Gospel fact, say to yourself, Paul knew everything that could be said against it. He was in the secrets of the Sanhedrim; and if he believed it, we certainly may. And he had nothing to gain by his witness. It was to his great loss, and the shattering of his position in Israel, that he became a Christian.
These sufferings approve the genuineness of Paul’s character.—This age is athirst for biography; it loves to read the story of its great men; but sometimes we ask whether they are just as real and good and pure as we have been led to hope. There is one life at least about which no such inquiry can be raised. The severest tests may be applied to this diamond, but it shines only the brighter—a very Koh-i-noor, “A mountain of light.”
These sufferings approve the power of the Holy Spirit.—Such love had He inspired toward the Blessed Lord in the heart of the apostle, that he counted the loss of all things gain, and the uncounted sorrows of his lot as light and but for a moment, if only be might win Christ, and know Him, and be found in Him. You cannot explain a life like this apart from the mighty power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What a puzzle the Christian presents to the world! I remember how a poor child of fashion and sin kept asking me once, “What do you Christians get?” It was quite impossible to explain. —Our Daily Homily