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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
Thursday, November 16 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In the last study we saw Paul encouraging the Corinthian church to give generously. We learnt that to be generous is by God’s grace; especially when we are facing difficulties ourselves! It is however a known truth that when it comes to handling monies; especially those given for a particular cause, accountability is key! Because quite easily, allegations of mishandling of funds could arise. That is why in today’s world, a charity organization would employ an independent body that would assess its fiscal accountability and apply objective standards to its handling of donations. In this way donors can be assured that all monies are being appropriately managed. But what about the first century? How could a donor be certain that his contribution would not end up merely lining the pockets of an administrator? And what kind of assurances did a fundraiser give prospective contributors that their donations would be handled in a responsible fashion?
Reading through these 9 verses, we learn of the precautions Paul; a first-century fundraiser took to ensure the responsible handling and transportation of a considerable sum of money.
Verses 16 – 17 – Same Goal, Same Vision, Same Purpose
“But thanks be to God who puts the same genuine concern for you in the heart of Titus. 17 For Titus not only accepted our appeal, but was so very interested in you that he has gone to visit you of his own accord.”
The first time, Titus had to be encouraged to go to Corinth (7:13-14). This time no encouragement was needed. Paul made his appeal and to his surprise, Titus welcomed it (v. 17). That Titus would welcome a visit so soon after returning from Corinth is surprising indeed. In part this is due to the church's warm reception and obedient response on his last visit. But it can also be attributed to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern for the Corinthians that Paul himself has (v. 16). Besides eagerly accepting the idea of a return visit to Corinth, Titus is coming on his own initiative (on his own accord) (v. 17).
Verses 18 – 19 – Steer Clear but Engage People with Character
“And we have sent along with him the brother who is praised in the gospel [ministry] throughout all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in regard to this gracious offering which we are administering for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our eagerness [as believers to help one another].”
In addition to a trusted colleague, Paul sends two church representatives of proven worth and recognized stature to help Titus with the collection effort. The first is merely referred to in the text as the brother (v. 18); no name is provided. But where a name is lacking, credentials are not. To the brother's credit is the fact that he was chosen by the churches to accompany the offering (v. 19).
This brother is also someone who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel (v. 18). Although praised by all the churches could be understood provincially (all the churches in Macedonia), the phrase could also point to someone who was highly regarded by all the Gentile churches contributing to the fund. Regardless, his fame shows that he is more than a local church leader. What he is famous for is his service to the gospel. The Greek text is literally "praised in the gospel" and may well indicate that he is an evangelist of some renown.
Verses 20 – 21– Give No Room for Suspicion
“We are taking precaution so that no one will [find anything with which to] discredit us in our administration of this generous gift. 21 For we have regard for what is honorable [and above suspicion], not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”
You will recall that Paul had already insisted that the collection occur prior to his coming, so that he not be involved in the actual handling of the monies (1 Cor. 16:2). And here we see him taking extra precautions. Such advance planning was needed to avoid any criticism of the way the offering was being administered (v. 20). Paul tries to have as little to do with the collection process as possible. In this way he hopes to eliminate any possibility of criticism (v. 20). The extra care that Paul takes is understandable. His critics were quick enough to suggest that the collection was merely a covert way of receiving financial support (Read 2 Cor. 12:16-18).
Paul was usually concerned with doing what is right in God's eyes rather than human eyes--especially since God's way and humankind's way are often in conflict. Here he takes the additional step of taking into consideration what is right in the eyes of others (v. 21). What this amounted to was making sure that everything not only was above suspicion (right . . . in the eyes of the Lord) but also looked so (right . . . in the eyes of men). Why? Because life and ministry are inseparable. There will always be those who judge the claims of Christ by the lives of those who claim to be his followers. If the conduct of the fundraiser can be faulted, then the gospel itself can be called into question. Not only this, but God's reputation can be damaged. The ultimate purpose of the collection was to honor the Lord (literally, "to advance the glory of the Lord"; v. 20); an aim that could hardly be accomplished if any suspicion is attached to the collection process.
The steps that Paul had already taken to avoid criticism are spelled out in 1 Corinthians. For one, he had insisted that the collection occur prior to his coming, so that he not be involved in the actual handling of the monies (1 Cor. 16:2). Moreover, he had instructed the Corinthians to appoint their own representatives to accompany the collection, thereby exempting himself from any criticism regarding the transportation of the funds (1 Cor. 16:3). Now, in 2 Corinthians Paul adds an additional precaution: he sends a trusted colleague to finish the collection effort, rather than going himself: Titus . . . is coming to you (2 Cor. 8:17). This trusted colleague is well respected by the Corinthians and has already established a good working relationship with the church in the matter of giving (8:6).
Verses 22 – 24 – You Can Never Be Too Careful – Involve All Relevant Parties
“We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found to be diligent in many things, but who is now even more diligent [than ever] because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker in your service; and as for the [other two] brothers, they are [special] [b]messengers of the churches, a glory and credit to Christ. 24 Therefore, show these men, in the sight of the churches, the proof of your love and our reason for being proud of you.”
The second church representative is unnamed as well. This individual, unlike the first, is well known to the congregation: our brother (v. 22). He is distinguished by Paul in two ways. First, he has often proved in many ways that he is zealous (v. 22). Each time, the brother was found zealous). Second, his great confidence in the Corinthians. The language suggests a recent positive encounter with the Corinthians in a ministry capacity.
A summary of the credentials of the three individuals is provided in verse 23. Titus is distinguished as Paul's partner and fellow worker. By virtue of his apostolic standing, he could legitimately have treated Titus as a subordinate. Instead he dealt with him as a partner and companion. Titus is Paul's personally appointed representative. The other two brothers are designated representatives of the churches.
The two brothers are also distinguished as an honor to Christ. Nowhere else are individuals referred to in this way. The phrase is literally "the glory of Christ." The two brothers and Titus raise the total that Paul sends in advance of his arrival to three persons. Would Titus alone not have sufficed? His ministerial abilities and affection for the Corinthians seem to be very much in evidence. Yet although Titus had had some success with the collection on his previous visit, it had not been enough to spur the Corinthians on to completion. In addition, Titus is Paul's colleague and representative, and there are now intruders on the scene raising doubts about the offering. So there is real value in sending persons who are not directly connected with the Pauline mission. Also, by sending two representatives of congregations that had already given, Paul can place a subtle pressure on Corinth to match the efforts of the other Gentile churches. Then too, the two delegates serve to guarantee the legitimacy of the endeavor. Their presence shows that the collection effort is not just Paul raising personal funds for himself and his colleagues.
Paul concludes by exhorting the Corinthians to do two things. They are to show these men their love and to demonstrate the reason for [Paul's] pride in them.
By showing Titus and the delegates their love, the Corinthians in turn demonstrate the reason for Paul's pride in them. He has been confidently boasting about them to the Macedonian churches (2 Corinthians 9:2). They are now called on to justify his boasting by fulfilling their pledge from the year before. And they are to do it so that the churches can see it--that is, the Corinthians are challenged to act as if the churches, and not just their delegates, were there to watch.
This study was culled from: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/2Cor/Paul-Sends-Team-Advance-Coming
Monday, November 06 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study titled “Paul Reveals His Heart – Titus’ Good Report” we learnt about the believer’s responsibility as it relates to walking in holiness, and humility being one of the attributes of a godly leader and that leaders were not exempted from real life issues – conflicts and occasional fears; but in all of it, God sends His comfort. In today’s study we shall be looking at Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians to give generously
GIVING IS BY GOD’S GRACE - VERSES 1-2
“Now, brothers and sisters, we want to tell you about the grace of God which has been evident in the churches of Macedonia [awakening in them a longing to contribute]; 2 for during an ordeal of severe distress, their abundant joy and their deep poverty [together] overflowed in the wealth of their lavish generosity.”
Paul begins with an example of sacrificial giving by referencing the churches in Macedonia. The churches of Macedonia had been planted by Paul on his second missionary journey--Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. Paul points to the fact that their generosity was due to the grace that God has bestowed on them. That despite adverse conditions, God has enabled the Macedonians to financially assist destitute Christians whom they did not personally know. The Macedonians make it absolutely clear that our stewardship does not depend upon our circumstances. It depends upon the quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We give because He first gave to us His amazing grace.
In this type of giving, there is no pressure on the giver. There is no public display, no competition and no manipulation of the givers. It is honest, open, transparent and genuine giving from the heart.
The apostle Paul had already taught the Corinthians some great principles of stewardship as we see in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. "Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come"
Sunday, October 29 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we learnt what our attitudes to service should be as ministers and co-workers in the vineyard, through the life of Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church in Chapter 6. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul was able to maintain a winning and godly attitude in all tribulations, distresses, tumults and imprisonments. Remember, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philipians 4:13).
This week, we will continue our study of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthian Church in chapter 7.
