Tag Archive for 'boast'

Paul Speaking as a Fool

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 11:16-21
I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not with the Lord’s authority but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast of that.

2 Corinthians 12:11
I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing.

I have never really grasped exactly what Paul is meaning in these verses.

“Fool” here is for the most part referring to the super-apostles. He is being sarcastic to make a point.

In 11:21 he is again referring to his strength in weakness. Again, using sarcasm he is saying that he was too weak to lord his authority over them.

Garland in his commentary on 2 Corinthians clears this up very well.

Paul admits to being a fool by adopting the boastful tactics of his competitors, but by doing so he tars his opponents with the same brush. They are fools as well (see 11:19-20), but, unlike Paul, they are not playing the part of a fool. They take their boasting seriously. The Corinthians are also made out to be fools for allowing themselves to be captivated and led astray by foolish boasting. They have dishonored themselves by betraying their apostle and failing to defend him.

Paul uses this failure as his final justification for his fool’s speech (see 2 Corinthians 11:1-6). Since they have not defended him against his competitors, he must defend himself. The truth had to be told, more to save the Corinthians from such fools than to save Paul’s reputation.

Referring to the last part of 12:11 Paul realizes he is nothing compared to God (Daniel 4:35 a) and whatever he is comes from God (1 Corinthians 15:9-10;  2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 3:12-16). The super-apostles really are nothing but make themselves out to be “super”.

Paul Commending Himself

2 Corinthians

On the surface, Paul can appear to be brash, defensive and prideful in his letters.

While he does rebuke the Corinthians for egregious sins and misconstruing the gospel message, he is actually very tactful in the way he goes about it when reading his letters as a whole. He starts his letters with thanksgiving for them and the gifts they have. He talks about how much he loves them and how they are fellow workers and brothers and sisters in Christ. He rebukes or admonishes them and then encourages them. He is often very concerned and even anxious of how stern his letters may seem. (2 Corinthians 2:4)

As mentioned in previous posts, Paul is defending the use of God’s power through Paul’s weakness, contrary to what the Corinthians thought a minister of Christ should be. Garland says, “The Corinthians have therefore failed to see God’s power at work in Paul’s suffering, which suggests that they have failed to grasp the full meaning of the cross.”

Paul uses the word commend often in 2 Corinthians. We may understand this word to mean boasting.

2 Corinthians 3:1
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?

2 Corinthians 4:2
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 6:4
but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,

Garland says, “‘Commendation’ needs to be understood in the context of friendship and recommendation in the ancient world. Paul does not use self-commendation in a negative sense to mean self-applause. Marshall* shows that it refers to a recognized way of establishing friendships:

…self-commendation was an accepted and common convention which differs little from written commendation by third parties. praise or complimentary phraseology is a traditional though not essential element of both third party and self-commendation and was acceptable if done inoffensively; even extravagant praise by a recommender was acceptable, especially if the recommended proved himself to be worthy of it.

Self-commendation is therefore equivalent to self-introduction.”

Just to touch on boasting–this is also not always negative if it is boasting in the Lord. This was established in the Old Testament:
Jeremiah 9:24
“but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

For me, these things help me to understand Paul and his letters much differently.

*Marshall, Enmity in Corinth, 266-67