2 Corinthians 11:5 MEANING

2 Corinthians 11:5
(5) For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.--The verb with which the sentence opens is the same as the "I think," "I reckon," which characterises these chapters, and which, being characteristic, ought to be retained. I reckon I have not fallen short of those apostles-extraordinary. The whole tone of the passage ought to have made it impossible for any commentator to imagine that the words referred to Peter and James and John as the pillars of the Church of Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9). Of them he speaks, even in his boldest moments, with respect, even where respect is mingled with reproof. He is glad to remember how they gave to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship. He presents himself at Jerusalem a few months after writing these words, and almost submissively follows the counsel which James gives him (Acts 21:26). It is, accordingly, simply the insanity of controversy to imagine that these words have any bearing on the question of the primacy of St. Peter. Those whom he holds up to scorn with an almost withering irony, as "apostles-extraordinary" (he coins a word which literally means, "these extra-special or over-extra apostles"), are the false teachers, claiming to stand in a special relation to Christ, to be His Apostles--perhaps, also, to have a double title to the name, as delegates of the Church of Jerusalem. Of these he speaks more fully in 2 Corinthians 11:13.

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.

11:5-15 It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives. The apostle would not give room for any to accuse him of worldly designs in preaching the gospel, that others who opposed him at Corinth, might not in this respect gain advantage against him. Hypocrisy may be looked for, especially when we consider the great power which Satan, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience, has upon the minds of many. And as there are temptations to evil conduct, so there is equal danger on the other side. It serves Satan's purposes as well, to set up good works against the atonement of Christ, and salvation by faith and grace. But the end will discover those who are deceitful workers; their work will end in ruin. Satan will allow his ministers to preach either the law or the gospel separately; but the law as established by faith in Christ's righteousness and atonement, and the partaking of his Spirit, is the test of every false system.For I suppose I was not a whit behind,.... This is very modestly expressed by the apostle; for he does not assert, and in a haughty and confident way affirm, but only supposes, or thinks that this might be admitted, that he was not inferior to, or did not come short of, in gifts, grace, and usefulness,

the very chiefest of the apostles: such as Peter, James, and John; who seemed to be pillars, were eminent apostles, of great note among them, and such as Christ, in the days of his flesh, took particular notice of. This he says, not to exalt himself, but to show, how weakly and injudiciously the Corinthians acted in setting up the false apostle above him; or else these words are spoken ironically, and design the false teachers, who vaunted so much of their gifts, learning, eloquence, and usefulness; and extolled themselves at such a rate, as if they were , "greatly above the apostles"; and therefore he jeeringly calls them

the very chiefest of them; and yet thinks fit to put himself at least, upon an equality with them: one manuscript reads, "the chiefest of the apostles among you"; and the Ethiopic version seems to have read you.

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