A Super-Apostle’s Kryptonite

Bad Boys, Bad Boys…

Have you ever wondered why it seems that a lot of women seem to have a penchant for only dating “bad boys”? A really nice, well-established, and good looking guy either isn’t on their radar (regardless of what they may claim) or is quickly ditched…

But the guy who treats her like dirt…it’s like some kind of magical pheromone.

Well, science has discovered the reason (as summarized in a Glamour.com article):

Researchers had women look at dating profiles of either sexy men or reliable men during periods of high and low fertility. … Women who were near ovulation guessed that the sexier man would contribute more to parenting and domestic duties. In a second study where the women interacted directly with male actors playing the roles of sexy cad and reliable dad, they once again thought the sexy guy would contribute more to childcare, but…only as her partner. Interestingly, the women would point out the bad boy’s shortcomings when asked how he would father children with other women, but when it came to imagining their own child, women believed the cad would be a really great father.1

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. Also, the audio has some technical issues, but may still be listenable. ]

Yeah…bad guys are more likely to change diapers and do dishes…but as the post’s author, Gena Kaufman, noted…it’s not the woman’s fault they intrinsically believe such a foolish thing:

As study researcher Kristina Durante said, “Under the hormonal influence of ovulation, women delude themselves into thinking that the sexy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads.” As our own Meredith Turits said, “I love when we can blame things on hormones.” Hormones. Preventing you from going out with that nice boy since you started ovulating. Thanks a lot!2

Hormones…a woman’s “the Devil made me do it” for thousands of years. ūüôā

Results Not Actually Funny

Although I’m clearly having a little fun at the expense of blaming hormones for stupid desires and decisions, whatever the cause is…the results of this flaw in many women…and men for that matter…is very unfunny. Another Glamour article gives some stats from a study they commissioned back in March of 2011. Talking to 2,542 women from 18 to 35:

29% of women surveyed said they’d been in an abusive relationship.

  • 62% of those women have been hit, shoved, or slapped.
  • 33% choked or strangled.
  • 11% who say their partner is currently abusive predict he “will seriously hurt or kill me.”3

Now, I tend to believe that folks who want to find a problem will ask poll questions in a way that will increase the results they want…so I take those numbers with a bit of salt. However, I can’t think of wording about choking and strangling that would falsely inflate those statistics…and even assuming overall the numbers are a little exaggerated the figures are disturbing…

Whether hormones are involved in choosing bad mates or not.

1st Century Church Bad Boys

Now, you would think that a Spirit-led church wouldn’t have an equivalent problem, would you? Yet, Paul spends quite a lot of time in one of his letters to the Corinthians discussing something very similar. Today we are going to review 2 Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12. We won’t read every verse…but I suspect what we do view will have you, like me, asking yourself, “Why?! Are you guys nuts?!”

Let’s get started with 2 Corinthians 11:1-7:

11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

7¬†Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?

Paul reminds them how he has a special status…in 1 Corinthians 4:15 he notes he “became [their] father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” and in Acts 18 he describes how he founded the church there.

But Paul couldn’t stay in Corinth forever and when he left others started leading members astray. They had a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel…and it seems a larger ego…so they became know as “super-apostles.” (The transliterated Greek is “hyperlian-apostolos.”) I can imagine, however, if Koine Greek had punctuation, Paul would have put quotes around those words to make it clear that it was other people’s judgments, not his.

And Paul would never have called himself a super-apostle. He may not be as good at public speaking as they were or very impressive in person (see 2 Corinthians 10:10)…but he definitely was superior to the so-called super-apostles.

Compared to Paul, verse 7 provides a very telling fact about these deceivers:

Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?

Hmmm…if Paul preached the gospel free of charge, that would mean these super-apostles were making money of their ministries.

Sound familiar?

Even Satan Disguises Himself as an Angel of Light

After these verses Paul discusses how other churches supported him while he was in Corinth…and we know from Acts 18:3 he also worked as a tentmaker…so Paul was not a burden to the Corinthians.

Let’s join the text again at verse 12:

12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

Now, I know it has become very popular in modern political dialogue to connect pretty much anything you disagree with with Naziism and Hitler…done especially (in my opinion) by the left…

But Paul isn’t the type to use ad hominem attacks…so when he connects these super-apostles to Satan…we can understand just how evil they are. From these four verses we know that they are:

  • Boastful
  • False apostles
  • Deceitful

And we know from the previous verses they are financially benefiting from their victims.

Let’s skip four verses and continue with 20 and 21:

20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! (2 Corinthians 11:20-21).

Now does this seem to start connecting with with how this sermon started out?

Paul wasn’t being entirely literal in his description, but what these super-apostles are doing to the Corinthian church is equivalent to:

  • Making them slaves
  • Devouring them
  • Striking them in the face

And I’m pretty sure he was being literal when he said these false servants of righteousness were:

  • Taking advantage of them
  • Putting on airs

These boastful, false, deceitful super-apostles were treating the Corinthians like dirt…and they not only were accepting it…they were financially rewarding the 1 century bad boys financially for doing so!

