1 “I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me.
2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.
5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.
6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.” 2 Corinthians 11:1-6
It amazes me how often we as Christians are still charmed and guided by teachers, leaders or pastors who are simply skilled in speech. People will listen to a good orator and respond “what a wonderful message,” when they could be preaching total nonsense. The truth of the matter is that we live in a culture where form rules over content.
People hang on every word of actors whether it’s about politics, religion, dieting or how to raise children. Somehow, because this person has been blessed genetically we, as a society, decide they must be the epitome of all knowledge.
But Paul reminds us in verse six that great skills in speech are no substitute for knowledge. He states with great conviction, “In every way we have made this evident to you in all things.” (v. 6b)
So what is the knowledge that Paul has brought the Corinthians, which is being undermined by elegant but clueless teachers? “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (v. 3) It seems these teachers wish to lead the Corinthians away from pure devotion to Christ for something else.
In verse four Paul lays out three aspects of this attack upon the pure teaching that he is afraid will lead the Corinthians “astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (v. 3b)
First he states, “if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached”. (v. 4ff) Just because they do this with elegance that doesn’t mean they need to accept this. Paul, the great evangelist to the Gentiles, preached Christ crucified. Any Gospel that is not rooted in Christ alone, faith alone, justification alone and the Word alone is to be suspect by a Christian regardless of how well the false message is presented.
The second thing Paul states in verse four is, “or you receive a different spirit which you have not received” then the Corinthians are to reject that message. Paul may well be talking about confusion about the Holy Spirit in this verse, but we read to the end of 2nd Corinthians we get a bit of a handle on what might be meant be this statement.
It seems these false teachers are accusing Paul of using the Corinthians for his own gain. In verse seven he questions, “Did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel without cost to you?” He, rightfully so, is indignant that these teachers who are taking advantage of the Corinthian church for their own selfish means are accusing Paul of the very thing they are doing themselves.
You can almost feel the exasperation in Paul when he writes, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you the more, am I to be loved the less? But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by guile.” 2 Corinthians 12:15-16
Paul’s friends have turned against him and are repeating the nonsense of the false teachers and it is cutting him to the heart because of his genuine love for them. Many of you reading this blog have probably experienced the same betrayal in your lives. You have felt the pain of having loved ones turn on you for no other reason than they have been intentionally misinformed by someone who has malice against you. And the difficult part is that, knowing you as they do, they still are open to believe the mischaracterization and lies of the false teacher.
The third area of concern that he states in verse four is not to accept “a different gospel” from what they have been taught by Paul. The Gospel, “good news”, is what transforms the heart of pagans, such as the Corinthians once were, into Christians. It is the Gospel that must be taught, accepted, and permeated throughout the Christians life that separates them from the failed culture that relies upon the empty words of elegant speakers and celebrities.
It is the knowledge of God’s saving love that changes us and, armed with that knowledge, we must stand firm against the legalistic claims of smooth talking preachers who would steal our freedom in Christ for a bondage to the law and tradition.
With one hand on the Bible and the other stretched out for offerings they stand a grand distance away from the humility of Paul who gave everything for the people he loved. While many of our celebrity pastors cry out to the audience “give to our cause” Paul gave to the Corinthians his love, his labour, his tears, and his heart.
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…