Saturday, 9 January 2016
Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 2 Corinthians 12:17
Concerning this verse, Charles Ellicott notes, “The English expresses the meaning of the Greek, but does not show, as that does, the vehement agitation which led the writer, as he dictated the letter, to begin the sentence with one construction and finish it with another – ‘Did any of those I sent . . . did I by this means get more out of you than I ought?'”
Paul is truly upset at the implied accusation which appears to have been leveled at him from the previous verse. That said, “Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning!” Concerning those people he sent, it could be referring to Timothy who was sent before the writing of the first letter (see 1 Corinthians 4:17), or it could be referring to Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus who carried his first epistle to them (see 1 Corinthians 16:17), or it could even be speaking of Titus who was sent to determine the state of those at Corinth (see 2 Corinthians 7:6).
He is, in essence, asking them to tell him how they were swindled. Which of them did something improper on Paul’s behalf and under his instruction? The word he uses for “take advantage of” is pleonekteó. It gives the idea of fraud. Paul is asking them to lay out on the table all their cards and to show how he was involved in such a thing. He knew that he was not, and he is trying to get them to consider the matter.
Life application: Far too often, those who teach spiritual matters faithfully are attacked by those who disagree with their doctrine, even (and maybe especially) because their doctrine is sound. People attempt to find wiggle room in what they believe because the Bible forces us to live in a manner which we may not like. The devil wants nothing more than to distract and disarm those who carry the word of God faithfully to others. Unless there is a true mark of exceptionally bad doctrine, it is better to not accept any charges of false conduct by others who may have a set agenda, like the false apostles who came to Corinth to malign Paul.
Lord God, help us to consider proper doctrine and to not be swayed by any person who has a good sounding message, but which does not align with Your word. Too often we get duped by fine oration and flashy messages and fail to see that what is said is tainted with that which is incorrect. Help us to learn to rightly divide Your word and to stand on the truth of Your word, in context and without the biases that we are so prone to. Amen.