2 Corinthians 11:21-25
2 Cor 11:21 (KJB)
I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
Reproach - Dishonor, disgrace, or shame
Is bold - May be daring or brave
I am bold - Am daring or brave
Here Paul had reproached himself in that he has allowed these false teachers to think of him as being weak. His physical appearance may have seemed to lack power but because he was careful on how to answer concerning his defense of the Gospel and himself, he chose not to use any type of unkind words. On the tail of that admission Paul then states that if those false teachers proclaim themselves to be bold, he was ready to match their boldness with his boldness and that he had courage in this matter just as much as anyone else had. Maybe some in Corinth had thought that Paul was speaking as a fool, even though Paul stated he was speaking foolishly, it was for the benefit of the false teachers to see how foolish boasting really was and that was what Paul was trying to get across to them.
2 Cor 11:22 (KJB)
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
There was a group in Judea called the Ebionites who lived from about the first to the fourth century. They were a group of Judaizers who believed that it was necessary to follow the Jewish law and customs. In fact, they disbelieved the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They had spread a rumor about Paul that he was really not a Hebrew but a Gentile by birth. This is why Paul had to defend himself against this charge also. He asks are they Hebrews? He then states that he is also a Hebrew. He then asks are they of the nation of Israel? Paul answers by stating that he is of the nation of Israel. Then he asks if they are the seed of Abraham? He then states that he is of the seed of Abraham. The seed in view here is not the spiritual seed of salvation but he is speaking of the physical lineage of Abraham. It could not be the spiritual seed because the false teachers were not saved. Paul was definitely of the spiritual seed of Abraham because he was saved.
2 Cor 11:23 (KJB)
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Ministers - Servants
As a fool - I am beside myself
Labours - Toil and weariness
Stripes - Lashes from a whip
The false teachers were claiming that they were servants of Christ. Well Paul is now stating that he is much more a servant of Christ and he apologizes by stating that he is beside himself. Paul then goes to give the evidences of his ministry by means of what he has suffered for the cause of Christ. Those who are in false ministry never suffer anything but seem to get rich in the things of the world, so Paul wants to make a true comparison between his sufferings for Christ in ministry and those false teachers who have never suffered.
Paul makes four comparisons of his ministry to those of the false teachers. First, he was in much labor and toils concerning all the churches he had planted and the problems he had to contend with, just as at Corinth. Did the false teachers labor as much? Then Paul states for his ministry efforts he was whipped way beyond any of the false teachers. Had any of them been tied to a stake and flogged for their gospel? Then Paul states that he was in prison may more times than any of his detractors. Did any of them languish in prison for their gospel? Then Paul states that he was faced with death many times and this would have happened because whenever he would bring the gospel into a town, the people would be stirred up and cause a near riot and this put Paulís life in danger. Did any of the false teachers stir the towns up? The answer to the four questions is no because false teachings always fall in line with the world.
2 Cor 11:24 (KJB)
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Paul here states that he had received thirty nine lashes on five separate occasions. When you add that up it comes out to 195 lashes. Paulís back must have been a mass of scars because of the whipping. Every time he would receive a flogging, the whip would not only open new scars on his back but also the old ones causing excruciating pain. It is an absolute miracle of God that Paul did not die under the lash from blood loss or from infection. Which one of the false teachers suffered like this for Christ?
2 Cor 11:25 (KJB)
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
Paul continues on with the proof of his ministry. Three times he was beaten with rods. This was also a Roman method of punishment. Paul may have suffered this at Philippi and two other places. (Acts 16) Then Paul was stoned at Lystra. (Acts 14) Three times he had suffered from a shipwreck. One of his shipwrecks is given in detail in Acts 27. As a result of one of these ship wrecks, Paul had to stay in the water a night and a day. It is unknown as to how many hours Paul spent in the water but the time mentioned would have been sufficient to tire a person to the point of them slipping under the water. This section of Scripture is a definite fulfillment of the Lordís prophecy, spoken to Ananias, of Paulís life. (Acts 9:16 KJV) For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.