Paul refers to some men whom he calls ‘superior apostles’. However, he explains that he did not really consider them superior. They were not teaching God’s message better than he was teaching it. God was not working through them more powerfully than he worked through Paul.
An apostle means a person that God has sent to carry out a special task for him. We usually use that word as a title for the first Christian leaders. In verse 13, however, Paul uses the word to make a title for people who only pretended to be apostles. They were false apostles. God had not sent them with his message, and they were not even serving Christ.
In the opinion of many writers, by the ‘superior apostles’ Paul means the leaders of the apostles, such as Peter and John. They deserved honour. Paul himself wrote that he did not deserve to be called an apostle. However, God in his kindness had worked even more powerfully through Paul than through them*. Paul’s message was the same as theirs. If Paul was less important than them, he still declared God’s message accurately. So in that way, they were not superior to Paul.
However, it seems more likely to us that by the ‘superior apostles’, Paul actually means the false apostles. They had come to Corinth and they were causing trouble there. They considered themselves superior because they were such impressive people. They spoke well and many people respected them greatly. They wanted to control the church and its members.
Paul warned the church strongly against those false apostles*. They were not speaking the true message from God, the gospel. They were trying to change what the Christians believed*. They were not superior to Paul in any real way; in fact, their message was dangerous.
Next part: Paul was an unskilled public speaker (11:6)
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.