2 Corinthians


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

vii] Paul justifies his apostolate


Having concluded his Fool's Speech, Paul expresses regret that he was forced to act the fool and boast of his apostolic qualifications, none-the-less, it has at least demonstrated to the Corinthians that he is in no way inferior to the "super-apostles"; he is indeed a true apostle in "signs, wonders and miracles." The only way Paul is inferior to the "super-apostles" is that he supports himself rather than looking to the Corinthian church for support. So, Paul will soon be with them for the third time and as before, he will support himself. He asks that they accept his independent stance as an act of love and that they once-and-for-all quell the myth that he is out to exploit them.


i] Context: See 10:1-11. Paul continues to defend his apostolic authority.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: Paul justifies his apostolate:

A brief epilogue to the Fool's Speech, v11-13.

Paul clears the air in preparation for his upcoming visit to Corinth, v14-18:

Paul asks the Corinthians to accept his intention to support himself as an act of love, v14-15;

Paul defends himself against the charge of exploitation, v16-18.


iv] Interpretation:

Verses 11-13 may serve as the conclusion to the Fool's Speech, so Harris, or as an epilogue to the speech, so Furnish, Thrall, ... It does seem more like an epilogue, in that Paul apologizes for having to play the fool and boast of his apostolic credentials, comparing himself with the "super-apostles", the intruders / missionaries / delegates (from Jerusalem). At any rate, he hopes that he has demonstrated to the Corinthians that he possesses the credentials of a true apostle.

Harris identifies three charges against Paul from v11-13:

*Paul is inferior to the "super-apostles", v11;

*He does not possess the characteristics of a true apostle, v12;

*The Corinthians are worse off due to Paul's ministry, v13.

The criticism Paul addresses in v14-19 concerns his hypocrisy with regard to money. His refusal to accept a stipend has prompted some reaction. The Corinthians obviously see this as culturally inappropriate, whereas Paul views the acceptance of a stipend as patronizing - "did I sin", 11:7; forgive me this wrong", v13. For Paul, offering the gospel free of charge is an act of love. Yet, he faces a more serious charge, namely, that he receives money via his ministry associates - they collect the money for him. He answers this charge by asking whether his ministry associate Titus exploited them when he was with them. The answer is obviously not. As far as Paul is concerned, he wants the Corinthians for their fellowship not their money.

Text - 12:11

Paul justifies his apostolate, v11-18: i] A brief epilogue to the Fool's Speech, v11-13.

gar "for" - [i have become foolish bragging about my apostolic credentials, but you compelled me] for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why he has acted as a fool by boasting; "because I have been slandered when I ought to have been commended by you." "I have made a fool of myself in this 'boasting' business, but you forced me to do it", Phillips.

egw pro. "I" - Emphatic by use and position.

sunistasqai (sunisthmi) pres. mid./pas. inf. "[I ought] to have been commended" - [i was obligated, owed = ought] to be commended, recommended. The infinitive is complementary, completing the verb "I ought." "You are the ones who ought to show your approval of me", TEV.

uJf (uJpo) + gen. "by [you]" - Expressing agency.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul should have been commended by the Corinthian believers; "because I am in no way inferior to your super-apostles."

twn uJperlian apostolwn gen. "to the super-apostles" - [nothing i lack] of the special apostles. "Less than / inferior to" with a genitive of comparison.

kai "even" - and. Here ascensive, as NIV, "even".

ei + ind. "though" - if, [as is the case , i am nothing, then nothing i lack of the special apostles]. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true for argument sake (ironic). "Let's say that I'm a nobody, at least I'm in no way inferior to your super-apostles."


