2Corinthians 10-11

Sunday Evening Bible Study

July 30, 2000


Paul now moves into a new section in his letter.

Paul’s ministry has been under attack in Corinth

There were a group of false apostles who were making charges against Paul:

Paul doesn’t have any authority.  He’s not very important to the Corinthian church. Paul may write some pretty heavy letters, but when he’s present, he’s just a wimp.  He writes one thing, but when he’s around, he’s another. Paul is a pretty unimpressive character.  He’s ugly and doesn’t preach very well.  (I’m encouraged!)

2Corinthians 10

:1  Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

(2 Cor 10:1 NLT)  Now I, Paul, plead with you. I plead with the gentleness and kindness that Christ himself would use, even though some of you say I am bold in my letters but timid in person.

The charge was that Paul was a pretty lowly character when you actually got to meet him, though by his letters he seems kind of impressive.

:2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

(2 Cor 10:2 NLT)  I hope it won’t be necessary, but when I come I may have to be very bold with those who think we act from purely human motives.

Paul is intending to be very direct, very harsh, very bold with these false teachers when he comes.

But he doesn’t want to have to be harsh with the church overall.

:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

We may be in fleshly bodies, but what we do in the Lord has very little to do with our flesh.

Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

Our enemies are not people.  Our enemies are the spiritual powers around us.

BKC - the weapons of the world are learning, personal influence, impressive credentials, and fancy speech (1Cor.1:26; 2:1)

:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

weapons - hopla; a tool, implement, instrument; Freq. in pl., arms, weapons.


Spiritual warfare requires spiritual weapons

Ephesians 6:13-18 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Our weapons are truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, Word of God, prayer.
How do you handle spiritual conflicts?  Use spiritual weapons.

:4  divinely powerful

Our warfare is not effective because we are strong, it is effective because God is strong.

:4  destruction of fortresses

When the Marines would land on a Japanese held island during WWII, they always had lots of trouble with the bunkers and elaborate underground fortresses which at times seemed impenetrable.

Using the proper weapons, God is able to tear down the strongholds in your life that the enemy may have built up.

:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(NAS) We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

imaginationslogismos a reckoning, computation

bringing into captivityaichmalotizo to lead away captive; metaph. to capture ones mind, captivate


The battle in the mind

Notice the words:  speculations, thoughts...
Much of it is played in the mind.  So much of it is won or lost in our mind, inside your heart.
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Satan will use your mind as the target of his attacks.  He knows that sin starts there.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have control over your mind.

:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

:7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.

:8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

The purpose that God gives authority for is to build people up, not destroy them.

Though it looks as if Paul is getting rough on some individuals, his goal is to build up the body, not tear it down.

Sometimes people can abuse authority.

:9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

:10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak,

In the second century Acts of Paul and Thecla he is pictured as small, short, bow-legged, with eye-brows knit together, and an aquiline nose.  A forgery of the forth century in the name of Lucian describes Paul as “the bald-headed, hook-nosed Galilean”.

Paul wasn’t known for being tall, dark, and handsome.

:10  and his speech contemptible.

The Corinthians (some of them) cared more for the brilliant eloquence of Apollos and did not find Paul a trained rhetorician (1Cor.1:17; 2:1,4; 2Cor.11:6).

Yet he made different impressions on different people.

He spoke like a god at Lystra (Acts 14:8-12)

He put Eutychus to sleep (Acts 20:9)

:11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

Paul was the same in person as he was in his letters.

Some people can say things better in writing, but in person they never have the guts to tell you the truth.  May we have the guts to be “real” with each other.

:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

(2 Cor 10:12 NLT)  Oh, don’t worry; I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, and measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness!

If you want to measure yourself, don’t use your own standards, use God’s standards.

We tend to be either too rough on ourselves, or too easy.

God’s Word is the perfect standard, neither too soft or too tough.

This also says something about our standards of ministry.  We need to be careful to not compare ourselves with other people.

Use God’s standards.  Let Him commend you (vs.18)

:13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

(2 Cor 10:13 NLT)  But we will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us, and this plan includes our working there with you.

:14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:

We’re not boasting too much to say that our missionary journeys took us as far as you.

We were even the first to preach Jesus to you.

:15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

:16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand.

:17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

It is very hard to listen to a person who likes telling you all about the things they did for the Lord that day.

If you’re going to boast, boast in what God has done in you.

:18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Lit. - It’s not the guy who stands next to himself and pats himself on the back that has stood the proper test, but the guy with whom the Lord stands and pats on the back that passes the proper test.

In God’s ministry, you don’t write a resume telling of all that you’ve done for the Lord.

If you want to be approved, just stand back and let God do the commending.  He’ll stand with you and bless your ministry.  That’s enough approval!

It’s natural that we want others to like us and approve of us, but sometimes we get so carried away with impressing others that it’s sickening.

2Corinthians 11

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

: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.

The picture is that of a father giving away his bride.  Paul has already called himself their father (1Cor.4:15), he has arranged the marriage with the groom.

A picture of what happens when we lead someone to Christ.

: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.

Satan used half-truths to beguile Eve when he tempted her to eat the forbidden fruit.

