|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:22-33 The apostle gives an account of his labours and sufferings; not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ; and shows wherein he excelled the false apostles, who tried to lessen his character and usefulness. It astonishes us to reflect on this account of his dangers, hardships, and sufferings, and to observe his patience, perseverance, diligence, cheerfulness, and usefulness, in the midst of all these trials. See what little reason we have to love the pomp and plenty of this world, when this blessed apostle felt so much hardship in it. Our utmost diligence and services appear unworthy of notice when compared with his, and our difficulties and trials scarcely can be perceived. It may well lead us to inquire whether or not we really are followers of Christ. Here we may study patience, courage, and firm trust in God. Here we may learn to think less of ourselves; and we should ever strictly keep to truth, as in God's presence; and should refer all to his glory, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore.
Verse 23. - I speak as a fool. Not merely as before aphron, but paraphronon," I speak as a madman." It is downright insanity on my part to enter into this contest of rival egotism. The verb does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament; the substantive is used of "downright infatuation" in 2 Peter 2:16. I am more. I may claim to be something beyond an ordinary servant of Christ (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:5). This is the "frantic" boast which he proceeds to justify in a fragment of biography which must ever be accounted as the most remarkable and unique in the world's history. And when St. Paul lived the life was, as Dean Stanley says, "hitherto without precedent in the history of the world." No subsequent life of saint or martyr has ever surpassed St. Paul's, as here sketched, in self-devotion; and no previous life even remotely resembled it. The figure of the Christian missionary was, until then, unknown. In labours more abundant; literally, more abundantly. The best comment is 1 Corinthians 15:10. In stripes above measure. The expression is partly explained in the next verse. In prisons. St. Clement of Rome says that St. Paul was imprisoned seven times. The only imprisonment up to this date recorded in the Acts is that at Philippi (Acts 16:23). The imprisonments in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome all took place later. He says later," The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city that bonds and imprisonment await me" (Acts 20:23). In deaths oft. He alludes to the incessant opposition, peril, and anguish which make him say in 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I die daily" (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:11; Romans 8:36). With the whole passage we may compare 2 Corinthians 6:4, 5.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Are they ministers of Christ?.... The apostle could have answered to this question that they were not, being neither sent by Christ, nor preachers of him, and who sought their own things and not his, being false apostles, and deceitful workers; but he chose not to litigate this point with them, and by a rhetorical concession allows it; and replies,
I speak as a fool; that is, he might be thought to speak as such an one, for what he afterwards says; and if he was, he must be content, he could not help it, there was a necessity for it, to stop the mouths of these vain boasters:
I am more; that is, more a minister of Christ than they, more manifestly so than they were; yea, he was more than an ordinary minister of Christ, he was an apostle, the apostle of the Gentiles, and laboured and suffered more than even the rest of the true apostles of Christ, and therefore must be greatly superior to the false ones:
in labours more abundant; in taking fatiguing journeys, preaching the Gospel constantly, administering ordinances, working with his own hands, &c.
in stripes above measure; which were cruelly and unmercifully inflicted on him by his enemies, and which he afterwards mentions:
in prisons more frequent; as at Philippi, and so after this at Jerusalem, and Rome, and perhaps in other places, though not recorded; Clemens Romanus says (h), that he was seven times in bonds:
in deaths oft; that is, frequently in danger of death, in such afflictions and evils as threatened with death, and therefore are so called; see 2 Corinthians 1:8.
(h) In Epist. ad Corinth, i. p. 14. Ed. Oxon. 1669.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. I speak as a fool—rather, as Greek, "I speak as if beside myself"; stronger than "as a fool."
I am more—namely, in respect to the credentials and manifestations of my ministry, more faithful and self-denying; and richer in tokens of God's recognition of my ministry. Old authorities read the order thus, "In prisons above measures, in stripes more abundantly" (English Version, less accurately, "more frequent"). Ac 16:23-40 records one case of his imprisonment with stripes. Clement of Rome [First Epistle to the Corinthians] describes him as having suffered bonds seven times.
in death oft—(2Co 4:10; Ac 9:23; 13:50; 14:5, 6, 19; 17:5, 13).
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