Sunday, 29 November 2015
And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. 2 Corinthians 11:9
Paul continues on with his defense of not being less than the “eminent apostles” (meaning the false apostles) of verse 5. In his conduct, he noted that he has preached the gospel “free of charge.” Further, in an ironic fashion, he noted that he “robbed other churches” in order to minister to the Corinthians.
Now he reminds them that when he was there with them and yet was in need, he “was a burden to no one.” The term “in need” is an aorist present participle which shows that his need was temporary rather than long term. In other words, he had a temporary crisis in which he needed assistance. And yet, he never burdened the Corinthians.
The word for “I was a burden” is katenarkesa. It is only used by Paul and only thee times in this epistle. It is a very rare word which gives the idea of numbness or deadness. It is connected to the torpedo fish which makes anything it touches numb. Jerome ranks the words as one of Paul’s cilicisms (a word picked up by Paul in his hometown of Cilicia). Thus it is a provincial expression. The intent is that even though he was present with the Corinthians, he asked for nothing which would numb them to his ministry.
Rather than asking for a single thing from them which might turn them from listening to his words about the gospel, he says that “for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied.” They had already been evangelized and, therefore, his asking for help from them would not affect their acceptance of the gospel. Rather than being a snub to the Corinthians, he is showing that there is a time and a place for receiving help. He felt it was not the time for it while he was ministering to them.
And so he says, “…in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you.” Because of his desire to keep the situation with those in Corinth on a purely gospel-oriented level, he decided that he would in no way burden them. But he also adds in his final words of, “…and so I will keep myself.” This may be a slight rebuke towards them. He has been addressing the issue of the false apostles and he will continue to do so.
In saying that he will continue to keep himself and not burden the Corinthians, it may be that he is telling them, “I am still teaching you. You have not yet learned to discern right from wrong. If I start receiving aid from you, then you might think that I am actually a false apostle, looking for a handout rather than being willing to assist you in receiving and growing in the gospel.”
Life application: Love displays itself differently towards different people. We should not look at how a pastor or teacher treats one person and think that he loves another any less because he responds to them differently. Just as each child in a home has different needs and is treated in a different way, so it is in any setting. The same amount of love can be given to everyone, but how it is displayed must be individually directed.
Most precious heavenly Father! We are filled with thanks to You today. You have given each of us so many blessings and we are overflowing with the abundance. Even when we are in times of need, the blessings outweigh the needs ten-thousand-fold. Help us to never forget that every touch of a loved one, every breath of air, and each moment that ticks by on time’s clock is a gift from You. These and so much more are grace. We thank You for the abundance and we rejoice in it! Thank You, O God of all blessing! Amen.