2 Corinthians 11

The Word Made Fresh

1Please bear with me in a little foolishness. 2I feel jealous for you in a godly way because I promised you in marriage to one husband as a pure virgin to Christ. 3But I fear that your thoughts will stray from a sincere devotion to Christ, just as the snake fooled Eve through its cunning. 4I see that if someone comes to you and declares another savior than the Jesus we preached, or if you become subject to a different teaching than what we taught, or a different version of the good news you received from us, you are easily swayed. 5I don’t think I’m any less important than these other high-powered preachers. 6I may not be a professional orator, but I do know what I know. Surely you saw evidence of this when we were with you.

7Was I wrong to humble myself, preaching God’s good news free of charge, as a way of lifting you up? 8I took money from other churches, accepting their support, so that I could serve you. 9And when I was there with you, if I suffered any need I didn’t bother any of you, because my needs were met by my companions who came from Macedonia. So, I refused and will continue to refuse to lay any burden upon you. 10The truth of Christ is with me, and it will not be silenced in Achaia and the surrounding areas. 11Why is this? Do you think it’s because I don’t love you? Of course, I do!

12And I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing so that those who want to be recognized as our equals won’t have an opportunity to brag about it. 13Those braggarts are false and deceitful apostles trying to disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14But of course, even Satan pretends to be an angel of light, 15so it’s no secret that his followers disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their deeds will bring their end.

16Let me say it again – I’m no fool. If you think I am, that’s okay. Just accept me as a fool so that I might boast a little. 17And what I say in boasting I’m not saying with the authority of the Lord, but as a fool. 18A lot of people brag about themselves, so I can, too. 19You are so wise to gladly accept fools! 20You don’t even complain when others treat you as their servants, or cheat you, or take advantage of you, or pretend to be somebody, or even slap your face! 21I’m ashamed to say we were too weak to do that.

But I will brag about anything anyone else brags about – I’m speaking as a fool, of course. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23Are they Christ’s servants? I may sound like a fool, but I’m a better one! I work harder, have been imprisoned more, been flogged more, and even have been nearly killed. 24The Jews have given me the forty lashes less one five times! 26They beat me with rods on three occasions! They even stoned me once! I was shipwrecked three times and adrift at sea for a night and a day. 26I have been on frequent trips, crossing dangerous rivers, encountering dangerous bandits and even danger from my own people, as well as from Gentiles. I was in danger in the cities, danger in the desserts, danger at sea and danger from false believers. 27I have worked through hardships, had many sleepless nights, was often hungry and thirsty, without food, cold, and naked. 28And I struggle every day out of anxiety for all the churches. 29Who is weak when I didn’t feel weakness? Who is made to stumble, and I’m not infuriated?

30If I must boast, I will take pride in the things that expose my weaknesses. 31Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus forever; he knows that I do not lie. 32The governor of Damascus under King Aretas had the city searched for me to arrest me, 33but I was lowered down the wall in a basket through a window, and was able to escape.


1-6: Paul is hearkening back to a charge he made earlier (see 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:4-5) about the Corinthians’ gullibility — their willingness to buy into the teachings of whoever happens to come along. Some of them, he charges, claimed allegiance to Apollos and some to Cephas, whom he casts here as “super apostles.” He defends his own status among them by insisting that, although he may not be as eloquent as some he is certainly knowledgeable about the scriptures.

7-11: Still, his sense of inferiority to those who actually walked with Jesus causes him to seek other ways by which to justify himself. One of his favorite means is to suffer more than the others and to deny himself more than they. So, he has not received any support at all from the Corinthians, but has accepted support from the Macedonians so that the Corinthians would have the benefit of his knowledge without cost.

12-15: But there are also those who have corrupted the gospel message to their own ends. One thing they will not do, however, is work for free, and that Paul has done on the Corinthians’ behalf and will continue to do.

16-21: His opposition, however, is not insignificant. That is evident from the amount of space Paul dedicates to them. He and his companions, he says, were too weak to appear before the Corinthians as anything special, but chose to be weak that the gospel might be elevated even more. Still, if they are impressed by boasting, Paul can boast, by golly.

22-29: He is just as Jewish, just as Israelite, and just as much a child of Abraham as they. Furthermore, he is an even better ambassador for Christ because he has suffered more than any of them, and gives a lengthy catalogue of all the ills he has endured.

30-33: His boasting, he says, is about things that prove he is weak. The story of his escape from Damascus is found in Acts 9:23-25; it is not clear why he mentions that particular episode here unless it is to illustrate his helplessness in having to be lowered over the wall by others.


You would think the Church would be the last place for such rivalries to erupt, but it is not. People, even religious ones, can behave quite selfishly when they think their authority is being questioned. But then, loving one another is not the same thing as accepting all of their pursuits of importance that are sometimes questionable. “Speak the truth in love” has always been the rule for followers of Christ in their work together.