Southern Christian University

A Study of II Corinthians #2

James A. Turner

Please read all of the references. They will help you to gain a better understanding.


Lesson Two, Chapters eight through thirteen.

Chapter Eight,

In this chapter, and also in chapter nine, he gives further instruction concerning the collection for the poor saints in Judea.  Paul first calls attention to the fact that the churches of   Macedonia were in great affliction, and in deep poverty, but their good spirit had abounded unto the riches of their liberality. Verse two.  "For according to their power, I bear witness, yea and beyond their power they were willing of their accord."  Evidently, they were so poor that Paul had not even expected them, to have a part in making up a collection, but they said, we are going to have a part; and he says they went even beyond their ability.  "For according to their power I bear witness, yea and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, beseeching us with much entreaty that we would receive this grace, and the fellowship, in the ministering to the saints, and this not as we hoped,  Does this not indicate that he had not expected them to do what they did?  But first they gave their own selves to the Lord and to us through the will of God.  Insomuch that we have exhorted Titus, that as he had made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace also."  Paul is talking about the grace of giving, the grace of making up a good collection for the poor in Judea.  Titus had made the beginning with them a year ago, but they had not completed the collection. 


Now, we learn from chapter nine that Paul had gloried to the churches of Macedonia about the church at Corinth, how that they were glad to make a beginning.  In other words it had   worked both ways.  The Macedonians had been encouraged by the example of the Corinthians, and now he is holding up the example of the Macedonians to encourage the Corinthians to complete that which they had begun a year ago.  Verse seven, "But as you abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness, and in your love for us, see that you abound in this grace also."  So proper giving is to be regarded as a   grace, as an unmerited favor, to have the opportunity to participate.  "I speak not by the way of commandment, but as proving the earnestness of others, the sincerity also of    your love."  I have heard people talk about there are things more important than giving, that love is more important than giving.  A lot of other things are very important, but Paul says prove the sincerity of your love.  Anytime people give liberally and cheerfully to a good work, they are proving the sincerity of their love, and a lack of liberality shows that they do not have much love for the Lord.  James was talking about the same thing when he said, “show me thy faith apart from works, and I by my works will show thee my faith (James 2:18).” "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich."  He left the riches and glories of heaven to come to earth and live as a poor man that we might become rich, a child of the king (Romans 8: 17-18). 


Verse ten, “And herein I give my judgment, for this is expedient for you, who were the first to make a beginning a year ago.  Not only to do, but also to will.  But now complete the doing also; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a completion also out of your ability.  For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not."  Verse twelve is emphasizing the spirit of willingness to give, but it does not mean that he is not supposed to give in proportion to the way he has been prospered as set forth in I Corinthians 16:1‑2.  For if the readiness is there,” in other words if he is willing to give as he has been prospered, if he has been prospered just a little, “it is acceptable as a man hath, not according to as he hath not.  For I say not that others be eased, and ye distressed, but by equality your abundance, be a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want:  That there may be equality:  As it written, he that gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack."  And that is a quotation from Exodus 16: 18 in reference to the gathering the manna back there.  They were supposed to gather an omer for each household, and it stated that after they gathered, “he that gathered much had nothing over.  And he that gathered little had no lack."    God saw to it that they had the correct amount. 


Verse sixteen, "But thanks be to God, who putteth this same earnest care for you into   the heart of Titus."  Some preachers are afraid to do much preaching on the subject of giving, for some in the church are still lovers of money and scoff at such teaching (Luke 16:9-14).  Paul says it is earnest care for you.  If a preacher or teacher does not do a good job of teaching what the Bible teaches on the subject of giving to his brethren, he does not have the earnest care for them that he should have.  "For he accepted indeed our exhortation; but he himself very earnest, he went forth unto you of his accord.  And we have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the gospel is spread through all the churches.   So Titus was on the way with another brother back to Corinth to encourage them to complete that bounty for the poor in Jerusalem.  And notice then moving down to verse twenty-four, "Show ye therefore unto them in the face of the churches the proof of your love, and of our glorying on your behalf."  He is talking about giving liberally and cheerfully; show  the proof of your love,” and that cheerful giving would be the proof of their love.  Liberal and cheerful giving gives proof of a person’s love, and those who do not, show a lack of love. Jesus said, “For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also (Matthew 6:18-21).”


