2 Corinthians 11 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 2 Corinthians 11)

Verse 1

[1] Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

I wish ye would bear — So does he pave the way for what might otherwise have given offence.

With my folly — Of commending myself; which to many may appear folly; and really would be so, were it not on this occasion absolutely necessary.

Verse 2

[2] For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

For — The cause of his seeming folly is expressed in this and the following verse; the cause why they should bear with him, 2 Corinthians 11:4.

Verse 3

[3] But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

But I fear — Love is full of these fears.

Lest as the serpent — A most apposite comparison.

Deceived Eve — Simple, ignorant of evil.

By his subtilty — Which is in the highest degree dangerous to such a disposition.

So your minds — We might therefore be tempted, even if there were no sin in us.

Might be corrupted — Losing their virginal purity.

From the simplicity that is in Christ — That simplicity which is lovingly intent on him alone, seeking no other person or thing.

Verse 4

[4] For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

If indeed — Any could show you another Saviour, a more powerful Spirit, a better gospel.

Ye might well bear with him — But this is impossible.

Verse 6

[6] But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.

If I am unskilful in speech — If I speak in a plain, unadorned way, like an unlearned person. So the Greek word properly signifies.

Verse 7

[7] Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

Have I committed an offence — Will any turn this into an objection? In humbling myself - To work at my trade.

That ye might be exalted — To be children of God.

Verse 8

[8] I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

I spoiled other churches — I, as it were, took the spoils of them: it is a military term. Taking wages (or pay, another military word) of them - When I came to you at first.

And when I was present with you, and wanted — My work not quite supplying my necessities.

I was chargeable to no man — Of Corinth.

Verse 9

[9] And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

For — I choose to receive help from the poor Macedonians, rather than the rich Corinthians! Were the poor in all ages more generous than the rich?

Verse 10

[10] As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

This my boasting shall not be stopped — For I will receive nothing from you.

Verse 11

[11] Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

Do I refuse to receive anything of you, because I love you not? God knoweth that is not the case.

Verse 12

[12] But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

Who desire any occasion — To censure me.

That wherein they boast, they may be found even as we — They boasted of being "burdensome to no man." But it was a vain boast in them, though not in the apostle.

Verse 14

[14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Satan himself is transformed — Uses to transform himself; to put on the fairest appearances.

Verse 15

[15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Therefore it is no great, no strange, thing; whose end, notwithstanding all their disguises, shall be according to their works.

Verse 16

[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.

I say again — He premises a new apology to this new commendation of himself.

Let no man think me a fool — Let none think I do this without the utmost necessity. But if any do think me foolish herein, yet bear with my folly.

Verse 17

[17] That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

I speak not after the Lord — Not by an express command from him; though still under the direction of his Spirit.

But as it were foolishly — In such a manner as many may think foolish.

Verse 18

[18] Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.

After the flesh — That is, in external things.

Verse 19

[19] For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

Being wise — A beautiful irony.

Verse 20

[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.

For ye suffer — Not only the folly, but the gross abuses, of those false apostles.

If a man enslave you — Lord it over you in the most arbitrary manner.

If he devour you — By his exorbitant demands; not - withstanding his boast of not being burdensome.

If he take from you — By open violence.

If he exalt himself — By the most unbounded self-commendation.

If he smite you on the face — (A very possible case,) under pretence of divine zeal.

Verse 21

[21] I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

I speak with regard to reproach, as though we had been weak — I say, "Bear with me," even on supposition that the weakness be real which they reproach me with.

Verse 22

[22] Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

Are they Hebrews, Israelites, the seed of Abraham — These were the heads on which they boasted.

Verse 23

[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.

I am more so than they.

In deaths often — Surrounding me in the most dreadful forms.

Verse 24

[24] Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

Five times I received from the Jews forty stripes save one — Which was the utmost that the law allowed. With the Romans he sometimes pleaded his privilege as a Roman; but from the Jews he suffered all things.

Verse 25

[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 I have been shipwrecked — Before his voyage to Rome.

In the deep — Probably floating on some part of the vessel.

Verse 27

[27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

In cold and nakedness — Having no place where to lay my head; no convenient raiment to cover me; yet appearing before noble-men, governors, kings; and not being ashamed.

Verse 28

[28] Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

Beside the things which are from without — Which I suffer on the account of others; namely, the care of all the churches - A more modest expression than if he had said, the care of the whole church. All - Even those I have not seen in the flesh. St. Peter himself could not have said this in so strong a sense.

Verse 29

[29] Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

Who — So he had not only the care of the churches, but of every person therein.

Is weak, and I am not weak — By sympathy, as well as by condescension.

Who is offended — Hindered in, or turned out of, the good way.

And I burn not — Being pained as though I had fire in my bosom.

Verse 30

[30] If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

I will glory of the things that concern my infirmities — Of what shows my weakness, rather than my strength.

Verse 32

[32] In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

The governor under Aretas — King of Arabia and Syria of which Damascus was a chief city, willing to oblige the Jews, kept the city - Setting guards at all the gates day and night.

Verse 33

[33] And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

Through a window — Of an house which stood on the city wall.