What does 2 Corinthians 11:13 mean?
ESV: For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
NIV: For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
NASB: For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
CSB: For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
NLT: These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ.
KJV: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
NKJV: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
Verse Commentary:
Much of 2 Corinthians is a defense of Paul's ministry, against accusations from crooked voices claiming he has been false. This section, however, turns the tables to show the believers in Corinth who the men making such accusations really are. Paul very bluntly calls them false apostles—likely a charge they had made against him. Paul, of course, is the one telling the truth. These other men are claiming to be representatives of Christ when they preach a false version of Christ and a false gospel of Christ. That's why Paul calls them deceitful workmen. They have come to the Corinthians under disguise, pretending to be apostles.

It is not clear from 2 Corinthians exactly who these men were. They may have been part of a group labelled "Judaizers." This was the label given to Jewish religious leaders who attempted to persuade Gentiles that they must also follow the Law in order to be truly saved. This group did not deny Christ's message outright but destroyed the gospel of God's grace through faith in Christ by adding a component of works.

It's possible the false teachers of Corinth were part of another group, entirely. Perhaps they were pretending to be apostles of Jesus in order to make money. Maybe they wanted the Corinthians to mix the worship of Jesus with the worship of idols. Whatever the case, Paul makes clear in the following verses that they were being used as servants of Satan.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 11:1–15 includes Paul's unmasking of the false apostles in Corinth. They are like the serpent in the garden tempting Eve. Or, they resemble a man trying to seduce a betrothed woman away from her promised husband. They disguise themselves as servants of righteousness as Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul is a spiritual father who must protect the Corinthians from deceptions like a false Christ and a false spirit. Paul doubles down on his commitment not to take funds from the Corinthians for his own needs, simply to prove how he is different from the false apostles.
Chapter Summary:
Second Corinthians 11 compares the believers in Corinth to a betrothed bride. It also pictures them as Eve facing temptation from the snake in the garden in Genesis 3. Paul's job as their spiritual father is to protect them from the lies of false apostles. These deceivers disguise themselves as servants of righteousness in the same way that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul is shocked the Corinthians put up with such harsh treatment from these men. He sarcastically pretends to brag about himself as the false teachers do about themselves. Instead, he boasts mostly about the ways he has endured suffering in his service to Christ.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 11 follows Paul's warning in the previous chapter. There, he vowed to be as bold as needed when he comes to see them in person. He describes himself as a protective spiritual father trying to save the Corinthians from the deceptions of the false apostles to teach a false gospel about a false Jesus. He is shocked the Corinthians put up with their harsh treatment and says he has decided to foolishly boast in order to compete with the false apostles. His boasting about his service to Christ, though, is mostly a long list of all the ways he has suffered for Christ. That theme continues into chapter 12, where Paul explains just how much his suffering has improved his walk with Christ.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
Accessed 5/26/2024 4:41:41 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com