“Since many are boasting according to human standards, I too will boast. For since you are so wise, you put up with fools gladly. For you put up with it if someone makes slaves of you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone behaves arrogantly toward you, if someone strikes you in the face (To my disgrace I must say that we were too weak for that!) But whatever anyone else dares to boast about (I am speaking foolishly), I also dare to boast about the same thing” (2 Corinthians 11:18-21 NET).
The members of the Corinthian church had foolishly chosen to accept the spiritual tyranny of “leaders” who sought to manipulate and exploit them while simultaneously rejecting Paul the Apostle’s attempt to communicate the Word of God in meekness and humility.
Paul’s experience with the Corinthians should alert us to an ever-present reality: if we do not seek to establish genuine spiritual truth today, others will surely attempt to substitute something else tomorrow. If those “others” embody the same characteristics displayed by the false spiritual teachers mentioned here in 2 Corinthians chapter eleven, we may face a similar issue.
In light of this, it may be helpful to examine the distinguishing features exhibited by these false teachers that are embedded within this passage. The first is this: “…you put up with it if someone makes slaves of you” (NET). This illustrates the need to exercise caution with those who insist that we must follow a rigid set of religious rules and regulations in order to receive spiritual approval.
Unlike the false apostles in Corinth, Paul did not wish to enslave the Corinthians to a list of spiritual “do’s and don’ts.” However, he did want them to observe an important principle: “When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 CEV). Paul also addressed this issue in the New Testament book of Colossians…
“…Why do you submit to regulations: ‘Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch’? All these regulations refer to what is destined to perish by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines. Although these have a reputation for wisdom by promoting self-made religion, false humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence” (Colossians 2:20-23 CSB).
So its important to be alert to those who seek to promote such practices today, As Paul said to the Galatian church, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).