2 Corinthians 12:6
For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me to be, or that he hears of me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) For though I would desire to glory . . . He had said in the preceding verse that he will glory only in his infirmities. He is about to lay bare to their gaze the greatest of all those infirmities. “If I should boast of that,” he says, “I shall not be acting as a madman does” (the thought of insanity is throughout dominant in the words “fool” and “folly”), “for I will confine myself to a simple statement of fact.”

12:1-6 There can be no doubt the apostle speaks of himself. Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there, but he set forth the doctrine of Christ. On that foundation the church is built, and on that we must build our faith and hope. And while this teaches us to enlarge our expectations of the glory that shall be revealed, it should render us contented with the usual methods of learning the truth and will of God.For though I would desire to glory - I take this to be a solemn and serious declaration of the irony which precedes; and that Paul means to say seriously, that if he had a wish to boast as other people boasted, if he chose to make much of his attainments and privileges, he would have enough of which to make mention. It would not be mere empty boasting without any foundation or any just cause, for he had as much of which to speak in a confident manner pertaining to his labors as an apostle, and his evidence of the divine favor, as could be urged by any one. "I might go on to speak much more than I have done, and to urge claims which all would admit to be well-founded."

I shall not be a fool - "It would not be foolish boasting; for it would be according to truth. I could urge much more than I have done; I could speak of things which no one would be disposed to call in question as laying the foundation of just claims to my being regarded as eminently favored of God; I could seriously state what all would admit to be such."

For I will say the truth - That is, "Whatever I should say on this subject would be the simple truth. I should mention nothing which has not actually occurred. But I forbear, lest some one should form an improper estimate of me." The apostle seems to have intended to have added something more, but he was checked by the apprehension to which he here refers. Or perhaps he means to say that if he should boast of the vision to which he had just referred; if he should go on to say how highly he had been honored and exalted by it, there would be no impropriety in it. It was so remarkable that if he confined himself strictly to the truth, as he would do, still it would he regarded by all as a very extraordinary honor, and one to which no one of the false teachers could refer as laying a foundation for their boasting.

Lest any man should think of me ... - The idea in this part of the verse I take to be this. "I desire and expect to be estimated by my public life. I expect to be judged of men by my deeds, by what they see in me, and by my general reputation in respect to what I have done in establishing the Christian religion. I am willing that my character and reputation, that the estimate in which I shall be held by mankind, shall rest on that. I do not wish that my character among people shall be determined by my secret feelings; or by any secret extraordinary communication from heaven which I may have, and which cannot be subjected to the observation of my fellow-men. I am willing to be estimated by my public life; and however valuable such extraordinary manifestations may be to me as an individual; or however much they may comfort me, I do not wish to make the basis of my public reputation.

I expect to stand and be estimated by my public deeds; by what all people see and hear of me; and I would not have them form even a favorable opinion of me beyond that." This is the noble language of a man who was willing to enjoy such a reputation as his public life entitled him to. He wished to have the basis of his reputation such that all people could see and examine it. Unlike enthusiasts and fanatics, he appealed to no secret impulses; did not rest his claims for public confidence on any special communications from heaven; but wished to be estimated by his public deeds. And the important truth taught is, that however much the communion we may have with God; however much comfort and support in prayer and in our favored moments of fellowship with God; or however much we may fancy in this way that we are the favorites of heaven; and however much this may support us in trial: still this should not be made the foundation of claim to the favorable opinions of our fellow-men.

By our public character; by our well-known actions; by our lives as seen by people, we should desire to be estimated, and we should be satisfied with such a measure of public esteem as our deportment shall fairly entitle us to. We should seldom, perhaps, refer to our moments of secret, happy, and most favored communion with God. Paul kept his most elevated joys in this respect, secret for fourteen years: what an example to those who are constantly emblazoning their Christian experience abroad, and boasting of what they have enjoyed! We should never refer to such moments as a foundation for the estimate in which our character shall be held by our fellow-men. We should never make this the foundation of a claim to the public confidence in us. For all such claims; for all the estimate in which we shall be held by people, we should be willing to be tried by our lives. Paul would not even make a vision of heaven; not even the privilege of having beheld the glories of the upper world, though a favor conferred on no other living man, a ground of the estimate in which his character should be held! What an example to those who wish to be estimated by secret raptures, and by special communications to their souls from heaven! No. Let us be willing to be estimated by people by what they see in us; to enjoy such a reputation as our conduct shall fairly entitle us to. Let our communion with God cheer our own hearts; but let us not obtrude this on people as furnishing a claim for an exalted standard in their estimation.

