2 Corinthians 11

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

2 Corinthians 11

Paul and the false apostles
I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 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. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the snake's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those 'super-apostles'. 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Paul boasts about his sufferings
16 I repeat: let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about - I am speaking as a fool - I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. 23 Are 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. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have laboured 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. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised for ever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.


Paul begins chapter 11 by likening himself to a Father of the Christians in Corinth. He does this because he feels fatherly towards them. He loves them and is deeply concerned that they had been seduced by false teachers who taught a different gospel (1-3).
He then asks whether his refusal to take money from them, and instead working with his hands so they’d be unable to accuse him having false, self-seeking motivations was an insult to them (4-8). Whereas the so-called ‘super-apostles’ who are in fact false apostles and deceivers readily took their money (9-15) and treated them horribly (16-21), and yet they are inclined to follow them as though this is the treatment they expected.
Paul then sarcastically says he is ashamed he was too weak to treat them that way (21). He also sets himself up to boast foolishly, like the false-apostles who would brag about their credentials, and then instead boasts about all the terrible things he has experienced in service to Christ (21-29).
To the Corinthians who valued strength, position, and privilege, this list would sound only like weakness and failure (2 Corinthians 11:21–29).
Like a lot of people, I like people to think the best of me. I want my accomplishments and talents to be noticed and appreciated. I don’t think I have anywhere near as much to brag about as Paul, who memorised the whole of scripture, planted lots of churches, had the character not to ask for money and instead pay his own way.
Paul is demonstrating real humility before this church. Paul understood that the true Christian life is not about status or self-promotion. We follow a crucified God who had no home, who was despised, rejected and died a shameful death, and whose exaltation came through his suffering. God’s nature is to give himself sacrificially in service of others.
So who is more Christ-like? Those who embrace their strengths, or those who embrace their weakness and serve others?
Let us follow in Paul’s example, as he follow’s Christ, giving away of ourselves in service to God and others.

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