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Boasting – But boasting about my failings? 2 Corinthians 11:16-33


Sabbath Mornings at Ballymacashon

6th October 2013


Reluctant Boasting

Text: 2nd Corinthians 11:16-33

The hyper-apostles at Corinth were very self-sufficient.  They were all about POWER and APPEARANCE and PASSIONATE ORATORY and SPEECH.  They were always well dressed, always excellent in speech, always with impeccable credentials!  Paul has already reminded us that we must judge preachers by their message, rather than by their appearance, or their credentials.  So Paul makes reference to the hyper-apostles again!  Firstly see…

1. Paul’s Cynical Remarks!

For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.  To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also. 

Firstly, they have said that Paul is just a fool.  So Paul asks them to bear with him in his foolishness! I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little.  (He has said that what he is speaking he is speaking as a fool, – in this literary device he is very careful to imply no foolishness upon the Saviour. What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast.)  Now, these people boast in their own great learning, so surely they can put up with a fool for a little longer.  (That’s what clever people like the Corinthians do with fools – they just put up with them – they just about tolerate them) For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!  Now at this point you can see the sarcasm in Paul’s remarks!  So Paul then does something surprising.  “These men love to boast, well, I’m going to do some boasting.”  But Paul’s boast will be most unusual…

2. Paul’s Reluctant Boast!

Now let’s examine Paul’s boast …

  1. The privileges of his birth!  Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. It would seem from this that the false apostles were of the Jewish race, who gave disturbance to the Gentile converts.
  2. The fact of his apostleship!  Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more He makes mention also of his apostleship, that he was more than an ordinary minister of Christ.
  3. The account of his suffering for Christ!
    1. Paul had been beaten more than the hyper-apostles ever hadin stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned
    2. Paul had more travel mishaps than the hyper apostles had! three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers.
    3. Paul had more enemies than the hyper-apostles hadin perils of my own countrymen He was constantly in danger from the Jews, who would gladly have had him put to death!  in perils of the Gentiles The Gentiles too sought Paul’s life. in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea It didn’t matter whether he was in the city, or in the country, or even out on the high seas he could never relax, knowing that someone was always out to do him harm.  in perils among false brethren Even the church Paul wasn’t safe!  There were false brethren who would have denounced him and had him punished or murdered.
    4. Paul was physically spent, unlike the hyper-apostlesin weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
    5. Paul was endlessly concerned about the church!  He spent sleepless nights worrying about the young converts in the churches, desiring their spiritual growth! besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  He feels the weakness of the Christians, and when one stumbles it burns him up inside.  Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?  

Now, what do you think about Paul’s boast?   Now why is Paul saying all this:-

3. Paul’s Complete Dependency!

Paul boasts in his weaknesses!  If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying, because when he realises that he is weak, that he is not self sufficient, that his thought processes are tainted by human sinfulness and pride – that’s when he realises that his sufficiency is of the Lord!  The most dangerous thong for a Christian is to accept the new-age, kind of message, and to think, ‘I’m OK on my own.  I have enough self confidence, self awareness, self sufficiency, I have my own inner strength, and that can get me though any situation.  Christians must be dependent upon the Lord!

There is an interesting story at the end of the chapter, which seems to be a random thought that Paul has suddenly remembered.  In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me;  but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.  Soon after his conversion, when he was in Damascus, Paul was in great danger. Paul writes, “Here’s what happened.  Some friends tied ropes to a big basket, and they lowered me over the wall in the basket, and I ran away!”  Do you see…  Paul, like us, is just a weak, human individual, not a mighty spiritual superman.


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