William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.2 Corinthians Chapter 11
The apostle loved to spend himself in the service of Christ or the saints, and begrudged a word about himself even when the occasion demanded it, at least when it might look like self-defence. His wisdom as his joy was to testify of Christ. To speak of himself even as His servant he counts "folly," however needful. But it is part of the enemy's tactics to undermine and lower, and destroy if possible a true servant of the Lord, no less than to cry up those that serve their own belly and by their fair speech and speciousness deceive the hearts of the guileless. For can anything be more calculated to frustrate testimony to Christ than to blacken the bearer of it in his motives, ways, and aims? Hence, as thus the object of unceasing detraction to the saints at Corinth by self-seeking men who were really Satan's instruments in dishonouring Christ and corrupting the church, the apostle addresses himself, however reluctantly, to the necessary task of vindicating His name assailed in his own person and ministry.
"Would that ye might bear* with me in some little* folly;* but even bear with me. For I am jealous as to you with a jealousy of God; for I betrothed you to one husband to present a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craft,** your thoughts should be corrupted from the simplicity** that is towards Christ. For if indeed he that cometh preacheth another Jesus whom we preached not, or ye receive a different spirit whom ye received not, or a different gospel which ye accepted not, ye might well bear with [it]. For I reckon that I am in nothing come short of those surpassingly apostles; but if even ordinary in speech, yet not in knowledge, but in every [way we were] made manifest [or, manifested it]† in all things towards you. What! did I commit sin in humbling myself that ye might be exalted, because I gratuitously announced the gospel of God to you? Other churches I spoiled, receiving hire for service towards you. And when present with you and in want, I have not been a burden to any one (for my want the brethren on coming from Macedonia supplied); and in everything unburdensome to you I kept and will keep myself. There is Christ's truth in me that this boasting shall not be stopped‡ unto me in the quarters of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do I will also do that I may cut off the occasion of those desiring an occasion, that wherein they boast they may be found even as we. For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ: and no wonder,*** for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light: [it is] no great thing then if his servants also transform themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works." (Vers. 1-15.)
* Steph. with the most and best, ἀνείχ. Elz. ἠνείχ. but, rightly μικρόν τι (for τι Steph.) and ἀφοσύνης (though wrongly τῆς).
** οὕτω is added by the Text. Rec. with many witnesses, but not B D F G P, etc.; καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος added by m B F G, etc, and so Lachmann and Alford.
† φανερώσαντες p.m. B Fgr G, etc. φανερωθέντες corr. Dcorr. E H L P, etc. φανερωθείς Dp.m. etc.
‡ σφραγί. the error of a few cursives with Steph.; Elz. has rightly φραγήσεται.
*** θαῦμα B D F G P R, etc. for θαυμαστόν of Text. Rec. supported by most later copies.
He apologises first of all for having to speak, not of Christ only, but of himself. Yet if any one might be jealous over the Corinthian saints, he surely who betrothed them (such is his expressive figure) to one husband, to present in them a chaste maiden to Christ. Such is the destiny of the saints; they are loved, washed, sanctified, justified, in view of this intimate relationship to Christ, which was most real and sure to the apostle, not so to those who lowered the standard of future hope and present separateness and conscious nearness in love and holiness to Christ by allowance of ease in this life, and of association with the world in its objects and ways, its philosophy or even religion. It is not only that here have we no continuing city and seek the coming one, but that we are now espoused to one husband even Christ, and are called to judge not conduct only but unsuitable thoughts and feelings. And as Paul had thus espoused the saints at Corinth, could he be otherwise than jealous at the creeping in of so much that was inconsistent with presenting them a chaste virgin to Christ?