Vs 1: It is our responsibility and not God’s
The promises of God about His dwelling among His people (Chp.6:16b) are the basis for Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians, and to us, to put off all defilement of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Special attention to the following;
Vs 2-4: Attributes of a Godly Leader
Vs 5-7: Maintain Joy In The Midst of Affliction
Vs 8-12: A Time for Every Purpose
Conclusion: Vs 13-16: Rejoicing over Good Reports
Most of this teaching is culled from bible.org
Sunday, October 29 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
INTRODUCTION: Last week, from our study in the concluding part of 2 Corint.5:11-20, we saw the importance of the major ministry committed to every believer; the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corint.5:20 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”. This is the most important assignment of believers on earth. We must daily see ourselves as Christ ambassadors on earth with the sole assignment of preaching the gospel to every creature.
This week, we are studying chapter 6 of the 2nd book of Paul to the Corinthian Church
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
We are co-workers on earth with God and He has given every one of us His abilities or grace to get the work done. Paul is appealing to the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain. ‘In vain’ means without a proper purpose, or without a worthwhile result. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul said that God’s grace towards him was not in vain. He explained this by reference to his special work for God, and the way that God’s grace worked through him.
In vs 2, Paul was referring to Isa.49:8-9 “Thus says the Lord: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’
This is a prophetic scripture referring to this period that God offers to save people. That is, to rescue them from their real enemies: their sin (wrong and evil thoughts, words and deeds), the devil and hell. He has heard and helped us in this day of salvation, we are His messengers to deliver and restore the creature back to Him.
We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things, we commend ourselves as ministers of God.
This is the same as saying, do not even give the appearance of evil. Paul, a faithful ambassador of Christ does nothing to discredit his ministry, but did everything he can to protect his integrity, the gospel’s integrity, and God’s integrity.
In vs 4a, commend means “introduce,” with the connotation of proving oneself.
Paul could have chosen to live a more comfortable life. However, as God’s servant, he recognised the importance of his ministry, his work for God. He knew that God had given him an extremely important message to declare (2 Corinth. 5:18 to 6:1). Therefore, Paul accepted the most severe troubles as he carried out his work for God. Paul would not allow even the worst troubles to stop his work for God. Paul did not want any weakness of his own to be a reason why someone could not trust God.
in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the Armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
*In vs 4b, Paul served God in patience, in afflictions, in necessities and in distresses. Patience in the face of afflictions, necessities and distresses. Patience was an enduring character in the life of Paul. In time of troubles, we should allow the Spirit of God within us to take over and guild us through them.
*In vs 5, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watching, in fastings. These are severe hardships and pains that brought pressures on the flesh. Paul faithfully endured hardship like he recommended in 2 Tim.2:3.
*In vs 6, By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost and by love unfeigned. This is the standard that we should endure these problems with. We should never stop loving, even the enemy. It is not how many problems we have that are important, but how we handle those problems. Heb.13:5.
*In vs7, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the Armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.
We know that every temptation Satan brought to Jesus, He answered "It is written". This is a guide to us. We must face each problem, or temptation, with "It is written". The answers to all of life's problems are found in the Bible
Paul never operated beyond the boundaries of the direction and guidance of divine revelation. Nor did he rely on his own strength when he ministered. He did not fight Satan’s kingdom with human resources, but with spiritual virtue such as the sword of the Spirit, and defensive tools, such as the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. Eph.6:12
*In vs 8, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and [yet] true. Paul is just saying, that it does not matter where the accusations are coming from. It really does not matter whether they are even true or not. They are still overcome by the Word of God and righteousness.
*In vs 9, As unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed. Wherever Paul went, people were trying to kill him. In some places, vast crowds gathered to oppose him. People were constantly demanding Paul’s death. In time, even Paul thought that he must die soon (2 Corinth. 1:8-9). It astonished him that he was still alive. ‘Look!’, he said to Corinth’s Christians in 2 Corinthians 6:9. ‘We live!’
*In vs 10, As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things. Circumstances around you may be sorrowful, yet unexplainable, joy in the face of these bad circumstances is in Jesus. Paul said that he had learned to be satisfied in times when he had plenty and in times of want. Whatever state he found himself in, he was content. The spiritual wealth Paul possessed and imparted did much to make his hearers spiritually wealthy Phil.4:11.
11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
The evidence of Paul’s genuine love for the Corinthians was that no matter how some of them had mistreated him, he still loved them and had room for them in his heart. Their limitation was their lack of love in response to his fatherly love 1 Corinth. 4:14-15. He only demand that they open their hearts to him in love.
CONCLUSION; Our Call to Holiness: 2 Cor.6:14-18
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 17 Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty."
To be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers is for Christians not to be bound together with non-Christians in any spiritual enterprise or relationship that would be detrimental to the Christian’s testimony within the body of Christ. This command does not mean believers should end all associations with unbelievers; that would defy the purpose for which God saved believers and left them on earth. The implausibility of such religious alliances is made clear (in verses 14b-17)
God said to the believers, "Be ye holy, for I am holy". We are like an island surrounded by water. We are the island, and the world is the water. We have a hedge of the blood of Jesus which protects us from the world coming too close. We are separated unto God. In other words, we have come over to God's side. We have left the evil of the world behind. As a result of separating themselves from false doctrine and practice, believers will know the full richness of what it means to be children of God.
Parts of this study was culled from bible-styds.org
Sunday, October 29 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we looked at the first ten verses of this chapter under a title – “Living by Faith”. In the study, we learnt how Christians should handle death; knowing that when this earthly body is destroyed, there is another body: “a building from God, a house not made with hands". Emphasis was placed on knowledge and not guess work as to what happens to us when we leave this world. We concluded by saying that if we want to face death the way Paul faced it, we should make it our aim to please the Lord. Today, we continue from Paul’s last statement.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” So, having that in mind, he and the apostles work hard to win others (persuading them) but all with a pure heart and clear conscience
VERSES 11-12: “It is because of this solemn fear of the Lord, which is ever present in our minds, that we work so hard to win others. God knows our hearts, that they are pure in this matter, and I hope that, deep within, you really know it too. Are we trying to pat ourselves on the back again? No, I am giving you some good ammunition! You can use this on those preachers of yours who brag about how well they look and preach but don’t have true and honest hearts. You can boast about us that we, at least, are well intentioned and honest.”
You can sense from this verse that Paul was having great difficulty dealing with the Corinthians! If he did not respond to what they were saying about him, his silence might be interpreted as guilt and confusion. If he defended himself, he would be accused of vanity, self-commendation, and folly. That is why he was always giving instances to show that his whole carriage was upon principles far above all worldly considerations; and tells them here, once for all, that the account which he gives of himself is only to furnish them who are his friends, and adhered to him, with matter to justify themselves in their esteem of him, and to reply to those who opposed him.
VERSES 13-15: Are we insane to say such things about ourselves? If so, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Whatever we do, it is certainly not for our own profit but because Christ’s love controls us now. Since we believe that Christ died for all of us, we should also believe that we have died to the old life we used to live. 15 He died for all so that all who live—having received eternal life from him—might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them.
No doubt some of the people at Corinth did not like Paul’s methods and would have referred to Paul’s speaking of his visions and revelations, his speaking with tongues as in ecstasy, his prophecies of future judgment, as so many signs of madness. Like what Agrippa said in Acts 26:24. So Paul responds in verse 13; if you see us as mad men, it is all because of you! Whatever he practised was not for himself, but for them, to win them to Christ, remove difficulties, and strengthen them in the faith. He goes further to explain his drive; in verse 14: “Christ’s love controls us now” the KJV says “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” The love he has for Christ was acting as a constraining power, directing every act of every spiritual state to the good of others, restraining him from every self-seeking purpose.
If we say we believe that Christ died for all of us, then the only true and normal position of each member of the body of Christ should therefore be one that ceases to live for himself or herself and lives for Christ. See Ephesians 2:5 and Romans 6:9-11
VERSES 16-19: “So stop evaluating Christians by what the world thinks about them or by what they seem to be like on the outside. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, merely as a human being like myself. How differently I feel now! 17 When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! 18 All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favour and be reconciled to him. 19 For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.”
Paul continues from the last statement in verse 15 by saying . . . “Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. (MSG); or by what the world thinks about them or by what they seem to be like on the outside. (LB) . . .. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.
Paul ceased judging men by those standards. And we should cease from it too. Because we can be very easily wrong! Judging from what we see or other people’s opinion without knowing for sure the person’s relationship with God is erroneous. And then he links it up with Verse 17: To be in Christ, in St. Paul’s language, is for a man to be united with him by faith and by baptism (Romans 6:3-4), to claim personally what had been secured to him as a member of the Body for whom Christ died. In such a case the man is born again (Titus 3:5)—there is a new creation; the man, as the result of that work, is a new creature. The old things of his life, Jewish expectations of a Jewish kingdom, chiliastic dreams, heathen philosophies, lower aims, earthly standards—these things, in idea at least, passed away from him at the time when he was united with Christ. All these things are of God (Verse 18) ... being completely changed; no longer the old person but a brand-new creation inside! It was God who did the work Himself through what Jesus did on the cross and if we are called to preach this good news, we should count it as a privilege! And more importantly, when we do, we should focus on the truth that God has blotted out our sins; not counting their sins against them anymore!
