2 Corinthians 11:1-5 (ESV) - I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 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. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.
Question to consider: How does the church today compare with the Corinthians?
In today’s passage, Paul finally gave a name to those that were undermining the work he had done in Corinth: super-apostles. Just like the Judaizers convinced the Galatians that they needed to be circumcised in order to become Christians, these men were leading these men astray from the gospel delivered by Paul at the inception of this church.
Just like the serpent brought into question the word of God about the tree in the garden so these snakes were raising doubts that Paul could be God’s apostle to the Gentiles since He allowed Paul to go through poverty and affliction. Once they were able to cast doubt about Paul, they cast doubt on the gospel preached by Paul.
So Paul felt the need to engage in a little folly to justify himself as Christ’s apostle in order to keep them from putting their faith in the wrong Jesus. Just as Paul was afflicted, so was Jesus. If they believed Paul was a lesser apostle in his affliction, then they must have started to believe in a cross-less Christ.
Divine jealousy is the notion that God will not share His people with any other god. He is not jealous of us but for us. When we experience jealousy, it is usually selfish. We think we deserve someone as a possession and are afraid of personal rejection if that someone finds a better person. God is not afraid we will find someone better than Him. There is no god besides Him. Anything that leads us away from God is leading us toward destruction, and God does not want that for us. Paul knows that if they entertain a different gospel, it will be no gospel at all, and it will lead them into death instead of life.
It’s unfortunate that the Corinthians were so willing to put up with these false teachers merely because they were physically present, and Paul could only warn them from a distance. How do we compare with the Corinthians? We also don’t have the apostles among us today and have to read their instructions through these very same letters. God is just as jealous for us as He was for the Corinthians and will not share us with those who preach a different gospel or a different Jesus. Just like the Corinthians, we need to share in the body and blood of Christ, we need to remember our baptism into the faith, we need the fellowship of other believers in the church, and we need to be shepherded by a Titus or a Timothy who preaches God’s word faithfully.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for being jealous for us and keeping us from the way of destruction. Please open our eyes to Your word and let it change us from the inside out. As hard as it is to face our sin, help us to recognize it, confess it and turn from it so that we may be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Amen.