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Friday, December 22 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
INTRODUCTION: Last week, from our study in 2 Corint.12:1-21, we saw Paul, a man full of revelations and insight into kingdom mysteries and on the other hand, he was going through fierce persecution from the gates of hell. The comforting words of the Lord to Paul was; “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. The response of Paul is “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor.12:9-10).
This week, we are studying 2 Corinthian chapter 13. This concludes our studies in Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Church.
1. Coming with Authority: 2 Cor.13:1-6
This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” 2 I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare. 3 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. 5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.
Vs-1, This is the third time Paul will be visiting Corinth because of persistent problems, so Paul warned them that he would not listen to gossip, or to stories about other people. In any such matter, Paul needed to hear witnesses who were able to give their evidence in front of God. The truth would become clear when the evidence of two or three witnesses are in agreement according to Due.19:15.
Vs-2, On his return to Corinth he will deal firmly with those people who are causing troubles in the church. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. There, Paul told the church to deal with the member who was guilty of wrong sex acts. He urged the church to join with him in prayer against that man and his evil behaviour.
Vs-3-4, Corinth’s Christians very much wanted to see the power of God. For a time, they confused it with the actions of powerful men who wanted to control them. Probably, the Christians made that mistake because they had not really understood God’s power in their own lives. They considered Paul weak; they even doubted his apostleship. Paul, on the other hand, believed that church leaders should normally be humble, gentle and patient. He understood that God is working powerfully inside his people - nobody can see that power, but it is real (2Tim.2:24).
Their error was to concentrate too much on the things that they could see and feel. Their problem with Paul was simply that he did not impress them enough.
However, there is a situation where church leaders must be firm and powerful. They must sometimes deal with stubborn people who have firmly chosen to do wrong things. In such circumstances, even the most gentle church leader has a duty to be strong and bold. An extreme example is how Samuel carried out God’s punishment against the wicked King Agag in 1 Samuel 15:33.
Vs-5-6, Paul urges each of his readers to examine whether their own relationship with God is real. It is not good enough if other people consider us to be genuine Christians. Even our own heart (mind) can convince us of something that is not true. So we must be extremely careful in this matter.
2. Paul Prefers Gentleness: 2 Cor.13:7-10
Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honourable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.
Vs-7-8 Paul loved the Christians in Corinth, even as a father loves his own children. However, they were discussing whether Paul’s work for God was genuine or not. They complained that Paul did not seem impressive enough. He refused their gifts; and he did not seem powerful, like some other church leaders.
Paul wanted them to know the truth about him. However, in the end, it hardly seemed to matter. Paul had worked hard among them so that they could have a relationship with God. So, if now they were truly serving God, their opinion about Paul was unimportant. Paul had done his work; the work of God in their lives would continue without Paul.
Paul still prayed for them, and he would continue to pray for them. He was not praying that they would approve of him. He was praying that they would do the right things. He prayed that they would stop their wrong activities. Paul’s greatest desire was that they would learn to serve God better.
Paul saw himself as a witness of the truth about God. As a witness, Paul cared only that people heard the truth. When people accepted Christ into their lives, they had received the truth. It was not necessary for them also to accept Paul as the leader of their church. If Paul had argued otherwise, he would have been arguing against the truth. So, Paul considered it his duty simply to declare the truth that God had shown to him.
Vs-9-10 Many political leaders and business leaders are pleased when they become more powerful or more important. Church leaders should have a very different attitude. They can be glad even about the loss of their power, when other people serve God better as a result. That is because church leaders must not work for their own wealth, honour and importance. Instead, church leaders work for God; and they work to help other people to know God better. Matt.23:11.
So, Paul was not praying that Corinth’s Christians would respect him. Instead, he was praying that God would make them perfect. We can see what he meant by ‘perfect’ from his previous use of a similar word in 1 Corinthians 1:10. There, Paul was writing about the opposing groups that had formed in their church. Those groups argued much with each other. Paul appealed that the church should be ‘perfect’ with the same opinion. In other words, he wanted them to ‘join’ with the other Christians, and not to be separate groups that constantly argued. We could say that God needed to ‘repair’ their church; it was as if it had broken apart. Paul was praying for God to do that.
