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Two Corinthians Eleven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

2 Corinthians 11:1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

2 Corinthians 11:2 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.

espoused you. The true church of Christ, encompassing all who have received Him as Savior and Lord, is also called the Bride of Christ. Paul, as the spiritual “father” of the Corinthian Christians, desired to present his “daughter” pure and whole to the heavenly Bridegroom when He comes to claim her and take her to His Father's house, where He has prepared “mansions” for her (John 14:2-3). There are numerous other references to this unique espousal relation of the church to Christ (e.g., John 3:29; Ephesians 5:31-32; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:2, 9), as well as numerous Old Testament references to Israel as the wife of Jehovah (e.g., Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:19).

chaste virgin. The very fact that the New Testament writers use the engagement relationship of the bride to the bridegroom as a type of the ideal relation of the church to Christ proves unequivocally that each human bride should come to her marriage as a chaste virgin; the same is equally true of the bridegroom. This is surely the best foundation for a godly home. God can and does forgive repentant sinners, but it is far better—especially in marriage—if this sin has never been committed at all.

2 Corinthians 11:3 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.

serpent beguiled Eve. Paul here asserts and confirms that the Genesis record of Eve's temptation and fall is true and historical, not allegorical. The “serpent” in Genesis is explicitly identified as Satan, the arch deceiver (note 2 Corinthians 11:14), who turned Adam's bride against her Maker, in similar fashion to what he was now doing at Corinth, using false apostles (instead of a serpent's body) to turn His espoused Bride away from the soon-coming Bridegroom. Note also Revelation 12:9.

2 Corinthians 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

another Jesus. The fact that a preacher or teacher talks about “Jesus” means little, for false prophets and false teachers have always invoked His name whenever it suited their purposes, and they still do. There are the “buddy” Jesus of country music, the socialist Jesus of liberal theology, the esoteric Jesus of the New Age and the ritualistic Jesus of sacramentalism, but none of these Jesus-figures is the Savior. The true Jesus is the Creator of the universe, the Word made flesh, the one Sacrifice for sins forever, the resurrected Lord and our coming King!

another spirit. There are many evil spirits at large in the world who would seek to counterfeit the Holy Spirit in the believer's experience if they could. We must “try the spirits.” “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (xTerm 4:2; see notes on this section).

another gospel. Paul warned against believing any man or even any angel who came preaching some other gospel than the true saving gospel of Christ which he had preached (Galatians 1:6-9). That gospel includes the fullness of the person and work of Christ, from eternity to eternity. See notes on Matthew 4:23; notes on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; and notes on Revelation 14:6-7.

2 Corinthians 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

2 Corinthians 11:6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things.

2 Corinthians 11:7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

2 Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

2 Corinthians 11:9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

2 Corinthians 11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

2 Corinthians 11:11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

2 Corinthians 11:12 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.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

false apostles. True apostles had been chosen directly as such by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, had performed true miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12), and had seen personally the resurrected Christ (see on 1 Corinthians 9:1). There were at that time (and often since that time) men who falsely claimed to be apostles, and some of these had come to Corinth, trying to turn these recent converts of the Apostle Paul against him. It is important to remember that the apostolic era ended with the death of John, the last of the real apostles of Christ. Since that time, any man who has claimed to be an apostle, in some line of supposed “apostolic succession” has been a false apostle, and those who have followed him have been led astray. The Lord Jesus warned against “false Christs, and false prophets” (Matthew 24:24), and here Paul warns against “false apostles”; Peter later warned against “false teachers” (2 Peter 2:1). The test is always that of complete fidelity to Scripture and only Scripture as determinative for Christian faith and practice. Note also Isaiah 8:20; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; and 2 Peter 3:3, 15-18.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

angel of light. Satan originally was the highest of all the angels (see notes on Isaiah 14:12-15 and notes on Ezekiel 28:12-15), and he still has great authority (note Jude 9) and power to produce great “signs and wonders.” These, however, are “lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9), intended, “if it were possible … [to] deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). One must always test such pretenders by their faithfulness to the inerrant Word of God and the full deity and sinless humanity of Jesus Christ, as well as their genuine Christian character and behavior. It was such a false “angel of light” who has deceived many founders of false religions (Mohammed, Joseph Smith, etc.).

2 Corinthians 11:15 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.

ministers of righteousness. There are many who profess to be servants (i.e., “ministers”) of righteousness, even appearing on occasion to work miracles, but these in themselves prove nothing. “He that doeth the will of my Father” (Matthew 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 have 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” (Matthew 7:22-23).

their works. Perhaps here Paul was also alluding to those Judaizers who were demanding that Christians adhere to the righteousness of the Law in order to attain salvation, undermining the great doctrine of salvation by grace. But those who seek salvation by works must then be judged by their works, and none can measure up to the divine standard (Galatians 2:16). All who are judged “according to their works” shall be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13, 15).

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.

2 Corinthians 11:17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

not after the Lord. Paul is not denying divine inspiration of his words at this point, but simply stating that boasting of one's pedigree and achievements was not normal and proper behavior for a Christian, even for an apostle. It is evident throughout this whole passage (2 Corinthians 11:16ff), that it was painfully embarrassing for him to have to recite his own qualifications in this way. The Corinthians had rendered it necessary, however, by receiving the teachings of the fake apostles as superior to those of Paul and submitting themselves to their undeserved and even despotic leadership, primarily because of their professed superior qualifications to those of Paul. The Apostle Paul surely has set an example here for other true Christian leaders. Boasting of one's achievements and experiences is ill becoming to a Christian, the only exception being when it is necessary, for the sake of the testimony, to rebut the false claims of those who are thereby deceiving others and keeping them from believing God's Word.

2 Corinthians 11:18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.

2 Corinthians 11:19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

2 Corinthians 11:20 For ye 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.

2 Corinthians 11:21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

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.

2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

I am more. This remarkable catalog of Paul's sufferings endured in preaching the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-33) certainly demonstrates the fulfillment and reality of his original call (e.g., Acts 9:15). It is only a representative list, not including all of his sufferings as described in Acts. On the other hand, it includes a number of items not mentioned in Acts, showing thereby that the book of Acts was not written as a biography of Paul or other apostles but rather to chronicle the spreading of the gospel in the early years of Christianity.

2 Corinthians 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

2 Corinthians 11:25 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;

2 Corinthians 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine 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 brethren;

2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

2 Corinthians 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

without. That is, “outside the Christian community.”

2 Corinthians 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

2 Corinthians 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

2 Corinthians 11:31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

2 Corinthians 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

2 Corinthians 11:33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.