Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


2 Corinthians 11:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Are they ministers of Christ - So we find that these were professors of Christianity; and that they were genuine Jews, and such as endeavored to incorporate both systems, and, no doubt, to oblige those who had believed to be circumcised; and this appears to have been the bondage into which they had brought many of the believing Corinthians.

I am more - More of a minister of Christ than they are, and have given fuller proofs of it. I have suffered persecution for the cross of Christ, and of the Jews too; and had I preached up the necessity of circumcision, I should have been as free from opposition as these are.

In labors more abundant - Far from sitting down to take my ease in a Church already gathered into Christ; I travel incessantly, preach every where, and at all risks, in order to get the heathen brought from the empire of darkness into the kingdom of God's beloved Son.

In stripes above measure - Being beaten by the heathen, who had no particular rule according to which they scourged criminals; and we find, from Acts 16:22, Acts 16:23, that they beat Paul unmercifully with many stripes. See the note on Acts 16:22.

In prisons more frequent - See Acts 21:11, and the whole of the apostle's history; and his long imprisonment of at least two years at Rome, Acts 28:16, Acts 28:30. It does not appear that there is any one instance of a false apostle having been imprisoned for the testimony of Christ; this was a badge of the true apostles.

In deaths oft - That is, in the most imminent dangers. See 1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 4:11. And see the apostle's history in the Acts.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Are they ministers of Christ? - Though Jews by birth yet they claimed to be the ministers of the Messiah.

I speak as a fool - As if he had said, “Bear in mind, in what I am now about to say, that he who speaks is accused of being a fool in boasting. Let it not be deemed improper that I should act in this character, and since you regard me as such, let me speak like a fool.” His frequent reminding them of this charge was eminently suited to humble them that they had ever made it, especially when they were reminded by an enumeration of his trials, of the character of the man against whom the charge was brought.

I am more - Paul was not disposed to deny that they were true ministers of Christ. But he had higher claims to the office than they had. He had been called to it in a more remarkable manner, and he had shown by his labors and trials that he had more of the true spirit of a minister of the Lord Jesus than they had. He therefore goes into detail to show what he had endured in endeavoring to diffuse the knowledge of the Saviour; trials which the had borne probably while they had been dwelling in comparative ease, and in a comfortable manner, free from suffering and persecution.

In labors more abundant - In the kind of labor necessary in propagating the gospel. Probably he had now been engaged in the work a much longer time than they had, and had been far more indefatigable in it.

In stripes - In receiving stripes; that is, I have been more frequently scourged; 2 Corinthians 11:24. This was a proof of his being a minister of Christ, because eminent devotedness to him at that time, of necessity subjected a man to frequent scourging. The ministry is one of the very few places, perhaps it stands alone in this, where it is proof of special qualification for office that a man has been treated with all manner of contumely, and has even been often publicly whipped. What other office admits such a qualification as this?

Above measure - Exceedingly; far exceeding them. He had received far more than they had, and he judged, therefore, that this was one evidence that he had been called to the ministry.

In prisons more frequent - In the Book of Acts, Luke mentions only one imprisonment of Paul before the time when this Epistle was written. That was at Philippi with Silas, Acts 16:23 ff. But we are to remember that many things were omitted by Luke. He does not profess to give an account of all that happened to Paul; and an omission is not a contradiction. For anything that Luke says, Paul may have been imprisoned often. He mentions his having been in prison once; he does not deny that he had been in prison many times besides; see on Acts 16:24.

In deaths oft - This is, exposed to death; or suffering pain equal to death; see on 2 Corinthians 1:9. No one familiar with the history of Paul can doubt that he was often in danger of death.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle gives an account of his labours and sufferings; not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ; and shows wherein he excelled the false apostles, who tried to lessen his character and usefulness. It astonishes us to reflect on this account of his dangers, hardships, and sufferings, and to observe his patience, perseverance, diligence, cheerfulness, and usefulness, in the midst of all these trials. See what little reason we have to love the pomp and plenty of this world, when this blessed apostle felt so much hardship in it. Our utmost diligence and services appear unworthy of notice when compared with his, and our difficulties and trials scarcely can be perceived. It may well lead us to inquire whether or not we really are followers of Christ. Here we may study patience, courage, and firm trust in God. Here we may learn to think less of ourselves; and we should ever strictly keep to truth, as in God's presence; and should refer all to his glory, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 345

It is entirely wrong to buy every errand that is done for the Lord. The treasury of the Lord has been drained by those who have been only an injury to the cause. If ministers give themselves wholly to the work of God, and devote all their energies to building up His cause, they will have no lack. As regards temporal things, they have a better portion than their Lord and better than His chosen disciples whom He sent forth to save perishing man. Our great Exemplar, who was in the brightness of His Father's glory, was despised and rejected of men. Reproach and falsehood followed Him. His chosen disciples were living examples of the life and spirit of their Master. They were honored with stripes and imprisonment; and it was finally their portion to seal their ministry with their blood. 2T 345.1

When ministers are so interested in the work that they love it as a part of their existence, then they can say: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 2T 345.2

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 2T 345.3

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 363.3

His labors were more abundant than any of the disciples, his stripes above measure. He was beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, in deaths oft. He was in peril by land and sea, in the city and in the wilderness, from robbers and from his own countrymen. He prosecuted his mission under continual infirmities, in painfulness, in weariness, in watchings often, in cold, in nakedness.... When he answered the bloodthirsty Nero, no man stood with him.... OHC 363.3

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 347.2

The faithful ambassador of Christ is not ashamed of the banner of truth. He does not cease from proclaiming the truth, however unpopular it may be. In all places, in season, out of season, he heralds the glad tidings of salvation. Missionaries for God are called to face dangers, endure privations, and suffer reproach for the truth's sake, yet amid dangers, hardships, and reproach they are still to hold the banner aloft. RC 347.2

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 296-7

Paul's labors in Ephesus were concluded. His ministry there had been a season of incessant labor, of many trials, and of deep anguish. He had taught the people in public and from house to house, with many tears instructing and warning them. Continually he had been opposed by the Jews, who lost no opportunity to stir up the popular feeling against him. AA 296.1

And while thus battling against opposition, pushing forward with untiring zeal the gospel work, and guarding the interests of a church yet young in the faith, Paul was bearing upon his soul a heavy burden for all the churches. AA 296.2

News of apostasy in some of the churches of his planting caused him deep sorrow. He feared that his efforts in their behalf might prove to be in vain. Many a sleepless night was spent in prayer and earnest thought as he learned of the methods employed to counteract his work. As he had opportunity and as their condition demanded, he wrote to the churches, giving reproof, counsel, admonition, and encouragement. In these letters the apostle does not dwell on his own trials, yet there are occasional glimpses of his labors and sufferings in the cause of Christ. Stripes and imprisonment, cold and hunger and thirst, perils by land and by sea, in the city and in the wilderness, from his own countrymen, from the heathen, and from false brethren—all this he endured for the sake of the gospel. He was “defamed,” “reviled,” made “the offscouring of all things,“ “perplexed,” “persecuted,” “troubled on every side,” “in jeopardy every hour,” “alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake.” AA 296.3

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