2 Cor. 11:1-12
As we have seen lately, God measures success by faithfulness, Godliness, and loving service. Man however, looks in numbers, appearance, monetary status, influence, popularity and many other things which can easily impress and please. Criticized falsely and accused wrongly, Paul here continues to defend himself and his apostleship.
I. His Boasting (2 Cor. 11:1)
A. Paul does not like to boast, and certainly not in anything other than in Christ. He has written, “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (2 Cor. 10:17). In Corinth, he is facing groups of men who commend themselves and compare themselves with others so they can belittle him. Paul responses “Ok I’ll play your game for a shorth time. I don’t want to do it for it is foolishness, but I’m compelled to do so.” (in my own words).
B. Paul is showing here that his grounds for boasting are exactly the opposite of those used by his enemies. Paul boasts only upon the Lord and in those things, he finds praiseworthy about his ministry. We know that the success of the Corinthian church is a demonstration and proof of Paul’s apostolic service, and a sign of divine approval. He doesn’t want to boast but the Corinthians acceptance of the false apostle’s and false teacher’s claim forced Paul to set forth his own apostolic credentials. It was the only way he could get them to see the truth.
Illustration 1: Gas Mileage
According to a story in the Grand Rapids Press, the owner of a small foreign car had begun to irritate his friends by bragging incessantly about his gas mileage. So they decided on a way to get some humor out of his tireless boasting, as well as bring it to an end. Every day one of them would sneak into the parking lot where the man kept his car and pour a few gallons of gas into the tank. Soon the braggart was recording absolutely phenomenal mileage. He was boasting of getting as much as 90 miles per gallon, and the pranksters took secret delight in his exasperation as he tried to convince people of the truthfulness of his claims. It was even more fun to watch his reaction when they stopped refilling the tank. The poor fellow couldn’t figure out what had happened to his car.
II. His jealousy (2 Cor. 11:2)
A. “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy…” (2 Cor. 11:2): He is jealous with a godly jealousy, that is, with a jealousy after the pattern of the jealousy of God, which is always the jealousy of wounded love. I have espoused you to one husband (2 Cor. 11:2).
1. “God is a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5). God wants his people to be true to Him. God cannot allow his people to bow down to idols and false gods.
2. It was natural for Paul to feel jealousy over the Corinthians. He has a very close relationship with them. Paul is their spiritual father. Their union with Christ was his work (1 Cor. 4:15; 9:1). He may compare himself in this verse to a father who gives his daughter to the bridegroom. “For I have espoused you to one
husband.” Paul had espoused them to Christ, the Bridegroom, of whom the church is the bride (Rev. 21:2). Paul wants the Corinthian Christians to be true, loyal and faithful to Christ to whom the apostle had presented them “as a chaste virgin.”
3. Also, by referring to the Corinthian church as a new bride who needs the protection of her father, Paul is indicating that new Christians are vulnerable to those who would deceive and corrupt them. A new Christian is pure and innocent, but he is also vulnerable. Paul has a responsibility to such folks at Corinth because he is their spiritual father. When the Corinthians ask why Paul is so over protective, he responds, “Because I am your father! And because I brought about this engagement, and it is my responsibility to see that your purity is protected.”
Illustration 2: Jealousy and Envy
There is a distinction between jealousy and envy. To envy is to want something which belongs to another person. “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, his wife or his servant, his ox or donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
In contrast, jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person. Although jealousy can apply to our jobs, our possessions, or our reputations, the word more often refers to anxiety which comes when we are afraid that the affections of a loved one might be lost to a rival. We fear that our mates, or perhaps our children, will be lured away by some other person who, when compared to us, seems to be more attractive, capable and successful.
Dr. Gary Collins, in Homemade, July, 1985
III. His Fear (2 Cor. 11:3)
A. “But I fear… as the serpent beguiled Eve” (2 Cor. 11:3). Paul was afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve, these false teachers were corrupting the church at Corinth from “the simplicity” of doctrine and purity of life which they owed to Christ, their espoused husband. The serpent beguiled Eve by slandering God, by telling her God did not mean what he said Satan was a liar “from the beginning,” as Jesus said (Jn. 8:44). The devil fooled Eve with a half-truth.
B. “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus… gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4): Probably one of the greatest questions of our day is, “Who is Jesus Christ?” Many believe in Jesus, but the question is, “Which one?” The Jesus of the New Testament is virgin born. The Jesus of the New Testament is He who fulfils all of the Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the Messiah. The Jesus of the New Testament is truly God and truly man. The Jesus of the New Testament literally died and rose from the dead and is literally returning again to possess His kingdom and judge His enemies. That is the biblical Jesus. Now there are many Jesus’ that are not the real Jesus. We are told, for example, that there is a Jesus of love and acceptance and tolerance, who accepts all men as they are, without judging or condemning them. Many are those who believe in a “Jesus the way I like to think of Him.” But this is not the Jesus Paul preaches. It is not the Jesus of the Gospels. Paul says that if someone comes with another Jesus, the Corinthians accept that, and if someone comes with a different spirit they have not received, they accept that as well. It is little wonder that Paul is distressed.
Illustration 3: Fashioned for Faith, not Fear
I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air.
A John Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.” But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality. – Dr. E. Stanley Jones
IV. His Defense (2 Cor. 11: 5-6)
A. “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5): These Judaizers set themselves up to be “super apostles,” the “extra-super apostles” (Farrar), “a term he would never have applied to the twelve” (McGarvey). Paul is not referring to the pillar apostles of Gal. 2:9.
B. Paul says he is not behind these “precious apostles of yours,” these “pre-eminent apostles” a stroke of sarcasm.
C. “But though I be rude in speech… “(2 Cor. 11:6); Paul was a preacher of the gospel but he admits that he is not a professional orator (2 Cor. 10:10). He denies that he is unskilled in knowledge. He has made his mastery of the things he received directly from Christ. He knew his subject (1 Cor. 1:17; 2:4) very well. “The gospel. I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11, 12).
The success of the Corinthian church is a demonstration and proof of Paul’s apostolic service, and a sign of divine approval. Paul is forced to boast about this so he can silence his enemies and protect his spiritual children presented here as a bride espoused to Christ, the Bridegroom, of whom the church is the bride (Rev. 21:2). The question is are you saved? Are you a real Christian, a spiritual child of God? If not, why don’t you repent from your sins now and receive Christ as your personal Saviour? It’s the best decision you can make in your life.