Not Taking, But Giving
2 Corinthians 12:11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? 19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. (NKJV)






Paul was in Macedonia from June to November of A.D. 56. It was there that he wrote the letter of 2nd Corinthians, likely in September and October of A.D. 56.

The church in Corinth had been beset by false teachers. These false teachers, Judaizers, were undermining Paul’s teachings and questioning his apostolic authority.

The Judaizers wanted to add to the Gospel, to make it more complicated. What they wanted to add was the requirement to follow the Jewish practices and customs expressed in the Mosaic Law.

The Corinthian church has now rejected the false teachers and returned to the teachings of Paul. However, Paul still has some concern about the issue of his apostolic authority and addresses it again in this letter.

Paul began this letter by defending his apostolic authority. After moving on to other subjects, he now concludes this letter by returning to defend his apostolic authority in the last four chapters.

In this passage, Paul begins by expressing his regrets that he has resorted to boasting of himself in countering the criticisms of the false teachers, He writes “I have made a fool of myself” (v. 11a).

He explains himself when he writes “but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing” (v. 11b). The Corinthian believers should have “commended” him instead of believing the Judaizers and doubting him. Even though all apostles are “nothing” compared to God, Paul was not inferior to any other apostles. In fact, looking back, we can safely say that he was superior to most, if not all.

Paul continues to explain himself when he writes “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles” (v. 12). Paul proved his apostolic authority by his ministry.

The proof that God was using Paul was that he was performing “signs, wonders and miracles” through him. Signs were actions that affected the human intelligence and wonders were actions that affected human emotions. They all were a result of miracles performed by God, through Paul.

Next, Paul writes “How were you inferior to the other churches” (v. 13a). It was a fact that the Corinthian church was less mature than the churches in Macedonia and other areas that were started at about the same time.

This likely was because of where the Corinthian church came from. Corinth, a metropolitan hub, was filled with sin. Collins Dictionary defines the current day word “corinthianize” as a verb meaning to live a promiscuous life.

It is thought that the Judaizers justified sexual immorality and thus were able to influence the new Corinthian believers. Although the believers had renounced their past sin, they likely had not repented of, turned from, this sin.

Thus, the Corinth church was less mature than other churches that were started about the same time. A sign of church maturity is reflected by its giving.

Paul had not pressed the Corinth church to give, instead relying on the Macedonian churches for giving. In trying to explain their immaturity Paul questions his own actions when he writes “except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!” (v. 13b).

Perhaps, if he had insisted more on their giving, they would have reached maturity sooner. The Judaizers demanded giving by the church, and received it!

Paul will be soon leaving Macedonia for Corinth and he writes “Now I am ready to visit you for the third time” (v. 14a). Scripture is not clear that this next visit to Corinth will actually be his third visit or just the third time that he was “ready” to visit.

We know that he visited them for the first time on his second missionary journey. It is possible that then, on this third missionary journey, he made a quick visit from Ephesus prior to going to Macedonia, but this is not stated in Scripture.

The use of the word “ready” might indicate that Paul had thought of making a visit from Ephesus but decided against it. We know from earlier in this letter that he did not want to visit Corinth when they were in turmoil.

Paul continues to insist that he will not demand that the church give of their financial resources when he writes “I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you” (v. 14b). Paul does not want their money, but themselves. He wants them to give themselves fully to Christ. He does not want to take from them but instead he wants to give to them, to give them the gift of Jesus.

He is not taking, but giving. The example he uses to define this relationship is the relationship of a good parent to his children.

Paul writes “After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well” (vv. 14c-15). He wants not to take from his children, but to give “everything” to his children, his money and all of himself.

In conclusion, Paul appeals to the Corinthian believers when he writes “15b If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? 19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening.”

Paul is treating them as his own children. He “loves” them, even when they don’t love him (vv.15b-16a). He is not a” burden” to them (v. 16b). He does not “exploit” them directly, or indirectly through others (vv. 16c-18).

He is not” defending” himself, but rather speaking to them as Christians “in the sight of God” (v. 19a). And finally, everything he does is “for your strengthening”, to make them greater (v. 19b). He is not taking, but giving.

Sound familiar? This Godly character trait is exhibited in Donald Trump. He is a good parent, and he is a good President. Everything he does is for our strengthening, to make us greater. He is not taking, but giving.

Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary