August 25th 2 Corinthians, 11
1: Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 2: 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. 3: 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. 4: 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. 5: For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 6: But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. 7: Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 8: I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9: 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. 10: As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11: Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. 12: 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. 13: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14: And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15: 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. 16: 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. 17: That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18: Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. 19: For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. 20: 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. 21: I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 22: Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23: 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. 24: Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25: 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; 26: 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; 27: In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28: Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29: Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30: If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 31: The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. 32: In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
Not only is this letter of Paul difficult to understand but it is an expression of Pauls humour too. Paul takes his arguments into what he calls ‘a little folly’. He says I ask God that you would bear with me while I say things which may seem a little silly. Paul says, I am a little jealous over you (in the sense in which he feels they belong to him) but it’s a godly jealousy, not a sinful jealousy. He says I have betrothed you like a virgin so that I may present you to Christ. But I am afraid that by some dastardly means Satan might have tricked you, like he did Eve, so that your minds might have been corrupted from the simplicity of faith in Christ. Because if a preacher comes who preaches a Jesus, who is quite different from he whom we have preached, or if he preach a different Gospel which is not what you received from us. I am afraid that you might put up with him. I suppose that I am not left behind by these ‘super apostles’. Though I might be course in my speech yet I am not in knowledge. Our message has been throughly made clear to you by our ministry. Have l committed a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the Gospel for free to you? I have taken money from other churches so that l might do you Gods service. And when I was with you and I was in need I did not send the bill to any of you. My brethren in Macedonia sent finance to supply my needs. I have tried to keep myself from being a burden to you and I intend to do so in future. In truth no-one can stop me from boasting in the whole area of Greece. No-body in Greece has supported me in the ministry. Did I do this because l didn’t love you? The Lord knows how I feel about you. What I do, I do so that those who might oppose me might find no opportunity to accuse me of any wrong doing. And that those who take no recompense for their ministry and are proud of it will find the same is true for me. These men are not true apostles. They are deceitful in their work. They pretend to turn themselves into apostles of Christ. Do not be surprised about this because even Satan pretends to be an angel of light. And therefore it is not difficult for his ministers to be made up into ministers of righteousness. There end is to be destruction, in direct proportion to their evil work. Paul is careful to point out that what he is saying seems like foolishness but he says receive me like a fool so that I may describe my ministry. What I am saying just now is not from the Lord – I am speaking like a fool would speak. Seeing many glory after their human lives I want to join in and boast with them. You suffer fools gladly - so I will speak as a fool. You allow a man to bring you into bondage, to consume you, to take from you, Even if a man exalts himself or even if he slaps you in the face, you bear with him. Because they speak with confidence about themselves then so will I. They say they are Hebrews? But so am I. They say they are Israelites? Yes, and so am I. They claim to be children of Abraham. But then so am I. They say they are ministers of Christ? (This is embarrassing now!) I am even more so a minister of Christ. I have worked much more exhaustingly they them. I have received a flogging more times than the law allows. I have been in prison frequently. I have been taken to the point of execution, often. From the Jews, says Paul, five times I was flogged according to the Law. Three times I have been beaten with rods. Once I was stoned to death (Yet I lived) Three times I have been shipwrecked. I have had a night and a day floating in the open sea. I have been on journeys almost constantly. I have been at the point of death from the sea, from robbers, and from my own countrymen. I have been in danger of my life from heathens, and in the city, and in the wilderness and in the sea, and from false brethren who would love to have murdered me. In all this I have been often worn out and in much pain, I have been in all night watching’s often, I have often been hungry and thirsty, and often I have fasted. I have been exposed to cold and nearly naked. And all this is apart from all the burden that comes on my shoulders everyday - the care of all the churches. To those that are weak I am weak with them. To those that are offended, I suffer with them. If I have to glory then I will glory in all my sufferings. I call upon God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is blessed for evermore to witness that I am telling the truth. In Damascus the governor secured the city to try to arrest me, but through a window – in a basket I escaped out of his murderous hands.