Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)If his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.—The words seem to point to one of the special characteristics of the Apostle’s rivals. They represented themselves as the preachers of a righteousness which was, they asserted, neglected in St. Paul’s teaching. They claimed the authority of one who was known as James the Just, or Righteous, and who had insisted emphatically on the necessity of a righteousness showing itself in act. They presented themselves as a kind of revival of the Chasidim, or righteous ones. (See Note on Acts 9:13.) It may be noted that the latter developments of the same school, as seen in the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions, present, in the midst of much that is both false and malignant, an almost ostentatiously high standard of morality.
Whose end shall be according to their works.—What the works were is stated, or implied, in 2Corinthians 11:20. Hero he is content to rest on the eternal law of God’s government, that what a man sows that shall he also reap. The abruptness with which the next verse opens indicates that here again there was a pause in the dictation of the letter. After an interval—during which, led by the last words he had spoken, his thoughts had travelled to the contrast between their works, of which they boasted so loudly, and his own—he begins again, half-indignant at the necessity for self-assertion which they have forced upon him, aware that all that had been said of his “insane” habit of “commending himself” was likely to be said again, and yet feeling that he must once for all remind the Corinthians of what he had done and suffered, and then leave them to judge between the rival claims.
Whose end shall be ... - Whose final destiny. Their doom in eternity shall not be according to their fair professions and plausible pretences, for they cannot deceive God; but shall be according to their real character, and their works. Their work is a work of deception, and they shall be judged according to that. What revelations there will be in the day of judgment, when all impostors shall be unmasked, and when all hypocrites and deceivers shall be seen in their true colors! And how desirable is it that there should be such a day to disclose all beings in their true character, and forever to remove imposture and delusion from the universe!
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.
his ministers, driving the same design with him, also do the like, and change their shapes, pretending themselves to be ministers of the gospel, and to aim at the good of your souls, by teaching you the way
of righteousness; but God will one day judge of their works, and their reward at last will be
according to their works.
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.Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Corinthians 11:15. It is not a great matter, therefore, not strange and extraordinary, if, etc. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:11; Plato, Hipp. maj. p. 287 A, Menex. p. 235 D; Herod. vii. 38.
καί] if, as he does himself, his servants also transform themselves, namely, as servants of righteousness, i.e. as people who are appointed for, and active in, furthering the righteousness by faith. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 3:9. The δικαιοσύνη, the opposite of ἀνομία, but in a specifically Christian and especially Pauline sense (comp. on 2 Corinthians 6:14) as the condition of the kingdom of God, is naturally that which Satan and his servants seek to counteract. When the latter, however, demean themselves as ἀπόστολοι Χριστοῦ, the δικαιοσύνη, which they pretend to serve, must have the semblance of the righteousness of faith, although it is not so in reality. This view is therefore not “out of the way” (Klöpper, p. 90), but contextual; and the δικαιοσύνη cannot be the righteousness of the law, the preaching of which is not the mark of the ἀπόστολοι Χριστοῦ. As to ὡς (transform themselves and become as), comp. on Romans 9:29.
ὧν τὸ τέλος κ.τ.λ.] of whom—the servants of Satan—the end, final fate, will be in accordance with their works. Comp. Php 3:19; Romans 6:21; 1 Peter 4:17. “Quacunque specie se nunc efferant, detrahitur tandem schema,” Bengel.2 Corinthians 11:15. οὐ μέγα οὖν κ.τ.λ.: it is no great thing therefore, if his ministers also, sc., as well as himself, fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness (see on 2 Corinthians 3:9); whose end, notwithstanding their disguise (cf. Romans 6:21, Php 3:19), shall be according to their works (see on 2 Corinthians 11:10).whose end shall be according to their works] Cf. Proverbs 24:12; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6-11; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Php 3:19; 2 Timothy 4:14; Revelation 20:12, &c.2 Corinthians 11:15. Οὐ μέγα, no great thing) no difficult matter.—αὐτοῦ, his) Satan’s.—δικαιοσύνης, of righteousness) which is in Christ.—τὸ τέλος, the end) Whatever may be the specious appearance, on which they now plume themselves, the form [alluding to their transforming themselves into “ministers of righteousness”] is at last stripped off from them. A most effectual criterion is derived from the future end of things, in the case of good and evil alike, Php 3:19; Php 3:21.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.
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