3. Greetings and Benediction 2 Cor.13:11-14
Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Vs-11, Paul was concluding his letter here with greetings. The rest of Paul’s advice is for the same purpose. They should urge and encourage each other to serve God better. They should end their arguments and they should try to understand each other. Their many different opinions had caused them to separate from each other in the past. However, God wanted them to join together so that they would all benefit from their many different skills and gifts. Then, instead of their constant arguments, their church would be calm and content.
That was what God wanted. Love and peace (a calm and content attitude) are part of God’s character. They are also among the results of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of Christians. Christians should love each other with the love that comes from God. They should be calm and content because of the work that God is doing in their lives.
Vs-12, Paul mentions the ‘holy kiss’ in three other places also: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. It became a usual greeting in the first Christian churches. The custom continues in the churches in some countries near the Mediterranean Sea today. The men kiss each of the other men in turn. The women kiss each of the other women. Men do not kiss women; and they do not kiss on the lips. Rather, they kiss by the side of the head.
Vs-13, ‘All the saints greet you.’ In the original language, Greek, the word for ‘saints’ is HAGIOI. That word is simply the plural form of the word that means ‘holy’. So, a correct translation would be: ‘All the holy people greet you.’
Paul concluded with the benediction
Vs 14, Paul finishes the Book of 2 Corinthians with words that are very familiar to many Christians today. They are not just a prayer but a blessing: a declaration that God will show his kindness in a person’s life. This blessing is sometimes called ‘the benediction’, which means ‘the blessing’ - or sometimes simply ‘the grace’. Many church meetings today end when the leader, or all the people, declare these words to everyone present.
Parts of this study was culled from usefulbible.com
Thursday, December 14 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we saw Paul defending his apostleship against those apostles he referred to as “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ”, whose utmost desire was to corrupt the churches from the simplicity that is in Christ. He gave a large account of his own qualifications, labours, and sufferings (not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who had enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ). In today’s study, we shall be looking at his concluding defense and learning from his experiences.
Verses 1-6 – Paul’s Revelations
“True, there is nothing to be gained by it, but [as I am obliged] to boast, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or away from the body I do not know, God knows—4 Was caught up into paradise, and he heard utterances beyond the power of man to put into words, which man is not permitted to utter. 5 Of this same [man’s experiences] I will boast, but of myself (personally) I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses). 6 Should I desire to boast, I shall not be a witless braggart, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I abstain [from it] so that no one may form a higher estimate of me than [is justified by] what he sees in me or hears from me.”
Although Paul said in verse 2 say: “I know a man . . ..” he was talking about himself! Whether heavenly things were brought down to him, while his body was in a trance, as in the case of ancient prophets; or whether his soul was dislodged from the body for a time, and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he knew not. We are not capable, nor is it fit we should yet know, the particulars of that glorious place and state. He did not attempt to publish to the world what he had heard there as he was instructed not to.
Verses 7-10 – Paul’s Thorn and lessons to learn
“And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. 8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength)”
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so he wouldn’t get a big head, he was given a physical condition - a thorn in his flesh to keep him in constant touch with his limitations. We are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it, and overruled it for good.
Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer. Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: so He sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.
Verses 11-12 – Paul’s Disappointment at being made to “boast”
“Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody). 12 Indeed, the signs that indicate a [genuine] apostle were performed among you fully and most patiently in miracles and wonders and mighty works.”
We owe it to good men, to stand up in the defense of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those from whom we have received benefit, especially spiritual benefit. Paul’s expectation was that it would have been the Corinthian church writing about him and defending him to the so called “super apostles”
Verses 13-15 – Paul’s Independence – A worthy example
“For in what respect were you put to a disadvantage in comparison with the rest of the churches, unless [it was for the fact] that I myself did not burden you [with my financial support]? Pardon me [for doing you] this injustice! 14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to [visit] you. And I will not burden you [financially], for it is not your [money] that I want but you; for children are not duty bound to lay up store for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 But I will most gladly spend [myself] and be utterly spent for your souls. If I love you exceedingly, am I to be loved [by you] the less?”
