STUDY II Corinthians
11:1-15 (click here for
I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (NIV)
This portion of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians follows his discussion of boundaries. He has discussed the fact that he has not "invaded" any other person's mission territory nor assumed authority or responsibility over the people others are nurturing in Christ. The false apostles in Corinth, however, have "invaded" his territory and have turned the hearts of the Corinthians against him-the very person who introduced them to Jesus and facilitated their new birth into God's family. Now Paul directs the Corinthians to examine the deceptive teaching these false apostles have subtly introduced.
A Different Jesus
1. On what authority does Paul make the claim that he promised the Corinthians as a pure virgin bride to Christ? (see 2 Cor. 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:11)
2. Why does Paul use this wedding metaphor to describe to the Corinthians their relationship to Christ? (see Hosea 2:14, 19-20; Matthew 9:14-15; John 3:29-30; Romans 7:2-4; 1 Corinthians 6:15; Ephesians 5:24-32; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:2)
3. What would constitute the Corinthians being a "pure virgin" as opposed to a defiled bride? (v. 3-4; Hosea 2:16-17, Ephesians 4:26-27; 5:26-27; Galatians 5:1, 16-18; 22-23; Colossians 2:6-8; 3:12-14)
4. Paul compares the Corinthians' being led astray by false teachers to Eve's being deceived by the serpent. Who is Paul saying is really behind false doctrines and perversions of the pure gospel? (see Genesis 3:1-6, 13; 1 Timothy 2:14; Revelation 12:9)
5. Paul warns the Corinthians not to accept "a Jesus other than the one we preached." Based on who these false teachers were, how was "their Jesus" likely different from the real one? (see verse 22; compare Acts 15:1-5; Galatians 4:9-10; 5:4-6)
6. Paul also warns against receiving a different spirit from the one they had received. What were the characteristics of the Spirit they had received? (see 3:17; Romans 14:17; Galatians 2:4,5; 5:1, 22-23; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:10-12; 2 Timothy 1:20)
7. How might the Corinthians know they were receiving a different one? (see Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 2:11-13; Galatians 2:4; 4:24-25, 29; Colossians 2:20-23)
8. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for accepting "a different gospeleasily enough." What constitutes a perverted gospel, and what are the consequences for perverting it? (see Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 16:17; 1 Timothy 1:3; 6:3-5)
9. Paul lets some sarcasm into his defense when he says he's not inferior to the "super-apostles", who are not truly apostles at all. Although he is not a trained speaker as they apparently were, he says he does have knowledge. What knowledge does Paul have that set him apart from the deceivers? (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-19; 2:14-16; Ephesians 3:4-6; 1:9-10; Romans 16:25-27; Colossians 1:26-27; 2:2-3; 1 Timothy 3:16)
10. Paul is receiving criticism for ignoring the common practice of charging money in exchange for a philosopher's or religious teacher's services. What "rights" did Paul willfully give up when he served the Corinthians? (see 1 Corinthians 9:12-15, 17-18)
11. What is significant about the Macedonian churches supporting Paul when he initially preached to the Corinthians? (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
12. Which Macedonian church in particular apparently supported Paul the most? (see Philippians 4:15-16)
13. How did Paul's approach to financial support lay the groundwork for mission work today?
14. Boasting generally seems self-serving. What fact makes Paul confidently assert the contrasts between his ministry and that of the false apostles? (see v.10; Romans 9:1-2)
15. If charging for one's teaching was common practice, why do you think Paul said his continuing not to charge would "cut the ground from under" the false apostles who wanted to be considered as genuine as Paul?
Servants of Satan
16. The presence of false apostles or prophets was not unique. What other warnings had God given his people concerning people such as these? (see Matthew 7:15-17; 24:24; Jeremiah 23:16-18; Luke 6:26; Titus 1:10; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 2:2; 6:13)
17. Why is it so important that God's people resist and avoid these false teachers instead of allowing curiosity to seduce them into listening to them? (see 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:8-14; 2 Peter 2: 9, 16; 1 John 1:5-7)
18. What will be the end of false teachers and apostles? (see Matthew 16:27; Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Peter 2:17-19; Jude 12-13)
19. What are examples of false teachings or "other" spirits that have become accepted in the church today?
20. What examples do you have in your life of "false teachers" who led people astray from the pure gospel of Christ?
21. In what areas do you struggle with knowing whether certain teachings are Biblical or not?
22. Have you ever had the experience of being slandered or discredited because of your stand for truth and the gospel? Explain.
23. In what ways have you been unsupportive, even subtly, of those who have ministered the gospel of Christ to you?
24. In what areas of your life or beliefs are you vulnerable to compromise or deception?
25. What do you need to relinquish to Jesus, asking his Spirit to cleanse and change you, so you will not be a "defiled bride" of Christ?
26. Ask Jesus to make you a pure bride. Surrender yourself to him, and ask him to fill you with His Spirit and His love, purging from you all your desires for dominance and acclaim and control. Ask him to glorify himself through you, and ask that he will give you his steadfastness to embrace Him and the gospel of truth no matter what opposition overwhelms you.
Copyright (c) 2002 Graphics Studio, Redlands,
CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted December 1, 2002.