Evening Bible Study
Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first
letter to the Corinthians.
Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city
because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who
After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.
The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to
One of the main things we’ve seen through this letter is the challenge to
Paul’s authority. We continue with Paul
dealing with those issues.
11:1-4 Concern for Corinth
:1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear
:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you
to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to
:2 betrothed you to one husband
Paul is painting the picture of
a father giving away his daughter in marriage.
Paul has already called
himself their father (1Cor.4:15), he has arranged the marriage with the groom…
This is a picture of what
happens when we lead someone to Christ.
The problem here is that someone has messed with the engagement.
:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness,
so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
:3 as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness
The word “deceived” carries the idea of being completely deceived.
Satan used half-truths to trick Eve when he tempted her to eat the
forbidden fruit. (Gen. 3:1-7)
:3 the simplicity that is in Christ
simplicity – haplotes – singleness,
simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty
We will see that there seems to be a hint of legalism (vs. 22) behind those
who were trying to change the direction of the church away from the
“simplicity” of just following Jesus.
In the days of the early church, there were splinter groups rising up and
beginning to twist the message of simple faith in Christ.
Paul had tried to address this with the Galatians:
NKJV) —6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you
in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are
some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
The Galatians were being told that they needed to not only have faith in
Jesus, but they needed to follow the law of Moses, including having Gentiles
become circumcised in order to be saved:
NKJV) —1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey
the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as
crucified? 2 This only I
want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or
by the hearing of faith?—3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being
made perfect by the flesh?
:4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or
if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a
different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
:4 preaches another Jesus
Just as there is “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6), there is “another” Jesus.
Every person who talks about “Jesus” isn’t necessarily talking about the
same person that you know.
Who are some of these
Mormon Jesus - One of
many “gods”, was the half-brother to Lucifer.
JW Jesus - used to be
Michael the Archangel, a created being.
You will hear from time to time that a new “gospel” has been discovered.
They will tell us that these newly discovered documents show us who Jesus
really is, though they are dated to the 3rd or 4th
Somehow the world is willing to believe anything but the truth.
We’d rather believe in Dan Brown’s Jesus (“The DaVinci
Code”) who was married and had children, rather than the Jesus of the four
None of this is new. It was already
happening in Paul’s time, AD 56.
11:5-15 Paul vs False Apostles
:5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent
:6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in
knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.
:6 untrained – idiotes – in
the NT, an unlearned, illiterate, man as opposed to the learned and educated:
one who is unskilled in any art
Paul might say, “I’ll give you this much, I’m an idiot when it comes to
:5 I am not at all inferior
When it came to knowledge of God and of Scripture, Paul was not an idiot.
Though Paul was not part of the original
twelve chosen by Jesus during His earthly ministry, it seemed that he covered
more territory, preached to more people, and definitely penned more of Scripture
than any of them.
No false humility
Paul’s authority is being undermined in Corinth.
Paul is reminding them that he actually has some pretty serious
There comes a time when you do need to honestly acknowledge who you are
when you are defending yourself.
Sometimes we can make too much of ourselves and “conflate” the truth.
Video: Brian Williams’ Helicopter
As you probably know, Mr. Williams “mis-remembered” that
day. It was the helicopter in front of
him that was hit, not the one he was in. He’s now on a six month unpaid leave.
Don’t make yourself out to be too much.
But also, don’t make yourself out to be too little.
:7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I
preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?
:8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to
:8 I robbed other churches
Paul didn’t literally
He is talking about how
he was given support from the other churches to live on while he ministered in
:9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one,
for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in
everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.
:9 Macedonia supplied
Paul is talking about how he handled his finances on his first trip to
Corinth (Acts 18)
During that initial time in Corinth, Paul hit a rough time financially, and
got a job making tents.
Paul did this rather than asking for financial help from the Corinthians
whom he was just beginning to reach out to.
When Silas and Timothy arrived with the financial support from the
Macedonians, Paul felt “compelled” to preach.
He spent more time in ministry because his financial needs had been met.
:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this
boasting in the regions of Achaia.
:10 the regions of Achaia
Achaia was the province of which Corinth was the capital.
Paul wasn’t going to stop reminding them of his rightful connection with
:11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!
:12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the
opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are
in the things of which they boast.
:12 those who desire an opportunity
The men stirring up trouble in Corinth wanted to be the guys in
charge. They tried to accomplish this by
Slashing your way to the top
God’s path into godly
leadership is not through criticizing those at the top.
God’s path to godly
leadership is by proving yourself faithful to those over you.
(Luke 16:10–12 NKJV)
—10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also
in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if
you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your
trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who
will give you what is your own?
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.
I’ve seen this played out
many times. I’ve been on both sides of
I’ve been tempted to
criticize. I’ve been criticized.
Theodore Roosevelt said,
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The
credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by
dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short
again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but
who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the
great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in
the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at
least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those
cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Be careful about being
the “critic” on the sidelines.
:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming
themselves into apostles of Christ.
:14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of
:14 into an angel of light
One of Satan’s names is Lucifer.
“Lucifer” means “light
Before Satan’s fall, he
was beautiful (Eze. 28:12)
:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform
themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to
:15 transform themselves – metaschematizo
– to change the figure of; change of outward form
The same word is used in vss. 13-15.
