2 Corinthians 11:1
Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XI.

(1) Would to God.—As the words “to God” are not in the Greek, it would be better to treat them as the general expression of a wish: Would that ye could bear.

Ye could bear with me a little in my folly.—There are two catch-words, as it were, which characterise the section of the Epistle on which we are now entering: one is of “bearing with,” or “tolerating,” which occurs five times (2Corinthians 11:1; 2Corinthians 11:4; 2Corinthians 11:19-20), and “folly,” which, with its kindred “fool,” is repeated not less than eight times (2Corinthians 11:1; 2Corinthians 11:16-17; 2Corinthians 11:19; 2Corinthians 11:21; 2Corinthians 12:6; 2Corinthians 12:11). It is impossible to resist the inference that here also we have the echo of something which Titus had reported to him as said by his opponents at Corinth. Their words, we must believe, had taken some such form as this: “We really can bear with him no longer; his folly is becoming altogether intolerable.”

And indeed bear with me.—The words, as the marginal reading indicates, admit of being taken either as imperative or indicative. Either gives an adequate meaning, but the latter, it is believed, is preferable. It is one of the many passages in which we trace the working of conflicting feelings. Indignation prompts him to the wish, “Would that ye could bear.” Then he thinks of the loyalty and kindness which he had experienced at their hands, and he adds a qualifying clause to soften the seeming harshness of the words that had just passed from his lips: “And yet (why should I say this? for) ye do indeed habitually bear with me.”

2 Corinthians 11:1. Would to God — Rather, I wish; (for the word God is not in the original text;) you could bear a little with me — So does he pave the way for what might otherwise have given offence; in my folly — Of commending myself, which to many may appear folly; and really would be so if it were not, on this occasion, absolutely necessary for the maintaining of my authority among you. For, &c. — I therefore do it because I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy Jealousy is a passion which renders a person impatient of a rival or partner, with respect to a thing or person beloved. By telling them he was jealous over them, the apostle gives them to know he so exceedingly loved them, that he could not bear that any should pretend to have more regard for them than he had; and withal that he feared lest their affections should be alienated not only from him, but also from Christ, through the insinuations of false teachers among them, and they should be rendered unfaithful to him here, and unfit to be presented to him as his spouse hereafter. For — By successfully preaching the gospel to you, and bringing you into the engagements of the Christian covenant; I have espoused you to one husband — Even to him whose servant and ambassador I am, and have led you into a holy contract with him, which hath been mutually scaled; that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ — Pure in affection, and spotless in your conduct. “Here,” says Whitby, “is thought to be an allusion to the αρμοσυνοι of the Lacedemonians,” a sort of magistrates, whose office it was to educate and form young women, especially those of rank and figure, designed for marriage, and then to present them to those who were to be their husbands; and if this officer permitted them, through negligence, to be corrupted, between the espousals and consummation of the marriage, great blame would naturally fall upon him. “The Greek commentators, however, agree with our translation, rendering ηρμοσαμην, here used, by εμνηστευσα, I have espoused you. As therefore the Jews say that Moses espoused Israel to God in mount Sinai, when he made them enter into covenant with him; so, saith the apostle here, by converting you to the Christian faith, I have espoused you to one husband, even Christ.” The betrothing of persons to Christ is accomplished in the present life, but their marriage is to take place in the life to come; when they shall be brought home to their husband’s house, to live with him for ever. And the apostle, having betrothed the Corinthian believers to Christ, was anxious to preserve them chaste or true to their future spouse, that when the time of their marriage came, they might not be rejected by him.11:1-4 The apostle desired to preserve the Corinthians from being corrupted by the false apostles. There is but one Jesus, one Spirit, and one gospel, to be preached to them, and received by them; and why should any be prejudiced, by the devices of an adversary, against him who first taught them in faith? They should not listen to men, who, without cause, would draw them away from those who were the means of their conversion.Would to God - Greek, "I would" (Ὄφελον Ophelon). This expresses earnest desire, but in the Greek there is no appeal to God. The sense would be well expressed by "O that," or "I earnestly wish."

Ye could bear with me - That you would bear patiently with me; that you would hear me patiently, and suffer me to speak of myself.

In my folly - Folly in boasting. The idea seems to be, "I know that boasting is generally foolish, and that it is not to be indulged in. But though it is to be generally regarded as folly, yet circumstances compel me to it, and I ask your indulgence in it." It is possible also that his opponents accused him of folly in boasting so much of himself.

And indeed bear with me - Margin, "Ye do bear." But the text has probably the correct rendering. It is the expression of an earnest wish that they would tolerate him a little in this. He entreats them to bear with him because he was constrained to it.

