on 2-corinthians 11 :33
Through a window in a basket - Probably the house was situated on the wall of the city. See the notes on this history, Acts 9:23-25 (note).
In 2 Corinthians 11:2 of this chapter the apostle most evidently alludes to the history of the temptation, and fall of Adam and Eve, as related in Genesis 3:1, etc.; and which fall is there attributed to the agency of a being called נחש nachash, here, and in other places, translated οφις, serpent. In my notes on Genesis I have given many, and, as I judge, solid reasons, why the word cannot be understood literally of a serpent of any kind; and that most probably a creature of the simia or ape genus was employed by the devil on this occasion. The arguments on this subject appeared to me to be corroborated by innumerable probabilities; but I left the conjecture afloat, (for I did not give it a more decisive name), and placed it in the hands of my readers to adopt, reject, or amend, as their judgments might direct them. To several this sentiment appeared a monstrous heresy! and speedily the old serpent had a host of defenders. The very modest opinion, or conjecture, was controverted by some who were both gentlemen and scholars, and by several who were neither; by some who could not affect candour because they had not even the appearance of it, but would affect learning because they wished to be reputed wise. What reason and argument failed to produce they would supply with ridicule; and as monkey was a convenient term for this purpose, they attributed it to him who had never used it. What is the result? They no doubt believe that they have established their system; and their arguments are to them conclusive. They have my full consent; but I think it right to state that I have neither seen nor heard of any thing that has the least tendency to weaken my conjecture, or produce the slightest wavering in my opinion. Indeed their arguments, and mode of managing them, have produced a very different effect on my mind to what they designed. I am now more firmly persuaded of the probability of my hypothesis than ever. I shall, however, leave the subject as it is: I never proposed it as an article of faith; I press it on no man. I could fortify it with many additional arguments if I judged it proper; for its probability appears to me as strong as the utter improbability of the common opinion, to defend which its abettors have descended to insupportable conjectures, of which infidels have availed themselves, to the discredit of the sacred writings. To those who choose to be wise and witty, and wish to provoke a controversy, this is my answer: I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease, while I leave it and come Down to You? Nehemiah 6:3.
on 2-corinthians 11 :33
And through a window - That is, through a little door or aperture in the wall; perhaps something like an embrasure, that might have been large enough to allow a man to pass through it. Luke says Acts 9:25 that they let him down "by the wall." But there is no inconsistency. They doubtless first passed him through the embrasure or loop-hole in the wall, and then let him down gently by the side of it. Luke does not say it was over the top of the wall, but merely that he descended by the wall. It is not probable that an embrasure or opening would be near the bottom, and consequently there would be a considerable distance for him to descend by the side of the wall after he had passed through the window. Bloomfield, however, supposes that the phrase employed by Luke and rendered "by the wall," means properly "through the wall." But I prefer the former interpretation.
In a basket - The word used here (σαργάνη sarganē) means anything braided or twisted; hence, a rope-basket, a net-work of cords, or a wicker hamper. It might have been such an one as was used for catching fish, or it might have been made for the occasion. The word used by Luke Act 9:25 is σπυρὶς spuris - a word usually meaning a basket for storing grain, provisions, etc. Where Paul went immediately after he had escaped them, he does not here say. From Galatians 1:17, it appears that he went into Arabia, where he spent some time, and then returned to Damascus, and after three years he went up to Jerusalem. It would not have been safe to have gone to Jerusalem at once, and he therefore waited for the passions of the Jews to have time to cool, before he ventured himself again in their hands.
1. There may be circumstances, but they are rare, in which it may be proper to speak of our own attainments, and of our own doings; 2 Corinthians 11:1. Boasting is in general nothing but folly - the fruit of pride - but there may be situations when to state what we have done may be necessary to the vindication of our own character, and may tend to honor God. Then we should do it; not to trumpet forth our own fame, but to glorify God and to advance his cause. Occasions occur however but rarely in which it is proper to speak in this manner of ourselves.
2. The church should be pure. It is the bride of the Redeemer; the "Lamb's wife;" 2 Corinthians 11:2. It is soon to be presented to Christ, soon to be admitted to his presence. How holy should be that church which sustains such a relation! How anxious to be worthy to appear before the Son of God!
3. All the individual members of that church should be holy; 2 Corinthians 11:2. They as individuals are soon to be presented in heaven as the fruit of the labors of the Son of God, and as entitled to his eternal love. How pure should be the lips that are soon to speak his praise in heaven; how pure the eyes that are soon to behold his glory; how holy the feet that are soon to tread his courts in the heavenly world!
