Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
Verse 1. - Would to God; rather, would that! (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:8). You could bear; rather, ye would bear. In my folly; rather, in a little foolishness. Namely, in this foolishness of boasting. "Fool" and "folly" are here haunting words (2 Corinthians 1:16, 17, 19, 21; 2 Corinthians 12:6, 11). The article (the i.e. my folly) is omitted in א, B, D, E. Bear with me. It is better to take this as an indicative. It would be meaningless to pass from an entreaty to a command. On the other hand, "Nay, ye do really bear with me" was a loving and delicate admission of inch kindness as he had received from them.
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Verse 2. - For. This gives the reason why they bore with him. It was due to a reciprocity of affection. I am jealous over you. The word implies both jealousy and zeal (2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 9:2). With a godly jealousy; literally, with a jealousy of God. My jealousy is not the poor earthly vice (Numbers 5:14; Ecclus. 9:1), but a heavenly zeal of love. For I have espoused you; rather, for I betrothed you; at your conversion. I acted as the paranymph, or "bridegroom's friend" (John 3:29), in bringing you to Christ, the Bridegroom. The metaphor is found alike in the Old and New Testaments (Isaiah 54:5; Ezekiel 23; Hosea 2:19; Ephesians 5:25-27). To one husband (Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 16:15). Our Lord used an analogous metaphor in the parable of the king's wedding feast, the virgins, etc. That I may present you. The same word as in 2 Corinthians 4:14. The conversion of the Church was its betrothal to Christ, brought about by St. Paul as the paranymph; and, in the same capacity, at the final marriage feast, he would present their Church as a pure bride to Christ at his coming (Revelation 19:7-9).
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Verse 3. - I fear. Even now he would only contemplate their defection as a future dread, not as a present catastrophe. Lest by any means; lest haply (2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 9:4). As the serpent beguiled Eve. St. Paul merely touches on the central moral fact of the temptation and the Fall (Genesis 3:1-6). He enters into no speculation about the symbols, though, doubtless, like St. John (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2), he would have identified the serpent with Satan (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:11 and Wisd. 2:23). Through his subtlety. The word means "crafty wickedness." It is used in 2 Corinthians 12:16, and is found in 2 Corinthians 4:2; Luke 20:23. Your minds; literally, your thoughts (2 Corinthians 2:11). Should be corrupted (comp. Colossians 2:4-8; 1 Timothy 4:1). The simplicity. The apostles always insisted on this virtue, but especially St. Paul, in whose Epistles the word (ἁπλότης occurs seven times. That is in Christ; rather, that is towards (literally, into) Christ; as Cranmer rendered it, "The perfect fidelity Which looks to him above."
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Verse 4. - He that cometh. Apparently an allusion to some recent and rival teacher. Another Jesus. The intruder preaches, not a different Jesus (ἕτερον) or a different gospel (comp. Galatians 1:6-8), but ostensibly the same Jesus whom St. Paul had preached. Another spirit... another gospel; rather, a different spirit (ἕτερον)... a different gospel. The Jesus preached was the same; the gospel accepted, the Spirit received, were supposed to remain unaltered. Ye might well bear with him. This is not without a touch of irony. You are all set against me; and yet the newcomer does not profess to preach to you another Jesus, or impart a different Spirit! Had he done so, you might have had some excuse (καλῶς) for listening to him. Now there is none; for it was I who first preached Jesus to you, and from me you first received the Spirit.
For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
Verse 5. - For. It cannot be that you received this rival teacher as being so much superior to me; for, etc. I suppose. Again, like the Latin censeo or opinor, with a touch of irony. I was not a whit behind; in no respect have I come short of. The very chiefest apostles. The word used by St. Paul for "very chiefest" is one which, in its strangeness, marks the vehemence of his emotion. It involves an indignant sense that he had been most disparagingly compared with other apostles, as though he were hardly a genuine apostle at all. Yet he reckons himself to have done as much as the "above exceedingly" - or, as it might be expressed, the "out and out," "extra-super," or "super-apostolic," apostles. There is here no reflection whatever on the twelve; he merely means that, even if any with whom he was uufavourably contrasted were "apostles ten times over," he can claim to be in the front rank with them. This is no more than he has said with the utmost earnestness in 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 2:6. There is no self-assertion here; but, in consequence of the evil done by his detractors, St. Paul, with an utter sense of distaste, is forced to say the simple truth.
