2Co 11:16-20 “I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.”
Apparently, in Paul’s day there were those who considered him ignorant and egotistical (a fool). There are some today who still hold that view of Paul. He is regarded by these people as being high-minded and looking down on women. Paul was aware of how those who opposed the truth of Christ’s gospel looked at him then, and the same is true today.
Paul told the brethren on more than one occasion not to think he was a fool. However, he also realized that just telling them that was not going to change anything. As he often did, he used their very attitude toward him to further his message of truth and grace. Paul told them that they should not consider him a fool, but since they were going to anyway, then to bear with him as they did others who were foolish.
Paul took their attitude towards him and used it to present to them the grace he had been shown. Some were listening to false teachers and refusing to acknowledge the depths of God’s grace. Paul told them he would not speak to them as a minister of the Lord. Instead, he would speak to them foolishly. If others were going to brag about themselves, then he would do a little bragging, too.
He points out to the Corinthians that they were very trusting of their own strength. In their self-serving idea of wisdom, they listened to men who did not have their best interest at heart. They were listening to the false teachers which were not telling them the truth. Instead of standing against that which was false, they were instead allowing (suffering) it to continue.
Paul then plainly described to them their condition in suffering fools gladly. Listening to these false teachers was bringing them into bondage. They were being instructed to turn from the grace they had found in Christ and take up the ways of the law service. Their liberty in Christ was being devoured by those seeking to make a name for themselves.
The Corinthians were obviously falling for the doctrines of men who were only seeking to elevate themselves. The teaching of these false apostles was like a slap in the face to the truth that Paul was teaching them. Paul was telling them that they were not required to endure this. It was their choice to allow (suffer) these things.
As believers in Christ, it becomes us to hold dear the foolishness of the preaching of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:21). We should reject the folly of men that would bring us into bondage to any besides Christ. Let us be willing to be thought fools for the preaching of the gospel. However, let us never be foolish enough to yield to the cunning fables of men.
May God keep us wise as serpents and harmless as doves in our ministry to His people!