2 Corinthians


8. Paul defends his ministry, 10:1-12:21

iv] Paul's credentials and experiences


Paul now sets out to show that he has a greater claim for the allegiance of the Corinthian believers than do his opponents. His credentials are as good as theirs, if not superior, and he certainly outshines them when it comes to what he has done and suffered for the Lord Jesus. Boasting about one's own credentials is a foolish activity, but it seems the Corinthians are taken by the practice and have easily accepted the boast of Paul's opponents. So, Paul asks his readers to bear with his own foolish / worldly boasting.


i] Context: See 11:1-15.

Thrall notes the rhetorical work of Sundermann on Paul's Fool's Speech. He argues that the proof / probatio, 11:16-12:18 (13?), can be divided into the following parts:

insinuatio, 11:16-21 - "let me at least be heard as a fool";

propositio, 11:22-23a - Paul, an agent of Christ;

argumentatio, 11:23b-12:10; Paul's boast in weakness;

peroratio, 12:11-13 (Sunderman, v18).


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: Paul's credentials and experiences:

The Corinthians seem ready to embrace foolish boasting, 11:16-21.

Appeal - "embrace my foolish boasting", v16;

Paul's strategy for boasting, v17-18;

The Corinthians tolerance for foolish boasting, v19-20;

Paul would rather boast of his weakness, v21a.

Paul can outboast his opponents, 11:21b-23a.

Paul's boast in suffering, 11:23b-29.

The integrity of Paul's suffering service, v23b -27;

Above all, the care of all the churches, v28-29.

Paul's boast is in weakness, v30-33.


iv] Interpretation:

Paul's proof / argument further develops our understanding of the leaders of the opposition party, these intruders / missionaries / emissaries / delegates / .... Paul has told us that they are pseudo-apostles, servants of Satan, and now he tells us that they are quick to boast about their heritage, a heritage which Paul also shares. Yet, what they lack is the sufferings of Christ, and in this department Paul outshines them. Paul's life is lived with a burden of care for all the churches, knowing full well that God's strength is always manifested in human weakness.

Text - 11:16

Paul's credentials and experiences: i] The Corinthians seem ready to embrace foolish boasting, 11:16-21; Seeing that they seem ready to accept a fool, Paul asks them to accept him and his foolish boasting, v16. The verse is rich in sarcasm.

mh ... doxh/ (dokew) aor. subj. "let no [one] take [me]" - [i say again,] let no [certain one] think me]. Subjunctive of prohibition.

einai (eimi) pres. inf. "for [a fool]" - to be [a fool]. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what no one should assume; "people should not assume that I am a fool."

ei + ind., kan + aor. imp. "if [you do then]" - [but even] if, as is not the case, you take me as a fool, then [receive me]. Forming a 2nd class conditional clause, contrary to fact, where the condition posed in the protasis is not true. The negation mh emphasizes this fact, ge is ascensive, and de is adversative. "Let me make it clear, no one should think that I am a fool who boasts of their achievements, but none-the-less, bear with me while I play the fool and do a little bit of boasting."

wJV "as you would [a fool]" - as [a fool]. Comparative; "as if."

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [ also may boast a little certain = bit]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose.


Paul qualifies his request that the Corinthians put up with a bit of boasting from him; he does this "not .... like a Christian", REB, but like a worldly fool.

en + dat. "in" - [what i speak, i speak not according to the lord, but as in foolishness] in [this confidence of boasting]. The preposition here is adverbial, either reference / respect. "with respect to this ....", or temporal, "while I undertake this boasting", Harris.

th/ uJpostasei (iV ewV) "self-confident" - Often translated as "confidence", so Barrett, but some have suggested "matter" is more likely. Thrall, following Koster, suggests "plan / project / intention", "undertaking", Long; "in respect of this boasting-project", Thrall.

thV kauchsewV (iV ewV) gen. "boasting" - of boasting. The genitive is adjectival: attributive, so Thrall; epexegetic, so Long; possibly attributed, "boastful confidence", ESV.

ou kata acc. "as" - not according to [lord]. "Not in accordance with the Lord's will / pleasure" = standard, or adverbial, modal, expressing manner, "not the way the Lord would speak", "not the Lord's way of doing things", Guthrie, although Thrall thinks that Paul has in his mind "in the Lord", so "not in a Christian way"; "I am not speaking like a Christian", REB, taking kata as expressing a standard, "in conformity with" = "like".

all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

wJV "as" - Possibly expressing a characteristic quality, "as", "as a fool", but more likely comparative, "like", "like a fool", REB.

en "-" - in [foolishness]. Local / sphere, "in my own foolishness", or adverbial, modal, expressing manner, "as / like in the manner of a fool" = "like a fool would speak."


