2 Corinthians 11:16 to 12:10 is one of the most extraordinary passages in Paulís letters. His purpose is to show that a church leader should never be proud. The passage forms a complete answer to the proud words of these people who were trying to gain authority over Corinthís church.
Those men were not depending on God, but upon themselves. They considered themselves truly great, and they wanted everyone else to think that about them, too. Actually, it was true that they were powerful, clever and impressive. However, they were leading people away from God* and so they caused great trouble in the churches*.
Paul had to show that their proud words were foolish. To do that, Paul saw that, in this passage, he must speak like them. They spoke so proudly about the things that they had achieved; so Paul would do the same. Usually, Paul would never speak about himself like that. However, in this situation, it was necessary. Paul could only show by that means that Christians must depend not on their own strength, but on Godís strength.
Church leaders do not need to be impressive and powerful people for God to work through them. In fact, the opposite is often true. God works through weak and unimportant people, and then God receives all the honour. It is often very difficult for strong, capable and important people to allow God to work in their lives. God will not work in the lives of proud people, or people who trust in their own greatness.
Humble people are people who consider God, and not themselves, to be truly great. Many people consider that to be weakness and, in this passage, Paul accepts that as a description of himself. However, really it is only humble people who can know true strength. That is because only a humble person can depend on the strength of God.
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.