About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapters 10 and 11
chapter 10, verse 1, to the end of this letter, Paul is defending himself
and his ministry that is being challenged by the false teachers in Corinth. This
is why we see a change from "we" to "I" in this
date in this letter we have seen a range of emotions from Paul, more so
than in any other of his letters.
He began this letter with great sorrow.
His feelings were lifted by the report that the Corinthians had a
change of heart.
At one point he felt rejected by these people who he had given his
heart and life to.
He has given hints that he does have confidence in these people but
now he reverts back to having some doubts about “some of them”, but
not all of them.
verse 1 Paul says that when he is face to face with the Corinthians,
he is “timid”, and, when he is away from them he is
Remember Paul was accused by the false teachers of this very thing.
So, was Paul really timid when face to face with these people or
I don’t think so.
From reading the rest of this chapter you will see that this was
more the thinking of some of the Corinthians than Paul’s thinking.
He is using a little sarcasm in this chapter to make his point.
You might say that he is going along with their thinking when
saying he is timid, although later he will clearly say that when he
you question my assumption that Paul was actually timid when in front of
people, and I admit, what I said in the last paragraph is only an opinion,
then you would have to believe, at least in some way, Paul was timid at
will also note later in this chapter that some think Paul is
“unimpressive” in person, but bold in his letters.
So here in verse 1 when Paul says that he is bold in his letters,
he is still using sarcasm but repeating what they think of him.
I'm sure Paul could be bold in person as well, but he'd certainly
rather just enjoy these people when he arrives instead of having to work
out problems with them.
actually pleads with these people.
He says in verse 1, “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I
appeal to you…”
Jesus was meek, not weak, and He was gentle, yet at the same time
he could be very firm, not unlike Paul himself.
Paul is appealing on the basis of being gentle, because that is how
he wants to act towards them, but that is not his expectation.
is how I see this.
Christians are to be strong but not obnoxious or abrasive.
We should do as Paul says here.
We should express our strength in quietness and meekness.
says in verse 2, “I beg you that when I come, I may not have to be as
bold as I expect to be to some people who think that we live by the
standard of this world”.
Living by the "standards of the world" is an ever present
tendency with Christians, and also as the church.
We copy the world's way of doing things way too much.
We are more humanistic in our thinking and practice than what we
has no trouble being persecuted for the sake of the gospel, but I believe
it really bothers him when things are said about him that are not true.
Such things were obviously being said about Paul.
He said earlier that some called him an imposter.
Paul was far from being an imposter.
As he says here, he does not live by the standards of this world.
If Paul has to address this issue with these people in person, he
will do it with all of the boldness that he can gather together.
verse 3 he says, “though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the
Christians live by a far higher standard than those in the world.
Paul clearly demonstrated this in the way he lived.
Yet even with this visual proof, some accused him of being an
views his Christian life in one respect as a battle.
As he says in his letter to the Ephesians, his battle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the evil spiritual world around him.
the word "world" in verses 2 and 3.
It's translated from the Greek word "sarcs", which is
often translated into English in other versions of the Bible as
The word "world" tends to give the impression of
"the world around us".
The word "flesh", at least in my thinking, suggests a
carnality, a fallen humanness that does exist in the world around us but
also exists in the world within us.
If you understand Paul to be thinking of this second aspect of
"sarcs", then it's not just an outward battle, but a inward
sinful flesh is always at war wit us.
in verse 4, Paul says that he does not use worldly weapons in this battle,
and why would he.
Knives and swords do no harm to a spirit.
He says that the weapons he uses are spiritual and are derived from
the power of God so that he can pull down strongholds of satan.
context the war he is speaking of is a battle with the false apostles that
are trying to sway the Corinthians away from the true gospel.
This war is taking place in the church, not in the world. Behind
these false apostles is the devil himself. So
in reality, as seen in Ephesians 6, the battle in the long run is waged in
the spiritual world.
believe the word "strongholds" in verse 4 is defined in verse 5
These strongholds aren't demons over geographical regions.
