2 Corinthians 11:12
But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
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(12) That I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion.—It lies on the surface that the “occasion,” or opening for attack, which his opponents had thus desired, was one against which he guarded himself by not taking money. They boasted of their own disinterestedness. They taunted him with his meanness in taking money from the Macedonian churches. The Apostle wishes, therefore, by persisting in his line of conduct, in spite of the appeals of a real or affected jealousy, to place himself on the same level with them, them on the same level with himself. The comparison between them must rest, he says, on other grounds. This seems the only tenable and coherent interpretation; nor is there any force in the objection which has been urged against it, that there is no evidence that the rival teachers did teach gratuitously. If this is a natural inference from St. Paul’s language, and there is no evidence to the contrary, that is surely evidence enough. It may be added, however, that there is at least in favour of the interpretation here given, the evidence of antecedent probability. It was likely that those who claimed to be in some special sense followers of Christ, would at least affect to act on the words of Christ, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” (See Note on Matthew 10:8.) It was likely that those who, from another point of view, were representatives of the scribes of Judaism, should at least affect to act as the noblest of those scribes had acted, and to teach, not for payment, but for the love of teaching. That it was an affectation, and not a reality, we shall hereafter see reason to believe.

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.But what I do - The course of life which I have been pursuing I will continue to pursue. That is, I will continue to preach as I have done without demanding a support. I will labor with my own hands if necessary; I will preach without demanding rigidly what I might be entitled to.

That I may cut off occasion - That I might give them no opportunity of accusing me of desiring to grow rich, and of calumniating me. Paul meant that they should have no plausible pretext even for accusing him; that no man should be able to say that he was preaching merely for the hire.

Which desire occasion - No doubt his enemies eagerly sought opportunities of accusing him, and greatly wished for some plausible reason for charging him with that which would be disgraceful and ruinous to his character. Or it may mean that they desired opportunity from the example of Paul to justify themselves in their course; that they took wages from the church at Corinth largely, and desired to be able to say that they had his example.

That wherein they glory - Probably meaning that they boasted that they preached the gospel for free (gratis); that they received nothing for their labors. Yet while they did this, it is not improbable that they received presents of the Corinthians, and under various pretences contrived to get from them an ample support, perhaps much more than would have been a reasonable compensation. People who profess to preach the gospel gratis, usually contrive in various ways to get more from the people than those who receive a regular and stipulated compensation. By taxing pretty liberally their hospitality; by accepting liberal presents; by frequent proclamation of their self-denial and their poverty, they usually filch large amounts from the people. No people were ever louder in praise of poverty, or in proclamation of their own self-denials than some orders of monks, and that when it might be said almost that the richest possessions of Europe were passing into their hands. At all events, Paul meant that these people should have no opportunity from his course to take any such advantage. He knew what he had a right to 1 Corinthians 9, but he had not urged the right. He had received nothing from the church at Corinth, and he meant to receive nothing. He had honestly preached the gospel to them without charge, and he meant still to do it, 1 Corinthians 9:18. They should, therefore, have no opportunity from his conduct either to accuse him of preaching for money, or of sheltering themselves under his example in pretending to preach for nothing when they were in fact obtaining large sums from the people.

They may be found even as we - That they may be compelled honestly to pursue such a course as I do, and be found to be in fact what they pretend to be. The sense is, "I mean so to act that if they follow my example, or plead my authority, they may be found to lead an honest life; and that if they boast on this subject, they shall boast strictly according to truth. There shall be no trick; nothing underhanded or deceptive in what they do so far as my example can prevent it."

12. I will do—I will continue to decline help.

occasion—Greek, "the occasion," namely, of misrepresenting my motives, which would be afforded to my detractors, if I accepted help.

that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we—Bengel joins this clause with "the occasion," namely, of glorying or boasting; the occasion "that they may be found (a point wherein they glory) even as we," that is, quite as disinterested, or virtually, quite as gain-seeking and self-seeking. It cannot mean that the false teachers taught gratuitously even as Paul (compare 2Co 11:20; 1Co 9:12). Alford less clearly explains by reference to 2Co 11:18, &c., where the "glorying" here is taken up and described as "glorying after the flesh"; thus it means, that in the matters of which they beast they may be found even as we, that is, we may been a fair and equal footing; that there may be no adventitious comparisons made between us, arising out of misrepresentations of my course of procedure, but that in every matter of boasting we may be fairly compared and judged by facts; FOR (2Co 11:13) realities they have none, no weapons but misrepresentation, being false apostles.

