“1I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.” 2 Corinthians 11:1-6 NIV
The Apostle Paul begins this passage, at least to me, in a strange way by saying “I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes please put up with me!” What foolishness is Paul talking about? Is he getting ready to get silly or make trouble?
I think he answers that question in the next verse when he says “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” Does he dare to talk about jealousy, infidelity, and virginity? Oh yes, he does, he does.
Jealousy, as we know, is a defensive reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship, whether it’s an activity and/or another person, it is contrary to the jealous person’s definition of their relationship. For Paul to say that he is jealous for the Corinthian church, like a nosey busy body may sound ridiculous or foolish. Also, Paul mentioning his desire to present the church as a “virgin” to Jesus might have caused a few snickers (laughter not the candy bar) from the audience as well. To understand why this topic might have been considered foolish, you have to understand the context of Paul’s audience.
This passage, of course, is from the 2nd letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that he helped established in around AD 50 on his second missionary journey. Corinth was a thriving cosmopolitan city located between two bodies of water. People from all over the Mediterranean world would converge on the city. It was a melting pot of Greek, Roman, Oriental culture and religion. Corinth was the home of the temple of Aphrodite or Artemus. She was supposed to be the goddess of sensual love and pleasure. It’s been said that one thousand temple prostitutes served at the temple. Even in the morally corrupt society of the Roman Empire, Corinth was known for it’s excessive moral decay. The Romans used the word “Corinthian” for someone who was immoral and excessive in that immorality. Corinth may have been the sin city or “Las Vegas” of the Roman Empire, so for Paul to talk about jealousy and virginity might have seemed like a foolish way to start the conversation.
Paul is worried that the Corinthian church is on the verge of being unfaithful to or cheating on Jesus, the faith, and the Gospel. According to Paul in this passage, they were in danger of being deceived or led astray from their “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” by false teaching, to accept “another gospel” or “another lover”. What does “pure devotion to Christ” mean? Does that mean our relationship with God is suppose to be monogamous? Does God get jealous if we worship or are in relationship with other gods, if we believe “another gospel”, or if we follow “another Christ or Spirit”?
2“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3“You shall have no other gods before me. 4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:2-6 NIV
“14Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.“ Exodus 34:14 NIV
Purity means freedom from adulteration or contamination, freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature. God wants our complete devotion, “Love the Lord with ALL your heart soul mind and strength”. There is no room for “other” gods. When it says, “no other gods before Me”, it also means none “besides Me”. Jesus was pretty clear that there was only one way to God the Father when He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) One way. One God.
The message from Paul to the Corinthian church is just another example of the relevance of scripture today. There are those in our present culture who are preaching “another Christ, another spirit, and another gospel”. These are the “other” that Paul mentions in verse 4 when he says, “other than the Jesus we preached”. Who is the “We” he mentions in this verse? They are the actual eyewitnesses, the super-apostles, who not only knew Jesus but were also commissioned to tell the world about him. Paul shares that he is not the “least inferior super-apostle” because he actually encountered Jesus in real life too: on the road to Damascus (Acts 9, 22, & 26), in a vision in the temple (Acts 22:17-21), and another vision in prison (Acts 23:11). He “qualifies”. Check out this endorsement.
After Jesus appearance to Paul on the Damascus Road in Acts 9, He appears to Ananias and says, “Go! This man (Paul) is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16 NIV) Jesus declaration and endorsement of Paul as His “chosen instrument” is enough for me.
We have a new generation, even Christians, who are being deceived and led astray by “another Christ, another spirit, and another gospel”, and as Paul says in verse 4 are willing to “put up with it easily enough”. To “put with” something means we’re willing to tolerate or accept it. We find it adequate or suitable. It’s “okay”. Paul’s use of the words “easily enough” implies that it will be done without a fight or fuss.
About a month ago, I shared about a pastor that teaches that God, not the serpent, was the deceiver in the Genesis account of Adam and Eve. His theory? God didn’t want Adam and Eve’s eyes or minds to be opened to the truth, to be “like God” knowing all things. God was “holding out on them”. The serpent was only there to tell the “truth”, to give Adam and Eve what they were entitled to, equality with God. He was selling or spinning “another gospel”. Some would say a yarn.
Paul wasn’t confused about who was deceiving whom when he said, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray.” Paul, like the other apostles, and Christians throughout history have all had to encounter false teaching, other gospels. It’s nothing new. It just has a new spin on it. I wished I could say that this pastor’s creative spin on the Gospel was hard to come by, but it’s not. It is thriving and growing in popularity, even among mainline denominations, including our own. It comes in various forms and in varying degrees of extremism, but it’s there. Sometimes its very subtle and cunning as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 11:3.
The deceiver hasn’t retired. He is just spinning yet “another gospel” with an old lie.
If you need modern day examples of “Another Gospel”, I would encourage you to read Alisa Childers book by the same name or you can follow her podcast on YouTube.
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.