2 Corinthians 11
Vincent's Word Studies
Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

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.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
I am jealous (ζηλῶ)

The translation is correct. The word is appropriate to the image which follows, in which Paul represents himself as the marriage-friend who has betrothed the bride to the bridegroom, and consequently shares the bridegroom's jealousy of his bride (see on John 3:29). Compare the Old-Testament passages in which God is represented as the spouse of His people: Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 16:8; Hosea 2:18, Hosea 2:19. For the different senses of the word, see on envying, James 3:14. Theodoret's comment on the passage is: "I was your wooer for your husband, and the mediator of your marriage; through me you received the bridegroom's gifts; wherefore I am now affected with jealousy."

I have espoused (ἡρμοσάμην)

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., have fitted together. Used in the classics of carpenter's or joiner's work; of arranging music, tuning instruments, and fitting clothes or armor. As here, of betrothing or taking to wife. The Septuagint usage is substantially the same.


Compare Ephesians 5:27.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The serpent

Paul's only allusion to the story of the serpent in Eden.


In accordance with the representation of the Church as the bride.

Simplicity that is in Christ

Rev. adds, and the purity, following Westcott and Hort's text. Simplicity, single-hearted loyalty. In Christ; better, as Rev., towards (εἰς).

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Another Jesus - another Spirit (ἄλλον - ἕτερον)

Rev., another Jesus, a different Spirit. See on Matthew 6:24. Another denies the identity; a different denies the similarity of nature. It is the difference of "individuality and kind" (Alford). See on Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:7.

Ye might well bear (καλῶς ἠνείχεσθε)

Following the reading which makes the verb in the imperfect tense, putting the matter as a supposed case. The Rev. follows the reading ἀνεχέσθε, present tense, and puts it as a fact: ye do well to bear. Lit., ye endure them finely. The expression is ironical. You gladly endure these false teachers, why do you not endure me?

For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
The very chiefest apostles (τῶν ὑπερλίαν ἀποστόλων) Lit., those who are preeminently apostles. Not referring to the genuine apostles, but ironically to the false teachers, the false apostles of 2 Corinthians 11:13. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:11. Farrar renders the extra-super apostles.
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
Rude (ἰδίωτης)

See on 1 Corinthians 14:16.

Have been made manifest (φανερωθέντες)

The correct reading is φανερώσαντες, active voice, we have made it manifest.

Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
Abasing myself

By working at his trade.

Preached the Gospel - freely (δωρεὰν)

Gratuitously. Rev., for nought, is not an improvement, but is quite as ambiguous as freely. Without charge would be better. Paul's very self-denial in this matter had been construed to his injury by his opponents, as indicating his want of confidence in the Corinthian Church, and his making gain for himself under the guise of disinterestedness. It was also urged that a real apostle would not thus relinquish his right to claim subsistence from the Church. Hence his question, Did I commit a sin, etc.?

I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
I robbed (ἐσύλησα)

Only here in the New Testament, though it appears in the verb ἱεροσυλέω to commit sacrilege, Romans 2:22, and in ἱεροσύλοι robbers of churches, Acts 19:37. Originally to strip off, as arms from a slain foe, and thence, generally, to rob, plunder, with the accompanying notion of violence. Paul thus strongly expresses the fact that he had accepted from other churches more than their share, that he might not draw on the Corinthians.

Wages (ὀψώνιον)

See on Romans 6:23.

And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
I was chargeable (κατενάρκησα)

Only in this epistle. From νάρκη numbness, deadness; also a torpedo or gymnotus, which benumbs whatever touches it. Compare Homer: "His hand grew stiff at the wrist" ("Iliad," viii., 328). Meno says to Socrates: "You seem to me both in your appearance and in your power over others, to be very like the flat torpedo-fish (νάρκῃ), who torpifies (ναρκᾶν ποιεῖ) those who come near him with the touch, as you have now torpified (ναρκᾶν) me, I think" (Plato, "Meno," 80). The compound verb used here occurs in Hippocrates in the sense of growing quite stiff. The simple verb occurs in the Sept., Genesis 32:25, Genesis 32:32, of Jacob's thigh, which was put out of joint and shrank. Compare Job 33:19. According to the etymology of the word, Paul would say that he did not benumb the Corinthians by his demand for pecuniary aid. Rev., rather mildly, I was not a burden.

As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
No man shall stop me of this boasting (ἡ καύχησις αὕτη οὐ φραγήσεται εἰς ἐμὲ)

Lit., this boasting shall not be blocked up as regards me. The boasting is that of preaching gratuitously. For the verb, compare Romans 3:19; Hebrews 11:33.

Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
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.
I 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.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
Transforming themselves (μετασχηματιζόμενοι)

Rev., better, fashioning, thus preserving the distinctive force of σχῆμα outward fashion, which forms part of the compound verb. See on Matthew 17:2; see on 1 Corinthians 4:6.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

See on Luke 10:18. The rabbinical writings represent the devil rather as the enemy of man than of God or of good. They use none of the New-Testament names for the Evil One except Satan, and contain no mention of a kingdom of Satan. Edersheim says: "Instead of the personified principle of evil to which there is response in us - we have only a clumsy and often a stupid hater." It is also to be observed that in the Septuagint the usage is limited to the enemy of man, as is that of διάβολος devil by which Satan is translated. See 1 Chronicles 21:1; Esther 7:4; Esther 8:1; Psalm 108:1-13 :(109) Psalm 108:5; Job 1:6; Zechariah 3:1, Zechariah 3:2.

Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
Confidence (ὑποστάσει)

See on 2 Corinthians 9:4.

Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
Bringeth you into bondage (καταδουλοῖ)

Only here and Galatians 2:4, where it is used of the efforts of the Jewish party to bring the christian Church under the ceremonial law. Compare Galatians 5:1.

Devour (κατεσθίει)

Your property. Compare Matthew 23:14.

Take (λαμβάνει)

A.V. supplies of you, evidently with reference to property, which has already been touched upon in devour. The meaning is to take as a prey, as Luke 5:5.

Exalteth himself (ἐπαίρεται)

As 2 Corinthians 10:5. It is noticeable that these are the only two instances out of nineteen in the New Testament where the word is used figuratively.

Smite you on the face

The climax of insult. Compare Matthew 5:39; Luke 22:64; Acts 23:2. Also the injunction to a bishop not to be a striker, 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7. Stanley notes the decree of the Council of Braga, a.d. 675, that no bishop, at his will and pleasure, shall strike his clergy.

I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
As concerning reproach (κατὰ ἀτιμίαν)

Better, Rev., by way of disparagement. Intensely ironical. Yes, you have borne with these enslavers and devourers and smiters. I could never ask you to extend such toleration to me. I speak as one without position or authority, having shown myself weak as you know.

I speak foolishly (ἐν ἀφροσύνῃ)

Rev., in foolishness. My pretensions are equal to theirs, but, of course, it is folly to advance them, and they amount to nothing. Yet, even speaking in this foolish way, I possess every qualification on which they plume themselves.

Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

See on Acts 6:1.


See on Acts 3:12, and compare Philippians 3:5, and the phrase Israel of God, Galatians 6:16, and an Israelite indeed, John 1:48.

Seed of Abraham

Compare Matthew 3:9; John 8:33; Romans 9:7; Romans 11:1; Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 2:16. The three names are arranged climactically, Hebrews pointing to the nationality; Israelites to the special relation to God's covenant; seed of Abraham to the messianic privilege. Compare with the whole, Philippians 3:4, Philippians 3:5.

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Ministers of Christ

Referring to his opponents' claim to have a closer connection with Christ than he had. See the note on 1 Corinthians 1:12.

As a fool (παραφρονῶν)

Only here in the New Testament. See the kindred παραφρονία madness, 2 Peter 2:16. Lit., being beside myself Rev., as one beside myself. This expression is stronger than that in 2 Corinthians 11:21, because the statement which it characterizes is stronger. Up to this point Paul has been asserting equality with the other teachers. Now he asserts superiority "I more;" and ironically characterizes this statement from their stand-point as madness.

More abundant (περισσοτέρως)

Lit., more abundantly, as Rev.

Stripes above measure (ὑπερβαλλόντως)

This peculiar form of suffering is emphasized by details. He specifies three Roman scourgings, and five at the hands of the Jews. Of the former, only one is recorded, that at Philippi (Acts 16:22, Acts 16:23. See on Acts 22:25), and none of the latter. The Jewish scourge consisted of two thongs made of calf's or ass's skin, passing through a hole in a handle. Thirteen blows were inflicted on the breast, thirteen on the right, and thirteen on the left shoulder. The law in Deuteronomy 25:3 permitted forty blows, but only thirty-nine were given, in order to avoid a possible miscount. During the punishment the chief judge read aloud Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 28:59; Deuteronomy 29:9; Psalm 68:38, 39. The possibility of death under the infliction was contemplated in the provision which exonerated the executioner unless he should exceed the legal number of blows. Paul escaped Roman scourging at Jerusalem on the ground of his Roman citizenship. It is not related that he and Silas urged this privilege at Philippi until after the scourging. It is evident from the narrative that they were not allowed a formal hearing before the magistrates; and, if they asserted their citizenship, it may have been that their voices were drowned by the mob. That this plea did not always avail appears from the case cited by Cicero against Verres, that he scourged a Roman citizen in spite of his continued protest under the scourge, "I am a Roman citizen" (see on Acts 16:37), and from well-known instances of the scourging of even senators under the Empire.