4. There is great danger of being corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ; 2 Corinthians 11:3. Satan desires to destroy us; and his great object is readily accomplished if he can seduce Christians from simple devotedness to the Redeemer; if he can secure corruption in doctrine or in the manner of worship, and can produce conformity in dress and in the style of living to this world. Formerly, he excited persecution. But in that he was foiled. The more the church was persecuted the more it grew. Then he changed his ground. What he could not do by persecution he sought to do by corrupting the church; and in this he has been by far more successful. This can be done slowly but certainly; effectually but without exciting suspicion. And it matters not to Satan whether the church is crippled by persecution or its zeal destroyed by false doctrine and by conformity to the world. His aim is secured; and the power of the church destroyed. The form in which he now assails the church is by attempting to seduce it from simple and hearty attachment to the Saviour. And, O! in how many instances is he successful.
5. Our religion has cost much suffering. We have in this chapter a detail of extraordinary trials and sorrows in establishing it; and we have reason to be thankful, in some degree, that the enemies of Paul made it necessary for him to boast in this manner. We have thus some most interesting details of facts of which otherwise we should have been ignorant; and we see that the life of Paul was a life of continual self-denial and toil. By sea and land; at home and abroad; among his own countrymen and strangers, he was subjected to continued privations and persecution. So it has been always in regard to the establishment of the gospel. It began its career in the sufferings of its great Author, and the foundation of the church was laid in his blood. It progressed amidst sufferings, for all the apostles, except John, it is supposed were martyrs. It continued to advance amidst sufferings - for 10 fiery persecutions raged throughout the Roman Empire, and thousands died in consequence of their professed attachment to the Saviour. It has been always propagated in pagan lands by self-denials and sacrifices, for the life of a missionary is that of sacrifice and toil. How many such people as David Brainerd and Henry Martyn have sacrificed their lives in order to extend the true religion around the world!
6. All that we enjoy is the fruit of the sufferings, toils, and sacrifices of others. We have not one Christian privilege or hope which has not cost the life of many a martyr. How thankful should we be to God that he was pleased to raise up people who would be willing thus to suffer, and that he sustained and kept them until their work was accomplished!
7. We may infer the sincerity of the people engaged in propagating the Christian religion. What had Paul to gain in the sorrows which he endured? Why did he not remain in his own land and reap the honors which were then fully within his grasp? The answer is an easy one. It was because he believed that Christianity was true; and believing that, he believed that it was of importance to make it known to the world. Paul did not endure these sorrows, and encounter these perils for the sake of pleasure, honor, or gain. No man who reads this chapter can doubt that he was sincere, and that he was an honest man.
8. The Christian religion is, therefore, true. Not because the first preachers were sincere for the advocates of error are often sincere, and are willing to suffer much or even to die as martyrs; but because this was a case when their sincerity proved the facts in regard to the truth of Christianity. It was not sincerity in regard to opinions merely, it was in regard to facts. They not only believed that the Messiah had come and died and risen again, but they saw him - saw him when he lived; saw him die; saw him after he was risen; and it was in relation to these facts that they were sincere. But how could they be deceived here? People may be deceived in their opinions; but how could John, e. g., be deceived in affirming that he was intimately acquainted - the bosom friend - with Jesus of Nazareth; that he saw him die; and that he conversed with him after he had died? In this he could not be mistaken; and sooner than deny this, John would have spent his whole life in a cave in Patmos, or have died on the cross or at the stake. But if John saw all this, then the Christian religion is true.
9. We should be willing to suffer now. If Paul and the other apostles were willing to endure so much, why should not we be? If they were willing to deny themselves so much in order that the gospel should be spread among the nations, why should not we be? It is now just as important that it should be spread as it was then; and the church should be just as willing to sacrifice its comforts to make the gospel known as it was in the days of Paul. We may add, also, that if there was the same devotedness to Christ evinced by all Christians now which is described in this chapter; if there was the same zeal and self-denial, the time would not be far distant when the gospel would be spread all around the world. May the time soon come when all Christians shall have the same self-denial as Paul; and especially when all who enter the ministry shall be willing to forsake country and home, and to encounter peril in the city and the wilderness; on the sea and the land; to meet cold, and nakedness, hunger, thirst, persecution, and death in any way in order that they may make known the name of the Saviour to a lost world.
on 2-corinthians 11 :33
11:33 Through a window - Of an house which stood on the city wall.