I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! (11:1)
When we read something like this from Paul, we can be sure that he isn’t going to be telling jokes, no, there’s a gut punch coming. He tells the recipients that he had hoped to present the Corinthian church to Christ as a pure bride, but that they, like Eve, had been deceived by serpents. These serpents, however, are entirely human. They, the “super-apostles” were fakes and frauds who all too easily had led them astray.
I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 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? (11:5-7)
These three verses are nothing less than fascinating, for we can glean some insight into both the accusations levelled at Paul by the super-apostles, and at the manner in which Paul lived while in Corinth. Paul it would seem, was not a great orator, but unlike his foes, he knew what he was talking about. Paul did not act the “right” way, for he lived in humility, rather than for profit; he didn’t charge a fee to share the gospel. Unlike the people the Corinthians were used to, Paul came to them as a servant, rather than as a master.
That is an interesting bit of insight for us to ponder.
I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 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. As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! (11:8-11)
I would imagine that this bit of text would be rather shaming for the proud Corinthians; The bothers from Macedonia who were in Paul’s party took care of all of the expenses, so Paul could serve the Corinthians by teaching them about Christ. Faced with such a loss of face, what would any proud Roman do? Accuse Paul of stealing from the Macedonians, of course. Paul was having none of that as he once again threw it in the faces.
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. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (11:12-15)
As we see, Paul isn’t going to change the way he is doing things, and he isn’t going to hold back, comparing his opponents with none other than Satan himself. I doubt there is much for me to add about Paul’s self-explanatory remarks in these verses. However, there is something much closer to home that I should mention. You see, what was going on in Corinth with these opponents and critics of Paul’s was a manifestation of spiritual warfare. Paul makes this clear enough as he makes this comparison of their tactics to those of Satan. Let’s think about it…
Who is the Accuser of our brethren?
It is Satan. These people came along and presented a false gospel together with false accusations based entirely upon a deceitful twisting of the facts about Paul for the sole purpose of discrediting both he, and the gospel of Christ that he preached. Why would they bother? They did it to destroy the Body of Christ. Satan tried to directly destroy the Son of God by scheming to have Him nailed to a cross, but God raised Him from the dead in triumph over sin, death and Satan himself: Satan cannot defeat the Lord Jesus Christ, and he cannot defeat the Father in heaven, but he can deceive the followers of Christ, His Body the church; at least he tried to.
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles stood in his way, but Paul was not backing down, instead, in this section, he doubles down and calls out the deceivers, and by the power of Christ, the deceivers will be overthrown. Yet in another amazing shift, Paul will show us that those who would act as the agents of Satan will be overthrown by weakness, not by brute strength, at least, not Paul’s brute strength.