II Corinthians 11:16-33

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Text: II Corinthians 11:16-33

COUNTING THE COST

INTRODUCTION:

In II Corinthians 11:1-15 Paul asserts his apostleship and in 11:16-33 indicates that his sufferings for Christ demonstrate his apostleship.

As we go through this section, we should ask ourselves, How far would we be willing to go in living for the Lord?

II 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.

Paul is going to boast a little about some things he has experienced, but no one should regard him as a fool for doing so. However, if they do, they should receive him as a fool.

I say again is, I am saying again. In II Corinthians 10:8 , 13, and 16 he has mentioned boasting; and he mentions it again in this verse.

II Corinthians 10:8 - For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed.

II Corinthians 10:13 - But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

II Corinthians 10:16 - To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.

Let no man think me a fool is not a third person imperative even though its English translation may suggest that it is. It is, Someone should not begin to consider me to be foolish or, No one should ever consider me to be foolish.

If otherwise suggests but if indeed (or in fact) (you do think of me as a fool).

Yet as a fool receive me is at least as a fool put up with me (or tolerate me).

That I may boast myself a little indicates Paul's purpose in asking the Corinthian believers to receive him. It is in order that (or for the purpose that) I may boast a small amount.

II Corinthians 11:17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

Paul acknowledges that, in his boasting, he is speaking foolishly and not as the Lord would have him speak.

That which I speak I speak not after the Lord means that he is speaking (or saying) something in a way the Lord Jesus would never have said (or spoken) it; and he is speaking it by writing it in II Corinthians.

But as it were foolishly indicates that Paul has intentionally reduced himself to doing what his accusers were doing. He is speaking like the false apostles speak, i.e. with a lack of prudence, with a lack of good judgment, or with a lack of good sense.

In this confidence of boasting is another way of saying foolishly. Paul means that he is speaking foolishly by confident boasting.

II Corinthians 11:18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.

Seeing that many glory after the flesh is since (or because) many (in reference to the false apostles) are boasting (i.e. are priding themselves or are bragging) in accordance with human standards.

I will glory also indicates that Paul will boast in addition to others who are boasting. Whereas the motives of the false apostles in their boasting were wrong, Paul's motives were to help the Corinthian believers perceive the truth of what was happening to them through these deceivers.

II Corinthians 11:19-20 - (19) For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. (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.

In verse 19 Paul states facetiously that the Corinthian believers tolerate fools gladly because they themselves are wise.

For ye suffer fools gladly is, Because you are bearing with those who lack good judgment gladly, or Because you are putting up with the ignorant gladly.

Seeing ye yourselves are wise is understood in the sense of because (i.e. since or inasmuch as) you (Corinthian believers) are sensible, thoughtful, or prudent. However, they are not really wise; they are only wise in their own estimation or opinion. If they were truly wise, they would not tolerate fools.

II 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.

The Corinthian believers in their wisdom would put up with all kinds of things from the false apostles, who were nothing less than tyrants. Verse 20 shows how they suffer fools gladly.

For is understood in the sense of because.

Ye suffer is You are putting up with it.

Ye suffer is the conclusion of five conditions which follow in this verse. In each case, the condition is assumed, for sake of discussion, to be true; and since it is not certain whether it is actually true, if should, in each case, be understood in the sense of assuming that. Here the conclusion comes before the conditions. Although the condition in a conditional statement ordinarily comes before the conclusion, sometimes, as in this verse, the order is reversed in order to emphasize the conclusion.

The first condition is if a man bring you into bondage.

A man is also used in each of the five conditional statements. In each case, it is someone, somebody, anyone, or anybody; and it is repeated for emphasis.

If a man bring you into bondage is if someone enslaves you or if someone reduces you to slavery.

The second conditional statement is if a man devour you, i.e. if someone is exploiting (or if someone is robbing) you. How? By bringing them into bondage to the law as the Judaizers had attempted to do in the churches of Galatia. By placing financial burdens on the people.

If a man take of you is the third condition. It is understood in the sense of if someone is putting something over (on you) or if someone is taking advantage (of you).

If a man exalt himself is the fourth condition. It suggests if someone is presumptuous or if someone is putting on airs. How? By speaking against others (such as Paul) in order to exalt or elevate himself.

If a man smite you on the face is the fifth condition. It is if someone is hitting you in the face and is likely used in this verse in a figurative sense of if someone is treating you in an insulting manner (or abusing you); but it could be literal in some cases. Both Jesus and Paul had been literally struck in the face. Whether physically or figuratively, the false apostles abused the people.

1. You will be misunderstood - 11:21

II 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.

According to verse 21, Paul, speaking sarcastically, compares himself with the false apostles. In whatever anyone else is bold, he is also bold.

I speak as concerning reproach is, I am speaking to my shame in comparison to the highly exalted status of the false apostles. Of course, he is speaking ironically.

As though we had been weak is as though I was weak. Paul was not really weak, but he is speaking ironically. His demeanor and treatment of the Corinthian believers was weak in comparison with the way others such as the false apostles had treated them.

Howbeit, whereinsoever any is bold, . . . I am bold also is but in whatever anyone dares (or is courageous), I dare also (or I am courageous also).

Paul reminds his readers that he is speaking after the manner of men, i.e. (I speak foolishly) by bragging. As indicated by the parentheses, this is a parenthetical statement, which means that it does not advance the argument.

2. Your credentials will be questioned - verses 22-23

II Corinthians 11:22-23 - (22) Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. (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.

In verse 22 Paul brings himself to discuss his pedigree and shows that the false apostles were Jewish. He is a Hebrew of the seed of Abraham just like the false apostles and cites his pedigree in comparison to the false apostles by asking and answering a number of questions. Not only is Paul identifying himself as a Jew in this verse, but he also is identifying the false apostles as Jews.

Are they (i.e. the false apostles) Hebrews?

Hebrews is an ethnic name for Israelites in contrast to other nations. By the use of Hebrews Paul was likely distinguishing himself as a Jew who had not adopted the Greek language and customs, a distinction found in Acts 6:1 ; whereas, the Grecians were Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture.

Acts 6:1 - And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

So am I is I (am) also.

Are they Israelites? asks whether they are descendants of Israel, i.e. of Jacob.

Paul again answers so am I.

Are they the seed of Abraham?, i.e. Are they descended from Abraham?

Paul again answers so am I, i.e. I (am) also. They had no advantage over him.

II 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.

In verses 23-27 Paul, as a minister of Christ, speaks of things he has experienced to a much greater degree than the false apostles.

Paul asks, Are they (i.e. the false apostles) ministers (i.e. servants or agents) of Christ? The same term was used of Satan's ministers in verse 15.

(I speak as a fool) (i.e. I am speaking foolishly) has been placed in parentheses because it does not advance the narrative.

I am more is I (am) even more and implies than the false apostles are. Paul then proceeds to list some things in which he was superior to the false apostles.

In labours suggests in works or toils. As translated, it suggests engaging in activity that is burdensome and emphasizes the weariness which comes as a result of the labor. This term is also used of a state of discomfort or distress in the sense of in troubles or in difficulties.

More abundant suggests to a much greater degree and implies than the false apostles.

In stripes above measure speaks of sudden hard strokes with some instrument in the sense of in blows (or in strokes) to a much greater degree and implies than the false apostles.

In prisons more frequent suggests that Paul had spent far more time in prison than the false apostles.

In deaths oft suggests in situations where Paul often faced physical death or was frequently in danger of death.

3. Your desire will be tested - verses 24-27

II Corinthians 11:24-27 - (24) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. (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; (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; (27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one is by Jews I was given thirty-nine stripes on five occasions. Forty stripes were allowed under Jewish law; but rather than taking a chance on miscounting, the Jews limited it to thirty-nine stripes.

The reader must realize that Paul would live another ten years or so after writing II Corinthians so that he may have experienced more in his lifetime than he is relating in this passage.

II Corinthians 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.

Thrice was I beaten with rods indicates that, on three different occasions prior to writing II Corinthians, Paul was beaten with a rod, a punishment administered by the Romans. Only one of these three is mentioned in the New Testament. It occurred in Philippi and is mentioned in Acts 16:22-24 .

Acts 16:22-24 - (22) And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. (23) And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: (24) Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Once was I stoned. This occurred on Paul's first missionary journey at Lystra in Acts 14:19 .

Thrice I suffered shipwreck, i.e. I was shipwrecked three times. These three times were not recorded in the Scriptures. He also suffered shipwreck when he was being transported to Rome as a prisoner in Acts 27:33-44 , but this occurred a number of years after Paul wrote II Corinthians.

A night and a day I have been in the deep means that he was adrift in the sea for twenty-four hours. It is not recorded in the Scripture.

II Corinthians 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.

In journeyings often is in walkings many times.

In has been supplied nine times in this verse. Each time it is implied.

Perils is used eight times for emphasis and means dangers or risks.

In perils of waters is in dangers of rivers (or streams).

In perils of robbers is in dangers of highwaymen (or bandits).

In perils by mine own countrymen is in dangers from fellow-Israelites.

In perils by the heathen suggests in dangers from the pagans (or the Gentiles).

In perils in the city is in dangers in the city (or in the town) depending on its size.

In perils in the wilderness is in dangers in the desert.

In perils in the sea is in dangers in a large body of water such as the Mediterranean Sea.

In perils among false brethren suggests in dangers among those who pretend to be fellow believers.

II Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

In appears five times in this verse for emphasis.

In weariness suggests in activity that is burdensome in the sense of in work, in labor, or in toil with an emphasis on the weariness which results from it.

And painfulness is and labor, and exertion, or and hardship.

In watchings often suggests in sleeplessnesses many times or frequently remaining awake because I was unable to . . . sleep.

In hunger and thirst suggests being overly hungry and thirsty.

In fastings often suggests in going hungry many times or (frequently). His fastings were not voluntary.

In cold and nakedness suggests that they were not warm enough and had a lack of sufficient clothing with the connotation of destitution.

4. You will be burdened - 11:28

II Corinthians 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

In verse 28 Paul switches from physical things he has experienced internal things he has experiences on a daily basis.