Chapter Nine

 In this chapter he shows that he is expecting some of Macedonian brethren to come with him, and put this with the account in Acts 20:1-6 we see that Corinth marked the last church in that matter of taking up the bounties of those Gentile churches, and from Corinth the messengers of the churches start on their way to Jerusalem. "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you, for I know your readiness which glory I glory on your behalf of them of Macedonia that Achaia hath been prepared for a year past, and your zeal hath stirred up many of them.  Now, notice that, it may be that we do not use one church to encourage another church as much as we should today.  Some preachers spend more time criticizing the church over yonder, instead of talking about the good things that they are doing.  Now, there is a time when things may need to be said in regard to some wrong things that they are doing, but anytime a church is moving and reaching out to good works, that needs to be told to other congregations, and that has a part in encouraging churches to do more.  In other words the church at Corinth encouraged the churches at Macedonia, and in turn the churches of Macedonia encouraged the church at Corinth, and     that is the way it should be.  And Paul had the wisdom of doing that very thing. But I have sent the brethren, (Titus, and the other brother) that our glory on your behalf may not be made void in this respect, that even as I said ye may be prepared.  Lest by any means if there come with me any of Macedonia.  And find ye unprepared, we that say not, ye should be put to shame in this confidence."  In other words I have bragged about you, I have boasted about you, and now if these brethren come with me and find that you have not completed that good work, it will make you ashamed, and it will make me ashamed.  "I thought it necessary therefore to entreat the brethren, that they would go beforehand unto you, and make up beforehand your aforepromised bounty, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not of extortion."  If they had not completed it before they got there, they would be so ashamed that they would do something, but they would not have that proper readiness and cheerful spirit that they should have had. 


Verse six, "But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall   reap also bountifully.”  He is not talking about sowing wheat or barley, but he is talking about what a man does with his money and material things.  Of course it holds true in regard to any crop that we plant. You do not go out and plant an acre of cotton and expect to harvest ten bales of cotton from one acre.  If you want to harvest a hundred bales of cotton, you usually will have to plant at least a hundred acres.  So Paul is saying that that same principle holds in respect to what we do with our money.  "He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall also reap also bountifully."  Jesus said, "Give and it shall be given unto you again; full measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over shall it be given into your bosom again.  For with what measure you meet, it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38).

Verse seven, “Let each do as he hath purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver."  So we are to give as we have been prospered, and as we have purposed in our hearts, and God is surely going to bless a cheerful giver. 


Genesis 14:20 and 28:22 strongly indicates that God required the people under the patriarchal age to give a tenth, and we know that the law required a tenth (Leviticus 27:30:33; Malachi 3:7-10). We live in the “Son” light age of God’s revelation. Scriptural giving is a growth process, but do you not think that we should learn to go beyond a tenth in our giving?


Verse eight, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, also having all sufficiency in every thing, may abound to every good work."  So the man who gives liberally with a cheerful heart will have more.  God will make his grace abound toward you.  "As it is written he hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor, his righteousness abideth forever."  That passage is from Psalm 112:9, and it is talking about the righteous man who scatters his material things far and wide giving to the poor, and that his righteousness abideth forever. "And he that supplies seed to the sower and bread for food (God) shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness."  So again the promise is, if you give liberally and cheerfully that God shall not only supply a return, but also “shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.  Ye being enriched in every thing unto all liberality, which worketh through us thanks giving to God.  For the ministration of this service not only filleth up the measure of the wants of the saints, but aboundeth also by many thanksgivings unto God; seeing that through the proving of you by this ministration they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ.  And for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all."  You know how some of our brethren have been opposed to giving to those who are not members of the church.  This liberality was to be unto them, unto the Christians and unto all.  It was not to be limited just to the saints of God in Judea (Acts 24:17).  "But while they themselves also with supplication on your behalf, long after you by reason of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift.


Chapter Ten

Now, we have an abrupt change in regard to this epistle beginning with chapter ten.  The spirit is quite different from the first nine chapters, and so different that some have concluded that this book must be a part to two other letters, but not so!  In chapter ten he is beginning to deal with that rebellious, unfaithful spirit that was in the church at Corinth.  The church as a whole seemingly, had received the epistle in a good way, but there were still those that had not repented.  There were those who were listening to the false teachers who were ministers of Satan rather than ministers of Christ.  And thus a change in the tone, because of the group that he is talking to "Now I Paul myself entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage toward you:  Yea, I beseech you   that I may not when present show courage with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some who count us as if we walked according to the flesh." 