6. For—Not but that I might glory as to "myself" (2Co 12:5); "FOR if I should desire to glory, I shall not be a fool"; for I have things to glory, or boast of which are good matter for glorying of (not mere external fleshly advantages which when he gloried in [2Co 11:1-33] he termed such glorying "folly," 2Co 11:1, 16, 17).

think of me—Greek, "form his estimate respecting me."

heareth of me—Greek, "heareth aught from me." Whatever haply he heareth from me in person. If on account of healing a cripple (Ac 14:12, 13), and shaking off a viper (Ac 28:5), the people thought him a god, what would they have not done, if he had disclosed those revelations? [Estius]. I wish each of you to estimate me by "what he sees" my present acts and "hears" my teaching to be; not by my boasting of past revelations. They who allow themselves to be thought of more highly than is lawful, defraud themselves of the honor which is at God's disposal [Bengel] (Joh 5:44; 12:43).

If I should have a mind to glory, I should not be a fool; for I would not glory in things that were not true. And though a man, in speaking things of himself which are true, may sometimes betray folly (viz. where he doth it merely to set forth himself, and make himself to appear a greater person than indeed he is); yet for a man to glory of himself, where the honour of God is concerned in the vindication of himself from reproaches and calumnies, speaks not any folly.

But (saith the apostle) I forbear, having no desire that any should think of me above what he seeth in me, or heareth of me from others’ mouths, and not mine own. For though I would desire to glory,..... Had a mind to it, chose it, and was fond of it, thought fit to proceed in this way concerning this vision, or this with many others:

I shall not be a fool; in reality; though he might seem and be thought to be so by others; he does indeed before call his glorying "folly", and "speaking foolishly"; but he means only as it might be interpreted by others, for in fact it was not: the reason is,

for I will say the truth; he said nothing but what was strictly true, in the account of himself in the preceding chapter, and appeals to God as his witness; nor anything in the relation of this vision, but what was entirely agreeable to truth; and to speak truth, though it be of a man's self, when he is called to it, cannot be deemed folly;

but now I forbear; he did not choose to go on, or say any more upon this head at this time; though he had many visions, and an abundance of revelations, yet he did not judge it proper to give a particular account of them:

lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me; should take him to be more than human, as before this the Lycaonians at Lystra did; who supposed that he and Barnabas were gods come down in the likeness of men, and brought out their oxen and garlands to do sacrifice to them; and as, after this, the inhabitants of Melita, seeing the viper drop from his hand without any hurt to him, said he was a god; to prevent such extravagant notions of him, he forbore to say any more of his extraordinary visions and revelations; but chose rather that men should form their judgments of him by what they saw in him and heard from him, as a minister of the Gospel.

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 12:6. Γάρ] is not indeed or however (Flatt and others), nor are we, with Rückert, to supply a μέν after ἐάν; but the thought, for which γάρ assigns the reason, is—by a frequent usage very natural with the lively train of thought (see especially, Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 464 ff.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 83 f.)—as resulting of itself, not expressly set forth; it is implied in the οὐ καυχήσομαι εἰ μὴ κ.τ.λ., in so far as these words presuppose that Paul could boast, if he would. In reference to this he continues: for in case I possibly shall have wished, etc. Comp. Winer, p. 422 [E. T. 568]. Osiander wrongly refers γάρ to the first half of 2 Corinthians 12:5; for the second half contains the leading thought and the progressive point of the passage. According to Ewald, Paul means the time of judgment, when he shall wish really to glory, whereas now he refrains. In this case he must have subsequently at least written νῦν δὲ φείδομαι in order to be understood, and even then the reference of the θελήσω to the day of judgment, in the absence of any express designation of the latter, would only be very indirectly indicate.

ἐάν] does not stand for κἄν any more than at 2 Corinthians 10:8 (in opposition to Rückert).

οὐκ ἔσομαι ἄφρων] glancing back to 2 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:16 ff., but spoken now in entire seriousness, expressing the folly of the vaunting which injures the truth.

