A Pure Bride

2 Corinthians Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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2 Corinthians: A Pure Bride
2 Corinthians 11:1-4
2 Corinthians 11:1–4 ESV
1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
1. Introduction – Throughout the course of 2 Corinthians, Paul has described the many different hats he wears as an apostle.
a. Previously he’s said that he is a slave to Jesus as the aroma of Christ to God…isn’t that beautiful phrase?
i. As we submit our lives to Christ, the aroma of Christ wafts out to the world around us…
1. A pleasing smell to some, but to others the stench of death. Look at 2:12-14.
ii. Paul had also called himself a postman – delivering the message of the gospel to the Corinthians.
1. In 5:20 – Paul called himself an ambassador for Christ – God making his appeal through him.
a. In 10:4-5, Paul refers to himself as a fortress conqueror. Not conquering literal fortresses, but demolishing arguments, strongholds and every lofty opinion held against the knowledge of God.
b. Well, in today’s passages, Paul describes another apostolic hat he wears…Paul depicts himself as a matchmaker – who introduced the Corinthians to Christ as his fiancée.
i. And like the father of the bride to be, Paul did his best to ensure the she was faithful, pure and devoted to her betrothed.
c. This is a fascinating passage. It’s the beginning of a section known as Paul’s Foolish Speech.
i. And it’s not that Paul writes nonsense and foolishness, it’s foolishness because he writes of the very things, he criticizes the false teachers for.
1. He writes about his own experiences and accomplishments. This foolish speech is length, comprising all of chapters 11 and 12.
a. And what we have to understand that its not foolish as in stupid, but foolish in that Paul highlights is own accomplishments instead of highlight what God has done.
i. However, even though it called Paul’s Foolish Speech, he spends of the section explaining to the Corinthians what he is going to do…
1. And when he finally gets around to boasting, he writes about his sufferings, his weaknesses, his thorn in the flesh.
d. But first, Paul once again highlights the difference between himself and the false teachers.
i. The false teachers are trying (and succeeding) to lead the Corinthians astray, to deceive them, while Paul wants to make sure they remain faithful to Jesus.
1. In this introductory passage, Paul writes of his jealousy, and he warns the Corinthians about the deception of the false teachers.
a. Hear God’s Word – 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
2. Main Purpose – Paul begins this section with another appeal. He appeals to the Corinthians for them to bear with him.
a. Paul is about to indulge in a little foolishness, so he asks them to indulge him and listen. Perhaps this is an ironic statement because he knows that the Corinthians have listened to and entertained the false teachers…
i. So, Paul knows that this church will more than likely indulge him and listen while he writes this foolishness.
b. But what follows is anything but foolishness really. Vv.2-4 are deep and rich in symbolism and in teaching points.
i. And it is here in these verses that Paul makes his main purpose statement for the section. Why is Paul indulging in foolishness??? Look at the first phrase of v.2 – I feel a divine jealousy for you?
1. That’s the main thought of this whole foolish speech section – and in particular, the main thought of the section we’re studying this morning.
a. Vv.2-4 prove to show Paul’s jealousy.
c. But before we move on to see how and why Paul was jealous for the Corinthians, we first need to figure out what is meant by the phrase “divine jealousy.”
i. What is divine jealousy and how does it differ from human jealousy?
1. I came across this description of divine jealousy vs human jealousy.
a. “God is said to be jealous, not in a human way, but so that everyone may know that he claims sovereign rights over those whom he loves and does what he does for their exclusive benefit.
i. Human jealousy is basically selfish, but divine jealousy is both intense and pure.”
ii. Many times, throughout the OT, God is said to be jealous for Israel. When Israel was making their way through the wilderness to the Promised Land – God reminded them of his fidelity and jealousy…
1. Jealous for their reputation among the nations.
a. And it is this kind of jealousy that Paul feels for the Corinthians. Not selfishness, but longing to see the Corinthians maintain faithfulness to their betrothed…to Jesus.
iii. And in order to prove his jealousy, Paul does a couple different things – first he reminds them that he was the one who first introduced them to Jesus. He was the matchmaker.
