2 Corinthians 11:1
Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me.
Note 1 at 2Co 11:1: The context of this chapter is very important to properly understand what Paul was saying and his motives for saying it. In Paul's letters that we call 1 and 2 Corinthians, his authority as the apostle of the Corinthians had been brought into question. Paul had dealt with this issue repeatedly in these two letters, and this was his subject in 2Co 10 (see notes 1-2 at 2Co 10:1). Here, he was continuing to defend his apostleship, but from a different point of reasoning.
Prior to this time, Paul had given spiritual reasons he was the apostle in charge over the Corinthians. Those who had opposed him based their arguments on outward things such as appearance (2Co 5:12) and carnal accomplishments. It was not Paul's nature to argue his apostleship based on carnal things, but because of his great love for the Corinthians, he was going to leave no stone unturned. In this chapter, he began to enumerate his carnal achievements, which made all his critics look silly in comparison.
Paul prefaced all his boasting in this chapter by saying he was speaking like an unsaved person (see note 13 at 2Co 10:8 and note 2 at this verse). This was not his way of thinking, but since the Corinthians had been led astray by carnal arguments, Paul would use carnal arguments to win them back.
Note 2 at 2Co 11:1: The Greek word used for "folly" in this verse is "APHROSUNE." It literally means "senselessness...egotism" and carries the idea of being foolish or lacking good sense (Strong's Concordance). This same Greek word was translated "foolishly" twice in this chapter (2Co 11:17 and 21). It comes from the root word "APHRON," and APHRON means "mindless, i.e. stupid, (by implication) ignorant, (specially) egotistic, (practically) rash, or (morally) unbelieving" (Strong's Concordance). Later in this letter, Paul used the word "fool" to describe himself (2Co 11:16, 23; and 12:11) in the same sense that "folly" is used here.
These terms, "folly," "foolishly," "fool," and "fools," are describing an unbeliever who doesn't have the wisdom that God imparts. In the Old Testament, the term "fool" was used to describe someone who didn't believe there was a God (Ps 14:1, 49:10, and 53:1). Paul was saying that he was talking like a lost person would talk. Certainly, this was not Paul's normal way of thinking and talking, but since the Corinthians had failed to respond to spiritual reasoning, Paul came down to their level.
Those who had criticized Paul had based their arguments on such things as Paul's appearance (2Co 5:12 and 10:10) and his rude speech (2Co 11:6). These were all outward, carnal things that didn't matter to God or to Paul, but since the Corinthians had been deceived into looking at things after the flesh (2Co 11:18), Paul would meet them where they were. He would talk about all the things he had accomplished and endured in the flesh, but he qualified all this boasting with a disclaimer. He wanted to make it clear that this boasting was not the way that he would choose to defend himself. This was being carnal, just like his accusers. If they wanted to talk about their carnal accomplishments, then he'd give them something to talk about. No one could match the persecution that Paul endured or the lengths to which he had gone to preach the Gospel.
Paul was stating that he hoped the Corinthians would be tolerant of the foolishness of boasting that he was about to do. This boasting was a reaction to the Corinthians' willingness to put up with the false apostles in Corinth.
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