Paul Defends His Apostleship

I wish you would bear with me [while I indulge] in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me [as you read this]. I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy because I have promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.(A) But I am afraid that, even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted and led away from the simplicity of [your sincere and] pure devotion to Christ.(B) For [you seem willing to allow it] if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted. You tolerate all this beautifully [welcoming the deception]. Yet I consider myself in no way inferior to the [so-called] [a]super-apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speaking, yet I am not [untrained] in [b]knowledge [I know what I am talking about]; but we have made this evident to you in every way, in all things.

Or did I [perhaps] sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted and honored, because I preached God’s gospel to you [c]free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting [more than their share of] financial support for my ministry to you. And when I was with you and ran short [financially], I did not burden any of you; for what I needed was fully supplied by the brothers (Silas and Timothy) who came from Macedonia (the church at Philippi). So I kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.© 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, my boast [of independence] will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia (southern Greece). 11 Why? Because I do not love you [or wish you well, or have regard for your welfare]? God knows [that I do]!

12 But what I am doing I will keep doing, [for I am determined to keep this independence] in order to cut off the claim of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things they brag about. 13 For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds.

16 I repeat then, let no one think that I am foolish; but even if you do, at least accept me as foolish, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I say in this confident boasting, I say not as the Lord would [with His authority], but foolishly. 18 Since many boast [of worldly things and brag] about human accomplishments, I will boast too. 19 [d]For you, being so wise, gladly tolerate and accept the foolish [like me]! 20 For you tolerate it if anyone makes you his slave; or devours you and your possessions; or takes advantage of you; or acts presumptuously; or hits you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we have been too weak [in comparison to those pseudo-apostles who take advantage of you].

But in whatever anyone else dares to boast—I am speaking foolishly—I also dare to boast. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they [self-proclaimed] servants of Christ?—I am speaking as if I were out of my mind—I am more so [for I exceed them]; with far more labors, with far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, and often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews [e]thirty-nine lashes.(D) 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift on the sea; 26 many times on journeys, [exposed to] danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own countrymen, danger from the Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger on the sea, danger among those posing as believers; 27 in labor and hardship, often unable to sleep, in hunger and thirst, often [driven to] fasting [for lack of food], in cold and exposure [without adequate clothing]. 28 Besides those external things, there is the daily [inescapable] pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel [his] weakness? Who is made to sin, and I am not on fire [with sorrow and concern]?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that reveal my weakness [the things by which I am made weak in the eyes of my opponents]. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed and to be praised forevermore, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the [f]governor (ethnarch) under [g]King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to arrest me, 33 and I was [actually] let down in a basket through a [h]window in the wall, and slipped through his fingers.


  1. 2 Corinthians 11:5 This may be a sarcastic reference to the teachers of false doctrine (pseudo-apostles) who opposed Paul and tried to claim they had an association with the original twelve disciples.
  2. 2 Corinthians 11:6 Like the original Twelve, Paul received his knowledge of the gospel from the Lord.
  3. 2 Corinthians 11:7 Traveling philosophers and religious teachers (including the false apostles) customarily charged for their lectures. Paul’s reason for refusing support from this church is unclear.
  4. 2 Corinthians 11:19 The sarcastic tone of vv 19-21 reflects Paul’s extreme frustration with the Corinthian church.
  5. 2 Corinthians 11:24 OT law limited judicial scourging (whipping) to forty lashes. The Jews established a tradition of thirty-nine lashes to minimize the risk of making a mistake in the count and giving the guilty party more than forty.
  6. 2 Corinthians 11:32 Perhaps also leader of the Jewish community.
  7. 2 Corinthians 11:32 King of the Nabatean Arabs from 9 b.c. to a.d. 40.
  8. 2 Corinthians 11:33 I.e. small door.

Cross references

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:2 : Hos 2:19, 20
  2. 2 Corinthians 11:3 : Gen 3:4
  3. 2 Corinthians 11:9 : Phil 4:15, 16
  4. 2 Corinthians 11:24 : Deut 25:3