Many people masquerade as apostles, but they are false apostles and deceivers. Paul shares the resume of an authentic apostle. [UPDATED]
SUMMARY: Just because someone claims to be an apostle does not mean they are the real thing. Many people masquerade as an apostle of Jesus Christ. But they are false apostles. They are deceivers.
VERSE 1. I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you do bear with me.
VERSE 2. For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I married you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
I married you to one husband. Paul brought them to faith in Jesus Christ.
VERSE 3. But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
NIV translation. 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.
deceived. Some translations say “seduced.”
corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. There is a radical simplicity to faith in Jesus Christ. Yet most of us make it a lot more complicated than it really is.
We slather it with extra rules and regulations. We add our own philosophical underpinnings. We subordinate it to a political ideology. We override the legitimate requirements of the faith with an obligation mindset. We explain away the best stuff.
To not corrupt our own faith requires constant vigilance.
VERSE 4. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we didn’t preach, or if you receive a different spirit, which you didn’t receive, or a different “good news”, which you didn’t accept, you put up with that well enough.
a different “good news.” This would be the gospel preached by the false apostles. They said Jesus Christ is not enough. They said Gentile Christians must become Jewish and obey the Law.
you put up with that. The people of Corinth were way too tolerant. They were way too undiscerning. They were way too ambivalent. In the presence of preaching like Paul mentions, they should have been walking away.
the very best apostles. That is, “the super-apostles.” It is probably a sarcastic reference to the false apostles.
VERSE 6. But though I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not unskilled in knowledge. No, in every way we have been revealed to you in all things.
VERSE 7. Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached to you God’s Good News free of charge?
humbling myself. The false apostles saw themselves as too important to do what Paul did:
preached to you … free of charge. When Paul was in Corinth, he did not exercise his right to ask for financial support. Instead, in Corinth, he supported himself by secular work.
robbed other assemblies. Believers in other cities donated funds to help support Paul while he was in Corinth, as we see in the next verse:
VERSE 9. When I was present with you and was in need, I wasn’t a burden on anyone, for the brothers, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my need. In everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and I will continue to do so.
supplied the measure of my need. The believers in Macedonia funded Paul’s missionary work in Corinth.
VERSE 10. As the truth of Christ is in me, no one will stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
VERSE 11. Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows.
VERSE 12. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from those who desire an occasion, that in which they boast, they may be found even as we.
such men are false apostles. Just because someone claims to be an apostle does not mean that they actually are. There are many false apostles.
deceitful workers. The Lord calls workers into his vineyard. However, not all who heed that call are the real thing. Some are deceivers.
masquerading as Christ’s apostles. In our day, there are many who wear royal robes and have official positions of leadership and claim to be modern-day apostles.
However, none of those things denote actual apostleship. They are more likely to be a false apostles.
no wonder. We should not be surprised that false apostles exist. Here is why:
Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Satan himself pretends to be the real thing. He masquerades as an angel of light.
VERSE 15. It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
his servants also masquerade. The servants of Satan masquerade as apostles. They are false apostles.
SUMMARY: The believers in Corinth thought that being a church leader meant prestige and influence, power and wealth. Paul tells them it means none of those things.
Be sure to check out these great parallel passages:
- 1 Corinthians 4:8-13. The resume of an authentic apostle
- 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. The resume of an authentic apostle
- 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. The resume of an authentic apostle
VERSE 16. I say again, let no one think me foolish. But if so, yet receive me as foolish, that I also may boast a little.
VERSE 17. That which I speak, I don’t speak according to the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.
I don’t speak according to the Lord. The Corinthians are so unspiritual that Paul has to speak to them in a way they will understand. For that reason, in this section, Paul is not speaking as a prophet.
this confidence of boasting. In this section, Paul is bragging. Maybe the thick-headed Corinthians will understand that.
VERSE 18. Seeing that many boast after the flesh, I will also boast.
VERSE 19. For you bear with the foolish gladly, being wise.
VERSE 20. For you bear with a man if he brings you into bondage, if he devours you, if he takes you captive, if he exalts himself, or if he strikes you on the face.
VERSE 21. I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak. Yet in whatever way anyone is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also.
VERSE 22. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the offspring of Abraham? So am I.
Are they Hebrews? Paul was actually Jewish.
Are they Israelites? Paul was actually of the nation of Israel.
Are they the offspring of Abraham? Paul was an actual descendent of Abraham.
VERSE 23. Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself.) I am more so: in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, and in deaths often.
Are they servants of Christ? Paul was very much a servant of Jesus Christ.
in labors more abundantly. Paul worked harder for Jesus Christ than anybody else.
in prisons more abundantly. Paul went to prison for his faith more often than anybody else.
in stripes above measure. Paul was whipped and tortured for his faith more often than anybody else.
in deaths often. Paul was beaten for his faith and left for dead, more often than anybody else.
Five times … I received. Paul received a near-fatal torture on five separate occasions. It goes back to this verse:
Deuteronomy 25:3. He may sentence him to no more than forty stripes. He shall not give more, lest if he should give more and beat him more than that many stripes, then your brother will be degraded in your sight.
forty stripes minus one. There was a terrible way of torturing people. It was to whip them 39 times with a scourge.
It was as close as they could come to state-sponsored execution.
VERSE 25. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep.
Three times I was beaten with rods. Think of being beaten with baseball bats.
Once I was stoned. Paul was stoned to death.
Three times I suffered shipwreck. During his apostolic ministry, Paul sometimes traveled by ship. His ship was sunk at sea. Three times.
a night and a day in the deep. During his apostolic ministry, Paul was lost at sea.
VERSE 26. I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers;
in travels often. Paul was constantly traveling. Almost all of it was on foot.
perils of rivers. Paul faced great peril as he traveled by river.
perils of robbers. In those days, travel was exceptionally dangerous.
perils from my countrymen. Paul’s own people were very cruel toward him.
perils from the Gentiles. The Gentiles were very cruel toward Paul.
perils in the city. Paul’s apostolic ministry often took him to the heart of the great cities of the world. Those were dangerous places.
perils in the wilderness. As Paul traveled, he faced great dangers in the open spaces between towns. Robbers were there, as were wild animals.
perils in the sea. In those days, travel by sea was exceptionally dangerous.
perils among false brothers. In those days, false apostles followed Paul around. They told his converts that Jesus Christ was not enough. They were always scheming to murder Paul.
VERSE 27. in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness.
labor and travail. Paul labored more than anybody else.
in watchings often. Paul often spent whole nights in prayer.
in hunger and thirst. Paul experienced actual hunger. This does not mean that he chose to eat a little less on some days. No, it means he had no choice but to go without.
in fastings often. Paul often fasted.
in cold and nakedness. Paul did not always have sufficient clothing and shelter. He was sometimes homeless.
VERSE 28. Besides those things that are outside, there is that which presses on me daily: anxiety for all the assemblies.
anxiety for all the assemblies. Paul had been starting churches all over the known world. He was always concerned for them.
VERSE 29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I don’t burn with indignation?
VERSE 30. If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my weakness.
VERSE 31. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, he who is blessed forever more, knows that I don’t lie.
VERSE 32. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas guarded the Damascenes’ city, desiring to arrest me.
Damascus. This is a city in Syria associated with Paul’s conversion.
VERSE 33. I was let down in a basket through a window by the wall, and escaped his hands.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.