Summary: How gullible are you? How quick are you to believe what you hear - and what do you base your decisions on? The Corinthians were too quick to believe, and we can learn lessons ourselves on how to know truth from error.
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Pastor Tom Fuller
The old saying goes: “you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time.” Some people are gullible by nature – some people are gullible through their desires and weaknesses. The Corinthians really wanted to be “with it” to be “cool” and “with the times” of their society. Instead of wanting to be like God they wanted to emulate the society around them.
That can happen to us as well – and as we look at chapter 11 of 2nd Corinthians, Paul takes them to the task for being so gullible.
1 I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that.
Paul hoped that the Corinthians themselves would realize how empty the teachings of the false apostles was, but since they didn’t, he felt he needed to defend his credentials.
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.
Paul didn’t want to be embarrassed on the day of the great wedding feast of the Lamb.
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.
Satan attacked what Eve thought about God. Spiritual warfare begins with the thoughts – after they are won over, then actions will follow away from sincere and pure devotion to Jesus.
The battle ground for the mind! Who are you listening to?
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 one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
3 things: a different Jesus, spirit, and gospel
Mirrors Galatians 1:6-9 (read it)
5 But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." 6 I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
We don’t know what different gospel it was these guys preached. Some feel it was the same doctrine as was given to the Galatians – but Paul never refers to the law in 2 Corinthians.
It could have been that through credentials, oratory, and special spiritual powers (12:1,12) that they claimed to be just as good as Paul. The focus of the Christian life shouldn’t be to have the coolest leaders or the most hip church – but to do the work of God.
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?
In the Corinthian (and Greek) culture – you judged the worth of a speaker by how much they charged. If someone spoke for free – they were judged “cheap” and worthless. Speakers of the day also had “patrons” or “sponsors.” And when they spoke they would make sure to say things that the sponsor would want to hear.
Now, of course, we don’t have that kind of thing happening today – nothing like sponsorships or altering the message so as to not offend the sponsor? We do, actually. We see it everywhere and its really what our entertainment industry is based on.
Paul didn’t want to be misunderstood. Even though he could have been paid (Jesus said it was okay) he chose to earn his own money to support his ministry. It’s called being bivocational – and there’s nothing wrong with it. Paul was judged for it. We need to make sure we don’t judge the value of a message by how much it cost or whether the speaker is sponsored or not!
Not only that, but Paul used support from other churches so as not to burden the Corinthians:
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.