These strongholds are worldly and humanistic philosophies.
Our modern church is letting worldly and humanistic
philosophies creep into its thinking. We need more men like Paul
who will refute these wrong ways of thinking that influence the way we
verse 5 Paul says, “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets
itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ”.
The false apostles are putting forth false arguments and setting
themselves up as church leaders who oppose to the true doctrine of Christ.
Paul says that his weapons will demolish these arguments.
He also says that “he will bring every thought into captivity of
Whatever these false apostles are teaching and thinking of, Paul
will judge and openly line their teaching up with the gospel of Christ for
all to see.
we see Paul as not only a teacher of the faith, but a true defender of
right doctrine, something I believe the modern church does not do enough
the battle ground in the Corinthian church, Paul says, “we will be ready
to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is completed”.
Paul had put this church to the test.
He had just tested them in the aspect of giving.
He tested them earlier concerning the man who committed
adultery with his father’s wife.
Once these tests have been complete and they show their obedience
in these matters, Paul will bring punishment to those who refuse to
punishment could be expelling certain people from the church and giving
them over to satan, as seen earlier.
this obedience that Paul is speaking of here, it is not an obedience to
is an obedience to the gospel, the truth of Jesus.
Men have gone astray on this point over the years.
Some have stressed the idea that people need to obey them.
This unhealthy adherence to authority is not what Paul is speaking
He is saying what he is saying to encourage his readers to obey the
Word of God, the gospel of Christ.
verse 7 Paul says that some of the Corinthians are “looking on the
surface of things”.
They are not really seeing the facts.
If they claim to “belong to Christ”, then they should consider
that “Paul belongs to Christ as well”.
Paul is speaking here of some very basic elements of salvation. It
appears that some of the Corinthians are questioning the fact that Paul is
really a true Christian, and Paul is raising the same questions concerning
some of them. This shows you that some of the problems in the church came
down to the validity of people’s salvation.
goes on to say in verse 8 that at times he “freely boasts” of the
authority he and his fellow workers have from the Lord to build the church
says that he will never be “ashamed” of this authority, whether people
question it or not. Note
here the use of the word "authority".
The authority that Paul is claiming to have is to build people up,
not to be a dictator over them.
Paul said that he was very bold in his letters, and here in verse 9 he
says that “he doesn’t want to frighten them with his letters”.
So it is clear that some were not only sorrowful because of
Paul’s writings, but they were somewhat frightened as well, which was
not Paul’s intention.
this in mind in verse 10 we see some said concerning Paul, “his letters
are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his
speaking amounts to nothing”. Once again you can see the relational
problems between some of the Corinthians and Paul.
These were far from kind words, yet Paul himself earlier stated
that when he was with them, he was timid.
Paul himself in chapter 11, verse 6, says that he was not an
impressive speaker, yet at the same time the Holy Spirit spoke through
Paul and that is what made the difference.
None of us needs to be impressive in any human way.
It is the Holy Spirit, and only the Holy Spirit that can carry our
words to the hearts of men and women.
Humanistic impressiveness means nothing in the eyes of God.
verse 11 Paul tells these people that they should understand that when he
and his companions arrive in Corinth, they will be as their letters are.
They will not change their attitude and thinking.
They will be bold, not timid as they may expect.
So, if you think Paul is timid in person or not timid in person,
Paul himself says he won't be timid when he arrives in person.
It might be possible that Paul's mannerisms might have made it
appear he was timid when in fact he wasn’t'.
I don't believe Paul was a well polished sophisticated type of man,
which might account for the idea that he appeared timid.
seen elsewhere in Paul's writings that on some occasions letters of
recommendations were sent along with men that would prove they had a valid
Apparently these false teachers had no such letters, so what they
were doing was recommending each other.
says in verse 13 that he will not “boast beyond our limits”, but will
“confine boasting to the fields God has assigned to us”.
