What does 2 Corinthians 11:1 mean?
ESV: I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!
NIV: I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me!
NASB: I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me.
CSB: I wish you would put up with a little foolishness from me. Yes, do put up with me!
NLT: I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me.
KJV: Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
NKJV: Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has been defending himself against challenges of false apostles, who have come among the believers in Corinth. Apparently, some of the Corinthians have been persuaded that perhaps Paul is not a legitimate apostle. Why? For one thing, Paul is not as strong or impressive in person as he is in his letters. The culture of the day associated performance and speaking skill with wisdom. If Paul was unimpressive in person, was his teaching to be trusted?

Paul will now begin to defend himself even more vigorously. First, though, he asks the Corinthians to bear with a little foolishness from him. Paul seems to feel uncomfortable in the role of self-defense and words that appear to be self-promotion. Ultimately, though, this "foolishness" is about defending Christ and His reputation from the false teaching of Paul's opponents in Corinth. Paul makes no attempt to proclaim his intellect, skill, or power. Rather, he points to all the hardships he's been able to endure on account of the power of Christ.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 11:1–15 includes Paul's unmasking of the false apostles in Corinth. They are like the serpent in the garden tempting Eve. Or, they resemble a man trying to seduce a betrothed woman away from her promised husband. They disguise themselves as servants of righteousness as Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul is a spiritual father who must protect the Corinthians from deceptions like a false Christ and a false spirit. Paul doubles down on his commitment not to take funds from the Corinthians for his own needs, simply to prove how he is different from the false apostles.
Chapter Summary:
Second Corinthians 11 compares the believers in Corinth to a betrothed bride. It also pictures them as Eve facing temptation from the snake in the garden in Genesis 3. Paul's job as their spiritual father is to protect them from the lies of false apostles. These deceivers disguise themselves as servants of righteousness in the same way that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul is shocked the Corinthians put up with such harsh treatment from these men. He sarcastically pretends to brag about himself as the false teachers do about themselves. Instead, he boasts mostly about the ways he has endured suffering in his service to Christ.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 11 follows Paul's warning in the previous chapter. There, he vowed to be as bold as needed when he comes to see them in person. He describes himself as a protective spiritual father trying to save the Corinthians from the deceptions of the false apostles to teach a false gospel about a false Jesus. He is shocked the Corinthians put up with their harsh treatment and says he has decided to foolishly boast in order to compete with the false apostles. His boasting about his service to Christ, though, is mostly a long list of all the ways he has suffered for Christ. That theme continues into chapter 12, where Paul explains just how much his suffering has improved his walk with Christ.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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