Vindication of the Apostle Paul
2 Cor. 12:16
This passage is so far from being friendly to the exercise of guile, that it is a manifest disavowal of it. It is an irony. The apostle does not describe what had actually been his conduct, but that of which he stood accused by the Corinthian teachers. They insinuate that he was a sly, crafty man, going about “preaching, persuading, and catching people with guile.” Paul acknowledges that he and his colleagues did indeed “persuade men,” and could not do otherwise; for “the love of Christ constrained them,” chap. 5:11, 14. But he indignantly repels the insinuation of its being from mercenary motives. “We have wronged no man,” says he; “we have corrupted no man; we have defrauded no man,” 7:2. Having denied the charge, he shows the absurdity of it. Mercenary men, who wish to draw people after them, have an end to answer; and what end, says Paul, could I have in view, in persuading you to embrace the gospel? Have I gained any thing by you? When I was with you, was I burdensome to you? No; nor, as things are, will I be burdensome. “Yet, being crafty,” forsooth, “I caught you with guile!”
Oh, said the accusers, he affected great disinterestedness at first, that he might the more easily take you in afterwards. He declined taking any thing with his own hands, with the intention of sending others to collect it for him at a more convenient season! “Did I then make a gain of you,” replies the apostle, “by any of them whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother: did Titus make a gain of you? Walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?” chap. 12:17, 18.
Nothing is more evident than that “all guile and hypocrisy were laid aside” by the primitive ministers. “Our rejoicing is this,” says the apostle, “the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity not in fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward,” chap. 1:12.
Excerpt from: “The Vindication fo the Apostle Paul,” in Illustrations of Scripture.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 662–663). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.