Paul is saying that if he boasts, he will boast only about how God
has used them.
He will not overstate the facts.
He will state the facts of his ministry as they are, and if some
want to judge him, that is up to them.
verse 14 we see that part of Paul’s boast is the fact of his influence
in the beginning days of the church in Corinth. Everyone
knew of his influence.
He was not overstating his work done in
verse 15 Paul adds that he would also boast about other men’s work done
in and among the church at Corinth. Paul
would be proud of Apolos and Peter for the work they had done in
hope is that the Corinthian’s faith will grow, that is, they will trust
Jesus more than ever, so his work “would expand”, and so that he could
preach far beyond Corinth. This
was the goal of Paul’s letter. He wanted to see growth, see repentance,
see the relationship be re-established again in order for the gospel to be
preached beyond the city of
boasting, Paul concludes in verse 17 that really all boasting should be
boasting about Jesus Himself, “because it is not the one who commends
himself who is approved, but the one who the Lord commends”.
Paul is saying that the important thing is the recognition of the
Lord, not a pat on the back by us or someone else.
important to know something about the false teachers here.
One of the main false doctrines in the early church is what we read
about in Paul's letter to the Galatians.
Certain teachers were saying that to become a real Christian, you
had to first become a Jew, obey the Law of Moses, and then get
This might have been part of the problem here, but since
18 closes this chapter.
Paul simply states that only God can really commend a man and his
People can confirm a man and his ministry, but we only confirm what
we know God has already commended.
this point I'd like to remind you that between chapters 9 and 10 there is
a major shift in thought in what Paul is saying. He continues on in this
new thought here in chapter 11. Some
Bible teachers suggest that from chapter 10 on to the end of this letter
is actually a different letter. I've
talked about this before. It
is quite certain that Paul wrote more than two letters to the Corinthian
believers. Some suggest that 2
Corinthians is actually two different letters, I can see why.
In the first few chapters Paul was distressed over these people,
then he speaks as if he is no longer distressed, and now, in these last
chapters he is back to wondering about the spiritual condition of those he
is writing to. For this
reason, as some say, the middle letters of 2 Corinthians might well be
11 is a continuation of Paul’s defense of his ministry.
He calls this defense “a little of my foolishness”.
It could be foolishness because he does not like to boast in the
first place, but feels he needs to defend himself to a certain extent, so
he indulges in such talk. I
just think that Paul believe to have to defend your God given ministry to
anyone is both stupid and foolish. Such
boasting like this is exactly what the false teachers were doing in
says that “he hopes that they put up with a little of his foolishness,
but they are doing that anyway”. The Corinthians are putting up with the
false teachers boasting so they might as well put up with a little bit of
a boasting from Paul. Paul is
a strong willed and determined man, and he will get his point across, and
the Corinthians might as well accept this.
They will have to hear Paul out whether they like it or not.
2 is interesting. Paul tells
his readers that “he promised them to one husband”, meaning, Jesus.
He also says that he is “jealous” over these people.
These people hold a very special place in Paul’s life and heart
and he truly has a “Godly jealousy”.
There is a jealousy that you can call Godly.
Beyond this point Paul says that he wants to present this church as
a pure virgin to Christ. It is
like Paul introduced the Corinthians to Jesus and now at some point in the
future, when Jesus returns, he will present them to Him in marriage.
Whether these words are pictorial, that is, tell a story more than
being actual, is hard to say. Paul
may not actually present these people to Jesus on that day, but he is
motivated in his ministry as if he will.
The point that Paul is making is that someday these people will be
married to Jesus and he wants them to be ready.
He wants them to be pure for their Lord.
Greek word translated as "promised" here can be translated as
whole point is that Paul introduced these people to Jesus as I've just
said, but in his thinking, he thought of these people as a virgin bride.
He doesn't want them to become defiled before the wedding.
