ISTENING to (or reading) unadulterated frankness can be incredibly refreshing, and humbling. Yet Paul called his own openness "folly" (vs. 1, 16-18, 21, 23 & 30). Apparently, the context of Paul's transparency was the threat of false doctrine from false teachers. In combatting errors and in resisting those who taught those errors in Corinth, Paul needed to defend himself and his own ministry. It wasn't personal. It was spiritual. He was jealous over the Corinthians, but his jealousy was wholesome and good (vs. 2). He was concerned that they might become distracted; that they would lose sight of the gospel. In defense of the true gospel of Christ, Paul spoke of his own sacrifices in ministry. None of Satan's ministers had a testimony even remotely comparable.
On the surface, it sounds like Paul is just bragging. But Paul had a defining perspective that helps us to understand the context of such claims. He knew that every good thing that he possessed was a product of God's grace. So, in this passage, he puts on his finest suit and presents his own resume. He included many troubles that he had endured. But he was not complaining. Neither was he full of himself. He was simply willing to risk much in order to give the Corinthians some perspective on what a true and loyal servant of Christ looks like. Since the integrity of the messenger certainly validates the accuracy of the message, Paul gave his ministerial credentials.