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Bible Commentaries

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

2 Corinthians 11

Verses 1-21

  1. Intro:
    1. Same Same but Different tee-shirt (explain phrase in Cambodia - it’s similar but not exact)
      1. Knock·off (nkôf,-f) n.Informal. An unauthorized copy or imitation, as of designer clothing.
      2. Here Paul uncovers Knockoff Christianity. How to see it. How to repel it.
    2. Title: Knockoff Christianity
    3. Outline: Not all Jealousy is Evil; Not all Ministries are Ministries; Not all Apostles are Apostles; Not all Angels are Angels; Not all Ministers are Ministers; Not all Fools are Fools.
  2. NOT ALL JEALOUSY IS “EVIL (1,2)
    1. Here we have some “holy irony”. Paul has to pull out his wallet again & show his credentials.
      1. Since your new teachers love to boast, then I also will use their method.
    2. The Jealousy of God!
      1. Jealousy of man is usually selfish & self-centered. Jealousy of God is others focused.
      2. On one hand, there is nothing more ugly & devilish than jealousy.
        1. Cain jealous of Able, slays him; the children of Israel, jealous of Joseph, sells him; Saul’s jealousy of David, results in trying to murder him.
      3. On the other hand, there is a jealousy that is considered godly!
        1. I the Lord am a jealous God. Matter of fact when this was said is when God was laying down the bedrock of human relationships...just after mentioning the 1st 2, of the 10 commandments. Ex.20:3,4,5a
        2. Jehovah basically says, “I refuse to consider the possibility of a rival, I must be Master, I must be Supreme. I must be the Lord, total Lord of all, or I will not be Lord at all. I am not going to compete with another for a place in your affection, I am not going to attempt to bargain that you should decide upon a syndicate or by the resolution of a committee that you should follow Me. I will be your Sovereign, I will be your Master, your God, or I shall be nothing.” [Alan Redpath, Blessings out of Buffetings, 2nd Cor., pg.184]
      4. It is different though, when we talk about the belief of other non-Christian religions, that their gods are jealous.
        1. They mean he must be appeased by sacrifice. But this is not our God. Oh, wait, yes it is…except the fact that He doesn't expect “us” to appease Him.
          1. He knows we can’t. So He took care of His own appeas-al!
    3. He is Jealous for you! Proof? I take you to the cross at Calvary…
      1. Instead of destroying the race that deserted & rebelled against Him, He has allowed that very race to rebel against Him in order that through that very act He might win back their love. That is the Jealousy of God! (Alan Redpath, Blessings out of Buffetings, 2nd Cor., pg.185)
        1. God allowed them to murder Him on the cross of Calvary that He might win back their hearts! - Glorious, life-giving jealousy!
      2. [How He loves, John Mark McMillan] And He is jealous from me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
      3. ​​​​​​​Thus, Paul says in vs.2...This flame that burns in my heart for you, & eats up my life, possessing my personality & gripping my soul, is something that has got hold of me until nothing else matters. Redpath
        1. ​​​​​​​One of the duties of the friend of the bridegroom was to guarantee the chastity of the bride
          1. In the OT – Israel was the “wife” of Jehovah, already married at Sinai.
          2. In the NT – The church is the betrothed “bride” of Christ, we are not wed yet.
            1. These false teachers came into the Corinth church fully knowing their fiancé was Christ, & yet trying to court & date them. Ultimately to seduce them from an exclusive devotion to Christ.
          3. Spiritual leaders must protect the church from false teachers.
  3. NOT ALL MINISTRIES ARE “MINISTRIES (3,4)
    1. ​​​​​​​False religion has been around as long as there has been true religion.
    2. Cults usually lure people in by a treble hook of 3 methods:
      1. Deprogramming “All of your past was wrong”.
        1. “What your parents, teachers, or church said, it is all wrong!”
      2. Programming – The human will doesn’t function apart from the mind, so they seek to altar your mind so they can control your will.
        1. Habitual patterns of behavior & response will be broken & a new program put in its place
      3. Reprogramming – Intensive teaching or indoctrination.
        1. A whole new structure is raised.
    3. Here are 6 things to evaluate whether a ministry is truly a ministry!
      1. Authoritarianism – They lack a servants heart & lack grace.
      2. Exclusiveness – There is suspicion & paranoia. Theirs is the only way.
      3. Greed – There is a manipulation to get money.
      4. Sensuality – There is moral impurity & sexual looseness.
      5. Unaccountability - There is much secrecy & irresponsibility.
      6. Rationalization - There is defensiveness when they are confronted. Also, they twist the scriptures to fit their lifestyle or their opinions.
    4. (4) Another Jesus; A Different Spirit; A Different Gospel.
    5. He lists here how to contrast the Authentic from the Artificial!
    6. Note the difference between another & different.
      1. Another here means “another of a similar kind.” (show pens)
        1. A false teacher will talk about Jesus, he may sound biblical, but he’s fooling you.
          1. (i.e.) The Mormons & J.W.’s talk about our same Jesus, yet the way they understand Him is “another Jesus” then the biblical Jesus!
      2. Different means “another of an opposite kind.”
        1. All other religions have a different spirit.
      3. A different Gospel? (2-fold check list)
        1. Does their gospel proclaim the deity of Jesus Christ as the eternal 2nd member of the Trinity? - Does their gospel offer Salvation as a free gift of God, purchased at the cross by Christ & available w/o works, based on His death & bodily Resurrection?
        2. Satan is too smart to ignore this gospel…he simply perverts it, whatever way he can!
  4. NOT ALL APOSTLES ARE “APOSTLES (5-13)
    1. ​​​​​​​Note: Most eminent apostles (5) & later he calls them false apostles (13).
    2. They are Charismatic! (5,6)
    3. Don’t be taken in by looks or charisma.
      1. These guys looked better than Paul; preached better then Paul; had more impressive credentials then Paul.
    4. (6) Paul was untrained in speech,…yet trained in knowledge!
      1. Paul was not a trained speaker...but the fact remains…he knew what he was talking about, and they didn’t!
        1. There is a famous story which tells how a company of people were dinning together.

