The Roosevelt Park Men’s Society sent me the following communication:
“The English Men’s Society of the Roosevelt Park Protestant Reformed Church has experienced considerable difficulty in arriving at a satisfactory interpretation of the latter part of, namely: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.’
“They would very much appreciate reading your interpretation of this, portion of Scripture as soon as you can conveniently do so.
The Roosevelt Park Men’s Society. Geo, Ten Elshof, Sec’y.”
In the light of the context, it would appear evident that the apostle is defending himself against a slanderous accusation by his opponents, the accusation in this case being that he preached the gospel for mercenary purposes. Under the pretext of his being interested in the salvation of men, he meant to acquire filthy lucre. He answers that he never burdened them, the Corinthians, while he labored among them; that he will not be burdensome to them when he will come to them the third time, and that, on the contrary, he will gladly spend and be spent for their sake, even though “the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” vs. 15.
However, the evil adversaries in Corinth would say: “No, it is true, he is not directly and personally burdensome to the people when he is among them. He is too sly for that. He is crafty. He catches them unawares. What he does not do directly, he does through his helpers. These take your money and through them Paul indirectly gains his mercenary end.” These words of the opponents the apostle somewhat sarcastically adopts as his own. They therefore should be read as follows: “Be it so, very well (they say), personally I did not burden you: but being crafty, I caught you with guile, and took my share of filthy lucre from you through others.” And the apostle then continues to disprove this accusation, vss. 17, 18.