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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 If only you would put up
with a little foolishness from me! Please put up with me.
3 For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of
God, since I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a chaste virgin to
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived
Eve 4 by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a
sincere (and pure) commitment to Christ.
For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus
5 than the one we preached, or if you receive a different
spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you
accepted, you put up with it well enough.
6 For I think that I am not in any way inferior
to these "superapostles."
Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so
in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. 7
8 Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so
that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without
I plundered other churches by accepting from
them in order to minister to you.
And when I was with you and in need, I did not
burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs. So I
refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
By the truth of Christ in me, this boast of
mine shall not be silenced in the regions of Achaia.
9 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows
And what I do I will continue to do, in order
to end this pretext of those who seek a pretext for being regarded as we are in
the mission of which they boast.
10 For such people are false apostles, deceitful
workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ.
And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an
angel of light.
So it is not strange that his ministers also
masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their
11 12 13 I
repeat, no one should consider me foolish; but if you do, accept me as a fool,
so that I too may boast a little.
What I am saying I am not saying according to
the Lord but as in foolishness, in this boastful state.
Since many boast according to the flesh, I too
For you gladly put up with fools, since you are
14 For you put up with it if someone enslaves
you, or devours you, or gets the better of you, or puts on airs, or slaps you
in the face.
To my shame I say that we were too weak! 15
But what anyone dares to boast of (I am speaking in foolishness) I also dare.
16 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they
Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
17 Are they ministers of Christ? (I am talking
like an insane person.) I am still more, 18 with far greater
labors, far more imprisonments, far worse beatings, and numerous brushes with
Five times at the hands of the Jews I received
forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was
stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep;
on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers
in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false
in toil and hardship, through many sleepless
nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and
And apart from these things, there is the daily
pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led to
sin, and I am not indignant?
19 If I must boast, I will boast of the things
that show my weakness.
20 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows, he
who is blessed forever, that I do not lie.
At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas
guarded the city of Damascus, in order to seize me,
but I was lowered in a basket through a window
in the wall and escaped his hands.
1 [1-15] Although these verses
continue to reveal information about Paul's opponents and the differences he
perceives between them and himself, ⇒ 2 Cor 11:1
signals a turn in Paul's thought. This section constitutes a prologue to the
boasting that he will undertake in ⇒ 2 Cor 11:16-⇒ 12:10,
and it bears remarkable similarities to the section that follows the central
boast, ⇒ 2 Cor 12:11-18.
2  Put up with a little
foolishness from me: this verse indicates more clearly than the general
statement of intent in ⇒ 2 Cor 10:13 the nature of
the project Paul is about to undertake. He alludes ironically to the
Corinthians' toleration for others. Foolishness: Paul qualifies his project as
folly from beginning to end; see the note on ⇒ 2 Cor
3  Paul gives us a sudden glimpse
of the theological values that are at stake. The jealousy of God: the perspective
is that of the covenant, described in imagery of love and marriage, as in the
prophets; cf ⇒ 1 Cor 10:22. I betrothed you: Paul,
like a father (cf ⇒ 2 Cor 12:14), betroths the
community to Christ as his bride (cf ⇒ Eph 5:21-33)
and will present her to him at his second coming. Cf ⇒ Matthew
25:1-13 and the nuptial imagery in Rev 21.
4  As the serpent deceived Eve:
before Christ can return for the community Paul fears a repetition of the
primal drama of seduction. Corruption of minds is satanic activity (see
⇒ 2 Cor 2:11; ⇒ 4:4).
Satanic imagery recurs in ⇒ 2 Cor 11:13-15,
⇒ 20; ⇒ 12:7b,
⇒ 16-17; see the notes on these passages.
5  Preaches another Jesus: the
danger is specified, and Paul's opponents are identified with the cunning
serpent. The battle for minds has to do with the understanding of Jesus, the
Spirit, the gospel; the Corinthians have flirted with another understanding
than the one that Paul handed on to them as traditional and normative.
