Friday, January 13, 2012

The eloquent speech and the so-called "gospel" preached by the super-apostles (Frank Matera)

In his commentary on 2 Corinthians, Frank Matera says some really great things about the passage in 11:1-4. Here are two quotes. (I will highlight a few things in blue.)

"What Paul means by ‘another Jesus’ is problematic, since he never explicitly explains how the teaching of the intruders differs from the gospel he preaches. Consequently, one must be careful not to read too much into this statement by suggesting, for example, that the intruders espoused a ‘heretical’ Christology. It is more likely that the real conflict between Paul and the intruders concerned issues of ministerial style and jurisdiction, which in Paul’s perspective cannot be separated from the gospel, since they reflect one’s view of Christ. As Paul will show in his foolish boasting, there is an intimate connection between the way in which one exercises apostolic ministry and the gospel message that one preaches. For example, because suffering, hardship, and weakness are such integral parts of his ministry, the gospel that he preaches necessarily focuses on the paradox of the cross and the crucified Christ who manifests God’s power through weakness. Conversely, because Paul’s gospel focuses on the cross and the crucified Christ, he understands suffering, hardship, and weakness as integral parts of his apostolic ministry. If, in contrast, the intruding apostles focused attention on their powerful deeds, eloquent speech, and ecstatic experiences, it is unlikely that the cross of the crucified Christ played as central a role in their preaching. Conversely, if their preaching was concerned first an foremost with the power of the pneumatic Lord, they would have been more inclined to boast of the outward manifestations of that power in their own ministry. Understood in this way, Paul is quite correct when he accuses the intruders of preaching ‘another Jesus.’" (pages 243-4)

"Although an outsider might view these approaches to ministry merely as different ways of preaching the same gospel, it is clear that Paul did not, since there can be no other gospel (Gal 1:7). Just as there is an inseparable relation between the minster of the gospel and the gospel that is preached, so there is an intimate relation between the 'Jesus' that is preached and the 'Spirit' and the 'gospel' that is received. In accepting the preaching of the intruders, the Corinthians have experienced a different Spirit, but in Paul's view it is not the authentic Spirit of Jesus. Likewise they have received another gospel, but since there is only one gospel, it is not the gospel that he preached." (page 244)

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