2 Corinthians 11

2 Cor. 11:2 I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ

The doctrine of the Bridegroom is that Christ is to be married to the church. Hence, the members of the church should be worthy of such a perfect partner. Paul makes reference to this doctrine, placing himself in the position of the father of the bride. In a way, it is an arranged marriage, wherein Paul has arranged the engagement of the Corinthians to Christ. His goal is to purify them in preparation for their perfect union with the Bridegroom.

2 Cor. 11:3 I fear, lest...your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ

LeGrand Richards

"Now I have in mind that I would like to say a few words today about a statement of the apostle Paul's. He said: 'I fear, lest by any means ... your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.' (2 Cor. 11:3.) And I tell you throughout the world the minds of men have been corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, and they have taught the commandments of men rather than the simple truths revealed in the Lord's holy word.

"I think of the words of Isaiah. He said:

'Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant,

Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth.' (Isa. 24:5-6.)

"Then I think also of the experience when Emperor Constantine called the Nicea Council, held way back in 325 A.D. when 318 bishops spent four weeks in discussion and debate over the divinity and personality of Jesus Christ and God. Think of that! Their minds were confused and corrupted or else they would have followed the simple teachings of the scriptures and there would have been no need of their spending four weeks in debate to decide that question. Thank the Lord that, through the restoration of the gospel, those simple truths are a part of us and of our great work, and our minds are not corrupted." ("The Simplicity in Christ," Ensign, Nov. 1976, 65)

Harold B. Lee

"Some may say all of what I have said sounds so simple. It is like the rod of Moses on which the serpent-bitten Israelites had only to look to be healed. But, as the Book of Mormon reminds us, 'because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished' (1 Nephi 17:41). Strange as it seems, some men are, as Jacob described them, forever 'looking beyond the mark' (Jacob 4:14), missing the plain and simple truths in their search for complexity!" (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 334)

Neal A. Maxwell

"With regard to the simplicity of the living gospel, Paul expressed concern in his second epistle to the saints at Corinth lest their 'minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.' (2 Corinthians 11:3.)

"As the author has expressed this thought on another occasion, we like intellectual embroidery. We like complexity because it gives us an excuse for failure, that is, as you increase the complexity of a belief system, you provide more and more refuges for those who don't want to comply; you thereby increase the number of excuses that people can make for failure to comply, and you create a sophisticated intellectual structure which causes people to talk about the gospel instead of doing it. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is not complex. It strips us of any basic excuse for noncompliance, and yet many of us are forever trying to make it more complex. ("The Simplicity of the Gospel," BYU Speeches of the Year, May 4, 1969, p. 6.)

"Paul observed that we shouldn't be surprised if Satan's ministers also be 'transformed as the ministers of righteousness' (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) who in their pseudosophistication exalted themselves 'against the knowledge of God' (2 Corinthians 10:5). They felt self-sufficient and were impervious to the insights that came to them from the living God or his living prophets. When evil encrusts itself with a self-justifying system of thought and artificial values, this shuts out the light of the gospel. Thus we see why Paul was anxious about the corrupting influence of complexity.

"President Joseph F. Smith said, 'God, in his revelation to man, has made his words so simple that the humblest of men, without special training, may enjoy great faith, comprehend the teachings of the gospel, and enjoy undisturbed their religious convictions.' (Gospel Doctrine, p. 9.)" (Things As They Really Are [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 101-102.)

Derek A. Cuthbert

"I have always been impressed that, although Paul was a very learned man, after his conversion he declared: 'For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' (1 Cor. 2:2.)...Yes, we need to strive for the simplicity of a child, and raise our own children to have simple, unshakable testimonies of Jesus Christ. Then they will not fall prey to those temptations which would divert them from the strait and narrow way. As Elder Matthew Cowley used to say, 'Life should be beautifully simple. And then it will be simply beautiful.' ("Learn to Live," address delivered at Brigham Young University, 19 June 1953.)" ("The Meaning of Maturity," Ensign, Nov. 1982, 54)

2 Cor. 11:4 if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel

Bruce R. McConkie

"...spiritual gifts can be imitated. There are false prophets, false ministers, and false miracles. Satan can speak in unknown tongues, and all but the very elect can be led astray. There are false gifts, false churches, and false gospels. 'I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety,' Paul said to the saints in his day, 'so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.' Almost everything found in all the churches of Christendom bears witness that 'the simplicity that is in Christ' died when the apostasy was born. 'For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached,' the ancient apostle continues, 'or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted,' then beware; flee from falsehood and cleave unto the truth. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4.)

