2 Corinthians 11:16-33

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 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.
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 forever, 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.

2 Corinthians 11:16-33 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 2 CORINTHIANS 11

In this chapter, the apostle continues his discourse concerning the false teachers; blames the Corinthians for their connivance at them, and subjection to them; gives a true and ample description of them; compares himself with them, and by various instances shows, that he was greatly superior to them: and whereas self commendation was necessary, and could not be avoided in this argument, and this might look like folly, and by some be deemed such, he entreats the Corinthians that they would bear with him in it, as well as in his reproofs and admonitions to them, 2Co 11:1 and assigns his godly jealousy over them, as the reason why he entered into this subject, and proceeded in such a way of reasoning on it; and the rather this might be bore with in him, since he had such a concern in espousing them to Christ; his end in which was, to present them a chaste virgin to him, 2Co 11:2 and what this jealousy was he explains, lest their minds should be corrupted by the false teachers, and they should forsake the pure and simple Gospel of Christ; which he exemplifies in the instance of Eve being deceived by the serpent, 2Co 11:3 and proceeds to blame them for preferring these false teachers to the faithful ministers of the word; seeing, put them in the best light they could, it was but the same Jesus they preached, and not another and a better Saviour; and it was but the same spirit of faith they received through their ministry, and not another and a better; and the same Gospel they brought, and did not come with better news, or more joyful tidings; had this been the case, there would have been some reason for extolling one above another, 2Co 11:4 for which there was not the least foundation, especially with respect to the Apostle Paul, who was not inferior to the chief of the true apostles of Christ, and therefore could not be at all behind these men, 2Co 11:5 and seeing it might be objected to him that he was rude in speech, when these were men of great eloquence, he allows it; but then affirms he was not so in knowledge, in which he exceeded them; for the truth of which, lie appeals to the Corinthians themselves, 2Co 11:6 and he suggests, that it was very ungrateful in them, that inasmuch as he humbled himself when among them, by working with his own hands, that they might be exalted, that they should despise him on that account, and prefer these avaricious men before him, 2Co 11:7 when that he might be able to preach the Gospel freely, he took of other churches, 2Co 11:8 and particularly was supplied by the Macedonian brethren, and so was not at all chargeable and burdensome to them, and he was determined ever to remain so, 2Co 11:9 and which he confirms by an oath, that no man should ever be able to prevail upon him to take anything of the churches in the region of Achaia, in which Corinth was, 2Co 11:10 and whereas it might be insinuated that such a resolution showed that he had no true affection for them, this he denies, and appeals to the omniscient God for the truth of his love to them, 2Co 11:11 but the true reason why he had so determined, was to prevent the false teachers having any opportunity to reproach him, and exalt themselves, 2Co 11:12 and this leads him on to a description of them, by their ambition and arrogance, in assuming a title that did not belong to them; by their crafty, cunning, and deceitful manner of working, and by their hypocrisy in mimicking the apostles of Christ, 2Co 11:13 nor need this seem strange to any, when Satan himself has been transformed into an angel of light, 2Co 11:14 and whom, the apostle suggests, these men imitated; whose ministers they were, though they looked like ministers of righteousness, and on whom the apostle denounces severe punishment, 2Co 11:15 and as he saw himself under a necessity of boasting, in order to stop the mouths of these men, to vindicate himself, and prevent mischief being done by them, he renews his entreaty in 2Co 11:1 that the Corinthians would not reckon him as a fool; or if they did, that they would bear with his folly, and suffer him to boast of himself a little, 2Co 11:16 and that the Christian religion, and the Gospel of Christ, might not come under any reproach and blame, for his conduct in this particular, he observes, that what he was about to say on this head of boasting, was not by any order or direction from the Lord, but of himself, and might have the appearance of folly in it, 2Co 11:17 and the rather he might be indulged in it, seeing many, even the false teachers, had gloried in a carnal way, and of outward things, and which made it necessary that he should glory also, 2Co 11:18 and which foolish boasting in them, even many of the Corinthians had bore with, and that with a great deal of pleasure; and therefore might suffer him, a single man, to boast a little of himself unto them, whom he ironically calls wise, 2Co 11:19 of which he gives instances, by being brought into bondage, devoured, pillaged, insulted, and abused, by the false teachers, 2Co 11:20 nor had they abused and reproached them only, but the apostle also, as weak and contemptible; but then he would not bear it, but would boldly engage and enter the lists with them, though this might be by some reckoned foolish boasting, 2Co 11:21 and then follows the comparison between him and them, by which it appears that he was upon an equal foot with them, on account of nation, descent, and parentage, 2Co 11:22 that he was superior to them as a minister of the Gospel, as was manifest by his more abundant labours in it, and by his sufferings for it, the dangers he was exposed unto on account of it, and the many hardships he endured in the ministration of it, of which he gives a variety of particulars, 2Co 11:23-27 to which he adds, besides these things, and all other outward ones, that the daily care of all the churches of Christ was upon him, 2Co 11:28 and such was his sympathy with all sorts of Christians, even the weak and offended brethren, that he was affected with them, bore their infirmities, and sought to reconcile and make them easy, which greatly increased the weight of business that was upon him, 2Co 11:29 and seeing there was a necessity of glorying, he chose to glory in his infirmities and sufferings, and on which he had mostly enlarged, 2Co 11:30 and for the glory of divine Providence, and to express his thankfulness for the mercy, he relates a particular instance of deliverance from imminent danger; for the truth of which he appeals to the God and Father of Christ, the eternally blessed One, 2Co 11:31 the danger he escaped, the manner and means of the escape, and the place where, are particularly mentioned, 2Co 11:32,33.

2 Corinthians 11:16-33 In-Context

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.
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 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.
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 forever, 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.

Cross References 37

  • 1. ver 1
  • 2. 1 Corinthians 7:12,25
  • 3. ver 21
  • 4. 2 Corinthians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 10:4
  • 5. ver 21; Philippians 3:3,4
  • 6. S ver 1
  • 7. 1 Corinthians 4:10
  • 8. S ver 1
  • 9. Galatians 2:4; Galatians 4:9; Galatians 5:1
  • 10. 2 Corinthians 10:1,10
  • 11. ver 17,18; Philippians 3:4
  • 12. Philippians 3:5">Philippians 3:5; Philippians 3:5">Philippians 3:5
  • 13. Romans 9:4; Romans 11:1
  • 14. S Luke 3:8; Romans 11:1
  • 15. S 1 Corinthians 3:5
  • 16. S 1 Corinthians 15:10
  • 17. Acts 16:23; 2 Corinthians 6:4,5
  • 18. Acts 16:23; 2 Corinthians 6:4,5
  • 19. S Romans 8:36
  • 20. Deuteronomy 25:3
  • 21. Acts 16:22
  • 22. Acts 14:19
  • 23. Acts 27:1-44
  • 24. S Acts 20:3; Acts 9:23; Acts 14:5
  • 25. Acts 21:31
  • 26. Galatians 2:4
  • 27. S Acts 18:3; Colossians 1:29
  • 28. 1 Corinthians 4:11,12; 2 Corinthians 6:5
  • 29. S 1 Corinthians 7:17
  • 30. S Romans 14:1; S 1 Corinthians 2:3
  • 31. S Matthew 5:29
  • 32. ver 16; Galatians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 12:5,9
  • 33. S 1 Corinthians 2:3
  • 34. Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5
  • 35. ver 11; S Romans 1:9
  • 36. Acts 9:24
  • 37. Acts 9:25