2 Corinthians 11:17
That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly.—Better, in foolishness; as keeping up the emphatic repetition of the same word in the English as in the Greek. From one point of view the distinction drawn is the same as that which we find in 1Corinthians 7:6; 1Corinthians 7:10; 1Corinthians 7:12. There is, however, a marked difference in the subject-matter of the two cases. There he distinguishes a private opinion from a principle or rule which he feels to be divine. Here he draws the line of demarcation between human feelings and a divine inspiration. It is, of course, easy to raise questions which would be hard, if they were not also frivolous and foolish. Are we to class what he places on the lower side of the boundary-line as inspired or uninspired teaching? If the former, are we not contradicting what he writes as inspired? If the latter, are we not depriving what follows of the authority of an inspired writing? Are we not, in so doing, admitting the principle of recognising a human element mingling with the divine in other parts of Scripture as well as this? The answer to these questions, so far as they need an answer, is best found in taking St. Paul’s words in their plain and natural sense, believing that his words have just the authority which he claims for them, and no more. Speaking apart from these questions, there is something almost pathetic in the consciousness which he feels that self-vindication can never, as such, come from the Spirit of God, and that it is, at the best, a pardonable human weakness. It is not wrong, or else his conscience would have forbidden it. It is not the note of the highest or noblest temper, or else he would have felt the Spirit’s guidance in it.

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.That which I speak - In praise of myself.

I speak it not after the Lord - see the note on 1 Corinthians 7:12. The phrase here may mean either, I do not speak this by inspiration or claiming to be inspired by the Lord; or more probably it may mean, I do not speak this imitating the example of the Lord Jesus or strictly as becomes his follower. He was eminently modest, and never vaunted or boasted. And Paul probably means to say, "I do not in this profess to follow him entirely. I admit that it is a departure from his pure example in this respect. But circumstances have compelled me and much as I would prefer another strain at remark, and sensible as I am in general of the folly of boasting, yet a regard to my apostolic office and authority urges me to this course." Bloomfield supposes that the apostle is not speaking seriously, but that he has an allusion to their view of what he was saying. "Be it so, if you think that what I speak, I speak not as I profess to do according to the Lord, or with a view to subserve the purposes of his religion, but as it were in folly, in the confidence of boasting, yet permit me to do it notwithstanding, since you allow others to do it." It is not easy to settle which is the true sense of the passage. I see no conclusive evidence against either. But the former seems to me to be most in accordance with the scope of the whole. Paul admitted that what he said was not in exact accordance with the spirit of the Lord Jesus; and in admitting this he designed probably to administer a delicate hint that all their boasting was a wide departure from that spirit.

As it were foolishly - As in folly. It is to be admitted that to boast is in general foolish; and I admit that my language is open to this general charge.

In this confidence of boasting - In confident boasting. I speak confidently and I admit in the spirit of boasting.

17. not after the Lord—By inspired guidance he excepts this "glorying" or "boasting" from the inspired authoritativeness which belongs to all else that he wrote; even this boasting, though undesirable in itself, was permitted by the Spirit, taking into account its aim, namely, to draw off the Corinthians from their false teachers to the apostle. Therefore this passage gives no proof that any portion of Scripture is uninspired. It merely guards against his boasting being made a justification of boasting in general, which is not ordinarily "after the Lord," that is, consistent with Christian humility.

foolishly—Greek, "in foolishness."

confidence of boasting—(2Co 9:4).

That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord; I do not pretend to have any special command of God, to speak what I shall now say in my own commendation; God hath left that to our liberty, which we may use, or not use, as circumstances of time, place, and occasion direct. Or, I do not speak according to the ordinary practice of Christians and ministers of the gospel; whose ordinary practice is to abase and vilify, not to exalt and set forth themselves, according to the more general rules of the word. Yet what the apostle saith was not contrary to the Lord, or to the directions of his word, which hath no where commanded us to vilify ourselves, or to conceal what God hath wrought in us and by us.

But as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting: this my confident boasting hath an appearance of foolishness in it, though really it be not so; for nothing can be truly called foolishness, which hath a direct and immediate tendency to the glory of God, and is designed for that end. That which I speak,.... Meaning in vindication and commendation of himself, on this subject of glorying; or, as here expressed,

in this confidence of boasting; for which he thought he had good ground and foundation to go upon, and therefore might express himself with the greatest assurance, see 2 Corinthians 9:4 this he declares he spoke not as from the Lord, but of himself:

I speak it not after the Lord; or "Christ", as some copies read; or "our Lord", as the Syriac version; his sense is, that he did not then speak as an apostle, or one sent by Christ; he put off this character for the present, and took that of a fool upon him, that he might speak the more freely to the Corinthians, and the more severely against the false apostles; he did not pretend to any express command from Christ for so doing, or that he acted in imitation of him, who was meek and lowly; or that what he said came from the Spirit of the Lord; or, indeed, that it was agreeably to his own Spirit, and the principles of grace formed in him; but was obliged to it, through the boasts of the false apostles; which though it was not criminal and unlawful, but necessary, right, and proper, considering the reasons of it, the end for which, and the intention and view with which it was done; yet viewing the form and manner of this boasting, without attending to the circumstances of it, it had the appearance of folly: wherefore the apostle says, he spoke not as according to the commandment, or example of his Lord; or according to the Spirit of the Lord, or his own Spirit, as renewed by his grace:

but as it were foolishly; he does not say that what he said was foolishness, but it looked like it, and would be deemed so by such who were strangers to the true springs of it.

