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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 11

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-33

Let's turn to II Corinthians, chapter eleven.

Paul's authority as an apostle has been challenged in the Corinthian church by certain Jewish teachers who had come in behind Paul, as they so often did, seeking to put the people under the bondage of legalism. Knowing Paul as we do, we know the emphasis of his ministry was the grace of God. And there were those who really could not handle the grace of God as Paul taught it, and they would come in following Paul and tried to discredit Paul. And they would seek to, as I said, put the people under legalism saying that you could not be a Christian unless you were circumcised and were obedient to the law of Moses. And they espoused a righteousness through works which Paul disdained, preaching the righteousness which is through the faith of Jesus Christ.

And so in order to bolster their own position among the people, they would seek to tear down Paul. Now, Paul was the one that founded the church. Paul went out and did the groundwork. He was the one who went into a heathen, pagan city and shared Christ with them and brought the people into the glorious knowledge of Jesus Christ. These men were parasites. They would come in after Paul and seek to profit off of Paul's work bringing the people into bondage.

So they would bolster themselves. They'd say, "We are real Jews. Paul isn't a real Jew. We're the real Hebrews. We're the real Israelites." And the rabbis in those days would often yell at their students, and if they thought they weren't getting a point, they would start slapping him in the face. And evidently some of these fellows were following some of the typical rabbi customs, for Paul will get to that in a moment as he talks about his ministry and the difference between his ministry and those who came in after him.

Now having put Paul down, trying to destroy Paul's credibility, Paul feels that it is necessary that he re-establishes his credibility, though it shouldn't be necessary. That he should answer some of the charges that these persons had made against him and against his own character. And so Paul says,

Would to God ye [I wish that you] could bear with me a little in my folly [for just a moment] ( 2 Corinthians 11:1 ):

And he talks about this boasting as folly. This boasting of the things that he endured for Christ. It was forced upon him. He really didn't delight in waving his own banner. But it was something that was necessary because of the way that these false teachers were trying to build their own stock by tearing Paul down. So, "I wish that you would bear with my folly," Paul said,

and indeed bear with me ( 2 Corinthians 11:1 ).

So he makes a presumptive clause here: "I wish you would, now do it."

For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ ( 2 Corinthians 11:2 ).

Now marriage in those days was by arrangement, and the parents would get together and say, "You know, you've got a pretty daughter; I've got a handsome son. Why don't we marry my son and your daughter, you know." There were three aspects to marriage. There was, first of all, the engagement. Now this could take place as early as three or four years old. You have friends? Been friends for a long time? They've got a little girl; you got a little boy. Well, why don't we marry them off when they get old enough. They're engaged to each other. So little kids in kindergarten, "Who are you engaged to?" You know.

As they grew up and the time came for them to get married, a year before the marriage they would enter into an espousal, which was a total commitment much as marriage. It was necessary to get a divorce from an espousal. However, the marriage was not consummated until the marriage ceremony. It was during this year of espousal that Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit the child Christ. That's why it was such a problem with Joseph.

Now the espousal lasted for one year and was more equivalent to our engagement period today. Where the commitment has been made, but not yet consummated. And then, of course, the seven-day wedding ceremony and the conclusion of the seven-day ceremony, the consummation of the marriage.

So Paul is talking now as a father, "And I have espoused you. I'm your spiritual father. You came to know Jesus Christ through my ministry among you. I have a jealousy for you like a father has for his own child, for his own daughter. And I have espoused you unto Jesus Christ, and it is my desire to present you unto Him a chaste virgin."

They had some interesting customs with their marriage. When the marriage was consummated, then they would have to show what they call the tokens of virginity. The father would keep this as proof in years to come that his daughter was a virgin. It was an extremely important thing.

In fact, just the other day in Israel, a girl was put to death by her family because she had relations with a boy before she was married. And the family honors was at stake, and they put the daughter to death. It's a Bedouin tribe. They're carrying on the old customs from way back. And it's very severe and Bedouins still practice this today. If a girl is not a virgin when she is married, then that comes back on the family, the honor of the family and the father, because it's the father's responsibility to make sure that she remains a virgin until the time of her marriage. And I mean, they take that as an awesome kind of a responsibility and honor thing. And to them that is so very important.

