“For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!” (2 Corinthians 12:13).
Its interesting to consider how God used the individual personalities, cultural backgrounds, and writing styles of the various Biblical authors to communicate His Word. While God is personally responsible for every single Biblical word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the Scriptures also display the human qualities of their authors in the nuances of their work.
2 Corinthians 12:13 provides us with a good example of this concept in action. You see, Paul the Apostle responded to his critics with a healthy dose of irony in communicating a God-inspired message to the members of the Corinthian church. We could paraphrase that message in the following manner: “Do you actually believe that my decision to decline your financial support somehow made you inferior to other congregations? If that’s the case, then please forgive me for not taking money from you.”
One source suspects that Paul was responding to an agenda that was at work among some within the Corinthian church…
“The well-to-do in the Corinthian church want an apostle they can be proud of—one who conforms to their high-society expectations for a professional moral teacher. Thus they want Paul to stop working and to accept support from them, to become their client or dependent (see 1Co_9:1-27). Paul avoids playing into the hands of the well-to-do faction of the church… by accepting support from others instead; here he replies in irony: ‘Forgive me!'” (1)
In any event, Paul’s decision to forego the Corinthians’ financial support offered several benefits. First, it helped diminish the financial burden upon the members of the congregation. While that decision held little consequence for the wealthier members of the church, it surely had a beneficial impact upon those with limited financial resources
It also served to neutralize the criticisms of those who suspected that Paul may have been seeking to enrich himself. Finally, this decision provided Paul with greater flexibility in ministering God’s Word. Since Paul was not dependant upon support from the Corinthians, he had greater freedom to speak the truth without fear of reprisal from those who might be inclined to withdraw their financial assistance in response to an uncomfortable message.
So by removing the potential for the Corinthians to deprive him of their support, Paul also removed any limitations (perceived or otherwise) he may have felt in ministering to them. Given the number of serious issues that Paul has addressed throughout the Corinthian epistles, this choice was probably something that was absolutely necessary.
(1) Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament © 1988 Craig S. Keener [2Co_12:13]