2 Corinthians 11: Foolish Boasting

How could any of Paul’s exhortation be regarded as foolishness?

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2 Corinthians 1:18 As God is my witness, every word I have spoken has been entirely sincere and truthful.
1:19 Silas, Timothy and I preached Jesus Christ, Son of God, the plain truth without pretense or hidden agenda.
1:20 To experience God’s promises, we must always say yes to him, just as Jesus did. For when we are in complete agreement with his purpose, we share his achievements and glory.
1:21 For God has empowered us together with Christ to fulfill his purpose.
11:1 If you will put up with a little more of my foolishness, please bear with me.
King James
2 Corinthians 1:18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.
11:1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

Why was Paul so concerned about the relationships of the believers in Corinth?

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2 Corinthians 11:2 Like a father is jealous over who his daughter will marry, I have a godly zeal for your relationship with Jesus Christ, having led you as a pure bride to her husband.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:2 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.

After the Corinthians had believed Paul’s message about Jesus, what might tempt them to believe something else?

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2 Corinthians 11:3 I fear that Satan might somehow tempt you as he did Eve, twisting your minds to believe something other than the simple message of complete surrender to Christ.
11:4 If anybody comes preaching a message about Jesus that conflicts with what we have taught, if you sense a spirit different from when we were there, if you hear good news that is contrary to our message, you might be inclined to accept him.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:3 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.
11:4 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.

What motivated Paul to boast about his ministry credentials and compare himself to others?

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2 Corinthians 11:5 Listen, I am not a bit inferior to these celebrity messengers who have a big following.
11:6 I may not speak as eloquently as they do, but I know what I’m talking about, which was proven by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit when we were with you.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
11:6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.

Earlier, why had Paul spoken in humility to the Corinthians, choosing not to boast?

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2 Corinthians 11:7 Did I make a mistake in humbling myself, asking nothing in return so you would be strengthened by my preaching the truth of Jesus Christ?
King James
2 Corinthians 11:7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

How might Paul have made a good choice in not asking support from the believers in Corinth (–23; 2 Corinthians 11:8)?

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Genesis 14:22 His right hand raised, Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I swear before the most high God, possessor of Heaven and Earth,
14:23 I will accept nothing from you, not even a strap from your sandal. You will give nothing to me, because I don’t want to hear you say, ‘I have made Abram rich.'”
2 Corinthians 11:8 I took money from other churches so I could minister to you without asking for support.
King James
Genesis 14:22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
14:23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.
2 Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

Clearly, the laborer is worthy of pay. Why might we think that those we minister to should not have to pay?

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Matthew 20:1 For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a business owner who went early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.
20:2 After reaching an agreement to pay a day’s wages, he sent them into his vineyard.
20:3 Around nine o’clock, he saw people in the marketplace doing nothing.
20:4 So they went. “Go work in my vineyard,” he told them, “and I will pay you a fair wage.”
20:5 At noon and at three o’clock in the afternoon, he did the same thing.
20:6 Later, at almost five o’clock, he saw others standing around. “Why have you been standing here all day, doing nothing?” he asked.
Luke 10:7 Do not move from house to house, but remain in the same place, accepting their hospitality as workers deserving their pay.
1 Corinthians 9:7 No soldier has to pay his own expenses. One who plants a vineyard is entitled to some of the grapes. Isn’t a shepherd allowed to drink some of the sheep’s milk?
9:8 This is more than human philosophy. The Law presents the same principle.
2 Corinthians 11:9 When I was with you, what I would have lacked was supplied by those who came with me from Macedonia. I wasn’t a burden to you then, and I never will be.
11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, I will boast through all Achaia that my needs are being supplied.
King James
Matthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
20:3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
20:4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
20:5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
1 Corinthians 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
2 Corinthians 11:9 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.
11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

When do you think it is appropriate to graciously receive gifts, and when should we decline?

Author’s Thoughts
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2 Corinthians 11:11 Why do I say that, because I don’t love you and don’t want to receive your gifts? God knows that isn’t true.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

How do false messengers of Christ present themselves?

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2 Corinthians 11:12 I do this to show that our ministry is different from those who say their work is like ours when actually they are only working for the pay.
11:13 They are false messengers, deceivers who present themselves as if they have been sent by Christ.
11:14 We shouldn’t be surprised, since Satan never reveals himself as a liar. No, he presents himself as our helper, a messenger of truth, an angel of light.
11:15 Therefore, we should expect his ministers to present themselves in the same way, as if they are righteous servants. One day, they will be judged for their evil deeds.
King James
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.
11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
11:15 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.

What distinction do you think might be most evident between true and false messengers?

Author’s Thoughts
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2 Corinthians 11:15 Therefore, we should expect his ministers to present themselves in the same way, as if they are righteous servants. One day, they will be judged for their evil deeds.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:15 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.