Paul was one who lived what he preached! He who would not work should not eat 2 Thessalonians 3:10. He worked with his hands and did not ask the church for food and a place to stay and this was what the so called “super apostles” were using to bring him down
Verses 16-21 – Conclusion Paul’s reply to false charges –- Cautions and warnings
“But though granting that I did not burden you [with my support, some say that] I was crafty [and that] I cheated and got the better of you with my trickery. 17 Did I [then] take advantage of you or make any money out of you through any of those [messengers] whom I sent to you? 18 [Actually] I urged Titus [to go], and I sent the brother with [him]. Did Titus overreach or take advantage of you [in anything]? Did he and I not act in the same spirit? Did we not [take the] same steps? 19 Have you been supposing [all this time] that we have been defending ourselves and apologizing to you? [It is] in the sight and the [very] presence of God [and as one] in Christ (the Messiah) that we have been speaking, dearly beloved, and all in order to build you up [spiritually]. 20 For I am fearful that somehow or other I may come and find you not as I desire to find you, and that you may find me too not as you want to find me—that perhaps there may be factions (quarreling), jealousy, temper (wrath, intrigues, rivalry, divided loyalties), selfishness, whispering, gossip, arrogance (self-assertion), and disorder among you. 21 [I am fearful] that when I come again, my God may humiliate and humble me in your regard, and that I may have to sorrow over many of those who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, sexual vice, and sensuality which they formerly practiced.”
Here is an account of the apostle's behavior and kind intentions; in which we see the character of a faithful minister of the gospel. His great aim and design, was to do good to the Corinthians – not being a burden to them. These last verses show to what excesses the false teachers had drawn aside their deluded followers. That they could still confidently live in sin and Paul feared that he would meet them in their un-repented state. How grievous it is that such evils should be found among professors of the gospel! But this is the painful truth, as we see it these days very often, and it was so in the days of the apostles.
Parts of this study was culled from https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=47&c=12
Friday, December 08 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Introduction: Apostle Paul during his earthly ministry established many churches and wrote majority of the epistles to these churches. His passion for souls was impeccable. His pursuit and love for these churches could only have been second to that of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. However, during this period of his ministry, there were some false apostles also contesting for these souls. Paul in his words referred to these apostles as “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ”, whose utmost desire was to corrupt the churches from the simplicity that is in Christ. This is what we will be considering in this portion of Paul’s epistle to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 11 .
• Note the apology Paul makes for going about to commend himself. He is unwilling to enter upon this subject of self-commendation. It is no pleasure to a good man to speak well of himself, yet in some cases it is lawful, namely, when it is for the advantage of others, or for our own necessary vindication; as thus it was here.
• We have the reasons for what the apostle did:
(1.) To preserve the Corinthians from being corrupted by the insinuations of the false apostles, He tells them he was jealous over them with godly jealousy; he was afraid lest their faith should be weakened by hearkening to such suggestions as tended to lessen their regard to his ministry, by which they were brought to the Christian faith. This godly jealousy in the apostle was a mixture of love and fear; and faithful ministers cannot but be afraid and concerned for their people, lest they should lose that which they have received, and turn from what they have embraced, especially when deceivers have gone abroad, or have crept in among them.
(2) To vindicate himself against the false apostles, forasmuch as they could not pretend they had another Jesus, or another Spirit, or another gospel, to preach to them.
• After the foregoing preface to what he was about to say, the apostle in these verses mentions,
(1). His equality with the other apostles—that he was not a whit behind the very chief of the apostles. Paul expresses this very modestly. He might have spoken very positively. The apostleship, as an office, was equal in all the apostles; but the apostles, like other Christians, differed one from another. These stars differed one from another in glory, and Paul was indeed of the first magnitude; yet he speaks modestly of himself, and humbly owns his personal infirmity, that he was rude in speech (vs 6), had not such a graceful delivery as some others might have. Some think that he was a man of very low stature, and that his voice was proportionably small; others think that he may have had some impediment in his speech, perhaps a stammering tongue. However, he was not rude in knowledge; he was not unacquainted with the best rules of oratory and the art of persuasion, much less was he ignorant of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, as had been thoroughly manifested among them.
(2) His equality with the false apostles in particular—the preaching of the gospel unto them freely (vs 7), without wages. This the apostle largely insists on, and shows that, as they could not but own him to be a minister of Christ, so they ought to acknowledge he had been a good friend to them.
• He had proved at large, in his former epistle to them, the lawfulness of ministers’ receiving maintenance from the people, and the duty of the people to give them an honourable maintenance; and here he says he himself had taken wages of other churches (vs 8), so that he had a right to have asked and received from them: yet he waived his right, and chose rather to abase himself, by working with his hands in the trade of tent-making to maintain himself, than be burdensome to them, that they might be exalted, or encouraged to receive the gospel, which they had so cheaply; yea, he chose rather to be supplied from Macedonia than to be chargeable unto them.
