It is helpful for us, perhaps, to divide Paul’s experiences into categories. I see a number of them. He speaks first of his ancestry. These false apostles had come to Corinth and boasted that they were Jews, true Israelites, members of the covenant people, children of Abraham. But Paul defended himself by writing, "What anyone else dares to boast about - I am speaking as a fool - I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I" (2 Cor. 11:21-22). When he begins to talk of his apostleship, he mentions his ancestry first of all.

If Paul could have had what he really desired, he would have gladly let all the criticism slide by. But in this particular case he could not because of two things. First of all, he was concerned for the Corinthians. This was not just a matter of someone in a remote place saying something about Paul that would not do any damage anyway. This was being said by false apostles who had infiltrated the church at Corinth and who were taking the Corinthian believers into slavery to their false gospel. We know that because of the way Paul speaks in verses 19 and 20.

People like to defend themselves when they are under attack. Some people are often under attack, probably because they deserve it, so they get used to that and they like the role. But generally speaking, self-defense is a very unpleasant thing. It certainly is for Christians. The Bible tells us that vengeance belongs to God. Certainly it is in the spirit of that principle that Christians, even when they are most severely attacked, hold back and allow God in his own way, to defend them.

These super apostles were saying all kinds of negative things about Paul. They were saying he was not a trained speaker; that he was not a true apostle. Paul chose not to take any money for his preaching, and they were throwing that up in his face, saying that if he was a true apostle he would take money. Paul found himself in a no-win situation.

If you have come in your study of the Word to something that speaks to your condition, something you are not to do - and there are negative commands in the Bible, though it is far more filled with positive commands than negative ones - Satan is right there, as you read it, to say, "I told you all along. God is not good. He does not want you to be happy. He does not want you to have that good thing. That thing would make you happy, wouldn’t it? Yes, it would. God does not want you to be happy. That is why he says, ‘No, no, no, you cannot have it.’ "