2 Corinthians 11

2 Corinthians 11:21-30:

21What anyone else dares to boast about–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast about. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

As I was going through our daily devotions for this week, I am once again awestruck by the man that is Apostle Paul. First, he traversed through hell and back (I wondered if his back ever got fully healed in-between his beatings and lashes), yet retains his zeal for God. It’s evident that he does what he does solely for God, because if it were for his own personal glory, he would’ve quit a long time ago. Yet, here he is, writing this very letter to the Corinthians who do not regard him as a true apostle.

Second, despite his hardships, he doesn’t feel a need to brag about them. He does so in this case because, as the NIV Application Commentary states, he “feels compelled to conform to such boasting for the sake of winning back the Corinthians, since they are gladly bearing with Paul’s opponents, the real fools.” In other words, Paul does not boast to make himself look better; he boasts so that God may be glorified. Even in Christendom, there is the natural tendency to try to elevate oneself ahead of another. We try to boast about how “spiritual” we are. Isn’t that such a contradiction — boasting about one’s own spirituality? That’s like bragging about how humble we are. Pastor Ed Kang, in his latest notebook entry (based on 2 Corinthians 12), goes on to say that even he “must be careful to not speak of special spiritual experiences in order to provide [him] an extra cloak of legitimacy as a spiritual leader.”

So, why do I do what I do? If I feel compelled to boast about myself (eg, “Hey Andy, look, I did my DTs eight days in a row last week!”) then it’s most likely not for God. If I were truly doing things for God, then I should not be compelled to boast to others about it.


1 Response to “2 Corinthians 11”

  1. 1 Michelle
    May 16, 2008 at 10:28 am

    To add to Abe’s post about 2 Cor 11…

    As I was doing my DT this week, I was also struck by Apostle Paul’s sole desire and motivation to please God. In 2 Cor 11:2-3 it reads,

    “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

    I think these verses basically capture the essence of why Apostle Paul did what he did. Apostle Paul didnt endure all the hardships and sufferings so that he can boast about it or because he had any ulterior motives (such as using church funds for his own ends, as alluded to in verses 7-9), but ultimately he did it because out of his devotion and love for God. Apostle Paul experienced the love of God and was now driven to share this love with the Corinthians; he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy and desired to present them holy before God, that they might come in pure and sincere devotion to Christ.

    In addition, I think verses 28-29 also give us a glimpse of Apostle Paul’s sincere and genuine heart:

    v28 “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”

    In the commentary, it says that the wear and tear on Apostle Paul’s mind and soul was much more difficult to bear than all the physical sufferings that he endured. Apostle Paul writes that he daily faces emotional pain because of the churches and the people he ministers to, he aches because others are enslaved by sin.
    I think this verse shows us that Apostle Paul is not doing any of his work because he desires to gain glory and fame for himself. After all, why would he open himself up to this kind of emotional pain and heartache on a daily basis? In the end, what really motivates and drives Apostle Paul is love for God and this love gives him the strength to continue even when he has to face harsh criticisms and endure much suffering for the good work he is trying to do.

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