Given that the leaders of the opposition party are inclined to boast about their many attributes, as they perceive them, Paul has decided to join the club.

epei "since" - Causal conjunction introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul has decided to get into a bit of boasting, "because ...."

kata + acc. "in the way [the world does]" - [many boast] according to [flesh]. The NIV has opted for adverbial, modal, expressing manner, "in the manner of the flesh / world." This seems likely, although Barnett opts for a standard, "according to the flesh" in that it expresses self-effort; "according to human standards", Guthrie. Note the variant thn sarka, the article leading toward the sense "according to a human point of view." The anarthrous (without an article) variant is to be preferred.

kagw "too" - i also [will boast]. Emphatic adjunctive, kai + egw, "I also."


gar "-" - for [gladly]. Introducing a second causal clause explaining why Paul has decided to get into a bit of boasting, namely "because" the Corinthians, who are just so perceptive (sarcastic, bordering on rude!!), gladly put up with fools who love to boast.

twn afronwn adj. "fools" - [you being wise put up with] the fools. Adjective serving as a substantive, genitive of direct object after the ana prefix verb "to put up with." The adverb "gladly" is modal, expressing manner; "you put up with fools so readily", Moffatt.

onteV (eimi) pres. part. "since you are [so wise]" - being [wise, intelligent]. The participle, being nominative, although anarthrous, may be adjectival limiting "you"; "you, who are so wise, readily put up with fools." Often treated as adverbial, possibly causal, as NIV, or modal, expressing manner, "being wise yourselves", ESV.


Indicating how unwise the Corinthian believers are, Paul makes the point that they put up with behavior that a wise person would not tolerate. The leaders of the opposition party impose their authority over the congregation, they "devour" / eat up the funds of the church, they "take", as in take someone in, they "lift themselves up" / are presumptuous, they "strike on the face" / humiliate.

gar "in fact" - for. Usually taken here to be emphatic, as NIV; "indeed".

anecesqe (anecw) pres. "you even put up with" - [if anyone enslaves you, if anyone devours you, if anyone takes from you, if anyone lifts himself up, if anyone hits you into the face], you bear with, suffer, put up with it. This verb serves as the apodosis / the then clause of the coordinate conditional clause formed in this verse.

ei + ind. "-" - if... if ... if ... if .... if. Introducing a coordinate conditional clause 1st class where the condition is assumed to be true for argument sake; "if, as is the case for example, someone ..... then ...." Given that "if" implies doubt, it is often replaced, as NIV; "In fact, you let people make slaves of you, and cheat you and steal form you. Why, you even let them strut around and slap you in the face", CEV.


With ironic flare Paul asserts that he was far too weak to exercise the type of authority over the Corinthians that they now receive from the leaders of the opposition party.

kata + acc. "to [my shame]" - according to [my shame]. Here adverbial, reference / respect; "I speak, with reference to my shame. Whose "shame" is in mind is not clear, but presumably it is Paul's shame, as NIV. Paul's comment is probably more ironic than depreciating; "I shouldn't admit it to you, but as you say, I really wasn't strong enough to lord it over you like that."

wJV oJti "[I admit] that" - [i say] as you say that [we have been weak]. The NIV has taken wJV oJti to be recitative, introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Paul says, so Moulton. Together they could be causal, but this seems unlikely. Thrall, Furnish, Barnett, ... think that they function separately, wJV serving as a comparative introducing an elliptical phrase, "as you say", and oJti introducing a dependent statement, "that"; "I say this to my shame, as you say, we have been weak." Paul could be saying that he is weak, but it seems more likely that he repeating the slander against him, but doing so in an ironic fashion. Note that the verb "to be weak" is perfect; "we were and are weak."


