11:1 I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness,
but indeed you do bear with me.
11:2 For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.
For I married you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure
virgin to Christ.
11:3 But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in
so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in
11:4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we did not
or if you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive,
or a different gospel, which you did not accept, you put up with
that well enough.
Affirmation of Paul's Authority over False Apostles
11:5 For I reckon that I am not at all behind the very best
11:6 But though I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not unskilled in
No, in every way we have been revealed to you in all things.
11:7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself that you might be
because I preached to you God's gospel free of charge?
11:8 I robbed other assemblies, taking wages from them that I might
11:9 When I was present with you and was in need, I wasn't a burden
for the brothers, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the
measure of my need.
In everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and I will
continue to do so.
11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me,
no one will stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
11:11 Why? Because I don't love you? God knows.
11:12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion
from them that desire an occasion,
that in which they boast, they may be found even as we.
11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful
masquerading as Christ's apostles.
11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of
11:15 It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also
masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be
according to their works.
11:16 I say again, let no one think me foolish.
But if so, yet receive me as foolish, that I also may boast a
11:17 That which I speak, I don't speak according to the Lord,
but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.
11:18 Seeing that many boast after the flesh, I will also boast.
11:19 For you bear with the foolish gladly, being wise.
11:20 For you bear with a man,
if he brings you into bondage, if he devours you,
if he takes you captive, if he exalts himself, if he strikes you on
11:21 I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak.
Yet however any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also.
Paul Boasting of His Experience and Credentials
11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I.
Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I
am more so;
in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes
above measure, in deaths often.
11:24 Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one.
11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.
Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in
11:26 I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of
perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the
perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false
11:27 in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and
in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness.
11:28 Besides those things that are outside,
there is that which presses on me daily, anxiety for all the
11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak?
Who is caused to stumble, and I don't burn with indignation?
11:30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my
11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ,
he who is blessed forevermore, knows that I don't lie.
11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king
guarded the city of the Damascenes desiring to arrest me.
11:33 Through a window I was let down in a basket by the wall, and
escaped his hands.
vs 1-4 How easily do you put up with another Jesus being
What is an example of other Jesus's being preached then and now?
Why does Paul use the concept of a virgin here?
How do you tests the spirits to see if they are from God? (1John
4:6) vs 5-12 What are examples of sarcasm in this section? vs 7 What do you suppose would have happened if Paul hadn't
preached the gospel to them free fo charge? vs 13-15 How do you suppose Paul knew that such men were
How can you identify false apostles?
And in what way might they mistakenly be viewed as angels of light?
vs 19-20 To what extent should Christians tolerate being
exploited? (See also Matt 5:39-41) vs 22-33 How does Paul's life differ from your expections
concerning your own Christian life?
2Cor 11:1,2 I hope you will put up with a
little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. I am
jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one
husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin
That is Paul was jealous on behalf of the Lord. While jealousy is
generally regarded as a vice, in fact it is appropriate for a
husband to experience jealousy if his wife is being led astray into
another relationship. Zec
8:2 This is
what the LORD Almighty says: "I am very jealous for Zion; I am
burning with jealousy for her." And the illustration of the
church being married to Christ is used abundantly in scripture.
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the
church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Eph 5:22
Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Eph 5:25
In fact he goes on to indicate that marriage itself is an
illustration of the relationship between Christ and the church.
father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become
one flesh." This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about
Christ and the church.Eph
Paul was playing much the role as John the Baptist who said, "The bride belongs to the
bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and
listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s
voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete."John
But, to clarify, what is the status of the church? Is it married or
not married? For here Paul speaks of the church still being a
virgin. The actual situation presently is much like the situation
between Joseph and Mary. "Now
the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary
was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found
with child of the Holy Spirit."Mt 1:18 The word "betrothed" here is the same word "promised" here in the NIV
or "betrothed" in the
NKJV. While the consumation has not occured, the two are considered
married. So it's not simply an "engagement" as in Western
society. For upon finding her pregnant it is written, "Because Joseph her husband was a
righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace,
he had in mind to divorce her quietly."Mt 1:19 Just as Joseph and Mary
were reckoned "married" prior to their wedding feast, so also is the
present status of the church. For wedding feast of the lamb is yet
Do Not Be Led Astray
2Cor 11:3 But
was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led
astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Much as Eve was gullibly led astray so the church is susceptible to
this. Thus warnings about being led astray are abundant in the
letters to the churches.
"Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray."1John 3:7a "Do not be deceived:"1Cor 6:9b "Do not be deceived:"Gal 6:7a "Don’t be deceived, my dear
brothers." Jam 1:16a
While the sheep don't tend to intentionally walk into false
teachings and bad behavior, but the world, the flesh and the
devil will attempt to lead us astray into such. "So then, let us not be like others, who are
asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled."1Th 5:6"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the
devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to
Don't Tolerate a Different Gospel
2Cor 11:4For if 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
Toleration is not necessarily a virtue. Remember in 1Cor 5:1,2 he rebuked them for
their tolerance. "It is
actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and
of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his
father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been
filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who
did this?" Some Christians are proud of their toleration of
sin and false doctrine. Likewise in Galatians Paul rebukes the
Christians for being led astray,
"You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?"Gal 3:1a In Revelation 2:1,2 Jesus commends
the church at Ephesus for not tolerating wicked men and those who
claimed to be apostles but were not. In Rev 2:20 he rebukes the
church in Thyatira for toleration. "I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel,
who calls herself a prophetess."Rev 2:20a
There are those who preach Jesus, but a different Jesus that
presented in the Bible. Among such people today are the Muslims, for
example. And there are those who teach in a different spirit than
the spirit of God,. "Dear
friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see
whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone
out into the world."1John
4:1 There are those who preach a gospel, but not the gospel
Paul preached. Paul writes, "I
am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called
you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are
throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel
of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should
preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be
2Cor 11:5,6But I do not think I am in the
least inferior to those "super-apostles." I may not be a trained
speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly
clear to you in every way.
He's speaking factitiously here of course concerning
"super-apostles". This is much along the lines he spoke in
Galatians. "As for those who
seemed to be important— whatever they were makes no difference to
me; God does not judge by external appearance— those men added
nothing to my message." ... "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave
me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized
the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the
Gentiles, and they to the Jews." Gal 2:6,9 And he then goes on to share how he had
to rebuke Peter for misbehavior. Though in this case in Corinthians
he wasn't referring to the real apostles as a few verses later he
speaks of false apostles.
But much of what corrupted the early church into Catholicism was
elitism - leadership putting themselves above scrutiny and replacing
the Word of God with their own opinions. Yet in Paul's day even the
apostles were open to being scrutinized. In Acts 17:11 the Bereans were
commended for scrutinizing Paul's teachings upon the basis of the
scriptures being the standard of truth. Though Jesus and his
apostles also proved by demonstrations of power that they spoke of
the Word of God.
But here Paul is alluding to an issue which also arose in
1Corinthians, namely viewing leaders as celebrities, and following
them not based on knowledge validated by miracles, but upon their
charisma or popularity. Jesus himself experienced that in his
ministry and discouraged it. (John
Preach Free of Charge
2Cor 11:7-9Was it a sin for me to lower myself
in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free
of charge? I robbed
other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed
something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came
from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from
being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.
To charge people to hear the gospel can be a stumbling block as it
calls into question one's motive. In your ministry avoid being a
burden to others. To the Ephesian elders Paul said, "I have not coveted anyone’s
silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands
of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work
we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus
himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"Acts 20:33-35
To the Thessalonians he writes,
"Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked
night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we
preached the gospel of God to you."1Thess 2:9 And in his second
letter to the Thessalonians writes, "You yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We
were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food
without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day,
laboring and toiling so
that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this,
not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to
make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were
with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall
not eat.""2Thess 3:7-10
So distasteful was being a financial burden to others that Paul
characterizes it as robbery, though he's speaking hyperbolicaly. Of
course this viewpoint you've probably have never hear from
professional paid ministers. Though you'll hear an abundance of
"fleece the flock" sermons, few ministers set the example as Paul
did. Keep yourself from being a burden to others in any way.
