Today Paul warns the Corinthians of the false prophets who are preaching another Jesus. Paul says he humbled himself by preaching to the Corinthians for free so that he would be set apart from these false leaders who are all about their own greed and glory. Paul tells them that these false prophets are actually doing the work of Satan – “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
Paul rebukes the ones who are boasting in their flesh and not the Lord; but in order to defend his position against these false leaders, Paul goes on to boast in his flesh, or as he calls it, “speak as a fool.” However, Paul’s account of his life looks a lot different than the identity of the proud and popular false teachers – “I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches… If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.”
Paul says he will not only boast in his weakness, but the Lord actually purposed his weaknesses which Paul calls “thorn in the flesh”, so that he stays humble and dependent upon the Lord – “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul concludes his second letter to the Corinthians by telling them to, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”
If they believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins and rose three days later defeating death, and if they hate their sin which leads to repentance, and if they have a desire to obey the word of God, then they can be assured that Christ is in them.
Over in Troas, Paul’s current location on his journey to Jerusalem, a man falls asleep while Paul is preaching, falls three stories, and dies. “But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, ‘Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.’ Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.”
Tomorrow Paul arrives in Jerusalem. Keep reading.
(2 Corinthians 11:1-13:14, Acts 20:7-12)