Paul’s argument in the 11th chapter of Second Corinthians is similar to the one he uses in Galatians against the Judaizers. He writes ”if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.” He then derides the so-called ”superlative apostles” and boasts how he provided the gospel free-of-charge out of love for God. He juxtaposes his apostolic efforts with those who do not support themselves with their hands, but who claim to be apostles.
With wit and sarcasm, Paul continues to establish the merits of his ministry versus the failures of these ”superlative apostles.” His argument then takes on a frantic tone: ”Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one–I am talking like a madman–with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.” He describes the terrible sufferings and beatings he has endured for the mission. Throughout his toil, he also contends with the daily anxiety for the welfare of the churches.
In chapter 12, he reluctantly reveals some of his spiritual revelations he has received. He also gives an account of how ”to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”’ He then resumes his defense of his ministry through the 13th chapter, one that has the utmost credibility. He then closes the letter with exhortations to repentance and holiness.
Music: Boismortier’s Sonata 4 in D Minor – Gavotta, from the album ‘Six Sonatas for Flute and Violin – Opus 51 – Boismortier’ performed by Duo de Bois. www.magnatune.com