“Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?” (2 Corinthians 12:17-18).
Just as a defense attorney might defend his or her client before a witness, Paul the Apostle asked several questions that were designed to reveal the truth about his financial relationship (or lack thereof) with the members of the Corinthian church. To some, Paul’s refusal to accept the Corinthians’ financial support was nothing more than veiled attempt to collect payment from them through some other means. To refute that charge, Paul called upon Titus as his primary witness in the passage quoted above.
From the context of this passage, it appears that Paul asked Titus to visit Corinth at some point. As part of that visit, Paul asked if there was anything in Titus’ character, demeanor, or conduct that reflected poorly upon Paul. As Paul’s associate, did Titus provide any indication that he had been less than ethical in some way? Did Titus ask for money. behave inappropriately, or otherwise try to take advantage of them? The obvious answer to those rhetorical questions was “no.”
Its often been said that a person can be known by the company he or she keeps and Titus’ ethical conduct mirrored Paul’s own behavior. Paul drove that point home by asking, “Didn’t we have the same motives and do things the same way?” (GW). The obvious answer to that rhetorical question was “yes.” If Titus acted honorably in his visit with the church at Corinth, then Paul surely did as well.
But that was not all. You see, Paul also referred to an unnamed brother who accompanied Titus. As a fellow Christian, that person could be certainly be trusted to provide independent confirmation of their good conduct. Thus Paul offered two lines of defense to support the integrity of his actions. While this may have been insufficient to silence Paul’s detractors at Corinth, it may have been enough to convince those who were more open-minded regarding their accusations against him.
Unfortunately, what was true Paul’s day remains true today as well. Those who defame others in pursuit of an agenda other than truth may never be convinced despite the quality of the evidence that demonstrates otherwise. Nevertheless, that should not dissuade us from defending our conduct if we have acted in an appropriate and ethical manner.