1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
In the first fifteen verses, Paul defends himself against false teachers, or the “super-apostles” or “preeminent apostles” (2 Co 11:5). The apostle warns the Corinthian church that they should not be deceived by the false apostles in the first four verses. Doctrinal purity is a high priority. The remainder of Second Corinthians deals with false teachers. This entire section is an unmasking of Paul’s opponents.
Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly [imprudence]—
The defense of Paul’s apostolic authority by showing his accomplishments appears foolish, but he will do anything to protect the church (2 Co 11:16, 21-29). He was willing to say something imprudent to make his point. He will adopt the tactics of his opponents to show the foolishness of their schemes. This may have been sarcasm on his part. In any case, he had just repudiated one-upmanship in the previous verses in chapter 10. Bragging usually is unwise. In this situation, the church stepped over the line of toying with false doctrine; the apostle needed to correct their problem.
and indeed you do bear with me.
The apostle asks that the church bear with his sarcasm, his lampooning the absurdity of the false teachers boasting. This is an appeal that the church would put up with his foolishness. He hopes that the church will indulge his “folly.”
The justification for Paul’s “folly” was his jealousy that the Corinthian church remains faithful to biblical doctrine. He will draw battle lines on this issue.
Verses 2-6 give three reasons for the apostle’s foolishness:
-to keep the church from seduction by false teachers, vv. 2-3.
-the church’s willingness to listen to false teachers makes them vulnerable–” they gladly bear with fools,” v. 4.
-the apostle is not inferior to his opponents, vv. 5-6.
I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.
The apostle is jealous that the Corinthians will maintain doctrinal purity. His was a “godly jealousy” because he was not resentful or envious. He approached their situation in a “godly” manner as God would deal with the situation.
For I have betrothed you
Paul is jealous like a father would be of his daughter’s integrity (1 Co 4:5). Jews deemed a year of betrothal as the first phase of marriage. Betrothal was not consummated with sex until the marriage ceremony. It was the father’s role to protect his daughter’s virginity until the consummation of the marriage. He is the one who originally planted or started the church in Corinth.
to one husband [monogamy],
Paul taught the Corinthian church that there was only one Lord. He used the concept of monogamy to establish his point. It is not right to have an affair with ideas not consistent with who and what Jesus is.
that I may present you as a chaste [pure] virgin to Christ.
As the church’s spiritual father, Paul betrothed the church to Christ and only to Him. The virgin owes her allegiance to only one. The apostle was jealous that the church he founded would remain faithful to her one Lord, a pure assembly faithful to her one and only Lord.
Doctrinal faithfulness is to be true to Christ. The church and Christ are like a marriage (Eph 5:22-29). Paul presented or betrothed the church to God, but their loyalty was defiled by false teachers.
It is crucial to protect a church in doctrinal peril.
At the point of our salvation, we received new priorities and loyalties. We became loyal to Christ. That is why we cannot allow ourselves to become gullible to whatever winds of doctrine may come our way.
There is a difference between jealousy as a vice and jealousy as a virtue. The latter is jealousy that keeps allegiance, especially to God. When we violate God’s holiness, He is rightly jealous.