Paul: “Allow me to make a point here”

Here is a very helpful paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, about Paul and the False Apostles-

A paraphrase by Bob Deffinbaugh at

Reluctantly, I am going to attempt to commend myself, following the same approach as those who oppose me when they commend themselves. I know this is foolishness, and I regret having to do it, but I hope that you will tolerate me as I engage in such foolishness. What am I saying? In some of your minds, you’ve been tolerating me and my foolishness for a very long time, haven’t you?

There is a very good reason why you should cut me a little slack and allow me to make a point here, even if foolishly. Let me remind you of the relationship I have with you, and the deep obligation I feel concerning your relationship to Christ. When I came to Corinth and preached the gospel to you, you came to trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life. I became, as it were, your spiritual father. And you became my virgin daughter, as it were. Through the gospel I proclaimed to you, I arranged your engagement to Christ, to whom you are to be married, when He returns for you. And now, as your father, it is my duty to keep you in a state of purity and innocence toward Christ, until the day of your marriage. My problem is that I have good cause to worry about your purity and devotion to Christ. The danger to which I am referring can be seen at the very outset of human history, when Satan led Eve astray. Satan (the serpent), cunning creature that he is, deceived Eve with all his smooth talk. In the same way, I fear that false apostles in Corinth will lead you astray from a simple and pure commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ with their silver-tongued oratory. Satan, our arch-enemy, is behind all this, and he will attempt to seduce you by using the very same tactics he successfully employed with Eve.

It is evident that Satan has already gained a foothold among you, indicating that my fears concerning you are well-founded. This is demonstrated by several forms of “intolerable toleration” on your part. If one comes to you preaching about a “Jesus” other than the biblical Jesus of whom we have written and spoken, you are very tolerant indeed. And when the Holy Spirit is rejected and replaced by another “spirit,” you don’t even seem to notice the change. Furthermore, the gospel that we preached is being corrupted and distorted, so that it is really another gospel, and yet you are ever so gracious to these heretics, tolerating them and their heresies without so much as a word of protest.

Now I know that you think you have good reason to question the role that I should play in your lives, and this is why I must defend myself against some of the charges leveled against me. One of them is that I should not even be ranked among the “super apostles.” The reason given is that my presentation doesn’t seem to be as smooth, as persuasive, or as forceful as the eloquent speech of others. All right, so I am not like them in style. (Some of this may be by choice, and not just a matter of ability. You should look at what I have said elsewhere, such as in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 3:1-32 Corinthians 1:17; 4:1-2.) But set aside the eloquence factor for a moment, and at least acknowledge that while I may fall short of others in this regard, I am not inferior to them in terms of the truths God has given me to reveal (such as the “mysteries” I have mentioned in Ephesians 3:8-10). This is knowledge I have taught you, so you can’t be ignorant of the unique contribution I have made as an apostle, which other apostles were not chosen to reveal.

I know another reason why some have very little regard for me as an apostle. My opponents (like their pagan peers) judge the value of the speaker by the size of the fee he charges to deliver an address. By this standard, I would seem to have nothing worth saying since I often refuse to be remunerated for my teaching (as I have already pointed out in chapter 9). Sometimes I earn my own keep by working with my hands. On a few occasions I may minister to you free of charge because of the generous support I receive from other churches, like those in Macedonia. Is preaching free of charge such a great offense to you? Was I wrong to do this, and did I rob other churches when I allowed them to support my ministry to you? My actions were prompted by my desire not to be a burden to you. I would rather be like Christ, sacrificially giving of myself to bring about your good. This is something I will not cease doing, because such sacrifices (unlike my opponents, who boast in their honoraria) are the basis for my boasting. Don’t you see that this is further proof of my love for you?

There is another reason why I will not live off of your contributions. By finding my financial support elsewhere, I am able to distinguish myself from my opponents in Corinth and elsewhere, who really try to represent themselves as functioning on a par with me. They want to be regarded as having the same ministry and the same authority as I do, along with my colleagues. They want to claim an equal status with those of us who are authentic apostles, and they do so by boasting in a certain matter, which they believe makes them equal with us.

I might as well come right out and say it, because it should now be obvious. These men are not really apostles like us at all! These men are deceitful in their representation of themselves and their ministry. They are only apostles in disguise, and by deliberate intent. This should come as no surprise, for Satan himself operates in the same way. Satan does not come to us as the arch-enemy of God, the ultimate evildoer. He comes disguised as an angel of light, not as one who promotes evil. He would rather look like Mother Theresa than Charles Manson. If the arch-enemy of God operates by deceit and disguise, why should we expect his underlings to be different from their master? They, too, come to us disguised as servants of righteousness, or as Jesus said, as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). These fellows will get what they deserve, because their final destiny will be determined in accordance with their deeds (and not the appearance of their deeds, but the reality of them, as I have just exposed them).


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