|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 7. - Have I? literally, or have I? An ironical exception to his manifestation of knowledge; "unless you think that I committed a sin in refusing to accept maintenance at your hands." It is clear that even this noble generosity had been made the ground for a charge against the apostle. "If he had not been conscious," they said, "that he has no real claims, he would not have preached for nothing, when he had a perfect right to be supported by his converts" (1 Corinthians 9:1-15). Abasing myself. The trade of tentmaker was despised, tedious, and mechanical, and it did not suffice to provide even for Paul's small needs (Acts 18:3; Acts 20:34). That ye might be exalted; namely, by spiritual gifts (Ephesians 2:4-6). The gospel... freely. Some of them would feel the vast contrast between the words. The gospel was the most precious gift of God, and they had got it for nothing. Compare the fine lines of Lowell -
"For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we earn with our whole soul's tasking;
Tis only God who is given away,
Tis only heaven may be had for the asking." To be a free and unpaid missionary was St. Paul's pride (2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9; Acts 20:33).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Have I committed an offence in abasing myself,.... Either by behaving among them, when he was first with them, in a very modest and humble manner, in much fear and trembling, without pride and haughtiness, or affectation of power and authority over them; or by using a popular style, suited to the capacity of the common people; or by labouring with his own hands, exercising his trade of tent making among them, that he might provide food for himself, and not be chargeable to them; and which he suggests was so far from being criminal in him, that he ought rather to be commended for it; since it could not be thought to be with any view to himself, and his own advantage, but purely for their good:
that you might be exalted; that nothing might lie in their way of receiving the Gospel of Christ, or prejudice them against it; that they might the more easily be brought to listen to it, come to the knowledge of it, and embrace it, and so be exalted, as they were, to a participation of the grace of Christ; to fellowship with him; to the honour and dignity of being a church of Christ; to an enjoyment of the privileges of God's house; to have a name better than that of sons and daughters, and to have a right and title to the heavenly glory: "because", or is it
because I have preached to you the Gospel of God freely? The Gospel he preached was not his own, but God's; of which he was the author; his grace was the subject of it, and his glory the end of its ministration; which he had given to the apostle to preach; to which he had separated him, for which he had abundantly qualified him, and in which he was greatly succeeded by him. This he preached "freely" to the Corinthians at his first coming among them, without putting them to any expense, or receiving anything from them; which though he might lawfully have done, yet he judged it most advisable, at that time, to minister to his own necessities, by working with his hands, lest he should be burdensome to them; and this be an objection to the Gospel he preached, that he sought rather theirs than them; and for so doing he was not to be blamed, but to be praised: and yet such was the weakness of many at least in this church, that they highly valued the false apostles, who made merchandise of them, and treated with contempt this excellent servant of Christ, who had freely imparted the Gospel to them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. Have I—literally, "Or have I?" Connected with 2Co 11:6, "Or will any of you make it an objection that I have preached to you gratuitously?" He leaves their good feeling to give the answer, that this, so far from being an objection, was a decided superiority in him above the false apostles (1Co 9:6-15).
abasing myself—in my mode of living, waiving my right of maintenance, and earning it by manual labor; perhaps with slaves as his fellow laborers (Ac 18:3; Php 4:12).
ye … exalted—spiritually, by your admission to Gospel privileges.
gospel of God—"of God" implies its divine glory to which they were admitted.
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