The Corinthians should have commended Paul instead of forcing him to play the fool, commended him because he is in no way inferior to the super-apostles. Paul now explains how he, though nothing, is not inferior to them, v11. The recognizable marks of a true apostle were done / demonstrated (kateirgasqh) among them when he was with them. These shmeia, "signs" were performed within the context of "great perseverance" = "utmost endurance", Barnett, ie., Paul's suffering and humiliation. So, the marks that identify a true apostle were evident in Paul's ministry in Corinth, and they served as a divine accreditation of his apostleship. The marks of apostleship are probably the preached word along with the outpouring of the Spirit in the context of humiliation, and this "associated with signs and wonders and powers." Such are classic Old Testament indicators of divine intervention. A divine act of redemption for the inauguration of the kingdom is always associated with "signs and wonders", eg., the Exodus, cf., Ex.7:3, 10:1, 15:11.... So also, with Jesus - "signs and wonders and powers" are evident in the ministry of Christ and his apostles. The book of Acts certainly records the presence of such signs, although little is recorded in Paul's ministry. These signs, wonders and powers do not in themselves authenticate apostleship since they can be fabricated, but none-the-less they serve as visible manifestations of the gospel, proclaiming the dawning of the new age of fulfillment.

men "-" - on the one hand [the signs of the apostle were performed among you but on the other hand you took no notice]. Adversative comparative construction, where the comparative clause introduced by de is omitted "because it would be obvious", Thrall.

katergasqh (katergazomai) aor. pas. "demonstrating" - were performed. This verb "to work, make, prepare", is passive - divine passive, so Plummer, ie., the apostle is an agent of divine power

en + dat. "among [you]" - in [you]. Local, space; "among".

en + dat. "-" - in [all endurance]. Here adverbial, modal, expressing manner, or instrumental, "by means of", or better, attendant circumstance, "with the utmost endurance", Harris.

tou apostolou (oV) gen. "[the marks] of a true apostle" - [the signs] of the apostle. The article tou implies a general principle, so Meyer; "apostleship." The genitive may be read as verbal, subjective, so Long, but better adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, so Guthrie, "the signs which characterize apostleship were performed among you."

ti kai ... kai ".... and ...." - Indicating a coordinating construction.

shmeioiV (on) dat. "including signs" - in signs, [and wonders and works of power]. The dative is often taken as instrumental, expressing means, "by means of", so Furnish, Thrall, Long, Harris; "the marks of apostleship were performed among you ...... by signs, wonders and miracles." Yet, association seems more likely, as NIV11, "including signs ...", so Martin, "along with", and also Barrett, "accompanied by". For Paul, the true shmeia, "marks / signs", of an apostle are evidenced en pash/ uJpomonh, "with great perseverance" = in the humiliation of suffering in communicating / preaching the gospel, "accompanied by ......"


Paul gives a further reason why he deserves the Corinthians' commendation, namely, his ministry with them was in no way inferior to that exercised in other churches. He adds an ironic qualification; except for the fact that he didn't ask for their financial support. The qualification seems to imply that the taV loipaV ekklhsiaV, "the other churches", are not churches under his apostolic care, since in his churches he applied his principle of offering the gospel free of charge. Once the book of Acts focuses on the Pauline mission we are left with little information as to the wider development of the Christian church beyond Palestine. Paul tells us that he is careful not to intrude on the missionary work of others, indicating that parallel missions were operative alongside that of Paul's. Thrall thinks that the leaders of the opposition party in Corinth, the missionaries, intruders, have knowledge of, or have participated in these other mission churches. These churches obviously provide a stipend and this fact may have been used to imply that Paul's churches are unprofessional second-rate affairs.

gar "-" - for. More reason than cause; explanatory.

uJper + acc. "[inferior] to [the other churches]" - [what is there which you were treated worse] than [the other churches]. Here used as a comparative.

ei mh "except" - if not = except. Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception. Long suggests that the exception is elliptic; "except you were treated worse because I myself were not a financial burden." The statement is ironic, the irony being reinforced by "forgive me this wrong."

oJti "that" - Often treated as epexegetic, although better causal, as Long above; introducing a causal clause explaining why they were treated worse.

uJmwn gen. pro. "[a burden] to you" - [i myself was not a burden on] you. Genitive of direct object after the kata prefix verb "to be a burden on."

moi dat. pro. "[forgive] me" - [forgive this wrong] to me. Dative of indirect object.


