“I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting” (2 Corinthians 11:16-17).
A person who understands that God graciously allows us to have the things we possess is someone who is unlikely to boast of his or her accomplishments. Unfortunately, that sentiment had little apparent impact upon the false teachers who had worked their way into the Corinthian fellowship- and that placed the Apostle Paul in a difficult position.
On one hand, Paul was reluctant to boast in regard to his ministry, preferring instead to give the honor to God for his work. On the other hand, it would have been inappropriate for Paul to stand by and watch the false apostles in Corinth trumpet their “qualifications” while doing nothing to validate or defend his apostleship.
Therefore. Paul grudgingly agreed to engage in some boasting of his own beginning in the passage quoted above and continuing into the opening verses of the following chapter. This represented foolishness to Paul but it served an important purpose. If Paul could establish that he was qualified to question those who opposed him in Corinth, he could shift the focus of attention towards the content of their teaching and away from these other issues.
But first, Paul issued an important qualification: “In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool” (NIV). In making this statement, Paul simply recognized an important fact. Since Jesus never boasted in such a manner, it was out of character for one of His representatives to do so. There had to be a compelling reason for Paul to engage in such behavior and he clearly felt it was necessary in order to achieve a greater purpose.
Paul’s reluctance to tout his achievements should prompt us to be wary of leaders and others who similarly seek to boast of their accomplishments today. In the words of one commentary, “The Apostle Paul surely has set an example here for other true Christian leaders. Boasting of one’s achievements and experiences is ill becoming to a Christian, the only exception being when it is necessary, for the sake of the testimony, to rebut the false claims of those who are thereby deceiving others and keeping them from believing God’s Word.” (1)
(1) Institute for Creation Research, New Defender’s Study Bible Notes 2 Corinthians 11:17 http://www.icr.org/bible/2Cor/11/17