2 Cor. 11:1-15
There were men in Paul’s day who actually came into the city of Corinth and be used by the instrumentality of Satan to infiltrate the church. They would try and destroy the body of believers who came to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit. These men have come in among them saying that they are apostles of Jesus Christ. They pose as something which they are not and in doing so they deceive those who, through gullibility or inexperience are more ready to believe these imposters than to remember the sound teaching and the warnings of Paul the man who God used to bring them into the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This continued in the church throughout the centuries and is with us today. Men and women today make great claims about who they are and what they can do and what they can give you. Many gullible Christians buy into their claims. They make preposterous claims for themselves and in enthusiastic tell of the miracles of healing or how to get God to give you more money. They do not discern and will not investigate their claims and get evidence. It is all hearsay or emotions. It’s remarkable how gullible people are. But nevertheless it is true. It is easy to fleece human beings with language and arguments. It’s the nature of the beings that we are. People are being conned daily even in churches. Christianity today is so gullible. The evangelical world is so gullible. Christians can be gullible. The word swallows down what the politicians and governments and banks feed them and Christians are no different. They should be different, they should be more discerning. They become confused less confused if they studied Gods word. They would be less confused about the homosexual debate and redefining marriage. They would see though the hype and the advertising that is robbing people of the real values of life. They would discern what is being portrayed in the media.
Paul in this section makes quite plain his method and attitude toward money and support in the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. Paul had voluntarily followed the Lord. He determined that he would gain his reward by doing the work that he had to do but doing it free of charge. And so he devoted himself to the preaching of the word of God free of charge.
“If you are looking for Satan, be sure and look in the pulpit.” “From among your own selves, men shall arise not sparing the flock.” So we do look in the pulpit. It’s proper to look in the pulpit.
We are told not to doubt or have negative thoughts about a ministry but that would be hiding from reality. Living in these last days evangelicalism is a smorgasbord of beliefs and has left its Biblical foundations. Secular methods are promoted in the church and many people are confused about what the Bible says about sex, about homosexuality about marriage. We accommodate the secular culture of the day. We accept the political and economical theories that are predominate in our society. It is difficult to tell a Christian from a non-Christian. We merge all into one that is humanism. The church is destroying itself and few see it.
The media lives through us and dictates what we believe. Christian books and magazines and music are filled with this worlds ideas and methodology. God is what you personally believe not what He has revealed about himself in Scripture. He could be a she or an it or a system or a force. Culture is depraved it disseminates the enemies philosophies. The Bible is under attack, Christian morality is being ridiculed and laughed at.
Paul Unmasks His Opponents
Vs 1-5 The Christians at Corinth had been led astray and so Paul reminded them about who he was. I am afraid, he says, that . . . your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ (v. 3). They are not even aware of what is going on (vv. 18-21). His love as a pastor causes him to correct them for their own good.
He defends his reputation which the intruders had tried to destroy. Paul matches their boasts. “What anyone else dares to boast about . . . I also dare to boast about (11:21).
Paul sets out to boast in order for people to sit up and take notice. It looked like foolishness or human folly or nonsense in his eyes. But he is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the disaster at Corinth.
Three reasons for indulging him
- Paul was jealous for the Corinthians’ purity “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, Paul states”. (v. 2). They belonged to Christ and he promised the Corinthians to one husband, to Christ . . . as a pure virgin (v. 2). In ancient Near Eastern culture, parents typically chose a wife for their son and arranged for the marriage by legal contract. It was then the responsibility of the father of the bride-to-be to ensure his daughter’s virginity during the betrothal period. Betrothal was considered almost as binding as marriage itself. The betrothed couple addressed each other as “wife” and “husband” (Deut 22:23-24; Joel 1:8), and sexual faithfulness was expected. To this end, a bloodstained cloth was exhibited as proof of virginity on the wedding night. ;
- Paul did not want them to be willing to put up with an impure message.
- He wanted them to know that in no way was he inferior to his rivals.
Vs 4 Their purity was threatened by the other suitors who tried to lure them away from their loyalty to Christ. Paul’s fear that their minds may somehow be led astray “just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning.” The serpent deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and Paul fears that is going on at Corinth. Eve’s thorough deception is attributed to the serpent’s cunning. He can do this work. He is sly as a fox and full of trickery. Someone has come to Corinth and is successfully depriving Christ of a loyalty that is rightfully his. But there is the real danger that the church as a whole may be carried along.
