3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
But I fear, lest somehow,
Paul feared that the Corinthian church experienced extensive deception and that they were open to it.
as the serpent [Satan] deceived Eve by his craftiness [cunning, trickery],
The serpent deceived Eve in Genesis 3:1-13. She believed the lie of Satan and ate of the forbidden tree. “Deceived” carries the idea of deceiving thoroughly with cunning. He disguised himself into something other than what he was (2 Co 11:15). Satan planted doubt about what God said about not eating of the tree. Then he openly contradicted God, stating that God had said, “You shall not eat from any tree [as over against the one tree] of the garden.” The weapon of all false teaching is cunning. By all appearances, false teachers have special wisdom or revelation.
so your minds [understanding] may be corrupted from the simplicity [genuineness, single-mindedness] that is in Christ.
Satan is after the “minds” or understanding of believers. The Corinthians were deceived by the false teachers just like Satan deceived Eve. These teachers did this by “craftiness.” “Corrupted” here is spiritual ruin; it means to be led astray, to deviate from the norm. The church accepted depraved doctrines from apostate teachers. The apostle feared that the church would be seduced by another doctrine from absolute loyalty to her Lord.
False teachers led the church away from single-minded commitment to Christ. The word “simplicity” means single-minded. When it comes to faithfulness to Christ, there is no other option than to be entirely devoted to Him. Otherwise, the church commits spiritual adultery. Paul’s detractors cast doubt on what his team taught. The church should have had a single commitment to Christ, but these people added to His finished work. This is to become “corrupted” from the unvarnished teaching about Christ.
For if [since] he who comes preaches another [of a different kind] Jesus whom we have not preached,
The false apostles that came to Corinth preached a different gospel than Paul’s team. This was a real and active subversion in the church. They came with a novel gospel, a “new” gospel different from the apostolic gospel. This was an attempt to supersede the biblical Jesus. False apostles taught a different kind of gospel, not the gospel of grace but a legalistic gospel. They may have diminished the importance of the saving work of Christ on the cross (1 Co 1:18; 2:2; 2 Co 13:4; Ga 3:1).
or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received,
“Different spirit” conveys the idea that the false apostles came with a different motive and message. Their “spirit” may have been their pursuit for personal riches (1 Co 4:6-13; 2 Co 12:11-13). The difference here is a gospel of legalism whereby trust in Christ’s finished work is displaced by merit (Ro 8:15). The “different spirit” evidently was a spirit of bondage, not freedom in Christ. False teachers preached bondage and fear, the merit system, and not freedom of free grace and joy.
or a different [different kind] gospel which you have not accepted—
“Different gospel” indicates that the super-apostles preached a way of salvation other than the gospel of grace, an objective message from God.
you may well put up with it!
The church should have spurned false teachers, but they “put up with” them and their teaching (Ga 1:6-8). They tolerated a false gospel. “Put up with it” is highly sarcastic. They functioned on a system of tolerance not acceptable to God; His Word requires drawing lines of distinction. As a wife must be married to “one man,” so the Christian cannot marry other doctrines (2 Co 10:2). The bride of Christ must be faithful to her Lord.
The church can come under satanic attack in any generation.
There is only one gospel. The Christian is to have singleness of mind toward Christ’s finished work on the cross; He paid for sin finally and fully in place of sinners.
Today, the church has run around with other doctrines; she has adulterated herself to people who are not true to Scripture, who concoct philosophies of human origin. Satan has beguiled them to accept manmade ideas and religion. They have lost single-hearted devotion to their Lord’s finished work of salvation by grace. They have cheated on Jesus by introducing merit to salvation.
Many churches of our day are dangerously close to believing a different gospel. They are far too tolerant of falsity. False teachers today arrogate to themselves novel or new doctrines not revealed in Scripture. These seducers, with their poisonous ideology, lie coiled and ready to strike Christians at the heart of their faith. The design of all this is to woo believers away from Christ and His finished work. This calls for discernment by Christians. Otherwise, doctrinal wolves will devour the sheep.
The church today needs to exercise more discernment based on objective doctrine. It stands in need of more intolerance of falsity. We need more devotion to Christ and to how He and truth are revealed in Scripture.