I know (saith the apostle) that there are some amongst you who, out of their hatred to me, would seek any occasion to asperse me to justify themselves. If I had (as I might) have taken wages amongst you for my labours, they would either have taken occasion from it to have aspersed me, (as doing what I did from a mercenary spirit), or at least to have justified themselves in their exactings upon you. I had a mind to prevent any such occasions of boasting.

That wherein they glory, they may be found even as we: it should seem by these words, that some teachers in this church, being (possibly) men of estates, required no maintenance of the people; and would have taken advantage against the apostle, if he had taken any: or, possibly, some others exacted upon them unreasonably, who, had Paul taken wages, would have justified themselves by his example. The apostle therefore was resolved to cut off from them any pretence or occasion of boasting, and to do whatever any of them did, in sparing the Corinthians as to the business of their purses.

But what I do, that I will do,.... As he preached the Gospel freely at Corinth and in Achaia, so he was determined to do it for the future, for this reason only, or chiefly:

that, says he,

I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion: meaning the false apostles, who sought for, and were desirous of every occasion and opportunity of exalting themselves, and reproaching him: that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we; the sense of which according to some interpreters is, that whereas some of the false apostles, at least who were rich men, took nothing for preaching, but gave their labours freely, were very desirous that the apostle would receive of the churches in these parts, that they might have an occasion against him, and an opportunity of showing themselves, as in learning and eloquence, so in this respect, to be superior to him, in that they preached freely, and he for gain; wherefore to cut off such an occasion, the apostle determines he would take nothing; that in this very thing which they boasted of, that they preached the Gospel freely, they might appear to be at most to be but upon a par with the apostle, and not to exceed him. This sense would seem very appropriate, was it a clear point that the false apostles received nothing for preaching; but the contrary is most evident; wherefore the apostle's meaning is, that these men were desirous that he would take wages, because they did; that in this respect he might not excel them, and that they might be able to plead his example and authority, and so get an occasion of extorting more money from the Corinthians: wherefore to cut off all such occasion from them, the apostle resolves to take nothing himself; that whereas they boasted they were equal to, or superior to the apostles, they might be found, would they follow their example, even as they, not taking any money at all of them, and poor, and working with their own hands.

But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they {i} glory, they may be found even as we.

(i) Paul's adversaries sought all occasions they could to be equal to him. And therefore seeing they had rather live off the Corinthians then preach to them for nothing, they sought another occasion, that is, to make Paul take something. And if he had done this, then they hoped by this means to be equal to him. For they made such a show of zeal and knowledge, and set it forth with such a flattering type of eloquence, that some of them even despised Paul. But he shows that all this is nothing but frivolities and pretensions.

2 Corinthians 11:12.[327] Positive specification of the reason, after brief repetition of the matter which calls for it (ὃ δὲ ποιῶ, καὶ ποιήσω).

Since Paul, in accordance with 2 Corinthians 11:10, wishes to specify the aim inducing the future continuance of his conduct, καὶ ποιήσω must be apodosis (comp. Erasmus, Annot., Beza, Bengel, Lachmann, Tischendorf), and must not be attached to the protasis, so as to make it necessary to supply before ἵνα a ΔΙᾺ ΤΟῦΤΟ ΠΟΙῶ (Erasmus, Paraphr., Luther, Castalio, Emmerling), or τοῦτο ποιῶ κ. ποιήσω (Rückert, but undecidedly), or simply ΓΊΝΕΤΑΙ (Osiander, Ewald).