Paul had to defend his apostleship,  because of the slander and the false accusations that were being made against him. I guess the false apostles, that he mentions in chapter eleven, had led in those accusations, and it looks like that even the more faithful part of the church did not defend him.  When false charges are brought against a brother or sister today, and we do not defend the person who is right, we are doing like the apostles did when Judas brought the charge about the precious ointment and what a waste it was.  He was just a thief and wanted the money, but other apostles joined in the charge  (John 12:1-10; Matthew 26:6-16; Mark 14:3-11). We need to be careful and be ready to defend faithful men when false accusations are brought against them. 


Some in the church were saying, Verse ten, “For his letters, they say, are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”  Now, consider that,  and it is because of that kind of spirit that Paul finally felt compelled to resort to what he speaks of as foolishness,  in order to defend his apostleship.  If he did not defend his apostleship, then those false apostles could have a heyday and they would continue their evil work.  And so here in chapter ten, he is dealing with that slander.  "Now I Paul myself entreat you that by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good cheer toward you:  Yea I beseech you that I may not when present show courage with the confidence, wherewith I count to be bold against some, who count of us as if we walked according to the flesh."  You see he is leading out with that, “in your presence, I am lowly.  This is the charge, “in his presence; he is lowly,  but he gets away from us, and he writes those weighty and strong letters to us, but when he gets here, he will be very lowly then.”  But Paul is saying, you can expect me to be as bold and courageous when I come to you as I am in the letter.  "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every thing that is exalteth against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."  Notice, “to the obedience of Christ.”  Paul really emphasizes the obedience of Christ in the epistle to the Romans (Romans 1:5, 15:18, 16:19, 16:26).  "And being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (here Paul reproves them) ye look at the things which are before your face.  If any man trusteth in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again with himself, that, even as he is Christ's so also are we."  Now, those false apostles did not even belong to Christ, but those that belonged to Christ, some of them were making charges against Paul. 


Verse eight, "For though I should glory somewhat abundantly concerning our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting down, I shall not be put to shame."  Paul, in every respect, had all of the authority that the other apostles had, and he could not be put to shame on that.  "That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters."  See, that is the charge, “he terrifies us with his weighty letters.”  "For his letters, they say, are weighty and strong; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.  Let such a one reckon this, that, what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present.  For we are not bold to number, or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves."  Those that he has spoken of are those who wanted to make a fair show in the flesh.  They wanted to be looked up to and commended, and they commended themselves.  "But they themselves measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding.  But we will not glory beyond our measure."  The false apostles were glorying, actually in the work that Paul had established, and in the work further encouraged by Barnabas.  They had come in and they conducted themselves in such a way, and commended themselves in such a way, as if they were responsible for the great work done by the church at Corinth. 


And so Paul says, Verse thirteen, "But we will not glory beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the province which God hath portioned to us, as a measure to reach even unto you."  He was the one that carried the gospel to the Corinthians.  He was the one that built on that good foundation, which is Christ, but here they have come in and they are gloating as though they were responsible for the church at Corinth.  Do you know that, that is pretty well the pattern of false teachers today?  Watch them, what is their pattern?  Is it not to go in churches that are already well established and try to come in with their false teaching, appealing to those that are new in the faith or weak in the faith, and do their evil work.  "For we stretch not ourselves over much, as though we reached not unto you:  For we came even as far as unto you in the gospel of Christ:  Not glorying beyond our measure."  Well, these men were glorying in work that they had not established.  "That is, in other men's labors; but having hope that, as your faith groweth, we shall be magnified in you according to our province unto further abundance."  It looks like he may mean from that, that as the Corinthians grow, that he might accept some funds from them to preach the gospel in other places.  "So as to preach the gospel even unto the parts beyond you, and not to glory in another man's province in regard of these things ready at hand.  But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.  For not he that commendeth himself (the false apostles) is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." 


Chapter Eleven,

"Would that you could bear with me in a little foolishness:  But indeed you do bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy:  For I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ."  Now, there is a great difference between godly jealousy and fleshly jealousy.  His jealousy was a godly jealousy.  He wanted them to be faithful to the Lord.  He did not want them to be led away by Satan's devices.  He had espoused them to one husband, and of course, that is to Christ.  "That I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ."  Of course, he had espoused them or he had united them in marriage to Christ by his preaching of the gospel and their obedience to the gospel.  "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is in Christ."  There is great danger in some congregations today, because there are those who are being beguiled by the craftiness of the serpent or of the devil.  You remember how the serpent went to the woman and deceived her.  "Thou shalt not surely die, but in the day that thou eatest there of, thou shalt be wise as God, knowing good and evil."  Evidently the serpent was tempting her with the fruit at the same time.  And so Paul was afraid that the Corinthians would be corrupted by the purity and the simplicity toward Christ.  Is not that a problem in some churches today?  The simplicity of the gospel, and the simple pattern of worship in the church it is too simple for some in our modern society!  They reason, we need drama, we need this and that and the other to attract the attention of none members.  But let us remember that we do not need anything except what is in accord with the Lord's instruction, and anything beyond that will not do! 


