Lesson 18: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

by | Jun 19, 2023 | 2 Corinthians, Cornerstone Women's Bible Study

Read 2 Cor. 11:16-21 – Boasting Fools

1. It seems strange that the words “I speak foolishly” would come from the mouth of the apostle Paul. And yet he has been forced to defend himself as we have seen throughout this letter. Paul has made it apparent that he purposes in his heart to speak of Jesus, not of himself. What did he say in 2 Cor. 4:5a?

2. But Paul’s boasting is nothing like the boasting of these false teachers. We have seen, and will continue to see, that Pauls boasts of his weakness and suffering. How do you think this differs from the boasting of the false teachers?

3. (vs 19) We hear the sarcasm in Paul’s voice as he accuses the Corinthians of putting up with fools gladly. What does verse 20 tell us that they have accepted from false teachers? Can you explain some of these things? (Help: bondage can indicate legalism or domination held over others) (More help 😊 See Acts 23:2 re: common actions of religious authorities)

4. Review 2 Cor. 11:4. How can you apply this to the current teachings of some church leaders?

5. Comment on this quote: Guzik: Sadly, many people are more comfortable with authoritarian “super apostles” than they are with the freedom that is open to them in Jesus. (also see 2 Cor. 3:17)

Read 2 Cor. 11:22-29 – Paul’s Apostolic Credentials

1. By human standards, Paul was qualified to be the most eminent of apostles. Remind yourself of his words in 2 Cor. 11:5. In verse 22 Paul identifies himself as a Hebrew, an Israelite, and the seed of Abraham. What do these terms mean? What is his point?

2. (vs 23) Paul claims to be more of a minister of Christ than his rivals. The word translated “minister” is the Greek word diakonos which means a humble servant or a menial worker. This certainly describes Paul, but not his rivals. How are his rivals described in 2 Cor. 11:13-15?

3. Whoever has given the impression that following Jesus is a life of ease that leads to wealth, health, and comfortable circumstances has no understanding of the life of Paul. Though Paul so often speaks of the joy and peace found in Christ, when forced to defend his ministry, he shares his suffering. Here he begins his proof that he is indeed a minister of Christ. Refer to the references given to add to your understanding of these sufferings. Your thoughts?

a. (vs 23) in labors more abundant (1 Cor. 15:10), in stripes above measure (2 Cor. 11:24), in prisons more frequently (Acts 16:20-24), in deaths often (Acts 14:19).

b. (vs 24) from the Jews 5 times received 40 stripes minus 1. (Deut 25:3, beaten by Jews)

c. (vs 25) Three times I was beaten with rods (beaten by Romans); once I was stoned (Acts 14:19); three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; (Through the book of Acts, we read of no less than 18 journeys Paul took by ship, with only half of them occurring before the writing of 2 Corinthians.)

d. (vs 26) in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (perils are serious and immediate dangers)

e. (vs 27) in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— (physical experiences felt in the body: consider Gal. 2:20 & Rom. 5:3)

f. (vs 28) besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (Paul’s deep concern was not a “faithless fussiness.” “This anxiety was based not only on disturbing reports which came to his ears, but on his knowledge of the savage subtlety of the enemy of souls who, he realized, would stop at nothing in his attempts to overthrow the work of the gospel.” – Hughes)

Read 2 Cor. 11:30-33 – God Knows

1. “Infirmity” in verse 30 means “weakness”. Paul explains this more in 2 Cor. 12:7-10 which we will look at in Lesson 19. Recall the different meanings for the word translated “boast”. Explain verse 30.

2. What great truths about God do you see in verse 31?

a. The word translated “know” in verse 31 means simply that – to know. It includes knowledge, understanding, and perception. Consider Psalm 139:1-6. What do you see?

b. “The Bible teaches that God is all-knowing or omniscient. The word “omniscient” comes from two Latin words: omnis signifying all and scientia signifying knowledge. When we say that God is omniscient it means that he has perfect knowledge of all things. He does not have to learn anything and He has not forgotten anything. God does not have to reason things out, find out things, or learn them gradually. He knows everything that has happened and everything that will happen…. This knowledge is absolute and unacquired. The omniscience of God means that He has perfect knowledge, perfect understanding, and perfect wisdom as to how to apply the knowledge.” – Don Stewart What is your response to this?

3. All that Paul had endured may seem unbelievable, but who is his witness? (vs 31)

4. Verse 32 and 33 refer to the event in Acts 9:23-25. This is probably the first real hardship that Paul experienced as a Christian. This is how Paul’s ministry began, and this is how it still continues. What word would you use to describe Paul?

a. Does this word describe you and your life as a Christian? Why or why not?

b. Should this word describe you? Why or why not?