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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 11 - Verse 3

Verse 3. But I fear. Paul had just compared the church to a virgin, soon to be presented as a bride to the Redeemer. The mention of this seems to have suggested to him the fact, that the first woman was deceived and led astray by the tempter, and that the same thing might occur in regard to the church which he was so desirous should be preserved pure. The grounds of his fear were

(1.) that Satan had seduced the first woman, thus demonstrating that the most holy were in danger of being led astray by temptation; and

(2.) that special efforts were made to seduce them from the faith. The persuasive arts of the false teachers, the power of philosophy, and the attractive and corrupting influences of the world, he had reason to suppose, might be employed to seduce them from simple attachment to Christ.

Lest by any means. Lest somehow, (mhpwv.) It is implied that many means would be used; that all arts would be tried; and that in some way, which perhaps they little suspected, these arts would be successful, unless they were constantly put on their guard.

As the serpent beguiled Eve. See Ge 3:1-11. The word serpent here refers doubtless to Satan, who was the agent by whom Eve was beguiled. See Joh 8:44; 1 Jo 3:8; Re 12:9; 20:2.

Paul did not mean that they were in danger of being corrupted in the same way, but that similar efforts would be made to seduce them. Satan adapts his temptations to the character and circumstances of the tempted. He varies them from age to age, and applies them in such a way as best to secure his object. Hence all should be on their guard. No one knows the mode in which he will approach him, but all may know that he will approach them in some way.

Through his subtilty. See Ge 3:1. By his craft, art, wiles, (en th panourgia.) The word implies that shrewdness, cunning, craft was employed. A tempter always employs cunning and art to accomplish his object. The precise mode in which Satan accomplished his object is not certainly known. Perhaps the cunning consisted in assuming an attractive form—a fascinating manner—a manner fitted to charm; perhaps in the idea that the eating of the forbidden fruit had endowed a serpent with the power of reason and speech above all other animals, and that it might be expected to produce a similar transformation in Eve. At all events, there were false pretences and appearances; and such Paul apprehended would be employed by the false teachers to seduce and allure them. See Barnes "2 Co 11:13,14.

 

So your minds should be corrupted. So your thoughts should be perverted. So your hearts should be alienated. The mind is corrupted when the affections are alienated from the proper object, and when the soul is filled with unholy plans, and purposes, and desires.

From the simplicity that is in Christ.

(1.) From simple and single-hearted devotedness to him—from pure and unmixed attachment to him. The fear was that their affections would be fixed on other objects, and that the singleness and unity of their devotedness to him would be destroyed.

(2.) From his pure doctrines. By the admixture of philosophy, by the opinions of the world, there was danger that their minds should be turned away from their hold on the simple truths which Christ had taught.

(3.) From that simplicity of mind and heart; that, childlike candour and docility; that freedom from all guile, dishonesty, and deception, which so eminently characterized the Redeemer. Christ had a single.aim; was free from all guile; was purely honest; never made use of any improper arts; never resorted to false appearances, and never deceived. His followers should, in like manner, be artless and guileless. There should be no mere cunning, no trick, no craft in advancing their purposes. There should be nothing but honesty and truth in all that they say. Paul was afraid that they would lose this beautiful simplicity and artlessness of character and manner; and that they would insensibly be led to adopt the maxims of mere cunning, of policy, of expediency, of seductive arts, which prevailed so much in the world—a danger which was imminent among the shrewd and cunning people of Greece, but which is confined to no time and no place. Christians should be more guileless than even children are; as pure and free from trick, and from art and cunning, as was the Redeemer himself.

(4.) From the simplicity in worship which the Lord Jesus commended and required. The worship which the Redeemer designed to establish was simple, unostentatious, and pure —strongly in contrast with the gorgeousness and corruption of the pagan worship, and even with the imposing splendour of the Jewish temple-service. He intended that it should be adapted to all lands, and such as could be offered by all classes of men—a pure worship, claiming first the homage of the heart, and then such simple external expressions as should best exhibit the homage of the heart. How easily might this be corrupted! What temptations were there to attempt to corrupt it by those who had been accustomed to the magnificence of the temple-service, and who would suppose that the religion of the Messiah could not be less gorgeous than that which was designed to shadow forth his coming; and by those who had been accustomed to the splendid rites of the pagan worship, and who would suppose that the true religion ought not to be less costly and splendid than the false religion had been! If so much expense had been lavished on false religions, how natural to suppose that equal costliness at least should be bestowed on the true religion! Accordingly, the history of the church, for a considerable part of its existence, has been little more than a record of the various forms in which the simple worship, instituted by the Redeemer, has been corrupted, until all that was gorgeous in pagan ceremonies, and splendid in the Jewish ritual, has been introduced as a part of Christian worship.

(5.) From simplicity in dress, and manner in living. The Redeemer's dress was simple. His manner of living was simple. His requirements demand great simplicity and plainness of apparel and manner of life, 1 Pe 3:3-6; 1 Ti 2:9,10.

Yet how much proneness is there at all times to depart from this! What a besetting sin has it been, in all ages, to the church of Christ! And how much pains should there be that the very simplicity that is in Christ should be observed by all who bear the Christian name!

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