Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
Paul's Credentials & Sacrifice on Display
2 Corinthians 11:16 - 33
23 October 2016
Paul's whole ministry was focused on the person of Jesus Christ, never any man. So when the Corinthians that Paul loved went after boastful false teachers, he was heartbroken. To steer them back to the gospel, Paul uses a last resort - boasting about his weaknesses!
The irony behind Paul's inspired boasting (v. 16 - 21). Paul never wanted to draw attention to himself, but since the Corinthians were taken by the boasting of the false teachers, he relucantly asks them to listen to him also - and see who is the better gospel minister. He describes how the Corinthians had become used to the abuse by the false teachers, and sarcastically admits that "we have been weak by comparison." Instead of parading his strength over the flock like the false teachers, Paul shows how he never took advantage of anyone.
The irony behind Paul's identity and suffering (v. 22 - 27). Paul uses the false teachers' pedigree in an ironic way by showing how he had an even better one. The false teachers had boasted of their geneaology as if it set them apart, so Paul does as well. "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? — I speak as if insane — I more so." But his apostleship did not rest in any of these human things, but the call of Christ. He then goes on to tell about his sufferings, and tells them that if they wanted to compare, he had suffered far more for Jesus than the false teachers who simply wanted power.
The irony behind Paul's sympathy and humiliation (v. 28 - 33). The intense concern he carried caused great pain because he loved the church, whereas the false teachers had no such concern. He relates a humiliating story where he had to escape Damascus by being "let down in a basket through a window in the wall" to show that he, unlike the false teachers, had opposition because he preached Christ. He did not tickle ears to amass a hearing, and was open about this human embarrassment.
When considering 'the great Apostle' Paul's story, we should ask ourselves: 'what do we boast about?' Let us not be ashamed to talk about our weaknesses; but rather ashamed to boast about our achievements, for all we have comes from God. Let us measure ourselves against the great standard, Christ, instead of any man.