For I suppose I was not a whit behind
This is very modestly expressed by the apostle; for he does not assert, and in a haughty and confident way affirm, but only supposes, or thinks that this might be admitted, that he was not inferior to, or did not come short of, in gifts, grace, and usefulness,
the very chiefest of the apostles:
such as Peter, James, and John; who seemed to be pillars, were eminent apostles, of great note among them, and such as Christ, in the days of his flesh, took particular notice of. This he says, not to exalt himself, but to show, how weakly and injudiciously the Corinthians acted in setting up the false apostle above him; or else these words are spoken ironically, and design the false teachers, who vaunted so much of their gifts, learning, eloquence, and usefulness; and extolled themselves at such a rate, as if they were (uper lian apostolwn) , "greatly above the apostles"; and therefore he jeeringly calls them
the very chiefest of
them; and yet thinks fit to put himself at least, upon an equality with them: one manuscript reads, "the chiefest of the apostles among you"; and the Ethiopic version seems to have read you.