• He informs them of the reason of this his conduct among them. It was not because he did not love them (vs 11), or was unwilling to receive tokens of their love (for love and friendship are manifested by mutual giving and receiving), but it was to avoid offence, that he might cut off occasion from those that desired occasion. He would not give occasion for any to accuse him of worldly designs in preaching the gospel, or that he intended to make a trade of it, to enrich himself; and that others who opposed him at Corinth might not in this respect gain an advantage against him.
• There were counterfeit prophets under the Old Testament, who wore the garb and learned the language of the prophets of the Lord. So there were counterfeit apostles under the New Testament, who seemed in many respects like the true apostles of Christ. And no marvel (says the apostle); hypocrisy is a thing not to be much wondered at in this world, especially when we consider the great influence Satan has upon the minds of many, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience. As he can turn himself into any shape, and put on almost any form, and look sometimes like an angel of light, in order to promote his kingdom of darkness, so he will teach his ministers and instruments to do the same. But it follows, Their end is according to their works (vs 15); the end will discover them to be deceitful workers, and their work will end in ruin and destruction.
• Boasting of ourselves is usually not only a sign of a proud mind, but a mark of folly also. However, says the apostle, yet as a fool receive me; that is, if you count it folly in me to boast a little, yet give due regard to what I shall say. He mentions a caution, to prevent the abuse of what he should say, telling them that what he spoke, he did not speak after the Lord, (vs 17). He would not have them think that boasting of ourselves, or glorying in what we have, is a thing commanded by the Lord in general unto Christians.
• It is the duty and practice of Christians, in obedience to the command and example of the Lord, rather to humble and abase themselves; yet prudence must direct in what circumstances it is needful to do that which we may do lawfully, even speak of what God has wrought for us, and in us, and by us too.
• He gives a good reason why they should suffer him to boast a little; namely, because they suffered others to do so who had less reason. Seeing many glory after the flesh (of carnal privileges, or outward advantages and attainments), I will glory also, (vs 18). But he would not glory in those things, though he had as much or more reason than others to do so. But he gloried in his infirmities, as he tells them afterwards.
• Here the apostle gives a large account of his own qualifications, labours, and sufferings (not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who had enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ), and wherein he excelled the false apostles, who would lessen his character and usefulness among the Corinthians.
• He mentions the privileges of his birth (v. 22), which were equal to any they could pretend to. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews; of a family among the Jews that never intermarried with the Gentiles. He was also an Israelite, and could boast of his being descended from the beloved Jacob as well as they, and was also of the seed of Abraham, and not of the proselytes. It should seem from this that the false apostles were of the Jewish race, who gave disturbance to the Gentile converts.
• He makes mention also of his apostleship, that he was more than an ordinary minister of Christ, (vs 23). God had counted him faithful, and had put him into the ministry. He had been a useful minister of Christ unto them; they had found full proofs of his ministry:
• Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles, and for that reason was hated of the Jews. They did all they could against him; and among the Gentiles also he met with hard usage. Bonds and imprisonments were familiar to him; never was the most notorious malefactor more frequently in the hands of public justice than Paul was for righteousness’ sake. The jail and the whipping-post, and all other hard usages of those who are accounted the worst of men, were what he was accustomed to.
• As to the Jews, whenever he fell into their hands, they never spared him. Five times he fell under their lash, and received forty stripes save one, (vs 24). Forty stripes was the utmost their law allowed (Deu.25:3 ), but it was usual with them, that they might not exceed, to abate one at least of that number. And to have the abatement of one only was all the favour that Paul ever received from them.
Conclusion: Vs 27-33
Paul was a stranger to wealth and plenty, power and pleasure, preferment and ease; he was in watchings often, and exposed to hunger and thirst; in fastings often, it may be out of necessity; and endured cold and nakedness. Thus was he, who was one of the greatest blessings of the age, used as if he had been the burden of the earth, and the plague of his generation. And yet this is not all; for, as an apostle, the care of all the churches lay on him. He mentions this last, as if this lay the heaviest upon him, and as if he could better bear all the persecutions of his enemies than the scandals that were to be found in the churches he had the oversight of. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? There was not a weak Christian with whom he did not sympathize, nor any one scandalized, but he was affected therewith. See what little reason we have to be in love with the pomp and plenty of this world, when this blessed apostle, one of the best of men that ever lived, except Jesus Christ, felt so much hardship in it. Nor was he ashamed of all this, but, on the contrary, it was what he accounted his honour; and therefore, much against the grain as it was with him to glory, yet, says he, if I must need glory, if my adversaries will oblige me to it in my own necessary vindication, I will glory in these my infirmities. It is a great comfort to a good man that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is an omniscient God, knows the truth of all he says, and knows all he does and all he suffers for his sake.