          After dinner it was agreed that each should recite something. A well-known actor arose & w/all the resources of elocution & dramatic art, he declaimed the 23rd Psalm & sat down to tremendous applause. A quiet man followed him. He too began to recite the 23rd Psalm & at 1st there was a chuckle. But before he had ended there was a stillness that was more eloquent than any applause. When he had spoken the last words there was a silence, & then the actor leant across & said, “Sir, I know the Psalm, but you know the Shepherd.”
    5. Don’t judge pastors & church leaders by appearances, but by faithful service over time!
    6. They are Greedy! (7-12)
    7. (7) Tongue in cheek...Did I sin in not charging you for the gospel?
      1. Paul was a leather-worker(for tents) [Acts 18:3] – The work was difficult, demanding, & had low status in class-conscience Corinth.
      2. Free of charge - They were saying basically, “ha, you get what you pay for”!
        1. 1 Pet.5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;
    8. (12) Paul is going to continue to point out these wolves in sheep’s clothing to them.
    9. They are Imitators! (13)
    10. As Satan loves to work by deceit & craftiness (vs.3) so these are called Deceitful workers (the basic meaning for the word is bait for fish). They’re cunning, contriving, scheming, catching.
    11. How to share with cult members?
      1. ​​​​​​​Stay on the offensive (not be offensive).
      2. Know your bible.
      3. Stick to the important issues of Jesus & Salvation.
      4. ​​​​​​​Pray that their hearts will be softened, their spiritual blindfold would be removed, & that they will respond to the good news.
  5. NOT ALL ANGELS ARE “ANGELS (14)
    1. ​​​​​​​(vs.14) He remarks that Satan himself is behind all of this.
    2. Satan loves to work by “imitation”.
      1. ​​​​​​​Remember the parable of the Tares/wheat? Mt.13:24,25; 30; 38,39 The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came & sowed tares among the wheat and went his way…Let both grow together until the harvest,…The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age.
      2. Satan comes as the serpent who deceives; the lion who devours; & the angel of light who dupes!
    3. Satan came to Eve pretending to want to help her. (Don’t you want to know what God knows…both good & evil?)
      1. What if Satan was honest about what he was about to do? - Ok, here’s the plan, I trick you into eating this, you share it w/your husband, thus bringing death into the world. But that’s not all! If you act today, I’ll throw in all your kids, & your kids-kids, will be automatically born with original sin & be damned to hell unless they repent!… How about it?
  6. NOT ALL MINISTERS ARE “MINISTERS (15)
    1. ​​​​​​​Satan turned himself into a preacher when he was in the wilderness when he took a text from Ps.91 & dared use it against the Son of God If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
    2. Many on Halloween dawn a mask pretending to be someone they are not.
      1. 1. Here in Corinth some were masquerading as apostles of Christ.
  7. NOT ALL FOOLS ARE “FOOLS (16-21)
    1. ​​​​​​​He picks back up the folly/fool discussion from vs.1.
    2. Focus on vs.20 to identify 5 things they do (read).
    3. All cults work on Law & not on Grace. (i.e. bondage)
      1. It could be circumcision as it was here, or a 1000 other petty rules & regulations, so as to make you abandon your glorious liberties & submit to a yoke of bondage again
      2. It is not the devils aim to destroy humanity…simply to get man to yield to him!
    4. Many factors are IN the Devils favor!
      1. He is invisible (so many don’t think he exists!)
      2. He is subtle (clever to never show himself for who he really is).
      3. We have a fallen nature (it is more natural to sin then not sin).
      4. We have the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, & the pride of life!
      5. We are prone to wander.
      6. We live in a world system that promotes “self”.
      7. Satan has many working for him (1/3 of the angels of heaven followed him).
      8. He has many humans doing his bidding (i.e. Cult leaders, false religious leader).
      9. His clan is united! (You never hear of any civil war in hell. They are all united in one full-scale attack upon Gods children!)
    5. There are also some factors NOT IN his favor though:
      1. In Gen.3:15 His defeat was predicted. The seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent.
      2. At the cross his judgment was decreed. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
      3. The ultimate doom of the devil is certain. Rev.20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
      4. We have victory over him today! 1Jn.4:4 He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
    6. Questions:
      1. ​​​​​​​Can you separate doctrinal wheat from chaff?
      2. Can you spot a wolf in clerical clothing?
      3. Can you pick out the Real Jesus?
      4. Can you discern a different spirit?
      5. Can you detect a contaminated gospel?
    7. Prayer: Forgive us for Knockoff Christianity. Forgive us for when our Christianity smacks of “An unauthorized copy or imitation”. Help us to be genuine, real, authentic, bona fide, undisputedly Christian!

