|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:5-15 It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives. The apostle would not give room for any to accuse him of worldly designs in preaching the gospel, that others who opposed him at Corinth, might not in this respect gain advantage against him. Hypocrisy may be looked for, especially when we consider the great power which Satan, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience, has upon the minds of many. And as there are temptations to evil conduct, so there is equal danger on the other side. It serves Satan's purposes as well, to set up good works against the atonement of Christ, and salvation by faith and grace. But the end will discover those who are deceitful workers; their work will end in ruin. Satan will allow his ministers to preach either the law or the gospel separately; but the law as established by faith in Christ's righteousness and atonement, and the partaking of his Spirit, is the test of every false system.
Verse 15. - Whose end shall be according to their works. Whatever their fashion (schema), they shall be judged, not by what they seem, but by what they are, as shown by their works.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore it is no great thing,.... It is no strange and wonderful thing; it may easily be given into; no man need to make any doubt of it, or hesitate concerning it, since the devil himself, who is an angel of darkness, is transformed into an angel of light:
if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; not that they really are transformed into such ministers, but they appear and look like such; they are not really, but "as the ministers of righteousness"; they put on the form and air of faithful upright ministers of the word, and would be thought to be such; they mimic Gospel preachers, who assert the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ, though they most miserably corrupt it, and blend it with something of their own; and which they endeavour to palliate, and cover from the sight of men; and especially they set up themselves as such, by pretending to be great friends to holiness and good works, which they press with much vehemence, and oppose to the doctrines of grace, with all their might and main; in doing which, they greatly serve their master, whose ministers they are; and who well knows that the doctrine of works may do much prejudice to the Gospel interest, and churches of Christ, but will never convert nor save one soul: a dreadful character these men have, for though they would pass for ministers of righteousness, friends to holiness, and men zealous of good works, they are no other than ministers of Satan, doing his work, serving his interest, and propagating his kingdom, which is a kingdom of darkness:
whose end shall be according to their works; for either God will make public examples of them in this world, or if they are not made manifest here, though they may deceive themselves and others, they cannot deceive God; he will take off the mask, their hypocrisy shall be detected, their evil works will be laid open, and they will be judged according to them, and condemned for them to everlasting punishment.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. no great thing—no difficult matter.
if his ministers also—as well as himself.
righteousness—answering to "light" (2Co 11:14); the manifestation wherewith God reveals Himself in Christ (Mt 6:33; Ro 1:17).
end—The test of things is the end which strips off every specious form into which Satan's agents may now "transform" themselves (compare Php 3:19, 21).
according to their works—not according to their pretensions.
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