Verse four, "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if ye receive a different spirit, which ye did not receive,  (Meaning when he preached to them, and when Barnabas preached to them)  or a different gospel, which we did not accept.  Ye do well to bear with him."  Those are words of sarcasm when he said, “ye do well to bear with him.”  Those would be the ones that were false teachers and taking advantage of them.  "For I reckon that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles."   I have read at least from three commentaries where they concluded that Paul is comparing himself with the false apostles.  I think I have read at least that many that say that. Personally, I just think it is contrary to common sense logic that Paul would be comparing himself to those false apostles when he says here in 11:5 and 12:11I am not a whit behind the chiefest apostles”.  What would that mean?  If he is comparing himself with those that he describes in verse thirteen as being “false apostles, deceitful workers, fashion themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for even Satan himself fashioned himself into an angel of light."  Would his statement mean, I am not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles of the false apostles, or I am in no wise inferior to the most imminent apostles, or those super apostles, I believe, as one of the newer versions puts it?  Well, what would that statement mean?  Would it mean I am serving the devil as well as they are, if not better?  How could the meaning be that he was comparing himself with those false apostles when he says, “for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing (12:11)”


We will be reading, hopefully, in just a short time Galatians 2: 6-10, and I believe we will see that the very chiefest apostles that he was talking about were:  James, Peter, and John, those who were counted to be pillars in the Jerusalem church.  In I Corinthians 15: 8-10, he is surely comparing himself with the twelve apostles of the Lord.  And these men were not even apostles, much less to compare himself in this sense that I am not a whit behind them.  "But though I be rude in speech."  And of course, that is the charge that some had brought against him.  “He is not a good speaker.”  Paul in substance, is saying, I might not have the oratorical ability of Apollos or some other man, but yet in knowledge I am not inferior in any way.  "Yet I am not in knowledge; yea in every way, we have made this manifest unto you in all things.  Or did I commit a sin in abasing myself that ye might be exalted."  Meaning did I commit a sin by not being chargeable to you for my support while I was there that year and a half.  "And because I preached unto you the gospel of God for naught?  I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you.  And when I was present with you, and was in want, I was not a burden on any of you:  For the brethren (Silas and Timothy) when they came from Macedonia supplied the measure of my want:  And in every way I kept myself from being burdensome unto you and so will I keep myself."  So Paul had not taken any support from them.  In the first part of his work, he stayed with Aquila and Priscilla and made tents and preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Verse nine and Acts 18:5 show that when Timothy and Silas came down from Macedonia, they brought support, and evidently, it made it possible for him at that point to start preaching full-time.  He did not have any support when he went there, and he could not preach full-time.  "As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this glorying in the regions of Achaia."  So he affirms that I am not going to take anything from you.  No person is going to stop me of my glorying in this region of Achaia. 


In I Corinthians chapter nine he gave two good reasons, but here in verses eleven and twelve, he gives one in addition to those two, which is also very important.  "Wherefore?  Because I love you not? “ Is it because I do not love you that I am not going to take support from you?  God knoweth.  But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire an occasion;  that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers fashioning themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for even Satan fashioned himself into an angel of light.  It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashioned themselves as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”   Who were those that were desiring the occasion?  The false teachers who were bringing all that slander and false accusations against Paul.  The best way sometimes to stop false teaching is to cut off their support.  One of the things, that nearly every false teacher is out there for, is for what he can get from his preaching, and if you can cut off his support, he will not be so active in his false teaching.


Verse sixteen, “I say again, Let no man think me foolish:  But if you do, yet as foolish receive me, that I may glory a little.  That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord."  In other words that was not the Lord's pattern to try to commend himself or defend himself in any great way, but it is necessary for Paul to do so in order to protect his apostleship and the truth.  "But as in foolishness in this confidence of glory.  Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.  For ye bear with the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves.  For ye bear with a man, who bringeth you into bondage."  This indicates that those false teachers were teaching that the Gentiles, in order to be saved, had to be circumcised and keep certain parts of the Law of Moses.  "For ye bear with a man if he bringeth you into bondage."  They were trying to bring them into bondage of the Old Testament, and as we will read from the Galatian letter, and that would put them under the curse of the law.  "If he devoureth you, if he taketh you captive, if he exalteth himself, if he smiteth you in the face.  I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been week.  Yet where so ever if any is bold, I speak in foolishness, I am bold also.  Are they Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  Are they the seed of Abraham?  So am I.  Are they ministers of Christ?  I speak as one beside himself.  I am more; in labours more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft.” 