ii] Paul clears the air in preparation for his upcoming visit to Corinth, v14-18. As Barnett points out, this passage is all about money: First, it is appropriate for Paul to pay for his own keep - parents provide for their children, not the other way around; Second, the suggestion that Paul receives funding from his mission churches via his associates is false.

idou "now" - behold. This interjection serves to regain the readers attention and point to what follows.

elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "to visit [you]" - [i have readily this third time] to come [to you]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the idiomatic construction "I have readily" = "I am ready, prepared" + inf. cf., BDF#393. Possibly, "this is the third time I have prepared to come to you", but better, "this will be my third visit to you." The first visit is when Paul founded the church around AD50. The second visit was the painful visit around AD54 when he clashed with some members / the opposition party. The third visit, around AD56, occurred soon after the Corinthians received this letter. Paul then used the church as his base of operations for some months, during which time he wrote his letter to the Romans. Romans serves to detail his argument against the heresy of the Judaizers, the circumcision party in Jerusalem, some of whom were likely to be the leaders of the opposition party in Corinth - the "super-apostles", intruders, missionaries from Jerusalem.

gar "because" - [and i will not be a burden] for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul intends not being a financial burden on the Corinthian congregation; "because ....."

uJmwn gen. pro. "[what I want is not] your possessions" - [i do not seek the things] of you [but you]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive. "I have no interest in what you have - only in you", Peterson.

gar "after all" - for. More reason than cause, explanatory, as NIV, supporting / explaining the statement "I seek not what is yours, but you."

qhsaurizein (qhsaurizw) pres. inf. "[should not have] to save up" - [the children are not obligated] to save up treasure [to = for the parents]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be obligated." "Children should not be saving up to help their parents; it is parents who should be saving up to help their children", Barclay.

alla "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...., but ...."

toiV teknoiV (on) dat. "for their children" - [the parents] to = for the =their children. As with "for their parents", dative of interest, advantage.


Paul wants his readers to know that in his life he goes well beyond the principle of not being a burden; in love he expends everything he has for the congregations under his care, he burns himself out for them.

de "so" - but/and. Here as a transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument.

egw pro. "I" - Emphatic by use and position.

uJper + gen. "for [you]" - [i will gladly spend and will be spent / worn out] for [the souls of you]. Here expressing advantage; "on behalf of ..."

ei + ind. "if" - if, as is the case for argument sake = assuming [I am loving you even more, than the other churches, then am i to be loved less, than i am by the other churches]? Introducing a first class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true. Although a rather rare construction found only a number of times in the NT, although not in Paul, ei can be used to introduce a rhetorical question; "loving you more, am I loved the less", Thrall. Most translations opt for a rhetorical question, while taking the participle "loving" as adverbial, conditional, as NIV.

agapwn (agapw) pres. part. "I love [you]" - I am loving. A variant verb agapw, "I love", exists. The participle is best viewed as independent / a present periphrastic with the verb to-be eimi assumed, the periphrastic serving to emphasize aspect, Paul's act of ongoing love for the Corinthian church.

perissoterwV adv. "more" - even more. The adverb is comparative, so "even more than ......" The implied comparison may be "even more than those other mission congregations who pay for the ministry provided to them."


The sense of this verse is somewhat illusive. The first part of the verse may summarize Paul's argument so far, stating the bottom line, "I have not been a burden to you." Yet, the ou ... alla construction indicates a counterpoint argument, "I have NOT been a burden to you, which is not really the case, BUT, crafty fellow that I am, I got the better of you by deceit." Paul is likely to be articulating what his opponents in Corinth are saying because it is unlikely that he would sow the seed of doubt by referring to himself as a religious charlatan, a cheat - it may look as if he is giving his service free of charge, but he is actually getting funding through the back door. The next verse seems to imply the source of these illicit funds, namely, Paul's associates. Is it being suggested that Paul is skimming the collection for the saints? "And why is it that I keep coming across these whiffs of gossip about how my self-support was a front behind which I worked an elaborate scam?", Peterson.

de "-" - but/and. Here as a transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument.

