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2 Corinthians 11 - Simplicity in Christ



INTRODUCTION: Paul had great love for the Corinthian church and he wanted them to know he was not trying to press them for financial support. It also saddened him to feel it necessary to give them great detail about his sufferings for Christ as a chosen apostle, in response to some men at Corinth who had made strong criticism of his leadership abilities.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American KJV.



A - PAUL WAS DETERMINED TO PREACH CHRIST WITHOUT FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM THE CORINTHIANS

2Corinthians 11 "1 Would to God you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him. 5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very most chief apostles. 6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things. 7 Have I committed an offense in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brothers which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so will I keep myself. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? because I love you not? God knows. 12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."



COMMENTS: Paul wanted to make it clear that it was going to be foolishness or folly for him to be presenting his authority as an apostle, that was just as valid as for the other apostles chosen by Christ. He wanted to use any means necessary to draw those he loved in Christ at Corinth away from false teachers who built themselves up as they presented something more than the simplicity of the gospel. Though his critics said his speech was weak, the knowledge he had been given by the Lord was not lacking, and he had shared it openly when he was at Corinth. Paul had prepared the Corinthians to be the bride of Christ by the message of grace to salvation; and he did not want them to be so easily deceived in the same manner as Eve was deceived by the subtle lies of the serpent in the Garden. His critics were trying to put themselves on the same level of authority as Apostles of Christ, and they wanted to gain benefits for themselves in so doing. That was a very dangerous approach for those men to pursue, for even Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light, and he will have false ministers of righteousness to serve him. Satan began in the Garden of Eden, and many such deceptions will continue until the final judgment when Christ returns. Paul made similar reference in writing to other churches, and Peter and John provide similar truth.

Genesis 3 "1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. 4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: 5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden."

Galatians 1 "8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed."

Romans 16 "17 Now I beseech you, brothers, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."

2 Peter 1 "20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."

2 John 1 "7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have worked, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses, and stays not in the doctrine of Christ, has not God. He that stays in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."




B - PAUL FELT COMPELLED TO FOOLISHLY BOAST TO THE CORINTHIANS

2 Corinthians 11 "16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. 17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. 19 For you suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise. 20 For you suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. 21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. However, when ever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also."



COMMENTS: Paul had purposely been meek and humble when he was at Corinth, for the message he had was of Christ, and not of himself. If necessity would require him to use more boldness, and to describe his apostleship to answer his critics, he would offer that to the Corinthians. He would give them more of the type of things that seemingly had carried the people into following attributes of the flesh, rather than the enabling of the spirit.



C - PAUL DESCRIBE HIS HERITAGE AND HIS SUFFERING AS HE SERVED CHRIST

2 Corinthians 11 "22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brothers; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which comes on me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for ever more, knows that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands."



COMMENTS: It must have been very difficult for Paul to reach this point in his letter, considering all that he had invested in the Corinthians as an Apostle of Christ. He had started at Corinth years earlier by reasoning in the synagogue every sabbath, to persuade both Jews and Greeks about Christ. After Jews in the synagogue adamantly rejected his message about Christ, he had regular meetings in a home with those in attendance being primarily Gentiles. He remained at Corinth for a year and six months as recorded in Acts, and later wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church.



Acts 18 "1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he stayed with them, and worked: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. 5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said to them, Your blood be on your own heads; I am clean; from now on I will go to the Gentiles. 7 And he departed there, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. 9 Then spoke the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not your peace: 10 For I am with you, and no man shall set on you to hurt you: for I have much people in this city. 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them."



Paul gave a listing of some of the things about himself that should have been evident, such as his Hebrew heritage; and many of the times that he had suffered in the material sense because he constantly presented spiritual truth as he traveled. Some of the items in his list were perhaps not specifically known to the Corinthians, and are not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. The item he put at the end of the list actually began the record of his encounter with the risen Christ on his way to Damascus , and his conversion from persecutor to evangelist! His strong witness that Christ is the Son of God, concluded with his escape from threats on his life, by being lowered over the city wall under the cover of night. Paul wrote that if the Corinthians caused him to boast, he would boast of the things which concern his infirmities. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed forever more, knew that he did not lie.



Acts 9 "1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecute you me? 5 And he said, Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you persecute: it is hard for you to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will you have me to do? And the Lord said to him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told you what you must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said to him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prays, 12 And has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on your name. 15 But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel to me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to you in the way as you came, has sent me, that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight immediately, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came here for that intent, that he might bring them bound to the chief priests? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelled at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."



--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Oh, my Father in heaven, I have many of the weaknesses that characterized the church at Corinth. I have sometimes placed too much of my attention on the individuals who I have heard preach or teach the Word of God over the years; rather than joyfully receiving what your Holy Spirit has worked through them when they are not distracted by the world system. Help me LORD to carefully reinforce in my heart the beauty and simplicity of the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the only Savior for my soul. I want to live in the reality that Christ in me, is my secure hope for glory. All praise to Christ Jesus, the Son of God. Hallelujah, amen!



Published 27 March 2021