v1-4 - The reason that Paul is so concerned with the behavior of the Corinthian church is because as their pastor, he has an obligation to present them as a pure people to Christ. Yet when heresy comes along, they "put up with it easily enough (v4)."
Paul talks about a "Jesus other than the Jesus we preached" and a "different Spirit." But what does this mean?
From the very beginning of the Church, the message of the gospel has been under attack.
At times it's been a 'Jesus+' message, meaning that it was well and good to believe in Jesus, but you needed to add your own good works to the equation to earn salvation.
Other times Jesus gets reduced to the missing ingredient to a healthy, wealthy, fulfilling life, as in 'be like Jesus in order to enjoy your best life now.'
One of the most pernicious distortions the church is being attacked with now is that Jesus loves you so much that He would never condemn your lifestyle as being sinful or wrong.
The message of this chapter is clear: do not put up with these dangerous, salvation robbing deceptions.
v5-15 - Paul contrasts his own humble approach with that of these deceivers. He concludes that it makes since that those preaching a different gospel look so slick and polished, because they're following the pattern set by the master deceiver, Satan himself.
We tend to think of Satan looking like a hideous monster, but he's not. He "masquerades as an angel of light," as one who often looks very attractive.
This means that often those who look the best outwardly (as judged by the standards of this world) may very well be one sent to try and pull you away from the gospel.
v16-33 - This final passage is pure sarcasm. In a sense, Paul says "I can play their game too. I can boast about how awesome I am."
The entire point of this chapter is that the gospel is always about and focused on the finished work of Jesus Christ in providing salvation to those who believe.
Anything that distracts attention towards the preacher or towards lifestyles or teachings that minimize salvation from sin by grace alone through faith alone are massively dangerous and you must flee from it.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: 1 Kings 22:1-28 tells the story of when wicked King Ahab would only listen to 'prophets' who told him what he wanted to hear as opposed to truly seeking God's will. He didn't listen to the one true prophet, and he paid with his life.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: As you recall Paul’s account of his sufferings as an apostle, how many times did he receive the thirty-nine lashes? How many times was he beaten with rods? How many times was he stoned? How many times was he shipwrecked? (See verses 24–25.)
Paul speaks in verse 4 of a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel. How would you explain these in your own words?
Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our God and Father of the Lord Jesus (v31)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will know the Bible well and use it as the standard by which you judge all things.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: