Paul spends the better part of 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 “boasting.” Why would he do that? Why did he do that – even calling himself foolish and a madman as he did it?
False “brethren” – false “apostles” – more or less false “friends” had come into the Corinthian church. They were not only maligning the gospel, but also pointedly maligning Paul himself. Paul steps up to the plate to defend himself based on the facts of his own example. He uses his hardship and weakness as his boast. He speaks of all the right and reasons he had to be heard by his church.
The truth is, he never should have had to do this. His church should have defended him when these false frenemies came to tear him (and them!) down. If anyone was worthy of their loyalty, it was Paul. No one loved them more than he did save Christ. This man would have given his life for theirs. How could they not see the truth? How could they be so blind?
He begins by showing them that he has all the qualifications they use to disqualify people who do not. He shares all the pain he personally had endured for the sake of the gospel and for them. He talks about a persistent problem he deals with in his own life – his “thorn.” These are his “boasts.”
In chapter 12 Paul tells his church that he has been a fool to elaborate on such things, but that it was they that “forced him to it.” How so?
His reason for speaking so foolishly and boasting in his weaknesses was because his own church had forsaken him. Consider that.
The Corinthian church knew Paul very well. They knew he was qualified to lead them. They knew what he had risked, endured, and lost for the sake of the gospel and for Christ. They surely knew these facts well. He feels particularly inclined to remind them because they surely should have loved him. They should have listened to him. They should have remembered him and his true words when false brothers came in and slandered him and the gospel itself.
Paul’s church did not defend him. They listened instead to liars who they did not know from Adam. They followed false men with a false gospel whose primary goal was to discredit Paul himself so that they could take control of the church.
Paul’s church did not defend him so he defends himself. He’s talking crazy because their utter foolishness is making him crazy! He’s saying, “Hey, guys! Remember me? The guy who taught you the gospel? I am not inferior to these troublemaking false new best friends of yours. I am noone special but, with God as my witness, I am a true friend to you and to God. Did you see the signs he gave me? I know you did. I don’t want your money or your positions or whatever it is you think I’m going to take away from you. I want your heart. Show me your heart.”
“…for I seek not what is yours but you…” ~2 Corinthians 12:14
You guys think I’m here to take something away from you or hurt you. I am not seeking what belongs to you. I am seeking YOU! Sounds like something Jesus would say…
“Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.” ~2 Corinthians 12:19
You think I am defending myself? This foolish defense is for YOU!!! It is for your growth, church. BELOVED church. Please. Please do not let me show up and see you unrepentant. This is my third visit to you. I warned you. There are no more warnings. Warning time is over. Examine yourselves. See if you are truly in the faith. I want you to be restored. Here is the only way that is going to happen:
“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” ~2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Rejoice. Restore. Comfort each other. Agree. Live in peace. Please. Church, please.