1. And secondly, Paul shows his jealousy for the Corinthians but lovingly showing them where they have been deceived.
a. And because of his love for them and the divine jealousy he feels towards them, he longs to see correction in their church.
i. Paul writes that just as Eve entertained the serpent and was deceived by it, so too the Corinthians are entertaining the false teachers and being deceived by them.
3. Matchmaker – Paul first backs up his claim of having a divine jealousy for the church in Corinth by reminding them that he was the one who first introduced them to Jesus.
a. It was Paul who played matchmaker between the Corinthians and Jesus.
i. And as matchmaker, as the spiritual father of the bride to be, Paul longed for this bride to keep herself pure during this betrothal period.
1. In order to really understand the weight and significance of this image, he need to know a bit about ancient near eastern marriage traditions.
a. In the Ancient Near Easter – parents typically chose a wife for their son and arranged for the marriage by a legal contract…romantic, I know!
ii. However, the young couple didn’t get married right away, instead they entered into a betrothed period, where they were pledged to each other, called each other husband and wife, but were not yet legally married.
1. It is akin to our engagement…but on steroids. Faithfulness, fidelity and purity was expected by other parties…and it was the responsibility of the bride to be to ensure his daughter’s purity at the time of the actual wedding.
b. This is the Paul’s reason for jealousy…as the spiritual father of this church…he is shocked to see this bride to be flirting with another suitor…a different Jesus than the one he preached to them.
i. I hear this, and it reminds of the powerful relationship the church has with its Saviour.
1. It reminds me of the powerful image of the church’s relationship to Jesus.
a. Jesus doesn’t simply put up with us…no we are his beloved…his betrothed.
i. The church is known as the bride of Christ – isn’t that a beautiful image?
ii. And what we must realize is that we are in this betrothal period. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us…just like the bridegroom to be would go and build a house for he and his new bride to live.
1. And when that place is ready for us – when the betrothal period is over – just like a bridegroom parading throughout town to fetch his bride…Jesus will return triumphantly to receive his bride.
a. However, in the meantime – we, as the church, as the bride to be, we must keep ourselves pure – devoted to one husband.
iii. The image was used of Israel’s relationship with YHWH, and Israel was portrayed as a wandering and cheating lover – read the book of Hosea.
1. The image of being betrothed was transferred to the relationship between Christ and the church.
a. And when we ponder this image…it has massive implications for us.
i. As individual Christians – we must make sure we are devoting ourselves solely to Christ.
1. We must make sure we are not following the ways of the world, but aiming to be wholly devoted to Jesus.
2. And as a church, we must make sure we are walking in the truth, speaking truth to one another…
a. We must be devoted to the study of Scripture, to prayer, and to the edification of the members of our local church.
i. Our bridegroom will come one day to complete the marriage vows he made at the Last Supper…
1. His people – those who have confessed their sins, called on the name of Jesus for salvation…those who grew in grace…
a. Will participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb.
c. But as we are in still in this betrothal period, we must remain faithful and pure towards our bridegroom and Lord…Jesus.
4. Deception – And the second reason for Paul’s jealousy continues into vv.3-4. As their spiritual father and matchmaker – he is alarmed to see these people so easily deceived.
a. Paul likens the Corinthians deception to when the serpent deceived Eve in the Garden.
i. In the Garden, Eve wasn’t physically deceived or seduced by the serpent…her mind was led astray.
1. And same with the false teacher deception of the Corinthians…their minds…their thoughts were being deceived.
b. And Paul in v.4 lists a trio of ways the Corinthians have been deceived.
i. The false teachers came in and taught another Jesus, taught by the power of a different spirit, and preached another gospel.
1. We don’t really have time to do a deep dive into each of these terms, but quickly today, here’s what Paul is getting at.
c. We have already discussed the fact that the false teachers were most likely Jewish Christians – but unlike other places, like Galatia for instances – these teachers weren’t trying to get the Corinthians to obey the Mosaic law as a means to salvation.
i. The lack of theological arguments in this letter shows that it wasn’t an orthodoxy issue.
1. What the false teachers in Corinth were doing was over emphasizing one area of Jesus’ life…and downplaying another.
a. They most likely overemphasized the miraculous and powerful – leaving behind the fact that Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with deepest grief.
ii. Don’t get me wrong – Jesus performed miracles – but it wasn’t for show or fame or attention.