Why is a person’s boasting often disregarded?

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2 Corinthians 11:16 As I asked before, please accept my foolishness while I boast a little.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:16 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.

What made Paul’s boasting valid if it wasn’t “from the Lord”?

Author’s Thoughts
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2 Corinthians 11:17 My boasting is not from the Lord, so I am being foolish.
11:18 Others brag about their achievements, so I’ll be foolish like them—
11:19 since you think you are wise to listen to fools.
King James
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.
11:18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
11:19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

Why will people put up with those who take advantage of them?

Author’s Thoughts
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2 Corinthians 11:20 You put up with people who enslave you. Exalting themselves, they lie, cheat, and steal from you, slapping you in the face.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:20 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.)

If people are successful with their deception, lying and cheating, how can righteous people compete?

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2 Corinthians 11:21 We don’t have the strength to behave so shamefully. But if their boasting has captured your attention, then I will foolishly boast as well.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

Why would Paul think he should boast of his Jewish heritage?

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2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews—Israelites who are descendants of Abraham? So am I.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

What evidence proves a servant is good ( 2 Corinthians 11:23–28)?

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Matthew 25:14 The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who was about to travel to a distant country. He called his servants and made them responsible for his money while he was gone.
25:15 According to their ability, he gave five bags of money to the first man, two bags to the second, and one bag to the third. Then he left.
25:16 The servant with five bags used the money in business transactions and made five more.
25:17 The servant with two bags also used the money in business and made two more.
25:18 But the servant with one bag dug a hole in the ground and hid the money.
25:19 After a long time, the man returned from his trip and asked his servants what they had done with his money.
25:20 The servant who had received five bags brought ten and said, “Master, you gave me five bags, and I have gained five more.”
25:21 “Great job!” the man said. “You are a good, trustworthy servant. Because you have been faithful with a little, I will now make you responsible for much more. Let’s celebrate together.”
25:22 The servant who had received two bags brought four and said, “Master, you gave me two bags, and I have gained two more.”
25:23 “Great job!” the man said. “You are a good, trustworthy servant. Because you have been faithful with a little, I will now make you responsible for much more. Let’s celebrate together.”
25:24 The servant who had received one bag said, “Master, I knew how hard you are to please. You are like someone who expects a harvest but has planted no seeds.
25:25 I was afraid I might lose your money, so I hid your bag in the earth. Here is your money, still safe.”
25:26 “You are a wicked, lazy servant,” the man said. “If you knew I expected an increase, and I expect a harvest where I’ve planted no seeds,
25:27 you should have invested with the moneychangers so I would have received my money with interest.
25:28 Take the bag and give it to the one who has ten.
25:29 People who put to good use what they have will gain more, but people who do nothing with what they have will lose what they have hidden.
25:30 Throw this good-for-nothing servant outside in the darkness, where there will be bitterness and weeping.”
Luke 22:25 Jesus said to them, “Pagan kings exercise power over their subjects and are honored as if they cared for the people.
22:26 You shall not be like them. The greatest among you must behave as the least. The leader is the one who serves.
22:27 Who is greater, the man who sits at the table or the one who serves him? You think it is the one at the table, but I am with you as a servant.”
1 Corinthians 4:2 Those who work for others are required to do a good job.
2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? Let me foolishly say that I am his servant much more than they claim to be—working harder, beaten with countless stripes, in prison more frequently, facing death many times.
11:24 At five different times, Jewish leaders had me beaten with thirty-nine stripes.
11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. I was stoned and left for dead. I suffered shipwreck three times, adrift at sea for a whole night and day.
11:26 Many times in my travels, I could have drowned. I faced robbers. I was accused by my own countrymen and endured threats among foreigners. I wasn’t safe in the cities or the country. I faced storms on the seas and was betrayed by those who appeared to be friends.
11:27 Weary and in pain, often without sleep, hungry and thirsty, often going without food, shivering without enough clothing to keep me warm, I still worked long and hard.
11:28 Besides all this, I was daily burdened with care for all the churches.
King James
Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
25:22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
25:28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
25:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
2 Corinthians 11:23 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.
11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
11:25 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;
11:26 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;
11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

How can weakness be a basis for boasting?

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2 Corinthians 11:29 Who has been weak without my feeling that weakness? Who has stumbled and I didn’t care?
11:30 If I must boast, I will boast about things that show how weak I am.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

Why would Paul’s means of escape from persecution in Damascus have been important to those in Corinth?

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2 Corinthians 11:31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, deserving of eternal praise, knows that I speak only the truth.
11:32 During the reign of King Aretas, the governor of Damascus posted guards at the city gates to arrest me.
11:33 I was let down in a basket through a window in the city wall and escaped.
King James
2 Corinthians 11:31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
11:33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.