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2 Corinthians 11:16-21

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.

16. Iterum dico, ne quis me putet insipientem esse: alioqui iam etiam ut insipientem accipite me, ut paululum quiddam et ego glorier.

17. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

17. Quod dico, non dico secundum Dominum, sed velut per insipientiam: in hac audacia gloriationis.

18. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.

18. Quandoquidem multi gloriantur secundum carnem, et ego gloriabor.

19. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

19. Libenter enim suffertis insipientes: quum sitis ipsi sapientes.

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.

20. Suffertis enim, si quis vos in servitutem adigit, si quis exedit, si quis accipit, si quis attollit sese, si quis vos in faciem caedit.

21. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

21. Iuxta contumeliam loquor, perinde quasi nos infirmi fuerimus: imo in quocunque audet aliquis, per insipientiam loquor, ego quoque audeo.


16. I say again The Apostle has a twofold design. He has it partly in view to expose the disgusting vanity of the false Apostles, inasmuch as they were such extravagant trumpeters of their own praises; and farther, to expostulate with the Corinthians, because they shut him up to the necessity of glorying, contrary to the inclinations of his own mind. “I say again,” says he. For he had abundantly shown previously, that there was no reason, why he should be despised. He had also shown at the same time, that he was very unlike others, and therefore ought not to have his grounds of glorying estimated according to the rule of their measure. Thus he again shows, for what purpose he had hitherto gloried — that he might clear his apostleship from contempt; for if the Corinthians had done their duty, he would not have said one word as to this matter.

Otherwise now as a fool “If I am reckoned by you a fool, allow me at least to make use of my right and liberty — that is, to speak foolishly after the manner of fools.” Thus he reproves the false Apostles, who, while they were exceedingly silly in this respect, were not merely borne with by the Corinthians, but were received with great applause. He afterwards explains what kind of folly it is — the publishing of his own praises. While they did so without end and without measure, he intimates that it was a thing to which he was unaccustomed; for he says, for a little while For I take this clause as referring to time, so that the meaning is, that Paul did not wish to continue it long, but assumed, as it were, for the moment, the person of another, and immediately thereafter laid it aside, as we are accustomed to pass over lightly those things that are foreign to our object, while fools occupy themselves constantly (ἐν παρέργοις) 837837     The term παρέργον denotes — a matter of mere secondary importance. Thus Thucydides (6:58) says, ὁς οὐκ ἐκ παρέργου τὸν πόλεμον ἐποιεῖτο — who did not make the war a secondary consideration. — Ed. in matters of inferior moment.

17. What I speak, I speak not after the Lord His disposition, it is true, had an eye to God, but the outward appearance 838838     “La facon exterieure en laquelle il procede;” — “The outward manner in which he goes to work.” might seem unsuitable to a servant of the Lord. At the same time, the things that Paul confesses respecting himself, he, on the other hand, condemns in the false Apostles. 839839     “C’est plustos afin de lea condemner es faux-Apostres;” — “It is rather with the view of condemning them in the false Apostles.” For it was not his intention to praise himself, but simply to contrast himself with them, with the view of humbling them. 840840     Afin de leur abbaisser le coquet:” — “With the view of bringing down their talk.” Hence he transfers to his own person what belonged to them, that he may thus open the eyes of the Corinthians. What I have rendered boldness, is in the Greek ὑπόστασις, as to the meaning of which term we have spoken in the ninth chapter. (2 Corinthians 9:4.) Subject-matter 841841     Calvin refers here to the rendering of Erasmus, and of the Vulgate. The term employed by Erasmus is argumenturm (subject-matter.) In accordance with this, Cranmer’s version (1539) reads, “in this matter of boastinge.” The Vulgate makes use of the term substantia, (substance.) Wiclif (1380) reads, “in this substance of glorie” The Rheims version (1582), “in this substance of glorying.” — Ed. or substance, unquestionably, would not be at all suitable here. 842842     Certes il ne conueniendroit pas bien yci de traduire matiere ou substance, combien que le mot signifie quelque fois cela;” — “Certainly it would not be suitable here to render it subject-matter or substance, though the word sometimes bears that meaning.”