Conclusion Verses 20-21
20 We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God. 21 For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!
We are ambassadors for Christ. This implies that you, I, and preachers of the Word are acting on behalf of Christ. God used the apostles and wants to use us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter God’s work of making things right between them. And just in case you want to know how this became possible with us sinners, Paul answers in verse 21 “. . . In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”
Sunday, October 29 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week’s study saw us looking at the life of a Christian as it pertains to facing challenges. We learnt that because of the treasure of God inside of us; we become targets of attack. We may be pressured in every way, but we are not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; because the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us! In today’s study titled “Living by Faith” we will be considering some interested terminologies. Paul used an interesting phrase in the first chapter of this second letter to the Corinthians: “…the sufferings of Christ abound in us,” as we see in 2 Cor.1v5).
He describes the suffering he and his companions endured as they lived and preached the gospel of Christ. He uses words like “tribulation, trouble, afflictions, burdened, sorrow, anguish” and “many tears.” Paul’s purpose in these reports in 2 Corinthians is not to create gloom and doom. Because, scattered throughout his report of suffering there are intense statements affirming the comfort of faith. God “comforts us,” (1:4), “…for as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ,” (1:5). Paul acknowledges: our hope is steadfast (1:7); God is faithful (1:18); and we are fellow-workers for your joy (1:24).
So, the apostle objectively reports the suffering they endured as ambassadors of Christ, but not to promote despair; rather, to stress the endurance possible by faith. As Paul describes their suffering, more than once he speaks of death! He said, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves,” (1:9), and he speaks with joy of deliverance “from so great a death,” (1:10). He uses the poetic expression, “the aroma of death leading to death,” (2:16). Then he says: “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, then death is working in us, but life in you.”
How do you go through something that can best be described by the terminology of death? How do you go through something that can best be described as death? The more direct question for us today is: How do we face death? Now that we have that as a backdrop, let’s step into 2 Cor. 5.
VERSE 1: “For we know that if the earthly tent [our physical body] which is our house is torn down [through death], we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
This is how Christians handle death; in fact, this is the only way to face it; knowing that when this earthly body is destroyed, there is another body: “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” A close look at the details reveals The Importance of Knowledge. This verse is introduced by that simple phrase that is filled with meaning: “we know!” Guessing affords no power in facing death. The philosophical speculation of men supplies no strength. Paul writes of that which we can know here in 2 Cor. 5:1. This is the knowledge enjoyed by those who walk by faith, not by sight.
Now to the essence of the verse, two bodies are mentioned. One we have now; another we will have then. One is earthly, the other is “eternal in the heavens.” The present body is called a “tent,” while the future body is called a “building.” A tent is a temporary habitation of a traveller. A building is the permanent habitation of a resident. The tent is the body we now occupy; the building is the glorious body we are destined to occupy, so long as we walk by faith (see Phil. 3:20,21).
VERSE 2: “For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our [immortal, eternal] celestial dwelling,” The LB says: “How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes.”
Paul continues with this statement: “In this we groan…” We know what it means to groan, but Paul was talking about something beyond the ordinary groaning we do. He defined it as: “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” This is the groaning of wanting to occupy that other body – that eternal building from God, prepared for those who walk by faith! This may be this is easier to grasp through the years of experience. Or more meaningful to us, as we grow older. That is why it is common for aged Christians to long for that eternal body they will occupy in heaven. And it may also be, the more you suffer, the deeper your appreciation of that which is eternal. (There is a legitimate, commendable mood that seeks death, see Phil. 1:23). “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;”
This was written by a suffering man. An inspired apostle – Yes. But do not rule out his experience of suffering – which is the background of the text. He said this, expressing his hope and the hope of all – who walk by faith: “For we know, that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.”
VERSES 3 & 4: “so that by putting it on we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened [often weighed down, oppressed], not that we want to be unclothed [separated by death from the body], but to be clothed, so that what is mortal [the body] will be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection].”
Here, Paul further explains this groaning. It is not just the thought to get out of suffering; or just the emotion or longing of pure escape, but – “that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”
The body we will have in eternity will be free of the diseases, pains and burdens of earthly existence. It is about living in a glorious body prepared by God (Phil. 3:20,21), in a place prepared by God (heaven), for those who walk by faith. As we struggle in “this tent,” we long for this eternally clothed existence (not naked, but eternally clothed, immortally clothed.)
VERSE 5: “Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfilment of His promise].
Paul was not merely guessing or speculating here! Remember verse 1 begins with, “For we know…” How did Paul know? “By revelation,” (see Eph. 3:1-6). The Holy Spirit has revealed it; Paul wrote it and we can know it, and take our confidence in it. As we walk by faith, God is preparing us for better things. Amen!
VERSES 6 - 8: “So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises] - we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
These verses express both obligation (obedience) and ground of confidence (trust). It is our ground of confidence – as we live by faith – that when these bodies are destroyed – “we have a building from God, eternal in the heavens.” That’s our ground of confidence. Those with this confidence walk (active mobility) by faith.
What does that mean in practice? It means hearing, believing and doing as God directs. It means not living according to what you see in the temporal world. It means even in the face of death, maintaining your obedience of heart to God. As we walk by faith. verse 8 says, “we are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from body and to be present with the Lord.”
CONCLUSION (VERSES 9 & 10)
“Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth] or away from home [and with Him], it is our [constant] ambition to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].”
If you want to face death the way Paul faced it, make it your aim to please the Lord. If you want hope to strengthen you and get you through the struggles on earth – make it your aim to please the Lord. As you please the Lord – though the body may deteriorate, your spirit will soar to great heights. You will be strong and courageous. And you will be ready
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” It is important to note the movement in the text from hope to accountability in 2 Cor. 4:16-5:10. As we accept the promises of the gospel, by the activity of our faith (walking by faith, not sight), we personally embrace the necessary accountability to stand before “the judgment seat of Christ.”
Parts of this study was culled from http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-2-corinthians-5-1-10.htm
Sunday, October 29 2017
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Wednesday, September 13 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Introduction: It was an awesome time studying at the feet of the Master, Jesus Christ, during last week’s exposition into 2 Corinthians chapter 2. Amongst other things, we dug into God’s perfect template for forgiveness as laid out by Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We learnt how we must consciously, as a church, unite in the condemnation of sin and the show of love to the offending brother or sister. We also learnt how, as the fragrance of Christ, we can please others to their edification, through our manner of doing things. We will continue in our study by understanding the immense privilege of being ministers of the new covenant.
1. Epistles of Christ (verses 1-3)
"as some" Paul uses this term often in 2 Corinthians because of the conflict with the aggressive false teachers from Palestine who tried to elevate themselves by contrasting themselves to Paul and his background and his gospel (2 Cor.2:17; 10:2). He also used the same expression in a negative sense in 1 Corinthians to relate to the actions and beliefs of some church members (1 Cor. 4:18*; 15:12).
"letters of commendation" The early church adopted the procedure of letters of recommendation to assure the orthodoxy and trustworthiness of itinerant ministers. When Paul said "You are our letter, written in our hearts," He is asserting that he does not need a letter to recommend himself to this church (or from this church), because he is its spiritual founder as Christ is its Saviour and Lord. They were his flesh-and-blood letter.
The phrase "written in our hearts" is a perfect passive participle. Paul loved this church. They were permanently in his heart and mind. The passive voice implies that God/Christ/Spirit is the agent (vs. 3), which produces Paul's love.
"you are a letter (epistle) of Christ"- Believers are meant to clearly reveal Christ by their motives, words, and actions. How we live reflects on His reputation!
"the Spirit of the living God" The terminology referring to the Triune God is very fluid. The Spirit is often referred to as the Spirit of Jesus (Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11). Here the same type of fluidity is directed toward the Father. The title "living God" is a play on YAHWEH, which is from the Hebrew verb "to be" (Exod. 3:14). The descriptive title is common for the Father in the NT ( Matt. 16:16; 26:63; Acts 14:15; Rom. 9:26; II Cor. 6:16; I Thess. 1:9). In the OT the pagan idols were lifeless. They could not respond or they were dead part of the year (i.e. The winter) following the fertility cycles of nature. YAHWEH was the only truly alive, always-alive God!
"not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" This seems to relate to the giving of the law in Exod. 31:18 and to the promise of a New Covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34 and Ezek. 36:22-38). This is an obvious contrast between the Old Covenant as external law versus the New Covenant as internal (i.e. new heart, new mind, and new spirit, cf. Ezek. 11:19; 36:26).
