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11. Paul and False Apostles

1Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness: but indeed ye do bear with me. 2For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ. 4For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if ye receive a different spirit, which ye did not receive, or a different gospel, which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear with him. 5For I reckon that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 6But though I be rude in speech, yet am I not in knowledge; nay, in every way have we made this manifest unto you in all things. 7Or did I commit a sin in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I preached to you the gospel of God for nought? 8I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you; 9and when I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. 10As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this glorying in the regions of Achaia. 11Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. 12But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire an occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. 15It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works. 16I say again, let no man think me foolish; but if ye do, yet as foolish receive me, that I also may glory a little. 17That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of glorying. 18Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. 19For ye bear with the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves. 20For ye bear with a man, if he bringeth you into bondage, if he devoureth you, if he taketh you captive, if he exalteth himself, if he smiteth you on the face. 21I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak. Yet whereinsoever any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also. 22Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; 26in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is caused to stumble, and I burn not? 30If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my weakness. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for evermore knoweth that I lie not. 32In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to take me: 33and through a window was I let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands.

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2Co 11:1-33. Through Jealousy over the Corinthians, Who Made More Account of the False Apostles Than of Him, He Is Obliged to Commend Himself as in Many Respects Superior.

1. Would to God—Translate as Greek, "I would that."

bear with me—I may ask not unreasonably to be borne with; not so the false apostles (2Co 11:4, 20).

my—not in the oldest manuscripts.

folly—The Greek is a milder term than that for "foolishness" in 1Co 3:19; Mt 5:22; 25:2. The Greek for "folly" here implies imprudence; the Greek for "foolishness" includes the idea of perversity and wickedness.

and indeed bear—A request (so 2Co 11:16). But the Greek and the sense favor the translation, "But indeed (I need not wish it, for) ye do bear with me"; still I wish you to bear with me further, while I enter at large into self-commendations.

2. For I am jealous—The justification of his self-commendations lies in his zealous care lest they should fall from Christ, to whom he, as "the friend of the Bridegroom" (Joh 3:29), has espoused them; in order to lead them back from the false apostles to Christ, he is obliged to boast as an apostle of Christ, in a way which, but for the motive, would be "folly."

godly jealousy—literally, "jealousy of God" (compare 2Co 1:12, "godly sincerity," literally, "sincerity of God"). "If I am immoderate, I am immoderate to God" [Bengel]. A jealousy which has God's honor at heart (1Ki 19:10).

I … espoused you—Paul uses a Greek term applied properly to the bridegroom, just as he ascribes to himself "jealousy," a feeling properly belonging to the husband; so entirely does he identify himself with Christ.

present you as a chaste virgin to Christ—at His coming, when the heavenly marriage shall take place (Mt 25:6; Re 19:7, 9). What Paul here says he desires to do, namely, "present" the Church as "a chaste virgin" to Christ, Christ Himself is said to do in the fuller sense. Whatever ministers do effectively, is really done by Christ (Eph 5:27-32). The espousals are going on now. He does not say "chaste virgins"; for not individual members, but the whole body of believers conjointly constitute the Bride.

3. I fear—(2Co 12:20); not inconsistent with love. His source of fear was their yielding character.

subtilty—the utter foe of the "simplicity" which is intent on ONE object, Jesus, and seeks none "other," and no "other" and different Spirit (2Co 11:4); but loves him with tender SINGLENESS OF AFFECTION. Where Eve first gave way, was in mentally harboring for a moment the possibility insinuated by the serpent, of God not having her truest interests at heart, and of this "other" professing friend being more concerned for her than God.

corrupted—so as to lose their virgin purity through seducers (2Co 11:4). The same Greek stands for "minds" as for "thoughts" (2Co 10:5, also see on 2Co 10:5); intents of the will, or mind. The oldest manuscripts after "simplicity," add, "and the purity" or "chastity."

in Christ—rather, "that is towards Christ."

4. if, &c.—which in fact is impossible. However, if it were possible, ye might then bear with them (see on 2Co 11:1). But there can be no new Gospel; there is but the one which I first preached; therefore it ought not to be "borne" by you, that the false teachers should attempt to supersede me.

he that cometh—the high-sounding title assumed by the false teachers, who arrogated Christ's own peculiar title (Greek, Mt 11:3, and Heb 10:37), "He that is coming." Perhaps he was leader of the party which assumed peculiarly to be "Christ's" (2Co 10:7; 1Co 1:12); hence his assumption of the title.

preacheth … receive—is preaching … ye are receiving.

Jesus—the "Jesus" of Gospel history. He therefore does not say "Christ," which refers to the office.

another … anotherGreek, "another Jesus … a different Spirit … a different Gospel." Another implies a distinct individual of the same kind; different implies one quite distinct in kind.

which ye have not received—from us.

spirit … received … gospel … accepted—The will of man is passive in RECEIVING the "Spirit"; but it is actively concurrent with the will of God (which goes before to give the good will) in ACCEPTING the "Gospel."

ye might well bear with him—There would be an excuse for your conduct, though a bad one (for ye ought to give heed to no Gospel other than what ye have already heard from me, Ga 1:6, 7); but the false teachers do not even pretend they have "another Jesus" and a "different Gospel" to bring before you; they merely try to supplant me, your accredited Teacher. Yet ye not only "bear with" them, but prefer them.

5. For—My claim is superior to that of the false teachers, "For," &c.

I suppose—I reckon [Alford].

I was notGreek, "That I have not been, and am not."

the very chiefest apostles—James, Peter, and John, the witnesses of Christ's transfiguration and agony in Gethsemane. Rather, "those overmuch apostles," those surpassers of the apostles in their own esteem. This sense is proved by the fact that the context contains no comparison between him and the apostles, but only between him and the false teachers; 2Co 11:6 also alludes to these, and not to the apostles; compare also the parallel phrase, "false apostles" (see on 2Co 11:13 and 2Co 12:11) [Alford].

6. rudeGreek, "a common man"; a "laic"; not rhetorically trained; unskilled in finish of diction. 1Co 2:1-4, 13; 2Co 10:10, 11, shows his words were not without weight, though his "speech" was deficient in oratorical artifice. "Yet I am not so in my knowledge" (2Co 12:1-5; Eph 3:1-5).

have been … made manifest—Read with the oldest manuscripts, "We have made things (Gospel truths) manifest," thus showing our "knowledge." English Version would mean, I leave it to yourselves to decide whether I be rude in speech … : for we have been thoroughly (literally, "in everything") made manifest among you (literally, "in respect to you"; "in relation to you"). He had not by reserve kept back his "knowledge" in divine mysteries from them (2Co 2:17; 4:2; Ac 20:20, 27).

in all things—The Greek rather favors the translation, "among all men"; the sense then is, we have manifested the whole truth among all men with a view to your benefit [Alford]. But the Greek in Php 4:12, "In each thing and in all things," sanctions English Version, which gives a clearer sense.