Verse twenty-four, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one."  Paul lists a lot of things here that are not included in the account by Luke in the book of Acts.  And this strongly indicates that Paul had already done a lot of missionary work in Cilicia and Syria before Barnabas went from that Gentile church at Antioch of Syria over to Tarsus to bring him to Antioch to help him in that great work at Antioch of Syria.  "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one."  According to the Old Testament when the judges decided that a man had conducted himself in such a way that he should be beaten with stripes, the law put down a maximum of forty (Deuteronomy 25:1-3).  So it looks like they were fearful that they might go beyond the forty, so Paul received evidently what was counted by them in that day as the maximum, and so five times he had been beaten by the Jews with thirty-nine stripes. This is not recorded in the book of Acts .  “Thrice I was beaten with rods."  We have one time in the book of Acts at Philippi.  "Once I was stoned."  We have that, on that first missionary journey at Lystra after Paul healed the impotent man.  They were first ready to worship him and Barnabas as gods, but then when the Jews stirred them up, they were ready to stone him to death; and they stoned him and dragged him out of the city for dead.  "Thrice I suffered shipwreck."  This is before that voyage to Rome.  And so we do not have a record of either of those three shipwrecks.  "A night and a day have I been in the deep; (not in Acts) in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from mine countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, and perils in the city, in perils met wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren."  I would guess that “in perils of false brethren,” may have been of the worst perils that he was in.  "In labour and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak?  Who is caused to stumble, and I burn not?"  Paul was looking out very carefully for all the brethren, and when one was weak that bore upon Paul, and when a child of God stumbled, that affected him greatly. 


Verse thirty, "If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern mine weakness.  The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knoweth that I lie not.  In Damascus the governor under the king guarded the city of Damascenes, in order to take me.  And through a window was I let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands."  Luke mentions this in the nineth chapter of Acts, and the occasion must have been after Paul had been into Arabia, as he tells us about in Galatians 1:17-18.  And the language of Luke leaves plenty of room for that.  Acts 9:23, beginning, well, let me pick up verse twenty-two beginning, "But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews that dwelt at Damascus, (after his conversion) proving that this is the Christ. And when many days were fulfilled."  The language leaves plenty of time for his visit to Arabia and then back to Damascus.  "The Jews took counsel together to kill him:  but their plot became known to Saul.  And they watched the gates day and night that they might kill him:  but his disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall, lowering him in a basket (Acts 9:22-25)."   




Chapter Twelve 

In the first part of this chapter Paul tells about how he was called up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which were not lawful for him to utter.  Note carefully the reading, and see that he is speaking of himself.  "I must needs glory, though it is not expedient, but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago."  I have wondered if that was the occasion when they stoned him at Lystra and dragged him out of the city for dead.  "I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago, whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not:  God knoweth; such a one caught up even to the third heaven.  And I know such a man, whether in the body or apart from the body."  He did not know whether he was caught up into heaven clothed in his physical body or whether it was just his spirit that was carried up to heaven.  "I know such a man, whether in the body, or apart from the body, I know not:  God knoweth; how that he was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  On behalf of such a one will I glory:  But on my own behalf I will not glory, saving my weaknesses.  For if I should desire to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth."  (The truth about his being caught up and heard unspeakable things)  "But I forebear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be, or heareth from me.  And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelation, that I should not be exalted over much."  So, you see, very definitely that he is talking about himself.  "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should not be exalted over much.” 


Verse eight, “Concerning this thing I have besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  So sometimes the Lord's answer to prayer is no, and here it was no to the apostle Paul.  The Lord is saying to him I will not remove that thorn in the flesh, “for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake:  For when I am weak, then am I strong.  I am become foolish; ye have compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you."  Notice that the most faithful in the church had not defended Paul against the charges of the “false apostles” and others who were following them. Let us be on guard against wrong peer pressure!