2. Spirit vs Letter (verses 4-6)
"Not that we are adequate in ourselves" The Greek term hikanos is common in the NT and is used in two senses. (1) as a large number of something (2 Cor.11:30), even time; (2) fit, appropriate (2 Cor. 2:6), competent, qualified, able, or adequate. The second sense is used here. Paul expresses his sense of unworthiness using this term in 1 Cor. 15:9. He also asserts that gospel ministers are not worthy in themselves in 2 Cor. 2:16 and 3:5. Yet, even as we are inadequate in ourselves, God has called us and empowered us as His representatives (2 Cor. 3:6; 2 Tim. 2:2). We are adequate in Him (Col. 1:12).
"servants of a new covenant" - God's leaders are gifts to the church (Eph. 4:11), but they are still servants, not bosses! Paul uses several terms to address the idea of servant/minister in the Corinthian letters. This shows Paul's understanding of ministry. Believers belong to Christ. As Christ served others (Mark 10:45*), believers serve others (1 John 3:16*). Church leadership is servant leadership (Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 10:32-45; Luke 22:24-27). Believers are part of a family. The goal is not directed toward the individual believer but toward the health and growth of the Body, family, field, temple building. Believers are each gifted (1 Cor. 12:11) for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). We are saved to serve!
"not of the letter but of the Spirit"- Paul is contrasting the old and new covenants, but really heart faith (Rom. 2:29; 7:6) versus head faith (i.e., legalism, human performance, self-righteousness).
"the letter kills" This seems to relate to the primary purpose of the Mosaic law. It was given not to give life, but to accentuate and reveal our sinfulness (Rom. 7:9-11; Gal. 3:10). The Law brings condemnation (Rom. 5:13), wrath (Rom. 4:15), and death (Rom. 7:19; II Cor. 3:6). The place of the law is also clearly seen in Rom. 3:20; 5:20; 10:4; Gal. 3:24-25. The relationship between the NT believer and the OT Law has been a greatly confused issue. Based on all the passages of the NT, it is clear that the Christian is not under OT law (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18). This is not because the OT law has passed away, but because the NT Christian fulfills the OT law in God's love relationships with us seen in believers' love for others (Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14). The purpose of the law is to bring fallen mankind to Christ, so as to redeem them. However, just because the OT law is not a means of salvation does not mean it is not God's will for humanity in society.
"the Spirit gives life" This relates primarily to the distinction between the purpose of the OT and the purpose of the NT. The key is God's love, Christ's work, and the Spirit's enabling.
3. Condemnation vs Righteousness (verses 7-11)
"the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones" The purpose of the law was to show sinfulness (Gal. 3:24). The old covenant is written by the finger of God on tablets of stone on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19-20). The new covenant, also written by God, is on the hearts of faithful followers (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38). The first is characterized by obedience to an external code, but the second, obedience to an internal relationship.
"the ministry of condemnation" - What a strong, shockingly negative way to describe the Old Covenant. The OT produced condemnation for most of the children of Abraham. "the ministry of righteousness" - The NT produces righteousness for all the children of Adam if only they will trust in God's finished work in Christ.
"that which remains is in glory" The contrast is not between that which is from God or has God's glory, but which has the greater glory and the abiding glory. The answer is the New Covenant in Christ, the New Age of the Spirit, and the now complete predestined eternal plan of redemption.
4. Moses Covenant vs Jesus Covenant (verses 12-16)
Verse 13 - this verse refers to verse 7, which is an allusion to Exod. 34:29-35. In the OT the reason for Moses wearing a veil is the fear of what his glowing face might cause to the Israelites (Exod. 34:30). Paul interprets the reason so as to accentuate his depreciation of the Old Covenant. As Moses' face fades, so too, Moses covenant! Paul makes several comparisons between Moses' covenant and Jesus' covenant.
1. the Lord of Exodus = the Spirit of Jesus; 2. only Moses could approach God intimately versus all believers in Christ can approach God; 3. Moses' glory faded versus Jesus' glory never fades; 4. Moses brought the bondage of performance versus Christ brings the freedom of grace; 5. Moses' covenant was unable to produce a righteous people versus Jesus' covenant does produce righteous people
"But their minds were hardened". This Greek term comes from the idea of "thick skinned" or "calloused" (Mark 6:52; 8:17; Rom. 11:7,25). "the same veil remains unlifted" Moses used a literal veil; this term is now used to describe the inner blindness of contemporary Judaism. Jews were/are walking in the judgment of Isa. 6:9-10 and 29:10. This also relates to the Jews of our day who refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah.
"because it is removed in Christ" - Only the grace of God can remove the blindness of tradition, self-righteousness, and sin. Religious people are as prone to spiritual blindness as non-religious people. Fallen mankind's only hope is;
1. the unchanging mercy of the Father; 2. the full and finished atonement of the Son; 3. the universal work of the Spirit
Salvation is a spiritual gift and not a matter of family, tradition, intellect, performance, or preference! Jesus Himself opened the minds of the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35.
"but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" - This could be a quote from Exod. 34:34. If so it relates to Moses' actions when approaching God. It also seems to be a universal appeal and invitation for anyone and everyone to turn to the Lord. The term "turn" in Hebrew (shub) refers to repentance.
Conclusion: (verses 17-18)
"Now the Lord is the Spirit" - The ministry of Jesus and the Spirit are inseparably linked (vs.17-18). The ministry of the Spirit is to magnify Jesus.
"there is liberty" - This refers to freedom from spiritual blindness, self-righteousness, and legalism caused by a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ
"with unveiled face" - This is a perfect passive participle implying a permanent unveiling.
"beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord" The gospel has fully revealed both YAHWEH and Jesus of Nazareth (2 Cor.4:6). As we respond in repentance and faith the revelation changes us into His image.
"are being transformed" This is a present passive indicative. All of the verbals in this context are passive voice, implying God's activity on our behalf, transforming believers into Christ's likeness (Rom. 12:2). This same verb is used of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2).
"into the same image" Jesus is the image of God (2 Cor.4:4; John 1:14-18; 14:9; Heb. 1:3). Humans were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Believers are in the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). Christlikeness is God's primary goal for all believers (Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4).
"from glory to glory" There are stages in God's plan of restoration and renewal. Believers are in a process that leads to Christlikeness (1John 3:2).
Most parts of this study was culled from bible.org
Thursday, August 31 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we saw the Apostle Paul responding to the Corinthians who were criticising him saying he was unreliable and inconsistent because he changed his travel plans. In his response, we learnt that his decision was for both their benefits; and that he could have avoided all the chaos if he had explained his reason in his initial message to them through Titus. But more importantly, he was humble enough to respond to them without any bile or guile. In today’s study, we will follow through with the remaining verses from chapter 2 and learn some valuable lessons in Church Discipline and Forgiveness as well as our triumph in Christ
The Perfect Template for Forgiveness – Verses 5-8
The Reason for Complete Forgiveness and Reassurance Read Verses 9 - 11
Grabbing Every Opportunity to Preach! – Verses 12-13
Jesus, The Triumphant Leader – Verses 14
The Triumph Parade Means Different Things to Different People. Verses 15-16a
Conclusion: Paul Characterizes His Ministry Based on His Integrity. Verses 16b-17
Sunday, August 27 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
PAUL’S INTEGRITY, SIMPLICITY AND WRITINGS DEFENDED. Read Verses 12 - 13
PAUL DEFENDS THE CRITICISM OF HIS DECISION – Read Verses 14 - 18
VERSES 19 - 24 PAUL EXPLAINS HIS DECISION.
CONCLUSION - 2 Corinthians 2:1-4
Parts of this study was culled from http://www.jrtalks.com
Saturday, August 19 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we concluded on the first letter of Paul to the church in Corinth. In the 16th chapter of the first letter, Paul gave general advice on charitable giving and his intention to visit and fellowship with the brethren. As is customary of the apostle, he admonished the brethren to stand strong in their faith and to do all things with love. Apostle Paul concluded his letter to the Corinthian brethren by praying and reiterating his love for the brethren. Today, we will continue our study of the first chapter of the second epistle of Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church.
