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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, May 26, 2017

2 Corinthians (11:12-33) (Lesson 24)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                       Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

2 Corinthians (11:12-33)                                                      (Lesson 24)

Welcome to our informal Bible study called HBS.

Last week we learned that Paul accepted financial assistance from the Believers in Macedonia and Achaia and he referred to this as robbing other churches by taking wages from them to serve the Corinthian saints (2 Corinthians 11:8).  The reason Paul accepted their money, even though they had little to spare, and they received nothing in exchange for their gift, was so he didn’t have to accept any money from the Corinthians.

It was Paul’s guiding principle not to accept financial support from the church at which he was currently ministering.  Once he moved on, he accepted their offerings.  The Corinthian church was the one exception; he continued to refuse financial assistance from them even after he left there (1 Corinthians 9:11-12; 2 Corinthians 11:9).  Paul calls this refusal to accept support from Corinth his boast, which is really an oath (11:10).

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Please open your Bible at 2 Corinthians 11:12.

2 Corinthians 11

12: But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.

Here Paul’s talking about continuing to preach the gospel free of charge as he’s done before and labor with his hands to support himself that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 

2 Corinthians is the follow-up letter to Paul’s sorrowful/stern letter that brought about repentance (a change of heart and mind) in some of the Believers in Corinth.  But it fell short of being a “home run,” if you’ll permit the expression, because it failed to convict every single Believer of their sinful rebellion against God and in turn these same folks did not renew their commitment to Christ.  Then after Paul left, Jewish intruders from Jerusalem came preaching another Jesus and a different gospel (11:4).  With Paul away, up in Philippi most likely, they had full access to the Corinthians hearts, minds, and their money. 

Therefore, it was the Corinthian’s perception of the truth that concerned Paul, which prompted him to “cut off their opportunity.”  The phrase “cut off opportunity” means to cut the ground from under.”  Today someone might say, “Pull the rug out from under;” they essentially mean the same thing.  Paul means to say he intends to give these false apostles no opportunity to accuse him of desiring to obtain riches from preaching the gospel.  Since the false apostles received wages from the Corinthian church regularly, they desired to be able to say they followed Paul’s example.   In truth, these Jewish intruders sought any plausible occasion to accuse Paul of misconduct to ruin his reputation and to discredit his ministry. 

To be regarded just as we are - the false apostles didn’t just consider themselves Paul’s equal, they considered themselves his superior in all things related to the ministry.

Let’s go to verses 13-15.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

A preacher in God’s service must respond to personal attacks that’s a given!  But Paul had bigger fish to fry, as they say today.  Defending the gospel required Paul’s immediate attention.  There’s no doubt this is the chief reason he refused to concede an inch of ground to these Jewish intruders:  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  The language here is extremely harsh and intentionally so.  These men were masquerading as apostles, as servants of righteousness, and attacking the very Person of Jesus Christ with their false doctrine.

How does Paul know they are false apostles?  That’s simple; their methods reveal them to be deceitful workers.  The word false in the Greek language is Pseudos (pronounced:  psyoo’-dos), Noun, Neuter, Strong’s Greek #5579, meaning:  a lie, an untruth.  Although they pretended to be Christ’s delegates, i.e. an apostle (Apostello = “to send forth”) the fact is they were not. 

The adjective deceitful (Dolios in the Greek language – dol’-ee-os), Strong’s Greek #1386, means: treacherous, deceitful, and fraudulent; advertising the bait and concealing the hook!  I’m reminded of a used car salesman I encountered some time ago…  I mentioned a minute ago that these false apostles had access to the Corinthian’s “money;” now we’re going to see what Paul meant by that.

These Jewish intruders from Jerusalem claimed apostolic authority and all the rights associated with the office.  One of these is financial support.  They practiced dishonesty in trying to “catch” the Corinthian Believers for their own deceitful purpose and to further their reputations.  Therefore their misrepresentation of their missionary activity was deliberate and for impure motives.  The openly claimed to be serving Christ, when in fact they served no one but themselves and at the Corinthian’s expense (11:20). 

