2 Corinthians 11:13
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
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(13) For such are false apostles . . .—St. Paul’s estimate of the character of his rivals is now given in unsparing language as the reason why he desires to deprive them of any claim which may give them an adventitious superiority to him. In the term “false apostles” we have the explanation of the “apostles extraordinary” of 2Corinthians 11:5. These “crafty workers” were carrying on a system of imposture, trying to assume the character of being, in a higher sense than he was, “Apostles of Christ.” This again throws light both on the words “if any man trusts that he is Christ’s” of 2Corinthians 10:7, and on the “I am of Christ” of 1Corinthians 1:12.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15. For such are false apostles — Whatever they may pretend to the contrary, being destitute of that divine mission which all the true apostles have; deceitful workers — Pretending to great disinterestedness in their work, while their only design is to promote their own interest; transforming themselves into the appearance of apostles of Christ — By pretending to preach the gospel without reward. And no marvel they assume that appearance; for Satan himself — In subordination to whom they act, can put on such deceitful appearances, and be transformed into an angel of light — Wearing, on certain occasions, a mask of sanctity and religion, in his attempts to deceive and insnare the souls of men, so that one would imagine his suggestions to be of a celestial and divine original. “In this manner, it may be supposed, Satan transformed himself, when he tempted our Lord in the wilderness; and in like manner also when he tempted our first mother Eve. Evil spirits are called angels of darkness, because they employ themselves in promoting error and wickedness, which is spiritual darkness. Whereas, good angels are called angels of light, because they employ themselves in promoting truth and virtue, which is spiritual light.” Therefore, it is no great thing — Nothing extraordinary; if his ministers also, under his influence, be transformed — That is, make themselves to appear; as ministers of righteousness — False teachers are justly called ministers of Satan, because they are employed in disseminating error, whereby Satan’s kingdom is supported in the world. And, on the other hand, with equal propriety are the teachers of true doctrine called ministers of righteousness, because of the efficacy of true doctrine to promote righteousness in them who receive it: whose end — Notwithstanding all their disguises; shall be according to their works — Here the end, as in Romans 6:21, signifies the final issue of a course of action; consequently the retribution which shall be made to the actor.

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.For such are false apostles - They have no claim to the apostolic office. They are deceivers. They pretend to be apostles; but they have no divine commission from the Redeemer. Paul had thus far argued the case without giving them an explicit designation as deceivers. But here he says that people who had conducted thus; who attempted to impose on the people; who had brought another gospel, whatever pretences they might have - and he was not disposed to deny that there was much that was plausible - were really impostors and the enemies of Christ. It is morally certain, from 2 Corinthians 11:22, that these people were Jews; but why they had engaged in the work of preaching, or why they had gone to Corinth, cannot with certainty be determined.

Deceitful workers - Impostors. People who practice various arts to impose on others. They were crafty, and fraudulent, and hypocritical. It is probable that they were people who saw that great advantage might be taken of the new religion; people who saw the power which it had over the people, and who saw the confidence which the new converts were inclined to repose in their teachers; perhaps people who had seen the disciples to the Christian faith commit all their property to the hands of the apostles, or who had heard of their doing it (compare Acts 4:34-35), and who supposed that by pretending to be apostles also they might come in for a share of this confidence, and avail themselves of this disposition to commit their property to their spiritual guides. To succeed, it was needful as far as possible to undermine the influence of the true apostles, and take their place in the confidence of the people. Thence they were "deceitful (δόλιοι dolioi) workers," full of trick, and cunning, and of plausible arts to impose on others.

Transforming themselves ... - Pretending to be apostles. Hypocritical and deceitful, they yet pretended to have been sent by Christ. This is a direct charge of hypocrisy. They knew they were deceivers; and yet they assumed the high claims of apostles of the Son of God.

13. For—reason why he is unwilling they should be thought like him [Bengel].

such—they and those like them.

false apostles—those "overmuch apostles" (see on [2324]2Co 11:5) are no apostles at all.

deceitful workers—pretending to be "workmen" for the Lord, and really seeking their own gain.

