Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 31
2 CORINTHIANS 8:7 – 11:22 – PART 2
When we were first asked to teach on television, Iris and I dragged our feet for about three months but finally the Lord just laid it on us so heavily that we decided we would explore the possibilities. We never dreamed the program would go for more than six months. Now we’re several years down the road in this ministry. So Iris and I are in this together, and that in itself is a miracle of God, how He brought us together. Who would have ever dreamed that we’d be used the way we are by Him. Now let’s pick up where we left off in the last lesson and that would be with verse 4.
II Corinthians 11:4a
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus,…”
Now what do you suppose Paul is talking about? Well, something other than the Jesus Who died for the sins of the world, and rose in power and glory from the dead. You don’t hear that too much anymore do you? We hear a lot of preaching about Jesus. Once, I was teaching in Northern Iowa and we had a house full of young people every Saturday night, and that was just after the Jesus Movement of the 60’s. Remember that? And that’s what they were. They just loved to sing, “Here comes Jesus walking on the water.” Well they only knew One Jesus, and that was the Jesus of His earthly ministry.
They knew nothing of the Christ of Calvary, they knew nothing of the shed Blood, they knew nothing of the power of His resurrection. And they aren’t alone. This is most of Christendom tonight. They know about Jesus, they know about Christmas and Easter, but the power of the work of the Cross, that’s something that has been long forgotten I’m afraid. But Paul says, `If they come preaching another Jesus than the One which he preached which was:
I Corinthians 1:23a
“But we preach Christ crucified,…” And here Paul says:
II Corinthians 11:4
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received , or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” Now in verse 5 we have the crowning statement of his defense of his apostleship, and how many times hasn’t he used it.
II Corinthians 11:5
“For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” Now who was that? Peter. Paul says he’s not a whit behind him. Now move across the page to Chapter 12 and look at verse 11.
II Corinthians 12:11a
“I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: (you forced me. Why? Because of them constantly accusing him of not being a rightful apostle. Paul didn’t have letters of commendations, he couldn’t say, “Well, I ministered with Christ for 3 years like Peter could.”) for I ought to have been commended of you: (was he? No, but he should have been. He was the one who brought them out of paganism, he was the one who brought them into the light of the Gospel of the Grace of God as found in I Corinthians 15:1-4. Now they are turning against him and not even giving him credit for it.) for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.””
I’ve told you that the Holy Spirit, by inspiration, over and over repeats things that need to be repeated, and here are two of them in two Chapters. In Chapter 11 Paul says, “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” and here in Chapter 12 it’s repeated again as he says, “for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles. though I be nothing. “ Paul doesn’t claim to be anybody. But when it came to being an instrument of God, he was everything. I’ve been alluding to it and I see I’m not going to get by without going to it, so turn to the Book of Galatians Chapter 2. I just love these verses when I defend Paul’s apostleship along with him. Because like I said before and I hear it so often, “Well Les, I follow Jesus, I’m not going by what some man says.” Well Who in the world do they think is speaking through this man? Galatians 1:
“But I certify (or guarantee) you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man, (Paul didn’t pick up someone else’s mantle.) 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by other men) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Now go to Chapter 2. The disciples have now called Paul and Barnabas up to Jerusalem. This is the great Jerusalem counsel of about AD 51 and this chapter is a parallel chapter of Acts Chapter 15. Now at this counsel the disciples have been coming down hard on Paul. They want him to back away from all of the claims of his apostleship, they want him to quit teaching that Gentiles can become believers without keeping the Law. (Acts 15:1 and Acts 15:5-6) They want him to embrace Judaism and circumcision, along with a belief in Christ. Now verse 5, and look what Paul says by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
“To whom (these men in Jerusalem, Peter, James and John and the rest) we gave place by subjection, (see what that says? He was under pressure to do what they said. But Paul says, `We didn’t give into to them’) no not for an hour; (and what was the end result of not giving in?) that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. (Gentiles. Now verse 6) 6. But of these (the Twelve) who seemed to be somewhat,…” They thought they were still head and shoulders above him, but they’re not. They thought they were, but their authority had slipped through the cracks and Paul’s had ascended. And so these who seemed to be somewhat:
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were,…”
That’s past tense. They had been, they were the Twelve, that Jesus had chosen. But Israel has rejected it all, and Israel is slipping away. In just a few years after this is written the Temple will be destroyed, Jerusalem is destroyed, and Israel goes into a dispersion among the nations of the world. Oh sure these disciples had had their time. But because of Israel’s unbelief they had lost it. Verse 6 again:
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference(when they really started comparing notes of doctrine, not experience.) added nothing to me:”
Now when it came to experience then who could have had the most? Well the Twelve. Look what they had experienced with all the miracles. Peter could even say, “Well Paul, I walked on the water.” And Peter did until he sank, but he made a few steps on the water. The Twelve could rehearse all of that because they had the experience. But you see Paul had the doctrine. Paul had the revelations from the ascended Lord. Now verse 7:
“But contrariwise, when they (the Twelve) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (the Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (the Jew) was unto Peter. 8. (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, (Jew) the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) “
What did Paul mean in verse 8 when he said, “the same?” The same Christ, the same God, the same Lord Jesus Who commissioned the Twelve to go to Israel, and they followed Him for 3 years, they ministered unto Him. But now that has all fallen through the cracks and the apostle Paul comes to the front, and now with this same Jesus he becomes the apostle of choice.
“And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John,…”
I always feel that in Scripture there is a reason for the order of names. And here Peter is not first. It’s not Peter, James and John, in fact the James of the Peter, James and John we read about in the Four Gospels is already dead, he’s been beheaded. This James is the one that wasn’t even one of the Twelve. But he is now at the head of the list. Peter has already lost his place of primary authority. Peter is not even moderating this meeting, but rather James is.
