Paul snidely labels those who are opposing him in the Corinthian church as the “super-apostles” (11:5). Images of Clark Kent with a Bible come to mind. He tells us a good deal about these people in today’s reading.
- They have been able to sway some of the church away from true doctrine (11:3)
- They may have been teaching significantly different things about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the gospel (11:4)
- They clearly were well-educated, much more than Paul, especially in the area of rhetoric (11:6)
- Given that much of this book is about the collection Paul is taking up for the Christians in Judea and that Paul repeatedly has to defend his financial decisions, the super-apostles were likely accusing Paul of using the Corinthians for money (11:7-9)
- They are so flawed as to actually be “false” prophets (11:13a)
- They transform themselves, chameleon-like, to look pious and orthodox (11:13b)
- Paul calls them servants of Satan, implying they are a threat to spiritual purity, not simply other Christians with views different from Paul’s (11:15)
- They are destined for Hell (11:15)
- They regularly boasted about themselves (11:18)
- They are enslaving, insulting, and exploiting the Corinthians (11:20)
- They may be Jewish (11:22)
- They have not sacrificed as much as Paul for the sake of the gospel (11:23-29)
So who are these people? When you put it all together it makes a lot of sense that these super-apostles were the same Judaizers who followed Paul throughout the eastern Mediterranean undoing his grace-oriented Christianity with a re-binding of law on Christians. Their air of superiority had much to do with their ethnicity and training in the law.
For Paul these differences are more than surface differences of preference and style. The super-apostles had eviscerated the very gospel and in so doing they were not to be tolerated at all.
What caught your eye today?
Categories: 2 Corinthians
Tags: 2 Corinthians, apostle, Bible, false, false teachers, gospel, Holy Spirit, jesus, Jewish, Judaizers, Law, opposition, Paul, reading, teachers
Much of this new letter from Paul to the Corinthians revolves around a need Paul felt to defend his authority and reputation as an apostle. We saw some of this in 1 Corinthians too. It would appear there were other self-proclaimed apostles who had come to the Corinthian church after Paul who were discrediting Paul and trumpeting their own reputations. In Paul’s response, we find some of the clearest teachings on what it means to be a minister of Christ, what our goal is for ministry, and from where our power comes (and we are all ministers if we choose to be, even if we don’t receive a paycheck from a church). As much as possible, as we make our way through 2 Corinthians I am going to focus my posts on these ideas.
Today’s passage is a familiar one:
But thanks be to God — the God who always leads us in his triumphal procession in the Messiah, and through us reveals everywhere the sweet smell of knowing him. We are the Messiah’s fragrance before God, you see, to those who are being saved and to those who are being lost. To the latter, it’s a smell which comes from death and leads to death; but to the former it’s the smell of life which leads to life. (2:14-16)
It is not our job to save. Our job is to witness, to live, to smell. In fact we can’t help but smell. That is just what happens when we live the way of Christ in this world. People will sense something from our lives about what it means to know and be known by God. Whether they like the aroma of our life is also out of our control. Some will, some won’t. And in the context of this passage, it has nothing to do with our level of sincerity. Lost people can’t appreciate the smell of life. But saved people find it as comforting as the smell of home-made brownies. Our job is to walk, and even this is out of our control. Prisoners of war were paraded, often in chains, through cities like Corinth in a “triumphal procession.” God is even in control of where we walk. Yet, we walk, and as we do a smell is emitted. That is our job: to smell.
What did you notice about ministry in this chapter?
Categories: 2 Corinthians
Tags: 2 Corinthians, apostle, aroma, Bible, death, defend, example, goal, God, life, lost, minister, ministry, odor, Paul, power, prisoner of war, reading, save, saved, scent, smell, witness