: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.

NOTE:  There is “another” Jesus.

Every person who talks about “Jesus” isn’t necessarily talking about the same person.

There is “another gospel” being preached in the world.

Galatians 1:6-9  I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Q.  Who are these “other Jesus’”?

Mormon Jesus - One of many “gods”, was the half-brother to Lucifer.

JW Jesus - used to be Michael the Archangel, a created being.

Last Temptation Jesus - a weak, indecisive person, had problems controlling his dirty thoughts.

Eastern Religion Jesus - one of many enlightened ones who show us how to reach peace within ourselves, others include Krishna, Buddha, Maharishi’s, etc.

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

In knowledge, Paul wasn’t exactly a “country bumpkin”.

This could be sarcasm on Paul’s part, calling these false apostles “eminent”, but I think Paul is comparing himself with the good apostles, demonstrating his place in reference with these kooks.

Paul, though not one of the original twelve chosen by Jesus during His earthly ministry, covered more territory, preached to more people, and wrote more of scripture than any of them.

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

Lit. “an idiot at speaking”

: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?

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

Paul didn’t literally “rob” the other churches.  He is talking about how he took the gifts from the other churches to live on while he ministered in Corinth.  He’s using this figure of speech to emphasize how he wasn’t even being supported by the Corinthians while ministering to them.

: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.

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

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

: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.

These men wanted to seize the authority over the church.

They wanted to be regarded as apostles.


Don’t slash your way to the top

God’s path into godly leadership is not through criticizing those at the top, its by proving yourself faithful.
When you feel God’s touch on your life, and you begin to realize that God wants to use you, it’s awful easy to sit on the sidelines and take potshots at those on the playing field.

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

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

is transformedmetaschematidzomenoi - pres.pass.part. to change in fashion or appearance.  Changing the outward form.

In other words, what Satan looks like on the outside isn’t what he looks like on the inside.

angel of light

1.  One of Satan’s names is Lucifer. (Is.14:12-16)

Lucifer = light bearer

2.  Satan was one of God’s most beautiful creations


Satan has beauty.  He’s not the ugly picture we think, nor the red suit with horns.



Be careful of taking everything at face value.

: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.

Just as Satan can do “impressions” of God, Satan’s servants can do fairly good disguises of God’s servants.

We need real discernment.  First impressions aren’t always accurate.

: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.

Paul was reluctant to have to defend himself against the criticisms of those in Corinth who were against him, but he felt compelled to protect the flock by establishing his authority.

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

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

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

: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.

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

Paul is going to compare himself to these false apostles to show the Corinthians what a mistake they’re making in listening to these rip-off artists.

:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

These references lead many to feel that these false apostles were from the group that were trying to make people get circumcised, saying that you have to be a good Jew to be a good Christian.

:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more;

minister – diakonos – a servant.

The list that follows is what Paul uses to describe what being a servant of Christ is really all about.

:23  in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

laborskopos - a striking, beating; laborious toil, trouble; gives prominence to the fatigue in working.

Ministry is hard work, it’s tiring.

stripes – whippings

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

Forty lashes meant judgment. Thirty-nine meant mercy (one less than forty).  The Jews used 39 lashes, not the Romans (who had no limit).

: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;

Q.  How many times was Paul shipwrecked (at least)?

Answer:  Four.

The account of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27 had not yet occurred yet, 2Corinthians was written during the period of Acts 20:1.

: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;

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

painfulness - mochthos - toil, labor, hardship, distress.  Whereas kopos (weariness) emphasizes fatigue, mochthos emphasizes the hardship involved in working hard.  Could be referring to Paul’s working as a tent-maker to not be a burden to the churches.

I have a hard time with people who don’t want to work to take care of their own needs or the needs of their family.

watchingsagrupnia – sleeplessness, watching

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

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

Besides all the outer pains of being an apostle, Paul had a heart for the people he ministered to.

You see this as you read through Paul’s letters to the various churches.

Here’s a sample:

(1 Th 2:7-13 NLT)  As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but we were as gentle among you as a mother feeding and caring for her own children. {8} We loved you so much that we gave you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too. {9} Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that our expenses would not be a burden to anyone there as we preached God’s Good News among you. {10} You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were pure and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. {11} And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. {12} We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you into his Kingdom to share his glory. {13} And we will never stop thanking God that when we preached his message to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it was. And this word continues to work in you who believe.

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

Look at all the things Paul has been boasting about - all his suffering.

What would you think we would be boasting about if we had been Paul?

Huge revivals, miraculous healings, wonderful revelations from God, etc.

What is ministry all about?

Not “success”, but suffering.

Jeremiah vs. Jonah
Jonah had “success”, he had big results in Nineveh.  But he is looked at as a failure.
Jeremiah doesn’t seem to have had a single “convert”, yet he was a great success in God’s eyes.

Paul’s advice to a young pastor:

II Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
II Timothy 3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,  Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of [them] all the Lord delivered me.  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

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

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

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

Acts 9:19-25  Immediately after Paul’s conversion, he began to preach in the city he had been sent to terrorize.  To escape a plot by the Jews, he escaped at night in a basket through a hole in the city wall.