II Corinthians 11 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
This is one of the more (most?) unusual chapters from the pen of Paul. You can easily notice the division of 11:1-15 and 16-33. Let’s look at the first 15 verses where Paul gives his rationale for verses 16 and following.
In Corinth, just as in other cities, Paul had plenty of followers and most recognized his apostleship, his teaching authority, and his love for both the Lord and the church. Most loved this man as I am sure we would have. But since Paul was the leader of this ministry to the Gentiles, Paul was also a target.
Paul certainly attracted dissenters, critics, and enemies along with dear friends. Sometimes and in some places these critics caused so much harm to the gospel that his work was distracted. Yet, unwittingly, they also helped clarify the message of the gospel. So it seems that Paul always stirred up trouble wherever he went.
The issue in Corinth was there was a group of people who claimed to be apostles but were against Paul and Christ’s apostles. These teachers taught contrary to Paul and tried to discredit Paul so young Christians would leave Paul and follow them.
In Corinth Paul did not charge for his teaching. Paul’s reason was not to be a burden to the church in Corinth (v.9) but these super-apostles (v. 5) or false apostles (v. 13) told the believers in Corinth that Paul was a fake. They claimed that Paul was not a good speaker which Paul acknowledges (v 6) and that only speakers who knew their message was a lie would not charge for their speaking engagements. So Paul’s “free” messages were evidence that Paul knew he was a false teacher, according to this enemies.
I doubt many pastors would go to the mat defending their ordination or themselves. But we are not the apostle Paul. Paul was forced to defend his ministry and his person (vs. 10, 11, 16-19, 21ff). Paul had to defend himself because at this stage of Christianity, Paul and the apostles were the only conduits of truth. That is not even close to our situation now. Thank God, while churches may differ over the sacraments, membership, etc, there are many good churches in our area. And we thank God for them.
If the church in Corinth left Paul and his teaching they were being deceived by these so-called apostles (v3) who Paul stated were acting just like Satan pretending to be apostles like Paul (only better) when they really had evil intent (vs.3, 13-15).
I realize some Christians think they need to take people in the church at their word but maybe we shouldn’t be so quick. Maybe we need to think more like a detective at time (Blue Blood fans: act like Danny). Don’t just take someone’s word for it. Ponder, think, and evaluate. Isn’t that what the Bereans were commended for in Acts 17 when Paul spoke to them? They didn’t just accept his teaching; they verified the veracity of the message.
While we could exalt certain teachers too high, we should be careful to read and hear the best teaching. There are some teachers to avoid. There will always be some to avoid. Don’t just listen to the words of leaders who claim to speak for Christ. Be cautious, be discerning, and take as much care for truth going into your minds as food going into your mouth.
Finally, the truth is always surrounded by lies. Since the gospel is God’s gospel (v. 7), spiritual warfare will always accompany the gospel wherever the gospel is preached and taught. Truth will be joined with false teaching, genuine changed lives will be surrounded by external only changes, and generosity will flourish along with pilfering. Genuine, godly, truthful teachers will be close to insincere, ungodly, and false teachers. May God give us loving, accepting, and trusting hearts but discerning and perceiving minds.