What does 2 Corinthians 11:29 mean?
ESV: Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
NIV: Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
NASB: Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
CSB: Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
NLT: Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
KJV: Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
In the previous verse, Paul added to the list of ways he has suffered: he also experienced great inner turmoil in his concern for all the Christian churches. Some were facing great persecution for their faith in Christ. Others were facing great pressure to compromise their convictions in order to better fit into the culture of the day. Paul feels these pains and pressures with them.
He seems to be referring to these churches he has planted—these souls he has led to faith in Christ—in this verse. He says, in question form, that he is weak when they are weak. This likely means that he experiences their weakness of faith along with them. Then he asks who is made to fall—or who is led into sin—without him burning with emotion for them. The idea seems to be that when believers Paul has led to Christ fall into sinful choices, he feels a potent desire for them to turn back around and go in the right direction.
In other words, Paul's work does not stop when someone comes to faith in Christ. His involvement only begins there and continues as those believers grow in Christ, suffer for Christ, or stumble in their walk with Christ. Paul continues to feel emotionally burdened for all the churches, another example of the ways in which he suffers as Christ's servant.
Second Corinthians 11:16–33 includes Paul's long list of ways he has suffered in his service to Christ. He describes this as crazy talk, mocking the arrogant style of the false apostles. In truth, the Corinthians probably would have thought of these as signs of failure, weakness, and loss. Paul is shocked that they are so willing to be mistreated by the false apostles. This abuse was something Paul was ''too weak'' to do in his Christlike service for them. Paul's discussion of his weakness will lead to his conclusion in the following chapter that Christ is strongest in him when he is weak.
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 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.
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.
Accessed 2/25/2024 10:28:42 AM
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