Archive for May 26th, 2020

2 Corinthians 11:20-23

In 2 Corinthians 11:20-23 Paul confronts the Corinthian church about the way those who claimed to be “super apostles” were treating them like slaves. These false profits may be been legalists that were trying to put the church under bondage through strict application of the law. They used that to take control and claim authority over those in the church. “For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.” Paul explains how that approach took advantage of those who were willing to follow. It was not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they were being deceived.

The Corinthian church was so gullible to these false teachers that they would take whatever treatment they were given. Paul sarcastically says he was too weak to take advantage of the Christ Followers in Corinth that way. “To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of – I am speaking as a fool – I also dare to boast of that.” Paul again acknowledges that these false apostles were bold and convincing in their speaking, but that he too would ask in a similar way preaching with confidence and a sense of the call that God has placed upon him.

Then Paul launches into his credentials. These false teachers want to compare resumes, Paul’s up for the challenge. He begins with his ancestry, which was more than enough to qualify him as an apostle. He was not only the seed of Abraham, but also was of the Israelites and beyond that was a Hebrew. Paul grew up in Tarsus of Cilicia but apparently his parents were Judean Jews who moves to Tarsus. “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I.” Paul knows that his blood ancestry itself does not make him an apostle of Jesus, but it was something the false teachers were continually pointing to so he starts with that piece of his resume.

Paul goes on the next address the claim of these false teachers as servants or ministers of Christ. They claimed it as the right to be honored and privileged. Paul knows it is something very different. Paul knows that being a minister is not about privilege, but service to those under your care. He worked tirelessly to serve people for the sake of the Gospel. “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one – I am talking like a madman – with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.” And he paid the price for that servant attitude and action with many different sufferings. Being a minster is not about what one gets, which is how the false apostles lived, but in what you can give to those in your care. Paul was a true shepherd.

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