A Christian missionary who once persecuted the church responds to the suggestion that his refusal to accept funding from the Corinthians is evidence that he does not feel as much kinship with them as he does with other churches.
Paul’s critics in Corinth are raising doubts about the motives for what he does and does not do: Perhaps he never intended a visit to them and was dishonest when he spoke about it (2 Corinthians 1:15-18). Can he be trusted with money raised for the Jerusalem churches (2 Corinthians 8:20-21)? Why did he refuse money from the Corinthians yet take it from Macedonians while he was in Corinth? Does he not love the Corinthians as much as the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 11:9-11)?
In 2 Corinthians 11:7-15, Paul addresses the question of how he funded his ministry when he was in Corinth and why he refused help for his own living expenses from the Corinthians. He insists that he has actually treated the Corinthians better than those teachers who followed him and that his refusal of funding does not dishonor them but rather demonstrates his hope not to burden them (2 Corinthians 11:9).
Paul says he will continue to refuse support from them. Why? He is now worried about the implications of taking money from the Corinthians. If he takes money from them, he would be no different in this regard from those he calls “false apostles” and “deceitful workers” (2 Corinthians 11:13). If Paul accepted patronage, other preachers could use his decision to say, “We are not asking you for anything more than Paul insisted upon for himself.”
As in other sections of the letter, here also a mundane issue becomes an occasion for speaking in broader theological terms. Paul reflects on how the forces that oppose the gospel regularly appear disguised as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15). He accuses the false teachers of preying upon the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:20), and he comforts himself and his readers with the observation that “their end will match their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:15).