Verses 22-33

  1. Intro:
    1. What were the Lords 1st words to Paul after his conversion?
      1. Acts 9:15,16 Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him (the great things he’ll do in my name? No!; The success he’ll have as a missionary? No!; How many people he’ll lead to Christ? No!; How famous & popular he’ll become? No!) How many things he must suffer for My name's sake.
    2. I’ve broken this down into 6 categories Paul’s speaks to.
      1. There are actually 23 things in Paul’s list he points out to us.
    3. Paul now finishes his argument to the Corinth church, against the “super-apostles”, by sharing one more of his credentials….the wounds in his body!
      1. Gal.6:17 I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
      2. Paul uses his sufferings as the best proof for asserting his apostleship.
      3. Better a “heart of sincere devotion & sacrificial service” then your “impressive credentials”!
      4. “When selecting a spiritual leader,…look for scars.” (www)
  2. MY HERITAGE! (22)
    1. A 3-fold description of a “full-blooded Jew”!
      1. Hebrew (only 2 other x’s used in NT was a Linguistic Distinction) [i.e. Not only could speak Greek but was a Semitic speaker also]
      2. Israelite (Nationality)
      3. Seed of Abraham (Paul traced his lineage back to tribe of Benjamin, Phil.3:5)
        1. They didn’t have claim to superiority in any of these 3 categories!
  3. MY SUFFERING! (23-25)
    1. We sure learn how much we don’t know about Paul!
    2. He wrote this letter when he was in Ephesus, thus we are only as far along as Acts 19 (his story line is in Acts 13-28).
      1. Thus this only skims the surface of what Paul did & endured.
    3. Scar by scar Paul shows the Corinthians his battle wounds.
      1. I picture him rolling up his tunic; opening up his robe!
        1. Just as you have a story for every scar on your body!
    4. (24) 5 times 40 stripes minus 1 (195 lashes) – A Jewish punishment.
      1. Deut.25:3 Forty blows he may give him and no more.
      2. Details are in the Jewish Mishnah (book where the Jewish traditional law was codified)
    5. (25) Beaten w/rods – A Roman punishment.
      1. “The attendants of the magistrates were called lectors & they were equipped w/rods of birch wood w/which the guilty criminal was chastised.” (William Barclay, pg.253.)
        1. Caning is still used today in different countries for corporal punishment.
  4. MY TRAVELS! (26)
    1. Again & again Paul speaks of the dangers of travels.
      1. Our dangers of travel today? - No leg room on our jumbo jets. Possible restless leg syndrome. In flight meal might not be like a home cooked meal. Possibility of your plane ride to be a little bit bumpy!
        1. Actually, we have many countries that are dangerous to travel to, let alone to share our faith in, let alone to go live as missionaries there.
      2. Ancient people did not relish the sea:
        1. Seneca, a contemporary of Paul said, “You can persuade me into almost anything now for I was recently persuaded to travel by sea.”
      3. Often on the roads a traveler was caught & held for ransom.
      4. As one said, “Paul’s path was uphill, with sharp stones, paved with wild beasts. His way was the way of the cross. Jesus walked it before him. And many saints have marched it since!”
  5. MY INTERNAL STRUGGLES! (27,28)
    1. ​​​​​​​Paul went anywhere, endured anything, that he might take the gospel to lost souls.
      1. Why is it we have the tools to make things easier & faster today, & yet are getting less done?
    2. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (NIV)
      1. Helping the new Christians, discipleship, counseling problem issues, & warding off the devils attacks, are demanding tasks!
      2. Paul bore the sorrows & the troubles of his people on his heart! (Ex: Sat night couldn’t sleep)