For it was not merely failure through unwatchfulness: false principles were being instilled, and some relished the poison. So he continues, "I fear lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craft, your thoughts should be corrupted from the simplicity that is towards Christ." In proportion as Christ is a living person to the soul, the reality of Satan's counterworking will be owned. Insensibility to the wiles of the enemy as a true and active adversary to be resisted is the awful indication of an unbelief common and growing in Christendom. How many Christians there are who think and talk slightingly enough of the Corinthian saints, themselves more lax still, not in ways only, but in faith! Satan is to them scarce more than an abstraction, an ideal expression of the power of evil. So far were those addressed, poor as they might be spiritually, from such incredulity, that the apostle could refer without hesitation to the serpent beguiling Eve. The history of the fall in Genesis was as yet indisputable truth to all who called on the name of the Lord; even the manner of the tempter's approach proved no difficulty, as it has to many a soul since, and this to their no small loss. Scripture recorded the simple, sober, solemn truth, which all heathenism attests in a traditional form more or less moulded into fable. And the latent enemy who employed the serpent is active still as ever, and now under Christianity is corrupting the thoughts of saints from the simplicity of the truth as to the Christ. For the merely professing mass the end will be the apostasy, and the man of sin revealed, whose coming is after the working of Satan in all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and in all deceit of unrighteousness to them that perish.
And what had they got to warrant slight or alienation? "For if indeed he that cometh preacheth another [ἄλλον] Jesus whom we preached not, or ye receive a different [ἕτερον] spirit which ye received not, or a different gospel which ye accepted not, ye might well bear with [it]." For none of these blessings were they indebted to any channel but the apostle; him they had lightly esteemed whilst ready to honour the self-exalting men who had set up to teach on his foundation, crying up the twelve only to depreciate Paul. "For I reckon that I am in nothing come short of those surpassingly apostles; but if even ordinary in speech, yet not in knowledge, but in every way we manifested [it, or, were made manifest] in all things towards you." They had all had the amplest experience of the apostle in everything; and as in power so in knowledge, they knew that he was behind none, unless it were in the rhetoric of the schools which the Greek mind overvalued.
But low-minded men misunderstand and despise that humility and love of which they are themselves incapable; and some there were at Corinth who cringed to position and means as they were insensible to the apostle's grace in working with his own hands, or at least receiving no aid from rich Corinth. "Did I commit sin in humbling myself that ye might be exalted, because I gratuitously announced the gospel of God to you? Other churches I spoiled, receiving hire for service towards you. And when present with you and in want, I have not been a burden to any one (for my want the brethren on coming from Macedonia supplied); and in everything unburdensome to you I kept and will keep myself." Ready to evangelise at all cost to himself everywhere, the apostle in some places felt free and happy to receive, not only from individuals but from assemblies, going on with God in grace and humility: when the world's spirit prevailed, he was reserved and would receive nothing. The general principle remained intact: "the labourer is worthy of his hire;" "the Lord hath ordained that those that preach the gospel should live of the gospel." But the apostle whilst laying down what is right could and did go beyond it in grace, not using it for himself but for Christ wherever His glory called for it. From the poor Macedonian brethren he received; from the wealthy Corinthians nothing. O what a contrast is this day in Christendom! Nor did he thus speak to draw out their liberality in future, for as he had kept himself, so would he in future. "There is Christ's truth in me that this boasting shall not be stopped unto me in the quarters of Achaia." Was he disappointed and bitter now? "Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth." It was indeed to deny his uniform life in Corinth and since.
His true motive he explains. "But what I do I will also do that I may cut off the occasion of those desiring an occasion that wherein they boast they may be found even as we" - a cheap boast where men have plenty and need no self-denying devotedness. "For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ." The beginning of those evil ways was then at work which soon formed a clerical class, dispensing even with the claims to gift from Christ under the fabulous pretension to apostolic succession. Such men then opposed the apostle in person, as now they oppose his doctrine. Is this wonderful, when. as the apostle reminds us, "Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light? It is no great thing therefore if his servants also transform themselves as servants of righteousness," though he solemnly adds, their "end shall be according to their works."
Having turned aside to warn of pseudo-apostles, their high pretensions, and their low realities, the apostle comes back again, reluctantly as we see, to speak of himself, his "folly" as he calls it. In truth no task could be to him more repulsive, for he loved to speak only of Christ and the wondrous grace of God in Him. But what he so much disliked was a necessity; and at length the duty is faced of confronting their pretensions with his own reality. If in the previous chapter he shrank from pressing on the rich care for the poor saints, still more did he shrink now from self-vindication. But the Lord's glory was concerned and the saints were endangered; and so he again takes up the disagreeable task.
