2Co 11:1-3 “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
I doubt that any believer today would accuse Paul of foolishness. Yet, that is what he is asking of the Corinthian saints at this point. He was not declaring that what he was about to say was folly. Paul was asking the brethren to bear with him for a few moments in what might at first sound like foolishness to them.
Paul had already declared to them that the preaching of the cross was foolishness to those that perish. He also explained that this foolishness of preaching was an instrument of salvation to them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-21). Since we understand that the blood of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can save us from our sins, we know that this is not the salvation that Paul had under consideration when he spoke of salvation from a gospel standpoint. Rather, the gospel saves us from a life of despair, unbelief, and foolish living.
Since Paul had preached to them this blessed gospel of Christ, he felt possessiveness toward them for Christ’s sake. He had a warm feeling (jealous) over them according to the love of God. He had a great zeal (jealousy) for them to be faithful in their walk with Christ. There was a godly desire to see them heed the truth he had preached to them.
It is interesting to note that Paul did not say he was jealous of them. Instead he was jealous over them. His jealousy was something that he desired to shelter them with. This desire had a very specific goal.
Paul was using this example to affirm that he had preached only the truth of Jesus Christ to them. He had not made any attempt to join them to himself or any of his companions. He had no desire to gain a reputation for himself. Through his preaching, he had espoused them to only one Husband.
His focus was to present (stand with) them as a man would stand with a pure (chaste) maiden (virgin). He desired with a great zeal to see them happily engaged in a life that was filled with Christ. Even though he understood that their calling and drawing came through the Holy Spirit, his love and desire for them to have an abiding relationship with Christ was such that Paul felt a level of responsibility for their faithfulness and joy. This is why he asked that they bear with him in his folly.
Paul had also seen that there were false teachers around them. He knew the propensity of man to be beguiled by cunningly devised fables from the very beginning. He did not want to see the mind of the saints at Corinth withered and destroyed. Instead, he desired to see them stand strong in singleness (simplicity) of heart and mind in Jesus.
Ministers of the gospel today should feel this same concern for the saints of God. We need to take care that we present Jesus as the Way, the Truth, the Life, and the Resurrection. We need to preach the whole counsel of God and refrain from adding in man’s philosophies of life. We should desire nothing less than to cover the saints of God with the purity of His holy word.
May God bless us with a godly jealousy over His people that we are always faithful in the simplicity that is in Christ!