“As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast” (2 Corinthians 11:10-12).
In reading through the New Testament Scriptures, it appears that Paul the Apostle faced a considerable amount of resistance from those who sought to misrepresent his ministry to suit their own agenda (see Acts 25:7-8, Romans 3:8, and 2 Peter 3:15-16 for some examples). This was true of some within the Corinthian church as well.
The passage quoted above reveals one way in which Paul sought to protect his relationship with the members of the Corinthian fellowship. You see, Paul’s refusal to seek their financial aid served to undercut those who sought to profit off the church under the guise of “ministry.” Two sources offer some hard-hitting commentary on that decision…
“It seems clear that the Judaizers (1) expected, demanded, and received money from the Corinthians. Like most cultists, they would not have served unless it paid them financially. Paul was determined to continue his policy of not receiving money from the believers in Corinth. If the false teachers wanted to engage in a boasting match with him, let them follow his policy. But he knew they would never be able to boast of serving without monetary reward. Thus he cut out this ground of boasting from under them.” (2)
“‘I’m not going to charge you,’ said Paul. ‘And I dare these false teachers to follow my lead.’ There have been times in this ministry when we didn’t have the money to support the ministers, myself included. And it’s really interesting what happens. Some keep serving, teaching, working, doing whatever they’re called to do. Others fade away. Jesus called them hirelings (John 10:12, 13).
I believe God almost inevitably allows men to be tested in this way, to allow them to see whether what they’re doing is merely a job or truly a calling on their life—something they would do whether or not they were financially supported. Although Paul sometimes had support from Macedonia, we know from the Book of Acts that during this time he would support himself by making tents in order that he could teach the Word at nights or in the afternoon. ‘I know how to abound and how to be abased,’ he said (see Philippians 4:12). ‘I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been called to do.'” (3)
(1) See here for more on the Judaizers
(2) William Macdonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary Edited by Arthur Farstad Thomas Nelson Publishers [11:12]
(3) Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1148). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.