1. The Salutation (verses 1-2)
2. God’s comfort and reason for His comfort (verses 3-5)
3. Learning from Apostle Paul’s Experience (verses 6-7)
4. Hardships In Asia (verses 8-11)
Most parts of this study was culled from bible.org
Tuesday, August 15 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Verses 1-4 Directions About Some Charitable Collection to Be Made In The Church
Verses 5 – 9 The Visit, The Work and The Challenges
Verses 10 -12 Recommendation of Timothy to Them, And Apollos’ Intended Visit
Verses 13 – 18 Admonishment onto Watchfulness, Constancy, Charity, And Paying Due Regard to Fellow Labourers In Their Work
Verses 20 – 24 Conclusion: Solemn Admonition and Good Wishes
Parts of this study was culled from biblestudytools.com
Friday, August 04 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
VERSES 50 – 53: CELEBRATING THE FUTURE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR BODIES
In these first four verses, Paul explains that an earth suit, a natural human body consisting of flesh and blood as we know it, is unsuitable for heaven. Hence, those believers still alive when Jesus returns at the rapture will receive their new bodies by transformation rather than by resurrection. Our earthly bodies made of flesh and blood cannot get into God’s Kingdom. Because perishable bodies are not the right kind to live forever. Our “appearance” and “attire” must meet certain standards to enter heaven! That is the way heaven is. Heaven is a place where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sickness, or death. These perishable bodies that we possess here on earth are not suited for heaven because they are prone to these.
VERSES 54-57: CELEBRATING THE FUTURE TERMINATION OF SIN
The resurrection of dead believers and the transformation of living believers signal the death of death. In verse 55, the apostle refers to Isa 25:8 and Hosea 13:14; two scriptures that both mock death! And then he goes further to show reveal some vital truths in verses 56 & 57.
VERSE 58: CELEBRATING THE FUTURE COMPENSATION OF OUR WORK ON EARTH
Paul concludes his discussion of the resurrection with an exhortation to be faithful in the present; telling us how these truths relate to our daily lives. In this verse, he answers the concerns expressed in verses 1-2
The phrase “my beloved brethren” demonstrates Paul’s love for the Corinthians, despite the deficiencies in their theology and their behavior.31 This should compel us to love one another despite our theological differences. Paul was dealing with Christians that were waffling on their own bodily resurrection. Yet, despite their erroneous theology Paul continued to love them.
Parts of this study was culled from Bible.org
Friday, July 28 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Verses 20-28 The Last Enemy Destroyed
Twice, Paul mentioned "first fruits." What he refers to here is the ritual given to the Israelites in Leviticus 23:9-14, where on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which followed the Passover, the day after the Sabbath, there would be the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest. The Jews were commanded to bring a sheaf of grain, the first of the harvest, to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord on the first day of the week after Passover. Jesus celebrated First Fruits in the appropriate manner by rising from the dead on that day. He also gave the Father His Proper First Fruits offering; graves were opened and dead people rose and were seen after His resurrection in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:53). Paul's argument is that not only did Jesus rise from the dead on the exact day predicted by the ritual, but, furthermore, his resurrection is a sample and a guarantee of the entire "harvest" of resurrection, which would include ours as well. Jesus was the first human being ever to be resurrected from the dead.
Verses 29-34 (MSG) - Effects of Denying the Resurrection
The first part of verse 29 is an interesting read. “. . . what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead?” This is what some religions have erroneously adopted and people go and baptize on behalf of someone who was dead; claiming then that the dead person has fulfilled the requirements of salvation in the after world and can enjoy further spiritual benefits in the spiritual realm. Historically, just north of Corinth was a city named Eleusis. This was the location of a pagan religion where baptism in the sea was practiced to guarantee a good afterlife. The Corinthians were known to be heavily influenced by other customs. It is probable that the Corinthians were being influenced by the religious practices found at Eleusis where baptism for the dead was practiced. So, Paul used this example from the pagans in 1 Cor. 15:29, when he said, "...if the dead are not raised, then why are they baptized for the dead?" Paul did not say we. This is significant because the Christian church was not practicing baptism for the dead, but the pagans were. Paul's point was simple. The resurrection is a reality. It is going to happen when Jesus returns. Even the pagans believe in the resurrection, otherwise, why would they baptize for the dead? He then continued to rhetorically ask: “Why are we (the apostles) in danger every hour?
Verses 35-49 (MSG) - Parallels in nature help us to grasp the truths of the resurrection
Thursday, July 20 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
INTRODUCTION: Last week, we looked at the second part of Paul’s instructions for the proper use of the gifts of the spirit during worship services. He corrected the Corinthian Church about the importance of the gift of prophesy to edification. He made us to realise that gift of tongues must come with interpretation to benefit the Church.
This week, we are studying one of the most important subject in the gospel of Christ; the resurrection.
1) The True Gospel of Christ: 1 Cor.15:1-2
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
The Church in Corinth was going through many doctrinal misunderstanding and Paul needed to remind them the gospel he preached to them, 1 Cor.2:1-2. By means of that message, God had saved them. (In other words, he had given them a right relationship with Himself.) However, that message was not just important on the occasion when God saved them. It is both necessary and essential through their entire lives as Christians to hold fast to the original gospel that they believed. Paul wanted them to know that they were saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord (Eph.2:8-9). He also wanted them to remember the purpose for which God saved them. They learn this from the resurrection of Christ. In other words, Christ became alive after his death - and God will do the same thing for them, too. God is giving them a wonderful life with him, which will never end (Eph.2:5-7, Rom.6:4).
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time
Paul chronicled the passion of Christ here to show that Christians believe are not ideas, but real events that happened
Christ’s death is so important because of what He achieved by his death. All people have done many wrong and evil things that are against God’s law (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23). The punishment that everyone deserves for their evil deeds is death (Romans 6:23). Christ alone obeyed God perfectly (Hebrews 7:26-27); he alone did not deserve death. But Christ suffered death so that God could forgive many people (Hebrews 9:28; Isaiah 53:6)
Christ was buried for a period of three days to confirm that He actually died. He was in the grave from Friday until Sunday morning when he resurrected (Ps.16:8-11). Paul does not merely mean that Christ’s spirit was alive. The same body that the men had buried became alive again. In fact, his body was not just alive again; it had a new quality of life (1 Cor.15:35-44). His body had received the same quality of life that already existed in his spirit.
Paul gives a list of occasions when people saw Jesus alive after his death (15:5-7). This began to happen on the third day after Jesus’ death, and continued during a period of 40 days. Paul’s list does not include every occasion when this happened. That is clear from such passages as John 20:11-18, Luke 24:13-32 and John 21:1-2. Perhaps Paul selected the most important occasions to give evidence that Jesus is alive.
Peter and John went to the grave, but they did not find Jesus there (John 20:1-10). However, later that same day, Jesus met Peter (Luke 24:34).
3) God’s kindness to Paul: 1 Cor.15:9-11
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Paul too had seen that Christ was alive and from Paul’s experiences, we can see how great God’s kindness is. Christ met this cruel enemy of the Christians, and Christ gave him a new life and commission him as an apostle
Paul hardly dared to consider himself an apostle. He did not think that he had any right to compare himself with Peter and the other apostles. They had served Christ loyally for such a long time. But now, because of the kindness of God, Paul is not only a Christian, but an apostle too.
Paul worked harder than any of the other apostles, and he had more success than any of them. However, Paul did not believe that this was the result of his own efforts. God, because of his kindness, had done these things. God showed his kindness to Paul when God saved him. Then God used Paul’s work to show his kindness to many other people. Those people had become Christians when Paul declared God’s good news to them.
4) The Risen Christ, Our Hope: 1 Cor.15:12-19
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
The resurrection of Christ is the fact upon which the whole of the gospel rested upon (15:17-18). It was after resurrection that He presented Himself before the father (John 20:17)
Already, twice in this letter, Paul referred to dead Christians as people who ‘sleep’ (11:30; 15:6). Paul was not just using a word-picture. He really believed that after death, Christians will live again. Their spirits are already alive with God in heaven. Their bodies will become alive again when Christ returns. This is as certain as the fact that Christ became alive again. In fact, it will happen because Christ became alive again.
There are still many people today calling themselves Christians although they do not believe in life after death.
Friday, July 14 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
THE TRUE PURPOSE FOR THE GIFT OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES – Read Verses (20 – 25)
DISORDER REPROVED – Read Verses (26-33)
THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE! – Read Verses (34-35)
CONCLUSION - BE COURTEOUS AND CONSIDERATE IN EVERYTHING. Read Verses (36-40)
(1.) They should not despise the gift of tongues and that they should prefer prophesying. This is indeed the scope of the whole argument. It was to be preferred to the other, because it was a more useful gift.
Parts of this study was culled from Mathew Henry's commentary on 1 Cor. 14
* 1Tim2:11-12 footnote on AMP
Tuesday, July 11 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Verses 1-5 – THE GIFTS ARE FOR EDIFICATION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
From this verse of scripture, we can deduce that Paul wants the Corinthian church to not that gifts are fit objects of our desire and pursuit, but they are not greater than love; hence we should make that which is of greater value our goal. And so, Paul starts off with what everyone should aim for – love. “Make it your greatest aim” he says and then directs the Corinthian church to seek spiritual gifts and then zeroes in on which spiritual gift to prefer. But see what he means by prophecy; being able to preach the messages of God. He also assigns the reasons of this preference. And it is remarkable here that he only compares prophesying with speaking with tongues. It seems, this was the gift on which the Corinthians principally valued themselves.
