The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Corinthians

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2 Corinthians 11

2Co 11:2

I MIGHT PRESENT: As the angel of Yahweh would have presented to Adam his newly-created bride (Gen 2:22).

Examples of personification: riches (Mat 6:24); sin (Joh 8:34; Rom 5:21; 6:16); spirit (Joh 16:13); wisdom (Pro 3:13-15; 9:1); Israel (Jer 31:4,18); people of Christ (Eph 4:4,13; 5:23; Rev 19:7; 1Co 12:27; 2Co 11:2; Col 1:18,24).

2Co 11:3

CUNNING: "Panourgia" (lit, "all working"; crafty, clever, always thinking about how to "trick" someone else) has its roots in Eden. And it is appropriate to men who are the seed of the serpent. These came at Jesus seeking to entrap him, but "he perceived their craftiness" (Luk 20:23); for the Lord God "catches the wise in their own craftiness" (1Co 3:19), and Jesus inherited his Father's characteristics in this ability also. The warnings to the early brethren to beware of the deceit of false teachers, a deliberate campaign by evil men, were common enough because necessary (2Co 11:13; 4:2; Rom 3:13 -- dolos, guile, in these places; and Eph 4:14). Those crafty men even went so far as to use -- hypocritically! -- the same language against Paul: "being crafty (panourgos) I caught you with guile (dolos), did I?" (2Co 12:16). One is reminded of how Luther and the Pope each called the other Antichrist.

SINCERE AND PURE DEVOTION: Or "simplicity" (AV). "Simplicity", as used by Paul, should not be equated with "simple-mindedness". Rather, in keeping with the metaphor of Eve and the serpent, "simplicity" is a single-mindedness which will not be beguiled by subtle serpent-arguments. Such "simplicity" presupposes uncomplicated vision and motives. We must remember the extreme "deceitfulness of sin" (Heb 13:3) and the inherent weakness of the flesh. We must keep these things in mind, recognizing also that strength comes from God, His word, and prayer -- and that we must cling close to these. If we do this, then in a simple single-minded devotion, we will be waiting and ready when our Saviour the Bridegroom cometh.

2Co 11:4

If they could be so easily swayed by other teachers, surely they would listen to the one who converted them!

2Co 11:5

Vv 5-15: Their folly in being drawn away by others.

2Co 11:7

Paul's enemies had suggested that he took no financial support from them because he was unsure of his authority to do so (WFB 43). Also, a tentmaker would have no "dignity" alongside Greek "philosophers" (WFB 215).

2Co 11:9

...FROM MACEDONIA: The Philippians (2Co 8:1-4; Phi 4:15,16).

2Co 11:14

Cp context of letter: 2Co 3:1; 10:2,3,10,12,17,18; 11:3,4,18-23: "Satan" = Jewish adversaries who are trying to undermine Paul's authority (cp Rom 16:17-20), by pretending -- like the serpent in Eden -- to be "angels" or messengers from God, having knowledge which "Eve" (the ecclesia) lacked (cp 2Co 11:3).

2Co 11:16

2Co 11:16 -- 12:18: The apostle's credentials.

2Co 11:17

Vv 17,18: 'Here I am following the example of the Judaizers, not Christ!'

2Co 11:21

They were so "wise" (irony) that they let the "strong" Judaizers take advantage of them. But Paul was too "weak" to do the same!

2Co 11:23

Vv 23-28: "AJ Balfour said, 'Nothing matters very much, and very few things matter at all.' In reality there is only one thing that is important -- and that is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and to do what pleases Him. Whatever else we experience or that happens around us is insignificant unless it concerns the things of God.

"The Apostle Paul had a very dramatic life as he travelled around preaching God's word. If there was anyone who could say that a lot of things that really mattered had happened to him, it was Paul. To be beaten up is a major event in anyone's life, yet it happened to Paul at least eight times. He was put in prison, shipwrecked, stoned, had threats put on his life, gone without sleep, food, clothes, and shelter. He even spent a night and a day floating in the sea after a shipwreck! But none of those things were important to Paul. His main concern were the people of God. He said, 'Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.'

"So it is true. Nothing matters much, but the things of God are very important" (RP).

IN PRISON MORE FREQUENTLY: See Lesson, Paul in prison.

2Co 11:25

RODS: Rhabdos: sw Act 16:22.

2Co 11:27

NAKED: That is, exposed to the elements; without sufficient cloak or coat.

2Co 11:29

WHO IS WEAK, AND I DO NOT FEEL WEAK?: "The word Paul uses for 'weak' is one which features frequently in his writings, and it nearly always refers to the spiritually weak (Rom 4:19; 14:1,2,21; 1Co 8:9,11,12). He was so sensitive to his brethren that when he considered their spiritual weakness, he felt the same. He identified with them, he could put his arm round someone who was slipping way and say, 'I'm with you', and so evidently mean it. He had a genuine and obvious sense of solidarity with them. He wasn't critical of them to the extent that he made a barrier between himself and them. They knew his disapproval of their ways, but yet it was so evident that his heart bled for them. And when Paul saw a brother being offended, he burnt. His heart burnt and bled as he saw someone drifting away with a chip on their shoulder. He didn't just shrug and think, 'Well, that's up to them, their choice.' He cared for them. That brother, that sister, and their future meant so much to him. If Paul had lived in the 21st century, he would have telephoned them, written to them, visited them, met with them week by week To be weak and to be offended are bracketed in Rom 14:21: 'thy brother is offended, or is made weak'. And in 2Co 11:29 we have the same idea... The parallels imply that if the weak brother was offended, Paul himself was as it were offended, even though he himself did not stumble. He could identify with the spiritual weakness of others to the point of feeling that he himself had committed it or was in the shoes of the sinner -- even though he himself was innocent" (DH).

"Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?" (RSV).

2Co 11:32

THE GOVERNOR: The "ethnarc" was watching the gate to catch Paul when he left Damascus, because he had no authority IN the city. The king of Arabia in Petra, who apparently had taken or received as a gift the rich city of Damascus at this time (C&H 65).

2Co 11:33

BASKET: Gr "sargane". The basket here is also called a "spuris" (Act 9:25) -- or large basket -- obviously large enough for a man to hide in. This was the same sort of basket which was filled, seven times over, with the bread miraculously multiplied by Jesus (Mat 15:37; 16:10). And here, on a spiritual level, was part of the "bread" of Christ -- his "body"! -- being miraculously multiplied again! For this man Paul, escaping from Damascus in the basket (2Co 11:32,33), would live to see a miraculous multiplying of the "bread" or "body" of Christ -- through his labors of traveling and preaching.

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