"Again I say, let not one think me to be a fool; but if otherwise, even as a fool receive me, that I also may boast some little. What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord but as in folly, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to flesh, I also will boast, For ye bear fools pleasantly, being wise. For ye bear if one bring you into bondage, if one devour you, if one receive, if one exalt himself, if one bout you on the face. As to dishonour I speak, as though we had been weak; but wherein any one is bold (I speak in folly) I also am bold." (Vers. 16-21.)
It was impossible to treat the assailed ministry of Christ without speaking of himself and his service; and of these how could he speak to unfriendly ears without apparent boasting? So we have effort and apology and circuitous approach, all characteristic of the man, but the work done thoroughly and the word of God dealing with their consciences. Boasting was certainly not the way of the Lord; boasting in the Lord is what becomes every believer; and the apostle shrank perhaps more sensitively than any other man from boasting in aught else. But the false apostles were dishonouring the Lord and damaging the saints by putting forward their fleshly advantages; such as a fine personal presence, power of mind, play of fancy, readiness of speech, rhetorical artifices, independent fortune, family connection, social position, and the like. Therefore does he feel it necessary to put forward what God had wrought according to the ability He bestowed; and this not merely in positive spiritual power, but in every kind of labour and suffering for the Lord's sake. It is humbling yet instructive to contrast the apostle's pain at having thus to speak, and the too evident pleasure with which many a servant of Christ goes off into personal narratives, which seem to have no aim but to prove his own cleverness at the expense of poor Mr. This or Mr. That, the great sacrifices he has made for the truth, or the surpassing excellence of his line of things in the testimony of Christ. Indeed it is well in these days of fleshly pretension, which claims high and exclusive spirituality, if our ears escape the deliberate effort to lower such as are resolved by grace to exalt Christ only and to love all that are His, abominating therefore all party-work, whether in leaders or in followers.
Still, he is instinctively averse to everything which might look like self-exaltation, and which necessarily involved speaking of himself or of his work. He deprecates their thinking him a fool; but if they would not concede this to him, "Receive me even as a fool, that I too may boast some little." They, being deceitful workers, sought their own glory; the apostle wrote only to deliver the saints from that which undermined the Lord and puffed up the flesh. Nevertheless it was not Christ; and not to be wholly occupied with Him was distasteful. "That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in folly, in this confidence of boasting." He had ample matter and real substance; still it was not directly the Lord, and this tried him, however necessary it might be. This seems to be the true meaning; not at all that he was writing as an uninspired man, but that, by inspiration, he was writing what was painful to a heart wholly devoted to the Lord's glory, but indignant at the trickery of these spurious ministers, and at the ready ear given to their insinuations by many of the saints. And certainly the Corinthians who permitted and enjoyed the lofty talk of those who detracted from Paul had no right to complain of the rapid glance at his work and sufferings, as well as power and office.
"Since many boast according to flesh, I also will boast, for ye bear with fools pleasantly, being wise." The false teachers without scruple flattered the saints, as they flattered themselves. The irony of the apostle is the most cutting reproof of self-complacency. Where the folly really lay was neither doubtful, nor far to seek. He who has Christ for his wisdom can afford to be counted, and to count himself, a fool; it is really the truest wisdom, which they wholly miss, who exalt a favourite teacher into the place of Christ, and claim the character of obedience for such abject and perilous folly. Among the Jews, to say "there is no God" was to be a fool, in the worst sense of the word; among Christians, to set the servant practically above the Master, to give the servant the homage due only to Him, is real folly, and commonly as at Corinth it is the acceptance of Satan's ministers to the disparagement of those who are truly serving Christ.