Now wonder Paul sarcastically exclaims:

To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

How many guys or gals, seeing someone they dated but who dumped them stick it out with a total jerk…has thought to themselves something similar? “Yeah, if I had only treated you like crap we’d still be going out!”

Well, that is what Paul was dealing with on a spiritual plain.

Forgive Me this Wrong

At this point Paul does some boasting. Not to puff himself up, but to lay the foundation that if these super-apostles are going to boast, he can blow them out of the water with accomplishments. I do recommend you take some time later today to read just how much he suffered for our Savior…it is amazing…

(And reminds me of how little I have had to put up with for my faith.)

Then we get a discussion of the thorn in his flesh he has along with God’s assurance that His “grace is sufficient for [Paul], for [God’s] power is made perfect in weakness” (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). That takes us to the final part in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 we are going to read. Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:11-18:

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

Previously he told the Corinthians all the dumb things they were willing to put-up with, and now he reminds them that not only did he and his helpers not burden them or take advantage of them, “the signs of a true apostle were performed among [them] with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.”

Yet some in that church still chose the false apostles.

  • Paul “birthed” them into the faith…
  • Paul never burdened them
  • Paul never took advantage of them
  • Paul was “utmost” patient with them
  • Paul preformed miracles for them
  • Paul did mighty works for them

But, like a woman who chooses a “bad boy” or a man who chooses a “bad girl”…factions in the Corinthians church willingly followed men who….

  • Were boastful
  • Were putting on airs
  • Were deceitful
  • Were making advantage of them
  • Were making them slaves
  • Were devouring them
  • Were striking them in the face
  • Were false apostles ‚ÄĒ fake servants of righteousness

I don’t know how much hair Paul had at that time…but I’m losing whatever I have remaining by even thinking about this! ūüôā

Just like women or men who are attracted to bad people, too many in the Corinthian church were attracted to the worst types within the church.

And, they definitely couldn’t blame hormones!

Turning it Upside Down

But even more telling than all the “look for what I did for you” and “look at how I didn’t burden you” words in what we just read, please notice how he said:

And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.

And there is the crux of the matter. The super-apostles have everything upside down.

As much as he had to boast. As much of a claim as he had on the Corinthians. As much as he deserved their adulation and their money…

Paul knew that the position of a man (or woman) of God is to serve, not to be served.

To provide, not to burden.

To be spent in the service of others, not to spend their follower’s money.

To seek them, not what they had.

The same Savior that knocked Paul off his horse on the way to Damascus (see Acts 9) also knocked a whole bunch of sense into the head of that former Pharisee. He had become like the One he used to persecute. The One who told His disciples these “upside down” words:

42¬†And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43¬†But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44¬†and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45¬†For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.

Jesus didn’t come to be served.

He came to serve.

Yet 1 century…and modern-day…super-apostles turn the gospel into a money-making game of power and influence, dragging their victims down to hell with them.

What Can We Do?

What can we do?

When it comes to friends who keep choosing bad mates, all you can do is tread lightly and try to let them know there are better alternatives out there. Chances are a full frontal attack will drive them further into the arms of their abuser (and you out of their lives). Having said that, do not enable truly dangerous situations.

With followers of false super-apostles you also have to tread lightly. We are all rightly taught that when forced to choose between God and man we should choose God…but there is a good chance they have drunk the Kool-Aid and would see choosing their false apostle the same as standing up for our Lord. You don’t have the same standing with them as Paul did with the Corinthians, so even being as blunt as Paul is is probably not optimal. But, you can help them realize how they are being burdened, being taken advantage of, and so on.

And…once again…do not enable truly dangerous situations. Don’t pretend you think a false apostle is a Christian just to keep the peace. Don’t love your family, friends, and neighbors straight to hell.

A Super-Apostle’s Kryptonite

However, I would suggest the ultimate kryptonite for super-apostles is Jesus Himself. For instance, how can anyone keep reading those words about serving instead of lording from Christ’s lips and not start wondering about the behavior of wolves in sheep’s clothing (see Matthew 7:15)?

The four Gospels are the history of One whose every action rebuts the behavior of super-apostles…so try to get them to read the Bible for themselves…without their super-apostle (or his or her minions) interpreting it for them…and if their hearts are open, the truth will set them free (see John 8:32).

Is it guaranteed to work? No. However, earlier in 2 Corinthians we are encouraged to not give up:

4¬†Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2¬†But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3¬†And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4¬†In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5¬†For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6¬†For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).

Do not lose heart. If the god of this world hasn’t completed blinded them, then the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ will break them free.

Let the light shine out of darkness!!

Footnotes

1Kaufman, G. (2012, May 14). There’s a Scientific Reason Women Like Bad Boys, So You Can Tell Your Mom To Get Off Your Case Already. Glamour. Retrieved December 8, 2012, from here

2Ibid.

3The Facts: Relationship Violence 2011 Statistics. (2011, May). Glamour. Retrieved December 8, 2012, from here


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