"There are two spiritual gifts in particular-the gifts of administration and of discernment-that the Lord has placed in his church to keep his people from being led astray. The saints need not fall heir to false doctrine; they have no need to accept false ordinances; they need not be led astray by false gifts; and their worship can be kept pure and perfect-as long as these two gifts are in active operation." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 277.)

2 Cor. 11:13 such are false apostles, deceitful workers

Neal A. Maxwell

"John and Paul both bemoaned the rise of false Apostles (see 2 Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2). The Church was clearly under siege. Some not only fell away but then openly opposed. In one circumstance, Paul stood alone and lamented that 'all men forsook me' (2 Tim. 4:16). He also decried those who 'subvert[ed] whole houses' (Titus 1:11).

"Some local leaders rebelled, as when one, who loved his preeminence, refused to receive the brethren (see 3 Jn. 1:9-10).

"No wonder President Brigham Young observed: 'It is said the Priesthood was taken from the Church, but it is not so, the Church went from the Priesthood" (in Journal of Discourses, 12:69).'" ("From the Beginning," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 18-19)

2 Cor. 11:14 Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light

Joseph Fielding Smith

"There is no doubt about Satan having great power and that he can appear as an angel of light. In this form he appeared on the banks of the Susquehanna River to oppose the restoration of keys, and was detected by Michael, and his plans were thwarted. (See D. & C. 128:20. Compare also Section 129:8.) Jacob, son of Lehi, in his teachings, stated that if there had been no atonement, our spirits '. . . must have become like unto him [Satan], and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.' (2 Nephi 9:9.)

"Korihor, who tried to deceive the Nephites, admitted that Satan appeared to him as an angel and told him what to teach the people. (Alma 30:53.)

"When the Prophet Joseph Smith and a company of brethren were journeying to Kirtland from Missouri, they camped at McIlwaine's Bend on the Missouri River. There Elder William W. Phelps 'in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision.' (D.H.C., Vol. 1, p. 203.) The Savior declared that Satan had the power to bind bodies of men and women and sorely afflict them. (Matthew 7:22-23; Luke 13:16.) If Satan has power to bind the bodies, he surely must have power to loose them. It should be remembered that Satan has great knowledge and thereby can exercise authority and to some extent control the elements, when some greater power does not intervene. Paul, writing to the Ephesian Saints called Satan 'The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.' (Ephesians 2:2.)" (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 1: 178.)

Joseph Smith

"There have also been ministering angels in the Church which were of Satan appearing as an angel of light. A sister in the state of New York had a vision, who said it was told her that if she would go to a certain place in the woods, an angel would appear to her. She went at the appointed time, and saw a glorious personage descending, arrayed in white, with sandy colored hair; he commenced and told her to fear God, and said that her husband was called to do great things, but that he must not go more than one hundred miles from home, or he would not return; whereas God had called him to go to the ends of the earth, and he has since been more than one thousand miles from home, and is yet alive. Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things were false. How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By the color of his hair; that is one of the signs that he can be known by, and by his contradicting a former revelation." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 Vols. 4:581)

Joseph Smith

"If Satan should appear as one in glory, who can tell his color, his signs, his appearance, his glory-or what is the manner of his manifestation? Who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as 'no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God,' so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and his mysterious windings.

"A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God." (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 113.)

