This may sound harsh, but this is for your own good.
In the last few chapters, Paul has concentrated on letting the Corinthians know he has seen their turn around from the days of the first letter and has commended them on their return to the faith. As any father, he now begins a mild lecture on the dangers which they will face. For me, this is almost a return to my childhood. I guess all fathers sound like this at some point.
Bear with me, children. When it comes to you, I get a little over protective, but that's only because I promised you to the Lord as a father promises his daughter to a good and holy man. I want you to appear before our Lord at the wedding as a chaste and righteous bride.
I fear you might be deceived, just as the serpent deceived Eve in the garden. If that happened, you would be corrupted in His eyes.
So be alert. If anyone comes to you teaching a different Jesus than I have taught, or asking you to accept another spirit that the one you have already received, do not listen.
Even though I am the least among the apostles, even though I cannot make flowery speeches, I still have the knowledge given by Jesus Christ himself. I was sent to you to give you truth, and you know this because when I was with you I lived as an example of all I preached to you.
Did I offend you by placing God above myself, preaching the gospel and asking nothing of you?
I used the support of other congregations in order to live while I was there, and when that ran out, the Macedonians supplied my needs as best they could. I suffered hunger and thirst and went naked and cold at times so none could say I was trying to deceive you for my own gain.
I will continue to preach the truth no matter what comes along. Jesus Christ is our Lord, our salvation, and our truth.
How could you think I do not love you? God knows how much I love you all. I will do what I must and nothing will turn me away from this ministry.
God's glory will reveal who is true and who is not, for there are false teachers who claim to be apostles. Satan himself has transformed into an angel of light. His servants appear to be true, but their false teachings and actions will reveal them for who they are.
So do not think me a fool. I am not coming into the cities in pomp and circumstance, acting as if I have all the answers. I am not saying “follow Paul”.
There are many who will follow a fool, even when they know better. They will deceive you, bring you into bondage and rob you of your soul. They will tell you they are wise and even slap your face in public if you let them get away with it.
They may be Jews, but I am also a Jew. They may claim they are from Israel, but I am from Israel. They may claim to be the seed of Abraham, but I am the seed of Abraham.
So does that automatically make them ministers of the gospel? Have they suffered as I have suffered, have they preached the gospel and made disciples? Have they been thrown in jail, beaten, spit on, and cursed for their ministry? I have been scourged five times because of the Jews, beaten three times with heavy rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times, and was once in the water for an entire day.
I am in constant danger everywhere I go from robbers, heathens, even my own countrymen. I face dangers in the cities and in the wilderness, even in the sea.
There are even false brethren who try to lure me in to take my life. I am without rest, in constant pain from my wounds and injuries. I have to sleep with one eye open, and I am often hungry and thirsty, cold and naked. What little help I receive comes from the churches.
So no one can claim they are too weak to be faithful, for no one is weaker that I am, no one is more abused for the sake of this ministry than me.
And still I rejoice, for in my sufferings God the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ is glorified by my perseverance and faithfulness to this ministry.
In Damascus, when I was first ordained by our Lord, the governor of the city was so enraged by my conversion he locked down the city with soldiers to make sure I would not escape, but I was lowered out of a window in a basket so that I could escape and live to preach the gospel of Christ.
I did it, so can you!
Corinth was a high traffic city in the old world, a city of trades and commerce. They were also a sort of “religious” hub for the area, with many temples dedicated to various gods and idols, and as we saw in the first letter to the Corinthians, these were very popular places for gatherings and festivals dedicated to those idols.
The priests of these temples were very adept at “cashing in” on the superstitions of people, and when they heard about Christians and what Paul was preaching, many of them got together with the Romans and tried to have them banned. But others were smart enough to see a new “religion” as an opportunity to cater to a new audience, so they began to twist the gospel to suit their own needs. Pretty much, they were employing the same strategy the serpent used in the garden of Eden. Instead of denying God, they would simply question God's commandments.
Think about it. When Eve told the serpent they couldn't eat the fruit from one tree or they would die, the serpent asked Eve, “Now you really don't think you're going to die, do you? God is just jealous because if you eat the fruit from that tree, you'll be as smart as He is.”.
It doesn't take much to make a good lie, as long as you incorporate some part of the truth. This is what Paul was trying to warn the Corinthians about.
I hope you are having a blessed and wonderful day.