After the Lord

2Corinthians 11:16-20 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. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For you suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise. For you 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. 

‘Fool’ [Greek: aphron] senseless; witless; crazed; silly. Translated “fool” (11:16, 19; 12:6, 12:11; Luke 11:40; 12:20; 1Cor. 15:36); “foolish” (Rom. 2:20; 1Pet. 2:15); and “unwise” (Eph. 5:17). His second apology for boasting (11:1).

‘I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.’ Paul answers here that if it were not necessary for him to answer his enemies to vindicate his apostleship, his present glorying would be inconsistent with his profession of humility and of knowing no man after the flesh (5:12-16; 10:7-18; 11:1-33; 12:1-21). Paul did not want the Lord to be accused of being a partner to his boasting.

‘For you suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise.’ Paul’s accusation here is that they are so wise to discern him as a fool and that they will gladly tolerate him in his foolishness, for wise men do not fall out with fools.

‘You suffer’ They tolerated others: who assumed control of their souls; who spent their money; who duped and robbed them; who paraded themselves; who lied in their faces and stroked them.

‘Bring … into bondage’ [Greek: katadouloo] to enslave.

‘Devour’ [Greek: katesthio] take away property and destroy, as in Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; Galatians 5:15 and Revelation 11:5.

Paul’s Sufferings Part 2

2Corinthians 11:22-28 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 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. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 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; 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; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which comes upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 

‘Fool’ [Greek: paraphroneo] to be beside oneself, out of one’s mind (cp. 2Pet. 2:16).

‘Labours more abundant, in stripes above measure.’ Instead of taking it easy in an established congregational group, he laboured to start others. See the list of Paul’s sufferings summarized under 2Corinthians 11:21.

‘Forty stripes save one’ See Deuteronomy 25:3. Jews did not repeat scourgings except for great crimes, but to Christians, they showed no mercy.

‘Thrice was I beaten with rods.’ Romans used rods. Only once is this recorded (Acts 16:22).

‘Once was I stoned’ this happened at Lystra (Acts14:19).

‘Thrice I suffered shipwreck’ – only one is recorded (Acts 27:41 – 28:1).

‘Journeyings often’ at least three great missionary journeys are recorded (Acts 13:1-3; 15:41; 18:23). Most of the other events of 2Corinthians 11:23-27 are not recorded.

‘Without, that which comes upon me daily, the care of all the churches.’ Besides the outward sufferings of 2Corinthians 11:23-27, there are many inward struggles because of conditions in the many congregations that are under Paul’s care.

Paul’s Sufferings Part 1

2Corinthians 11:21  I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 

‘I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak.’ Paul refers to these Judaizers reproaching them because they were uncircumcised, and as if they were weak or inferior to them.

‘Bold’ Fifty-five things that Paul could boast of: He was just as bold as they were (11:21); he was a Hebrew as they were (11:22); he was an Israelite as they were (11:22); he was of Abraham as they were (11:22); he was more a minister of Christ than they were (11:23); in more abundant labours (11:23); stripes above measure (11:23); in prisons often for Christ (11:23); often at the point of death (11:23); five times scourged (11:24); three times beaten with rods (11:25); once stoned to death (11:25; Acts 14:19); three times shipwrecked (11:25); twenty-four hours in the sea (11:25); in journeyings often (11:26); in perils of water (11:26); in perils of robbers (11:26); in perils by the Jews (11:26); in perils by the heathen (11:26); in perils in the city (11:26); in perils in the wilderness (11:26); in perils in the sea (11:26); in perils by false brethren (11:26); in weariness and pain (11:27); in watching often (11:27); in hunger and thirst (11:27); in fastings often (11:27); in cold and nakedness (11:27); daily care of all congregations (11:28); strength in God (11:29; 12:10); zeal for the congregations (11:29); many infirmities (11:30; 12:5, 9); absolute truthfulness (11:31; 12:6); miraculous deliverances (11:32-33); boasting was of necessity (12:1); visions and revelations (12:1); translation to heaven (12:2-4); experiences beyond knowledge (12:2-3); hearing unspeakable words (12:5); unlawful knowledge (12:4); freedom from self-glory (12:5); true quitting sense (12:6); genuineness equal to glory (12:6); special persecutions (12:7); answers from God (12:9); resignation to God’s will (12:9); power of Christ upon him (12:9); pleasure in sufferings (12:10); endurance for Christ (12:10); no boasting unless compelled (12:11); equal with chief apostles (12:11); humility in greatness (12:11); signs of apostleship (12:12); unselfishness (12:13-16); his judgment power (12:21; 13:10).