Joseph Smith

"When a messenger comes, saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand, and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand. If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect, he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear. Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message. If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him. These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God." (DC 129:4-9)

2 Cor. 11:17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly

"The reader of 2 Corinthians knows that the apostle answered challengers by a long section asking whether anyone could meet his record of sacrifices for the gospel. This takes the entire second half of 2 Corinthians 11, starting with the necessity of having to boast: 'Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also' (2 Cor. 11:18)...But for his detractors, the real question is whether Paul represents God, so he is forced to tell how God guided him, prefacing that with the apology that literally says it is not fitting or appropriate to boast about visions (2 Cor. 12:1). But, of course, he must in order to confront his critics." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 143 - 144.)

2 Cor. 11:21 (I speak foolishly)

When Paul says, 'I speak foolishly' or 'I speak as a fool' (v. 23), he is acknowledging that he is bragging as a fool would brag about his accomplishments. In effect, he is saying, "I know I am boasting as a fool boasts, but bear with me while I try to make this point."

"Paul begins by asking the Saints not to think of him as a fool, as weak and contemptible; but he quickly adds that if they insist on it, then they should allow him to play the part of the fool and boast a little as other fools do, the other fools being the false apostles who had been foolishly criticizing him. He proceeds as it were to speak foolishly, boasting, reminding us in verse 17 that such speaking, taken at face value, isn't of the Lord. But Paul isn't really boasting; he's pretending to boast, using irony to teach a lesson.

"...Apparently, the false apostles made much of their lineage, so Paul, as they, claims descent from Abraham, but he overdoes it, three times saying, 'so am I,' showing how silly such boasting is. The Joseph Smith translation adds a fourth 'so am I' instead of the 'I am more' in verse 23, making the speech seem even more ridiculous.

"Paul's 'boastful' speech is excessively repetitious. What other overdone repetition do you find?

"The repetitiveness begins in verse 22 and reaches its peak in verse 26, where 'in perils' is repeated eight times. His speech was probably not unlike the false apostles' boastful speeches, labored and excessive. By imitating their overworked rhetoric, he shows how foolish their boasting is." (Dennis and Sandra Packard, Feasting upon the Word [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 189.)

2 Cor. 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one

"In Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Moses set down the principle that a guilty man could be lashed forty times. The Jewish rabbis had reduced that to thirty-nine, lest there should be a miscount and he be whipped more than forty times. (Moses waned against exceeding that number, and so the extra caution.) By Paul's time this had developed into a brutally painful punishment meted out with great precision. To anyone familiar with the Jewish scourging, Paul's claim that he endured such punishment five times is an impressive claim indeed, for often the victim died under the lashing. Farrar has given us a detailed description of the practice.

'Both of [the victim's] hands were tied to...a stake a cubit and a half high. The public officer then tore down his robe until his breast was laid bare. The executioner stood on a stone behind the criminal. The scourge consisted of two thongs, one of which was composed of four strands of calf-skin, and one of two strands of ass's-skin, which passed through a hole in a handle...The prisoner bent to receive the blows, which were inflicted with one hand, but with all the force of the striker, thirteen on the breast, thirteen on the right [shoulder], and thirteen on the left shoulder...' (Farrar, The Life and Works of ST. Paul, pp. 715-16)

"As we saw from Acts, Paul's typical missionary approach was to enter the synagogue and begin preaching...When one contemplates the determination it would take to undergo such a flogging a second time, after suffering it once, one gets some idea of the extent of Paul's commitment to Christ. Little wonder that he is peeved by the empty boasting and petty criticism of the false teachers at Corinth!" (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 303)

2 Cor. 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck...

Alexander B. Morrison

"Though no mortal can even approach Christ's glory and majesty, Saul of Tarsus, known to us by his Latin name Paul, stands for all time as a great example of total consecration to Christ and his cause. Pierced to the heart by the glory of the resurrected Christ, whom he met and accepted under dramatic circumstances on the Damascus road, Paul wore out his days in 'weariness and painfulness,' bearing testimony to 'great and small' of the Master whom he loved more than life itself, ever grateful to be in the service of the Savior.

"For nearly three decades the noble Cilician lived 'as it were appointed to death' (1 Cor. 4:9), reviled, persecuted, defamed, hungry, thirsty, buffeted, with no certain dwelling place (see 1 Cor. 4:11-12), but glorying always in his testimony of the Savior and his gospel. Oh, how Paul suffered in Christ's cause: 'Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep,' he wrote of his hardships (2 Cor. 11:24-25).

