Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 11

Chapter 11: 2 Corinthians 11: 1-33, marks of true apostle 


Heavenly Father, we pray for a special anointing into Your Word. We pray for Your help, presence, and fellowship. We pray for the rain of the Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon us today, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-4, 1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly, and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it!

God is a jealous God. The church is the bride of Christ. Christians owe their allegiance fully to Christ. Paul warned his audience not to be deceived by the false apostles who preached a corrupted gospel, a corrupted Jesus, and a corrupted spirit.

VV 5-6, 5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.

Paul sarcastically commented that he was inferior to the most eminent of the false apostles. The false apostles falsely accused Paul for his poor oratory skill and lack of knowledge.

VV 7-9, 7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything, I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

Paul asked 1 rhetorical question. The false apostles falsely accused Paul of robbing other churches so that he could offer free services to the Corinthian Church. Paul never requested financial support from the Corinthian church. He worked as a tentmaker and received financial support from the Macedonian churches.

VV 10-15, 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! 12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 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 asked 2 rhetorical questions. Paul boasted about Achaia because he loved them. Paul warned his audience to reject the false apostles because they were ministers of satan. They transformed themselves into ministers of righteousness although they were ministers of lawlessness. They were wolves in sheep’s clothing. Even satan transformed himself into a false angel of light to deceive people.

VV 16-21, 16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! 20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold, I speak foolishly, I am bold also.

The false apostles boasted according to the flesh but Paul boasted according to the Spirit. The false apostles exalted themselves, enslaved their followers, and devoured them. Paul did not give us any hint on whether these false apostles were Gnostics or Judaizers.

VV22-23, 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool, I am more, in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.

Paul’s 4 rhetorical questions indicated that the false apostles were Jews. They were ministers of satan, sent by him to oppose the work of God and deceive the Corinthian Christians.

VV 24-28, 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 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, 26 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; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness, 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily, my deep concern for all the churches.

Paul asked 3 more rhetorical questions. He spelled out the marks of a true apostle, viz. suffering, tribulations, trials, and persecutions. Paul was beaten, persecuted, and stoned by the Jews, robbed by robbers, and shipwrecked in the open seas. He suffered weariness, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, cold, and even nakedness. The tribulations that Paul suffered were beyond imagination, and yet he did not give up on the ministry. If Paul was not a true apostle, he would have thrown in the towel and given up.

VV 29-33, 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Paul asked 2 more rhetorical questions. If Paul wanted to boast, he would only boast about his weakness. With God as his witness, Paul testified that he told the truth. In Acts 9:25, when the governor of Damascus wanted to arrest Pau, his supporters hide him inside a basket, lowered the basket down the wall through a window, and successfully allowed Paul to escape out of Damascus.

Acts 9: 25, “Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.”


Satan and his agents walked around as an angel of light to deceive Christians. False apostles are present even to this day. There are false preachers and teachers of the prosperity doctrines and other heretic doctrines going around deceiving Christians. We should be careful not to be deceived. The best way to counter this threat to know the Word and be biblically literate by diligently studying the Bible.


Heavenly Father, thank You for raising up the great apostle Paul who educated us through his extensive writings in the New Testament. Thank You for his faithfulness, determination, boldness, and spiritual gifting, in Jesus’ name, Amen.