Teachings culled from www.biblestudytools.com
Friday, December 01 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Introduction: There was no place in which the apostle Paul met with more opposition from false apostles than at Corinth; he had many enemies there. Although he was “blameless and inoffensive” in all his carriage, so condescending and useful to all, yet there were those who bore him ill-will, who envied him, and did all they could to undermine him, and lesson his interest and reputation. Paul distinguishes himself and the other authentic apostles by contrasting the characteristics of the cultist leaders of that day with the doctrine, attitudes, and practice of the true apostles. These characteristics are just as true of leaders today as they were in Paul’s day, so let us be very attentive to his words.
Verses 1-2 - Characteristic #1: Paul Is Meek and Gentle, Unless Forced to Act Otherwise
“I plead with you—yes, I, Paul—and I plead gently, as Christ himself would do. Yet some of you are saying, “Paul’s letters are bold enough when he is far away, but when he gets here he will be afraid to raise his voice!” 2 I hope I won’t need to show you when I come how harsh and rough I can be. I don’t want to carry out my present plans against some of you who seem to think my deeds and words are merely those of an ordinary man.”
In verse 1, we see the mild and humble way the apostle addresses the Corinthians, and how desirous he is that no occasion may be given him to use severity. He was addressing the false apostles who had particularly levelled their reproaches; yet amid the greatest provocations he shows humility and mildness, from the consideration of the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and desires this notable example may have the same influence on the Corinthians. In verse 2, He begs them to give no occasion for him to be bold, or to exercise his authority against them in general, as he had resolved to do against some who unjustly charged him as walking according to the flesh, that is, regulating his conduct, even in his ministerial actions, according to carnal policy or with worldly views.
Verses 3-6 - Characteristic #2: Paul’s Spirituality Is Vastly Different from That of His Critics
& Characteristic #3: Paul’s View of Spiritual Warfare Differs from That of His Critics
“3 It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. 4 I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. 5 These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. With these weapons, I can capture rebels and bring them back to God and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ. 6 I will use these weapons against every rebel who remains after I have first used them on you yourselves and you surrender to Christ.”
The carnal weapons Paul renounced were the manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. And though ministers walk in the flesh, or live in the body, and in the common affairs of life act as other men, yet in their work and warfare they must not go by the maxims of the flesh, nor should they design to please the flesh: this must be crucified with its affections and lusts; it must be mortified and kept under.
He asserts the power of his preaching and his power to punish offenders in verses 3 and 5. From these verses we learn that the work of the ministry is a warfare, not after the flesh indeed, for it is a spiritual warfare, with spiritual enemies and for spiritual purposes. The apostle’s power to punish offenders (and that in an extraordinary manner) is asserted in v. 6. The apostle was a prime-minister in the kingdom of Christ, and chief officer in his army, and had in readiness (that is, he had power and authority at hand) to revenge all disobedience, or to punish offenders in a most exemplary and extraordinary manner. The apostle speaks not of personal revenge, but of punishing disobedience to the gospel, and disorderly walking among church-members, by inflicting church-censures.
Verses 7-11 - Characteristic #4: Paul Differs from the Cultists on Judging Spirituality and Success
7 The trouble with you is that you look at me and I seem weak and powerless, but you don’t look beneath the surface. Yet if anyone can claim the power and authority of Christ, I certainly can. 8 I may seem to be boasting more than I should about my authority over you—authority to help you, not to hurt you—but I shall make good every claim. 9 I say this so that you will not think I am just blustering when I scold you in my letters. 10 “Don’t bother about his letters,” some say. “He sounds big, but it’s all noise. When he gets here you will see that there is nothing great about him, and you have never heard a worse preacher!” 11 This time my personal presence is going to be just as rough on you as my letters are!
