2 Corinthians 11:1-6
One Jesus, One Spirit, One Gospel
Paul has been so very patient with this church—and so very humble. Indeed, I will show you in a moment how he was much “nicer” to this church than he was to the churches in Galatia. Regardless, Paul expressed a reticence (at least it seems to me) to exercise his authority over the Corinthians as his apostolic office required and was instead quite gentle. In this chapter, Paul finally lays out his “bio” for them as proof of his apostolic bona fides with which his opponents, the “super-apostles,” could in no way match. Being a humble man, Paul didn’t want to ask the Corinthians to “bear with [him] in a little foolishness,” but what choice did they give him as they still clung to false teachers who were so charitable as to malign him! And so the vita that Paul gives them finally arrives in this chapter where he lists the many persecutions and afflictions he endured throughout the faithful discharge of his apostolic ministry. That is a devotion for another day as it arrives a little later than the passage we take up now, but these verses lay the groundwork for that up and coming rehearsal.
But having asked the Corinthians to bear with him in a little foolishness, he chides them for bearing with others; so, why not bear with him? But the indictment which Paul lays at their feet is terrible: “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” Now hear Paul’s words to the Galatians: “If we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” And then he repeats himself to be even more emphatic (1:8-9). Paul is quite certain that there is no other Jesus, no other Spirit, no other gospel than the one he originally preached to the Corinthians, and even compares the acceptance of others as the equivalent to the deception played on Eve buy the cunning serpent. Perhaps the nature of the situation in Corinth required a more diplomatic tack than what he employed with the Galatians. But the truth is still the same: There is no other Jesus, no other Spirit, no other gospel, and to align oneself with such is to forsake the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, spurn the offer of salvation contained therein, and turn one’s back on eternity in heaven for eternity in hell. And this is why Paul must outline his apostolic credentials—because he will not give them up but will fight these peddlers of a false gospel to the bitter end for these whom he “betrothed to one husband, to present [them] as a pure virgin to Christ.” We fight for the purity of the one gospel.