10:12classify or compare ourselves. Now the matter surfaces that caused Paul to defend his apostleship so vigorously. Encouraged by rival “apostles,” some influential Corinthians had begun to compare these latecomers to Paul—with Paul coming out the loser. He was judged deficient as a speaker (v. 10; 11:5), weak in his relationship with the church (vacillating between boldness while absent and timidity when present, vv. 10, 11), unloving toward them (in refusing a monetary gift which, in their view, snubbed them as inferiors, 11:7–11; 12:14–18), and deficient in certain religious experiences of “power” (12:1–5 and notes). But Paul refuses to compare himself with his opponents on their shabby terms of self-boasting and self-promotion. When he yields and boasts to them (11:16–18), he does so ironically, using the form of comparison but always refusing their false values.
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