And so Paul says, "Hey, I'm like a father. I'm jealous for you. My desire is that I present you unto Jesus, unto Christ as a chaste virgin. Don't want you corrupted by these other teachings and by these other teachers. Being led away into another Jesus, another gospel. I sought to keep it pure. I sought to keep you pure in the gospel of Jesus Christ."

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 11:3 ).

It is so difficult to keep the gospel simple. There are always men who are wanting to complicate it. And all you have to do is go around and look at the way men have complicated the gospel.

Couple weeks ago on Sunday morning, I was standing in the old city of Jerusalem just inside the Joppa gate, and we were haggling with one of the shopkeepers there. And I heard this ka-rump, ka-rump, ka-rump, and naturally I looked up to see what was going on. And here's this solemn looking guy, looked like, man, he had sour stomach or something. I mean, just looked awesome, fierce, sour. Had this golden cane; big, red hat on top of his head, black robe, walking down this little narrow street there in Jerusalem, the old city, taking this cane and tapping it on the rock sidewalk as he was coming down, ka-pom, ka-pom, ka-pom, and behind him these guys in their black robes and black hats and all, looking just very somber, sober, marching in cadence to this ka-room, ka-room, ka-room, you know. And here they're marching to church. They're going to officiate in the services. And the shopkeeper said, "Well, there go the Christians to church this morning."

Sour, mean looking, fierce, awesome things, the guys were walking four abreast in a line of about, oh I suppose there's four, you know, lines, four abreast. Everyone just, you know, and this guy, ka-pom, ka-pom, and there go the Christians. Well my feeling was, if that's Christianity, I don't want any. They've made it so complicated. You know, you've got to approach Christ this complicated way.

Paul said, "Oh, I'm jealous for you. I wanted to present you in just the purity. I'm fearful lest someone has taken away from you the beautiful simplicity that is in Christ." Wherever we start to create our religious systems, begin to create our hierarchies. I want to show man that I'm higher than you, so I wear a particular color robe. And my robe shows that, hey, I've got one on you, you know, I'm one above you. And so I try to . . . I want everybody to know how godly and important I am, you know. And so we start making these degrees and these systems and we get so far removed from the simplicity that is in Christ.

How I love kindergarten. How I love to go and sit in the classroom and just listen to the little children talk about God. The simplicity of their faith. The simplicity and the openness of their love. Oh, their theology may be mixed up a little bit. On the first morning when the voice came over the speaker in the kindergarten class, they're all sitting there, and suddenly the voice on the speaker says, "Attention, please." One little kid says, "Is that God?"

But oh, how I love the simplicity. I'm thankful that God made me a simple person. Not all complex. Paul had a great fear that these people were coming in and laying all kinds of regulations, all kinds of rules. And hey, the other day in Israel we were sitting in a restaurant and in the corner there was this silver bowl with a little silver ladle and all. And this fellow came in and he took, he went over there and he took the thing. And he . . . if you don't do it the right way and the right number of times and the right way and all, then you're not really clean. You just can't go and take soap and water and wash your hands and dry it on the towel. That's not clean. You got to get into this little routine of doing it just a particular way and all.

And so here were these beautiful simple babes in Christ in Corinth. They were trusting and believing in Jesus Christ, loving the Lord, having a glorious time, you know. And then these teachers come in and start laying all kinds of rules on them, all kinds of regulations, and taking them away from the simplicity that is in Christ.

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 ( 2 Corinthians 11:4 ).

Preaching another Jesus. Preaching another gospel. There are a lot of people who have taken the terminology and redefined it in order to confuse and deceive. For instance, the Mormons talk about their faith in Jesus Christ, their belief that He is the Son of God. That He died for their sins. That He is their Savior. And to listen to them talk you would say, "Well, we believe the same thing." However, the Jesus that they believe in was the brother of Lucifer. And they believe that God desired to redeem the world, and so He had the divine counsel and Lucifer came up with the plan of redemption. And his brother Jesus also came up with a plan of redemption. And the Father chose the plan of Jesus over the Lucifer and that made him so mad he came down to disrupt the whole plan of redemption that Jesus had. And this is even worked out in pageantry within their ceremonies within the temple. This big argument between Jesus and his brother Lucifer over the redemptive plan. Well, that's another Jesus than the Bible speaks about Who is the only begotten Son of God.

