God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who was valiant for the truth before Pilate (John 18:33-40).
Paul asked the Corinthians to indulge him when he spoke to them about the enemies of truth.
II Corinthians 11:1:
Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
Again, Paul departs from his typical manner of discourse and asks the Corinthians for some leniency as he handles the next very important matter. He does not like to boast, and certainly not in anything other than in Christ. He has just said in verse seventeen of chapter ten: “He that glorieth [boasts], let him glory [boast] in the Lord.” However, as he faces these enemies of truth he is obliged to respond in this manner. In essence, Paul says, “All right, I’ll play your game for a moment. I’m sorry I must do so, as it is foolishness, and not at all the way I like to conduct myself.”
When Paul asks them to bear with (tolerate) him and allow him to be foolish for a moment, it is for good reason. Some of those Paul led to faith in Christ had begun to follow these enemies of truth and disparage their spiritual father (I Corinthians 4:1-13). These enemies of truth were so wise, so eloquent, so persuasive, so convincing. Paul is simply asking for the same tolerance they have extended to others. Then he tells them why.
II Corinthians 11:2-3:
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
In verse two, Paul presents himself as the “father of the bride.” He reminds the Corinthians of the relationship he has with them and the deep obligation he feels toward them. He became, as it were, their spiritual father, and they became his virgin daughter. Now, as their father, it is his duty to keep them pure and innocent. Paul had good cause to be concerned about their purity and devotion to the gospel of Christ. This imagery of the proud father of a beautiful young woman conveys excellently Paul’s love and zeal toward the Corinthians.
He recognized the trap they had fallen into and the danger they faced. Although he used the word “fear,” it was not an unfounded paranoia; he sensed a very clear and present danger. It was the same thing that Eve faced in the Garden of Eden. The serpent of old ― cunning creature that he is ― deceived Eve by perverting the truth. With all his smooth talk, he omitted, added and changed words until the truth was hidden and Eve believed his lies. Paul feared that the enemies of truth he identifies for them, with all their silver-tongued oratory, would do the same. They intend to lead the Corinthians astray from a simple and pure commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ that Paul preached in his gospel.
These enemies of truth in Corinth were intent on corrupting the church by turning the attention and affection of this espoused “bride” toward someone other than Christ. By referring to the Corinthian church as a new bride who needs the protection of her father, Paul is indicating that they were vulnerable to those who would deceive and corrupt them. The reason Paul gives for asking for their indulgence is because he is their “father,” and it is his responsibility to see that their purity is protected and simplicity of life is maintained.
Now he proceeds to identify the enemies of truth and their activities.
II Corinthians 11:4:
For if he that cometh preacheth [kērussō] another Jesus [enemy #6 on the list], whom we have not preached [kērussō], or if ye receive [lambanō] another spirit [enemy #10 on the list], which ye have not received [lambanō], or another [heteros] gospel [enemy #5 on the list], which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [tolerate] him.
If they preach another Jesus or introduce another spirit or gospel, they are enemies of truth. Do not tolerate them. That is part of the problem the Corinthians had. They tolerated what they should not have tolerated (i.e., immorality and doctrinal falsehood), and they did not tolerate what they should have tolerated (the quirks, idiosyncrasies, personality eccentricities and foibles we all have that the enemies of truth were using against Paul.)
Do not believe everything anyone says about Jesus. He can be misrepresented. Jesus is presented as having homosexual relations with the twelve; he is portrayed as sexually promiscuous with Mary Magdalene and others. We need to know Jesus according to Paul’s gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ concerning the mystery of godliness.
There are spirits other than holy spirit. They are evil spirits and should not be allowed to function within the church. They can function incorporeally and in ectoplasm that can be felt and experienced in the natural world. When we receive people who are operating evil spirits, we frequently receive the doctrines of devils they propose.
John also charged the believers to not believe every spirit. It is our responsibility to scrutinize, examine and prove the spirit. It will take a clear awareness of the genuine to enable us to distinguish it from the counterfeit.
I John 4:1-4:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
These evil spirits are at work in the world, but we have no reason to fear them because we have overcome them ― because the holy spirit we have and operate is so far greater.
Here in II Corinthians 11:4, we find the same use of heteros gospel that we read in Galatians chapter one. Again, it is a heteros gospel, a different kind of gospel. Paul was adamant about opposing these things.
Paul continues his boasting, admitting that the errors he may have made were for their benefit. He was genuine and authentic and loving and kept on speaking the truth.
II Corinthians 11:5-12:
For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. 7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. 12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
Paul’s sacrificial lifestyle is evidence of his love for them. He sets himself apart from those who are frauds, those who are simply into ministry for the money. Paul will do everything he can to distinguish himself from those who want to be considered his equals, but who are in reality false apostles. I love what Bob Deffinbaugh says about these verses:
“One thing he [Paul] knows for sure—they [these enemies of truth] are not going to minister free of charge. This is one area in which they will not attempt to look like Paul. By his selfless, sacrificial lifestyle, Paul sets himself apart from the greedy hucksters who take advantage of others by pretending to be servants of God. Do Paul’s opponents boast? Let them boast in ministering free of charge, or let them realize they are nothing like Paul.”
Paul now gets right to the point and exposes these enemies of truth for exactly who they are.
II Corinthians 11:13-14:
For such are false apostles [enemy #1 on the list], deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
These false apostles are deceitful workers. Following Satan’s lead, they misrepresent themselves as apostles of Christ. Just as apostles are sent to bring new light to the generation and culture to which they minister, these false apostles feign doing the same. They report visions from God and new ― usually “extra-biblical” ― light as their credentials. They often fool even the very elect of God. Even the best of us can miss it. They are false apostles because they are liars.
The church of Ephesus in the Book of Revelation is commended because they identified false apostles for who they were.
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
There remains one more on our list from II Corinthians 11, and that is false brethren. In II Corinthians 11:23-33, Paul lists several of the things he suffered for the sake of the gospel. In verse twenty-six, he lists some of the perils he endured.
II Corinthians 11:26:
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren [pseudadelphos].
These brethren are deceptive. Instead of supplying support, they in reality opposed the work Paul was doing. Even though these brethren were born again and part of the family of God, the term false brethren applied to them because they were deceptively working against Paul, putting him in perilous situations. Paul may have been unaware initially that these were false brethren. It was not until he saw their fruit that he was able to identify them correctly.
Next, we will investigate Paul beseeching Timothy to be valiant for the truth and keep the doctrine pure. Finally, we will see how these enemies use the subterfuge of lying signs and wonders to deceive and seduce even the elect of God.