2 Corinthians 12:11-21 Misjudging Spiritual Leaders

by | Apr 12, 2023 | 2 Corinthians, New Testament

I. What The Corinthians Lacked

A. Lack Of Commendation Of Paul Vs. 11-13

1. V. 11- Paul tells them that they should have commended him.

a. Paul felt foolish telling them that. He never wanted to promote himself.

b. Remember: If Paul is discredited, then his message and work is discredited.

c. Paul presented a twofold truth about himself.

i. Paul wasn’t inferior to the so called super apostles in any way.

ii. He was infinitely more qualified than they were.

iii. That being so, he still saw himself as nothing without Jesus.

d. This is an apparent paradox, but it the true mark of a servant of Christ.

e. I am gifted and anointed, but I am nothing.

f. John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

2. They should have defended him against the accusations of the super apostles.

3. M. Henry- It is a debt we owe to good men to stand up in the defence of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those we have received benefit by, especially spiritual benefit, to own them as instruments in God’s hand of good to us, and to vindicate them when they are slandered by others.

4. V. 12- They was an abundance of evidence that would validate Paul as a true Apostle.

a. Signs, wonders, mighty deeds- teaching, evangelism, church planting, miracles.

b. Done in perseverance- Paul was greatly opposed by unbelievers, but he never quit.

c. Accomplished among you- Paul didn’t say, “Accomplished by me”. He deflected.

5. V. 13- It seems as though the false apostles tried to validate their authority through the fact that they received financial blessings from the Corinthians, whereas Paul chose not to. The fact that they “got paid” supposedly indicated that they were more valuable.

a. Paul is appropriately sarcastic with them.

b. Sarcasm can be a holy thing when presented appropriately to emphasize a point.

c. Inferior- Paul asks, “How did I treat you as being inferior to other churches”?

d. “Were other churches superior to you, resulting in me charging them for services”?

e. Instead of burdening them with finances, he chose to lift their burdens.

f. They interpreted that blessing through carnal misjudgment.

B. Lack Of Appreciation Of Paul Vs. 14-19

1. V. 14- We don’t know why Paul chose to not receive financial support from them.

2. He received financial support from other churches. (Philippians 4:10-19)

3. Paul’s desire was not for the Corinthians’ money, but for the Corinthians themselves.

a. He loved them like a father loves his children.

b. Typically, parents spend their lives to benefit their children, not the reverse.

4. V. 15- This verse hugely exemplifies and illustrates unconditional love.

a. Paul didn’t trade away his life in order for them to repay him.

b. He spent his life on them, hoping for nothing in return for himself.

c. V. 15b- This is a painful statement. Paul wasn’t angry or resentful, but hurt.

d. The Corinthians were so carnal, that they loved Paul less and less.

e. Each of us has had a “Paul” in our own life, and each of us is “a Paul” to someone.

f. We should be willing to spend our lives for others as others have done so for us.

5. V. 16- The “I” is emphatic. “I didn’t burden you, but by trickery, I sent others to do that”.

a. Cunning- Like the bait used to catch fish. Deceitful.

b. Paul didn’t claim to be un-burdensome to them, but then send others to take from them, who would come back and share the profit with Paul.

6. Vs. 17-19a- Paul asks the Corinthians to re-think and re-examine his history with them.

a. Did Paul or anyone he sent take advantage of them?

b. Had any of Paul’s helpers acted towards them any differently than Paul did?

c. NOTE- When there is conflict between Christians, this is a good method to use.

d. NOTE- Ask the offended party what offense had taken place.

e. Matthew 18:15-17 15“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

7. V. 18- Same spirit…same steps”. They had the same attitude and actions as did Paul.

8. V. 19b- Paul was able to honestly call them beloved, and to say that everything he did for them was for their edification, and not for his own enrichment.

a. We speak before God- “With God as our witness”.

b. do you think- Literally- for a long time you have been thinking this…

c. If Paul wanted to gain from them, he would have discontinued with them long before.

d. They didn’t respect him, they didn’t love him, they didn’t support him.

e. Instead, they accused him, defamed him, and listened to his accusers and slanderers.

C. Lack Of Holiness Vs. 20-21

1. V. 20- Paul feared for their spiritual well-being as a father fears for his children.

a. He is afraid that he will discover them being sinful in many ways.

b. He fears that he will not find them being spiritually healthy.

c. He fears that because of their sins, he will have to be “fatherly” with them; stern, etc.

2. The sins they fell into were relationship breakdown sins. Other sins were of immorality.

3. One solution to many of these sins would have been if they went to one another when one sinned against another.

4. It is telling and revealing that the Corinthians judged Paul so harshly, but wouldn’t judge their own lives regarding sin. Their sinfulness distorted their judgment. It always does.

5. V. 21- He is fearful that God will humble him if he discovers them in ongoing sin.

a. Will humble me- brought low. Paul expressed it as a fulfilled & expected condition.

b. Paul was fearful that he would end up mourning for them because of their lack of repentance and continued sinfulness.

c. Who have sinned before- This had become a pattern and habitual way of life for them

II. Application

A. Ungodly Living Leads To Ungodly Judgment

Romans 8:5-6 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

B. Don’t Evaluate Sp. Leaders Acc. To Human Standards Or Preferences

John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

C.God Puts Leaders In Our Lives For Our Benefit

Hebrews 13:7,17 7Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.