1 Corinthians 15:10—Was Paul’s boasting contrary to Scripture?
Problem: Paul boasted here when he declared, “I labored more abundantly than they all.” In 2 Corinthians 11:16, Paul even admitted that he was bragging, claiming that none of the other apostles had anything on him (cf. 2 Cor. 12:11). But Paul himself admitted that boasting was wrong and “that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:29). And Proverbs exhorts, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth” (Prov. 27:2).
Solution: It is important to note, first of all, that when Paul boasted he admitted, “I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly” (2 Cor. 11:17). Furthermore, Paul qualified his boasts by phrases like “though I am nothing” (2 Cor. 12:11) and “not I, but the grace of God” (1 Cor. 15:10). His “boasts” must be understood in the light of his confession that “by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). In addition, Paul’s motive was not one of self-applause or self-vindication, but the defense and spread of the Gospel. Finally, Paul did not glory in the flesh. He gloried rather in the Lord and in the privilege to be humiliated and persecuted for Him (2 Cor. 11:22ff). This kind of “boasting” is in perfect harmony with true humility.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.