Paul Matches His Opponents' Boasting (11:21—12:10)

I am speaking as a fool, Paul reiterates. But now at last at verse 21 he proceeds to boast. His plan of attack is to meet the opposition point for point: What anyone else dares to boast about . . . I also dare to boast about. The verb tolmao ("dare") is used of the confidence proper to a person who is sure of her ground (Motyer 1975:365). Paul's confidence, in large part, resides in his heritage and ministerial achievements. The list, which continues into chapter 12, includes heritage (v. 22), service record (vv. 23-25), dangers and deprivations (vv. 26-27), pastoral concerns (v. 28), daring escapades (11:31-33) and ecstatic experiences (12:1-6). The basic categories are, undoubtedly, not those of Paul's own choosing. Since he was forced into this exercise in futility, we can be fairly sure that these categories were prompted by the claims of the intruders and the expectations of the Corinthians. On the other hand, what he singles out as exemplary is wholly his own. Where we might expect the opposition to make much of the number of churches planted, sizes of congregations, numbers of programs and the like, Paul turns instead to what many a search committee would view as pastoral handicaps and not strengtes: ministerial trials and tribulations.

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