The apostle Paul was in a difficult situation. The so-called super-apostles (2 Cor. 11:5) had exerted their influence on the new community of believers. They were threatening to lead people away from the true gospel as well as were maligning Paul.
Brothers and sisters were starting to believe the propaganda as we read in 2 Corinthians 10,
It seems Paul didn’t have the charisma of the super-apostles. Despite the fact,
he was in danger of losing the confidence of the brethren at Corinth.
It seems Paul didn’t have the charisma of the super-apostles and was in danger of losing the confidence of the brethren at Corinth.
What was Paul to do about this situation? Maybe he thought about Elijah on Mount Carmel and the possibility of a power contest so the Corinthians could determine who was the true apostle. It must have been demoralizing after all that he had done for the ecclesias to be doubted.
But Paul wasn’t concerned about his own reputation. He did start chapter 12 by saying,
but he was proving a point by his boasting. In verse 6, he says,
Boasting about visions, Paul says, is foolish. He goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses” (v9). Then he says,
It must have been demoralizing after all that he had done for the ecclesias to be doubted.
What Paul is saying is that he doesn’t want to Corinthians to be impressed by shows of power or claims of ecstatic visions. He would rather boast about what God and Christ had done in his life, despite his weaknesses. But, more importantly, he wants them to remember what he said back in chapter 3,
Should Paul have needed a letter of recommendation? No, because of what he says in the next verse, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation.” The proof of Paul’s apostleship was the Corinthians themselves. It was their status as brother and sisters in Christ, because of the gospel reaching them through his preaching. None of the super-apostles, even if they went around boasting about whatever their achievements were to impress others, brought the gospel to them.
Then, in chapter 13, Paul invites the Corinthians to put themselves to the test, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (v5). The test of Paul’s apostleship was the result of that apostleship – the brothers and sisters in Corinth. Then he continues in the same verse,
He’s asking them, “is Jesus Christ in you? Did the super-apostles do that? Or are you just impressed by whatever showy things they offer?”
Paul’s concern is not for his own reputation. He doesn’t try to defend himself as the super-apostles would. He lets his labor in the gospel speak for itself, and it was that labor which was important, not how good an orator he was. He told the Corinthians in verse 9, “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong.”
Paul lets his labor in the gospel speak for itself
What a wonderful attitude Paul had. How tempting would it have been to perform some powerful Holy Spirit miracle to show who he was and that they should ignore those super-apostles? But that was the same temptation our Lord had overcome when he could have turned stones into bread or jump from the pinnacle of the temple. His concern was not to boast and show off but preach the gospel.
It’s not about us but the message. There is a lot of glossy Christianity out there, and it’s very attractive. But the proof of whether or not we preach the Truth is if Christ is in us and our brothers and sisters.
Simi Hills, CA