False Apostles

2Corinthians 11:12-15 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. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 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. 

‘For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.’ Sixteen marks of false ministers in 2 Corinthians: They hold secret things of shame (4:2). They walk in craftiness (4:2). They handle Word deceitfully (4:2). They walk and war after the flesh (10:3). They look on outward appearance (10:7; cp. 1Sam. 16:7; Matt. 23:27-28). They commend selves (10:12). They compare selves to others (10:12). They prey on the works of others (10:15-16). They are greedy of income (11:7-12). They are false; they seek the highest offices (11:13). They are deceitful workers (11:13). They try to counterfeit apostleship (11:13). They pose as righteous ministers (11:15). They seek occasion to glory (11:12). They are boastful and self-exalting (11:18). They are destitute of apostolic signs (12:12).

Thirty-four other marks of false ministers: They lead people away from God (Deut. 13:1-5). They speak presumptuously (Deut. 18:20). They propagate errors (Pro. 19:27; Isa. 3:12; Jer. 23:32). They have no sense of righteousness (Isa. 5:20; Jer. 11:1-23; 14:1-22; 32:1-44). They are destitute of light (Isa. 8:19-20). They teach lies (Isa. 9:14-16). They live like sinners (Isa. 28:7). They are ignorant of spiritual things (Isa. 29:10-11; 56:10-12; Jer. 2:8; Hos. 4:6). They compromise truth (Isa. 30:10). They are greedy and lazy (Isa. 56:10-12). They deal falsely (Jer. 6:13; Ezek. 22:27). They do not pray (Jer. 10:21). They destroy and scatter (Jer. 12:10; 23:1). They preach lies (Jer. 14:13-16). They commit adultery (Jer. 23:14). They encourage sin (Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 13:22). They are deceitful (Jer. 48:10; Ezek. 13:10; Rom. 16:18; Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:4-8; 2Tim. 3:6-13). They are sinful (Ezek. 22:25-28). They are liars (Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 13:19-22). They are selfish (Ezek. 34:2-3). They are unfaithful (Ezek. 34:4-10). They are covetous (Mic. 3:11). They teach doctrines of man (Matt. 15:9). They work iniquity (Matt. 7:15-23). They are blind (Matt. 15:14). They cause divisions (Rom. 16:17; 1Cor. 11:18; Php. 1:15-16). They corrupt truth (2Cor. 2:17). They teach doctrines of devils (1Tim. 4:1-16). They have a seared conscience (1Tim. 4:2). They are proud and perverse (1Tim. 6:3-21; 2Tim. 2:14-18; Tit. 1:10-14). They teach damnable heresies (2Pet. 2:1; 2Jn. 1:7-11). They deny Christ (2Pet. 2:1; 1Jn. 4:1-6). They are consecrated to destroy the Christian faith (2Pet. 2:1-19; Jude 1:4-11). They are hypocrites (Matt. 7:15; 23:1-33; Luke 11:35).

‘For satan himself is transformed’ – satan inspires his ministers to imitate Christianity and even to do miracles (Matt. 24:24; 2Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 13:1-18; 16:13-16; 19:20). Where are his ministers who are transformed as ministers of righteousness? Wouldn’t they be amongst Christians?

‘An angel of light’ ten symbols of satan: A serpent (11:3; Gen. 3:15; Luke 10:19; Rev. 12:9, 15; 20:3); a crocodile (Job 41:1-34; Isa. 27:1); great red dragon (Rev. 12:1-17; 13:4; 16:13; 20:2); an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14); a roaring lion (1Pet. 5:8; Ps. 91:13); fowls (Matt. 13:4, 19); scorpions (Luke 10:19); wolf (John 10:12); fowler (Ps. 91:3); adder (Ps. 91:13).

