As he hinted earlier, Paul is aware that some of the folks at Corinth think he talks big in his letters but is timid when present (10:1; 1 Corinthians 4:18-21). In the earlier letter he asks if they want him to come in love or in power–that is do you want a hug or your nose busted? The implication being that their attitude and demeanor would dictate which they received. Do we not all have the problem that far too often “we look at things as they are outwardly“? (10:7a). We forget and seriously neglect the spiritual, even though it is a part of our make up as humans. In verse ten we learn that some were even nastier in their comments about him. How terrible it is to have to eat our words. We are great when we compare ourselves to ourselves! (10:12). I remember my uncle telling me many years ago of a group of brothers (four, I think) who thought they were pretty tough. They went to town one night with a sign on their car window that said, “None Better!” They lost their sign that night and gained quite a few bumps and bruises, and their egos were seriously deflated. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends!” (10:17-18, the former verse is a quotation from Jeremiah 9:24)
It is not that sin is so simple and the life of purity so deep and difficult. But Paul says you should not be led astray from the simplicity of the pure life. Do not be deceived as was Eve (11:3; and by her powers of persuasion over her husband drew him into sin with her. It was sin in him for not rebuking his wife, and it was sin in her to use her charms to distract her husband from proper rule of his marriage).
Be careful in your walk. Satan has many who like himself pretend to be the opposite of what they are. Many of them are very convincing–but if you are close to the Lord He will warn you of the danger. Some of us have to rely on the gifts of others for this. My wife remarked about someone, “The first time I saw him I thought that he was a televangelist.” Every time she’s said that about someone they have turned out to be a charlatan (11:13-15).
Paul sure speaks “with his tongue in his cheek” in 11:18-21. I wonder how his audience felt when they read his letter? Read carefully the litany of his tortures for Christ (11:23b-28). “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.” WOW! That’s a LOT of pressure. “My grace is sufficient for you” (12:9b). “I am well content with all this suffering!” (12:10).
Just as in the Old Testament, “Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (13:1b; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). “The fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!” (13:14b).
Proverbs: Wisdom, knowledge and understanding build up the righteous and give great strength; foolishness tears down all and is a great weakness.