One of the more interesting chapters in the New Testament is found in 2 Corinthians 11. Perhaps nowhere else in all of Paul's writings did he ever throw caution to the wind and just "lay it on the line" to those he was writing. Many look at this chapter as a sign of Paul's weakness, but I prefer to look at it as an example of his strength and commitment.
Paul spent a year and six months in Corinth according to Acts 18:11. That was a very long time for Paul to spend at any one particular place. According to Acts 18:3 Paul, along with new friends Aquila and Priscilla, lived together and made tents together. Despite living in a wealthy and perverted area, there were still many who came to the Lord during the time Paul lived in Corinth.
After Paul, Aquila and Priscilla left Corinth the fellowship drifted into a state of confusion and filth. Once Paul heard of what was going on, he fired off an epistle to the believers and in it he confronted the practical error that had crept into the church. In 1 Corinthians, Paul spends almost the entire epistle reproving the Corinthian church for more things than one wants to remember.
Paul sent his trusted companion Titus to Corinth to make sure his epistle was properly received and acted upon. Within a year of writing the first epistle, Paul receives word from Titus that vast improvements had been made in Corinth and despite a number of unresolved issues, there had been great progress made and thus he determined to write a second epistle.
Probably from Philippi, but no doubt from somewhere in Macedonia, Paul writes the second epistle to the Corinthian church in a much different tone than the first. In fact, there are pearls of revelation in 2 Corinthians found nowhere else in all of Paul's writings. For the most part the first 9 chapters of the second epistle are very calm and comforting. They are filled with great spiritual truths and simple exhortations.
In chapter 10 of 2 Corinthians there are indications all is not quite as it should be in Corinth still. It is very apparent that the Corinthians eagerly followed false apostles who ripped the apostle Paul apart and planted doubts in the minds of the believers. By the time Paul writes the 11th chapter, his righteous indignation spills out in a spectacular diatribe coupled with more sarcasm than seen in any of his writings.
It must be understood that the 11th chapter of 2 Corinthians is Paul's defense in regard to the many accusations laid at his feet by the false apostles. Their charges prompted Paul to write in a way that many deem egotistical, but in reality simply give great insight into his labors, sufferings, persecutions and revelations. When he was done, he had triumphantly vindicated himself and his ministry.
I would certainly urge you to read the entire 11th chapter of 2 Corinthians in light of this background. This chapter is not one showing a raving maniac who had lost not only his cool but also his mind. No, this chapter provides us with a glimpse of how a great man of God thinks and reacts to baseless accusations and groundless charges of spiritual abuse of authority and money.
The apostle Paul was many things, but he was NOT an insane man who got his kicks out of yelling at everyone. The state of the Corinthian church must be taken into account when reading both 1 and 2 Corinthians or much of what Paul writes will appear to make no sense and border on heretical. But, if woeful state of the fellowship he is writing is understood along with the fact that they people were being deceived by "angels of light", then what he says and the tone in which he says it makes sense.
Sometimes we get a little teed off by certain things said and done. Sometimes we, who are trying to walk for God and do His will the best we can, get a little perturbed by immature comments made by people who know little but who think they know everything. Sometimes we, who are sincerely trying to help others, have things come up that arouse within us a sense of "righteous indignation". This is not always bad nor is it necessarily a sign of weakness. Sometimes it is exactly what the Holy Spirit is trying to manifest.
Unbelief, hypocrisy and lack of compassion aroused within Jesus intense anger and righteous indignation. When Jesus saw this, He confronted it with the truth. Part of being loving is to speak the truth in love. Part of being faithful is to not turn away from error but rather to try and correct it with the truth.
I sincerely pray that we all seek to emulate the apostle Paul in regards to his commitment to that which God laid on his heart to do for Him. I pray that we be not afraid to confront error in our own minds and lives and remain meek and humble enough to accept reproof via God's Word whether spoken or written. I pray that we all can be as bold and righteous as Jesus Christ and His servant Paul.
Thanks for this post. Insightful as always.
I read another blog by David Wilkerson that goes right along wtih this. Here is the link. http://davidwilkersontoday.blogspot.com/2009/11/comfort-and-refreshing.html I think you will find it quite interesting.
This is just another example of the importance of taking the time to know the writer as well as the audience. When you understand the history and situation at Corinth it all makes sense. Paul was their "spiritual father". How it must have grieved him to see them wandering off, listening to false teaching and embracing those things they had previously left behind. Not only that, they were listening to the lies of "strangers" about the man who had suffered so much on their behalf. How grievous this must have been!
Paul had nothing to hide. His record spoke for itself. May we also be able to do the same!
Dear B2Y--It does seem as though Paul was in a self-justifying mood, but I hardly think that was his motive. After having taken Corinth to task in 1 Corinthians, it is not unlikely that he was accused of being self-righteous and holier-than-thou. 2 Corinthians 11 appears to be Paul's way of setting the record straight on who he was and what he had experienced in the Lord. Those in Corinth would have gotten his message. Excellent blog. :) YBIChrist--Ron