II CORINTHIANS 3-11 contains what strikes the reader as a break for fund-raising (chapters 8-9) between chapters dealing with the strained relationship between Paul and the Corinthians, and Paul’s efforts at reconciliation and restoration. The fund-raising is on behalf of Jewish believers in famine-wracked Judea. Some would interpret these chapters as a fragment copied into the original, but the reason and mechanics for doing that into a scroll are not convincing. It may simply be that, if preparing for the collection was one of the purposes of this letter, it was best for rhetorical reasons known to Paul to include it in this part of the letter. Paul’s more confrontational words, from Chapters 10 on, are addressed to “some people,” so it is likely that different parts of this letter address different parts of the Corinthian Christian community.
PAUL AND THE “SUPER APOSTLES”: Whether “Super Apostles” was a name they gave themselves, or whether it was one that Paul gave them in irony, they seem to have been a regular problem for the apostles of Jesus, in that they often followed up the work of Peter, Paul, Timothy and others, insinuating themselves into the churches and substituting a “different gospel,” one that may have had Judaiizing elements, such as circumcision or dietary restrictions, all the while appealing to the cultural tastes of the new Christians, such as through classical Greek oratory. Those who came and alienated much of the Corinthian Church against Paul appear to have had some “letters of recommendation,” (ch. 3). From whom we don’t know. Like the most popular wandering Greek philosophers of the day, they demanded and lived off the financial support of their disciples (the more they charged, the more they were valued), something which Paul often declined to do (especially in Corinth), and which they used against him.
And they didn’t suffer for their ministry. Even that they used against Paul, obviously insinuating that his sufferings are proof that he is doing things wrongly, even that he is not God’s apostle. All these insinuations appeal to the triumphalistic, social climbing, class-conscious mindset of cosmopolitan Corinth.
But Paul turns their argument around to argue that his endurance of his many sacrifices and sufferings, on their behalf, and God’s sustenance of him, are precisely his marks of divinely-called apostleship.