In our passage, Paul points out how his critics differ from him in the way they judge spirituality or success. He first writes in verse 7: “You are looking at things as they are outwardly.” Then in verse 10, he gives us the words of his opponents who criticize his personal appearance and preaching style: “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible.” The most important thing Paul says about his authority is its source: “which the Lord gave …” (verse 8). Paul’s authority came from God and not from men. His critics could not make the same claim. They promote themselves and commend themselves, or as rendered loosely from above, they “write their own press releases.” The counterfeit apostles “measure themselves by themselves,” and “compare themselves with themselves.” These men seek to elevate themselves by misrepresenting their own accomplishments and minimizing the accomplishments of others.
Verse 12 Characteristic 5: Paul’s Critics are Exclusivists and Short-sighted
“12 Oh, don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how good they are! Their trouble is that they are only comparing themselves with each other and measuring themselves against their own little ideas. What stupidity!”
They measure themselves against their own little ideas! In this verse, Paul criticizes his opponents for measuring themselves against themselves. We see that they are not working for the common goal of the gospel but for their own personal gratification; their mindset looks down on others as being less spiritual. Then, almost inevitably, they become exclusive. In our present day, you hear statements like “If you are not a member of the church of ________, then you are not saved.” “Unless you have been baptized by ________, you are not a genuine Christian.” “Unless you are a member of this man’s organization … Unless you have spoken in tongues, you cannot be …” and so on.
Verses 13-16 - Characteristic #6: Paul’s Critics, the Cultists, Prey Upon the Sheep
& Characteristic #7: Paul’s Critics, the Cultists, Are Thieves
13-14 We aren’t making outrageous claims here. We’re sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We’re not moving into someone else’s “territory.” We were already there with you, weren’t we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?
15 We’re not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. 16 After that, we will be able to preach the Good News to other cities that are far beyond you, where no one else is working; then there will be no question about being in someone else’s field.
The cultists of Corinth seek to make personal followers of those who are saved through Paul’s ministry and who have come to trust and follow Christ. They take credit for Paul’s ministry. They boast in things for which they should never take credit. They boast in that which God has done. They boast in what God has done through others than themselves. They boast in the labours of others. Paul reminds the Corinthians of his labour among them, and that many of them are his children in the faith. He also indicates that he and his colleagues continue to minister to them, and as they continue to grow, there will be even further reason for them to be “enlarged” by these Corinthians.
Verses 17-18 Characteristic #8: The Cultists Seek the Approval of Men Rather Than of God
17 As the Scriptures say, “If anyone is going to boast, let him boast about what the Lord has done and not about himself.” 18 When someone boasts about himself and how well he has done, it doesn’t count for much. But when the Lord commends him, that’s different!”
The Corinthian cultists are those who take credit for ministry that is not their own. They even compete with one another and criticize Paul and his fellow-apostles. They appraise spirituality and success by external appearances. They take pride in that for which they should not take credit. In the end, it is apparent that they are more interested in gaining the approval of men than of God. Paul concludes this chapter by setting this matter straight: “But HE WHO BOASTS, LET HIM BOAST IN THE LORD. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18, NASB).
To think of himself (or herself) as superior to others, the cultist must compare himself with others in a way that makes him look superior. In the end, Paul’s opponents are boasting. Paul reminds all who minister that their ministry is God-given, just as the fruit of their ministry is God’s work If there is any boasting to be done, let it be boasting in God and what He has done through us (and often in spite of us). If there is any approval, any commendation to be sought, let it be His commendation. Let us labour so that He will say to us in that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
This study was culled from https://bible.org/seriespage/contrasting-christian-leaders-cultists-2-cor-101-18
Friday, December 01 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Last week, from our study in the concluding part of 2 Corint.8:16-24, we saw the transparency with which Paul handled the church offerings. Apart from appointing Titus, his own personal assistant, the church also appointed two brothers to accompany him. 2 Cor.8:20-21 “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” This is a great example for the 21st century Churches to emulate in handling Church financial matters. This week, we are studying chapter 9 of the 2nd book of Paul to the Corinthian Church
1. Preparation before collection: 2 Cor.9:1-5
Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; 2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. 3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; 4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting.[a] 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
Vs-1, Paul is writing about a large gift from the church at Corinth to help the poor suffering Christians in Judea. However, Paul described the gift as an act to ‘serve the saints’ (ministering to the saints). Based on their generosity, he considered it unnecessary(superfluous) to write or persuade them about this offering for the saints.