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
Verse 6. - Rude in speech; literally, a laic in discourse; see 2 Corinthians 10:10 and 1 Corinthians 2:13; and, for the word idiotes, a private person, and so "one who is untrained," as contrasted with a professor, see the only other places where it occurs in the New Testament (Acts 4:13; 1 Corinthians 14:16, 23, 24). St. Paul did not profess to have the trained oratorical skill of Apollos. His eloquence, dependent on conviction and emotion, followed none of the rules of art. Yet not in knowledge. Spiritual knowledge was a primary requisite of an apostle, and St. Paul did claim to possess this (Ephesians 3:3, 4). We have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things. This would be an appeal to the transparent openness and sincerity of all his dealings, as in 2 Corinthians 4:20 and 2 Cor 12:12; but the best reading seems to be the active participle, phanerosantes (א, B, F, G), not the passive, phanerothentes. The rendering will then be, In everything making it (my knowledge) manifest among all men towards you.
Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
Verse 7. - Have I? literally, or have I? An ironical exception to his manifestation of knowledge; "unless you think that I committed a sin in refusing to accept maintenance at your hands." It is clear that even this noble generosity had been made the ground for a charge against the apostle. "If he had not been conscious," they said, "that he has no real claims, he would not have preached for nothing, when he had a perfect right to be supported by his converts" (1 Corinthians 9:1-15). Abasing myself. The trade of tentmaker was despised, tedious, and mechanical, and it did not suffice to provide even for Paul's small needs (Acts 18:3; Acts 20:34). That ye might be exalted; namely, by spiritual gifts (Ephesians 2:4-6). The gospel... freely. Some of them would feel the vast contrast between the words. The gospel was the most precious gift of God, and they had got it for nothing. Compare the fine lines of Lowell -
"For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we earn with our whole soul's tasking;
Tis only God who is given away,
Tis only heaven may be had for the asking." To be a free and unpaid missionary was St. Paul's pride (2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9; Acts 20:33).
I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
Verse 8. - I robbed; literally, I ravaged, or plundered. The intensity of St. Paul's feelings, smarting under base calumny and ingratitude, reveals itself by the passionate expression which he here uses. Other Churches. The only Church of which we know as contributing to St. Paul's needs is that at Philippi (Philippians 4:15, 16). Taking wages. The expression is again impassioned. It is meant rather ironically than literally. Literally it means rations (1 Corinthians 9:7).
And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
Verse 9. - And wanted. The aorist shows that this sad condition of extreme poverty was a crisis rather than chronic. Yet even at that supreme moment of trial, when from illness or accident the scanty income of his trade failed him, he would not tell them that he was starving, but rather accepted help from the Philippians, who, as he knew, felt for him an unfeigned affection. It is needless to point out once more how strong is the argument in favour of the genuineness of the Acts and the Epistles from the numberless undesigned coincidences between them in such passages as those to which I have referred in the foregoing notes. I was chargeable to no man; literally, I did not benumb you. The word katenarkesa, which occurs only here and in 2 Corinthians 12:13, 14, is ranked by St. Jerome among St. Paul's cilicisms, i.e. the provincial expressions which he picked up during his long residence at Tarsus. Narke (whence our narcissus and narcotie) means "paralysis," and is also the name given to the gymnotus, or electric eel - in Latin, torpedo, the cramp-fish - which benumbs with the shock of its touch. "I did not," he indignantly says, "cramp you with my torpedo touch." Perhaps in a less vehement mood he would have chosen a less picturesque or technical and medical term. That which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied; rather, for the brethren, on their arrival from Macedonia; filled up my deficiency. This must have been the third present which St. Paul received from Philippi (Philippians 4:15, 16). These brethren from Macedonia accompanied Silas and Timotheus (Acts 18:5). And so will I keep myself (2 Corinthians 12:14).
