2 Corinthians 11:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Corinthians 11:7, NIV: Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge?

2 Corinthians 11:7, ESV: Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?

2 Corinthians 11:7, KJV: Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

2 Corinthians 11:7, NASB: Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?

2 Corinthians 11:7, NLT: Was I wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God's Good News to you without expecting anything in return?

2 Corinthians 11:7, CSB: Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?

What does 2 Corinthians 11:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

It's not just sarcastically labelled "super-apostles" that Paul is concerned about (2 Corinthians 11:5). He's also bothered that the Corinthians themselves seem to be swayed by accusations against Paul. These included complaints that he was not impressive as a speaker and he experienced too much suffering. Focusing on appearances, instead of truth, they assume a divine messenger would be impressive and worldly.

Now Paul seems to answer another charge: He refused to take money from the Corinthians while serving them as a representative of Christ. He asks sarcastically if he sinned when he humbled himself in this. In truth, he did this in order to lift them up as children of God through their faith in Christ.

Paul had the right to ask them to support him financially while he was working with them. However, he never wanted any confusion about his motives to interfere with anyone trusting in Christ. He explained all of this in an earlier letter to them (1 Corinthians 9:4–18). Instead of taking money from them, Paul chose to work with his hands as a tent-maker. Scholars suggest this might be something to which Paul's opponents pointed as specific evidence that he was not truly an apostle. For ancient philosophers and traveling orators, manual labor was the last possible option for supporting oneself. In fact, it was a sign the speaker was not good enough to attract supporters. Perhaps Paul's accusers said that a genuine apostle of Jesus would not need to work with his hands as Paul did. These false teachers very likely accepted all the money the Corinthians would give to them.

Paul's comment shows that his refusal to take money from them continued to be a point of contention, despite his explanation. Some of them may simply have had a hard time respecting a teacher who was also a common laborer.