on 2-corinthians 11 :23
Are they ministers of Christ - So we find that these were professors of Christianity; and that they were genuine Jews, and such as endeavored to incorporate both systems, and, no doubt, to oblige those who had believed to be circumcised; and this appears to have been the bondage into which they had brought many of the believing Corinthians.
I am more - More of a minister of Christ than they are, and have given fuller proofs of it. I have suffered persecution for the cross of Christ, and of the Jews too; and had I preached up the necessity of circumcision, I should have been as free from opposition as these are.
In labors more abundant - Far from sitting down to take my ease in a Church already gathered into Christ; I travel incessantly, preach every where, and at all risks, in order to get the heathen brought from the empire of darkness into the kingdom of God's beloved Son.
In stripes above measure - Being beaten by the heathen, who had no particular rule according to which they scourged criminals; and we find, from Acts 16:22, Acts 16:23, that they beat Paul unmercifully with many stripes. See the note on Acts 16:22.
In prisons more frequent - See Acts 21:11, and the whole of the apostle's history; and his long imprisonment of at least two years at Rome, Acts 28:16, Acts 28:30. It does not appear that there is any one instance of a false apostle having been imprisoned for the testimony of Christ; this was a badge of the true apostles.
In deaths oft - That is, in the most imminent dangers. See 1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 4:11. And see the apostle's history in the Acts.
on 2-corinthians 11 :23
Are they ministers of Christ? - Though Jews by birth yet they claimed to be the ministers of the Messiah.
I speak as a fool - As if he had said, "Bear in mind, in what I am now about to say, that he who speaks is accused of being a fool in boasting. Let it not be deemed improper that I should act in this character, and since you regard me as such, let me speak like a fool." His frequent reminding them of this charge was eminently suited to humble them that they had ever made it, especially when they were reminded by an enumeration of his trials, of the character of the man against whom the charge was brought.
I am more - Paul was not disposed to deny that they were true ministers of Christ. But he had higher claims to the office than they had. He had been called to it in a more remarkable manner, and he had shown by his labors and trials that he had more of the true spirit of a minister of the Lord Jesus than they had. He therefore goes into detail to show what he had endured in endeavoring to diffuse the knowledge of the Saviour; trials which the had borne probably while they had been dwelling in comparative ease, and in a comfortable manner, free from suffering and persecution.
In labors more abundant - In the kind of labor necessary in propagating the gospel. Probably he had now been engaged in the work a much longer time than they had, and had been far more indefatigable in it.
In stripes - In receiving stripes; that is, I have been more frequently scourged; 2 Corinthians 11:24. This was a proof of his being a minister of Christ, because eminent devotedness to him at that time, of necessity subjected a man to frequent scourging. The ministry is one of the very few places, perhaps it stands alone in this, where it is proof of special qualification for office that a man has been treated with all manner of contumely, and has even been often publicly whipped. What other office admits such a qualification as this?
Above measure - Exceedingly; far exceeding them. He had received far more than they had, and he judged, therefore, that this was one evidence that he had been called to the ministry.
In prisons more frequent - In the Book of Acts , Luke mentions only one imprisonment of Paul before the time when this Epistle was written. That was at Philippi with Silas, Acts 16:23 ff. But we are to remember that many things were omitted by Luke. He does not profess to give an account of all that happened to Paul; and an omission is not a contradiction. For anything that Luke says, Paul may have been imprisoned often. He mentions his having been in prison once; he does not deny that he had been in prison many times besides; see on Acts 16:24.
In deaths oft - This is, exposed to death; or suffering pain equal to death; see on 2 Corinthians 1:9. No one familiar with the history of Paul can doubt that he was often in danger of death.
on 2-corinthians 11 :23
11:23 I am more so than they. In deaths often - Surrounding me in the most dreadful forms.