ii] Paul can outboast his opponents, 11:21a-23a. It is the worldly fool that boasts, but for the sake of the Corinthian believers, Paul will boast of his credentials.

d [de] "-" - but/and. Here as a transitional connective indicating the next step in the argument and so left untranslated, as NIV.

en dat. "-" - in. The preposition here is adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to whatever ...."

w|/ an + subj. "whatever" - whatever way, as the case may be, [a certain one may boast, ......... then i also boast]. Introducing a 3rd. class relative conditional clause where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "If anyone dares to boast about something - I am talking like a fool - I will be just as daring", TEV.

en + dat. "as [a fool]" - [i speak] in [foolishness]. The preposition is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; I speak in the manner of a fool."

kagw "I also" - i also [boast]. The conjoining of kai and egw produces the emphatic adjunctive,"I also."


Paul designates three particular qualities obviously possessed and emphasized by his opponents, the intruders / missionaries / "super / false apostles." Although a matter of dispute, everything about them fits the proposition that they are delegates from the circumcision party in the Jerusalem church - kosher Palestinian Jewish believers. They are Hebrews, ie., they are Jews, as Jesus was a Jew. They are Israelites, ie., they are members of the historic people of God with all the privileges that such entails. They are the offspring of Abraham, ie., they are inheritors of the covenant promises of Abraham, particularly in the sense that, as believers, they are the "seed of Abraham, Gal.3:29, and so are already in possession of the covenant promises in Christ. They are Jewish believers, just as Paul is a Jewish believer, so in that sense Paul is their equal.

kagw "so am I" - [are they hebrews?] i also. [are they israelites?] i also. [are they the seed of abraham?] i also.


Paul is equal to his opponents as a Hebrew, Israelite and a seed of Abraham, but when it comes to being a minister of Christ, he outshines them. The evidence for this may be found in his suffering for the gospel.

Cristou (oV) gen. "[servants] of Christ" - [are they servants] of christ? The genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, or verbal, objective, even ablative, source / origin, "ministers sent from Christ." Paul has just labelled his opponents as "servants of Satan"; how can they be both? Clearly, the intruders / missionaries present as minister's of Christ, and probably do minister the gospel in many positive ways, but at the same time, their ministry is flawed, and it is then that they serve Satan. If, as seems likely, they are Judaizers, then they are believers preaching faith in Christ for salvation, but at the same time they lead a believer away from grace, undermining their salvation, by preaching that the full appropriation of the promised covenant blessings is by obedience to the law - one moment a servant of Christ, the next a servant of Satan.

parafronwn (parafronew) pres. part. "I am out of my mind" - [i am speaking] being out of mind. The participle is adverbial, possibly concessive, "as though / as if out of my mind", or modal, expressing manner, or comparative, "I sound like a madman", TEV.

uJper egw adv. "[I am] more" - [i] more. This prepositional phrase is not overly clear. It is possible that uJper is being used for mallon, "rather", so "rather I", ie., "I am the servant of Christ, not they; it is mad to even make the comparison." Of course, if Paul wanted to say this he would have used mallon. So, it seems more likely that the preposition uJper serves as the comparative adverb "more", Paul is more a servant of Christ than his opponents; probably as an elliptical idiomatic phrase, "I am more than they", Long. A superlative sense is possible, "I am more than a servant of Christ", ie., "I am an apostle, not just a minister, and it's quite stupid to make the comparison." Thrall thinks that a comparison is intended, although Paul sees himself well beyond the range of his opponents.


iii] Paul's boast in suffering, 11:23b-33.

en + dat. "[I have worked harder]" - in [labors more abundantly]. Here adverbial, possibly reference / respect, "with regard to / respect to labors, I have worked to the point of exhaustion", instrumental, expressing means, "by", or expressing basis / cause, "I am more because I labor to the point of exhaustion", or local, expressing sphere / context, so Long, or association, "with far more labors", Harris. This prepositional construction is repeated four times: preposition + noun + adverb, mainly of degree. "Are they servant of Christ? I can go one better (..... it's crazy to talk this way ....). I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time", Peterson.

qanatoiV (oV) dat. "and been exposed to death" - [in imprisonments more frequently, in beatings far more, in] death [often]. Harris suggests that this statement serves as a head for v24-25, so "in death often by the Jews ......."