Beside is apart from.

Those things that are without are the things (he has suffered) which are outside the body. As Christ's apostle, Paul did indeed suffer many things; but he also had to deal daily with something on the inside.

That which cometh upon me suggests a gathering together against established authority in the sense of an uprising, a disturbance, an insurrection, or a rush of a mob upon Paul.

Daily is understood in the sense of day after day. It is the disturbance Paul experiences day after day in addition to all the physical sufferings.

Lest anyone misunderstand what Paul means, he clarifies it with the care of all the churches, i.e. the anxiety (or the worry) of all the assemblies (or congregations). Paul was concerned for all of them. Like a parent with his children, Paul would have been more concerned for the well-being of the churches than they were for themselves.

5. You will be sympathetic with other Christians - 11:29a

II Corinthians 11:29 a - Who is weak, and I am not weak? . . .

In verse 29 Paul explains what he means by the care of all the churches in verse 28.

Who is weak, and I am not weak?

Weak suggests experiencing some personal incapacity or limitation and is used generally of faint-heartedness and timidity. It suggests that Paul empathizes with fellow believers who are going through difficulties and feels sympathy for them.

6. You will be indignant toward those who lead others into sin - 11:29b

II Corinthians 11:29 b - . . . Who is offended, and I burn not?

Who is offended and I burn not? also suggests that Paul takes it personally when another believer is offended and reacts as if he himself had been offended.

By is offended Paul may mean is given offense to, is angered, or is shocked through word or action. It may instead mean is caused to sin or is led into sin. In view of the false teaching by the false apostles, this second definition seems more appropriate in this context.

And introduces Paul's reaction when another believer is offended: I burn.

Burn is used literally of burning or of being on fire. Here it is used figuratively in the sense of being inflamed with sympathy or indignation. Not negates it. I burn not is I do not burn, I am not burning, or I am not inflamed. When a believer has been led into sin, Paul has been inflamed with righteous indignation.

7. You will come to an end of self - 11:30

II Corinthians 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

By this point in the chapter, Paul has had enough of boasting about himself. In verse 30 he has decided that he will only boast in the things which concern his weaknesses.

If I must needs glory is the condition in a conditional statement, and I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities is the conclusion. The structure of the condition indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true. Inasmuch as it may or may not be true, if should be understood in the sense of assuming that.

I must needs glory is that I must boast about or that I must be proud of.

I will glory is I will boast about or I will be proud of.

Rather than boast about things concerning himself, Paul will boast of the things which concern mine (i.e. my) infirmities weaknesses (or limitations).

8. You may be falsely accused of wrongdoing - 11:31

II Corinthians 11:31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

God the Father is Paul's witness that he is not lying.

He is both the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Which is blessed for evermore is Who is blessed (or praised) for evermore (i.e. forever and ever).

Knoweth that I lie not is knows that I am not lying.

9. Your life may be in danger - 11:32-33

II Corinthians 11:32-33 - (32) In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: (33) And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

In verse 32 Paul relates an experience he had in Damascus when the governor was trying to take him into custody. It demonstrates how weak Paul was and how totally dependent he was on God for his life and safety.

Damascus is the capital of Syria. It is where Paul was headed when he was saved.

The governor would be the ethnic leader.

Under Aretas the king is of Aretas the king. This is a reference to Aretas IV who ruled from around 9 BC to AD 40. Aretas was Herod Antipas' father-in-law. His daughter was divorced by Herod Antipas so that he could marry Herodias. When John the Baptist objected to this, he was eventually beheaded.

The governor kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison.

Kept . . . with a garrison is maintained a watch or guarded; and its tense indicates continuing action in past time in the sense of was keeping a garrison, was maintaining a watch, or was guarding.

The city of the Damascenes is Damascus, the city where the Damascenes resided.

Desirous to apprehend me is understood in the sense of because (i.e. since or inasmuch as) he was wishing (or wanting) to arrest me or to take me into custody. Paul was known to be hiding in the city; and, apparently, the thought was that by guarding the city gates on the inside of the city, they could control all who would attempt to leave the city and thereby capture Paul. Their plan was thwarted, however, as verse 33 indicates.

If Aretas died in AD 40; so, it shows that Paul had to be saved for several years before this. According to Galatians 1 , after Paul was saved, he spent time in Arabia before returning to Damascus. It is usually saved in about AD 35.

Acts 9:19-25 - (19) And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. (20) And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (21) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (22) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

In this passage in Acts, Luke does not mention Paul's stay in Arabia which would have occurred between verses 22 and 23.

(23) And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: (24) But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. (25) Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

II Corinthians 11:33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

In verse 33 Paul relates his experience in escaping from the governor's garrison.

Through a window indicates that Paul passed from inside the city wall to the outside of the city wall by going through a window.

In a basket, or rope basket, indicates the means by which Paul was let down to the ground after escaping through the wall. The term for basket is the same term used for in the feeding of the 4,000.

Was I let down suggests I was lowered.

By the wall is through the wall, i.e. through the city wall.

And I escaped his hands suggests that Paul got away and was not caught.

CONCLUSION:

How far are you willing to go to live for the Lord?