“I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing” (II Cor. 12:11).
The Apostle Paul did not like to “glory” or boast about his apostleship. He would much rather spend his time teaching the great truths of the Mystery, and the Word of God, rightly divided. However, the immaturity of the Corinthians “compelled” him to such boasting. They were so impressed with the boasting of the “false apostles” (11:13) that Paul was forced to speak to them in the only language they seemed to understand—that of boasting.
Grace believers are often accused of boasting too much about the apostleship of Paul, and to this we plead guilty. We too would much rather spend our time teaching the great truths of the Word of God, rightly divided. However, the sorry state of modern Christianity is such that we too are “compelled” to boast about Paul’s apostleship. The immaturity of contemporary Christianity has caused them to overlook Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13), and presents us with a compelling reason to emphasize his apostleship.
Paul found the Corinthian situation especially disappointing, since as he told them, “I ought to have been commended of you.” As the one who had begotten them in the gospel (I Cor. 4:15), they should have been singing the praises of his apostleship, instead of forcing him to defend it. And so it is today. All who are saved in the dispensation of Grace are saved by grace through faith apart from works (Eph. 2:8,9), a gospel that is exclusive to the Apostle Paul. And so in a very real sense, all who are saved today are begotten of the Apostle Paul, and should be singing the praises of his apostleship, instead of forcing us to defend it.
The false apostles in Corinth were probably protesting, “Why, Paul isn’t even one of the twelve apostles! We have as much authority as he has!” This forced Paul to declare that he was “not a whit behind” the very chiefest apostles, i.e., James, Peter and John. But if Paul only claimed he wasn’t “behind” the twelve apostles, why do we insist on emphasizing his epistles ahead of the epistles of James, Peter and John?
Ah, Paul’s apostleship was equal to theirs, but he was the apostle of a different group of people. As he told the Galatians, “He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles” (2:8). All state governors are equal in authority; no governor is a whit behind any other. However, if I am wise, I must recognize the authority of the governor of my state. And if we are wise as Christians, we must likewise recognize the authority of “the apostle of the Gentiles.” source