"Paul's trials and tribulations molded him as clay in the potter's hands, until he became one whose every deed and desire were dedicated to Jesus, 'For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified' (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul longed for only two things-to 'preach . . . the unsearchable riches of Christ' (Eph. 3:8), and then, when his mortal ministry was over, to feel worthy to say, 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing' (2 Tim. 4:7-8)." (Zion: A Light in the Darkness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 63-64.)

2 Cor. 11:24-27 The parallel persecutions of Paul and the prophet Joseph

"Joseph Smith also proved his sincerity by sacrifice. Writing to the Church during unfair arrest attempts that kept him in hiding in and out of Nauvoo for months, he also looked back: 'The envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life ... and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation.' (D&C 127:2.) Indeed, although the Prophet didn't summarize all his trials, any historian could easily take Paul's format and adapt it to Joseph Smith's life, as Joseph himself did in Liberty Jail in alluding to his lifetime burdens. (See D&C 122:5)

"For instance, a number of times professing Christians leveled guns at him with the threat of death. Once he was beaten, tarred and feathered, and left unconscious. Twice he was endangered by stagecoach runaways when on the Lord's business. He took back roads and waded through swamps to escape his enemies. He endured years of inconvenient travel on land for the kingdom, as well as risking many steamboat journeys on waterways. He faced years of unjust legal harassment, which made his own home unsafe, and he was imprisoned for a long winter in a filthy jail on unverified charges. Through all, he maintained the responsibility of leading the Church, worrying, praying, and planning for the welfare of his family and his fellow Saints.

"Why did Paul and Joseph Smith do these things? Because they positively knew the truth of the gospel, the Resurrection, and the Judgment. Joseph explained that his lifelong persecutions for telling his visions made him feel 'much like Paul. ... [T]here were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise ... though they should persecute him unto death ... So it was with me.' (JS-H 1:24-25.)" (Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith," Ensign, Apr. 1985, 17)

Joseph Smith

"I, like Paul have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted, I have suffered more than Paul did. I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me so curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted." (The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 373.)

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"The Prophet Joseph Smith's afflictions and sufferings paralleled those of Paul in many respects. Beyond imprisonments, mobbings, and beatings, he suffered the anguish of betrayal by disloyal, unfaithful associates. But he offered the hand of friendship and fellowship to them even after they had opposed and betrayed him." ("Patience, a Key to Happiness," Ensign, May 1987, 31)

2 Cor. 11:33 through a window in a basket was I let down

Like Joseph Smith, Paul's persecutions began very early in his ministry, as the basket incident demonstrates.

"Leaving Arabia and the scenes of his spiritual adjustment and preparation, Saul returned to Damascus. Here he plunged directly into the work of his ministry, and so vigorous and effective must his testimony have been for 'many days' that 'the Jews took counsel to kill him.' (Acts 9:23) Now Saul got a taste of persecution himself-sinister persecution that did not scruple at the taking of life.

"...Saul learned of the plot against him and of the fact that his enemies watched the gates of Damascus day and night to kill him. (Acts 9:24) The plotters enlisted the active help of the ethnarch of Damascus, who was the representative of King Aretas, the Roman-recognized ruler of the city. The ethnarch, as guardian of the metropolis, gave instructions to the guards at each of the gates to apprehend Saul if he should attempt to escape. (2 Cor. 11:32) The situation became so tense that Saul finally decided upon flight. It is a wise man who knows when to hold his ground and when to flee. A dead man could not very well carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, so flight it was. Saul was aided by the disciples (same mss. read 'his disciples') in Damascus to make a clever escape. Certain houses on the wall of the city had windows overhanging the fosse, and one or more of those houses may have belonged to the loyal friends of Saul. It was decided to put the fleeing man through a window in a basket and lower him down the wall under cover of darkness. (Acts 9:25; 2 Cor. 11:33) Thus the beleaguered Saul made good his escape." (Sidney B. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955], 26.)