So you've got talking about Jesus, but what Jesus is it? You talk about God, but what god is it? When you're talking about God, are you talking about Adam who Brigham Young said is our only god with whom we have to do? The one who impregnated Eve?

Now the Mormons today really disclaim and it should be declared that they do disclaim Brigham Young's Adam-God theory. They disclaim that, and it's only honest to admit that they disclaim the Adam-God theory. They do not disclaim Jesus the brother of Lucifer. But the interesting thing is they don't realize that Brigham Young was actually following basic Mormon doctrine when he declared that Adam was our God.

For what is the goal of the Mormon? If you're faithful, if your marriage is sealed in the temple, you remain a faithful Mormon, you and your wife will become gods. And you will have your own planet, and you'll be able to go out and populate your own planet, begin your own experiment. And you can oversee your own planet, and you will be the god over that planet. And we other nice people will be your angels and have to wait upon you and take care of the, you know, menial details. That's Mormon doctrine. The ascension to godhead or to godhood.

Now, what did Brigham Young do? He took the doctrine one step backwards. In other words, why should we believe that it only started six thousand years ago with Adam and Eve? You see, Adam was a good, faithful Mormon on another planet somewhere. He and his wife were sealed in marriage, and so he came with one of his celestial wives, Eve, and they began to populate the earth. And Brigham Young only took the Mormon doctrine one step backward. They, they're abhorred at the thought that Adam is our God, but it's only their very doctrine that they espouse taking back a step instead of forward a step. Brigham Young was just going back. You see, all of us are progressing, if we are Mormons, into godhead or into godhood, becoming gods.

Seems to me that I remember someplace else where someone was told that they would become a god if they would only eat of the fruit that God said don't. Preaching another Jesus. Coming by subtlety. Leading them away from the simplicity in Christ.

So Paul said,

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

In other words, "I really don't have to take a second seat to anybody." They had accused Paul of being rude in his speech. "His speech," they said, "is contemptible. He writes powerful letters, but in his speech he's contemptible. His presence is, you know, he's a puny little runt." So he said,

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

In other words, "Hey, I've been wide open with you folks. I have been hidden; I have not been clever and tried to hide things and live a double standard."

Have I committed an offense in abasing myself that ye might be exalted ( 2 Corinthians 11:7 ),

"I didn't come in as some big shot. I didn't come in, you know, with apostolic authority and ordering people around and all. I came in as a servant. I came in just, you know, in simplicity of speech and manner and all, though I'm not in knowledge. I know better. But deliberately I was that way among you. I didn't exalt myself. Have I committed an offense in abasing myself that I . . . that you might be exalted,"

because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? ( 2 Corinthians 11:7 )

Now the thing was, while Paul was in Corinth he refused to take an offering. He did not allow them to support him. His support came, some of it, from the church in Philippi, who sent offerings down to him, and when there was a need, he went out and worked as a tentmaker to supply the needs. So he said, "Hey, just because I didn't take your money, I didn't rip you off." You see, these guys that were coming in, these teachers that were coming in putting Paul down, they were ripping the people off financially. They had all kinds of give-me gimmicks and just fleecing the flock of God. And yet, putting Paul down. Paul said,

I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service [in order to serve you] ( 2 Corinthians 11:8 ).

Now he doesn't mean literally rob the other churches, but he was receiving offerings that they had sent to him to support himself while he was ministering to those in Corinth.

And when I was present with you, and wanted [I was in need], 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. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia ( 2 Corinthians 11:9-10 ).

"You can't say that I came down there and laid a heavy I-need-help trip on you. That I came down there to fleece you. That I came down there to take advantage of you. Because I didn't receive anything from you."

Wherefore? ( 2 Corinthians 11:11 )

Why is this?

because I love you not? [Ah, come one.] God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire [or are looking for an] occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we ( 2 Corinthians 11:11-12 ).

In other words, "I've done this. And those that are speaking against me, I'd like to see them do the same thing. You know, if they're really hotshot apostles like they say they are, if they're really all they say, let them do like I did. Let them not take anything from you. See how long they'll stick around if you don't support them anymore. See where the real love is. You know, cut off their support."