estw (eimi) pres. imp. "be that as it may" - let it be, [i have not burdened you]. The NIV reads the verb to-be as retrospective, the subject "it" being "I will gladly spend and will be spent for you", but it could also be prospective, "let it be assumed that I did not burden you", NRSV. In a sense it is both, "let it be as stated, I will gladly spend and will be spent for you, namely, I have not been a burden to you." Yet, given the counterpoint argument, it is only seemingly so - everything before the BUT can be ignored ("He's NOT a bad driver, BUT he has had far too many accidents"). "'Ah!' you say, 'that is all very well. I myself refrained from becoming a burden to you, but, being the cunning knave that I am, I got the better of you by roundabout means'", Cassirer.

alla "yet" - but. Strong adversative in a counterpoint construction.

uJparcwn (uJparcw) pres. part. "[crafty fellow] that I am" - being [crafty, cunning, unscrupulous]. The NIV, as Moule, Turner, Plummer, Harris, .. takes the participle as causal, expressing an inherent characteristic; "since I am naturally crafty", Thrall. Long opts for instrumental, expressing means, "by being crafty."

dolw/ (oV) dat. "[I caught you] by trickery!" - [i took you] by deceit. The dative is instrumental, expressing means, as NIV.


Paul denies that he has ever used any of his associates to exploit the Corinthian church. The verse presents with syntactical problems and is usually viewed as an anacoluthon / broken or irregular syntax where the author looses their way. The accusative tina, "a certain / any", was presumably intended as the object of the verb apestalka, "to send", but has ended up as a pendent accusative, or possibly just an accusative of respect, so Barnett.

mh "-" - surely it is not the case that [a certain of whom i have sent to you, through him i exploited you]? This negation in a question prompts a negative answer. "Did I get some financial benefit out of you through / from the delegates I sent you?" The answer is "No".

di (dia) + gen. "through" - Expressing agency.

tina pro. "any" - a certain / any. Pendent accusative; see above. Is a certain person in mind? It seem likely that the pronoun here is indefinite, so "any of those whom I sent you."

wJV gen. pro. "of the men" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

apestalka (apostellw) perf. "I sent [to you]" - i have been sending. According to Moulton, we have here an example of a present perfect of broken continuity; "of those whom (from time to time) I have sent." Martin simply classifies it as iterative, expressing multiple intermittent sendings.


In this verse Paul specifies what is implied in v17. Paul may be guessing, but it seems likely that he is aware of a rumor that Titus has extracted money from the Corinthian church and passed it on to Paul for his personal use. Paul states categorically that Titus has never scammed them; Paul and Titus are of the same mind and disposition. Paul may have in mind a particular visit of Titus to Corinth. Of those recorded, we have the visit to carry the severe letter to the Corinthians, 7:6, 7, ..., and the visit to establish the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, 8:6, 10. Skimming from the collection may well be the rumor Paul is dealing with.

mhti -"[Titus did] not [exploit you, did he?] - [i urged titus to go and i sent with him the brother. surely titus did] not [exploit you]? This intensive negation in a question prompts a negative answer. "I asked Titus to visit you and with him I sent the brother whom you know. Surely Titus did not exploit you?", Harris.

ou "[did we] not [walk]" - [did we] not [walk in / by the same spirit? did we] not [walk in / by the same steps]? This negation in a question prompts a positive answer. The verb "to walk" is plural, so "do not he and I walk = conduct ourselves in / by the same s/Spirit?"

tw/ ... pneumati (a atoV) dat. "in the [same] spirit / by the [same] Spirit?" - Fee in Presence, 1994, argues that the Holy Spirit is intended, so NIV11, as in "walking by / with the Spirit", a dative of means or association. but most commentators opt for "spirit", taking the dative as adverbial, attendant circumstance / manner, "in the same spirit", "spirit" = "human disposition", Thrall, so Furnish, Martin, Barrett, Barnett; "the same mind ... the same steps", Furnish. The Corinthian believers would have known Titus very well, given his time with them. They would know that he had never taken advantage of them, no more than Paul would take advantage of them.


2 Corinthians Introduction


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