The punishment referred to here is the official punishment inflicted on a Jew by a Jewish synagogue, 39 strokes being the maximum for the most serious crime, cf., Deut.25:2-3. There is no record in Acts of Paul being flogged, but given his by grace and not by law stance, he would have faced the charge of blasphemy on many occasions - a "defiant" sin, cf., Num.15:30.

uJpo + gen. "from [the Jews]" - by [the jews, five times, i received forty strokes]. Expressing agency, "by the Jews."

para + acc. "minus" - beside = less [one]. Here with the unusual idiomatic sense of "less / minus", cf., BDF #236[4]. The idea of "minus one" reflects Jewish punishment, removing the danger of inflicting more punishment than the law requires.


The second punishment Paul refers to is Roman. This type of punishment was ordered by the local Praetor and administered by a Lictor, but would normally not be inflicted on a Roman citizen at this point in time. Of course, Paul presents as one of those troublesome Jews and so faced the rough justice often doled out in the provinces. The stoning is recorded in Acts 14:19, a punishment for blasphemy and adultery. Acts does not record any early shipwrecks, nor Paul's stranding at sea, but only the one that occurred long after writing 2 Corinthians.

en + dat. "in [the open sea]" - [thrice i was beaten with a stick, once i was stoned, thrice i was shipwrecked, i have been a night and a day] in [the deep]. Local, expressing space.


Paul now lists some particular perils he has faced on his missionary journeys.

oJdoiporiaiV (a) dat. "I have been [constantly] on the move" - [in] traveling [often]. Paul returns to the prepositional construction he employed in v23, although here en must be assumed: preposition + noun + comparative adverb. All the possible meanings may apply here as there, reference / respect, "with respect to my many journeys ....", context, "in the context of my many journeys", ...... although Martin treats it as temporal here, "on frequent journeys." Harris and Martin suggest that like "in death often", v23, this statement serves as a head for the list of dangers; "During my frequent journeys I have been exposed to dangers from rivers, .....", Martin.

kindunoiV (oV) dat. "I have been in danger" - in perils, dangers. Eight descriptives follow: life-threatening rivers, bandits, Jews, gentiles, cities, country, sea and false believers = life-threatening situations."

potamwn (oV) gen. "from rivers" - of rivers, [in dangers of robbers]. The genitive is ablative, source / origin, "life-threatening situations from rivers", or adverbial, instrumental / means, "caused by rivers." So also "bandits / robbers."

ek + gen. "from [my fellow Jews]" - [in dangers] from [family, race, kind, in dangers] from [gentiles]. Expressing source / origin; "my own people", ESV. So also "from Gentiles."

en + dat. "in [the city]" - [in dangers] in [city, in dangers] in [wilderness, in dangers] in [sea, in dangers] in = among [false brothers]. Local, space. As for "false believers / brothers", a local sense still applies, "among false brothers / counterfeit Christians", which for Paul, was probably not the most pressing danger, but certainly the most hurtful.


Paul now lists the privations he has faced during his missionary service, during his "labor and toil."

kopw/ (oV) dat. "I have labored [and toiled]" - in labor [and toil]. Paul again returns to the construction employed in v23, preposition + noun + comparative adverb, although here en must be assumed, as in v26, and the comparative is expressed in the two coordinate nouns "labor and toil." Again, all the possible meanings for the dative may apply here, "with respect to my heavy workload ...", "in the context of my heavy workload ...". Again, it seems likely that together the two datives head up a list of specific elements in Paul's work life, "six hardships or deprivations that result from the labor and toil", Harris, although numerous other structural arrangements are proposed, eg., Martin opts for an A, B, A, B, A structure.

en + dat. "and have often gone without sleep" - in [watchings = sleeplessness often]. Introducing the first of six prepositional phrases headed by en. Probably expressing association, "with"; the toil and labor came with sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, depleted supplies, cold and exposure; "many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather", Peterson.


