Darkness in Light Clothing - Bible Study

by Tom Bulick and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
2 Corinthians 11:12–15

  • Darkness in Light Clothing | The Scrolls | December 31, 2023

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the sermon "Darkness in Light Clothing."

Because “All Scripture is God-breathed,” it is authoritative and a reliable guide for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” However, its authority and usefulness is undermined by incorrect interpretations—the goal of interpretation being to recognize the biblical author’s intended meaning expressed in the words of his text. When Scripture is misunderstood, its misinterpretation is neither authoritative nor useful. Wrong interpretations speak with the voice of the biblical author, and are more often than not divisive. This is evident in the body of Christ. The church is divided, its unity fractured, by disparate interpretations of Scripture.     

Different gospels are being preached today even as they were in Paul’s day—albeit today based on different interpretations of Scripture. The apostle rebuked the Galatians in no uncertain terms when he wrote to them: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (1:6-8). Evidently, some were teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised, become Jewish proselytes, and live according to the law of Moses in order to be justified and sanctified.

It was a problem addressed by the Jerusalem Council c. a.d. 49 (Ac 15) following Paul’s first missionary journey (Ac 13-14). At that meeting, “some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses’” (15:5). Fortunately, after hearing from Barnabas and Paul, James announced the council’s verdict: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (15:19-21). In other words, Gentiles don’t have to become Jews and obey the law of Moses in order to become Christians.

One might think that the council’s decision would settle the matter for good, but apparently it did not. Paul and Silas visit Corinth on Paul’s second missionary journey and plant a church there c. a.d. 51 (Ac 18:1-22). About five years later c. 56 a.d., Paul writes 2 Corinthians. By that time, individuals, whom he calls “super-apostles” and “false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ” (2Co 1:5, 13), have invaded the church and are wreaking havoc on the congregation, leading people away from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (11:3)—something Paul says the Corinthians were willing to put up with “easily enough” (v 4). About these pseudo-apostles, one commentator writes: “From the various hints provided in chs. 1-13 it emerges that Paul’s opponents were Jewish Christians who were proud both of their Jewish credentials and that they were servants of Christ.” If they bore commendatory letters from Jerusalem (3:1-3), “they would have had a natural affinity with the Cephas party, which had already formed in Corinth, and which would have favoured [sic] the Jewish form of Christianity associated with Peter . . . The opponents of Paul were Judaizers, a name coined to describe Christian Jews who sought to impose upon Gentile converts the obligation of the law and to make them submit to circumcision. However, there are no indications in 2 Corinthians that Paul’s opponents in Corinth were trying to impose these things” (Kruse, 47).

Rather than put up with “easily enough” those who preach a different Jesus, a different gospel, or a different spirit than the one Paul preached, as expressed in the Scriptures, Christians must examine interpretations of the biblical text to make sure that what is preached is accurate, thereby preserving the authority and usefulness of Scripture.

Central Message of the Text: 

The welfare of fellow believers requires that we point out false teachers, who lead others into error, and warn our brothers and sisters to avoid them.   

  Family Talk:

Thanksgiving through the years has offered lots of life-stage conversations with relatives. For a while, it was pregnancy, childbirth, and labor followed by seasons of preschool discipline, elementary extracurriculars and the dreaded teenage drivers with car insurance. This year our conversation surrounded bifocal contacts. It was a sad realization of where we are on the timeline of life, but time does march on. My cousin’s wife shared how she was challenged in removing her contacts and mentioned a TikTok hack of holding your eyelids a certain way while looking at your nose and then squinting while you hop on one foot, or some kind of nonsense like that. We had a hearty laugh as we all said, “TikTok’s not real!” Social media is flooded with false messages that our kids are exposed to daily. Our kids are growing up in a world that just slightly bends the truth and offers “proof” with an edited or altered video. If they are doing this type of truth manipulation with how to remove contacts, what do you think the influencers of this world are doing with the biblical message? It’s a masquerade party on the world wide web, and if we don’t teach our kids how to filter out the false messages by holding them against the plumbline of God’s Word, we’re doing a great disservice. Help your child understand truth by measuring what you hear against God’s Word. As you open the Bible and read and discuss it, plant seeds that will help your kids grow in righteousness. For the love of all things holy, help them understand that everything on the internet isn’t real. We’re praying for you!