18. Since many glory. The meaning is — Should any one say to me, by way of objection, that what I do is faulty, what then as to others? Are not they my leaders? Am I alone, or am I the first, in glorying according to the flesh? Why should that be reckoned praiseworthy in them, that is imputed to me as a fault?” So far then is Paul from ambition in recounting his own praises, that he is contented to be blamed on that account, provided he exposes the vanity of the false apostles.

To glory after the flesh, is to boast one’s self, rather in what has a tendency towards show, than in a good conscience. For the term flesh, here, has a reference to the world — when we seek after praise from outward masks, which have a showy appearance before the world, and are regarded as excellent. In place of this term he had a little before made use of the expression — in appearance. (2 Corinthians 10:7.)

19. For ye bear with fools willingly. He calls them wise — in my opinion, ironically. He was despised by them, which could not have been, had they not been puffed up with the greatest arrogance 843843     D’vne merueilleuse arrogance;” — “With an amazing arrogance.” He says, therefore — “Since you are so wise, act the part of wise men in bearing with me, whom you treat with contempt, as you would a fool.” Hence I infer, that this discourse is not addressed to all indiscriminately, but some particular persons are reproved, who conducted themselves in an unkind manner. 844844     “Enuers luy;” — “Towards him.”

20. For ye bear with it, if any one. There are three ways in which this may be understood. He may be understood as reproving the Corinthians in irony, because they could not endure any thing, as is usually the case with effeminate persons; or he charges them with indolence, because they had given themselves up to the false Apostles in a disgraceful bondage; or he repeats, as it were, in the person of another, what was spitefully affirmed respecting himself, 845845     “Ce que malicieusement on disoit de luy pour le rendre odieux;” — “What they said of him maliciously, with the view of making him odious.” as if he claimed for himself a tyrannical authority over them. The second meaning is approved by Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Augustine, and hence it is commonly received; and, indeed, it corresponds best with the context, although the third is not less in accordance with my views. For we see, how he was calumniated from time to time by the malevolent, as if he domineered tyrannically, while he was very far from doing so. As, however, the other meaning is more generally received, I have no objection, that it should be held as the true one.

Now this statement will correspond with the preceding one in this way: “You bear with every thing from others, if they oppress you, if they demand what belongs to you, if they treat you disdainfully. Why then will you not bear with me, as they are in no respect superior to me?” For as to his saying that he is not weak, he means that he had been endowed by God with such excellent graces, that he ought not to be looked upon as of the common order. For the word weak has a more extensive signification, as we shall see again ere long.

It has been the invariable custom, and will be so to the end, to resist contumaciously 846846     “De resister et contredire opiniastrement;” — “To resist and contradict obstinately.” the servants of God, to get enraged on the least occasion, 847847     “Se corroucer aigrement contr’ eux a la moindre occasion;” — “To be fiercely enraged against them on the least occasion.” to grumble and murmur incessantly, to complain of even a moderate strictness, 848848     “Se plaindre de leur seuerite, en disant qu’elle est excessiue;” — “To complain of their strictness, by saying that it is excessive.” to hold all discipline in abhorrence; while, on the other hand, they put themselves under servile subjection to false apostles, impostors, or mere worthless pretenders, give them liberty to do any thing whatever, and patiently submit to and endure, whatever burden they may choose to impose upon them. Thus, at the present day, you will scarcely find one in thirty, who will put his neck willingly under Christ’s yoke, while all have endured with patience a tyranny so severe as that of the Pope. Those very persons are all at once in an uproar, 849849     Ils tempestent et grincent les dents;” — “They storm and gnash their teeth.” in opposition to the fatherly and truly salutary reproofs of their pastors, who, on the other hand, had formerly swallowed down quietly every kind of insult, even the most atrocious, from the monks. 850850     Toutes sortes d injures et outrages horribles que les moines leur faisoyent;” — “All sorts of horrible injuries and insults that the monks could inflict upon them.” Are not those worthy of Antichrist’s torturing rack, rather than of Christ’s mild sway, who have ears so tender and backward to listen to the truth? But thus it has been from the beginning.

21. Nay, in whatsoever. Paul had asked, why the Corinthians showed more respect to others than to him, while he had not been by any means weak, that is, contemptible. He now confirms this, because, if a comparison had been entered upon, he would not have been inferior to any one in any department of honor.

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