2 Corinthians 11:13
For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
Note 20 at 2Co 11:13: Paul wasn't mincing any words. He had come right to the point. His critics were "false apostles." He went on to call them "deceitful workers" and Satan's "ministers" (2Co 11:15). This leaves no doubt that these people were not deceived but were deceivers.
It's important to note that it is toward the end of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians that he became this blunt (actually the third letter - see Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to 1 Corinthians). He had countered the attacks on his apostleship in many ways without attacking his attackers, but here, he was "pulling out all the stops." He cannot really be criticized for doing this, but it's very interesting that he was using this form of defense last. Most people would have begun their defense by trying to discredit their opponents.
This shows that Paul was not taking these attacks personally. He was more concerned about the Corinthians than he was about himself. He taught them scripturally why their doctrine was wrong; that way, they could "see through" not only these individuals but also anyone else who came preaching another gospel. Only as a last resort did he counter the people who were causing the problems.
There is a time to counter "false apostles" personally. However, it is not all the time, and it should not be the first line of defense. That type of thing signals immaturity and selfishness. Those who have a so-called ministry of exposing "false apostles" are false apostles themselves (see note 5 at 2Co 3:3).
Note 21 at 2Co 11:13: False apostles are mentioned in 2Co 11:5, this verse; and Re 2:2. General references to unfaithful ministers are found in Isa 56:10; Jer 6:13, 23:11; La 2:14; Eze 33:6; Mic 3:11; and Php 1:15. Characteristics of false shepherds are found in Isa 56:10-12; Jer 23:2, 50:6; Eze 34:2-3; Zec 11:17; and Joh 10:12. General references to false prophets are found in De 13:5, 18:22; Isa 9:15; Jer 2:8, 5:3, 14:14, 23:16; Eze 13:2, 22:28; Ho 9:7; Mic 3:5; Zep 3:4; Zec 13:3; Mt 7:15, 24:11; and Mr 13:22. Warnings against false teachers are found in Mt 5:19, 15:9; 1Ti 1:7, 4:2, 6:3; 2Ti 4:3; Tit 1:11; and 2Pe 2:1.
Some examples of false or corrupt ministers found in Scriptures are Nadab and Abihu (Le 10:1-2), Eli's sons (1Sa 2:12-17), Samuel's sons (1Sa 8:1-3), Judas (Mt 26:14-16), Simon the sorcerer (Ac 8:9-11), the Judaizers (Ac 15:1 and Ga 3:1-4), Elymas (Ac 13:6-11), Hymenaeus and Alexander (1Ti 1:20), and Philetus (2Ti 2:17-18).
Note 22 at 2Co 11:13: The Greek word that was translated "transforming" here is "METASCHEMATIZO." This word literally means "to transfigure or disguise" (Strong's Concordance). The New International Version translates this phrase as "masquerading as apostles of Christ." Paul was saying they disguised themselves to look like apostles, but they weren't. The best way to recognize a counterfeit is to become so well acquainted with the real thing that no one can fool you. Those who have only a casual knowledge of God and His ways are susceptible to deception. Those who know God and His ways intimately are not.
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