The serpent deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and Paul fears that is going on at Corinth. Eve’s thorough deception is attributed to the serpent’s cunning. He can do this work. He is sly as a fox and full of trickery.
This deception is of a corrupting kind that led astray “to destroy,” “to seduce” or “to ruin.” Satan seduced Eve mentally not a corrupting of the will. Paul’s fear is that as Eve was led astray by the cunning arguments of the serpent, the minds of his converts may be similarly seduced by the trickery of his rivals.
The impostors’ goal is to divert the Corinthians from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (v. 3). They wanted to turn them from following Jesus.
2. Paul said not to put up with the rivals who present a different message: “ someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (v. 4). They “Comes to you” from outside the Corinthian congregation itself. They came to Corinth of their own accord and preached a message that the church has readily received: “you welcome it with open arms!” It was not Paul’s message.
Verse 4 They preached “another Jesus/spirit/gospel”. They bring a different message a different Jesus, spirit and gospel. Did they overemphasize visions and dreams? Was it all ecstatic experiences? Or did they lay claim to authoritative prophetic utterances, tongues, special revelations and the like?
Are they Hebrews? Are they Israelites? (11:22) shows that the intruders are Jewish. They had an outward show of the Spirit, oratorical ability and heritage. “Signs, wonders and miracles” are “things that mark an apostle” (12:12). “Visions and revelations” are grounds for boasting (12:1). Eloquent speech (10:10; 11:6) and the proper heritage (11:22) are sources of pride. This fits with the epithet super-apostles (v. 5) and the portrayal of the intruders in chapters 1–7 as those who seek to legitimize their authority through letters of recommendation and who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart (5:12).
Paul’s rivals were Palestinian Jews who, claiming the backing of the Jerusalem church, came to Corinth carrying letters of reference and sporting an impressive array of credentials (such as visions, ecstatic experiences and revelations). They combined this with an outoard show of the Spirit, appealing to the prominent role of the miraculous in Jesus’ ministry. The intruders’ focus on the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, compelling rhetoric and Jesus the wonder-worker may well be what Paul cryptically refers to as “another Jesus/Spirit/gospel.” If so, their approach is not much different from what we call “power evangelism” today.
This raises the question of what constitutes a proper manifestation of the Spirit in the gospel ministry. But the role of the miraculous was to validate, not displace, the gospel; and persuasion functioned to convince that “the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3).
It is all too easy for an audience to fasten on an outoard show and miss the intended message. This is why Paul concentrated on preaching “Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). By focusing attention on what he was saying and not on how he said it, Paul prevented his listeners from getting distracted from the truly important.
Vs 5 Paul shows up these super apostles and exposes their false claims and doctrine. Paul’s credentials shows that he measures up at least as well as his rivals. He’s not talking nonsense. Paul does not say that he is superior to these super-apostles–merely that he does not fall below them (hysterhkenai).
The word “super-apostles” appears nowhere else in the New Testament. The church had mistakenly attributed to them this title “super-apostles”. They elevated these men above the real apostle but Paul called them deceitful workers (v. 13) and servants of Satan (v. 15).
Paul Refused the Right Of Financial Support
Vs 7-11 “Have I committed a sin in humbling myself, that you might be exalted?” He refused the right of support, that the focus might be on the message and not on any money. The message was the important thing, it was the Lord and his death, burial, and resurrection to be seated at the right hand of the throne of God in Christ that was his emphasis. He exalted Christ not signs and wonders of super apostles, not money, not ecstatic’s. So Paul asks, is it a sin that I have come and preached without charge that you might be blessed by the message. Vs 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel . . . free of charge? It was his policy not to accept support from the church at which he was currently ministering. But once he left the area, he felt free to receive monetary gifts.
Vs 8-9 Paul did not preach for money. He freed the Corinthians from the burdens of giving. “I robbed other churches taking wages from them to serve you. I accepted gifts from Macedonia and when I was present with you and was in need I was not a burden to anyone, for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you and I will continue to do so.” Paul is determined to carry on with his same message even though his adversaries were trying to say he’s not concerned about you that he really doesn’t love you. So he asks, “As the truth in Christ is in me this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you, God knows that I do.” Paul also reminds the Corinthians of how even after his personal funds were depleted and he began to feel needy, he still did not burden any of them. Rather than place the burden of his daily needs on the shoulders of the Corinthians, the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what [he] needed.
