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The False Apostles

The False Apostles

Words of Faith 9-8-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 2

[15] For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. [16] To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

[17] Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

 

     In Paul's day there was apparently no lack of false apostles. This should not have been a surprise. Jesus warned about this-- "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them" (Matt. 7:17-20).

     Peter also warned in his second letter-- "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves" (2 Peter 2:1).

       Technically, there is some difference between a prophet, a teacher and an apostle. But the same principles apply here. There were false Christian leaders making the rounds. According to Paul, the motive of these false apostles was a matter of self-interest. They were more interested in money than ministry. Paul had ministered in Corinth without charge, though in principle he had no problem accepting material remuneration for spiritual labor (1 Cor. 9). What characterized the false apostles were their messages and their motives. Like dishonest merchants they selfishly hawked their wares.

       Paul said that these false apostles peddle God's Word. This word kapeleuontes-- "to hawk, peddle"-- is used only here in the Bible. Paul may have had in mind Isaiah's description of Jerusalem's unscrupulous Israelites who "diluted" their wine with water to increase their profits-- "Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water" (1:22).

       These false apostles adulterated the Word of God for profit. They had enough of the truth to sound like the real deal, but they had watered down the Gospel to make it sell. Ultimately they served themselves, not God whom Paul represented. In contrast, Paul served in the manner of the true Apostles-- "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve" (1 Pet. 5:2).

       Paul ministered with sincerity. "Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace" (2 Cor. 1:12).

       Paul contrasted the parade of Christ followers-- who were the smell of death to some and the fragrance of life to others-- with the false prophets. The true Gospel will not please everyone. Some are repulsed by the Gospel of Christ. The true ministry of Christ is repugnant to the world and those who are worldly. The false "ministry" of charlatans is pleasing to all. A "false gospel" is diluted and adulterated so as to be appealing to all people. It may seem "too good to be true"-- and that is because it is not true.

       Jesus said that you will know them by their fruit. Surely this is the fruit of the Spirit-- love joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). But even with such fruit, Paul said the believer will have the stench of death to some. It could be argued that if a ministry does not offend anyone, it probably is not truly of Christ. This is not a license to try and offend others. We are to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. But even that fruit will be offensive to some as we follow Christ.

       There are applications too obvious to mention. In a culture where the Christian message has become increasingly "market driven" and "consumer targeted", we need desperately to pray for the Body for Christ.

       For us, today? Personally? Our goal is to walk like Paul as we follow Christ. We are called to speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  

       Father God, make me pure and sincere. Make my heart pure after You and so keep my motives and methods pure. May I speak before You with sincerity as one sent from God. In Jesus' Name.