] in order that I may cut off the opportunity of those, who wish (exoptant, Beza) opportunity, namely, to degrade and to slander me. Τὴν ἀφορμήν, having the article, denotes the definite occasion, arising from the subject in question, for bringing the apostle into evil repute. Had he caused himself to be remunerated by the Corinthians, his enemies, who in general were looking out for opportunity (ἈΦΟΡΜ. without the article), would have taken thence the opportunity of slandering him as selfish and greedy; this was their ἀφορμή, which he wished to cut off (ἈΝΑΙΡΕῖΝ, Chrysostom) by his gratuitous working. Others understand by ΤῊΝ ἈΦΟΡΜΉΝ the occasion of exalting and magnifying themselves above him (Calvin, Grotius, Flatt). But according to this, we should have to assume that the false apostles had taken no pay, on which point, after the precedent of Chrysostom, Theophylact, Calvin, Grotius, Billroth, and others, Rückert especially insists. This assumption, however, which Neander also supports (comp. against it, Beza), has against it à priori the fact that Paul lays so earnest stress on his gratuitous preaching—which would not be appropriate to his apologetico-polemic train of argument, if on this point he had stood on the same footing with his opponents. Further, 2 Corinthians 11:20 and 1 Corinthians 9:12 are expressly opposed to it; and the objection of Rückert, that the apostle’s testimony to the baseness of his opponents loses much of its force owing to his passionate temperament, is an exaggerated opinion, to which we can concede only this much, that his testimony regarding his opponents is strongly expressed (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:20), but not that it contains anything untrue. If they had worked against him from honest prejudice, it would have been at once indiscreet and un-Christian in him to work against them. Rückert’s further objection, that the adversaries, if they had taken payment where Paul took none, would have coupled folly with selfishness, is unfounded, seeing that in fact, even with that recommendation in which Paul had the advantage of them by his unpaid teaching, very many other ways were left to them of exalting themselves and of lowering his repute, and hence they might be all the more prudent and cunning. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 11:6.

ἵνα ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται κ.τ.λ.] may be parallel to the previous clause of purpose (Düsterdieck). Yet it is more in keeping with the logical relation—that here something positive, and previously only something negative, is asserted as intended—and thereby with the climactic course of the passage, to assume that ἽΝΑ ἘΝ ᾯ ΚΑΥΧ. Κ.Τ.Λ. is the aim of ἐκκόψω τὴν ἀφορμὴν τ. θ. ἀφ., and thus the final aim of the ὃ δὲ ποιῶ, καὶ ποιήσω in regard to the opponents: in order that they, in the point of which they boast, may be found even as we. This is what I purpose to bring about among them. If, namely, the enemies did not find in Paul the opportunity of disparaging him as selfish, now there was to be given to them withal the necessity (according to his purpose) of showing themselves to be just such as Paul[328] in that, in which they boasted, i.e. according to the context, in the point of unselfishness. Hitherto, forsooth, the credit of unselfishness, which they assigned to themselves, was idle ostentation, see 2 Corinthians 11:20. De Wette makes objection, on the other hand, that they could not have boasted of unselfishness, if they had shown themselves selfish. But this was the very point of his enemies’ untruthfulness (2 Corinthians 11:13, comp. 2 Corinthians 5:12), that they vaingloriously displayed the semblance of unselfishness, while in fact they knew how to enrich themselves by the Christians. Theodoret aptly says: ἔδειξε δὲ αὐτοὺς λόγῳ κομπάζοντας, λάθρα δὲ χρηματιζομένους. Düsterdieck, too, can find no ground in the context for saying either that the opponents had reproached the apostle with selfishness, or had given themselves out for unselfish. But the former is not implied in our explanation (they only sought the occasion for that charge), while the latter is sufficiently implied in 2 Corinthians 11:20. The expositors who consider the opponents as labouring gratuitously understand ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται of this unpaid working, of which they had boasted, so that Paul in this view would say: in order that they, in this point of which they boast, may be found not better than we. See Oecumenius, Erasmus, Calvin, comp. Billroth and Rückert; Billroth and others (comp. Düsterdieck above) taking withal the second ἵνα as parallel to the first, which Rückert also admits. But against the hypothesis that the opponents had taught gratuitously, see above. And the not better than we arbitrarily changes the positive expression καθὼς ἡμεῖς into the negative. Lastly, this explanation stands in no logical connection with what follows. See on 2 Corinthians 11:13. Following Augustine, de serm. Dom. in monte, ii. 16, Cajetanus and Estius regard ἵναἡμεῖς as an exposition of ἈΦΟΡΜΉΝ: occasion, in order to be found as we, and ἐν ᾧ καυχ. as parenthetical: in quo, sc. in eo quod est inveniri sicut et nos, gloriantur. Comp. also Bengel. But the opponents did not, in fact, boast of being like Paul, but of being more than he was (2 Corinthians 11:5), and wished to hold him or to have him held as not at all a true apostle, 2 Corinthians 11:4. This also in opposition to Hofmann, who, attaching the second ἵνα to ἈΦΟΡΜΉΝ, and referring[329] ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται to the apostleship of which the opponents boasted, finds Paul’s meaning to be this: maintaining in its integrity the gratuitous character of his working, he takes away from those, who would fain find ways and means of making their pretended apostleship appear equal to his genuine one, the possibility of effecting their purpose. But in the connection of the text, ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται on the one side and ΚΑΘῺς ΚΑῚ ἩΜΕῖς on the other can only denote one and the same quality, namely, the unselfishness, of which the opponents untruly boasted, while Paul had it in truth and verified it. Olshausen has been led farthest astray by taking the second ἵνα as the wish of the opponents; he imagines that they had been annoyed at Paul’s occupying a position of strictness which put them so much to shame, and hence they had wished to bring him away from it, in order that he might have no advantage, but that he should be found even as they. And the ἘΝ ᾯ ΚΑΥΧ. is to be taken, as if they had put forward the authority to take money as an object of glorying, as an apostolic prerogative (1 Corinthians 9:7 ff.); so that the whole passage has therefore the ironical meaning: “Much as they are opposed to me, they still wish an opportunity of letting me take a share of their credit, that I may allow myself to be supported as an apostle by the churches; but with this they wish only to hide their shame and rob me of my true credit: in this they shall not succeed!” But that the opponents had put forward the warrant to take money as an apostolic prerogative, is not to be inferred from 1 Corinthians 9:7 ff., where Paul, in fact, speaks only of the right of the teacher to take pay. Further, there is no ground in the context for the assumed reference of ἐν ᾧ καυχ.; and lastly, in keeping with the alleged ironical meaning, Paul must have written: ΕὙΡΕΘῶΜΕΝ ΚΑΘῺς ΚΑῚ ΑὐΤΟΊ, which Olshausen doubtless felt himself, when he wrote: “in order that he might have no advantage, but that he should be found such as they.”