As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
Verse 10. - As the truth of Christ is in me. The strength of St. Paul's feelings on the subject has already been expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:15. We have a similar appeal in Romans 9:1. The "as" is not in the original, but evidently the words are meant for a solemn asseveration - "The truth of Christ is in me, that," etc. No man shall stop me of this boasting; literally, this shall not be stopped as concerns me. The verb means literally, "shall be fenced," and with that tendency to over elaboration which is frequent in commentators, some suppose that St. Paul referred to the projected wall across the isthmus of Corinth, etc. But the same word is used for simply stopping the mouth in Romans 3:19; Hebrews 11:33. In the regions of Achaia. He would not apply the rule to Corinth only, but seems to have felt the need for the utmost circumspection, and for cutting off every handle for suspicion or slander among these subtle, loquacious, intellectual Greeks. He could act more freely among the more frank and generous Macedonians.
Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
Verse 11. - Wherefore? Be cannot tell them the real ultimate reason, which is their whole character and nature. Because I love you not? He has already assured them of his deep affection (2 Corinthians 7:2; comp. 12:15).
But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
Verse 12. - Occasion; rather, the occasion. Wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. "These new teachers boast to you how disinterested they are. Well, then, I have proved myself to be equally disinterested." But the words apparently involve a most stinging sarcasm. For these teachers were not in reality disinterested, though they boasted of being so; on the contrary, they were exacting, insolent, and tyrannical (ver. 20), and did not preach gratuitously (1 Corinthians 9:12), though they sneered at the apostle for doing so. Being radically false (vers. 12, 13), "while they were," as Theodoret says, "openly boasting, they were secretly taking money," and therefore were not "even as we."
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
Verse 13. - For such are false apostles. This, with 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 and Philippians 3:2, is one of St. Paul's most passionate outbursts of plain speaking. "Now at length" says Bengel, "he calls a spade a spade." They were "false apostles" (Revelation 2:2), because a true apostle delivers the message of another, while these cared only for self (Romans 16:18). Deceitful workers. Workmen who cheat their employers (2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2). Transforming themselves. The verb is the same as in 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Philippians 3:21, and does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Verse 14. - Even Satan ... angel of light. This is one of Satan's devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). The allusion may be to the temptation (Matthew 4:8, 9); or to the appearances of Satan with the angels before God in the Book of Job (Job 2:1); or perhaps to the Jewish hagadah, that the "angel" who wrestled with Jacob was in reality Satan.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Verse 15. - Whose end shall be according to their works. Whatever their fashion (schema), they shall be judged, not by what they seem, but by what they are, as shown by their works.
I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
Verses 16-33. - Apology by contrast. Verse 16. - I say again. St. Paul evidently feels an almost invincible repugnance to begin to speak of his own works. He has twice swerved away from the task (2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 11:1, 6) to speak of collateral topics. Now at last he begins, but only (to our grievous loss) to break off abruptly in ver. 33, before the story of his past sufferings has been much more than begun. A fool... boast. Here, again, we have the two haunting words of this section (see note on ver. 1; 1 Corinthians 15:36; 1 Corinthians 13:3). "Boast" occurs sixteen times in these three chapters alone. That I; rather, that I also.
That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
Verse 17. - Not after the Lord. "Boasting," or what might be stigmatized as such, may become a sort of painful necessity, necessitated by human baseness; but in itself it cannot be "after the Lord." There is nothing Christ-like in it. It is human, not Divine; an earthly necessity, not a heavenly example; a sword of the giant Philistine, which yet David may be forced to use. Confidence; hypostasis, as in 2 Corinthians 9:4, where exactly the same phrase occurs.
Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
Verse 18. - After the flesh (see note 2 Corinthians 10:3; comp. Philippians 3:4). I will glory also. But, as Robertson admirably observes, he "does not glory in what he has done, but in what he has borne."
For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
Verse 19. - Seeing you yourselves are wise; ye gladly tolerate the senseless, being intellectual (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:10). The irony would be very scathing to those whose minds and consciences were sufficiently humble and delicate to feel it.