Nor can any sight be more remarkable than the way in which flesh displays itself in these circumstances. The same saints, who were restive under the authority of a true apostle, were all submission to those who were false. "For ye bear if one bring you into bondage, if one devour you, if one capture, if one exalt himself, if one beat you on the face." Such was the degradation into which many at Corinth had fallen, hugging the chains which they saw not; for flesh is blind as well as foolish, and loves its own things, not those of Jesus Christ. It likes a director of faith and duty - not conscience in God's presence, subject to the word. It submits to bondage to man, if it be allowed sometimes licence. It never really knows and enjoys liberty in the Spirit. It ignores and endures wrongs, through indulgence to its favourites, to the last degree of injury and insult, as if all this were a high degree of religious merit, instead of the lack of faith and power which must bow down to a human priest or pontiff. The history of Christendom is but the filling up of the sketch the apostle has drawn of what Satan had wrought to a certain extent at Corinth.
Now at length the apostle comes once again, however slowly, to himself and his ministry. "As to dishonour I speak as though we had been weak, but, wherein any one is bold (I speak in folly), I also am bold." It was the apostle's glory to be weak that the power of Christ might rest upon him. This his adversaries turned to his reproach, and he bowed to it; he was far from affecting that high spirit which imposes on the vulgar used to it in the world, and is ever of price to the fleshly mind. But he apologises for speaking folly, and he adds, "wherein any one is bold, I also am bold." He was pained and ashamed to allude to his own things, however true and blessed; whilst they blazoned with the utmost vanity their advantages, however petty or really despicable in comparison.
The fleshly pretension of those who opposed the apostle prided itself on its Jewish extraction, as clericalism and ecclesiastical corruptions are apt to do virtually if not naturally as here. Knowing that the apostle turned every eye to Christ in heaven as dead and risen, they seem to have forgotten how easily he could dispose of such claims to superiority. "Are they Hebrews? I too. Are they Israelites? I too. Are they Abraham's seed? I too." (Ver. 22.) It is a climax from the external designation of the chosen nation, through the internal name (clearly enough distinguished in such scriptures as 1 Samuel 13:3-7; 1Sa 13:19-20; 1 Samuel 14:21-24), to the name in virtue of which they inherited the promises; yet each appropriated to himself with a curtness very galling to his vain-glorious rivals. It was low ground in comparison of Christ, and the apostle treating it with scant respect turns to a higher claim.
"Are they ministers of Christ? (Beside myself I speak) I above measure;* in labours very abundantly, in prisons very abundantly,† in stripes exceedingly, in deaths often. From Jews five times I received forty [stripes] save one, thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; by wayfarings often, by dangers of rivers, by dangers of robbers, by dangers from countrymen, by dangers from Gentiles, by dangers in town, by dangers in desert, by dangers at sea, by dangers among false brethren, by‡ toil and trouble; in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Apart from things without [or, besides], my pressing care§ day by day, the concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is stumbled, and I burn not? If I must boast, I will boast in the matters of my infirmity. The God"" and Father of the Lord Jesus, he that is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the ethnarch [or, prefect] of Aretas the king garrisoned the Damascenes' city** to seize me; and through a window I was let down in a basket by the wall and escaped his hands." (Vers. 23-33.)
* Lachmann gives ὑπερεγώ: it is hard to say why.
† Lachmann and Treg. follow B D E, etc. φυλ. περ. ἐν πλ. ὑπ.; Tisch. prefers p.m. Fgr. G, etc. πλ. περ. ἐν φυλ. ὑπ.
‡ Text. Rec. adds ἐν with the later uncials, cursives, Vulg., etc.; but p.m. B D E F G and Gothic do not read the preposition.
§ ἐπίστασις B E F G, several cursives, etc.; ἐπισύστασις Text. Rec. supported by most of the later uncials and cursives, apparently also by the Greek and Latin expositors. The more ancient copies give μοι instead of the vulgar μου.
"" Verse 31 has been strangely tampered with by copyists. Thus the Clermont and St. Germain's (now St. Pet.) MSS. to ὁ θεὸς add τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. Again they and two other uncials with very many cursives add ἡμῶν to τ. κυρίου, as still more add Χριστοῦ to Ἰησοῦ.
