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2 Corinthians 11:30

ESV If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
NIV If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
NASB If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.
CSB If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses.
NLT If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.
KJV If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

What does 2 Corinthians 11:30 mean?

Paul declared earlier in this section that he would "boast" as his opponents, the false apostles in Corinth, would brag to glorify themselves. Paul's "boasting," though, has consisted only of listing ways in which he has suffered in his mission to bring the gospel to people around the world. His intent is to sarcastically mock the false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:21, 23), and even then his words are not self-promoting. Since Corinthian culture valued strength and success above all, Paul's boasting likely came across as very strange or as a mockery of true boasting.

Now he clarifies what he has been doing. If he is going to boast, Paul writes, he will boast only of things that show how weak he really is. This may have been the exact opposite of what the Corinthian believers were hoping to hear. They want an apostle who, like the lying teachers living near them, appears strong and capable and confident in himself. Instead, Paul is describing all the ways he is weak. This is meant to show how strong God is through him.

In Corinthian terms, suffering for any reason was a sign of weakness. In Christian terms, suffering is one of the ways believers identify with Christ and learn to grow in their reliance on him. Paul has said as much at the beginning of his earlier letter to them, "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).
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