In this way they are like wolves in sheep’s clothing, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (Matthew 7; Acts 20:29; 2 Peter 2:1-22; Jude 1:3:16).  Their behavior doesn’t surprise Paul, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  This is an obvious biblical truth, but no one but Paul states it so clearly.  Even as Satan appears as an angel of light, false apostles within the church may have the credentials, they may dress well, they may be good looking, and they may speak eloquently, adding a bit of truth here and there to their untruths.  However Paul wants these Corinthian Believers (and us) to know it is foolish to rely on outward appearances alone (1 Samuel 16:7). 

Jesus Christ identified Satan as the father of lies and yet his major deception against mankind is masquerading as truth (See Genesis 3).  Evil always tries to counterfeit the good; this is why every plausible lie has some element of truth added to it.  For example when the antichrist arrives on the scene in the future, mimicking good, seemingly having the answers to all of mankind’s problems, in actuality he comes masquerading  as the counterfeit christ, evil incarnate, and in truth he proves once again he is mankind’s #1 problem (Daniel 9:27). 

Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds (v15)Paul uses the word righteousness often in his writings, but not in the sense he uses it here.  Here it means, “goodness” or “integrity” as in Matthew 6:1a:  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them…

Whose end will be according to their deeds – Paul may be trying to draw their attention to Proverbs 24:12 with this comment:  If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?  And does He not know it who keeps your soul?  And will He not know render to man according to his work? 

However, let us not overlook the fact it is also the basic truth of scripture in this dispensation, which Paul revealed to all Believers:  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body; according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Let’s move on to verse 16.

2 Corinthians 11

16: Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, so that I also may boast a little.

Again I say – Paul refers to what he said in 2 Corinthians 11:1, boasting in oneself is foolish, but the current circumstances compel me to do so. 

Let no one think me foolish – But don’t think me a fool for doing so.  Despite what Paul’s many critics say he was not comfortable with personal boasting (2 Corinthians 1:17).  Paul boasted because the false apostles forced him to use their methods against them in order to be heard, a little.  Paul then adds a bit of sarcasm at the end of this verse. 

Verse 17:

17: What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.

Remember Paul summed up Jesus’ life and attitude in 2 Corinthians 10:1, i.e. by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, but when it came to boasting or human comparisons, Paul freely admits there is no precedent in Jesus:  I am not saying as the Lord would.

Verse 18:

18: Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also.

The false apostles had attacked Paul and the gospel by comparing his heritage and spiritual giftedness with theirs (2 Corinthians 11:8).  Paul was greatly distressed by the fact that this church had listened to them and had been swayed by their arguments, which were primarily untruths.  Therefore he decided to use their own tactics against them for the sole purpose of restoring this church’s confidence in his leadership and in his gospel.

Verse 19:

19: For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly.

I don’t believe you need me to point out the sarcasm in this verse… everything these false teachers accused Paul of the false apostles practiced themselves and the Believers in Corinth fell for their teachings, hook, line, and sinker.  

Let’s not be too critical of the Corinthians, folks.  Far too many churches today are repeating their mistakes and walking in their footsteps, gladly.  Case in point:  my wife recently received a phone call from a friend who lives in the Midwest.  This person just left their church after arguing with the substitute pastor over some recently announced changes in their doctrine.  She suggested he come in for counseling…  He declined the invitation.  He said he had his Bible to go by and that was good enough for him.  He was certain there would be “no changes” made to it…

And church leaders wonder why people are leaving their churches in droves.  Wake up America.  Bottom line:  these new “rules” are congregation driven, meaning the people are demanding that their church re-write or dismiss certain “tired, out-dated church doctrine.  Essentially, these folks believe you can continue in your sin and force the church to accept both you and your sin.  That goes for any sin. 

