In the previous lesson, we talked about becoming foolish in the world. There are times that we face challenges and sometimes, the world is seeing us as fools. Though like Paul, we are not claiming to be fools but if someone sees us to be a fool in Christ, so be it. Just do what is right, what is noble, what is righteous.
We will be talking about boasting in this chapter. Just like what we discussed last time, we will see boasting on the positive side.
As Paul is defending his ministry against the “super apostles” and is using sarcastic words in order to make a point of what they do is right and is noble.
Verse 16, “No one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting.”
Now let us discuss what kind of boasting will it be seeing Paul as a fool. Before Paul continued, he made it clear that he is not talking as the Lord would but as fool considering that some people see him as a fool (v.17).
Taking him therefore as a fool would give him the opportunity to boast on something. And these were the things he boasts about.
The Positive Boastings of Paul
Boast about not enslaving anyone (v.16-17)
In our previous discussion, we have seen that Paul serve Corinth at the expense of other Churches. He tried his best not to become a burden to anyone at Corinth.
Though these false teachers seems to be accusing Paul and the apostles to be a hoax, Paul is pointing out that their actions are genuine and the gospel they proclaim is not for money.
Sarcastically Paul said, “You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.”
The false teachers have enslaved them. They took away their freedom of opinion. The false teachers made lordship over them. And this pattern is the birth of hierarchy inside the early Church which is evidently present even in our time.
This is why there is a Pope, Archsbishops, Bishops and the rest of the ruling Councils in Vatican. In contrast to this pattern, Paul was teaching the people to not allow themselves to be enslave of this pattern, instead to be enslave of righteousness and freedom in Christ.
The false teachers are probably exploiting them and asking themselves to be treated as kings and rulers instead of leaders who bring the gospel of peace.
Teaching respect to God’s ministers is totally different from teaching lordship over the people. We only have one ruler and that ruler is Jesus Christ. This is why we do not teach people to kiss our hands, we do not teach in bowing down to anyone as a show of deity or recognizing his lordship over us.
We teach respect to the people to be given to God’s ministers, but not lordship. Respect and submitting to authorities was also taught in the Bible but establishing lordship through religion is not what we profess. God’s ministers were not rulers but servants of the higher being, which is God. Respecting them as God’s deliverer of His words, is respecting God. We are not lording nor exploiting anyone but teaches and preaches what Christ has commanded us to do.
Boast about their experiences as God’s children (v.18-29)
As we frequently say, becoming a child of God is never easy. It’s not like a plug and play monitor that once you plug it, then you immediately see what’s in it. Living as Christians takes a lot of effort of giving up things that is holding us away from God. It is surrendering everything to God.
Our life, love ones, possessions, and all other things should be subject under Christ. And this is the next picture of what Paul is saying. Though the false teachers have been very busy discrediting Paul and the apostles Paul made it clear that they are more credible than those who claim to be.
As his argument starts, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christi? I am more…”
Paul has labored more than those who claim to be better. He endured hardships and persecutions and never faded in his faith and desire to proclaim the gospel. He has been in prison, flogged more severely, exposed to death, five times received from the Jews 39 slashes, 3 times beaten with rods, was stoned, 3 times experienced shipwrecked, etc.
He labored hard and often gone without sleep, without food and water, and without clothing. Setting all things aside, all those outward hardships, he faces daily the pressure of his concern for all the Churches. This shows us that aside from those hardships that Paul is experiencing, there exists a hardship that comes from within the Churches.
King James Version uses the phrase “cometh upon me daily” (v.28) (Gk.episustasis – tumultuous, conspiracy, concourse) which means “rushes upon me”. The idea is there is a conspiracy going around that rushes upon him like that of a mob. Such conspiracy brought him incessant anxiety on his mind affecting him emotionally.
“All the Churches”, Paul have ministered to many Churches. And these Churches have been feeble and weak. They are new born Churches which can be easily swayed with various schemes of false teachers and false doctrines.
Paul experienced all these things. This is why he sympathize with others who are and who will experience it.
Boast about things that show their weakness (v.30-33)
The weakness that is being mentioned here is the physical weakness and not the weakness towards sin. It refers to the frailty of the body.
The key verse of this boasting is found in chapter 12:9; “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”
Paul after suffering all these physical trials, and even by having the “thorn of the flesh”, God made it clear to him that God’s grace is sufficient for Paul and made perfect in weakness.
This is why most Christians when suffering from severe trials, they are calling out the name of the Lord. When everything seems to be lost and we have been facing this great trial. Come to the Lord, wait, and see how the Lord works in the lives of those who love Him.