|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:16-21 It is the duty and practice of Christians to humble themselves, in obedience to the command and example of the Lord; yet prudence must direct in what it is needful to do things which we may do lawfully, even the speaking of what God has wrought for us, and in us, and by us. Doubtless here is reference to facts in which the character of the false apostles had been shown. It is astonishing to see how such men bring their followers into bondage, and how they take from them and insult them.
Verse 21. - I steak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. The sense is uncertain, but if with the Revised Version we render it, "I speak by way of disparagement," the verse may be understood as an ironical admission that, if absence from these violent and self-assertive proceedings be a sign of weakness, he has been weak. He proceeds to correct the ironical admission in the next clause. The meaning can hardly be, "I admit the disgraces I have suffered" (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:8), because he is speaking of the Corinthians, not of himself. I am bold also. If they derive their right to this audacious and overweening line of conduct from any privileges of theirs, there is not one of these privileges which I too may not claim.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I speak as concerning reproach,.... These words may be considered either as explanative of the latter part of the former verse, "if a man smite you on the face"; that is not to be understood strictly and literally, of one man's striking another on the face, but of reproach and contumelious language, used by the false apostles to the Corinthians; or they may have reference to the apostle's design in the whole, which was partly to reproach, the Corinthians for acting such a stupid part, in patiently bearing so many and such indignities from these men; and partly to expose the scandalous and reproachful usage of them by the false apostles, that if possible their eyes might be opened to see through them, and discard them: or else these words may be regarded in connection with what follows,
as though we had been weak; and then the apostle's meaning is, that as to the business of scandal and reproach he was speaking of, this was not confined to the Corinthians only, but they the true apostles had their share of it; for the false apostles reproached them, as poor, weak, fearful, and pusillanimous men; because they did not use that authority, and exercise that domination over them, they did not bring them into bondage, devour their substance, take away their goods from them by force, insult over them, and treat them in an ignominious and contemptuous manner; and intimated that they were upon all accounts inferior to them, and not worthy to be mentioned with them; which moved the apostle to exert himself, and boldly rise up in his own defence, saying,
howbeit, wherein soever any is bold; to boast of his pedigree, character, office, and usefulness,
I speak foolishly; as it might seem, and be so interpreted by some,
I am bold also; to enter the lists with him, to compare notes, and see on which side the superiority lies; and which is done in the following verses, to the full confutation of all the pride, vanity, blind boasting of the false apostles.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. as concerning reproach—rather, "by way of dishonor (that is, self-disparagement) I say it."
as though we … weak—in not similarly (2Co 11:20) showing our power over you. "An ironical reminiscence of his own abstinence when among them from all these acts of self-exaltation at their expense" (as if such abstinence was weakness) [Alford]. The "we" is emphatically contrasted with the false teachers who so oppressively displayed their power. I speak so as though WE had been weak when with you, because we did not show our power this way. Howbeit (we are not really weak; for), whereinsoever any is bold … I am bold also.
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