Remember, part of the teaching of these false teachers distorted
who Jesus really is. The were
Gnostics. They believed that
Jesus was not fully human. Such
a belief goes to the very heart of the Christian faith.
If you do not believe that Jesus was fully God and fully human,
then you do not believe in the Jesus of the Bible.
In fact, you who claim to be engaged to Jesus, to continue the
analogy, are committing spiritual adultery, but giving yourself to a Jesus
who is not the Jesus the Paul introduced them to.
verse 3 Paul confirms what I just said when he states a fear that he has,
and that is that they will be “led astray in their minds, as Eve was
deceived”. The fear is that
they would receive a “different Jesus”, a “different spirit”, and
a “different gospel”. It
appears that they are now entertaining such an idea, because he says that
they have “put up with this easy enough”.
Of course, there is no such thing as a different Jesus or a
is saying that these false teachers are demonic.
He is comparing them to satan.
Eve was deceived by satan. She
was tricked. The deception
came through her mind. Satan
played tricks with her head, so to speak.
When Paul says that these believers "minds could be led
astray", we see how important intelligent thinking is in the mind of
Paul, and really, in the mind of God.
Deception comes through our minds.
When we allow wrong thinking to enter our heads, we are tempted.
The problem with the modern church is that we are allowing worldly
philosophy into church doctrine. Many
are being led away as a result. Many
are being deceived. The mere
fact that many Christians just don't think doctrine is important is sad.
Modern Christianity plays down being educated and puts forth the
importance of being inspired. We'd
rather listen to inspirational sermons than being properly educated in
Biblical truth. I call this
4 reminds me what Paul taught in his letter to the Galatians.
Here he is concerned that these believers are thinking of switching
to a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel.
Of course, if they make this switch, then their salvation is in
question, or so I believe. Paul's
heart ached over this possibility. It's
a strange thing, but people who once knew the truth, switch for something
else. It's happening today as
people are leaving Jesus for Islam, other religions like new age, and,
the words "you put up with it easily enough" in verse 4.
These people were "undiscerningly tolerant".
They had a lack of godly discernment, and they were way too
tolerant, like many Christians today.
verse 5 Paul is expressing a little sarcasm by saying that he “is not in
the least inferior to those super-apostles”.
Who might he be calling super-apostles?
They are most likely the false apostles that he has just mentioned,
the ones the Corinthians are entertaining and beginning to listen to
instead of Paul. The
super-apostles are super because they are billing themselves that way,
something like some TV preachers are doing today.
There are some who suggest that these super apostles are men like
Peter and James, but I question that.
verse 6 Paul admits that he is not a trained speaker, perhaps as some of
the super-apostles were, but he is very knowledgeable and therefore they
should listen to what he has to say. It
is not the delivery of the knowledge that is important but the knowledge
itself. To often today we look
at the personality doing the speaking.
We look at how he delivers the message.
He may be comical. He
may hold your attention, but is he speaking the truth of the Word of God.
That's the important thing. Again,
knowledge is important. We
should not be downplaying it as we are doing in parts of the church today.
believe that as Moses was to Old Testament times, so the
apostle Paul is to New Testament times.
Ironically, both felt that they were not good orators.
in his defense of his ministry Paul asks in verse 7, “was it a sin for
me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God
free of charge”? Of course
the answer is no. While others
were making a living by preaching, Paul supported himself most of the
time. His ministry came free
of charge in order not to put any obstacle in the way for those he
ministered to. Paul lowered
himself, became a servant by choice, and endured many hardships for the
sake of others.
false apostles were professional orators, professional philosophers.
In short, they were professionals, and as professionals, they would
have demanded payment for services. Not
so with Paul.
verse 8 we see that at times Paul did receive financial support from some
churches, but not from the Corinthian church. You can tell that even when
taking this support he was not comfortable with it.
He tells his readers that by receiving support from other churches
“he robbed them” in order to preach to the Corinthians free of charge.
Of course, Paul really didn't rob other churches.