φείδομαι δέ] sc. τοῦ καυχᾶσθαι, i.e. but I keep it back, make no use of it. Comp. Xen. Cyr. i. 6. 35, iv. 6. 19; Soph. Aj. 115; Pind. Nem. ix. 20. 47; LXX. Job 33:18; Wis 1:11; Dissen, ad Pind. p. 488; Porson, ad Eur. Or. 387.

μή τις εἰς ἐμὲ λογίσηται κ.τ.λ.] Purpose of the φείδομαι δέ: in order that no one may judge in reference to me beyond that, as which he sees me (i.e. supra id quod vidit esse me, Beza), or what he possibly hears from me (out of my mouth), i.e. in order that no one may form a higher opinion of me than is suggested to him by his being eye-witness of my actions, or by his being, it may be, an ear-witness of my oral ministry. Many in Corinth found his action powerless and his speech contemptible (2 Corinthians 10:10); but he wished still to call forth no higher judgment of himself than one consonant to experience, which could not but spontaneously form itself; hence he abstains from the καυχᾶσθαι, although he would speak the truth with it. On λογίσηται, comp. 2 Corinthians 11:5; Php 3:13; 1 Corinthians 4:1, al. Ewald takes it: in order that no one may put to my account. This, however, would be expressed by μή τις ἐμοὶ λογίσ.

The τί (possibly) is to be explained as a condensed expression: si quid quando audit. See Fritzsche, Diss. II. p. 124; Schaefer, ad Dem. IV. p. 232; Bremi, ad Aesch. II. p. 122 f. On ἐξ ἐμοῦ, comp. Herod. iii. 62, and the Latin audio ex or de aliquo. See Madvig, ad Cic. Fin. p. 865.2 Corinthians 12:6. ἐὰν γὰρ θελήσω καυχ. κ.τ.λ.: we must supply a suppressed clause: “And yet, as you see, if I did choose to boast, I should keep within the truth” is the sense. For if I should desire to glory, I shall not be foolish (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:1 and 2 Corinthians 12:11), for I shall speak the truth (2 Corinthians 11:31); but I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be or heareth from me. He is anxious that he should be judged, not by his report of his own spiritual experiences, but by his laborious and painful life in the service of the Gospel. It is instructive to notice that he does not bring forward this vision as evidence of the truth of doctrine; he only mentions it incidentally and with reserve as a Divine manifestation of which he might legitimately boast, if he chose. On the other hand, he appeals to the fact that he had seen the Risen Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8) as of great evidential importance, which indicates that he believed that vision to be “objective” in a sense in which the visions of an ecstatic trance are not.6. For though I would desire to glory] St Paul here identifies himself with the man who saw the visions. ‘I shall not be foolish, even if I do boast, for I shall only be speaking the truth. But I refrain.’

forbear] See ch. 2 Corinthians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 9:6, 2 Corinthians 13:2, where the word is the same in the Greek. Also 1 Corinthians 7:28, and Romans 8:32; Romans 11:21.

lest any man should think] It is not visions or revelations, however exalted, for which a man ought to be esteemed, but his conduct and the message with which he is entrusted.2 Corinthians 12:6. Οὐκ ἔσομαι ἄφρων, I shall not be a fool) In the preceding chapter also he spake the truth, and yet he ascribes folly to himself; namely, because he gloried concerning things by no means glorious [viz. his sufferings], hence of things most glorious.—φείδομαι, I forbear) I treat of these things sparingly.—μή τις, lest any one) O how many are there even among theologians, who have no reverent dread in treating of such things! [Not a few allow themselves to be thought of both at home and abroad more highly than is lawful; but how remarkably may they be considered as defrauding themselves in that way of a share in the honour which is in the power of GOD. If indeed you rejoice in the privileges of the sons of GOD, see that this your light may shine, but remember to use with caution and moderation extraordinary circumstances.—V. g.]—βλέπει· ἀκούει, sees, hears) in common life, while I am unable to prevent it.Verse 6. - I forbear; literally, I spare; i.e. I refrain from boasting. Should think of me; literally, that no man should estimate concerning me beyond what he sees me (to be), or hears at all from my own lips. If he were to tell them more of his revelations, he might encourage them to think more of him than he deserves or wishes.
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