Vs 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody . . . will stop this boasting of mine.
Vs 12 Paul says, “No, these fellows are boasting about things that they shouldn’t be boasting about.” I will keep on doing what I am doing. And his rivals are the ones who have the Corinthians’ ear. So he determines that he will keep on doing what he is doing–he will continue to boast in the fact that he preaches the gospel free of charge. They are making big claims for themselves. “But I am not going to yield to what they would like for me to do and that is to ask for money because in that case all of these other things that we have been talking about would not be true.” Paul says he will continue to preach the gospel and make it free of charge. He cares for their souls not for their money or hero worship. He is obedient to God and the purity of the gospel.
The Deceitful Workers
Vs 13 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” Paul is calling individuals false apostles. They knew who these men are. They disguise themselves as Apostles of Christ. In fact, the Lord Jesus says the same thing in the letter to the Ephesians in Revelation chapter 2, he talks about those who call themselves apostles and are not in the letter to Ephesus. So notice how Paul describes these adversaries.
People don’t understand anything about the word of God in our day. A person can come and pronounce that he is this or that and gather a following and make some money out of it. Its like the dark age paying for indulgences only from a protestant perspective. Theology and sound doctrine have been rejected.
Our ignorance of the word of God, our ignorance of Christian theology, our ignorance of the history of theology, has endangered us, it’s no wonder that we are subject to all of the things that we find in our society today. They’re called deceitful workers.
In the Christian church today we have people who have an outwardly show who are inwardly demonic. They are serving themselves. They are not serving the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not as Paul says that we are your servants for Jesus’ sake as we proclaim the gospel.
Paul is talking about, a deceitful worker. There are many in church today. There are many who do not accept the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ or his virgin birth who are in churches. There are many who do not believe that death on the cross was an atonement for our sins. Paul would call them deceitful workers. They are disguising themselves as ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Servants of Satan Pseudo Apostles” (11:13-15)
Vs 13 Paul sees them as false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. The phrase “false apostle” does not occur anywhere else in Paul’s letters. False (pseudos) refers to that which is untrue or bogus. He can tell from their methods, which mark them as deceitful workmen. They deal dishonestly or treacherously with others. They misrepresent the gospel deliberately and, for impure motives. The intruders claim that their purpose in coming to Corinth is to serve Christ, when in reality all they care about is serving themselves–and at the Corinthians’ expense (exploits . . . takes advantage of, 11:20). In this way they are like wolves in sheep’s clothing, masquerading as apostles of Christ (v. 12).
Their behavior, Paul says, is not surprising, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (v. 13). Angelic appearances are described as like lightning (Mt 28:3), gleaming (Lk 24:4) and shining (Lk 2:9). The Greek term translated masquerade means to “alter” or “change the outward appearance” of a person or thing. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light in an attempt to conceal his true being.
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light
Vs 14 -15, “It’s no wonder for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Their emphasis are on deceitful works and then in a minute they disguise themselves as servants of righteousness whose end shall be according to their deeds. Their counterfeit activity and their master is set forth in verse 14, evil comes in the guise of virtue, teachers of air come as purveyors of truth, propagandas of an anti-gospel or agents ultimately of Christ’s adversary Satan. And the counterfeit activity of the individuals is set forth in the final verse.
Today we are told not to be so critical. We are not to single out the false apostles and their disciples and doctrines. My friend, today we need people of courage people of conviction who will stand for truth against error. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the glory of God is to be defended
Vs 15 If Satan finds it advantageous to masquerade as an angel of light, it is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Church leaders can seem genuine in appearance and profession and yet in actuality be Satan’s minions. at the Corinthian intruders have disguised themselves in this fashion. The charge is a serious one. If the Corinthian intruders really are Satan’s servants, then they are not merely Paul’s opponents but also enemies of Christ. Paul said as much in the earlier part of this chapter, when he expressed his fear that the Corinthians were being seduced from their undivided commitment to Christ.