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Verse 20. For ye suffer, etc. You bear patiently with men who impose on you in every way, and who are constantly defrauding you, though you profess to be so wise; and you may bear with me a little, though I have no such intention. Seriously, if you bear with boasters who intend to delude and deceive you in various ways, you may bear with one who comes to you with no such intention, but with an honest purpose to do good.

If a man bring you into bondage. katadouloi. If a man, or if any one, (ei tiv,) make a slave of you, or reduce you to servitude. The idea is, doubtless, that the false teachers set up a lordship over their consciences; destroyed their freedom of opinion; and made them subservient to their will. They really took away their Christian freedom as much as if they had been slaves. In what way this was done is unknown. It may be that they imposed on them rites and forms, commanded expensive and inconvenient ceremonies, and required arduous services merely at their own will. A false religion always makes slaves. It is only true Christianity that leaves perfect freedom. All heathens are slaves to their priests; all fanatics are slaves to some fanatical leader; all those who embrace error are slaves to those who claim to be their guides. The papist everywhere is the slave of the priest, and the despotism there is as great as in any region of servitude whatever.

If a man devour you. This is exceedingly sarcastic. The idea is, "Though you are so wise, yet you in fact tolerate men who impose on you—no matter though they eat you up, or consume all that you have. By their exorbitant demands they would consume all you have; or, as we would say, eat you out of house and home." All this they took patiently; and freely gave all that they demanded. False teachers are always rapacious. They seek the property, not the souls of those to whom they minister. Not satisfied with a maintenance, they aim to obtain all, and their plans are formed to secure as much as possible of those to whom they minister.

If a man take of you. If he take and seize upon your possessions. If he comes and takes what he pleases, and bears it away as his own.

If a man exalt himself. If he set himself up as a ruler, and claim submission. No matter how arrogant his claims, yet you are ready to bear with him. You might, then, bear with me in the very moderate demands which I make on your obedience and confidence.

If a man smite you on the face. The word here rendered "smite" (derei) means, properly, to skin, to flay; but in the New Testament it means to beat, to scourge—especially so as to take off the skin, Mt 21:35; Mr 12:3,5.

The idea here is, if any one treats you with contumely and scorn—since there can be no higher expression of it than to smite a man on the face, Mt 26:67. It is not to be supposed that this occurred literally among the Corinthians; but the idea is, that the false teachers really treated them with as little respect as if they smote them on the face. In what way this was done is unknown; but probably it was by their domineering manners, and the little respect which they showed for the opinions and feelings of the Corinthian Christians. Paul says that as they bore this very patiently, they might allow him to make some remarks about himself in self-commendation.

{*} "suffer" "Ye bear with it"

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