2 Cor. 11:7-15
Last week we have seen that Paul has to boast to confront his enemies. Though he thinks its folly, he was forced to do it. Paul was very sincere in serving not only the Lord but the Corinthian church as a whole. Here on this part of this beautiful letter, Paul tells us that he never took any money from them even he has the right to do so. He also exposed who his enemies are.
Illustration 1: God’s Man
So popular and effective was Campbell Morgan’s ministry that he was given all kinds of offers from many different places and people. John Wanamaker, the great merchant of Philadelphia, offered to build Morgan a million-dollar church if he would become its pastor. Morgan turned him down, something the wealthy Wanamaker was not accustomed to in his dealings with people.
“I am God’s man,” said Morgan. “If I did that, I would become John Wanamaker’s man.”
The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 210
I. Rewards for service (2 Cor. 11:7-11)
A. “Have I committed an offense in abasing myself … because I preached to you the gospel of God freely?” (2 Cor. 11:7). Paul is asking if he had done wrong, if he has done any offense by abasing (lowering) himself regarding his laborious services, and the criticism and danger which he had suffered for the Corinthians.
B. In the Greek culture, the amount of money a teacher could be paid is the measure of how important and how good he is.
C. When Jesus sent out disciples on missionary journey, He told them to derive shelter and support from those to whom they ministered (Luke 9:3-4; 10:4-7). This apparently became the usual practice for Christian missionaries (1 Cor. 9:4-6) and it was followed by the false apostles in Corinth.
D. Paul had the right to receive money from the Corinthians for his services to them, but he did not exercise his right. “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). When Paul went to pagan Corinth, he did not want them to say he was coming there Just for their money, so he preached “the gospel of Christ without charge” (1 Cor. 9:18). He was very sincere in serving the Corinthians.
E. Paul and those associated with him (e.g., Barnabas, 1 Cor. 9:6) differed by supporting themselves as best they could without ministerial payment (1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8). Paul is a tent maker so he supports himself by making tents. Occasionally Paul accepted unsolicited support from churches to whom he had ministered (e.g., the Philippian church in Macedonia; Phil. 4:15-16). But he did so uneasily (Phil. 4:10-13), calling it “robbery” (2 Cor. 11:8) to take from poor people. He did not want to be a burden to them.
F. Why Paul doesn’t want to accept any support from the Corinthians, is not clear. Maybe some of them was suspicious of his motives in promoting the offering for the Jerusalem church.
G. Paul had various reasons for adhering to this general practice (e.g., 1 Cor 9:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:9-10). His main reason may have been his desire to emulate Christ who
became poor even as He enriched others (2 Cor. 8:9). An immediate reason in Corinth for maintaining this practice was that it barred the false apostles from any claim of equality to Paul in apostolic ministry (11:12), and so was anathema to them. However, it was not too well received even by the beneficiaries, the Corinthians. They thought that Paul’s hesitation to accept money from them showed that he did not love them. Paul, nonetheless, stood his ground.
II. The counterfeits (2 Cor. 11:12-15)
Illustration 2: Illustration 2: Beware of …
Beware of false gods (Ex. 20:3), false prophets (Matt. 7:15), false Christs (Matt. 24:24), another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4), another gospel (Gal. 1:6), false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26), false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1-2), false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13), and Satan who deceives the whole world (Rev. 12:9).
A. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion. Paul refused to accept financial support from the Corinthians was a source of embarrassment to the false teachers and false apostles, who eagerly wants money for their services. It was Paul’s decision to keep his ministry free of charge and thereby undermine his enemies’ claims that they serve on the same basis as he did.
B. “For such are false apostles…” (2 Cor. 11:13) Paul now exposes his enemies. These men are not real godly people, but “false apostles,” “deceitful workers,” pretending to be Christ’s apostles.
1. For such are false apostles; that is, persons pretending to be sent of Christ, but were indeed never sent of him.
2. Deceitful workers; persons whose work is but to cheat and deceive you; and that both with reference to their call and authority which they pretend to, and also to the doctrine which they bring.
3. Transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ; they were never apostles of Christ, only they put themselves into such a shape and form, that they might have more advantage to deceive
C. Who were these false apostles? Numerous suggestions have been made, ranging from Hellenistic charismatics to Palestinian Gnostics. Several factors suggest, however, that they were Palestinian Jews, members of the Jerusalem church who were false brothers (Gal. 2:4) in Paul’s estimation. They carried commendatory letters from the church (2 Cor. 3:1), possibly under the auspices of the Jerusalem Council, to survey compliance with the Jerusalem decree (Acts 15:20-21). That there were self-appointed delegations to enforce Mosaic ordinances before this is certain (Acts 15:24), and it is possible that the false apostles in Corinth were mavericks of this sort. Paul did not contest their appeal to the authority of the “super-apostles.” But he did refute the value of such an appeal and the notion that apostolic authority was a matter of human association rather than divine accreditation.
D. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed…” (2 Cor. 11:14): No wonder that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. One of Satan’s chief tricks is to take the shape of “an angel of light” and deceive the true children of God.
E. “Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers…” (2 Cor. 11:15). Again, it is not surprising if Satan’s ministers also do the same. There are many who profess to be
servants, or “ministers of righteousness”, even appearing on occasion to work miracles, but they are of no use and proves nothing. “He that doeth the will of my Father (Mat. 7:21) that is the test, according to Jesus. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat. 7:22-23). Jesus terms false shepherds’ thieves and robbers (John 10:1-21). It is a tragedy to see men in the livery of heaven serve the devil. The gravest wounds of the church do not come from without, but from agents of Satan within the fellowship of the church!
F. The terrifying “end” of these false apostles and false teachers is God’s judgment.
Illustration 3: The World Religious Imposter
According to Rev. 13:7, all nations, kindred and tongues will worship the antichrist (beast). His religious policy will be very simple: Everyone must worship the beast and have his mark (666). Refusal results in beheading. For the first time in history, there is a super church, a one-world religion, and Satan incarnate will receive the world’s worship.
In this apostasy, the Antichrist will have a helper—”the False Prophet” (Rev. 19:20; 20:10). He is the “second” beast of Rev. 13. This world religious leader will actively promote the worship of the Antichrist as God (Rev. 13:12). And with the power of punishment by death and economic control, the false prophet succeeds. The Antichrist is deified as god.
Thus, we see an Unholy Trinity—Satan, Antichrist, False Prophet—at work during the final 7 years of earth’s history.
Encyclopaedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
In all sincerity, love, honesty, integrity, long suffering, etc., Paul served the Corinthians free of charge. He did not take money from them in contrast to the false teachers who readily and greedily took money from them. Satan and his counterfeits are everywhere even within the church. Beware!