2 Corinthians 11:1-15 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
1 I wish you would put up with a little foolishness from me. Yes, do put up with me. 2 For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted from a complete and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!
5 Now I consider myself in no way inferior to the “super-apostles.” 6 Though untrained in public speaking, I am certainly not [untrained] in knowledge. Indeed, we have always made that clear to you in everything. 7 Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by taking pay [from them] to minister to you. 9 When I was present with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs. I have kept myself, and will keep myself, from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do!
12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to cut off the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in what they are boasting about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself is disguised as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.
For Paul, the most disheartening reality in Corinth was the presence of false apostles who were undermining the work of the gospel he had planted there. As much as we want to think most people have good intentions, the reality confronted by Paul in this passage is that some people are deceitful; they are disguising or masquerading as genuine followers of Christ when in reality they are servants of Satan. And these servants of Satan, who have “disguised themselves as servants of righteousness,” will gladly lead people away from Christ.
How do you recognize the difference between the genuine article and the disguised masquerader? Are there any clues in this passage to help us discern truth from falsity?