      3. Is this how you view the Lord’s church? With deep concern? Do you ask, what can you get from the church, or what can you give?
  6. MY WEAKNESS! (29-31)
    1. ​​​​​​​Vss.28,29 in the NLT helps to interpret this, Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
    2. (30) While these false apostles boast of their strengths, Paul instead speaks to his weaknesses!
    3. Paul here is leading up to his thorn in the flesh. (next chapter)
  7. MY BASKET CASE! (32,33)
    1. ​​​​​​​Interesting he chooses the basket incident to end with. It seems anti-climatic!
      1. Acts 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
      2. The wall in Damascus was wide enough to drive a carriage along it. Many of the houses overhung the wall & he was probably let down from one of them.
    2. An inglorious escape to keep him humble.
      1. How humiliating for this great “rabbi” to have to be lowered out of the city in a basket used normally for hay, straw, or wool!
        1. No limo, no Suburban w/smoked windows, no VIP treatment here!
    3. Also, this was probably worse than any scourging for Paul, not to be able to face his enemies, but instead have to flee like a fugitive!
    4. Note: Paul never denied the pain & pressures of life. Never suggested that following Christ was problem-free. Never tries to analyze or moralize why he had to suffer them.
    5. Note also: Paul doesn’t share this from a victim mentality; but instead let’s us hear about his solidly placed anchors that he has dropped along the way, on his voyage w/Christ!
  8. TODAY!
    1. Did you know? More people were tortured for their faith in Jesus Christ in the 20th century than in all the previous 19 combined!
    2. Did you know? 100 million people were martyred for their faith in the 20th century.
      1. More people died in circumstances related to their faith in the past century than in all the 20th century wars combined.
    3. Did you know? Reported incidences of persecution have actually increased since the fall of communism.
      1. Today, an estimated 200 million Christians are facing persecution around the world.
      2. Slide#12 In at least 60 countries they are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith.
    4. Show Video
    5. What’s it like to be imprisoned for your faith? What do you go through?
    6. Here’s a 1st hand account from a man in a Roman jail, because of his faith. Paul. 2 Tim.1:15-18
    7. (15) All those in Asia have turned away from me.
      1. Even the strongest believers need encouragement when they suffer.
      2. Here the loneliness & pain he feels.
    8. (16) Here the incredible Joy in the next verse.
      1. One man didn’t forget him (Onesiphorus).
        1. It is no difference today. Suffering Christians need to know we are praying for them & care for them. [also the families of those imprisoned]
    9. It might take some serious searching to find them…it did Onesiphorus! (see vs.17)
    10. Ending Prayer: Boldness to stand firm; God’s protection; Grace to forgive their oppressors; deliverance of their nations from spiritual bondage; God would open doors for bible translation, distribution, Christian Materials, & evangelism; Lifting of legal & social restrictions against Christians; raise up church leaders w/spiritual & moral integrity; & Unity in the church & warm fellowship amongst the believers.
    11. Ending Song: We are going to do something very different!
      1. ​​​​​​​Most underground churches meet secretly & have to sing in hush tones.
      2. Also, to avoid detection they usually meet in dimly lit places.
      3. Let’s do that as a reminder this evening of our Christian brothers & sisters throughout the world who must meet in secret.
        1. We’re going to bring ALL the lights down; and we are going to quietly sing.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/2-corinthians-11.html. 2017.