At Philippi, and other places not recorded.


Perils of death, as at Damascus, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Thessalonica, Beroea.

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
Beaten with rods

Roman scourgings.


At Lystra, Acts 14:19.

Thrice I suffered shipwreck

The shipwreck at Malta, being later, is, of course, not referred to; so that no one of these three is on record.

A night and a day (νυχθήμερον)

A compound term occurring only here in the New Testament, and rarely in later Greek.

Have I been in the deep (ἐν τῷ βυθῷ πεποίηκα)

Lit., I have made (spent) a night and a day in the deep. For a similar use of ποιέω to make, see Acts 15:33; Acts 18:23; Acts 20:3; James 4:13. βυθός bottom or depth occurs only here. Of the event itself there is no record.

In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
Perils of rivers

From the sudden swelling of mountain streams or flooding of dry water-courses. "The rivers of Asia Minor, like all the rivers in the Levant, are liable to violent and sudden changes, and no district in Asia Minor is more singularly characterized by its water-floods than the mountainous tract of Pisidia, where rivers burst out at the bases of huge cliffs, or dash down wildly through narrow ravines" (Conybeare and Howson, i., ch. 6).


The tribes inhabiting the mountains between the table-land of Asia Minor and the coast were notorious for robbery. Paul may have encountered such on his journey to the Pisidian Antioch, Acts 13:14.

Mine own countrymen

Conspiracies of the Jews at Damascus, Lystra, Thessalonica, Beroea, etc.

The Gentiles

As at Philippi and Ephesus.

False brethren

Judaizing Christians, as Galatians 2:4.

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

See on 2 Corinthians 6:5.

Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Those things that are without (τῶν παρεκτὸς)

Some explain, external calamities; others, the things which are left out in the enumeration, as Matthew 5:32; Acts 26:29. Better, the latter, so that the literal meaning is, apart from the things which are beside and outside my enumeration: or, as Alford, not to mention those which are beside these. The word does not occur in classical Greek, and no instance of its usage in the former sense occurs in the New Testament or in the Septuagint. See Rev., margin.

That which cometh upon me (ἐπισύστασις)

Lit., a gathering together against. Both here and Acts 24:12, the best texts read ἐπίστασις onset. Rev., that which presseth upon me. "The crowd of cares."

Farrar remarks upon 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, that it is "the most marvelous record ever written of any biography; a fragment beside which the most imperiled lives of the most suffering saints shrink into insignificance, and which shows us how fractional at the best is our knowledge of the details of St. Paul's life." Eleven of the occurrences mentioned here are not alluded to in Acts.

Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

With sorrow over the stumbling or with indignation over the cause. This and 1 Corinthians 7:9 are the only instances in which the word is used figuratively.

If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
The things which concern mine infirmities (τὰ τῆς ἀσθενείας μοῦ)

He will be attested as a true apostle by the sufferings which show his weakness, which make him contemptible in his adversaries' eyes, and not by the strength of which his opponents boast.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
Blessed, etc.

See on Romans 9:5, and compare Romans 1:25.

In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
The governor (ἐθνάρχης)

Only here in the New Testament. A governor ruling in the name of a king: a prefect.


Or Hareth, the father-in-law of Herod Antipas. Hs capital was the rock-city of Petra, the metropolis of Arabia Petraea. Herod's unfaithfulness to his daughter brought on a quarrel, in which Herod's army was defeated, to the great delight of the Jews. The further prosecution of the war by Roman troops was arrested by the death of Tiberius, and it is supposed that Caligula assigned Damascus as a free gift to Aretas.

Kept with a garrison (ἐφρούρει)

Imperfect tense, was maintaining a constant watch. Compare Acts 9:24 : They watched the gates day and night.

To apprehend (πιάσαι)

See on Acts 3:7.

And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
Through a window (διὰ θυρίδος)

Only here and Acts 20:9. Diminutive of θύρα a door. The same expression is used in Sept., Joshua 2:15, of the escape of the spies from Jericho, and 1 Samuel 19:12, of David's escape from Saul by the aid of Michal.

Basket (σαργάνῃ)

Lit., braided work; a rope-basket or hamper. Luke, in his narrative of the incident, uses σπυρίς, for which see on Matthew 14:20.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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