“And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John, who seemed (they weren’t really, but they thought they were. So they seemed ) to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, (to be the primary apostle now) they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; (they shook on the whole deal, and all agreed) that we (Paul and Barnabas) should go unto the heathen, (Gentiles) and they (would continue to go) unto the circumcision. (Jews)
Now the Twelve can only go to the Jews a few more years, because the Romans over-run Jerusalem, and Israel ceases to be a viable entity (until 1948) as they are scattered into every nation on earth. But until that happened, Peter, James, and John are going to hold forth among the children of Israel. But it was practically a lost cause because of Israel’s unbelief. So the reason Paul has to constantly defend his apostleship is because of those Twelve men in Jerusalem who refused to give up their authority. And that’s just human. I have nothing against Peter. I’m going to be just as anxious to meet Peter one day as any of the rest of them. But all this just shows their humanity, that they weren’t ready to relinquish that power and authority and admit that this Jew is now in the place of God using an instrument. Come back to II Corinthians. Verse 6.
II Corinthians 11:6-8
“But though I be rude in speech, (he didn’t have all the grammar in the exact order, evidently, but he wasn’t rude when it came to knowledge.) yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. 7. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? 7. I robbed (he took evidently a certain amount of wages from) other churches (in other areas of Greece) taking wages of them, to do you service.”
Paul, I think against his better judgment, actually took some offerings from those poor, poor people up in Macedonia and Achaia. I pointed out several weeks ago that Greece was mountainous and usually there was very little means of making a living by growing crops and so forth, so these people were poor. But nevertheless from that poor destitute area he did take money so that he wouldn’t have to take a dime from Corinth which was a wealthy commercial city. And I wouldn’t doubt that there were some pretty well-to-do people in that congregation. In fact we know there was. We read about them goofing up the Lord’s supper by bringing all their expensive food and wine? So Paul says, “I spared you who could have afforded it from giving me money, but instead I took it from those poor folks up in the mountains.” Now reading on:
II Corinthians 11:9,10
“And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia (Northern Greece, poverty stricken Greece, they) supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. 10. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.” (Southern Greece)
Now why do you think that the apostle Paul condescends so much to these carnal, fleshly, believing Corinthians” His answer is because he loved them as we see in verse 11.
II Corinthians 11:11,12
“Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. 12. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.” In other words, steeped in truth of the revelations from the ascended Lord. Now verses 13. 14, & 15 are tremendous doctrinal verses:
II Corinthians 11:13
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”
What do you suppose they were doing? They were using much the same language that Paul did. Oh, they would make reference to Christ, they would make reference to His death, burial, and resurrection, and to the Holy Spirit. Does that sound familiar? I hope it does because that’s exactly what we’re up against. They use all the seemingly right terminology, but it is totally empty of doctrine.
II Corinthians 11:14
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” He appears as though he is the one to be worshipped, and to be listened to. But it’s still Satan. He doesn’t’ change except for his outward appearance. So he’s transformed into an angel of light.
II Corinthians 11:15
“Therefore (since Satan is driving this, and he has people totally confused because of his outward appearances then therefore) it is no great thing if his (Satan’s) ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end (their eternal doom) shall be according to their works.”
Now that’s not me talking. God’s Word says that these people who seemingly can almost shine forth like an angel of light, and they seemingly have got all the power, and the world is full of it tonight, yet their end is going to be according to their works. As a great old Bible scholar from England said back in the early part of this century (referring to these kind of things), “I can envision the day when these people will stand before the great White Throne, which is a place for only the lost. They will stand there and suddenly realize that their faith wasn’t what they thought it was.” This is where we have to be so careful when what we see and hear doesn’t line up with the Word of God, then those who are proclaiming it, (and I say it cautiously) might very well be a minister of Satan who is the angel of light. Remember Satan will do anything (II Corinthians 4:3,4) to keep people from hearing the Gospel of salvation.
Let’s review what you’ve heard over and over since we’ve been in Corinthians, and that was the sufferings and pressures the apostle Paul came under in order to get the Gospel to us. Remember, our salvation is based on what Christ has done for us, (His death, burial, and resurrection) but the one who got that message out to the Gentile world was this man. Paul was literally sold out to Christ.
II Corinthians 11:16,17
“I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.” (In other words he said, “Let me just tell why I think God has used me as He has.) 17. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.” Remember I’ve told you that when Paul says, “I speak not by commandment as he did in Chapter 8:8.
II Corinthians 8:8a
“I speak not by commandment,…” Paul says in effect that it was his own words, and yet we know that he was inspired to write those words or else it wouldn’t be in here. Remember not a word is in here that the Holy Spirit didn’t cause each of these writers to write.
II Corinthians 11:21
“I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.” Now verse 22 gives us a clue.
II Corinthians 11:22
“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.”
Who do you think he’s talking about? The people that are constantly opposing his apostleship. They were Jews! Now, I’m not going to say here that it was definitely the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, but way down deep I kind of think so. Because they are still not ready to accept the fact that these pagan Gentiles could enter into a salvation experience without becoming a part of Judaism. But that’s speculation. The Scripture doesn’t say, but whoever he is referring to was Jewish. Because that’s what he says: Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Now let’s come on back to Acts Chapter 3. Now this was the very bulwark of these men. And Peter here is speaking:
“And when Peter saw it, (the arousing of the crowds when they healed the lame man) he answered unto the people, `Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? v13. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, ….'”
What does that tell you? That was the very engine of everything they were doing. Their heritage went back to the father of the Hebrew race, Abraham. And the Covenant men, Isaac and Jacob. And this is what just motivated these Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. And so Paul says, “You think I’m not part of that? You think I’m not an Israelite? Well, I’m a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” And in Philippians he said, “A Pharisee of the Pharisees.”