Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
Listen to this week's message!
Map to the Church
Enhance your daily reading of God's word. Click here for free, printable Bible Reading and Prayer Journal sheets!
AM Bible Study Archives
"Bold Words of Love"
2 Corinthians 11:1-15
Wednesday AM Bible Study
November 19, 2008
Paul is writing, in this section of his letter, to defend the spiritual authority God had given him over the Corinthians. The "false apostles" who had crept into the church were questioning his apostleship; and he seeks to defend it—not in order to elevate himself; but as he says in this morning's passage, to exalt the Corinthians (v. 7). He was so earnest in his love for them, and in his desire to ensure that they stay true to Christ, that he was willing to speak some very bold words to them in this passage.
I. PAUL'S BOLD WORDS OF JEALOUSY FOR THE CORINTHIANS (vv. 1-4).
A. He begins by asking that they would "bear with a little folly" in him; because, in this passage, he speaks in a way that would on the surface sound "foolish" (see verse 16). His closing words in verse 1 may be taken either as an 'indicative' statement ("and indeed you really do bear with me . . .") or as in "imperative" statement ("and indeed— do bear with me"). The context seems to support the latter. He is going to say some things that are as embarrassing as a protective father would say to a daughter (see verse 2); and he urges them to put up with it, because it comes from love.
B. He goes on to explain that he speaks in this way because he is very jealous for them "with a godly jealousy". Just as a father who has betrothed his daughter to one husband will speak sternly in order to protect her chastity, Paul is likewise eager that they remain pure and chaste for Christ (v. 2; see Ephesians 5:22-33). And he fears that they may be "deceived" from a simplicity (that is, an undivided sincerity) in their love for Christ in the same way that Eve was deceived by the craftiness of the devil (v. 3).
C. Paul speaks with some measure of satire in verse 4. If someone comes along and preaches another Jesus, or promotes a different "spirit", or offers a different gospel, they put up with that just fine! And so, he urges that they should be willing to put up with him.
II. PAUL'S BOLD WORDS OF BOASTING CONCERNING HIS MINISTRY (vv. 5-10).
A. Paul says that he considers that he is not at all inferior to "the most eminent apostles" (v. 5). And though he mentions himself in the light of the other apostles elsewhere (1 Corinthians 15:9), he is not speaking of the 'real' apostles in this passage. He is speaking instead of the 'pretend' apostles who have infiltrated the Corinthian church. They presented themselves as superior; and as we will see later in this chapter, Paul is not afraid to hold his credentials up against theirs.
B. He is not (as those false apostles were) trained in speech (see 10:10). And he deliberately chose not to speak to the Corinthians in impressive speech (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Yet, though he wasn't an entertaining speaker, he defends that he was not lacking in knowledge either (v. 6). He elsewhere defends that his gospel is given to him from God (Galatians 1:11-12). He insists that he and his co-workers, far from trying to present an artificial image, were completely "manifest" among the Corinthians "in all things."
C. What's more, he didn't present himself to the Corinthians as demanding their support—as the false apostles had done. He "humbled" himself by preaching the gospel to them free of charge (v. 7); and he received support from other churches (v. 8). And even when he was in need, he was careful not to allow himself to be a burden to the Corinthians; but received help from the churches in the northern regions of Macedonia and worked with his own hands to provide for his own needs (v. 9; see also Acts 18:1-3). This was a boast that he would not allow anyone to take from him in Achaia (the region of Corinth; v. 10). No one could accuse him of being on the take.
III. PAUL'S BOLD WORDS OF CONDEMNATION FOR THE FALSE APOSTLES (vv. 11-15).
A. The reason for his resolve to take nothing from the Corinthians was not because he didn't love them (v. 11). God knew, he said, that He did love them. But though it would ordinarily communicate love to have accepted support from them he had a greater objective—that of removing the ability of the false apostles to boast. Paul could say—unlike those false teachers—that his ministry to the Corinthians truly was out of love and not out of personal gain (v. 12).
B. Paul then opens both barrels on the "eminent apostles" who were taking advantage of the Corinthians. He says that they are "false"; and are deceitful workers. He even goes so far as to say that they have "transformed themselves" into something that they're not— that is, apostles of Christ (v. 13). Paul warns that the Corinthians shouldn't be surprised at this; because the devil is able to transform himself into an angel of light (v. 14). It should come as no surprise then that his "ministers" (literally, his "deacons") can transform themselves into "ministers of righteousness". He warns that those who do so will not be able to remain in disguise forever; for their end will be "according to their works" (v. 15).
Copyright © 2008 Bethany Bible Church, All Rights Reserved