“I wish that you would be patient with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you are being patient with me!” (2 Corinthians 11:1 NET).
“As much against the grain as it is with a proud man to acknowledge his infirmities, so much is it against the grain with a humble man to speak of his own praise.” (1)
As we’ll see over the course of 2 Corinthians chapter eleven, Paul the Apostle will boast of his sufferings as an Apostle of Christ. So why did Paul feel it necessary to mention these things to the members of the Corinthian church? To answer that question, we should first remember that the Corinthians had shown an unfortunate willingness to accept certain “leaders” who were not what they claimed to be. That made it necessary for Paul to engage in a defense of his apostleship to counter their influence.
We should also remember that the ability to effectively communicate with others often comes down to interacting with them in a way they can respect and understand. Since the Corinthians had embraced a group of false apostles who boasted of their credentials and accomplishments, it appears that Paul engaged in a similar conversation in order to speak a “language” they could grasp.
He then went on to say this…
“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Since we often associate jealousy with a negative emotional state, it may be difficult to understand why Paul felt this way in regard to the situation in Corinth. For instance, we might theorize that Paul felt threatened by the emergence of these leaders, perhaps fearing that one or more of them might usurp his position of authority. While that was certainly their intent, Paul had a God-honoring basis for his sense of jealousy: “I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ” (NLT).
You see, Paul jealously sought to protect the exclusive bond that existed between Jesus and the members of the Corinthian church as the bride of Christ. As one commentator observes, “Human jealousy is a vice, but to share divine jealousy is a virtue. It is the motive and object of the jealousy that is all-important. There is a place for a spiritual father’s passionate concern for the exclusive and pure devotion to Christ of his spiritual children, and also a place for anger at potential violators of that purity” (11:29).” (2)
(1) Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, pp. 1835, quoted in Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition [11:1] Copyright © 2017 Thomas L. Constable. All Rights Reserved. http://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/2corinthians/2corinthians.htm
(2) Murray J. Harris, “2 Corinthians,” in Romans-Galatians, vol. 10 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 322, quoted in Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition [11:2] Copyright © 2017 Thomas L. Constable. All Rights Reserved. http://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/2corinthians/2corinthians.htm