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New Defender's Study Bible Notes

11:13 false apostles. True apostles had been chosen directly as such by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, had performed true miracles (II Corinthians 12:12), and had seen personally the resurrected Christ (see on I Corinthians 9:1). There were at that time (and often since that time) men who falsely claimed to be apostles, and some of these had come to Corinth, trying to turn these recent converts of the Apostle Paul against him. It is important to remember that the apostolic era ended with the death of John, the last of the real apostles of Christ. Since that time, any man who has claimed to be an apostle, in some line of supposed “apostolic succession” has been a false apostle, and those who have followed him have been led astray. The Lord Jesus warned against “false Christs, and false prophets” (Matthew 24:24), and here Paul warns against “false apostles”; Peter later warned against “false teachers” (II Peter 2:1). The test is always that of complete fidelity to Scripture and only Scripture as determinative for Christian faith and practice. Note also Isaiah 8:20; II Timothy 3:15-17; and II Peter 3:3,15-18.

11:15 ministers of righteousness. There are many who profess to be servants (i.e., “ministers”) of righteousness, even appearing on occasion to work miracles, but these in themselves prove nothing. “He that doeth the will of my Father” (Matthew 7:21)—that is the test, according to Jesus. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23).

11:15 their works. Perhaps here Paul was also alluding to those Judaizers who were demanding that Christians adhere to the righteousness of the Law in order to attain salvation, undermining the great doctrine of salvation by grace. But those who seek salvation by works must then be judged by their works, and none can measure up to the divine standard (Galatians 2:16). All who are judged “according to their works” shall be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13, 15).

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