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2 Corinthians 11:13-15

13. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

13. Saiquidem istiusmodi pseudoapostoli; operarii dolosi sunt, qui transformant se in Apostolos Christi.

14. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

14. Neque id mirum; quondoquidem ipse Satanas transfiguratur in Angelum lucis.

15. 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.

15. Non magnum igitur, si et ministri illius transformant se, perinde acsi essent ministri iustitiae: quorum finis erit secundum opera ipsorum.


13. For such are false Apostles While he has already taken away from them what they chiefly desired, yet, not contented with having put himself on a level with them with respect to that in which they were desirous to excel, he leaves them nothing for which they deserve any commendation. It was apparently a laudable thing to despise money, but he says, that they make use of a pretense for the purpose of deceiving, exactly as if a harlot were to borrow the apparel of a decent matron. For it was necessary to pull off the mask, which obscured the glory of God.

They are deceitful workers, says he, that is — they do not discover their wickedness at first view, but artfully insinuate themselves under some fair pretext. 834834     “S’insinuent finement sans qu’on y prene garde;” — “They artfully insinuate themselves, unless one be on his guard against them.” Hence they require to be carefully and thoroughly sifted, lest we should receive persons as servants of Christ, as soon as any appearance of excellence is discovered. Nor does Paul in malice and envy put an unfavorable construction upon what might be looked upon as an excellence, but, constrained by their dishonesty, he unfolds to view the evil that lay hid, because there was a dangerous profanation of virtue in pretending to burn with greater zeal than all the servants of Christ.

14. And no marvel It is an argument from the greater to the less. “If Satan, who is the basest of all beings, nay, the head and chief of all wicked persons, transforms himself, what will his ministers do?We have experience of both every day, for when Satan tempts us to evil, he does not profess to be what he really is. For he would lose his object, if we were made aware of his being a mortal enemy, and opposer of our salvation. Hence he always makes use of some cloak for the purpose of insnaring us, and does not immediately show his horns, (as the common expression is,) but rather makes it his endeavor to appear as an angel Even when he tempts us to gross crimes, he makes use, nevertheless, of some pretext that he may draw us, when we are off our guard, into his nets. What then, if he attacks us under the appearance of good, nay, under the very title of God? His life-guards imitate, as I have said, the same artifice. These are golden preambles — “Vicar of Christ” — “Successor of Peter” — “Servant of God’s servants,” but let the masks be pulled off, and who and what will the Pope be discovered to be? Scarcely will Satan himself, his master, surpass so accomplished a scholar in any kind of abomination. It is a well known saying as to Babylon, that she gives poison to drink in a golden cup. (Jeremiah 51:7.) Hence we must be on our guard against masks.

Should any one now ask, “Shall we then regard all with suspicion?” I answer, that the Apostle did not by any means intend this; for there are marks of discrimination, which it were the part of stupidity, not of prudence, to overlook. He was simply desirous to arouse our attention, that we may not straightway judge of the lion from the skin 835835     “Comme porte le prouerbe des Latins;” — “As the proverb in use among the Latins runs.” For if we are not hasty in forming a judgment, the Lord will order it so that the ears of the animal will be discovered ere long. Farther, he was desirous in like manner to admonish us, in forming an estimate of Christ’s servants, not to regard masks, but to seek after what is of more importance. Ministers of righteousness is a Hebraism for faithful and upright persons. 836836     Beza takes the same view of this expression: “Nec enim illi dicuntur sese transfigurare in Satanam, sed in ministros propos et integros, quibus opponuntur δόλιοι. Hoc enim declarat epitheton justitiae ex Hebraeorum idiotismo;” — “For they are not said to transform themselves into Satan, but into ministers, who are honest and upright, as contrasted with those who are (δόλιοι) deceitful. For this is the import of the epithet, of righteousness, according to the Hebrew idiom.” Another instance of the same Hebrew idiom is noticed by Calvin in p. 196. — Ed.

15. Whose end shall be. He adds this for the consolation of the pious. For it is the statement of a courageous man, who despises the foolish judgments of men, and patiently waits for the day of the Lord. In the mean time, he shows a singular boldness of conscience, which does not dread the judgment of God.

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