Apart from all the troubles Paul has listed, there is one he has to carry day-after-day, it is his anxiety for all the churches under his care.

cwriV + gen. "besides" - without / apart from. "Apart from ...."

twn gen. "[everything else]" - the things [besides / outside]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the adverb into a substantive. The adverb parektoV is usually taken here to mean "the things beside", probably referring to the hardships already mentioned; "apart from the troubles I have just listed ...."

kaq (kata) + acc. "[I face daily]" - [there is the pressure, burden / responsibility] according to [day]. Here distributive, "daily"; "there is the burden / responsibility I must bear, day-after-day."

moi dat. pro. "-" - on / for me. Dative of indirect object / local / interest / possession, "there is the daily burden to me / on me / for me / there is my daily burden"; "there is the burden / responsibility I must bear." The noun epistasiV is probably used here in the sense of a burden, a pressure that weighs down, rather than in the sense of "responsibility."

twn ekklhsiwn (a) gen. "[all] the churches" - [the care, concern, anxiety, worry / responsibility] of [all] the churches. The genitive is verbal, objective; "care for all the churches / worry about all the churches." "The care for all the churches" stands in apposition to the predicate nominative "burden", specifying the "burden" in mind.


Paul now elaborates on the anxiety for all the churches in his care, an anxiety that presses in on him day-by-day. When his churches are made weak / brought low, he is brought low. When members of his church are led into sin, he is emotionally affected, he "burns" within.

puroumai (purow) pres. "[and I do not] inwardly burn" - [who is weak and i am not weak? who is caused to sin and i] do [not] burn? The emotion of burning is not defined; it may range from indignation, so ESV, anger, so Peterson, to a deep concern, "who is led astray without my burning concern", Barclay. Possibly just in a neutral sense "I am filled with distress", TEV. Phillips gives it a positive spin; "Does anyone have his faith upset without my longing to restore him?"


iv] Paul's boast is in his weakness, v30-33. Paul end's the first part of his Fool's Speech by noting that the only worthwhile boast for a believer is a boast about their weakness, v30. He goes on to affirm this fact in an oath, v31, and then gives an example of such a boast in the rather humorous account of his escape from Damascus in a basket - a rather undignified way to undertake a journey, v32-33.

ei + ind. "if" - if, [as is the case, to boast is necessary, then i will boast about the things of the weakness of me]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true.

kaucasqai (kaucaomai) pres. mid. inf. "[I must] boast" - The infinitive serves as the subject of the impersonal verb "is necessary."

ta "the things" - The article serves as a nominalizer, turning the genitival construction "of the weakness of me" into a substantive, direct object of the verb "I will boast about."

thV asqeneiaV (a) gen. "that show [my] weakness" - of the weakness [of me]. The genitive is most likely adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, limiting "the things"; "the things which show my weakness", Barclay, as NIV.


The verse presents as an oath in the form of a doxology.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "the Lord" - [the god and father] of the lord. The genitive is adjectival, relational.

Ihsou (ouV ou) gen. "Jesus" - Genitive is apposition to "the Lord."

oJ w]n (eimi) pres. part. "who is to be [praised]" - the one to be [praised, blessed]. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "God and Father."

eiV touV aiwnaV "forever" - into the age. Idiomatic phrase, the eiV being temporal, "to eternity" = "forever".

oJti "that" - [knows] that [i am not lying]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what God the Father knows.


Paul's escape from Damascus, cf. Acts 9:23-25

en + dat. "in [Damascus]" - Local, space.

Areta (aV a) gen. "under [king] Aretas" - [the governor, ruler] of aretas [the king]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive / idiomatic; "the governor who is under Aretas the king." The word eqnarchV probably refers to someone who "held some definite position in relation to the Nabataean ruler", Taylor. The genitive tou BasilewV, "the king", stands in apposition to "Aretas".

Damaskhnwn (oV wn) gen. "of the Damascenes" - [was guarding the city] of the damascenes. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / identification; "the city inhabited by the Damascenes", or possessive, "belonging to."

piasai (piazw) aor. inf. "to arrest [me]" - to seize, arrest [me]. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "in order to seize me."


en + dat. "in [a basket]" - [i was let down] in [a basket]. Local, expressing space.

dia + gen. "from [a window]" - through [a window] through [the wall and escaped the hands of them]. Spacial.


2 Corinthians Introduction


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