He Earned the Right
2 Corinthians 11
Bragging rights. Is there any such thing in Christianity? Not really, not outside of Christ Himself. The best of men are men at best. Paul may have been the best Christian who ever lived, but in sincerity he recognized he was nothing w/out the Lord Jesus. In the grand scope of life we are nothing, but God makes us something, and will do so if we will give Him the glory for it. Someone said, "The art of bragging is knowing how to toot your own horn without blowing it."
In this chapter Paul does just that. On a human level I see him doing something which resembles bragging, though I know better. Still, if it sounds a bit like it, I'd say he earned the right to do so...in the proper context of course...glorifying God. And he does it for a purpose he is trying to accomplish to protect the newborn babes in Christ at this church in Corinth.
2 Corinthians 11:1-4
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.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
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.
We still face the problem today of the preaching of another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel. Some time ago there was a musical production called "Jesus Christ, Superstar," which denies His deity and presents a "Jesus" who never lived. It is the "Jesus" of liberalism dressed in a new wardrobe. And the Jesus of liberalism never existed. If they deny the virgin birth of Jesus, they are talking about some other Jesus, not the Jesus Christ of the Bible. When they say He was gay because His followers were mostly men, they have an ulterior motive and thus preach Him to be another Jesus than the actual one. If they do not believe that He performed miracles, they have a different Jesus in mind, because the Jesus in the Gospels is the One who performed miracles. He is the One who died for the sins of the world, which they deny. They deny that He was raised from the dead bodily. They deny that He is the God-Man. Yet one of the oldest creeds declares that He is very God of very God and very man of very man. If that is denied, then a different Jesus is being presented.
For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles [2Cor. 11:5].
I would rate Paul as the number one apostle; he says he is not the least of the apostles. He wants these Corinthians to know that he is just as much an apostle as any of the others. Just because he came to them as a tentmaker and because he walked in the meekness and gentleness of Christ does not mean that he is not an apostle. You see how Paul is forced to defend himself.
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things [2Cor. 11:6].
Paul was a brilliant man, but he used simple language. My mentors have great Biblical knowledge, but what I like best about them is that they are real, not professor like, they put the cookies on the lower shelf where the kiddies could get them. Simplicity was the method of Paul.
Paul says that he was rude in speech. I think that he actually adopted the language that the Corinthians would understand. However, Paul was a brilliant man. From his writings some would judge that he had the highest I.Q. of any man who has walked this earth.
Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 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 [2Cor. 11:7-9].
Paul would not allow the Corinthians to contribute to his support at all. He had to work hard at making tents. Some others sent him some support to enable him to spend some time preaching the gospel, but the Corinthians did not help him.
As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. 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 [2Cor. 11:10-12].
Paul says that he is boasting because it is the truth and because he is jealous over them and fearful for them. Other men, such as Apollos, may have been more eloquent and polished than Paul and did not stoop to do manual labor. Comparison with others is not the issue. Paul worked as a tentmaker. He did not take remuneration from the Corinthians. This does not detract from his apostleship.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light [2Cor. 11:13-14].
Evidently there were deceitful workers who attempted to make themselves apostles of Christ when they were not. They were actually servants of Satan.
People have the idea that Satan has cloven hooves and horns. This kind of erroneous idea comes from the great god Pan of Greek mythology, who was portrayed as half animal and was worshiped as Dionysus. Likening Satan to Pan certainly is not the scriptural point of view. Satan himself is an angel of light. If he would make himself visible to you, you would see a being of breathtaking beauty. Paul draws from that this conclusion:
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 [2Cor. 11:15].
The frightening statement here is that Satan has ministers. It makes your hair stand on end. As Satan is transformed into an angel of light, so his ministers are transformed as the ministers of righteousness. They are very attractive.
Satan's ministers glorify themselves. This is one way you can tell whether a man is preaching the simplicity of the Word of God or whether he is preaching some other Jesus and some other gospel.
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. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting [2Cor. 11:16-17].
Paul says he must go on in this mindlessness, and they should indulge him in this.
Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise [2Cor. 11:18-19].
He adds a bit of holy sarcasm.
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 [2Cor. 11:20].
He gives them strong reproof here. He says someone can come in to them, put them back under the bondage of the Law, he can live off them, exalt himself, smite them, and they will put up with that. They will take that kind of treatment from a false teacher.
Now we come to a section where Paul describes his own life as a minister of the gospel. I must confess that I have been in the ministry for many years but when I read what this man Paul went through, I recognize that I have just been playing at it. I have not been a real servant of Christ as this man had been.
I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I [2Cor. 11:21-22].
Paul says, "I can prove my genealogy." There was no question who he was.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one [2Cor. 11:23-24].
The Jews had a method in those days of delivering thirty-nine stripes, and to prevent killing the person, they would apply thirteen stripes on one side, thirteen stripes on the other side, and thirteen stripes on the back. Paul had had this kind of torture five times.
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; 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; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness [2Cor. 11:25-27].
How many of us today could say that we have been through even the smallest part of anything like that? We sit in the lap of luxury. We live in an affluent society. We know practically nothing of hardship for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches [2Cor. 11:28].
Those of us who are pastors have experienced the burden of a church. Paul had the burden of "all" the churches. We know a little of what that entailed.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not [2Cor. 11:29-31].
Paul says, "Here is my report as a minister of Jesus Christ."
In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands [2Cor. 11:32-33].
Imagine Paul having to be let down by the wall in a basket to escape those who were lying in wait to kill him. How embarrassing! Paul did all this for Jesus' sake.
My friend, don't brag about what you suffer for Christ. Read this over again. We must all bow our heads in shame and say, "Oh, Lord Jesus, help me to die trying to earn the right. Help me to be faithful to You."
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