** The more ancient copies read π. Δαμ. rather than Δαμ. π. and have no θέλων as in Text. Rec.
It is hardly exposition that is needed here, but thanksgiving for the grace bestowed of God on a man of like passions with ourselves, when the eye surveys such a roll of suffering labour for Christ, when the heart seeks to realise what it actually means so to be poured out as a libation, as he says to Philippi, where he could rejoice and rejoice in common with all the saints, not as here where the folly of the Corinthians wrung out of an outraged heart the reluctant tale, so profitable for us and all, which we should never otherwise have had recounted. We may well be humbled as we read that which puts our lukewarmness to shame.
Nevertheless, though the summary is as brief as it is plain in the main, the wounded modesty of the apostle, forced to withdraw the veil from a life of unequalled suffering, enters on the task with apologetic words which let out the pain it cost him to speak of his own things. He puts the question as to his adversaries, "Are they ministers of Christ?" and answers, not now as a fool (ἄφρων) but as raving, "I above measure." The, commentators, ancient and modern, will have it to be a comparison. This is the very thing be seems studiously to avoid by the use of the preposition used adverbially and by other means afterwards. It is impossible to conceive an answer more spiritually wise and conclusive. For he does not even notice here the extraordinary power which the Lord had given him in the Spirit to deal with disease, death, or demons; nor yet the immense range and success of his work in the gospel; but he turns from his very abundant labours to the excess of stripes which had befallen him, his very abundant imprisonments, and his frequent exposures to death. Those who sought to undermine him might boast of their learning or their originality, their logic or their imagination, their depth of thought or their piquancy of illustration. They might appeal to their adherents numerous or intelligent, to their high favour with women, to their popularity with men; for they sought above all to draw away the disciples after them. What did they care for the poor and despised? What for the interests of Christ and the church?
The phraseology of the apostle (as in ὑπὲρ ἐγώ, and also the sense of παρεκτός) may be now and then difficult to seize or convey from the brevity and abruptness of one who could not bear to dwell on such a theme in view of unworthy adversaries who stood high in the esteem of many a saint. But he assuredly does not mean that any service here was more than the ministry of Christ, for this to him was the highest glory; and the Lord Himself had said that whosoever would be great among them should be their minister, and whosoever would be first should be slave of all. Nor would he merely intimate that he was more devoted and laborious than his detractors, as some have supposed. He was really comparing himself with none; but apologising for so speaking as contrary to a sound mind, he could not but own himself Christ's minister beyond measure. No doubt the comparative occurs both with "labours" and with "prisons," and even Bengel thought the false apostles experienced these like Paul, but less. But it was overlooked that the Greek tongue often uses the comparative without any object of comparison in a merely intensitive sense,* where we should employ the positive qualified by "very," "rather" or the like, meaning (if we attempted to fill up the ellipsis) "more than usual," or "ordinary," etc.; and the context confirms this as well as the moral bearing. For μᾶλλον or πλέον would have been more natural to express comparative superiority, while ὑπερβαλλόντως and πολλάκις just afterwards oppose the idea. We see in 2 Corinthians 10:12 what the apostle felt of comparing, which was their way, not his who was altogether above a habit so far beneath Christ or the Christian.
* Winer (Gr. N.T. Gr. iii. § 35, Moulton's ed.) seems to deny this, so far as the N.T. is concerned; but hardy assertion is no proof. I do not say that it is ever used for the positive; nor would the superlative suit, but just what is found. Were there only the two comparatives employed, it would be strange to depart from the literal meaning "more abundantly." But as the context stands before and after, and taking account of the moral considerations, as well as the delicate dignity of the apostle, I incline to the version given as. preferable.
