Paul and the False Apostles
11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Paul’s Sufferings as an Apostle
I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
2 Corinthians 11 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Paul charges his attack against the false teachers who were swaying minds left and right within the church. Through smooth talk and engaging rhetoric, they were deceiving the Believers. No longer keeping silent toward these bizarre accusations, Paul laid out his credentials and how he had suffered much for Christ. His suffering listed was not even as a badge of honor, or I don’t perceive it to be. He didn’t want to give such a list but was necessary for them to read of all he’d endured for Jesus. Anyone in their right mind would not have gone through all these things. Certainly not these false teachers who spoke so high and mighty but would have faltered had even a smidgeon of resistance come against them.
The passion and love for these at the Corinthian church is evident as he longed so desperately for their eyes to be open to the misleading calculations of these wolves dressed in sheep clothing. It’s interesting to me because Paul certainly could have written them off. In fact, most would have I think. “Leave them to their own devices,” we may say. But the Holy Spirit prompted the burden so heavily upon him for these who were in captivity of the enemy. Their minds had been engulfed in the flames of deceit.
Plowing through the fires that raged against him, the battle for Paul was real even in this letter. He knew that he must speak truth, expose the darkness that had filtered into the church and reveal these ‘angels of light’ who were tools in the hands of Satan.
He pulls no punches as so much is at stake.
Deception works its way into our thinking so easily. False teachings abound now just as it did then. Lives are destroyed, churches falter, purpose and hope disintegrate as without protecting ourselves, tightly placing the helmet of salvation upon, taking every thought captive under the Lordship of Jesus, we too are susceptible.
Paul’s drive was to see all come to Christ – not just the saved. Yes, read that again. There are far too many who have had that experience with Jesus, been forgiven of their sins who wander back to the enemy’s side and are held in bondage. Paul wasn’t just determined to see the lost come to Jesus, he was determined to rescue those who had once tasted of Him and fallen away.
The battle we fight is not just for the lost. We fight side by side for one another who have lost their way, been taken captive by false promises and teachings, have grown complacent.
Charge into the darkness and rescue these prisoners of war!
2 Corinthians 11 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
“A story is told about a dinner party where the guests were expected to stand after the meal and recite something for the group. A famous actor was present, and he recited the twenty-third Psalm with great dramatic flair and emotion, and sat down to great applause. Then a very simple man got up and began to recite the same Psalm. He wasn’t very eloquent, so at first people thought it was a little funny. But his presentation was straight from his heart, so when he finished, the group sat in respectful silence. It was obvious that the simple man’s presentation was more powerful than the actors, and afterwards the actor told him: “I know the Psalm, but you know the Shepherd.””David Guzik
The so-called super apostles did not preach to glorify God. They were all about personal gain and selfish ambition. They may have been polished and charismatic, but Paul points out that the true attributes of simplicity and humility are what’s required of Jesus’ followers.
Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. 7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?2 Corinthians 11:5-7 ESV
The claim of these false apostles was not just a charge against Paul; it was a charge against Jesus.
It seemed these Corinthian followers were disgusted by weakness, persecution, humiliation, suffering, and death. They called Paul weak, poor in speech, and overall unimpressive. They most likely referred to themselves as super apostles. Not only were they deceived, but they were preaching a false Jesus!
Galatians 1:8 ESV But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
“Greek culture measured the importance of a teacher by the fee he could command. The false apostles therefore accused Paul of being a counterfeit, since he refused to charge for his services. They convinced the Corinthians to be offended by Paul’s refusal to accept support from them, offering this as evidence that he did not love them. Paul’s resort to manual labor to support himself also embarrassed the Corinthians, who felt such work to be beneath the dignity of an apostle.”John MacArthur
This is all so crazy considering Paul was following the example of Jesus as best he could! The more shocking aspect is that this still happens today. While some Christians continue to chase bigger and better, we must remember that this is not the Gospel we first learned. Jesus was not about the show. In fact, He chased away people who wanted to use Him as a puppet for their own agenda. The sad part of this letter is that Paul had to waste so much ink on such a ridiculous topic, yet, the fact remains that the church still struggles with it today.
Those who are grounded by the Holy Spirit will recognize true believers by their humble actions and fruitful lives. We must remember the example that was set for us long ago.