What I believe he is saying here is that he received more money
than he wanted from other churches in order to be free from receiving
these funds from the Corinthians.
verse 9 Paul says that he has kept ”himself from being a burden in any
way and will continue to do so”. One
way he was able to do this was because of certain brothers who came with
verses 9 through 12 we see why Paul is so adamant
about this boasting? It
is because of his love for the Corinthians and by preaching the good news
free of charge as a bond servant he hopes to “cut the ground from under
those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with them”.
Paul is speaking about the false apostles who claim to be on the
same level of authenticity as he and his fellow workers.
He feels that his lifestyle when compared with the false apostles
way of living will have no comparison.
People will then see his way of life and turn from the teaching of
the false apostles.
in verse 10 Paul speaks of Achaia. Achaia
was the Roman province where
In verses 13 to 15 Paul says some very strong words about these false apostles. He says they are “masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”. In the next sentence Paul actually calls these false apostles “servants of satan”. These are strong words from a man who feels that he is in a real battle, not with flesh and blood, but with the satanic world around him.
We have a present day battle with satan going on. It's not with Gnosticism, but with something similar. The attempt to unite Christianity with Islam, other religions, and secular philosophy, is a satanic attack. The men and women who espouse such thinking are today "angel's of light", messengers from satan.
verse 16 Paul says, “I repeat…”.
What is Paul repeating?
Earlier he mentioned that defending himself and his ministry was a
He is now repeating this foolishness.
Paul warns his readers that they should not take him for a fool,
but if they do, they should receive him as a fool so that he could
continue his boasting.
Once again you see that Paul really does not like to boast or
He feels that it is foolishness.
can see how emphatic, how upset Paul is by the use of the words "I
If Paul were standing behind a pulpit, I think he would be pounding
the pulpit hard.
even says in verse 17 that “in this self-confident boasting, I am not
speaking as the Lord would, but as a fool”.
Paul knows that Jesus would not make such foolish boastings.
Jesus had the chance when He met with Pilate to boast but He
Paul wants his readers to understand that what he is saying is
“foolish” and is being “self-confident”, and we know that Paul
puts no confidence in the flesh.
verse 18 Paul also calls this boasting “worldly”.
He is basically saying that the false teachers are boasting of
themselves as those in the world would do.
Worldliness is something else that Paul does not like, but since
those who oppose him are being worldly in their self promotion, Paul feels
that he needs to indulge in such boasting a bit to defend his ministry. Promoting
ones self was worldly in Paul's thinking, and I think it is still worldly
personally find self promotion very disturbing when it comes from a
think I can safely say there is a difference between defending one's valid
ministry from God from one's self.
Paul is defending His ministry, a gift from God.
He's not defending himself and his humanity
verse 19 Paul is being somewhat sarcastic again when he says, “you
gladly put up with fools since you are so wise”.
Earlier Paul said that the false apostles were unwise when
comparing themselves with each other.
Many of the Corinthians were beginning to follow these false
apostles, so I do not think Paul in all seriousness would call them wise.
He is simply using sarcasm as a tool for part of his defense.
verse 20, to prove how “unwise” these people are, Paul tells them that
they put up with those who enslave and exploit them, take advantage of
them, and push them around and slap them in the face.
Paul is being very forceful here.
No wonder the Corinthians accused him of being forceful in his
Paul is very upset.
It's his thinking that
the Corinthian believers are acting foolishly because they're
freely allowing these false apostles to take advantage of them.
They're giving their hard earned money to these false apostles.
They're giving their allegiance to them.
They're falling hook, line, and sinker, as the saying goes.
verse 21, Paul said, “we were too weak for that”.
Was Paul really too weak to act like the false apostles? Well, in
one sense of the word, Paul viewed his humanity as week, but in the Lord,
he was strong.
His outward appearance, and probably the way in which he handled
himself appeared to be weak in comparison to the arrogant false apostles,
but in reality, Paul was strong.
