|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:5-15 It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives. The apostle would not give room for any to accuse him of worldly designs in preaching the gospel, that others who opposed him at Corinth, might not in this respect gain advantage against him. Hypocrisy may be looked for, especially when we consider the great power which Satan, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience, has upon the minds of many. And as there are temptations to evil conduct, so there is equal danger on the other side. It serves Satan's purposes as well, to set up good works against the atonement of Christ, and salvation by faith and grace. But the end will discover those who are deceitful workers; their work will end in ruin. Satan will allow his ministers to preach either the law or the gospel separately; but the law as established by faith in Christ's righteousness and atonement, and the partaking of his Spirit, is the test of every false system.
Verse 5. - For. It cannot be that you received this rival teacher as being so much superior to me; for, etc. I suppose. Again, like the Latin censeo or opinor, with a touch of irony. I was not a whit behind; in no respect have I come short of. The very chiefest apostles. The word used by St. Paul for "very chiefest" is one which, in its strangeness, marks the vehemence of his emotion. It involves an indignant sense that he had been most disparagingly compared with other apostles, as though he were hardly a genuine apostle at all. Yet he reckons himself to have done as much as the "above exceedingly" - or, as it might be expressed, the "out and out," "extra-super," or "super-apostolic," apostles. There is here no reflection whatever on the twelve; he merely means that, even if any with whom he was uufavourably contrasted were "apostles ten times over," he can claim to be in the front rank with them. This is no more than he has said with the utmost earnestness in 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 2:6. There is no self-assertion here; but, in consequence of the evil done by his detractors, St. Paul, with an utter sense of distaste, is forced to say the simple truth.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I suppose I was not a whit behind,.... This is very modestly expressed by the apostle; for he does not assert, and in a haughty and confident way affirm, but only supposes, or thinks that this might be admitted, that he was not inferior to, or did not come short of, in gifts, grace, and usefulness,
the very chiefest of the apostles: such as Peter, James, and John; who seemed to be pillars, were eminent apostles, of great note among them, and such as Christ, in the days of his flesh, took particular notice of. This he says, not to exalt himself, but to show, how weakly and injudiciously the Corinthians acted in setting up the false apostle above him; or else these words are spoken ironically, and design the false teachers, who vaunted so much of their gifts, learning, eloquence, and usefulness; and extolled themselves at such a rate, as if they were , "greatly above the apostles"; and therefore he jeeringly calls them
the very chiefest of them; and yet thinks fit to put himself at least, upon an equality with them: one manuscript reads, "the chiefest of the apostles among you"; and the Ethiopic version seems to have read you.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. For—My claim is superior to that of the false teachers, "For," &c.
I suppose—I reckon [Alford].
I was not—Greek, "That I have not been, and am not."
the very chiefest apostles—James, Peter, and John, the witnesses of Christ's transfiguration and agony in Gethsemane. Rather, "those overmuch apostles," those surpassers of the apostles in their own esteem. This sense is proved by the fact that the context contains no comparison between him and the apostles, but only between him and the false teachers; 2Co 11:6 also alludes to these, and not to the apostles; compare also the parallel phrase, "false apostles" (see on 2Co 11:13 and 2Co 12:11) [Alford].
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