For such are false apostles; that is, persons pretending to be sent of Christ, but were indeed never sent of him.

Deceitful workers; persons whose work is but to cheat and deceive you; and that both with reference to their call and authority which they pretend to, and also to the doctrine which they bring.

Transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ; they were never apostles of Christ, only they put themselves into such a shape and form, that they might have more advantage to deceive.

For such are false apostles,.... Such as those he had in view, who sought an occasion to depress him, and exalt themselves, and to get money from the Corinthians; these were "false apostles", or apostles falsely so called; they had the name, but not the thing; they were not called and sent forth by Christ; they had not the grace of apostleship, or gifts qualifying them for that high office; the power and authority they exercised was usurped by them; they could not prove their mission by true and real miracles; nor had they any seals of their apostleship, as those who were sent by Christ had:

deceitful workers; they went by the name of labourers in Christ's vineyard, when they were loiterers in it; they pretended to work, but did not; and to work for Christ, when they only served themselves, and their own bellies; they took upon them to interpret the Scriptures, but in a very fallacious manner; they walked in craftiness, and handled the word of God deceitfully, and lay in wait to deceive men; and were masters of so much art and cunning, that, if it was possible, they would have deceived the very elect:

transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ: not so much by putting on a like garb or dress, but by pretending to be of the same principles, and to follow their practices, and to pursue the same good ends in their ministrations.

{6} For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

(6) Now at length he portrays these fellows as they truly are, forewarning that it will come to pass that they will at length betray themselves, no matter how they may be pretending that they have a zeal for God's glory.

2 Corinthians 11:13. Justification of the aforesaid ἵνα ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται, εὑρεθ. καθὼς κ. ἡμεῖς. “Not without ground do I intend that they shall, in that of which they boast, be found to be as we; for the part, which these men play, is lying and deceit.”

Those who take καθὼς κ. ἡμεῖς in 2 Corinthians 11:12 : not better than we, must forcibly procure a connection by arbitrarily supplying something; as e.g. Rückert: that in the heart of the apostle not better than we had the meaning: but rather worse, and that this is now illustrated. Hofmann, in consequence of his view of ἵνα ἐν ᾧ καυχ. κ.τ.λ. 2 Corinthians 11:12, interpolates the thought: “for the rest” they have understood how to demean themselves as Christ’s messenger.

οἱ γὰρ τοιοῦτοι κ.τ.λ.] for people of that kind are false apostles, etc., so that ψευδαπόστολοι is the predicate.[330] So also de Wette and Ewald. Usually, after the Vulgate (also Flatt, Billroth, Rückert, Hofmann), ψευδαπόστολοι is made the subject: “for such false apostles are,” etc. But it should, in fact, be rather put: “for the false apostles of that kind (in distinction from other false apostles; comp. 2 Corinthians 12:3; Soph. O. R. 674; Polyb. viii. 2, 5, xvi. 11, 2) are,” etc.,—which would be quite appropriate. Besides, the ψευδαπόστολοι, disclosing entirely at length the character of the enemies, would lose its emphasis. On the contemptuous sense of τοιοῦτος, comp. Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 843.

ἐργάται δόλιοι] comp. Php 3:2. They were workers, in so far certainly as they by teaching and other activity were at work in the church; but they were deceitful workers (dealt in δολίαις βουλαῖς, Eur. Med. 413, δολίοις ἐπέεσσιν, Hom. ix. 282, and δολίαις τέχναισι, Pind. Nem. iv. 93), since they wished only to appear to further the true Christian salvation of the church, while at bottom they pursued their own selfish and passionate aims (2 Corinthians 11:20). For the opposite of an ἐργάτης δόλιος, see 2 Timothy 2:15.