Minister Better than the Opposition
2Cor 11:10-12 As surely as the truth of Christ
is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting
of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And I
will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from
under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us
in the things they boast about.
Just as in Galatians Paul was competing against false teachers,
false apostles for the hearts and minds of the Christians. Jesus
said, "I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand
is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf
coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks
the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired
hand and cares nothing for the sheep."John 10:11-13 Paul showed
himself not to be the "hired man" but he shepherd of the sheep,
firstly because he didn't do ministry for money. And when the flock
was faced with threats he defended them against false teachers.
A good minister is aware of the state of his flock and keeps an eye
out for predators, being willing to confront opposition despite the
hostility he may subject to. Much as in the parable of the sower
where the seed on rocky ground were those who at first received the
Word with joy, but when trouble came because of the Word they fled,
so also one way ministers show their devotion to the flock is how
they respond to opposition. Many a minister simply leaves the job
for another church, never to be heard from again.
Unmask False Teachers
2Cor 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles,
deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no
wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is
not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of
righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Again to the Ephesian elders Paul says, "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of
which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the
church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that
after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not
spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and
distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."Acts 20:28-30 And that's
what happened, the church gradually becoming corrupted for over 1000
years, and still we see this kind of thing going on.
Likewise Jesus warned, "Watch
out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but
inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will
recognize them." Mt
What this incorporates firstly is the intention to judge, that is,
to discern. And there are many such warnings. "Do not let anyone lead you astray", "Do not be
deceived", etc. But today, at least in Western society,
Christians are discouraged from exercising discernment, embracing
the world's post-modernistic ecumenical pluralism and
misinterpreting the Bible. There are abundant commands in the Bible
along these lines, and yet the one response I almost always get from
"Christians" who discourage others from exercising such discernment
is Matt 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be
judged." Yet there Jesus is speaking in a proverbial
fashion of the basic human principle that if you criticize others,
they in knee-jerk fashion, will come back and criticize you. Yet
Jesus himself was crucified largely for criticizing others. Wolves
misinterpret Matt 7:1 so as to put themselves above scrutiny and
reckon that those who do scrutinize them are sinning by doing so.
Secondly, when applying discernment, realize that Jesus was
crucified by the most "religious" people of his day. "Stop judging by mere appearances,
and make a right judgment." John 7:24
Don't Tolerate being Exploited by False Teachers
2Cor 11:16-21I repeat: Let no one take me for a
fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so
that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I
am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are
boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly
put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up
with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of
you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my
shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else
dares to boast about— I am speaking as a fool— I also dare to
Again obviously he's being factitious, though not deceptive as he's
being obvious about it. He's basically insulting them for tolerating
fools. Now much as Jesus did say, "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the
right cheek, turn to him the other also." Mt 5:39, he didn't mean that you
reckon that person your friend, let alone your teacher. Much as we
Christians have to suffer fools to some extent, we are not to place
ourselves under their authority as if they were apostles. These
false apostles were no doubt exploiting them financially. Scrutinize
those whom you pay to do ministry. And they were probably burdening
them with unnecessary regulations.
Much as Christians are called to be meek, we shouldn't put up with
being exploited by fellow "Christians". "You must not associate with anyone who calls
himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater
or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are
you not to judge those inside?" 1Cor 5:11,12 But
while church "leadership" often rejects anyone scrutinizing them,
they should be the one's most scrutinized.
Paul wouldn't put up with abuse from those who make themselves out
to be leaders of the church. So neither should you.
Beware the Legalists
2Cor 11:22,23Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they
Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are
they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.)
I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more
frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death
again and again.
