What does 2 Corinthians 12:16 mean?
ESV: But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit.
NIV: Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!
NASB: But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, devious person that I am, I took you in by deceit.
CSB: Now granted, I did not burden you; yet sly as I am, I took you in by deceit!
NLT: Some of you admit I was not a burden to you. But others still think I was sneaky and took advantage of you by trickery.
KJV: But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
NKJV: But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning!
Verse Commentary:
Among the criticisms of Paul's enemies was that he lacked impressive speech or personality (2 Corinthians 10:10). False teachers, more than happy to promote themselves, were pointing to this to suggest Paul was not a real messenger of God. Another line of attack seems to have been Paul's choice not to take money, for his own use, from the church in Corinth. This issue has been discussed before, but persists (1 Corinthians 9:11–12; 2 Corinthians 11:7–12). Believers in that church seem to have taken this personally, as if Paul is insulting them by serving them without any cost or obligation (2 Corinthians 12:15).

A slander possibly thrown at Paul is that his choice not to take funds from the Corinthians is a trick. The deceiving teachers probably hinted that Paul's real motivation was guilt. They may have implied that Paul was only refusing payment—for now—in order to fool the church into giving him an even greater payment later. Or, so he can steal some of the donation meant to help Christians in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:10–21). This is an absurd claim, as Paul will explain in the next few verses. His conduct, and that of his peers, has been beyond reproach.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 12:11–21 describes Paul's disappointment that the Corinthians did not defend him against attacks from false apostles. The believers of Corinth saw the signs and wonders God performed through him. Paul declares once again that he will not receive payment from them. A father provides for his children, not the other way around. He rejects an accusation that he or Titus plan to swindle them and expresses his concern that when he arrives in Corinth, he will find some still unrepentant of specific sins.
Chapter Summary:
With as much humility as possible, Paul describes an astounding experience. He was caught up to the ''third heaven'' and received a revelation from God that he cannot reveal on earth. He refuses to brag about it, but mentions it in order to introduce the consequences of that experience. To keep Paul humble, God gave him a ''thorn in the flesh,'' some malady which the Bible does not explicitly explain. Paul has learned to be content in his suffering since God's power is made perfect in his weakness. He chastises the Corinthians for not commending him since they know him. He defends himself against a charge of crafty swindling, and he expresses concern that he will find some still living in sin when he arrives in Corinth.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 12 follows Paul's sarcastic ''boasting'' about his suffering for Christ. The chapter continues with Paul refusing to take credit for an astounding revelation from God. Given a ''thorn in the flesh'' to keep him humble, Paul learned to be content with his suffering since God's power was made perfect in his weakness. Still, the Corinthians should have defended him to the false apostles and not believed lies about him swindling money from them with no evidence. He is concerned that when he comes to visit them, he will find some still unrepentant of specific sins. This leads Paul to his final warnings and the close of his letter, in chapter 13.
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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