Let’s not be afraid to call this what it is.  The activity isn't new.  It’s been going on for centuries.  This is nothing more than an attack on the authority of God’s Word and a failure on behalf of the leaders of this church (and others) to stand for the truth.  It’s Satan #1 weapon against God.  This book clearly says we are to welcome the adulterer, the homosexual, the thief, etc. for we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).  But are we to congratulate them for being a sinner and wish them well?  No (Romans 1:32). 

Let’s go to verse 20 where Paul uses five terms to describe how the false apostles were taking advantage of the saints in Corinth.

20: For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.

For you tolerate (See 2 Corinthians 11:4) it if anyone enslaves you – the word enslave in the Greek language is Katadouloo (pronounced:  kat-ad-oo-lo’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #2615, meaning:  to bring into bondage.  This word is only used here and in Galatians 2:4 where Paul refers to the Judaizers who sought to enslave the Galatian churches to the rules and regulations of the Mosaic Law or to become a Jew in the full sense of the word, in order to be saved.  But here, the false apostle’s doctrine, i.e. the rules and rituals they preached at Corinth for salvation is uncertain. On this scripture is silent.

If anyone devours you - Katesthio in the Greek language (pronounced:  kat-es-thee’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #2719, was commonly used of animals of prey, meaning to “eat up.”  In using it, Paul means to say these false apostles set out to utterly devour, or eat up the Corinthians finances.  I overheard my parents using the expression, “They intend to eat us out of house and home…” on far too many occasions while discussing family finances.  I didn’t know who “they” were but I understood what my parent’s meant.  Someone was trying to get at their money, leaving them little or nothing.    

If anyone takes advantage of you (the church) the word advantage in the Greek is Lambano, (pronounced:  lam-ban’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #2983, and it means to catch; to take unaware through the use of alluring bait.  Paul means to say the church is being swayed by untruths or tricked by the false apostles.

If anyone exalts himself – the Greek word for exalts is Epairo (pronounced:  ep-ahee’-ro), Verb, Strong’s Greek #1869, meaning to hold or lift up.  Paul’s saying these individuals had an inflated image of themselves and of their accomplishments.   They didn’t need to seek praise from other’s; their boasting clearly demonstrated they were willing to do this themselves. 

Hits you in the face – the Greek word for Hits is Dero (pronounced:  der’-o) Verb, meaning to flay, flog, scourge.  According to this book, it usually refers to a physical beating (Matthew 21:35, Mark 12:3; Luke 12:47; John 18:23; Acts 5:40, 16:37, 22:19).  However, Paul probably meant it figuratively to denote insulting behavior or a domineering style of leadership. 

Place your bookmark here and please remember to read ahead. 
We’ll finish up chapter 11 next week.

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved







Friday, May 19, 2017

2 Corinthians (11:1-11) (Lesson 23)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                       Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

2 Corinthians (11:1-11)                                                      (Lesson 23)

Welcome to HBS and thank you, one and all, for being here today.

We finished our study of 2 Corinthians 10 last week where Paul Describes Himself.
This week we begin our study of chapter 11 where Paul Defends His Apostleship.

As we continue studying chapters 10-13 we’re going to realize this section of 2 Corinthians is entirely different from the previous portion of the letter because Paul is defending himself and his apostleship against the attacks from some of the Believers in Corinth and the false apostles from Jerusalem.  Paul goes on the offensive because the Jewish intruders were discrediting the gospel by preaching another Jesus (11:3-4).

Who’s Really Behind All These Attacks Against Paul in Corinth?

When we become ill to the point of being bedridden, we’re unable to see the virus at work within us causing the problem.  However we know the road to recovery begins by taking the necessary measures to overcome it, only then will our bodies experience wellness.  In like manner, the Believer’s in Corinth weren’t able to see the evil force causing the problems within their church.  That’s because, the greatest trick Satan ever played on mankind was getting them to believe he does not exist.  Consequently, these attacks against Paul and his ministry was actually Satan attempting to gain a victory in Corinth.  He meant to knock Paul down, and then out of the spiritual battle to win souls for God, and to halt the expansion of Christ’s one, church.   He employs one tried and true practice for doing this.  He denies the Word of Truth or the authority of scripture, always.  (Genesis 3:1-7; 2 Corinthians 2:11, 11:12-14; 1Timothy 4:1-3)

Do we see this happening today?  That would be Yes!  Today the Bible remains a bestseller, yet it remains the most un-read book of all time!  More and more we’re finding Christians in this nation agreeing the Bible is behind the times; it’s out-of-step with the modern family’s agenda, meaning:  they have issues with it, so they’re going their own way and church leaders are helping them (Matthew 7:13-14; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).

