Did you know that Tarsus – the hometown of the Apostle Paul – was in New Jersey? I think it had to be, after reading our passage today in 2 Corinthians 11! This is the way people in Jersey talk to each other – Boom! In your face! Boom! Add in a bit of snark! Then a wisecrack, also with some sarcasm. You build to a climax, and out comes exactly what you think in the bluntest terms imaginable.
Clearly, the Apostle Paul had his fill of hearing about these false teachers and self-proclaimed “super-apostles.” Again, we can see that they had degraded Paul’s speaking ability as “untrained.” And though that obviously stung, Paul knew he had spoken the truth.
Adding to the annoyance for Paul surrounding all of this was the fact that, unlike these errant opponents, he had not taken money for his services in Corinth. Rather, he was supported from elsewhere.
The church in Corinth was being deceived, illustratively even as Eve was fooled by the serpent in the garden. As in that instance, truth was questioned, and a beguiling substitute was offered. Though the Jesus being taught in Corinth and the gospel being espoused was alleged to be genuine, it was of an entirely different sort. It was categorically wrong.
This rebuke was more than Paul just standing up for himself. It was rather because of the depth and extent of love he had for the Corinthians that he was making these bold statements and categorical denunciations.
And finally, it all comes pouring out. These frauds were false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And beyond that, they were directly connected to their true boss, Satan himself. Like the Evil One’s outwardly beautiful appearance in the garden, they operated with the same modus operandi. The day would come when justice catches up to them.
Because of Paul’s genuine affection for the Corinthians, he needed to stand up, speak Jersey, and call out these jerks for who they really were. And he does.
Every once in a while, it becomes the role of those in leadership in a church to make a strong stand. Yes, we try to model kindness and the longsuffering love of Christ, not answering harsh words and actions with more of the same. But just as Jesus went a bit ballistic in cleansing the Temple one day, there comes a time when, in love, strong words and actions need to be taken to protect the body of Christ. I’ve had to do this on a few occasions. Though from Jersey, I actually don’t like doing it. But it is the correct thing to do in order to protect the dearest thing on earth – God’s program for this dispensation – the Church.
2 Corinthians 11:1 – I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 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. 3 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. 4 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 Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 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? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 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. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 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. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.