For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
Verse 20. - For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage. The verse gives us an unexpected and painful glimpse of the enslaving (Galatians 2:4), greed-loving (Matthew 23:14; Romans 16;18), gain-hunting (1 Peter 5:2, 3), domineering (3 John 1:9). and even personally violent and insulting character of these teachers; whom yet, strange to say, the Corinthians seem to take at their own estimate, and to tolerate any extreme of insolence from them, while they were jealously suspicious of the disinterested, gentle, and humble apostle. If a man devour you. As the Pharisees "devoured" widows' houses (Matthew 23:14). Take of you; rather, seize you; makes you his captives. The verb is the same as "caught you," in 2 Corinthians 12:16. Smite you on the face. They must have brought their insolence with them from Jerusalem, where, as we see, not only from the details of our Lord's various mockeries, but from the accounts of the priests in Josephus and the Talmud, the priests made free use of their fists and staves! The fact that so many of the converts were downtrodden slaves and artisans would make them less likely to resent conduct to which they were daily accustomed among the heathen. Neither Greeks nor Orientals felt to anything like the same extent as ourselves the disgrace of a blow. That sense of disgrace rises flora the freedom which Christianity has gradually wrought for us, and the deep sense of the dignity of human nature, which it has inspired Christ had been so smitten, and so was Paul himself long afterwards (Acts 23:2), and he had to teach even Christian bishops that they must be "no strikers" (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). The "syllogism of violence" has, alas! been in familiar use among religious teachers in all ages (1 Kings 22:24; Nehemiah 13:25; Isaiah 58:4; Matthew 5:39; Luke 22:64; 1 Corinthians 4:11).
I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
Verse 21. - I steak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. The sense is uncertain, but if with the Revised Version we render it, "I speak by way of disparagement," the verse may be understood as an ironical admission that, if absence from these violent and self-assertive proceedings be a sign of weakness, he has been weak. He proceeds to correct the ironical admission in the next clause. The meaning can hardly be, "I admit the disgraces I have suffered" (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:8), because he is speaking of the Corinthians, not of himself. I am bold also. If they derive their right to this audacious and overweening line of conduct from any privileges of theirs, there is not one of these privileges which I too may not claim.
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
Verse 22. - Hebrews. In the strictest sense those who still understood and spoke Aramaic, not Hellenists of the dispersion, who no longer knew the sacred language. (For the use of the word, see Acts 6:1; Philippians 3:4.) Israelites. Jews, not only by nation, but in heart and feeling (see John 1:48; Acts 2:22, etc.; Romans 9:4; Romans 11:1). The seed of Abraham. Alike literally and spiritually (see John 8:33-53; Romans 9:7; Romans 11:1). It may seem strange that St. Paul should have found it necessary to make this statement; but his Tarsian birth and Roman franchise may have led to whispered innuendoes which took form long afterwards in the wild calumny that he was a Gentile who had only got himself circumcised in order that he might marry the high priest's daughter (Epiphan., 'Haer.,' 30:16).
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Verse 23. - I speak as a fool. Not merely as before aphron, but paraphronon," I speak as a madman." It is downright insanity on my part to enter into this contest of rival egotism. The verb does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament; the substantive is used of "downright infatuation" in 2 Peter 2:16. I am more. I may claim to be something beyond an ordinary servant of Christ (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:5). This is the "frantic" boast which he proceeds to justify in a fragment of biography which must ever be accounted as the most remarkable and unique in the world's history. And when St. Paul lived the life was, as Dean Stanley says, "hitherto without precedent in the history of the world." No subsequent life of saint or martyr has ever surpassed St. Paul's, as here sketched, in self-devotion; and no previous life even remotely resembled it. The figure of the Christian missionary was, until then, unknown. In labours more abundant; literally, more abundantly. The best comment is 1 Corinthians 15:10. In stripes above measure. The expression is partly explained in the next verse. In prisons. St. Clement of Rome says that St. Paul was imprisoned seven times. The only imprisonment up to this date recorded in the Acts is that at Philippi (Acts 16:23). The imprisonments in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome all took place later. He says later," The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city that bonds and imprisonment await me" (Acts 20:23). In deaths oft. He alludes to the incessant opposition, peril, and anguish which make him say in 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I die daily" (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:11; Romans 8:36). With the whole passage we may compare 2 Corinthians 6:4, 5.