That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 11:17. More precise information as to the κἂν ὡς ἄφρονα.

ὃ λαλῶ] namely, in the boastful speech now introduced and regarded thereby as already begu.

κατὰ κύριον] according to the Lord (comp. Romans 15:5; Romans 8:27), i.e. so that I am determined in this case by the guiding impulse of Christ. A speaking according to Christ cannot be boasting; Matthew 11:29; Luke 17:10. Now as Paul knew that the κατὰ κύριον λαλεῖν was brought about by the πνεῦμα working in him (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 7:40), οὐ λαλῶ κατὰ κύριον certainly denies the theopneustic character of the utterance in the stricter sense, without, however, the apostle laying aside the consciousness of the Spirit’s guidance, under which he, for his purpose, allows the human emotion temporarily to speak. It is similar when he expresses his own opinion, while yet he is conscious withal of having the Spirit (1 Corinthians 7:12; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 7:40). Regarding the express remark, that he does not speak κατὰ κύριον κ.τ.λ., Bengel aptly says: “quin etiam hunc locum et propriam huic loco exceptionem sic perscripsit ex regula decori divini, a Domino instructus.”

ἀλλʼ ὡς ἐν ἀφροσύνῃ] but as one speaks in the state of irrationality.

ἐν ταύτ. τ. ὑποστ. τ. κ.] belongs to οὐ λαλῶ κατὰ κύριον, ἀλλʼ ὡς ἐν ἀφροσ. taken together: not according to the Lord, but as a fool do I speak it, with this confidence of boasting. ὑπόστασις is here interpreted as differently as in 2 Corinthians 9:4. According to Chrysostom, Rückert, Ewald, Hofmann, and many others: in this subject-matter of boasting (comp. Luther, Billroth, and de Wette: “since it has once come to boasting”). But what little meaning this would have! and how scant justice is thus done to the ταύτῃ prefixed so emphatically (with this so great confidence)! The boasting is indeed not yet actually begun (as de Wette objects), but the apostle is already occupied with it in thought; comp. previously λαλῶ. According to Hofmann, ἐν ταύτ. τ. ὑπ. τ. κ. is to be attached to the following protasis ἐπεὶ πολλοὶ κ.τ.λ. But apart from the uncalled-for inversion thus assumed, as well as from the fact that the ὑπόστασις τ. κ. is held to be specially the apostleship, the τῆς καυχήσεως would be a quite superfluous addition; on the other hand, with the reference to the general λαλῶ as modal definition of ὑπόστασις it is quite appropriate.2 Corinthians 11:17. ὃ λαλῶ κ.τ.λ.: what I speak, I speak not after the Lord, i.e., Christ (he refuses to claim Divine inspiration for his self-glorying; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:12; 1 Corinthians 7:25), but as in foolishness, in this confidence of glorying (see on 2 Corinthians 9:4 for ὑπόστασις).17. not after the Lord] i.e. (1) according to the example of the Lord; see for similar forms of expression 1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 2 Corinthians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 10:3 (in the Greek); or (2) not inspired by the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:12; 1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 7:40). “There are many things”—he mentions war, self-defence, generous resentment—“which are not exactly after Christ, and yet are not contrary to the Spirit of Christ.” Robertson. “By itself it is not after the Lord, but it becomes so by the intention.” Chrysostom. “Like an oath, self-praise may under certain circumstances become necessary, especially for those who, like St Paul, have the public duties of a sacred ministry to discharge.” Wordsworth. St Paul was resolved ‘by all means to save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:22). If there were those at Corinth who raised objections to his ministrations, he took them on their own ground, and shewed that, low and unworthy as that ground was, even there they had no sufficient justification for their conduct. It is often necessary to adopt such a course, on the principle laid down by our Lord in Matthew 7:6. Appeals to the higher spiritual instincts of men who have never cultivated those instincts are useless. We must deal with mankind as they are, and hope thus to lead them to become what at present they are not. And if it be asked how we are to know when to walk ‘after the Lord,’ and when to condescend to the folly of mankind, the answer is, whenever we conscientiously believe it to be for their benefit.

in this confidence of boasting] i.e. on which I am now about to enter. Cranmer translates in this matter of boasting (substantia, Vulgate; substaunce, Wiclif and the Rhemish). So Chrysostom. But it seems better to translate as the A. V. St Paul regards what he is about to say as an outburst of foolish self-confidence, ridiculous in itself, but rendered necessary by the thoroughly low and carnal ideas of many of his Corinthian converts. Foolish as they are, he hopes to redeem them from their folly by shewing that he possesses even the qualifications on which they set so exaggerated a value, in greater measure than those for whom they had deserted him.2 Corinthians 11:17. Ὃ λαλῶ, οὐ λαλῶ κατὰ Κυρίον, that which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord) Therefore whatever Paul wrote without this express exception, was inspired and spoken after the Lord; nay even he wrote this passage, so as he has written it, and the exception peculiar to this passage, according to the rule of divine propriety, having received his instructions from the Lord; precisely as a literary man dictates to a boy a letter suited to a boy, though the boy could not have so written it of himself.Verse 17. - Not after the Lord. "Boasting," or what might be stigmatized as such, may become a sort of painful necessity, necessitated by human baseness; but in itself it cannot be "after the Lord." There is nothing Christ-like in it. It is human, not Divine; an earthly necessity, not a heavenly example; a sword of the giant Philistine, which yet David may be forced to use. Confidence; hypostasis, as in 2 Corinthians 9:4, where exactly the same phrase occurs. Confidence (ὑποστάσει)

See on 2 Corinthians 9:4.

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