Verses 6-11 WORSHIP SHOULD BE ALL INVOLVING AND BENEFICIAL
Obviously, some of the members of the church in Corinth must have flaunted their gift of speaking in tongues due to the emphasis Paul laid on it. He showed them how vain it is to flaunt speaking unknown and unintelligible language is. It was altogether unedifying and unprofitable. He does this by using several illustrations; musical instruments with notes not sounding clearly, the army bugler that calls soldiers onto battle. To talk in an unknown language in a Christian assembly is altogether as vain and to no purpose as for a trumpet to give no certain sound in the field or day of battle.
Verses 12-14 COMMON LANGUAGE PROMOTES CORPORATE WORSHIP
Having thus established his point, he goes ahead to advise the church to be zealous for those gifts that were most for the church’s edification this way it will become commendable zeal, be zealous to edify the church, to promote Christian knowledge and practice, and covet those gifts most that will do the best service to men’s souls. But if you are gifted in speaking in tongues, you should beg of God the gift of interpreting it. He then enforces this advice with a proper reason, that, if he prayed in an unknown tongue, his spirit might pray, that is, a spiritual gift might be exercised in prayer, or his own mind might be devoutly engaged, but his understanding would be unfruitful, that is, the sense and meaning of his words would be unfruitful, he would not be understood, nor therefore would others join with him in his devotions. It should be the concern of such as pray, preach or sing in public to do so intelligibly, not in a foreign language, nor in a language that, if it be not foreign, is above the level of his/her audience. Language that is most obvious and easy to be understood is the most proper for public devotion and other religious exercises.
Paul once again creates balance in his letter! He does not forbid their praying or singing as led by the Spirit, or when they were inspired for this purpose, or had such a spiritual gift communicated to them; but he would have them perform both so as to be understood by others, that others might join with them. He enforces the argument with the following reason; it fosters agreement and participation in prayers, thanksgivings, and worship.
Parts of this study was culled from Mathew Henry's commentary on 1 Cor. 14
Thursday, June 29 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
INTRODUCTION: Last week, we looked at the second part of the use of Spiritual Gifts. We concluded saying that Paul’s admonishment to earnestly desire the greater gifts is not addressed to the individual but to the collective church. And that the “best gifts” are those that benefit the general body of Christ. He also mentioned “the excellent way.” The excellent way Paul was referring to is love in its fullest meaning; true love to God and man. Without this, the most glorious gifts are of no account to us, of no esteem in the sight of God. A clear head and a deep understanding, are of no value without a benevolent and charitable heart.
1) LOVE IS GREATER THAN ANY SPIRITUAL GIFT: 1 Cor.13:1-3
Paul says you can speak in tongues all you want (of men and angels), but if you don’t have love you are merely making a lot of noise. Then in verses 2-3, Paul mentions more spiritual gifts when he writes,
“If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
Prophecy refers to the ability to declare God’s truth in a powerful, life-changing way. Knowledge involves the deep understanding of the Word of God. Faith is the unique ability to trust God for great things. These three gifts are all from the Holy Spirit, and yet without love the person who has them is “nothing.”
2) THE CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE: 1 Cor.13:4-7
1) Love is patient. Patience with circumstances and patience with people. Love doesn’t have a short fuse. It doesn’t lose its temper easily. A person who exercises agape love does not lose patience with people. Love never says, “I’ll give you just one more chance.” Love is patient; it never gives up (Galatians 6:9)
3) LOVE IS AN ETERNAL GIFT: 1 Cor.13:8-13
This Study was culled from bible.org
Thursday, June 22 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we had an in-depth study of the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was emphasised that these gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, as He wills! We also learnt that a great spiritual gift is no indication of spirituality. It is possible to be gifted and not be spiritual. Continuing further in verse 12 through to 31, Paul further emphasised the importance of these gifts through the diversity and unity of the physical body as an analogy. Due to the competitive nature of bodybuilding, in order to win a competition one cannot have any weak body parts. Bodybuilders understand the value and significance of every single part of the body. There can be no undeveloped or lagging parts. Every single body part must develop and function at its absolute best.
1. Appreciate the solidarity of the body (verses 12-13)
2. Do not underestimate your importance to the body of Christ (verses 14-20)
3. Do not overestimate your importance to the body of Christ (21-26)
4. Celebrate the diversity of the body (27-31)
Conclusion (verse 31):
Friday, June 16 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Verses 2-3 (AMP) - The Different Responses to Christ
Paul addresses the different responses to Christ; the rejection by the pagans, the rejection by the Jews, and the acceptance by faith of the Christian.
Verses 4-6 (AMP) - Gifts, Administrations, and Operations – Variety is spice of the Church too!
In other words; Paul was saying that there are different spiritual gifts, but all of them stem from the one and only Holy Spirit (verse 4). And although we may administer (serve with) these gifts differently, but we serve the same Lord (verse 5). There are different types of operations (procedures or methods), but it is the same God who does the work in all of us (verse 6). The Holy Spirit does not employ ONLY ONE method, so we should be sensitive and not be stereo typed.
Verse 7 (AMP) – Understanding the Ultimate Purpose of the Gifts
Paul was making the distinction here that "gifts" of the Spirit aren't gifts in the sense that the believer owns and operates the gift whenever he wants to. They are gifts of the Holy Ghost, manifested through individual believers as the Spirit of God wills. The gifts of the Spirit aren't just given for the individual, but they are given to profit the whole local assembly or local body of believers. Sadly, too many people have decided that they will not serve in the church or serve only occasionally and when it’s convenient. But the church needs people who will make lifelong commitments and be dependable. So, the probing question today is: “Are you a consistent worker or a convenience worker?
Verses 8-10 (AMP) - The Nine Gifts of The Spirit
The nine manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit are generally divided into three groups of three each. Please note that the division into these three groups was not done by Apostle Paul but it is purely to be able to easily distinguish and discuss them and for no other reason.
REVELATION GIFTS: Gifts That Reveal Something
Conclusion – Verse 11
Paul emphasizes once again that every believer can be spiritually gifted as the Holy Spirit chooses. That these gifts are not for some spiritual elite, but the entire body of Christ. We are all called by the Lord to minister with the gifts He has supplied. Each believer, regardless of his or her gifts, ministries, and the manner and extent of God’s blessing, should demonstrate the Holy Spirit’s gifting through his or her life. All the gifts manifest the Spirit’s presence, not just the more spectacular ones in each category. It is important to note that Believers who have spectacular gifts, ministries, or effectiveness are not necessarily more spiritual than Christians who do not. Each believer makes a unique contribution to the common good, not just certain believers.
Parts of this study was culled from bible.org
Thursday, June 08 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
This week, we are going to study about the proper order and revelation of the Holy Communion service.
1) Conduct at the Lord’s Supper: 1 Corn. 11:17-22
“Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”
Paul knew there were sharp division within the Corinthian Church (I Cori.6:1-8). Their coming together for fellowship and communion was not for the better but for the worse. Their coming together for the Lord’s super was supposed to be an opportunity to show love, but it is now an opportunity for the richer Christians to act in a greedy and selfish manner. If they shared their food, it was only with their rich friends. If they shared the wine, they kept too much for themselves. In the way the Corinthian Christians were conducting the Lord’s Supper, the poor were being publicly shamed and humiliated by exposing their deficiencies, rather than concealing them and providing for them. The Lord’s Supper, which commemorated the sacrificial gift of our Lord’s body and blood, had been perverted to an occasion for self-indulgence by giving way to selfish bodily lusts.
In the most general sense, the Lord’s Supper was a celebration of our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary for our unmerited benefit and blessing (1 Pet. 2:24). The Lord Jesus set aside His own personal interests and sacrificed His body so that by His sufferings in His body, we might be saved. And yet at the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, there is no self-sacrifice but only self-indulgence. The saints are all more concerned with satisfying their own bodily appetites than those of their fellow-believers. The most self-indulgent are those who least need food or drink. Those most in need are denied sustenance. In whatever we do, we must always be conscious of the weak, poor, sick, oppressed and less privileged people among us. There were poor people in that church; its members included several slaves (1 Cor.7:21-22)
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
3) Examine Yourself; 1 Corn. 11:27-34
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
The bread and wine at the communion table are holy because of their connection with the death of Christ. Many Christians in Corinth had not recognised that fact. They thought that they were eating together merely in order to enjoy themselves. The ceremony is a holy occasion so it is very wrong for a person who is living in an unholy manner to accept those sacred gifts. So, at that special moment, Christians should examine their own lives in front of God. We must confess our wrong deeds to God, He will forgive us (1 John 1:7-9).