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Verse 24. - Five times. Not one of these Jewish scourgings - which yet were so severe that the sufferer often died under them - is mentioned in the Acts. This paragraph is the most striking proof of the complete fragmentariness of that narrative, marvellous as it is. On the circumstances which probably led to these Jewish scourgings, see 'Life of St. Paul,' exc. 11; and comp. Acts 22:19; Acts 26:11; Matthew 23:34. The question arises - Was St. Luke entirely unaware of all these scenes of anguish and daily martyrdom? Had St. Paul, in his humble reticence, never cared to speak of them? or were the Acts only intended for a sketch which made no pretension to completeness, and only related certain scenes and events by way of specimen and example? Forty stripes save one (Deuteronomy 25:3). On this instance of Jewish scrupulosity, and for all that is known of the rationale of Jewish scourgings, see 'Life of St. Paul,' ubi supra.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
Verse 25. - Thrice was I beaten with rods. This alludes to scourgings inflicted by Gentile magistrates with the vitis, or vine stick, of soldiers, or with the fasces of lictors. Only one of these horrible scourgings, which likewise often ended in death, is narrated in the Acts (Acts 16:22). We do not know when the others were inflicted. In any case they were egregious violations of St. Paul's right of Roman citizenship; but this claim (as we see in Cicero's various orations) was often set at nought in the provinces. Once was I stoned. At Lystra (Acts 14:19). Thrice I suffered shipwreck. Not one of these shipwrecks is narrated in the Acts. The shipwreck of Acts 27, took place some years later. A night and a day I have been in the deep. An allusion, doubtless, to his escape from one of the shipwrecks by floating for twenty-four hours on a plank in the stormy sea. We have no right to assume that the deliverance was miraculous. The perfect tense shows St. Paul's vivid reminiscence of this special horror. "In the deep" means "floating on the deep waves." Theophylact explains the words ἐν βυθῷ to mean "in Bythos," and says that it was a place near Lystra, apparently like the Athenian Barathrum and the Spartan Caeadas - a place where the bodies of criminals were thrown. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
Verse 26. - In journeyings often. In those days and in those countries journeys were not only perilous and fatiguing, but also accompanied with many severe hardships and discomforts. In perils of waters; rather, of rivers. In all countries which, like parts of Greece and Asia Minor, abound in unbridged mountain torrents, journeys are constantly accompanied by deaths from drowning in the sudden rush of swollen streams. In perils of robbers. Then, as now, brigandage was exceedingly common in the mountains of Greece and Asia. In perils from mine own countrymen; literally, from my race. These are abundantly recorded in the New Testament (Acts 9:23, 29; Acts 13:50; Acts 14:5, 19; Acts 20:3, etc.; 1 Thessalonians 2:15, 16; Philippians 3:2) From the heathen. They were generally instigated by the Jews (Acts 16:19-39, 17:5; 19:23-34, etc.). In the city. As at Damascus, Jerusalem, Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea, Ephesus, etc. - "in every city" (Acts 20:23). In the wilderness. As, for instance, in travelling through the wild waste tracts of land between Perga and Antioch in Pisidia, or thence to Lystra and Derbe; or over the mountain chains of Taurus to the cities of Galatia. In the sea. Storms, leaks, pirates, mutinies, etc. Among false brethren. The word only occurs elsewhere in Galatians 2:4.
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Verse 27. - In weariness and painfulness; literally, in toil and travail (1 Thessalonians 2:9 2 Thessalonians 3:8). In watchings; literally, in spells of sleeplessness (Acts 20:34). In hunger and thirst (ver. 8; 1 Corinthians 4:11; Philippians 4:12). In fastings often. It is not clear whether this refers to voluntary fastings (2 Corinthians 6:5; Acts 27:9) or to general destitution short of the actual pangs of hunger. In cold and nakedness. St. Paul's ideal, like that of his Master Christ, was the very antithesis of that adopted by the wealthy, honoured, and full-fed Shammais and Hillels of Jewish rabbinism, who delighted in banquets, fine garments, pompous titles, domestic comforts, and stationary ease.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Verse 28. - Those things that are without. The adverb thus rendered parektos only occurs in Matthew 5:32; Acts 26:29. It may either mean "trials that come to me from external and extraneous sources (quae extrinsecus accedunt) or things in addition to these (praeterea), which I here leave unmentioned." The latter meaning is (as St. Chrysostom saw) almost certainly the correct one. That which cometh upon me. The word thus rendered is either episustasis (J, K), which means "hostile attack" or "tumult," as we talk of "a rush of trouble or business;" or epistasis (א, B, D, E, F, G), which may imply "halting, lingering thoughts; "attention," and so "anxiety" (comp. Acts 24:12, where there is the same various reading). Of all the Churches. No doubt he is thinking of his own Churches, the Churches of the Gentiles (Colossians 2:1).