On ἐκκόπτειν, in the ethical sense of bringing to nought, comp. LXX. Job 19:10; 4Ma 3:2 ff.; Plat. Charm. p. 155 C; Polyb. xx. 6. 2. The opposite: παρέχειν ἀφορμήν (Bähr, ad Pyrrh. p. 237).

On the double ἵνα, the second introducing the aim of the first clause of aim, comp. Ephesians 5:27; John 1:7. Hofmann, without reason, desires ὍΠΩς in place of the second ἽΝΑ.

See regarding ver. 12, Düsterdieck in the Stud. u. Krit. 1865, p. 517 ff.

[328] Beza well gives the substantial meaning: “Isti quidem omnem mei calumniandi occasionem captant, expectantes dum poeniteat me juri meo renuntiantem in praedicando evangelio ex manuum mearum labore victitare. At ego nunquam patiar hanc laudem (qua ipsos refello) mihi in Achaiae ecclesiis praeripi. Imo in hoc instituto pergam, ut et ipsos ad exemplum meum imitandum provocem, nedum ut quam captant occasionem inveniant.”

[329] De Wette and Düsterdieek also refer ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται to the apostolic working and dignity. According to the latter, the meaning would be: in order that they, as regards unselfishness, may let themselves be found just such as I, the apostle vilified by them, and may in this way show what is the worth of their boastful claim to apostolic dignity. Even this clear interpretation does not remove the difficulty that, as the καύχησις of Paul concerned the gratuitous nature of his labouring (ver. 10, comp. 1 Corinthians 9:15), so also the καυχᾶσθαι ascribed in the immediate context to the opponents, and pointing back by καθὼς καὶ ἡμεῖς to the apostle’s conduct (which was the subject-matter of his boasting), requires no other object, nay, when we strictly adhere to the immediate connection, admits of no other.