The fact that these false teachers were Jews makes it likely that
they were among the cult of the "circumcision" of which Paul wrote
about in Galatians and confronted in Acts 15. These were those who
said, "The Gentiles must be
circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."Acts 15:5 In Galatians 2:4 Paul says, "This matter arose because some
false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we
have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." These were
those who were trying to enslave the Corinthians to a legalistic
gospel in which salvation is earned through rituals and obedience to
regulations. (A false gospel which has been propagated by some
denominations for thousands of years)
In confronting these false teachers here is one way God demonstrated
his wisdom in sending a most unlikely man as an apostle to the
Gentiles - namely a man of a highly Jewish background. To the
Philippians he writes, "Watch
out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the
flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by
the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no
confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such
confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence
in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the
people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews;
in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the
church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever
was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What
is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing
greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have
lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that
comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ— the
righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Php 3:2-9
The Credentials of Suffering
2Cor 11:24-27Five times I received from the Jews
the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods,
once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night
and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I
have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger
from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the
city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger
from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone
without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone
without food; I have been cold and naked.
Under the Law of Moses 40 lashes was the maximum one could receive.
"If the guilty man deserves to
be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged
in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, but
he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more
than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes." Deut 25:2,3 Interesting that God
set regulations to preserve the dignity of those reckoned criminals.
Though he did allow for what may today be characterized as torture.
Paul was often abused during his missionary journeys. The time he
was stoned was likely alluding to Acts 14 where in Lystra he did a
miracle and gained credence but some Jews turned the crowd against
him. "They stoned Paul and
dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the
disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into
the city."Acts 14:19,20
The shipwreck he mentions was not the one recorded in Acts 27, which
was to occur later. But there many things Paul suffered which had
not been recorded in Acts. There were tremendous dangers he faced.
For example he carried large donations from the churches in Galatia
to Israel on foot. Imagine his danger from bandits. But of all the
dangers, the most disturbing is the dangers he faced from false
brothers. Today, particularly among "Christianized" countries, the
greatest dangers Christians face are within the church.
Paul's ministry was not work, it was labor. The difference? Men go
into work. Women go into labor. Labor reflects the intensity of
Paul's work. "We proclaim him,
admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may
present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor,
struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."Col 1:28,29
Paul's credentials were not his theological degrees, but the
personal sacrifices he made in ministry. What personal sacrifices
have you made or are willing to make for the sake of the ministry?
Be Concerned for the Weak
2Cor 11:28,29 Besides everything else, I face
daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel
weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
Again contrasting the hired man with the good shepherd, the good
shephard was vested emotionally into the sheep. And this is
particularly the case with regard to the weak. Remember Jesus'
parable of the lost sheep in which he left the 99 alone for the one
who was lost. And so also with regards to being concerned over those
being led into sin. Jesus said, "if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me
to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung
around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea"Mt
While there are many things to be concerned about, the most
important is to concern ourselves for the weak. Paul even gave up
eating meat so as to not offending the conscience of weak brethren.
Else "When you sin against
your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin
8:12 It's right to feel anger at those who are
leading the weak into sin. Deal with it. And "be careful that the exercise of your freedom
does not become a stumbling block to the weak."1Cor 8:9 While many a Christians
may react to a weak church by leaving it, Paul fixes it, "so that there should be no
division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern
for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;
if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." 1Cor 12:25,26
Paul - A Basket Case
2Cor 11:30-33If I must boast, I will boast of
the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord
Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In
Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the
Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered
in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his
The Damascus incident he mentions occurred shortly after his
conversion. "After many days
had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul learned of
their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates
in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and
lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall."Acts 9:23-25
In contrast to boasting of one's health, wealth, popularity, or
theological credentials, Paul did not preach himself but the Christ
and the cross. "When I came to
you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as
I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to
know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him
crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much
trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and
persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,
so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s
To inflate ourselves to a celebrity status takes away focus on
Christ. And not just ourselves, but also if we overinflate
others to a celebrity status. For example in Catholicism Mary
overshadows Christ. When they should be praying to Christ, they pray
to Mary instead. Likewise among non-Catholic denominations in which
the teachings of certain post-Biblical theologians go unscrutinized
in light of scripture.
The apostle Paul's attitude in this matter, however, is a good model
for Christian leadership. It's a model of humility.