1. It was to show the power of the kingdom of God and to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
a. But was must realize that his kingdom isn’t fully established yet. Yes, it has come, but not yet in full power.
i. And the false teachers in Corinth were emphasizing the NOT YET over against the NOW.
iii. Paul on the other hand preached Christ and Christ crucified to the Corinthians. The false teacher downplayed Jesus sacrificial death on the cross and the power in weakness he displayed there.
1. They did this in order to shine light on the miraculous things Jesus did.
a. They preached a different Jesus than Paul in that they neglected to highlight his greatest miracle of all – his death and resurrection on our behalf.
d. Secondly, Paul writes that the Corinthians have been deceived with another Spirit than the one they received.
i. It’s hard to know what Paul means by “spirit” in this verse. Does he mean a different human attitude…or does he mean the Holy Spirit?
1. Given the fact that Spirit is sandwiched between Jesus on one side and gospel on the other side…It is probably best to taken this as the Holy Spirit.
a. Paul writes that they are playing with another spirit here…something dangerous and quite possibly even demonic.
e. And the last note in this triad is this – Paul writes that the Corinthians are deceived because they are entertaining a different gospel than the one Paul preached to them
i. Again, this is best understood in the same as “another Jesus” emphasizing one aspect over others.
1. And what we have to be aware of today is that these 3 notes continue to be the hallmarks of false teaching. It hasn’t changed.
a. There are teachers who de-emphasize the cross and sufferings of Jesus in order to highlight his miraculous power.
ii. We cannot be deceived by this – we must view Jesus as he is presented in Scripture. Absolutely he is the Word made flesh who dwelt among us.
1. Absolutely – the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily…absolutely he raised the dead, healed the sick, and feed thousands of people on multiple occasions.
a. But he was also a man of sorrows. He didn’t live a lavish life, he suffered rejection, he was betrayed by a close friend, he was handed over to the Romans and died a criminal’s death on the cross.
i. That’s the balance we need to have of Jesus. Anyone who emphasizes miracles over Jesus’ sacrificial death isn’t portraying an accurate picture of Jesus.
1. Beware of those who preacher another Jesus than the one portrayed in the Bible.
f. And we must also be aware of those who preach a gospel other than the one found in Scripture. Paul’s jealousy was burning for the Corinthians because they were entertaining false teachers who preached a different gospel.
i. This is something we have to be so careful with today. With information constantly at our fingertips – we must always be testing what we hear on TV, radio or the internet, against what is written in the Bible.
1. The Bible is our standard…not humans.
a. Anyone who doesn’t stress God’s holiness, God’s power, God’s love, grace, mercy…his hatred of sin…
i. Anyone who doesn’t stress Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross as payment for our sin….
1. Anyone who doesn’t stress Jesus’ resurrection from the dead as a sing of his victory over death…
b. Anyone who doesn’t stress humanity’s total depravity and sin…our need for repentance…
i. Our need to come to God through the death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins…
1. Anyone who doesn’t stress that time and time again…but instead focuses on wellness, or our habits, our finances…how God wants you to be wealthy healthy and happy…
a. At best they are preaching a partial gospel…which if they aren’t focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus, that is no gospel at all.
g. There are a lot of teachers out there with the label “Christian” and yet they are preaching a different Jesus, under the influence of a different spirit…and they preacher a different and false gospel.
i. We must be on our guard against such things and test everything we hear and see against the truth that is found in the Bible.
5. Conclusion – On the surface…it’s an introductory passage, but as we look into it – there is so much more.
a. It’s a reminder that we need to be on our guard as there is deception and falsehood all around us.
i. It’s a reminder that as Christians and as a church we need to remain faithful and pure in our devotion to Jesus as we await is return.
1. It’s a reminder that we need to test everything against the truth written in the Bible…it is our truth standard.
b. We need to be discerning because anytime we start getting away from Jesus – the biblical Jesus – anytime we start getting away from the true gospel – it is going to lead to destruction in people’s lives.
i. We must be jealous about truth – protecting the purity of doctrine.
1. We must not be deceived, but be presented as a pure bride to Christ at his second coming.
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