It's not our human appearance, any human ability that we may or may
not have that matters.
It's the Holy Spirit working in and through us that matters.
verse 21, Paul now begins to make some claims about himself and his
Once again, he is still boasting as if he were a fool.
In his boasting, he is comparing himself to the false apostles,
something that earlier he said was unwise, therefore he feels this
boasting is foolishness.
In this comparison found in verses 22 to 28 he says, “Are they
So am I.
Are they Israelites?
So am I.
Are they Abraham’s descendents?
So am I.
Are they servants of Christ (I am out of my mind talking like
Note that the important claims that the false apostles make, Paul
Also note that the false apostles claim to be “servants of
Just by repeating the claim that these people could be called
servants of Christ irritates Paul.
This is why he says that he is out of his mind by even suggesting
that they are servants of Christ.
Obviously he does not believe that they are true Christians. He is
only repeating their claim and saying that he is more of a servant of
Christ than they.
continues his defense by saying, “I have worked much harder, been in
prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and have been exposed
to death again and again.
Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. Three
times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was
shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been
constantly on the move, I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from
bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in
danger in cities, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in
danger from false brothers.
I have laboured and toiled, and have often gone without sleep; I
have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been
cold and naked.
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern
for all of the churches.”
Paul was dictating these words for someone to write, I can see him pacing
Every step he takes he gets more angry.
He probably speaks faster and faster with each word.
Paul is very disturbed by these false apostles and their false
can be said about the above words that Paul says?
None of the false apostles went through what Paul went through.
Once again, it was Paul’s belief that he would have a much better
and happier life in the resurrection that kept him going.
He could put up with temporary hardships, severe as they were,
knowing his future in eternity would outweigh these hardships.
We should think of Paul when we complain about some of the
things we go through.
in verse 22 that at least some of these false apostles were Hebrews, were
This tells me that they were not always Gnostic.
They converted to Gnosticism.
the word "rod" in verse 24.
The rod was an instrument that the Romans used to punish people.
Paul was not punished with the rod by Jews.
The thirty nine lashes Paul speaks of here would Paul being whipped
by the Jews.
does Paul mean when he says, “who is weak and I do not feel weak”?
After all that he has just said I can’t see Paul as being a weak
man, but during the times of these hardships, I'm sure he felt weak at
in verse 28 Paul's concern for the church ranks up with being whipped,
stoned, hungry, and close to death.
This is something for modern ministers to consider.
Again, it is my opinion that 2 Corinthians should be a portion of
Scripture that perspective pastors should study very seriously.
What Paul writes here shows us the heart of a real pastor, one who
really cares for God's people, not just one who has chosen being a pastor
as a career choice.
29 may be hard to understand.
Paul asks, “who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn”?
It is commonly interpreted by many
commentators that Paul is speaking about the concern that he has
for the churches.
When people are progressing into sin, he inwardly burns for them. When
they hurt, he hurts.
Paul feels so bad when God's people suffer for any reason that it's
like a fire raging within him.
In 1 Corinthians 7:9 where Paul speaks about burning with sexual desire,
the same Greek word is used.
Paul was enraged within when he saw these Corinthians tempted to
depart from the real Jesus.
are some who believe that when Paul speaks of being weak and burning
within, he is speaking of being
tempted to sin just as the Corinthians are being tempted.
He experiences the same temptation as those he is ministering to.
verse 30 Paul says that “if I must boast, I will boast of the things
that show my weakness”.
Paul doesn’t want to overstate and draw attention to his
He would rather draw attention to the Lord, and if he is going to
boast, he will boast in the weakness of his humanity. In reality, we are
We have God’s treasure in earthly vessels, in jars of clay, in
order that God’s glory can be clearly seen in us.
verse 31 Paul reinforces what he is saying that before the Lord, he is not
confidence, Paul could stand before Jesus and say these exact same things.
verses 32 and 33 Paul briefly relates an event in