μετασχηματιζ. εἰς ἀποστ. Χ.] transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. Their essential form is not that of apostles of Christ, for they are servants of Satan; in order to appear as the former, they thus assume another form than they really have, present themselves otherwise than they really are. In working against Paul in doctrine and act, they hypocritically assumed the mask of apostle, though they were the opposite of a true apostle (Galatians 1:1; Romans 15:18 ff.; 2 Corinthians 12:12).

[330] Bengel says aptly: “Haec jam pars praedicati, antitheton, ver. 5. Nunc tandem scapham scapham dicit.” On the idea of ψευδαπόστολοι, Erasmus rightly remarks: “Apostolus enim ejus agit negotium a quo missus est, isti suis commodis serviunt.” Without doubt the people maintained for themselves their claim with equal, nay, with better right than Paul, to the name of apostle, which they probably conceded to Paul only in the wider sense (Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14; 1 Corinthians 15:7).

2 Corinthians 11:13. οἱ γὰρ τοιοῦτοι κ.τ.λ.: for such men (this explains the ground of his determination in 2 Corinthians 11:12 not to give opportunity for cavil) are false apostles (cf. Revelation 2:2. This speedy appearance of false teachers was one of the most remarkable features of the Apostolic age; cf. Galatians 2:4, Php 1:15; Php 3:18, Titus 1:10, 2 Peter 2:1, 1 John 4:1), crafty workers (cf. Php 3:2), fashioning themselves into Apostles of Christ, i.e., laying special claim to that great title (cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 10:7). μετασχηματίζειν τι is to change the outward appearance (σχῆμα) of a thing, the thing itself in essence (μορφή) remaining unchanged (see reff.).

13. For such] The link of connection is as follows. You cannot believe them in their boasting. They are false and deceitful in all their doings. They have not your interest at heart, but their own. Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 2:17.

false apostles] See Revelation 2:2; also note on 2 Corinthians 11:26.

deceitful workers] St Paul is indirectly aiming at such persons in ch. 2 Corinthians 4:2, as well as more directly in ch. 2 Corinthians 2:17. Cf. Romans 16:17-18; Php 3:2. The word workers is in the original equivalent to our word workmen or artisans. The reference is to workmen who shirk, or as it is called ‘scamp’ their work, instead of dealing fairly by their employer.

2 Corinthians 11:13. Οἱ γὰρ τοιοῦτοι, for such) The reason is herein given, [aetiologia] why he is unwilling, that they should be thought like him.—ψευδαπόστολοι, false apostles) This is now part of the predicate; the antithesis is at 2 Corinthians 11:5. At length he calls a spade a spade. Δόλιοι, deceitful, presently afterwards, is in conformity with it. [This is remarkable severity of language. Not a few have been of opinion: Such men are of a disposition not altogether to be despised, and it was not proper, that they should be so invidiously covered with disgrace: viz., They saw Christ, and now give their daily testimony to Him; they therefore ought to hold some place among others. But the cause of truth is most delicate; and the Indifferentism, which is so pleasant to many in the present day, was not cultivated by Paul. (Er war kein so gefälliger Toleranz-Prediger. He was no pleasant preacher of toleration.) There is this to be taken into account, that when his life was frequently in danger, the zeal of the apostle continued without showing any symptoms of weakness.—V. g.]—εἰς ἀποστόλους Χριστοῦ, as the apostles of Christ) They a not altogether deny Christ, but they did not preach Him truly, 2 Corinthians 11:23.

Verse 13. - For such are false apostles. This, with 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 and Philippians 3:2, is one of St. Paul's most passionate outbursts of plain speaking. "Now at length" says Bengel, "he calls a spade a spade." They were "false apostles" (Revelation 2:2), because a true apostle delivers the message of another, while these cared only for self (Romans 16:18). Deceitful workers. Workmen who cheat their employers (2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2). Transforming themselves. The verb is the same as in 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Philippians 3:21, and does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 11:13Transforming themselves (μετασχηματιζόμενοι)

Rev., better, fashioning, thus preserving the distinctive force of σχῆμα outward fashion, which forms part of the compound verb. See on Matthew 17:2; see on 1 Corinthians 4:6.

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