2 Corinthians 12:11-15
2 Cor 12:11 (KJB)
I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Have compelled - Forced or constrained
Am I behind - To be inferior or to lack
The very chiefest - Very greatly or exceedingly
Nothing - Worthless or vain
Paul had told the Corinthians that he was playing the fool when he had boasted concerning himself and his ministry. It was unfortunate that the situation at the Corinthian church had forced him to boast openly about his ministry which was apologetic and not self-aggrandizement. Instead of the Corinthians commending Paul and embracing him as a brother, instead they had attached themselves to the false teachers who constantly puffed themselves up. Paul states here that he was not inferior to those great apostles who took Corinth by storm with all their false teachings and self-promotion. If those false apostles in Corinth would have been true apostles, then they would have agreed with Paul about being “nothing” which means without Christ he could have done nothing nor could he have done so much for the church at Corinth. Paul could also have in view here that he was not inferior to those who were the real Apostles of Christ as he was commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. (1 Cor 15:8 KJV) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 1 Corinthians 15:8 speaks of Paul being the last true apostle, so these false teachers in Corinth may have paraded themselves as apostles but they did not pass the biblical test for being an apostle.
2 Cor 12:12 (KJB)
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
Signs - Token, signal, or miracle
Were wrought - Worked out
Wonders - A supernatural phenomenon
Mighty deeds - Works of power or might
The false teachers had bragged about miracles which they had done as if in their own power. Paul states that the signs of a true apostle were done in all patience or endurance in signs which were miracles and wonders which were of a supernatural type and mighty deeds. These included healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils, and other things but these were done by the power of Christ and not by any power which Paul had of himself. These false teachers had not really done anything of that magnitude and all they had were words. Today it is the same thing. The so-called miracle workers always seem to work miracles in foreign countries or other places where they are unverifiable. The true work the Apostles did was verified as there was always many people around to see it. These signs were sent by the Lord as He had promised. (Mark 16:17-18 KJV) And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; {18} They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. However, as the Bible came to completion by the end of the first century, these miracles eventually disappeared as we now have the completed Bible. No longer are miracles needed to confirm the Word. (Heb 4:12 KJV) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
2 Cor 12:13 (KJB)
For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
These false teachers had claimed that the Corinthian church was lacking and that is was inferior to other churches, of course, until they came along to correct it. So Paul is asking the church, which way were you inferior? Paul then offers a possible answer to the question. Did they feel slighted that Paul did not take some kind of salary from them? If they felt slighted in this then Paul goes on to ask forgiveness if they believe that he has wronged them in that way. The idea was nonsense, that their spiritual growth had been stunted simply because Paul did not take some type of funds from them. Maybe the false teachers had accused Paul of being an inferior preacher if he thought he was not worthy to take funds from them, as the false teachers did.
2 Cor 12:14 (KJB)
Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
Paul may have visited Corinth for a very brief period but it is not recorded in any Scriptures. He states that he is going to come back to them a third time and he will continue to maintain his policy. He will not accept any money from them because as the spiritual father of that church, he states that the parents are not to be provided for by the children but the parents provide for the children and in this case Paul states he does not want their money, all he wants is them. He wants them to grow to be a vibrant church but they would be unable to do that if they keep accepting false teachers who bring division into the church. Now what this passage is not conveying is that children should never help their parents. If someone’s parents are in trouble and their children can help them out, they should definitely help them. Remember we are still to honor our mothers and fathers and not treat them with contempt in a time when they might need our help. The Bible does not teach disrespect to parents.
2 Cor 12:15 (KJB)
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
Will very gladly - With great pleasure
Spend - Waste, consume, bear expense
Be spent - Be completely exhausted
Here Paul is telling them that he would be very happy to spend all he has for his spiritual children and to be utterly exhausted in his own physical life for them. The Corinthians were like children. The more a parent may love a child, the less the child will return that love and this is what Paul was experiencing with the church at Corinth. He did not allow that situation to deter him at all from his mission to help and build that church. He was determined to unseat the influence of the false teachers and to return that church to its biblical roots on which they were established. This is why he was willing to give every ounce of strength he had until he was finally spent.