For such are false apostles, [they are] deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 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 ( 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ).

These guys coming in with all these big put-on kind of stuff, acting so spiritual, acting so godly and all of this. I received a call yesterday, sort of a desperate call from Guatemala. Some guy has gone down there from the United States with this manifestation of Sons of God doctrine. And he's introduced it, and some of the churches are just being ripped apart by this pernicious doctrine.

The doctrine basically declares that we are going to be manifested as the sons of God, and that is what the second coming of Jesus is. He's not really coming literally, but He's coming in the church and will be manifested through the church, and we will be the manifested sons of God. We are the second coming of Christ. As soon as we be manifested in glorious power, and you know, we're suddenly going to be supercharged, supersaints, and we're going to take over the world. And it has a lot of ego, kind of prideful kind of stuff involved, you know. "Hey, you're . . . which country you want to rule?" You know. "And you're going to be dynamic, and you're going to be powerful, and you're going to be manifested. And the whole world's going to bow to you because they'll see that you are indeed, you know, the son of God." And all this kind of stuff. And the world is waiting for your manifestation. And all we have to do is get perfect, and then we can be manifested. Oh well, that's puts it off for a while, doesn't it?

If you want to know one of the first ones in this area who began teaching that, he is on Channel 56 every once in a while. He's got a golden altar and a big crown and all. His name is Oyl Jaggers. He's the one that began the teaching of the manifested sons of God, and there you see one of the manifestations. To me it's an abomination, not a manifestation.

So they come on, angels of the...you know, as ministers of light, apostles and all. But Paul says, "No big deal. Satan himself transforms himself or comes on as an angel of light in order to deceive. So that his ministers do, it's no big deal."

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 [but if you want to continue thinking that, then accept me as a fool, but I want to boast just a little bit about myself] ( 2 Corinthians 11:16 ).

"You force me to do it, so I will."

Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly [you have allowed these fools gladly], seeing ye yourselves are wise ( 2 Corinthians 11:18-19 ).

I mean, he's cutting them down. You know, "You've been taken; you've been taken in. You've been a sucker. These guys have taken you in. You're so wise, you know, and you've allowed these fools."

For ye suffer [you allow], if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you ( 2 Corinthians 11:20 ),

Here they were ripping them off.

if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face ( 2 Corinthians 11:20 ).

"Listen to me, man, you know. Give me your wallet. These guys you're accepting, you're suckers, you're being taken in by them." Paul said,

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

Hey, these guys are bold,

I am bold also ( 2 Corinthians 11:21 ).

These guys,

Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths [or facing death] oft [many times]. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 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 [out in the ocean]; 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; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities [my weaknesses]. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend [arrest] me: And [they let me out] through a window in a basket and was I let down by the wall, and escaped [out of] his hands ( 2 Corinthians 11:22-33 ).

This shows how incomplete is the record of the book of Acts. For these . . . Paul was writing this epistle to the Corinthians from Ephesus at the time in the book of Acts of the nineteenth chapter. And by the time you get to the nineteenth chapter, only about three of these things that Paul has listed are mentioned. But all of these things happened before the nineteenth chapter of Acts. So you see how incomplete the record of Acts actually is. It just sort of hit highlights. Paul is giving you a little more the things that he went through. It tells us a little bit of Paul's tales of the stoning at Lystra and a few of these things. But man, what this guy went through to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people who have never heard.

You think that you've really done something for the Lord, huh? You've really sacrificed for God. You've really made a commitment. Hey, look at this guy. I love Paul. In fact, he's one of the first guys I'm going to look up when I get there. I'm not just going to go up and introduce myself; I'm just going to go up and just stand around and listen for a while to this guy. I'm anxious to meet him. He's been sort of a role model for me. However, I haven't, you know, I haven't come anywhere. I mean, I don't even belong in the same league. I'm bush league; this guy is a major leaguer. What commitment. Forced, really, to share these things. If it had not happened, we wouldn't have known all these things about Paul. But he felt it necessary. These guys were saying, "Hey, we're Jews. We're this. We're . . . " And Paul said, "Hey, they think they're something; I've got them beat hands down, you know, if that's what you're looking for."


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/2-corinthians-11.html. 2014.
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