CHAPTER 11

2Co 11:1-33. Through Jealousy over the Corinthians, Who Made More Account of the False Apostles Than of Him, He Is Obliged to Commend Himself as in Many Respects Superior.

1. Would to God—Translate as Greek, "I would that."

bear with me—I may ask not unreasonably to be borne with; not so the false apostles (2Co 11:4, 20).

my—not in the oldest manuscripts.

folly—The Greek is a milder term than that for "foolishness" in 1Co 3:19; Mt 5:22; 25:2. The Greek for "folly" here implies imprudence; the Greek for "foolishness" includes the idea of perversity and wickedness.

and indeed bear—A request (so 2Co 11:16). But the Greek and the sense favor the translation, "But indeed (I need not wish it, for) ye do bear with me"; still I wish you to bear with me further, while I enter at large into self-commendations.2 Corinthians 11:1-4 Paul unwillingly entereth upon a commendation of

himself, out of jealousy lest the Corinthians should

be perverted by false apostles from the pure doctrine

of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:5,6 He showeth that he was in all respects equal to the

chiefest apostles.

2 Corinthians 11:7-15 That he declined being chargeable to them, not for

want of love toward them, but to cut off occasion

from those deceitful workers of taking shelter under

his example.

2 Corinthians 11:16-22 That he was not inferior to those, whom they so patiently

submitted to, in any of their boasted pretogatives,

2 Corinthians 11:23-33 but as a minister of Christ, in labours and

sufferings for the gospel’s sake, was abundantly

their superior.

That which the apostle here calls his folly, was his speaking so much in his own commendation; which indeed is no better than folly, unless there be a great reason; which was here, for it was the false teachers, vilifying his person and office, that put him upon it. The verb in the latter part of the verse, may be read either imperatively, (and so we translate it), as if it were an entreaty of them to excuse him in speaking so much good of himself; or indicatively, you do bear with me.

Would to God you could bear with me a little,.... The false apostles boasted so much of their gifts, abilities, and usefulness, that the apostle found himself under a necessity of saying some things in his own defence, for the honour of God, and the good of this church; which otherwise his modesty would not have permitted him, and which he saw would be accounted and censured as folly in him by others; and therefore he entreats their patience a little while, and that they would suffer him to say a few things in vindication of his character, and not be offended; though it would be in commendation of himself, which, were he not forced to, would look vain and foolish: and therefore says,

bear with me a little in my folly, and which he presses with importunity,

and indeed bear with me; he insists upon it, he urges it as what he must not be denied in; for could he have avoided it, he would not have done it; but such was the case, that if he did not do it, he must greatly suffer in his character and usefulness; the members of this church would be in great danger from these false apostles, and the honour and glory of Christ lay greatly at stake; which when considered, he hoped his request would be granted: the last clause may be rendered, but also ye do bear with me; signifying that they had done so already, and continued to do so, and therefore he could not but encourage himself, that they still would bear with him a little longer, and in a few things more.

Would {1} to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

(1) He grants that in a way he is playing the fool in this exalting of things, but he adds that he does it against his will for their profit, because he sees them deceived by certain vain and crafty men, through the craft and subtilty of Satan.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 11:1. Would that ye would bear from me a little bit of folly! The connection of thought is this: after the principle just expressed in 2 Corinthians 10:18, I am indeed acting foolishly when I boast of myself; but would that you became not angry on that account! Irony; the apostle’s περιαυτολογία was not, like that of his opponents, idle self-exaltation, but a vindication enjoined by the circumstances and accordant with his duty, in order to drive the refractory boasters at length quite out of the field. Flatt and Baur would insert an also (from me also as from mine enemies), but quite arbitraril.

ὄφελον] see on 1 Corinthians 4:8.

ἀνείχεσθε] Hellenistic form with the simple augment (Piers. ad Moer. p. 176) instead of the common ἠνείχ. in the older writers (Buttmann, Ausführl. Sprachl. II. p. 189 f.; Blomfield, ad Aesch. Choeph. 735). The imperfect is not: have borne (Erasmus, Calvin, and others), but: ferretis, would bear. Comp. εἴθε with imperfect: “ubi optamus eam rerum conditionem quam non esse sentimus,” Klotz, ad Devar. p. 516; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 499; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 185 [E. T. 215].

μου] does not belong to ἀφροσύνης (Hofmann), so that its position standing apart and prefixed would be emphatic,—which, however, does not at all suit the enclitic form,—but, as genitivus subjecti, to μικρόν τι ἀφροσ., so that μικρ. τι has two genitives with it. Comp. LXX. Job 6:26 : οὐδὲ γὰρ ὑμῶν φθέγμα ῥήματος ἀνέξομαι. See in general, Kühner, § 542. 3; Lobeck, ad Aj. 309; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 329 B. With the reading μικρὸν τῇ ἀφροσύνῃ (see the critical remarks) it would have to be attached to ἀνείχ. (would that ye endured me a little as to folly), not to τῇ ἀφροσύνῃ, as Fritzsche, Diss. II. p. 53 f., contrary to the simple order of the words, prefers, and μικρόν would have to be taken either of time, or, with Reiche, of degree: paulisper, “non nimio fastidio.”

ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀνέχεσθέ μου] corrective: yet this wish is not needed, ye really bear patiently with me. The imperative interpretation of ἀνέχεσθε (Vulgate, Pelagius, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Bengel, Hofmann), according to which Paul would proceed from wish to entreaty, would be quite tame on account of the preceding wish, and in the corrective form unsuitabl.

καί] also, i.e. in reality. See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 132.

μου] ἀνέχεσθε governs either the accusative, as in the case of μικρόν τι before (and this is the more common construction in Greek authors), or, as here, the genitive (so usually in the N. T.), which is also found in Greek authors when the object is a thing (Hom. Od. xxii. 423, and later authors, such as Herodian, viii. 5. 9, i. 17. 10), but very seldom with persons (Plat. Protag. p. 323 A), without a participle standing alongside, as Xen. Anab. ii. 2. 1; Plat. Pol. ii. p. 367 D, or without a simple participle, as Plat. Pol. viii. p. 564 D, Apol. p. 31 B; Herod. v. 89, vii. 159.2 Corinthians 11:1-4. HE BEGS THEM TO BEAR WITH HIM IF HE STATES HIS CLAIMS AT LENGTH; IT IS NECESSARY TO DO SO BECAUSE OF THEIR READINESS TO ACCEPT NOVEL TEACHING.Ch. 2 Corinthians 11:1-17. St Paul’s Defence of himself against his accusers

1. Would to God] The words ‘to God’ are not in the original.

bear with me a little in my folly] i.e. the folly of boasting, which (ch. 2 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 11:16-18, 2 Corinthians 12:11) the Apostle regards as a necessity laid upon him by the present condition of the Corinthian Church. Cf. also 1 Corinthians 3:1.

and indeed bear with me] Most recent editors translate as Chrysostom, but you really do bear with me. Ye (i.e. yea), ye do also forbeare me, Cranmer. The imperative rendering, however, harmonizes best with what follows, ‘Nay, indeed I beseech you to bear with me, for I am zealous,’ &c.2 Corinthians 11:1. Ὄφελον, would that) He step by step advances with a previous mitigation[73] and anticipation of blame to himself [ΠΡΟΕΠΊΠΛΗΞΙς] of a remarkable description, to which the after-extenuation [ἘΠΙΘΕΡΑΠΕΊΑ] at 2 Corinthians 12:11 corresponds.—ΜΑΚΡῸΝ, a little) The antithesis is found at 2 Corinthians 11:4; 2 Corinthians 11:20.—τῇ ἀφροσύνῃ, in my folly) He gives it this appellation, before that he explains it, and by that very circumstance gains over the Corinthians. This is a milder word than μωρία.[74]—ἀνέχεσθε, bear with) The imperative; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:16.

[73] See App., under the tit. Προθεραπέια. Here, an anticipatory apology for what he is about to say, which might seem inconsistent with modesty on his part.

[74] Ἄφρων, according to Tittmann (Syn. New Testament), is one who does not rightly use his mental powers. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:16, calls himself ἄφρων, because after the manner of men he boasted ὡς ἄφρων. The fault of the ἄφρονες is ἀφροσύνη; that of the ἀνοήτοι (those who follow false rules of thought and action) is μωρία, opposed to σοφία. ʼ Αφροσύνη, ‘insipientia,’ is applied to what is senseless, imprudent, ex. gr. rashness in speaking, Mark 7:22. But Μωρία, ‘stultitia,’ folly of a perverse and often of a wicked kind, Matthew 5:22.—ED.Verse 1. - Would to God; rather, would that! (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:8). You could bear; rather, ye would bear. In my folly; rather, in a little foolishness. Namely, in this foolishness of boasting. "Fool" and "folly" are here haunting words (2 Corinthians 1:16, 17, 19, 21; 2 Corinthians 12:6, 11). The article (the i.e. my folly) is omitted in א, B, D, E. Bear with me. It is better to take this as an indicative. It would be meaningless to pass from an entreaty to a command. On the other hand, "Nay, ye do really bear with me" was a loving and delicate admission of inch kindness as he had received from them. Folly

As my boasting may seem to you. Ironically spoken of that legitimate self-vindication demanded by the circumstances. Rev., foolishness.

Bear with me (ἀνέχεσθε)

Some render as indicative: ye do bear with me.

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