Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 9 2013 - 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 – The jealousy of God

As I was preaching on one occasion, I noticed a man at the back of the church writing notes on a large sheet of A4. I was pleased that someone so wanted to remember what I was saying that he was writing down my key points. But I was soon to be put right. After the service, the man came to talk with me. He wanted to discuss the things the Bible said about God which he thought could not possibly be true. Since God is love, how can God be said also to be a God of judgment or of wrath? He had this, and many more questions written on his sheet of paper. One of the things he took issue with was that the Bible speaks of God being a jealous God. Jealousy, he argued, is a sin; how can God be said to be jealous?

When Paul speaks of his concern for the Christians at Corinth he tells them “I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God” (2 Corinthians 11:2, sometimes translated as, “with a godly jealousy”). He goes on to say, “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”

The New Testament uses many wonderful pictures to help us to understand the relationship between Christ and his people. One such picture is that of the bridegroom and his bride. God has redeemed us through his Son and for his Son, that we might be joined to him – made one body with him – forever. We have been given the Holy Spirit as the engagement ring; a seal upon the promise that we are his and shall be his.

Paul is writing to those in Corinth to whom he had preached the gospel. He had been instrumental in bringing them to faith in Christ; he was used of God in arranging this proposed marriage. So Paul is now jealous over them with the very jealousy that God himself has for them. There is a right jealousy which I may have for my wife, that she is mine alone even as I am hers alone. That is the jealousy which God has for his people. It is a reflection of his love; love that will possess the one loved and will not allow her to belong also to another.

Paul is concerned that having come to trust in Christ through his preaching these Christians in Corinth are now being enticed away by silver-tongued speakers. Paul speaks quite bluntly about them; “such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness” (11:13-15). Paul is reminding the Corinthians that behind these human preachers, seeking to gain a following for themselves, Satan is at work, as he was in Eden, to destroy the work of God. They need to wake up to spiritual realities. 

God’s love for us in Christ demands undivided love for him in return. There are many things which could draw us away from single-hearted love for God and devotion to the Jesus Christ. To play the field is to show that we do not love him as we ought. We need to wake up to the beguiling activity of Satan and to guard our affections in the knowledge that our God is a jealous God.

Living God, I thank you that you are a jealous God; you love me too much to be willing to share me with another. Lord Jesus, you have redeemed me and have made me your own. By your Spirit, help me to worship and serve you from an undivided heart. Keep me alert to the devices of Satan and to the things that would entice me away from you. You are faithful in your love for me; help me to be faithful to you.

Peter Misselbrook