6  These
"superapostles": this term, employed again in ⇒ 2
Cor 12:11b, designates the opponents of whom Paul has spoken in 2 Cor
10 and again in ⇒ 2 Cor 11:4. They appear to be
intruders at Corinth. Their preaching is marked at least by a different
emphasis and style, and they do not hesitate to accept support from the
community. Perhaps these itinerants appeal to the authority of church leaders
in Jerusalem and even carry letters of recommendation from them. But it is not
those distant leaders whom Paul is attacking here. The intruders are
"superapostles" not in the sense of the "pillars" at
Jerusalem (Gal 2), but in their own estimation. They consider themselves superior
to Paul as apostles and ministers of Christ, and they are obviously enjoying
some success among the Corinthians. Paul rejects their claim to be apostles in
any superlative sense (hyperlian), judging them bluntly as "false
apostles," ministers of Satan masquerading as apostles of Christ
(⇒ 2 Cor 11:13-15). On the contrary, he himself
will claim to be a superminister of Christ (hyper ego, ⇒ 2
7  Apparently found deficient in
both rhetorical ability (cf ⇒ 2 Cor 10:10) and
knowledge (cf ⇒ 2 Cor 10:5), Paul concedes the
former charge but not the latter. In every way: in all their contacts with him
revelation has been taking place. Paul, through whom God reveals the knowledge
of himself (⇒ 2 Cor 2:14), and in whom the death
and life of Jesus are revealed (⇒ 2 Cor 4:10-11; cf
⇒ 2 Cor 6:4), also demonstrates his own role as the
bearer of true knowledge. Cf ⇒ 1 Cor
8 [7-10] Abruptly Paul passes to
another reason for complaints: his practice of preaching without remuneration
(cf ⇒ 1 Cor 9:3-18). He deftly defends his practice
by situating it from the start within the pattern of Christ's own
self-humiliation (cf ⇒ 2 Cor 10:1) and reduces
objections to absurdity by rhetorical questions (cf ⇒ 2 Cor
9 [11-12] Paul rejects lack of
affection as his motive (possibly imputed to him by his opponents) and states
his real motive, a desire to emphasize the disparity between himself and the
others (cf ⇒ 2 Cor 11:19-21). The topic of his
gratuitous service will be taken up once more in ⇒ 2 Cor
12:13-18. ⇒ 1 Cor 9:15-18 gives a
different but complementary explanation of his motivation.
10 [13-15] Paul picks up again the
imagery of ⇒ 2 Cor 11:3 and applies it to the
opponents: they are false apostles of Christ, really serving another master.
Deceitful . . . masquerade: deception and simulation, like cunning
(⇒ 2 Cor 11:3), are marks of the satanic. Angel of
light: recalls the contrast between light and darkness, Christ and Beliar at
⇒ 2 Cor 6:14-15. Ministers of righteousness: recalls
the earlier contrast between the ministry of condemnation and that of
righteousness (⇒ 2 Cor 3:9). Their end: the section
closes with another allusion to the judgment, when all participants in the
final conflict will be revealed or unmasked and dealt with as they deserve.
[⇒ 11:16-⇒ 12:10]
Paul now accepts the challenge of his opponents and indulges in boasting
similar to theirs, but with differences that he has already signaled in
⇒ 2 Cor 10:12-18 and that become clearer as he
proceeds. He defines the nature of his project and unmistakably labels it as
folly at the beginning and the end (⇒ 2 Cor 11:16-23;
⇒ 12:11). Yet his boast does not spring from
ignorance (⇒ 2 Cor 11:21;
⇒ 12:6) nor is it concerned merely with human
distinctions (⇒ 2 Cor 11:18). Paul boasts "in
moderation" (⇒ 2 Cor 10:13,
⇒ 15) and "in the Lord"
(⇒ 2 Cor 10:17).
12 [16-29] The first part of Paul's
boast focuses on labors and afflictions, in which authentic service of Christ
13 [16-21] These verses recapitulate
remarks already made about the foolishness of boasting and the excessive
toleration of the Corinthians. They form a prelude to the boast proper.
14  Paul describes the activities
of the "others" in terms that fill out the picture drawn in vv
⇒ 11:3-4, ⇒ 13-15.
Much of the vocabulary suggests fleshly or even satanic activity. Enslaves: cf ⇒ Gal
2:4. Devours: cf ⇒ 1 Peter 5:8. Gets the better: the verb lambano
means "to take," but is used in a variety of senses; here it may
imply financial advantage, as in the English colloquialism "to take
someone." It is similarly used at ⇒ 2 Cor
12:16 and is there connected with cunning and deceit. Puts on airs:
the same verb is rendered "raise oneself" (⇒ 2 Cor
10:5) and "be too elated" (⇒ 2 Cor
15  Paul ironically concedes the
charge of personal weakness from ⇒ 2 Cor 10:1-18
but will refute the other charge there mentioned, that of lack of boldness,
accepting the challenge to demonstrate it by his boast.
16  The opponents apparently pride
themselves on their "Jewishness." Paul, too, can claim to be a Jew by
race, religion, and promise. Descendants of Abraham: elsewhere Paul
distinguishes authentic from inauthentic heirs of Abraham and the promise
(⇒ Romans 4:13-18;
⇒ 9:7-13; ⇒ 11:1;
⇒ Gal 3:9, ⇒ 27-29; cf
⇒ John 8:33-47). Here he grants his opponents this
title in order to concentrate on the principal claim that follows.
17 [23b-29] Service of the humiliated
and crucified Christ is demonstrated by trials endured for him. This rhetorically
impressive catalogue enumerates many of the labors and perils Paul encountered
on his missionary journeys.
18 [23a] Ministers of Christ . . . I
am still more: the central point of the boast (cf the note on
⇒ 2 Cor 11:5). Like an insane person: the climax of
[⇒ 11:30-⇒ 12:10] The
second part of Paul's boast, marked by a change of style and a shift in focus.
After recalling the project in which he is engaged, he states a new topic: his
weaknesses as matter for boasting. Everything in this section, even the
discussion of privileges and distinctions, will be integrated into this
20 [31-32] The episode at Damascus is
symbolic. It aptly illustrates Paul's weakness but ends in deliverance (cf
⇒ 2 Cor 4:7-11).
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