Verse twelve, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs, and wonders, and mighty works."  Do you think those false apostles were able to do any signs and wonders and mighty works?  Certainly not!  Only the apostles and those on  whom they had laid their hands on could do any signs and wonders and mighty works.  "For what is there wherein you were made inferior to the rest of the churches, except it be that I myself was not a burden to you?  Forgive me this wrong."  Now, you might on the first reading think that Paul is saying I have done you wrong by not taking anything from you, but the following verses, show that that is not the case.  “Forgive me this wrong” is a little sarcasm and rebuke to them.  "Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be a burden to you."  In other words he would not look to them for any support when he came the third time.  "I seek not yours (your material things) For I seek not yours, but you:  For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children."  I think that good parents today understand that they have much responsibility in regard to the training and teaching of their children, and then helping them in such a way that they can get a proper start in regard to even material things.  And notice the good spirit of Paul,  "And I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls."  Here they were -- even the more faithful did not have the proper appreciation for him, and Paul says to them, and the slanders in the church, “and I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.  If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less?  But be it so, I did not myself burden you, but being crafty, I caught you with guile."  Evidently, this is part of that slander.  Some may have been saying, “but he is expecting to receive from that bounty that is being made up by all the churches”.  "Did I take advantage of you by any one of them whom I have sent unto you?  I exhorted Titus, and I sent the brother with him."  That is referring to what is stated in the latter part of chapter eight.  "Did Titus take any advantage of you?  Walked we not in the same spirit?  Walked we not in the same steps?"  In other words Titus and that brother did not take advantage of them in any way. 


One passage that I did not comment on is II Corinthians chapter eight, and I think it is around verse twenty, how he said that they would appoint messengers to carry the bounty, and if it was needful that he should go, he would go with them.  "Avoiding this, that any man should blame us. For we take thought for things honorable, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of men."  Sometimes it requires a lot more effort to do things honorable in the sight of men than it does in the sight of God. God knows, and men are prone to be suspicious. So Paul took precaution to make sure there was no room for any criticisms. He would not take that bounty that had been made up for the poor by himself.  "Did Titus take advantage of you?  Walked we not in the same spirit?  Walked we not in the same steps?  (surely they did)   ye think of all this time that we are excusing ourselves unto you?  In the sight of God speak we in Christ:  But all things beloved, are for your edifying.  For I fear."  Again, he is afraid that some will not have repented by the time he gets there.  "For I fear, lest by any means when I come, I shall find you not such as I would."  If they had not repented, he would have to be very firm with them.  There would be an accounting when he came to them a third time.  "And should myself be found of you such as ye would not:  Lest by any means there should be strife, jealousy, wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:  And lest, again when I come, my God shall humble me before you, and I shall mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed."  From that last reading, there must have been some in the Corinthian church that were going the way of sexual immoralities, for  “uncleanness,” is usually used in the context of sexual immoralities.  The newer versions usually put impurities, but it is in the context especially of sexual impurities. 




Chapter Thirteen

In this chapter, he tells them very plainly that there will be a showdown when he comes.  "This is the third time I am coming to you at the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established.  I have said before, I do say beforehand, as when I was present, the second time; so being absent to them that have sinned heretofore, and to all the rest, that, if I come, I will not spare.  Seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who to you-ward is not weak, but is powerful in you.  Do you reckon that Paul was ready, if necessary, to use miraculous power in disciplining some of the sinners, if they did not repent before he got there? He miraculously disciplined Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:6-12). For he was crucified through weaknesses (the weaknesses of man) yet he liveth through the power of God.  For we also are week in him, but we shall live with him through the power of God toward you.  Try your own selves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves."  He is saying that when I come, everything is going to be established by two or three witnesses.  The Old Testament law required that there would be at least two witnesses before a man was condemned.  And so he is going to follow that pattern, and those that have sinned and have not repented, it will be made known very plainly. 


Verse five again, "Try your own selves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves."  Put yourselves to the test as to whether or not you are following the Lord or not.  "Know ye not that as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, unless indeed ye be reprobates.  But I hope that ye shall know we are not reprobates."  We have in no way turned away from the Lord.  "Now we pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we may appear approved, but that ye may do that which is honorable though we be as reprobates.  (by the slanders)  For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.  For we rejoice, when we are weak, and ye are strong:  This is also our prayer, even your perfecting."  So Paul was praying that they would become stronger and reach maturity in Christ.  "For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for casting down.  Finally brethren, farewell.  Be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.  Salute one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints salute you.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you."  Please remember that most of the people of that day greeted one another with a kiss, so Paul is not instituting something new, but is regulating the practice. A kiss can be lustful, or very wicked (II Samuel 20:8-10; Matthew 26:47-50).