Apostolic Boasting

Tom Ascol
| 2 Corinthians 11

Pastor Tom Ascol continuing in his series on 2 Corinthians opens God’s Word in Chapter 11:1 – 33 with a message entitled “Apostolic Boasting.” In an ancient document called “The Deeds of the Divine Augustus,” the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus boasted about many of his accomplishments. He fell, just as the false teachers in today’s passage fell, to the temptation to promote themselves usually at the expense of others but, more importantly, at the expense of the glory due God.

The boasting of the false teachers was apparently wreaking havoc on the church. Paul, therefore, felt it necessary to boast for several reasons. Paul seeks not glory for himself but rather aims the boasting to give glory to the god that has enabled him. Paul starts by expressing concern for their spiritual well-being. Paul expresses reservation about boasting of his work among them and makes sure the Corinthians understand how foolish he feels. Yet he is jealous for them. He knows they are vulnerable as evidenced by their gullibility in listening to the false teachers. Surprised at how they have left his teaching to follow these false teachers he makes the point he is not inferior to them. Though he does not necessarily rely on eloquence, it is the quality of the message he preaches that sets him apart and above from these philosophical so-called super-apostles. It is the gospel alone that causes change in the hearts of people.

Paul uses his boasts to express his love of the Corinthians. He will not change his practice because others attack him. He is a messenger from God while these false teachers are servants of Satan. Calling others servants of Satan is a serious charge but Paul does not shrink form that charge. They have misled the saints and continue so to do. Interestingly, even today this happens. Only as we seriously study and become knowledgeable in God’s Word can we defend the true faith.

A major characteristic of Paul’s boasting is in exposing the folly of the false teachers’ boasting. The Corinthians have foolishly fallen for the false teachers’ boasting. They have willing exchanged the truth for lies. Not only are they servants of Satan but they are no better ethnically than Paul. Paul goes through his ethnic bona fides. He moves on to the many trials he has experienced as a servant of Christ. He boasts not that he has suffered but that the Lord has enabled and blessed his suffering. This would not be the boasting the false teachers would have expected; Paul did not list his accomplishments. Rather, he boasts in his weakness. Who has more credibility, ones who have manipulated people to pay them for their teaching or the man who has repeatedly suffered physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally for the sake of the gospel?

Paul’s résumé was unlike Augustus’s “The Deeds of the Divine Augustus” in every regard. He did not seek to bring glory to himself or impress men. Rather he sought the glory of God in all his boasting, boasting which took place only to encourage the Corinthian church to return to the love of and adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Non-believers should ask themselves why anyone would live sacrificially like Paul lived unless they had experienced the reality of the truth of the gospel in their lives. If that truth led Paul we all too should be so led to follow Jesus Christ.