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When boasting is not wrong. 2 Corinthians 10-13
When "boasting" is not wrong
An examination of Paul's "boasts" in 2 Corinthians 10-13

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 10

What do you think of people who are boastful and full of themselves? What do you think of a person who name drops, talks about their accomplishments, loves the limelight, and who generally is all about themselves?

Usually we think "What a proud person! What arrogance! What a poser!" and then we remind ourselves that the Bible says "Pride comes before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18) and "Do not think too highly of yourselves" Romans 12:3

FYI: Quote on screen by Mohammed Ali "I am the greatest"

This morning we are going to take a look at select verses from 2 Corinthians 10-13 In these 4 chapters Paul issues one boast after another. In fact -14 times Paul uses the word "boast" 8 times Paul uses the word "boasting"

If you read these chapters this past week, Paul's boastings might have confused you, because as just mentioned, we tend to believe that boasting is wrong.

However, not all boasting is wrong.

For example: The Bible encourages us to boast in the Lord. Psalm 44:8 says; "In God we make our boast all day long.". Psalm 34:2, which Paul quotes in 2 Corinthians 10:17 says; "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."

In the following, I will attempt to show you why Paul's boasts- even though many of them have to do with himself- are not wrong.

Before proceeding, let's read 2 Corinthians 10.

Paul's "boasting" was not sinful or wrong because.... IT WAS IRONIC. It was "tongue in cheek"

Note: Paul himself indicates that his boasting is "tongue in cheek". Consider 2 Corinthians 11:16 "Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting"

If you walk carefully through all of the 'boasts' of Paul in 2 Corinthians 10-13, you will notice his ironic use of boasting. Hence, Paul's use of boasting was a tactic-- which we shall explore in a few minutes.

Paul's "boasting" was not wrong because it was self abasing and Christ exalting

In 2 Corinthians 11:30 Paul says; "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness"

Consider for a moment the things Paul "Boasts" about in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Note: When Paul speaks of such things, he does not have a holier than thou spirit-- the fact is: his heart is distressed and broken at the thought that his children (spiritually) were on the verge of abandoning the true faith

-being in prison a lot
-being flogged severely
-being exposed to death again and again
-being beaten 5 times at the hands of the Jewish Sanhedrin
-being beaten 3 times with rods by the Romans (meaning he ran afoul of Roman law)
-being shipwrecked and spending a day and night in the open sea
-In danger from rivers, bandits, in the city, the country, at sea, from his own people, from all people
-he worked for free often
-he had experienced cold and nakedness
-he faced just as much temptation to sin as anyone else
-because he had to flee a city by being lowered from a window in the city wall

When you and think about this list, these are not things that people "boast" about. These are the kinds of things that one is inclined to never talk about.

Further to Paul's self abasing is his one passion: The lifting up of Jesus Christ. The advancement of the Kingdom. The growth of the believers in their walk with Jesus (a walk he was very concerned about)



see 2 Corinthians 10:1-6 and 13:1-3 (which bookend 2 Corinthians 10-13)

In our first lesson from 1 Corinthians I noted that we all have a rebellious streak as it regards authority. We don't like being told what to do. All to often we resent authority. Yet, there are people over us for our good.

The Corinthian believers had a rebellious streak a mile wide. Though Paul led them to Jesus and poured out his life for them, they looked down on Paul, criticized him, and listened to other voices that were not good for them.

For their ultimate benefit, Paul reminds them that he had been called by Christ, commissioned by Christ, and had authority over them in the Lord-- an authority he exercised, not as some power hungry maniac, but as one who loved them and wanted to present them to God as a pure and holy church.

What method does Paul employ to show the Corinthians of the error of their ways? He "Boasts" of his calling, of his sufferings, the fact that he had the true marks of an apostle (signs, wonders, miracles- 2 Cor. 12:12), of the incredible vision he had of Heaven.


We need to be respectful of those who are over us. We need to be obedient to those who are over us. We need to have good attitudes towards those who are over us. We need to pray for those in authority over us. (Whether it be our mayor, premier, Prime minister, police, pastor, parent, etc)

Many Bible verses: Romans 13:1-7, Ephesians 5:22, Hebrews 13:17, Ephesians 6:1


In Matthew 7:15 Jesus says to us "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

In the midst of the Corinthian believers had crept a number of people who the Corinthians came to regard as "super apostles" 11:5. Upon these people the Corinthians lavished money, praise, and high regard. All the while they boasted of themselves while "dogging" Paul as a "has been"

Yet, consider Paul's opinion of these "super apostles". 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

-they were deceivers
-they were preaching a different Jesus
-they were preaching a different gospel/way of salvation
-they were money grubbers
-they were false apostles, deceitful workmen, fakes, agents of Satan, doomed to Hell

Note: In Galatians 1:8 it says; "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"

By speaking of his trials, his sufferings, the hardships he endured on their behalf and for the name of Jesus, of how he supported himself in preaching the Gospel to them, Paul exposed the false teachers for what they were.

Application: We need to heed the call of Jesus today as it regards false teachers.

There are a lot of smooth tongued preachers out there who might sound like they are working for Jesus- but they are not.

Clues that a person may be a false teacher: They don't talk about the judgment to come and the need of one to repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ, that they might escape it. They own huge mansions and airplanes. They love the stage and the sound of their own voices. They like to be seen. They promise their listeners prosperity and ease. They refuse to talk about sin and holiness. It's all about them.


In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 after speaking to the Corinthians about how he saw Heaven and heard things in Heaven Paul says; "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

These verses remind me of 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 wherein Paul says; "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."


We must look to Christ for help in all things


If we are to ever boast about something-- it is to be Jesus and how great He is and what He is doing. Christ is the one who is to receive glory

As 2 Corinthians 10:17 says; ""Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord"

Reminds me of the song: "To be God be glory"


2 Corinthians 10-13 is a fascinating passage in that Paul employs the ironic use of "boasting" to get the attention of the Corinthian believers-- who he was afraid were going to slip back into their old way of lives (2 Corinthians 12:20-21)

From Paul's "boastings" we learn

-of how much he loved and cared for the Corinthian believers
-of the necessity of humility and dependance upon Christ in all things
-of how we need to be on guard against false teachers
-of what servant leadership is about
-of the importance of holiness and righteousness in our lives
-what it means to be a follower of Jesus