2 Corinthians 11:1-15: Confronting False Teaching
May 12, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Paul continues to defend himself—but really, he is defending the gospel. Into the focus now come the “super apostles.” These were false teachers who were confusing the Corinthians. Paul takes them on. What can we learn from Paul about how we can confront false teaching?
First, Paul identifies that the issue is a core/central issue. In his view, these false teachers are preaching a different Jesus. So we need to be careful that we do not go around confronting every teaching with which we disagree. There is room for differences of conscience, different emphases, different opinions about even controversial matters that the Bible does address. But when it comes to Jesus himself, and preaching a “different Jesus,” then the gloves come off—that kind of false teaching must be confronted, lovingly but still truthfully.
Second, Paul clarifies some of the confusion and addresses the accusations head on. There can be a tendency to “hunker down” and “circle the wagons” and not actually address the criticisms. But Paul brings out into the open what he is being criticized for and then answers the concerns. He was being criticized for not taking a salary—presumably because that somehow made him seem superior to the Corinthians. He was also being criticized for not speaking according to the training of the day—they didn’t think much of his teaching style. Both these criticisms he addresses. Concerning his teaching style, he basically says that while they may not like the way he says what he says, they (and he) know that what he says is true. He has knowledge. Much better to stick to the truth than winsomely communicate a lie! Concerning the accusation about not taking a salary, he says that he did it deliberately. He did not want to be a burden to anyone. And he’s not going to change this policy with relation to the Corinthian church at least, though in other circumstances he strongly advocates that it is right for ministers to receive their salary from their work for the gospel. He needed to undercut the client-master system in Corinth to show that the gospel was above and beyond all that power structure.
Third, he left no one in any doubt regarding how high the stakes were. These super apostles were “false apostles, deceitful workers” and “their end will be what their actions deserve.” We all make mistakes. Even teachers can make mistakes with what they teach. But for someone to deliberately teach a “different Jesus,” the only reason in the end can be that there is a deliberate intentionality—and behind that is the work of the devil himself. We don’t like to use that kind of extremist language. And we certainly should be careful to let secondary issues be secondary (and not try to make them primary). But when someone teaches a different Jesus, then Paul (as apostle, with his authority—an authority we do not possess other than in the Scriptures) declares the satanic origin of the false teaching.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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