At 7:2 Paul repeats his plea for the Corinthians' affection: Make room for us in your hearts. In verses 11-13 he asked the Corinthians to enlarge their hearts. Now he urges them to find room for him. Paul chooses a verb with a wide semantic range (choreo), playing on the meanings "to make room for another" and "to withdraw." "Withdraw" picks up the command in verse 17 to separate from pagan idolatries and practices. Make room recalls his appeal in verse 11 to enlarge their hearts. If they withdraw from idolatrous partnerships with the world, they will have plenty of room in their hearts for Paul.
Paul goes on to point out that there is nothing in his life or ministry that should prove an obstacle to responding to his plea (compare 6:3): We have wronged . . . corrupted . . . exploited no one. The trio of verbs is surprising. In light of the ministerial hardships and sufferings he presented earlier, this threefold denial looks somewhat out of place. This appears even more the case with the emphatic position of "no one" (oudena) at the head of each denial ("No one have we wronged"). All three verbs were commonly used of wrongful financial activities. The verb adikeo denotes wrongful dealings that have the character of foul play about them (such as theft or fraud). Phtheiro means to "destroy," "ruin" or "corrupt." It has a wide range of usage, including "to bring about moral ruin," "to bribe," "to seduce a woman" and "to defile a virgin" (Merkel 1975:468). Pleonekteo means to "exploit," "take advantage of" or "defraud" and is often used of someone who is greedy and grasping after what others have.
Has Paul been accused of such things? There certainly would seem to be nothing in his life or ministry (6:4-10; 11:21-29)--or in the life and ministry of his coworkers (12:17-18)--to warrant such accusations. Perhaps his rivals at Corinth had been saying that the Jerusalem relief fund was merely a smoke screen for personal funds that he was unwilling to accept overtly (see the introduction).
Paul's defense is simply to insist that the charge is without foundation. The fact that he had often gone without food, adequate clothing and shelter is eloquent testimony in and of itself (11:27). He certainly was entitled to be financially supported by his churches (1 Cor 9:1-14). But he waived such support so as not to hinder the gospel of Christ (1 Cor 9:12).
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