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9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

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9. For I am the least It is not certain whether his enemies threw out this for the purpose of detracting from his credit, or whether it was entirely of his own accord, that he made the acknowledgment. For my part, while I have no doubt that, he was at all times voluntarily, and even cheerfully, disposed to abase himself, that he might magnify the grace of God, yet I suspect that in this instance he wished to obviate calumnies. For that there were some at Corinth that made it their aim to detract from his dignity by malicious slander, may be inferred not only from many foregoing passages, but also from his adding a little afterwards a comparison, which he would assuredly never have touched upon, if he had not been constrained to it by the wickedness of some, “Detract from me as much as you please — I shall suffer myself to be cast down below the ground — I shall suffer myself to be of no account whatever, 2424     “Estre estime moins que rien;” — “To be esteemed less than nothing.” that the goodness of God towards me may shine forth the more. Let me, therefore, be reckoned the least of the Apostles: nay more, I acknowledge myself to be unworthy of this distinction. For by what merits could I have attained to that honor? When I persecuted the Church of God, what did I merit? But there is no reason why you should judge of me according to my own worth, 2525     “Par ma petite et basse condition;” — “By my little and low condition.” for the Lord did not look to what I was, but made me by his grace quite another man.” The sum is this, that Paul does not refuse to be the most worthless of all, and next to nothing, provided this contempt does not impede him in any degree in his ministry, and does not at all detract from his doctrine. He is contented that, as to himself, he shall be reckoned unworthy of any honor, provided only he commends his apostleship in respect of the grace conferred upon him. And assuredly God had not adorned him with such distinguished endowments in order that his grace might lie buried or neglected, but he had designed thereby to render his apostleship illustrious and distinguished.




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