In All Things

2Corinthians 11:6-11 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 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. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knows. 

‘In all things’ – they gave testimony of all things through their daily conversations: their daily holy living, behaviour or manner of life; the whole conduct of life in their domestic and public relations.

‘Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?’ Paul asks here if he sinned in labouring with his hands and in taking help from other congregations while he laboured to save their souls?

‘Robbed’ [Greek: sulao] to take from, to take away. It simply means that he took wages or material help from other congregations as their missionary so that his needs might be supplied.

‘No man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.’ From this, it appears that he had not taken money from any of the congregations in this region of Greece. ‘Wherefore? because I love you not?’ Paul asked them if they knew why he acted like he did and intended to continue to refuse to take money from them? If they thought he did it because he did not love them? He then stated that God knew the contrary; that he loved them very much. He did it simply to cut off the occasion of his enemies (vv 12-13) who wanted grounds to slander him to them.

The Simplicity that is in Christ

2Corinthians 11:1-5 Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 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. 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. For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 

‘Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.’ He states that he wishes for them to bear with him a little in his folly. Since they gloried in the boasts of those who opposed him, he stated some facts for them. If they thought of him as a fool in boasting, he was doing so because it was necessary to answer them properly and the false apostle who was disturbing them (11:16; 12:6).

‘For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband.’ The apostle here alludes to the custom of special care of virgins to see that they are educated and kept pure for marriage.

‘Virgin to Christ.’ Paul was jealous of his converts that he might present them to Christ just like a chaste virgin is presented to her husband. It was not Paul’s job to present all of the congregation to Jesus Christ. Each man will have rejoicing in his converts (1Thess. 2:19).

‘So your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.’ Here Paul fears for his converts that they may be turned away from Christ, as Eve was beguiled by satan to turn away from God.

‘For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached.’ Here Paul refers to the false apostle who had come to Corinth after he had left.

‘I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.’ Paul told them that they can judge whether he was behind the very chiefest apostles. He may be rude, as he was accused to be (10:1-2, 10), yet not in knowledge, as they well knew (11:5-6).

Given Us for Edification

2Corinthians 10:7-12 Do you look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord has given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 

‘Do you look on things after the outward appearance?’ Regardless of outward appearance, let my (Paul) enemies know that if they are Christ’s, even so, are we.

‘Ashamed’ [Greek: aischuno] Paul was not ashamed to boast (as a testimony to honour God) a little of the power that God has given him and he promised them that when he came he will prove to them that he was just as powerful as he stated in his letters (10:8-11).

‘For edification, and not for your destruction’ Paul wrote to them to put them on their guard as he was edifying them according to Christ’s gospel and to lead them to put away their sins so that their disobedience did not lead to their destruction.

‘For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.’ He states that he could have boasted a little of his authority in God, but one thing that he will not do and that was to join those who brag on themselves, measuring themselves among themselves.

Casting Down Imaginations

2Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 

‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.’ Here Paul denies the charges of 2Corinthians 10:1-2. Though he lived in the flesh he did not war after the flesh (10:3-5). His weapons were not carnal (10:4-5; Eph. 6:10-18; 1Tim. 1:18; 2Tim. 2:3-5; Rom. 13:12).

