1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me.
2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.
6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.
To most men it is pleasant to speak of themselves and of their doings; to the Apostle Paul it was painful. Yet the anxiety of his love for the Corinthians compelled him to this humiliation. His love for them was a true affection, for it was charged with anxiety for their spiritual welfare. So he begged them to listen to him while he acted like a fool in speaking of himself.
His love for them was a jealous love; but he was not jealous of their affection for himself, but of their affection for Christ.
Satan is to be dreaded as a lion; more to be dreaded as a serpent (v.3); and most to be dreaded as an angel (v.14).
“The very chiefest apostles (v.5) i.e., not the Twelve Apostles, but these self-made and very preeminent apostles. The language is ironic.
Paul was not defective in knowledge both sacred and secular; and he reminds his converts that he had made that fact thoroughly manifest amongst them by his teaching in all the realms of the Christian faith. — Williams, page 906.
jealous, jealousy (v.2) — in Greek, an onomatopoetic word, imitating the sound of boiling water — to bubble over because so hot, “to burn with zeal,” “to be deeply committed to something,” “to be completely intent upon.”
betrothed to (v.2) = to join, to fit together,
Paul was naturally jealous over the Corinthians with Godly jealousy. They had truly been in love with Christ at the beginning, wholly taken up with Him. And, indeed, Paul still hoped to present them as a chaste virgin to Christ—to be His alone. But he feared that as the serpent had beguiled Eve through His subtlety so their minds might be corrupted from “the simplicity that is in Christ.” Then it would no longer be Christ only, Christ enough, Christ all.
The apostle was distressed, deeply distressed. For one thing, there were now Judaizers in the Corinthian church who sought to prove from the Scriptures that Christ was not enough, and gradually, with some of them, the all-sufficiency of Christ was being displaced by the Law of Moses.
Naturally, these Judaizers found Paul and his message of grace most distasteful. Indeed, they questioned his very apostleship. They represented a church of Jewish kingdom disciples.
Paul, thus, was obliged to defend his God-given position. If his apostleship could be discredited, so could his message, “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), the message that had brought salvation, light, and blessing to these Corinthians.
And so, in 2 Corinthians 11 we have Paul vigorously defending his apostleship, so vigorously that he must begin by beseeching his readers: “Bear with me a little in my folly; and indeed [lit., “really”] bear with me.
We take it that Paul here uses the words “folly” and “foolish” by way of accommodation, for it would be more than strange to find divinely-inspired foolishness in the Bible! No, Paul was about to defend his apostleship with such vigor that it might, at times, seem foolish to them. Thus: “Bear with me in what may sometimes seem to you to be folly.” He writes this to prepare them for a maximum defense. — Stam, pages 203-204