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“Limiting our Liberty for the Gospels Sake”

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2 Corinthians 11 5-15
v.5 Paul says that he is not inferior to the “super apostles”. He is likely referring to the false teachers who promoted themselves as the chief apostles. Some believe Paul was speaking of the original eleven disciples that Christ called. The context does not seem to support that. The false teachers had commended themselves as the greatest apostles around. In so doing they were saying they were better than Paul. Paul begs to differ.
v.6 Paul was not the greatest of speakers. He did not claim to be. Paul admits he was unskilled in speaking. Many of the Greeks were known for their oratorical abilities. They waxed eloquent in philosophy, religion, the arts, and many other subjects. Paul’s message was simple. It was the gospel.
While Paul may have not been the greatest speaker, that did not mean he did not have much knowledge. He had manifested his knowledge to the Corinthians through his preaching and teaching. Paul knew the word of God. That was what really mattered. We should remember this when listening to preachers. Good preaching is measured by content not cleverness. Many people are labeled as great preachers who have very little knowledge of the word. That is a sad reflection on the Body of Christ.
v.7 Paul asks a sarcastic question. The question is “Was it a sin for me preach to you without charging you?” Paul refused to take a salary from the Corinthian church. This provoked some of the false teachers to capitalize on Paul’s humility. They probably said something like, “His message isn’t worth anything, that’s why he doesn’t charge you!” Many of the Greek orators made their living with speaking. Paul wasn’t getting a dime.
Paul thinks it silly that the false teachers would try and capitalize on his humility. He reasons that there is nothing wrong with him preaching the gospel for free. He humbled himself, preaching the gospel for free, that the Corinthians might be exalted. In other words so they would be saved and grow in the grace of the Lord.
v.8 Paul did not literally rob other churches to minister to the Corinthians. The term probably describes Paul’s feeling as he took money from the poor churches to support the ministry (Romans 15:26). Paul was paid for his service. He simply refused to take money from the Corinthians because of all the rumors surrounding the false teachers.
v.9 When Paul was in Corinth, he obviously had physical needs. He chose to work to provide those needs (Acts 18:3). No one had to carry Paul’s weight. On top of that the Macedonian saints helped Paul financially so that he was not a burden to the Corinthians. Paul had no intention of changing his methods. He would continue not asking the Corinthians to help him personally with finances.
v.10 As Paul spread the gospel throughout the region of Achaia he would not take a payment for services. Probably because the false teachers influence had reached the surrounding area of Corinth. A little leaven leavens the whole loaf! Paul promised that he would continue ministering in this manner. He was not intimidated by the false teacher’s lies. They could charge that he was a cheap preacher because his preaching was not eloquent. To Paul, that didn’t matter. He was content with the simple gospel message.
v.11 The Corinthians may think that Paul will not take money from them because he does not love them. A refusal to accept a gift can be interpreted as an insult. Was their money not good enough for him? That was ridiculous. Of course Paul loved the Corinthians. Paul was in a sort of catch 22. If he took money, he was charged with being greedy. If he refused money, he was charged with not loving people.
v.12 The false teachers promoted themselves as equal with and greater than Paul. The only problem was that there was a major distinction between the two. The false teachers were paid and Paul was not. If they wanted to boast about being equal with Paul then they would have to become like him. In other words, serve the Lord for free. They would not do this. They were hirelings, not caring fro the sheep. They only cared about the money (John 10:12-13).
Paul was using the occasion of refusal to take money to reveal the hearts of the false teachers. What wisdom!
v.13 Paul now describes the spiritual reality of the false teachers.
They are false apostles. That is, their message is not true. Teachers should always be measured by their message (1 John 4:1).
They are deceitful workers. Their message deceives people. Many times the teacher is deceived himself (2 Tim. 3:13).
They disguise themselves into the apostles of Christ. They put on the outward appearance of a Christian. They carry a Bible, wear a cross, and speak the language.
v.14-15 It should not surprise us that false teachers disguise themselves as ministers of Christ. Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. He comes to the church as a messenger of righteousness. That is how he deceives so many within the church. After he enters in, he begins to corrupt the message, cause division & encourage immorality.