‘But mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.’ Four great conquests of spiritual weapons: [1] Destruction of strongholds – we destroy reasonings of pagan philosophers and Jewish rabbis and their dogmas that nullify the Word of God and the facts of the Gospel. These fortifications we pull down and demolish. We put to flight the demon powers and alien armies, raising the banner of the cross high on the field of battle (10:4). Destroying all ideas or opinions about ourselves, others and God that is in contrast with His Word on these matters. [2] Casting down imaginations – we demolish all theories, reasonings, and any high system of ethics, religion, mythology, metaphysics, sublime doctrines or philosophy set forth to defy the knowledge of God (10:5). All the boasted gods, lords, sacrificial and mediatorial systems fell before the Gospel. The high-sounding phrases of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, church doctrines and even Judaism fell before the preaching of the crucified and risen Christ. Heathenism shrank before the Gospel and called on secular powers to defend it. [3] Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ – we take every thought prisoner and lead it into captivity to obey Christ (10:5). Lascivious, vain and evil thoughts of all kinds are brought down and made obedient to His laws. That includes any thinking which is contrary to virtue, purity and righteousness. We cannot allow any unholy thoughts (standard set in Philippians 4:8) to come into our minds and defile us.  See Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21-22; 1Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 5:19; Philippians 4:8; Genesis 6:5; Proverbs 15:26; Isaiah 55:7; 59:7 and Jeremiah 4:14. [4] Having in readiness to avenge all disobedience – we stand at all times ready, so to speak, to court-martial any opposing the Gospel of Christ, after separating ourselves from them (10:6). The whole picture here is that of a strongly fortified city where the enemy makes his last stand; entrenching himself about the walls; raising towers and preparing engines of defence and offence upon the walls to ensure victory. The fortifications, walls, towers, and castles are taken by the Gospel and the whole opposition is destroyed and taken captive. We have no excuse for sinful thoughts; we are to wear the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17) a state of repentance, which mean to renew our minds (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23) so that God’s mind and thoughts (as given in His Word) can become ours.

Meekness and Gentleness

2Corinthians 10:1-2 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 

‘Meekness and gentleness of Christ’ – Holy Spirit fruit that was always part of Christ’s human character and used as an example for us. Gentleness [Greek: chrestotes] a disposition to be gentle, soft-spoken, kind, even-tempered, cultured, and refined in character and conduct (2Tim. 2:24-26; Tit. 3:1-2; Jas. 3:17). Meekness [Greek: praotes] the disposition to be gentle, kind, indulgent, even balanced in tempers and passions, and patient in suffering injuries without feeling a spirit of revenge.

From Matthew 11:28-30, Christ characterized Himself as follows: I will give you rest (v28). I am meek and lowly in heart (v29). My yoke is easy (v30). My burden is light (v30).

‘Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you.’ Having completed instructions for collections for the poor (8-9), Paul now returns to dealing with the false apostle who had gained considerable ground in discrediting him at Corinth, as being base, contemptible, and a boaster living in the flesh (10:1-10).

‘Against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.’ Paul defended himself against the accusations that he walked in the flesh and answered accordingly as we see in verses 3-5 that though he lived in the flesh he did not war after the flesh (10:3-5).

His Unspeakable Gift

2Corinthians 9:12-15 For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 

‘Administration of this service’ – the ministering, as in 2Corinthians 9:1.

‘Supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.’ Four benefits of ministering to saints: It supplies the needs of saints. It causes them to glorify God. It gives proof that the givers are true Christians (9:13; 1Jn. 3:17). It causes prayers of those supplied to go up for their benefactors (9:14).

‘Experiment’ [Greek: dokime] proof, as in 2Corinthians 2:9.

‘Professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.’ Glorify God for your subjection or submission to what you profess. You profess to be Christians and that you love your brethren. Your bountifulness is proof of it (1Jn. 3:17).

‘Exceeding grace of God in you.’ The Corinthians had the means with which to promote charity and the heart to do it, but God’s grace was the author of it.

‘Unspeakable gift’ [Greek: anekdiegetos] that which cannot be fully declared. This gift is no doubt God’s gift of His Son (John 4:10; 2Cor. 8:9; cp. Rom. 9:5; 11:33, 36; 1Cor. 15:57; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 3:10; 1Tim. 1:17).

Five reasons why Christ gave Himself: For our sins (Gal. 1:4; Matt. 1:21; 26:28; 1Cor. 15:3; 1Pet. 2:24); that He might deliver us from this present evil world (Gal. 1:4; Tit. 2:14); for His body – that He might sanctify it by the Word (Eph. 5:25-26); to be a ransom for all (1Tim. 2:6); for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity (Tit. 2:14).