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
Verse 29. - Who is weak, and I am not weak? See, by way of example, 1 Corinthians 8:13; 1 Corinthians 9:22; Romans 14:21. Instead of stiffly maintaining my own prejudices, I am always ready to make concessions to weak brethren. Who is offended, and I burn not! That is, "who is ever caused to stumble without my burning with indignation?" In other words, "Is not the intensity of my sympathy whenever any scandal occurs an addition to the trials of my life?"
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
Verse 30. - If I must needs. If boasting is forced on me as a moral necessity (δεῖ). The things which concern mine infirmities. After all, St. Paul cannot keep up even for a few verses anything which can be regarded as "boasting after the flesh" (ver. 18). Practically his boasting has been only of those afflictions which to others might sound like a record of disgraces, but which left on him the marks of the Lord Jesus. His hairbreadth escapes were to him, as Bossuet said of the wounds of the Prince of Conde, "marks of the protection of Heaven."
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
Verse 31. - The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This solemn asseveration does not seem to be retrospective. It is used to preface what was perhaps intended to be a definite sketch of the most perilous incidents and trials of his life, which would have been to us of inestimable value. This awful attestation of his truthfulness was necessary,
(1) because even the very little which we do know shows us that the tale would have been "passing strange;" and
(2) because his base and shameless calumniators had evidently insinuated that he was not straightforward (2 Corinthians 12:16). (On the phrases used, see 2 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:3.)
In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
Verse 32. - In Damascus. (For the incident referred to, see Acts 9:22-25.) The governor; literally, the ethnarch. This is obviously the title given to the commandant of the city (whether an Arabian or a Jew), left in charge by Aretas. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, but is found in 1 Macc. 14:47; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 14:07, § 2. Under Aretas the king. Hareth, the Emir of Petra, father-in-law of Herod the Great. He had either seized the city during his war with Herod, to avenge the insult offered to his daughter by Herod's adultery with Herodias; or it may have been assigned to him by Caligula. His relations with Damascus are confirmed by coins (see 'Life of St. Paul,' exc. 8.). Kept... with a garrison; literally, was guarding. It is said in Acts 9:24 that the Jews did this; but they could not in any case have done it without leave from the ethnarch, and qui facit per alium, facit per se. Desirous to apprehend me. Both words are a little stronger in the Greek - "determining to seize me."
And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
Verse 33. - Through a window. A "little door," or lattice in some house which abutted on the wall. In a basket (comp. Joshua 2:15; 1 Samuel 19:12). The word used by St. Luke in Acts 9:25 is spuris, which is a general name for a large basket. The word here used is sargane, which is defined by Hesychius to be a basket of wickerwork, but which may also mean a rope basket. This particular incident, no doubt, seems to be less perilous and trying than many which St. Paul has already mentioned. We must, however, remember that escape from a window in the lofty wall of a city guarded by patrols was very perilous, and also that such a method of concealment was very trying to the dignity of an Oriental rabbi, such as St. Paul had been. Further, it is clear that St. Paul only mentions this as the earliest incident in along line of perils which it had been his original intention to recount. But at this point he was interrupted, and laid aside his task of dictation - an incident which has not unfrequently had its effect in literature. When next he resumed, the Epistle, he was no longer in the mood to break through his rule of reticence on these subjects. He had played "the fool" and "the madman," as he says of himself with indignant irony, enough; and he proceeds to speak of other personal claims which he regards as more Important and more Divine. Of all "chapters of unwritten history," not one is more deeply to be regretted than the one which we have them lost.