What does Paul mean by, "If I boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness?"

Also, why does he say, "Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?"

2 Corinthians 11:29 - 30

NKJV - 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 23 2015 Mini Steve Hill

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Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
What does Paul mean by, "If I boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness?"

In 2 Cor. 11:1-15 Paul was speaking against false apostles, perhaps opponents who attempted to discredit Paul’s leadership of the church in Macedonia and Asia Minor. (cf. Galatians 5:1-17). 

In 2 Cor. 11:16-33 Paul turns his focus on the tribulations that he had suffered in his missionary work. He enumerates these afflictions in 2 Cor. 11:24-27 and concludes with the statement in 2 Corinthians 11:29-30 saying “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”

Paul was clear in his mind that despite the pains he had suffered, God was with him and gave him the needed strength to move on (Philippians 4:13). 
By saying that he gloried in his infirmities or weakness, Paul was acknowledging that in his weakness, God’s power was more profound in supplying him with the grace and the strength to withstand all the perils. It was perhaps easier for Paul to imagine that he was some superman and to glory in his “achievements” but Paul never saw things this way. He saw God in his joy and pain, hope in despair, freedom in bondage, providence in his lack, triumph and celebration at the close of his service to God (2 Timothy 4:7-8). 

Notice that he admits that the burden of running the churches was no easy task but he does not murmur as we often do! This is why he confidently declares in 2 Corinthians 11:28 concerning the burden “which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” He was almost single handedly running the churches under his see, save for a few ministry associates such as Timothy, Silas, Titus who he often used to address issues in the churches and to set up ministries. 

Paul refused to be distracted from his ministry focus despite all the suffering that attended him. As if this was not enough, he had to contend with rebels and critics within and without the church community as well as false teachers who wrecked havoc with their polluting message [1 Timothy 1:20 gives examples of two such apostate teachers]. Paul was therefore a true general of the New Testament church era, far surpassing all the other apostles or his critics in his missionary and theological work. To his credit Paul penned 14 epistles and only John came a distant second. 

For all that he would have had to show for his dedicated ministry work; Paul saw his weakness so that Christ is rightly exalted. How often we are guilty of lifting our egos in victories and ministry milestones and fail to attribute the glory to God. 

Paul learnt to persevere in ministry despite his advanced age. Scholars believe Paul may have been in his late 60s when he wrote the first epistles yet he endured excruciating travel itineraries to cover the expansive terrains of Macedonia and Asia Minor delivering the gospel and caring for the welfare of the churches. 

We can share in Paul's exhortation in Philippians 4:11-13 where he declares "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

This passage sums up Paul's testimony on his ministry experience and his unflinching faith in Christ.

We too can learn from Paul’s meekness, perseverance and deportment so that we may place our trust in the Lord as we serve Him. May the Lord manifest his power and grace through us while we still have the opportunity to serve Him and may we never take the glory but exalt Christ in all things.

February 24 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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