The apostle next glances at particulars thus far in his course, to which others had compelled him who can have little anticipated such an answer to their vain-glory. He puts them to shame with (not miracles but) sufferings. "From Jews five times I received forty [stripes] save one, thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and day I have been in the deep." This last danger was of course, like the three shipwrecks, previous to that which is so graphically described in Acts 27, though Grotius by a singular oversight speaks of it as if included. The one stoning at Lystra is related in Acts 14. Paley notices the remarkable accuracy of the inspired historian as compared with the apostle's statement. There is the nearest approach to a seeming contradiction without giving the least real ground for it. The same chapter which gives the case of stoning mentions at the beginning that an assault was made on Paul and Barnabas at Iconium, "to use them despitefully and to stone them; but they were ware of it and fled unto Lystra and Derbe." "Now had the assault been completed; had the history related that a stone was thrown, as it relates that preparations were made by Jews and Gentiles to stone Paul and his companions; or even had the account of this transaction stopped, without going on to inform us that Paul and his companions were aware of their danger and fled, a contradiction between the history and the apostle would have ceased. Truth is necessarily consistent; but it is scarcely possible that independent accounts, not having truth to guide them, should thus advance to the very brink of contradiction without falling into it." (Horae Paulinae. Works, v. 120, 121, ed. vii.) In the Acts we have but one of the three beatings with rods, and not one of the five scourgings by Jews.
And what a picture of ceaseless, unselfish, suffering toils is despatched in the next few words, before which the great deeds of earth's heroes grow pale with ineffectual light, attended as they were with heavy blows on others and clever schemes to screen themselves! "By wayfarings often, by dangers of rivers, by dangers of robbers, by dangers from countrymen, by dangers from Gentiles, by dangers in towns, by dangers in desert, by dangers at sea, by dangers among false brethren, by toil and trouble; in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." Yet this is the man who deprecates it as "folly" to speak of himself, who practised as he exhorted "but one thing!" "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Forget his failures, his sins, he did not; it is good and wholesome both for self-judgment and as a witness of sovereign grace and faithfulness on God's part. But his progress, his trials, his sufferings, others only by their folly constrained him to recall, in meekness setting right those who opposed, if God per. adventure might sometime give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.
Yet it is not only the endurance of cruel usage from time to time from open enemies that tests the heart; it is shown out yet more by the unwearied and constant going out, no matter what the labour and the danger, from country to country among strangers whom the Jews could readily influence when they themselves took fire at the gospel, added to the manifold trials of the way. "in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from countrymen, in perils from heathen, in perils in town, in perils in desert, in perils at sea, in perils among false brethren; in toil and trouble, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." How poor the lengthy tales of the most devoted labourers in ancient or modern times compared with these living strokes from the heart of the great apostle!
Nor was it by any means an exhaustive account. Apart from the things besides" (παρεκτός, possibly without," as in the Vulgate, Calvin, Beza, Authorised Version, etc.), "the pressure on me day by day, the concern for all the churches." There is little doubt that an early confusion crept into the text, and that the true word here is one signifying "urgent attention," as in Acts 24:12 it is rather one signifying "faction" or "tumultuous concourse," though the more ancient copies support the former word (ἐπίστασις, not ἐπισύσταις) in both; and they are followed in this by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, and Tregelles. Mr. T. S. Green is one of those who fall into the opposite extreme of reading the latter word in both. It is one of the few instances where Scholz has in my opinion shown better judgment, reading "concourse" (ἐπισύσατσιν) in Acts and "pressure of attention" (ἐπίστασις) in the passage before us. Anxiety for all the assemblies is the appended explanation of that care day by day which pressed on the apostle. And of this he gives us a sample. "Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is stumbled, and I [emphatic] burn not?" If they were sorely troubled by scrupulosity, he could and did enter into their difficulties; if any one was stumbled by the unworthy bearing of others, his soul was on fire, filled with love for Christ and the saints, and abhorring selfishness and party with thorough hatred.
Was this self-praise? "If it is needful to boast, I will boast of the matters of my infirmity. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the prefect of Aretas the king garrisoned the Damascenes' city to seize me; and through a window in a basket was I let down by [or through] the wall, and escaped their hands." No doubt, it was a remarkable escape at the beginning of his ministry; but it was just the last thing one who sought his own glory would have repeated and recorded for ever. No angelic visitors opened the bars and bolts of massive doors, nor blinded the eyes of the garrison: the apostle was let down in a basket through a window in the city wall. Truly he gloried, not in the great deeds or sayings of his ministry, but in his weakness and the Lord's grace. It is the more remarkable from the way in which he proceeds immediately after to speak of his being caught up to the third heaven.
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.