2 Corinthians 11:12. ὃ δὲ ποιῶ κ.τ.λ.: but what I do, that I will do that, by refusing to accept maintenance gratis at your hands, I may cut off the occasion (τὴν ἀφορμ., the definite opportunity for attack which my opponents desire) from those who desire occasion that in the matter of their boast, sc., that as of Apostolic rank free maintenance was their rightful due, they may be found even as we, i.e., they desire that I and they may be on equal terms so far as the taking of money is concerned. It is better to regard the second ἵνα, not as in apposition with the first, but as dependent on θελ. ἀφορμ. and as expressing the desire of St. Paul’s opponents, not his own. The situation seems to have been as follows: St. Paul held that the “labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18), and in 1 Corinthians 9:11-13 he gives a clear exposition of the principle as applied to preachers of the Gospel. On these grounds he more than once (Php 4:15-16) accepted money from the generous Church of Philippi. But it was not his usual practice. He reminds the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:9) that when with them he had worked for his living. So too he did at Corinth (Acts 18:2), any help he then accepted coming from Macedonia (chap. 2 Corinthians 11:9); and he did the same at Ephesus (Acts 20:34), Now his Corinthian opponents were very ready to take money for their teaching (1 Corinthians 9:12); indeed they prided themselves on doing so, as it was the privilege of “apostles”. This determined St. Paul that it should never be truly said of him that he was a hireling teacher, and so he was especially careful at Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:15-19) to avoid even the appearance of grasping after money (cf. Genesis 14:23). This honourable independence, however, created a difficulty in two directions. On the one hand, it gave his opponents a handle for saying that he was not really of Apostolic rank, inasmuch as he dared not claim Apostolic privilege; and, on the other hand, it hurt the feelings of his Corinthian friends that he should refuse maintenance at their hands. His reply is contained in 2 Corinthians 11:7-12 of this chapter. And the point of 2 Corinthians 11:12 is that his action is necessary, for if he were to take money as his opponents did, it would speedily be made a matter of cavil, and would tend to bring him down to their level (see also 2 Corinthians 12:14).

12. occasion] See ch. 2 Corinthians 5:12.

that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we] These words seem to imply that the Corinthian false teachers did not accept money or maintenance for their services. But then it is difficult to see how they could have made that very practice an argument against St Paul. It is, therefore, better to suppose, that they boasted of their disinterestedness, in spite of their willingness to enrich themselves at the Corinthians’ expense (see next verse), and that St Paul was determined that they should have no solid ground for insinuations of this kind against him (though such were made nevertheless, ch. 2 Corinthians 12:16-17, by those who judged of the Apostle by themselves). So he steadfastly refused to take a farthing of money from the Corinthians, preferring to undergo privations (2 Corinthians 11:9) rather than give an opportunity to his opponents to assert of him, what was true of themselves, that his professed disinterestedness was only a pretence. There are a number of interpretations of this passage, for which the student may consult the commentaries of Deans Stanley and Alford.

2 Corinthians 11:12. Καὶ ποιήσω) I will also still do.—ἐκκόψω, I may cut off) It did not suit the false apostles to preach for nothing, 2 Corinthians 11:20.—τὴν ἀφορμην, the occasion) in this matter, presently afterwards without the article, ἀφορμὴν, in any matter whatever.—ἐν ᾧ, in which) their boasting consisted in this, that they said: we are found to be, as Paul.

Verse 12. - Occasion; rather, the occasion. Wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. "These new teachers boast to you how disinterested they are. Well, then, I have proved myself to be equally disinterested." But the words apparently involve a most stinging sarcasm. For these teachers were not in reality disinterested, though they boasted of being so; on the contrary, they were exacting, insolent, and tyrannical (ver. 20), and did not preach gratuitously (1 Corinthians 9:12), though they sneered at the apostle for doing so. Being radically false (vers. 12, 13), "while they were," as Theodoret says, "openly boasting, they were secretly taking money," and therefore were not "even as we." 2 Corinthians 11:12I will do

Will continue to do; refuse to receive pay.

Cut off (ἐκκόψω)

Lit., cut out. See on Luke 13:7, and compare Romans 11:24.

Occasion (τὴν ἀφορμὴν)

The force of the article must be carefully noted; the particular occasion of fault-finding which concerned his pecuniary relations with the Corinthians. His refusal to receive pay cut out from among other causes of complaint this one.

They may be found even as we

I can find no satisfactory explanation of this clause, and will not attempt to add to the hopeless muddle of the commentators. It is evident that the false teachers had sought occasion for glorifying themselves in comparison with Paul; that they consequently caught eagerly at every pretext for disparaging him; and that this disparagement was in some way connected with Paul's refusal to receive compensation from the Corinthians. Further, that Paul's way of counteracting their attempts was by persisting in this refusal. The intimation in the last clause is apparently to the effect that by this course he will not only remove the occasion for attack, but that the result will show both his opponents and himself in their true light. Compare find and be found, 2 Corinthians 12:20.

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