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2 Corinthians 11:20

ESV 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.
NIV In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face.
NASB For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, if anyone devours you, if anyone takes advantage of you, if anyone exalts himself, if anyone hits you in the face.
CSB In fact, you put up with it if someone enslaves you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone is arrogant toward you, if someone slaps you in the face.
NLT You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face.
KJV For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.

What does 2 Corinthians 11:20 mean?

In a gently sarcastic tone, Paul wrote that the Corinthians gladly put up with fools because they are so wise (2 Corinthians 11:19). He is using biting terms to get the Corinthians to see they alone are responsible for giving time and attention to false teachers among them. These men, pretending to be apostles of Jesus, have not even treated the Corinthians well. Instead, the believers have put up with being treated as slaves, being devoured, being taken advantage of, being looked down on, and even being slapped in the face.

Like many in Greco-Roman culture, the people of Corinth would have respected strength above other virtues. Those of higher social standing were expected to be harsh with people they found to be inferior. Mercy and compassion were seen as emotional responses—and weaknesses—not as assets. Scholars suggest the Corinthians may have respected these false teachers as strong and superior, in part, because they were so harsh.

In the same way, the Corinthians may have disrespected Paul for his Christlike humility, servanthood, and suffering. Paul's approach of humbling himself to lift them up may have seemed weak. His opponents' approach of lifting themselves up to humble the Corinthians may have seemed vibrant and impressive.

Paul, even in this sarcastic section, seems unable to believe what the Corinthians are willing to bear. These false apostles make slaves of them—likely meant in the sense that the Corinthians have been willingly doing whatever they are told. The false teachers devour them, suggesting the sense of consuming all their food and resources. Paul's opponents have been taking advantage of the Corinthians in ways Paul worked so hard to avoid. They have been acting superior to their Corinthian students and, apparently, even striking those who get out of line.

In every way, then, they have shown their falseness by behaving exactly the opposite of Christ, the suffering Servant King.
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