This doesn’t speak of a permanent change, but a temporary change.
Satan can’t permanently become an angel of light, but he can temporarily
take the form of one.
The false apostles don’t actually become apostles of Christ, they just
temporarily looked like them.
:15 into ministers of righteousness
Just as Satan can do “impressions”
of God, Satan’s servants can do fairly good disguises of God’s servants.
Impressions are fun as
entertainment. They’re not so fun when
someone is trying to do an impression of God or one of God’s people.
Sometimes we can tell a false teacher/prophet simply by the things they
They don’t match up with Scripture. The
“content” of their message is not what God has told us about Himself. They are teaching you about other “gods”.
NKJV) —1 “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he
gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you,
saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve
them,’ 3 you shall
not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know
whether you love the Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your soul.
For others, we aren’t going to know right away, and we have to watch what
comes out of their life.
We test them by their “fruit”.
NKJV) —15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but
inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from
thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad
fruit. 18 A good tree
cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree
that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by
their fruits you will know them.
11:16-21 Reluctant Boasting
:16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive
me as a fool, that I also may boast 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.
He is going to play the “fool” and boast a little.
:17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were,
foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
:17 not according to the Lord
Paul is not going to act like a false prophet and proclaim that God is
telling the people to trust Paul.
Paul is simply going to speak for himself.
:18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast.
:19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!
Just a little bit of sarcasm
:20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you,
if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the
:20 bondage … devours … exalts … strikes
These were all characteristics of the false apostles.
These are also the characteristics of an abuser, of a bully.
Some people feel they deserve to be beaten up, and when a leader in a
church does it, it seems right.
This is the way some cults work – to beat you down to the point where you
feel worthless and dependent upon them.
If you are in a church, or a relationship characterized by things like this
:21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in
whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also.
More sarcasm, as if Paul was “too weak” to emotionally beat up the
Corinthians and force them to follow him.
11:22-33 Suffering for Christ
:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I.
Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
:22 Hebrews … Israelites … Abraham
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.
These references give us
a hint as to what these false apostles were all about.
They were from the
Judaizers, the folks who thought you needed to be a good Jew in order to be a
When Paul told the
Philippians about all these same qualifications, he added,
NKJV) —8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all
things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found
in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that
which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by
It’s not being a good Jew that counts before God, but that “simplicity in
Christ” (vs. 3), trusting Jesus, that counts.
:23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in
labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in
:24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
:24 forty stripes minus one
While the Romans had no
limits to the number of lashes a prisoner might receive, the Jews were told by
God to give no more than forty (Deut. 25:3).
Because of this, they
never gave more than thirty-nine, just to be sure they didn’t break Moses’ law.
:25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I
was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
:25 three times I was shipwrecked
Paul was actually shipwrecked at least four times.
He is writing this letter somewhere around the time of Acts 20:1
He will be shipwrecked again in Acts 27.
:26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of
robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the
Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in
perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
:26 perils of waters …
Paul lists eight things here he was in “peril” with.
In 1914 there were a series of short films made called the “Perils of
Pauline” where a daring heroine named Pauline encountered one peril after
You could call this verse the “Perils of Paul” (not the “Perils of
:27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in
fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
:28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for
all the churches.
:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not
burn with indignation?
:28 deep concern for all the churches
Besides all the outer pains of being an apostle, Paul had a heart for the
people he ministered to, and there is a weight that adds to your heart.
When he hears of people being “weak”, Paul himself is weak.
When others are caused to stumble, Paul burns with indignation for them.
Yesterday afternoon we heard that Josh Hamilton may have stumbled again with
his cocaine addiction.
Josh is a Christian who has struggled with addiction
You can be mad at Josh, you can be grieved over those who
are going to be disappointed over him, but there’s a sense that we ought to
struggle with him and for him.
You see Paul’s heart as you read his letters to the various churches.
Here’s a sample:
2:7–11 NLT) —7 As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands
of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother
feeding and caring for her own children. 8 We loved you so much that we shared with 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 we would not be a
burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. 10 You
yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout 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
Notice Paul’s references to feeling like a “mother” or as
a “father treats his own children”.
Those kinds of concerns come with a weight attached.
There are things that keep you up at night.
This is what ministry ought to be about.
:30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.
:31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever,
knows that I am not lying.
:32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city
of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me;
:33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped
from his hands.
:33 let down in a basket
When Paul first came to believe in Jesus, it was on his way to Damascus.
He started preaching about Jesus immediately, and that brought a death
threat to his life.
Luke tells us that Paul escaped in a basket (Acts 9)
:30 I will boast in …my infirmity
Success or suffering
Look at all the things
Paul has been boasting about – his weakness – 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
Not “success”, but
had “success”, he had big results in Nineveh.
An entire city got saved. But he is looked at as a failure.
doesn’t seem to have had a single “convert”, yet he was a great success in
Paul told young Timothy
what to expect in ministry:
Timothy 3:10–12 NKJV) —10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine,
manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions,
afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what
persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all
who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
What is your ministry? How would you
“boast” about it?