Vs-2-4, Macedonia was located in northern Greece and Achaia was a province in southern Greece near where Corinth was. So, the generous acts of one group of people encourage other people to give It appears the zeal of the church at Corinth has caused the other churches to want to help also. Paul had bragged so much about their generosity. Now Paul is calling the Corinthians back to their original eagerness and readiness to participate in the offering project. After promising so boldly what they would do, if they did not, it would be embarrassing for Paul, as well as for them. Paul had not ceased telling the people in Macedonia what the church at Corinth had planned to give.
Vs-5, Paul explains that he does not want anyone to give merely as a duty, or from shame. Rather, he wants them freely and gladly to choose to give, with willing hearts. The brethren went ahead to avoid emotional giving when he arrives. Christian giving is not forcing people to hand over their money. It should be an act of love and blessing, a declaration of God’s goodness. Christians give because of their strong desire to show God’s goodness.
2. God loves a cheerful giver: 2 Cor.9:6-10
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness
Vs-6 If you want a large crop, you must plant a lot of seeds. Pertaining to Christian giving is the saying that the harvest is directly proportionate to the amount of seed sown (Gen.8:22). We must be careful not to become greedy givers but rather, generous givers. A greedy giver is motivated by returns only while a generous giver is motivated by love. God gives a return on the amount one invests with Him. You reap according to what you sow. Luk.6:38.
Vs-7 Giving should come from our hearts not because of manipulation. Nobody should force anyone to give more than that person had chosen. Then, their attitude in front of God would be right. They would give with a joyful and willing attitude; and God loves that. God would be pleased to see that they gave gladly.
Vs-8 The abounding grace of God will always make a giver to always have to give the more for every good work
Abound is to have enough, same word Paul used in Phil.4:12 and 1 Tim.6:6. God does not only provide what we need; he also provides enough so that we can do his work.
Vs-9, As Corinth’s Christians prepared their own gifts, Paul reminded them about Psalm 112 “He has dispersed, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.”
God replenishes and rewards the righteous giver both in time and eternity.
Vs-10, The Corinthians would not be the ones to distribute their offerings. They are the one who provides the seed to be sown. They entrust someone else to sow it for them and everyone benefits. The person who provides the funds to minister with has just as much part in the ministering as the one who actually does the ministering.
When a Christian gives, he does not depend on his own resources, but on God’s goodness. God, the great provider, is using that Christian to show his (God’s) goodness in the world. So, God himself provides what that Christian gives. That is like the farmer’s supply of seed and the same God is responsible to multiply he seed sown.
while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Vs-11 One may provide the seed and another plant the crop, but God gives the increase. The effect of the gifts from the gentile Churches will produce thanksgiving to God from the suffering Jewish Christian in Judea. The Gentile Christians were showing a real act of love towards the Jewish Christians. That love showed that those Gentiles really had become Christians. It was clear evidence that they really had accepted the gospel, the message of Christ. Their decision to serve God, and to give this gift, gave great honour to God.
Vs-12, Paul viewed the entire collection project as a spiritual, worshipful enterprise that was primarily being offered to God to glorify Him. Many residents of Jerusalem had undoubtedly lost their jobs because of persecution.
Vs-13, The Jewish believers, who already doubted the validity of gentile salvation, were especially sceptical of the Corinthians since their church had so many problems. The Corinthian’s involvement in the collection would help to put those doubts to rest.
Obedient submission to God’s Word is always evidence of a true confession of Christ as Lord and Saviour. If the Corinthians had a proper response to and participation in Paul’s collection ministry, the Jewish believers would know the Gentile conversions had been real
Vs-14-15 Corinth’s Christians were sending a large gift for Judea’s poor Christians. However, Paul insisted that he was not simply taking money from Corinth’s Christians to give it somewhere else. In fact, each group of Christians was sharing what it had with other Christians. Corinth’s Christians had money to give; but Judea’s Christians were holy people, with an especially close relationship with God in prayer.
Paul expected Judea’s Christians to accept, as a serious responsibility, that they must pray for Corinth’s Christians. Corinth’s Christians had only recently become Christians. Since then, there had been serious problems in their church. However, they had shown by this gift that God was working powerfully in their lives. Now, they needed prayer, so that they could develop and become strong in their relationship with Christ. Paul could see that the mature Christians in Judea were the right people to pray for them.
Matt.6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Parts of this study was culled from bible-styds.org