Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
What Paul covers in 12:11-18 is neglected by many Christian workers today. All the saints in the Lord’s recovery need to understand what these verses reveal, for they apply to all of us, not only to those who are elders or co-workers. We should not think that what Paul speaks of here has nothing to do with us. What Paul was, what he did, and how he conducted himself are a pattern for all believers, not only a pattern for the leading ones. The New Testament reveals that all believers in Christ should, like Paul, live a life for the building up of the Body of Christ. This is revealed emphatically, strongly, and definitely in the book of Ephesians. According to Ephesians, every part of the Body must live a life for the building up of the Body.
Unconsciously and subconsciously, we are still very much under the influence of our religious background. We are under the control, direction, and manipulation of traditional concepts. In particular, because of this influence, we may think that what Paul speaks of in chapter twelve is limited to leading ones, elders, co-workers, deacons, and deaconesses. We may think that, as common members of the Body, this chapter has nothing to do with us. Actually, Paul’s word is for us all. For this reason, it is rather difficult for me to say how many co-workers I have. The understanding within me is that all of those who meet with us in the Lord’s recovery are co-workers. Nevertheless, because of the influence of our religious background, we may think that if we are not apostles, elders, or deacons, Paul’s word in 12:11-18 does not apply to us. We need to read these verses with the realization that they are meant for us all. Even the young ones among us should realize that these verses are for them. We are not able to predict how far along the Lord will take our young people and how much He will use them in the future. I say this as an introductory word to our considering what is revealed in these verses.
In verse 11 Paul says, “I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing I am inferior to the super-apostles, even if I am nothing.” Here Paul says that the Corinthians compelled Paul to become foolish. They bore the responsibility for this. They should have commended Paul, but they were distracted and withheld their commendation. Their silence was wrong. They should have done something to commend Paul, for it was not fitting for him to be compelled to speak concerning himself. This, no doubt, was the feeling in Paul’s spirit as he wrote verse 11.
We should learn from this verse that there are occasions when we need to say something on behalf of the elders or those in the ministry. If a certain brother is the target of attack or opposition, he may not be able to say anything to defend himself. In such a situation we need to speak up and commend him. For example, years ago when Brother Nee was the target, I did something to vindicate him. The young ones especially need to learn to commend someone in such a situation. They should be bold to speak out. They should not be silent, and they should not be held back.
In verse 11 Paul was compelled to point out to the Corinthians that in nothing was he inferior to the super-apostles. It certainly was not pleasant for Paul to say this on his own behalf. It should not have been necessary for such a word to be uttered by him, since he was the target of the opposition. A number of those in Corinth should have said this for Paul. They should have declared, “You Judaizers must realize that Paul is not inferior to you in any way.” As we have pointed out, Paul had received transcendent visions and revelations. He surely was not inferior to those arrogant, boastful, self-commending Judaizers. But because of the silence of the Corinthians, Paul was compelled to say something on his own behalf. He said forthrightly that in nothing was he inferior to the boastful Judaizers.
In verse 11 Paul says that he was not inferior to the super-apostles, even if he were nothing. Of course, it is not true that Paul was nothing. He really was something. However, he could not say this about himself. Hence, he was compelled to point out that, even if he were nothing, he was not inferior to the Judaizers.
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