These verses remind us of the spiritual warfare going on within the church (10:3-4). Satan and his demonic hosts influence men and women to do their work. He deceives them into believing a lie and then empowers them to teach that same lie to others. In the end these servants, as well as Satan and the demons, will be judged according to their works. They will be assigned to an eternity in hell.
Thoughts To Consider
1. Sometimes you have to endure sacrifice to make a point.
2. False prophets are accountable for their actions even though they are deceived.
v.16 Fools boast about their own accomplishments. The false teachers at Corinth were constantly boasting of themselves. At the same time they were putting Paul down. The problems at Corinth had escalated to the point that Paul had to do a little boasting of his own. Paul is going to list many of his accomplishments to remind the Corinthians of his credibility.
v.17 When Paul says that what he is speaking is “not as the Lord would” he does not mean that what he is about to say is not inspired by God (see 1 Cor. 7:9-10 also). He means that boasting was not something that the Lord Jesus did while on earth. Paul was about to do something that Jesus did not do. This does not mean that Paul’s “boasting” was sinful. It was simply not something that reflected the character of Christ.
Paul was about to speak foolishly, as if his confidence was in his own achievements. As we look at what he says we can easily see the sarcasm.
v. 18 The “many” who boasted in the flesh were the false teachers. Their boasting forced him to “boast”. As a result of their constant degrading Paul would now have to defend himself.
v.19 Paul sarcastically calls the Corinthians “wise.” The fact that they tolerated the false teachers (fools) proved that they themselves were not using wisdom. If they were willing to listen to those “fools” maybe they would listen to Paul if he behaved foolishly (boasted of his accomplishments).
v.20 “Bear” means to tolerate. Paul shows the how foolish they are in tolerating the false teachers. He will give five things the false teachers did to the Corinthians. These things should have been enough for the false teachers to be rejected by the Corinthians.
* They made slaves of the Corinthians. The lies the false teachers taught led to spiritual bondage. Christ has come to set us free from sin and the law (John 8:34-36, Rom. 6:18; Gal.2:19, 5:1). Many of the false teachers were teaching righteousness by the law. If the Corinthians sought to be justified through the law, they would find nothing but bondage. It was foolish for the Corinthians to follow teachers who led them into bondage. Paul, through Christ led them to freedom. It would be just as foolish as if a slave returned to his master after he had been given his freedom.
* They were devouring the Corinthians. The same word “devour” is used in Mark 12:40. It describes the scribes who took advantage of the widows financially. The false teachers devoured the money of the Corinthians. Paul was unwilling to take anything from them (11:9). It was foolish for the Corinthians to tolerate the false teachers because they were taking financial advantage of them.
* They were taking advantage of the Corinthians. The term “take” is also used in Luke 5:5. It speaks of the catching of a fish. The idea behind the term is entrapping something. The false teachers had trapped the Corinthians using deceit. Paul won the Corinthians using the truth. Therefore, it was foolish for the Corinthians to follow them.
* They were exalting themselves. That’s what “puts on airs” means. The false teachers loved to have the preeminence (3 John 9). They were full of pride. Paul was full of the meekness and gentleness of Christ (10:1). A sure sign of a false teacher is the exalting of oneself (1 Cor. 3:7, Phill. 2:3). It was foolish for the Corinthians to follow the false teachers because the false teachers were full of pride.
* They were humiliating the Corinthians. It is a terrible insult to be struck in the face by someone. The false teachers had no problem with publicly humiliating the believers who disagreed with them. They probably disguised their actions as “church discipline”. False teachers often have such power over people that they can do humiliating acts such as slapping someone in the face and get away with it. Paul would never do this. Christ would not either. When Christ was struck in the face, He endured it. When people disagreed with Him, He never reacted with physical violence. It was foolish for the Corinthians to follow the false teachers because they were publicly humiliating them.
v.21 Paul’s remark in this verse is sarcastic. In essence he is saying “We are weak compared to the false teachers.” If the false teachers’ actions represent what it means to be strong, then Paul is certainly weak. Paul would respond to the boldness of the false teachers with some boldness of his own. In the following verses Paul would defend himself with the same passion the false teachers were attacking him with.
Thoughts To Consider
1. The ease at which many believers endure false teaching is frightening.
2. False teaching always leads to spiritual bondage.
3. False teaching is a trap set by the devil.
4. False teachers are generally proud and self-centered.
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