Who are the false apostles in II Corinthians 11?


Please explain to me about the false apostles in II Corinthians 11; who are they (because Paul is pretty fired up in his communication). Is seems like they are Jews based on verse 22. In verse 23, it seems that they are also servants of Christ. Are the Jewish Christians? If we consider verse 5, I wonder if Paul were so fired up because they were Hellenistic and Jewish Christians … what had they done to him, they are descendants of the nationality of the Messiah and had heard the teachings of Christ in person  … this is a great mystery. I am patiently awaiting your reply.

In order to understand what the Apostle Paul wants to communicate about false apostles in the 11th chapter of II Corinthians, we need to make a simple list of what we learn about them:

  • The false apostles came to Corinth preaching another “Christ” whom Paul did not preach, a different “Gospel” of which he did not teach (4)
  • They pretended to be the most “eminent” apostles, trying to demonstrate that Paul was not an apostle chosen by Christ, because he did not walk with Christ during His ministry and he did not see the Resurrected Christ (5)
  • The false apostles were seeking an opportunity to use Paul’s accomplishments against him and their motivation was financial in nature, getting money from the Corinthians (12)
  • They are false, deceitful workers who pretend to be servants of Christ (13)
  • They are servants of Satan, servants who disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (15)
  • Their end will be according to their deeds (15)
  • They boast according to the flesh (18)
  • They came to enslave, devour, take advantage of, exalt themselves above, and hit the Corinthians in the face (20)
  • They say that they are Hebrews, Israelites the descendants of Abraham (22)
  • They pretend to be servants of Christ (23)

From all that we have seen, we can conclude that the Apostle Paul is fired up and very upset because of these false apostles who had gone to Corinth to destroy all of his hard work in the church plant in that city. We cannot be sure from this text that they are Jewish “Christians” but we know that they are pretending to be. One thing for certain, we learn that these false apostles are servants of Satan who pretend to be servants of Christ. Paul’s passion is not based on the anger that these false apostles brought upon him or the Christians in Corinth who were deceived into following the false apostles. Paul’s passion was people’s salvation through Christ and their spiritual growth. Here is what Paul writes:

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better ; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. (Philippians 1)

These words were written by the Apostle Paul while he was in chains, suffering in prison for the Gospel. Here is another glimpse of his motivation, written by him:

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death ; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3)

May the Lord protect us from all of the false apostles (teachers) who pretend to be servants of righteousness but in reality, they are servants of Satan. May we all have the same motivation to serve the way that the Apostle Paul did. May the Lord help us.

Translation by: Erik Brewer