Finally, Paul told the church leaders to make two simple changes to that meeting:
Thursday, June 01 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
DIVINE ORDER - (Verses 1-3)
Paul starts off this chapter as a continuation of chapter 10 with a very bold proclamation; one that only Jesus Christ had ever made! (Matt.4:19) His proclamation indicates he was confident that his motives were pure and that he was a true follower of Christ. You will recall from the concluding verses of Chapter 10 that Paul, talking about the abuse of one’s liberty used himself as an example that he did not only preach such doctrine, but lived the life! And as such, they should imitate him!
HONOR YOUR HEAD – (Verses 4-5)
Having set the foundation in verse 3, Paul proceeds to expound. An understanding of these four verses brings the entire 16 verses in focus. That Paul refers to the “head” here should not be misconstrued that it is separate from the “hair” as some have come to interpret it. (See verse 6)
COVER OR SHAVE – (Verses 6-7)
BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS – (Verses 8-12)
Paul first addresses the possibility of the claim for “equal rights” in verses 8 & 9. Simply put, Adam was not created for Eve, but Eve was created for Adam – and this principle applies to every “Adam” and every “Eve” through history. Genesis 2:18 declares God’s intention in creating Eve: I will make him a helper comparable to him. Eve was created to be a helper to Adam, meaning that Adam was “head” over Eve, and she was called to share and help his vision and agenda. Genesis 2:22 says, He brought her to the man. Adam was not brought to Eve, but Eve was brought to Adam – her head. It is an idea offensive to the spirit of our age, but the Bible in this passage clearly teaches that (in the church and in the home) man was not made for the benefit of woman, but woman for the benefit of man.
COMMON SENSE? – (Verses 13-16)
Sentiments aside; Paul urges us (you and I who would one day judge Angels) to judge in ourselves. The Message version renders these verses thus: “Don’t you agree there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism—a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission? I hope you’re not going to be argumentative about this. All God’s churches see it this way; I don’t want you standing out as an exception.”
Saturday, May 27 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
1. Dining With the Devils - Eating Meat in a Pagan Worship Ritual (verses 14-22)
3. Should I Dine With My Pagan Neighbor? (10:27-30)
Conclusion – (verse 31-33)
Saturday, May 27 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
The highlight of last week’s study, in conclusion of chapter 9, is the need for discipline or being temperate in all things. Self-indulgence lay at the root of every other Corinthian problem mentioned up to this point. The solution to self-indulgence is self-control. Paul uses the analogy of athletes; if athletes who compete for trophies that fade put in so much effort in preparation; how much more should we prepare for our trophies that are incorruptible? We should not be shabby or shoddy when it comes to the work of God! (Colossians 3:23-25).
Today, we are looking at the first thirteen verses of chapter ten. In this chapter, Paul draws several lessons for the readers of his Epistle from the failure of the Israelites in the wilderness.
1) A lesson from the past: 1 Corin.10:1-2
"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness."
Paul begins a lesson about the people whom Moses led. Those people had been slaves in Egypt, but God made them free. They experienced the presence of God in forms of the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Exo.13:21). They saw the miracle of the opening of the red sea (Exo.14:21). They were fed with manna from heaven (Exo.16). They drank from the spiritual rock that was Jesus Christ; the living water (Exo.17&20).
Paul could see that many Christians were starting to have the same wrong attitudes. God had made them free (Col.1:13), but they cared only to please themselves. They did not really want to serve God or to show his love to other people. They believed that they had the right to please themselves. They even claimed the right to eat food that someone had offered to a false god (1 Cor.8:10).
Paul had to warn them that God would not be pleased with their selfish behaviour. It was a hard lesson for those Christians. They thought that their lives did please God. He had saved them when they began their relationship with him. He was present in their lives by his Holy Spirit. They had gone through the ceremony called baptism to show that they had a new life with Christ.
2) Lessons from the Israelites in the wilderness: 1 Corin.10:6-10
"Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer."
1 Corinthians 10:6-10 contains a list of four separate events during the life of Moses. The purpose of this list is to warn Christians not to use the freedom that God has given them wrongly. The people whom Moses led had done that. And some Christians in Corinth were starting to behave in a similar manner.
3) The church must learn from the past; 1 Cor.10:11-12
"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
The Bible is not just history. Its purpose is not to provide a record of ancient events or of people whom the world has forgotten. It tells us about those events and those people because God wants to use them to teach us, today. God’s relationship with ancient Israel was real, and it still continues today (Romans 11:1-2). But God did not establish that relationship so that people from just one nation would know him. From its beginning, God wanted people from every nation to know his kindness (Genesis 12:3).
Conclusion: Dealing with temptations, 1 Cor.10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Temptations are the thoughts, ideas and circumstances that test our trust in God. They do not always seem like troubles; in fact, many temptations seem attractive. But they are always dangerous; falling to temptations can ruin a person’s relationship with God.
Monday, May 15 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week’s study saw us looking at the proper use of liberty and how Paul waived his rights for the sake of the Gospel. Verses 1-14 was his response to those who challenged his apostleship because he chose not to exercise his rights as an apostle. We concluded with Paul’s inference that although he and Baranabas waived their rights of reaping material things from the church in Corinth for the sake of the Gospel, it shouldn’t be misunderstood or taken for granted. In today’s study, we shall be looking at the concluding part of the use of liberty - Self Discipline.
Verses 15-18 (AMP) - GUARANTEED REWARD
Paul continues his defence by saying that although he had the right to a maintenance allowance, as an apostle, based on both the law of God and the gospel; he hasn’t used any of these benefits; then he becomes very assertive; it was not on his own account that he gave these strong reasons, and undeniably proved the point, that ministers should be maintained by the people; and to prevent people from thinking that he has the plan to start receiving maintenance from the church he categorically stated that he would rather die than to give anyone ammunition to discredit him or challenge his motives! As a matter of fact, he didn’t choose to serve God himself! He was out persecuting the church when he was called by God’s choosing and mandated to serve! So it was clearly not for any personal benefits he was in the business of the Gospel
Verses 19-23 (AMP) - PAUL’S USE OF HIS FREEDOM
In these verses Paul teaches us how to best use our freedom; not for our personal gains but for the benefit of and the service of others. He volunteered himself to become a servant to all and sundry. He went into the world of the religious and nonreligious, the meticulous moralists, and those living in immorality, the defeated, the demoralized—all of them! To experience things from their point of view; so he can appropriately empathise with them (Heb. 4:15); but didn’t take on their way of life. He did this to lead many to Christ! He did not just want to talk about it; he wanted to be in on it! And so, must we! Enough of just talking about reaching out – time to step out and do!
Verses 24-27 (AMP) - THE NEED FOR SELF-DISCIPLINE
Like a bolt out of the blue, Paul switches to a topic somewhat unconnected to his defence; but it is to drive home his point! "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize?" Here, he was referring to athletes who win races; not for the sake of us winning the race but for the preparation they put into winning a race. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” So, let us prepare to serve God like athletes who win; not sloppy, not nonchalant; for that is the only way we can achieve what God wants us to. The key words here are “strict” – (demanding that rules concerning behaviour are obeyed and observed; following rules or beliefs exactly) and “training” – (Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient's performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.)
And when he said in verses 26-27 (MSG)
He was referring to being focused; that he will not be swayed by those challenging his apostleship or those who want to toil with his liberty or any other distractions that may come; because such distraction can cause a faithful servant miss his/her place in eternity.
Thursday, May 04 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
1) Paul’s Apostleship Declared and Defended: 1 Cor. 9:1-2
2) Paul’s Rights as an Apostle; 1 Cor. 9:3-7
3) Paul’s Apostolic Rights Supported; 1 Cor. 9:8-11
4) A Christian leader’s right to receive wages; 1 Cor. 9:12-14
Friday, April 28 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
1. Relationship Between Love and Knowledge (vs 1-3)
2. Transforming Truth into Error (vs 4-6)
3. Lacking In Love (verse 7-12)
CONCLUSION (verse 13)
Monday, April 24 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
We have been looking at the issues on marriage from the challenges of the Corinthian’s Church for the past three weeks. We can establish from our studies that God hates divorce. Why? Because the joining between a man and a woman is a permanent one. Jesus said in Luke 16:18; “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.
God’s intention is to make our marriages parts of His kingdom influence on earth, by raising Godly seed within the confine of Kingdom homes. Our marriages and homes should naturally attract people to God.
We shall continue on the issues of marriage but examine the circumstances where it is not wise to marry, the benefits of an unmarried life, situations where it is right to marry and advice to married women and widows. Paul clearly distinguished between the commands of the Lord and his own counsel.
“Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.”
Paul indicates that he is giving his advice, he also encourages his readers to take that advice seriously because, his counsel is not personal opinion, given without divine enablement, but is the fruit of divine mercy which was given to him. If Paul is clear to tell us when he is not giving us a command, surely we dare not attempt to pass off our ideas, preferences, or prejudices as though they are a word from God.