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Please open your Bible at 2 Corinthians 11.  We’re going to start with verses 1-6.

2 Corinthians 11

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me.  For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.  But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.  For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.  But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things (v1-6).

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness - in last week’s lesson, Paul made it clear to his antagonists physical comparisons are foolish.  Perhaps this is why this comment is here: bear with me in a little foolishness; a sarcastic lampoon, in the Sophist’s rhetorical style of that day.  For the good of the gospel and this church Paul had to defend himself.  Boasting wasn’t Paul’s forte; he would prefer not to go there, as this verse and others affirm (11:17 – 11:21).

But indeed you are bearing with (hearing) me – Paul gives this church three reasons why they should listen to him in 2 Corinthians 11:2, 4, 5.

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; – here, in subtle fashion, Paul introduces us to two types of jealousy.  There’s sinful jealousy, a.k.a. the green-eyed monster we all become familiar with as children while playing a game of dodge ball or tag in our backyard or while sitting around a table playing a board game such as Monopoly, Scrabble, or Yahtzee with family and friends.  Any one of these may have started out as a “friendly game,” but in our humanness jealousy becomes the issue that spoils the activity, causing emotions to surface and tempers to flare, if we’re being honest with one another.  When you reached puberty and started to date, you soon learned that jealousy refuses to tolerate a rival and it’s the frequent cause of a broken heart.  Husbands and wives recognize jealousy is the cause of many shattered dreams and broken marriages.   

The other type of jealousy which Paul speaks of here is a godly jealousy.   In a nutshell, this means God is jealous for those whom He loves and takes positive steps to help them (John 3:16; Romans 8:28-31).  In this instance, Paul’s saying he shared God’s jealousy for other Believers (Philippians 1:6-8). 
 
When the Corinthians began to “fall for” the subtle perversion of the gospel being propagated by Satan’s servants who had infiltrated their church, Paul wrote:  For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin (v11:2). 

If you’ve been with us for awhile, then you’re aware this book teaches us and we have established the fact that God’s one church is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24) and that Believers become members of His body through baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).  How is it most of Christendom teaches the Church is the bride of Christ?  The above passage is one of the verses they use to support this argument.  The other passage is (Ephesians 5:22-23). 

Read out of context, verse 11:2 may appear to support such an idea, but the verses (11:3-6) that follow correct that wandering belief.  Paul instructs the Corinthians to remain faithful to Christ and to his gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Paul had to defend his gospel constantly from both unbelievers and Believers.  Paul admits he wasn’t the best speaker on the circuit.  But in terms of knowledge, he was far ahead of anyone else; he was God’s apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).  Paul’s comment:  present you as a pure virgin” was to illustrate his desire for holy living for these Believers, not to teach the Church at Corinth they are Christ’s bride – any more than Paul taught that he was their mother (See Galatians 4:19).

According to the O.T. Wife and bride are terms and titles that belong to Israel not the Church.  Our title is “the Body of Christ.”  Let’s be sure we are “rightly dividing” this book and then remember as the Body of Christ, we are of the Bridegroom, not the bride.  If you cannot tell the Bridegroom from the bride at a marriage, it is going to be a confusing wedding ceremony.  But please note God is not the author of confusion (Corinthians 14:33).  He wants us to know who we are in Christ Jesus, where we fit in His plan, and what promises belong to us.   

Let’s move on to verse 3.

