on 2-corinthians 11 :30
I will glory - which concern mine infirmities - I will not boast of my natural or acquired powers; neither in what God has done by me; but rather in what I have suffered for him.
Many persons have understood by infirmities what they call the indwelling sin of the apostle, and say that "he gloried in this, because the grace of Christ was the more magnified in his being preserved from ruin, notwithstanding this indwelling adversary." And to support this most unholy interpretation, they quote those other words of the apostle, 2 Corinthians 12:9 : Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, my indwelling corruptions, that the power of Christ, in chaining the fierce lion, may rest upon me. But it would be difficult to produce a single passage in the whole New Testament where the word ασθενεια, which we translate infirmity, has the sense of sin or moral corruption. The verb ασθενεω signifies to be weak, infirm, sick, poor, despicable through poverty, etc. And in a few places it is applied to weakness in the faith, to young converts, who are poor in religious knowledge, not yet fully instructed in the nature of the Gospel; Romans 4:19; Romans 14:1, Romans 14:2. And it is applied to the works of the law, to point out their inability to justify a sinner, Romans 8:3. But to inward sin, and inward corruption it is never applied. I am afraid that what these persons call their infirmities may rather be called their strengths; the prevailing and frequently ruling power of pride, anger, ill-will, etc.; for how few think evil tempers to be sins! The gentle term infirmity softens down the iniquity; and as St. Paul, so great and so holy a man, say they, had his infirmities, how can they expect to be without theirs? These should know that they are in a dangerous error; that St. Paul means nothing of the kind; for he speaks of his sufferings, and of these alone. One word more: would not the grace and power of Christ appear more conspicuous in slaying the lion than in keeping him chained? in destroying sin, root and branch; and filling the soul with his own holiness, with love to God and man, with the mind - all the holy heavenly tempers, that were in himself; than in leaving these impure and unholy tempers, ever to live and often to reign in the heart? The doctrine is discreditable to the Gospel, and wholly antichristian.
on 2-corinthians 11 :30
If I must needs glory - It is unpleasant for me to boast, but circumstances have compelled me. But since I am compelled, I will not boast of my rank, or talents, but of that which is regarded by some as an infirmity.
Mine infirmities - Greek, "The things of my weakness." The word here used is derived from the same word which is rendered weak," in 2 Corinthians 11:29. He intends doubtless to refer here to what had preceded in his enumeration of the trials which he had endured. He had spoken of sufferings. He had endured much. He had also spoken of that tenderness of feeling which prompted him to sympathize so deeply when others suffered. He admitted that he often wept, and trembled, and glowed with strong feelings on occasions which perhaps to many would not seem to call for such strong emotions, and which they might be disposed to set down as a weakness or infirmity. This might especially be the case among the Greeks, where many philosophers, as the Stoics, were disposed to regard all sympathetic feeling, and all sensitiveness to suffering as an infirmity. But Paul admitted that he was disposed to glory in this alone. He gloried that he had sneered so much; that he had endured so many trials on account of Christianity, and that he had a mind that was capable of feeling for others and of entering into their, sorrows and trials. Well might he do this, for there is no more lovely feature in the mind of a virtuous man, and there is no more lovely influence of Christianity than this, that it teaches us to "bear a brother's woes," and to sympathize in all the sorrows and joys of others. Philosophy and infidelity may be dissocial, cheerless, cold; but it is not so with Christianity. Philosophy may snap asunder all the cords which bind us to the living world, but Christianity strengthens these cords; cold and cheerless atheism and scepticism may teach us to look with unconcern on a suffering world, but it is the glory of Christianity that it teaches us to feel an interest in the weal or woe of the obscurest man that lives, to rejoice in his joy, and to weep in his sorrows.
on 2-corinthians 11 :30
11:30 I will glory of the things that concern my infirmities - Of what shows my weakness, rather than my strength.