2 Corinthians 11

3: But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness - here Paul takes these Believers back to the account of the woman’s temptation in Genesis 3 (1 Timothy 2:14).  Satan deceitfully led her away from the LORD God in cunningly devised steps which ultimately brought her to the point of self-assertiveness and independence from God, which brings our Apostle Paul to state:

your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ – Paul’s still alluding to the woman’s fall from grace in Genesis 3 and he means to say it’s possible for Believers to be deceived, manipulated, and ultimately defeated by the forces of evil (1 Corinthians 15:33).  Bottom line:  The saints in Corinth didn’t trust Paul’s apostolic authority evidenced by the fact they thought and acted in worldly ways – not having the mind of Christ. 

They didn’t appreciate or care for Paul’s appearance and simplicity in speech for instance.  This was an important point because Paul’s apparent weakness was shared by Jesus Christ who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).  So, you see, it wasn’t only the apostolic credentials of Paul that were under attack; the very nature of Christ was being attacked and we know who was behind this; don’t we.  

Verse 4-6:

For if (any) one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.  For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.  But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. 

In case you unaware, Paul made a similar statement elsewhere.  Let’s all turn to Galatians 1:6-8:  I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him (God) who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

What’s Paul point?  He’s saying these false apostles were not building on the foundation he laid of Jesus Christ dying for the sins of all mankind, being buried, and then rising from the grave on the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 15:1-4).  They came preaching a different gospel; they came preaching another Jesus. 

This book does not give us information about this different gospel, i.e. its content, but it doesn’t really matter what their message was.  All that matters is these false apostles preached a false gospel to God’s people, which they received openly (v4)!

Verse 4 is one of the most scrutinized verses in chapters 10-13 largely due to Paul’s identifying the Corinthian intruders and their false teaching.  After close examination though, there are few clues as to what “another Jesus” or a “different gospel” really mean.  Therefore, it’s difficult to say for sure what Paul meant by these terms.  What we can take away from this is these false apostles were not disagreeing over some minor doctrinal matter, but over the person and work of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).

After reading the remainder of this letter, it becomes pretty clear these false apostles were the Judaizers, as in the book of Galatians, who came to Corinth claiming the support of the Jerusalem church, and carrying letters of reference from the same.  I say this because of Paul’s remark in 11:22:  Are they Hebrews?  So am I.  Are they Israelites?  So am I.  Paul asserts time and time again in this letter he possessed the proper credentials as God’s apostle, but he didn’t have one letter of recommendation from Jerusalem and this was one of the problems he faced. 

Let’s go to verse 5.

2 Corinthians 11

5: For I consider (think) myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.

As I always point out to the group, it’s just as important to know what this book does not say as it is to know what this book says.  Too many people are quick to call Paul a false apostle and a braggart.  The reason for this should be rather obvious; discredit Paul and you discredit his gospel (Romans 2:16) – the only gospel in effect that saves people today.  Can you guess who is behind this activity?  Let’s all say it together… Satan!  The same tactic he used in the Garden of Eden and in Corinth is being used today – Lies/deception.  I find it remarkable that mankind hasn’t learned a lesson yet. 

However, in verse 5, Paul isn’t saying he’s superior to these other apostles, as some people would have you believe, he merely said, “I don’t believe I’m inferior to them.”  If you’re paying attention, it was the false apostles who considered themselves to be “super-apostles,” i.e. eminent, as compared to Paul.  No one but Paul uses this sarcastic term in the N.T.   We know he’s referring to these intruders because later in this letter he refers to these folks as deceitful workers (11:13) and servants of Satan (11:15). 

In verses 6-12, Paul deals with two specific areas of supposed weakness that his rivals chose to attack:  his speaking ability and his lack of financial support.

Verse 6:

But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things – Paul freely admits his public speaking skills were deficient, after all he wasn’t a professionally trained speaker, and he certainly wasn’t Apollos, a gifted speaker (Acts 18:24).  But he followed that comment up with this statement:  Yet I am not so in knowledge,” meaning he is not ignorant but skilled in the knowledge of the Church Age Doctrines he teaches.  Put another way, Paul knows what he’s talking about because he received it, first-hand from the Lord and not from men (Galatians 1:15-20), whereas his opposition does not. 
 
In fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things – Paul’s saying you know all there is to know about me; I’ve hidden nothing from you.  The thought Paul is expressing to these folks is this, “You’ve had ample opportunity to become acquainted with my manner of speech and my knowledge.  Must we dwell on this subject?”

From 1 Corinthians 2:1a, it is clear the Greeks placed a great deal of importance on an individual’s oratorical skill.  In this respect they are not much different than many church-goers today who place too much emphasis on the entertainment aspect of the church service and this includes the sermon.  Paul wasn’t trying to please people or meet people’s standards; he was concerned with faithfully preaching the gospel in order to save some.  Therefore, his knowledge more than compensated for any perceived lack of speaking skill (v6).   The word knowledge means those truths associated with proclaiming the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17), which is often missing in many church services today. 

Verses 7-8:

Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?  I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you.

The word Paul used for sin in the Greek language is Hamartia (pronounced:  ham-ar-tee’-ah), Noun, Feminine, Strong’s Greek #266, meaning:  missing the mark, a fault, failure.  He uses it in a non-moral sense of “did I make a mistake or misjudgment?” 

This is another one of Paul’s questions to the Corinthians which expects a “No” answer.  Today, the expected answer might very well be the proverbial “Duh.”  This is also another example of Paul’s sarcasm and it’s related to the ongoing controversy of his not accepting financial support from this church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:3-18). 

The exaltation of the Corinthians was made possible through Paul’s own lowering or humbling of himself.  When he first arrived in Corinth, just prior to the Isthmian games (Acts 18:2-3), he went to work as a tentmaker to support himself so he could effectively preach Christ crucified, buried, and raised from the dead in the synagogue.  He did not ask for or accept funds from the Corinthians.  This was not unusual for Paul; he never accepted financial support from the churches he currently ministered to.    

The idea that Paul lowered himself by working with his hands was not his own.  It was the suggestion of his critics at Corinth.  The majority of Greek society, especially the social elite, frowned on the idea of an educated man performing manual labor; they considered it undignified.  In our society today the social differences between blue-collar laborers and white-collar workers reflects the same prejudice. 

At some point he did receive funds from the Macedonian churches and he was able to stop building tents and give his full attention to evangelism (Acts 18:5).  His only reason for accepting these funds he said is so he could serve the Corinthians.  In verse 8 Paul said:  I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you.  Paul does not mean he took money from the churches of Macedonia, especially at Philippi (Philemon 4:15-16), which seems to have contributed liberally to Paul’s ministry, illegally or by force as the word would normally suggest.  Here Paul means to say he accepted their money but gave them nothing in return for it, “the laborer was worthy of his hire” (1 Corinthians 9:7-14).  In Paul’s opinion, he did not follow this rule while serving the Corinthians. 

Let’s go to verse 9:

2 Corinthians 11

9: and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.

What’s Paul saying in verse 9?  I underlined a couple of phrases that should get the discussion started in the right direction, and I’ll start with an illustration.  Anyone who goes to work understands the burdens and the difficulties involved in attempting to make “ends meet.”  Paul was a craftsman (tentmaker) and the life of a laborer working from sun up to sun down was difficult, even if you had an established business, i.e. people trusted you and your work.  However, Paul traveled a lot.  When he arrived in a city and set up his business, no one knew him or his work.  Paul had to compete with others who were better off in that they were well known and had established a clientele.    

I would think Paul previous comment:  giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, such going hungry (v6:4-5) begins to make sense, especially when you consider what he said in verse 9:  and when I was present with you (in Corinth) and was in need…  Paul clearly was in need but he was determined not to be a burden to the Corinthians.  When the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.

He was so adamant about this policy of offering the gospel to both Jew and Greek at no cost that it took the form of an oath in verse 10:  As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia.

Verse 11:

Why?  Because I do not love you?  God knows I do!  There isn’t any sarcasm expressed here only a true expression of genuine love from this man’s heart. 

(To be continued)

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