His reference to “present distress” in vs 26, can be connected to the persecutions of Christians (2 Timothy 3:12, Romans 8:18-25, Galatians 1:4 & 1 Peter 4:12-14). In the light of this Paul counsel that “It is good for a man to remain as he is”. Can you imagine Paul being married with children and seeking to carry on the ministry we see described in the Book of Acts?
Verses 27 and 28 speak not only to the single saint, encouraging him or her to remain single, but Paul also addresses the married believer, advising that one not seek to be loosed. Once one is married (with or without children), it is too late to reduce one’s exposure by seeking to terminate the marriage or to abandon one’s family.
“But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.”
One of the great dangers which confronts the Christian is losing sight of the shortness of the time. We must live in the light of the nearness of the return of our Lord, of the inauguration of His kingdom, and thus of the end of this present age (Rom.13:11-12, 1 John.2:17-18, Rev.1:3 & Rev.21 &22). Paul spells out several specific areas in which to apply our belief in the shortness of the time.
The first area of application is that of marriage: “so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.” This is not an instruction for men to neglect their wives. We must connect his instruction with Ephesians 5. Husbands are to care for their wives as Christ cares for His church.
But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.”
Marriage is not an eternal institution, but one divinely provided for men and women in this age, rather than in the age to come (Matthew 22:30). Marriage is a right, a liberty, which can be either exercised or set aside. Paul has just challenged the Corinthians to consider the possibility of remaining single, not because this makes one more spiritual than others, but because it may enhance their service in these shortened days. At every wedding, church leaders explain the benefits of married life. Here, Paul pointed out the benefits of an unmarried life for a Christian. There are two outstanding benefits; vs 32; free from concern and in vs 35; secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
Remaining single provides an opportunity for the Christian to serve the Lord unreservedly, without the conflicting obligation of attending to the needs of one’s spouse. But staying single does not automatically produce this result.
Unmarried people are free to choose how they will spend their time, money and energy. They often have many less responsibilities at home than married people do. Certainly, they will serve God better as unmarried people than if they chose to marry unwisely.
“But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.”
These examples refer to the marriage customs that people used to follow in Corinth. Men were not free to choose whom they would marry. Instead, families arranged for a boy to become engaged to a girl when they were both very young. When he grew older, the boy could choose when to marry.
“If you conclude that marriage is the proper course for your life, then don’t agonize over this, do it; you have not sinned in so doing. If, on the other hand, you are able to gracefully reverse your decision, and you have the will power to do so, then release yourself from this commitment and remain single. The one who marries does well; the one who does not marry does even better.”
“A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”
Those who are married should consider themselves bound to that partner until death separates them. If a woman’s husband dies, she is then free to marry because the union is broken by death. The only condition placed on this widow is that she marry another believer. Nevertheless, Paul encourages such a widow to give due thought to remaining single, for the same reasons he has outlined above. These words of advice are an expression of Paul’s opinion, but failing to heed them is not sin. It is not just Paul’s opinion, he suggests, but counsel which he believes comes from the Spirit of God. It is, we might say, inspired advice.
Chapter 7 is a kind of self-contained unit. In this chapter, Paul spoke to those who are married, whether in a mixed marriage (one partner is a believer, the other is not), or those equally yoked. These are to stay married, and not even to think about divorce. They are not to deprive each other sexually, which would only tempt them to sin. Those who are unmarried should consider the spiritual benefits of remaining single. Those who are engaged (or who are planning their daughter’s marriage) should feel free not to proceed with marriage, but they should not feel guilty about marriage either.
Friday, April 14 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
1. Remain married permanently (vs 10-11)
Also note that the permission of divorce and the issue of certificate of divorce (Deut.24:1-4) was by Moses. Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 19:3-9.
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
As we will also see in the next verses here in our text, Paul also said in his opening of verse 12;
If you are married, God’s intent and expectation is that your marriage goes the distance. This means when (not if) there are problems in your marriage (which has been lingering and building castles in your home), it is imperative that you go to the leadership of the church before it’s too late. Too often, couples run to the pastors and elders when their marriage is on life support and nothing can be done to salvage it. Yes, God can and will work miracles, but it is wise to include Him in our marriage trauma before it’s too late.
2. Marriage between a believer and unbeliever (vs 12-16)
3. Stay put indefinitely (vs 17-24)
Sunday, April 09 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Verses 1-2: Sexual Relations was designed by God ONLY as a part of marriage
Here the general rule is given to the unmarried to avoid sexual immorality because sexual drives are strong. So, if you are of marriageable age and are ready for marriage, go ahead and get married because God designed marriage to curtail these sexual drives! And secondly, He designed marriage to provide a balanced and fulfilling sexual life. But still we hear of infidelity in marriages, don’t we? The root of many of those lie in what Paul addresses in the next two verses
Verses 3-4. The duty of cohabitation on the part of the married.
The Message version explains clearly what these verses refer to when Paul said:
“The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.”
It is not a one-sided affair but mutual. The failure of couples in fulfilling their marital (sexual) duties these days have resulted in sexual immorality in the body of Christ. In verse 3, Paul admonishes both husband and wife to fulfil their marital duties. That is when indeed they can experience a balanced and fulfilling sexual life. It’s a no brainer Proverbs 27:7 (MSG) says:
Paul then goes ahead to reveal an interesting paradox. The husband and wife do not have [exclusive] authority over their bodies but it is shared!
Verses 5-6. Agreeing on abstinence is important but moderation is key
Other versions use the word “defraud” in place of deprive. To defraud means, to deceive, to swindle, to cheat, or trick. Some spouses hide behind spirituality to defraud their partners. So, desist from withholding sex from your spouse by any means – Paul says it must be mutually agreed if there should be any abstinence. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period if you both agree to it, and if it is for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Because Satan can use the opportunity of prolonged abstinence to introduce unholy thoughts amidst the holiest exercises; especially when it becomes prolonged. Important to note here that Paul was not commanding these periods of abstinence; he was only providing his best counsel if we would choose them.
Verses 7-9. Celibacy is not for everyone; can’t handle it? Get married! God honours both!
Celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, and the gift of the married life to others. Also, our emotions are God-given but there are those who are gifted to be able to turn off these emotions and leave them permanently turned off! Paul was one of such and wished everyone were single like him because it is a simpler life in many ways! So, he offers another advice; to the unmarried and widows that if they can, they should remain unmarried. However, if they cannot stay single because they are not gifted they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Verses 10-11: Divorce isn’t an acceptable option
In effect, what the Lord through Paul commands is that if you are married, stay married - regardless. If a wife or husband should leave their partner, he/she must either remain single (that is, if the sin of separation has been committed, the sin of a new marriage is not to be added); or else come back and make things right with their partner. The only exception Jesus gave is in Matt. 5:32. Let’s read this verse in the message version
Monday, April 03 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Last week, we continued in our study of the letter of Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Paul’s wise counsels (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) on how Christians should handle disagreements were carefully considered. He counsels that believers should rather accept wrong instead of going before unbelievers to be judged. We will continue this evening with the rest of the chapter by studying how believers should honour the Lord Jesus Christ with their bodies and the impact of sexual sins on our body and our spirit.
Nowhere is this truer than in the area of sexual immorality. For a few minutes of pleasure, countless men and women will throw their lives away. Just think for a moment about the potential consequences of sexual sin: loss of fellowship with God, divorce, disease, pregnancy, guilt, estrangement from family and friends, psychological and financial loss, damage to one’s reputation, and countless others.
“Adultery is a brainless act, soul-destroying, self-destructive; Expect a bloody nose, a black eye, and a reputation ruined for good.” [Prov.6:32 MSG]
Indeed, there is no sin in this life with such brutal consequences. This reality ought to keep us from sexual sin. Yet, if we are honest, most people assume that they will be the exception to these consequences. Honestly, they believe that these things will never happen to them. So they go on their own merry way, sinning. Therefore, the apostle Paul uses another approach in helping us overcome sexual immorality. He uses a positive affirmation: “Your body is God’s body.” Take a moment to meditate on this. As far as God is concerned, when we engage in sexual sin with our body, we are actually doing so with God’s Body.
Paul shares a principle that governs the remaining passage of this chapter in verse 12. He argues that he and the Corinthians have certain freedom in Christ, but these are to be used for our good and God’s glory. Paul writes, “ Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]”. The key word here is “Control”.
This passage is not about food; it is about sexual immorality. Nevertheless, Paul contrasts the two to emphasize how God values the human body. Here, he simply insists that food and the stomach are temporal, but the physical body is eternal. Paul states that our bodies are designed for the Lord. We can no longer talk about “my body.” Your body is God’s body. And God will one day raise your earthly body. This means what we do in our bodies in this life matters greatly to God.
Paul affirms very clearly in this verse of scriptures that we (our body) are members of Christ (See 2 Cor.16:15,16a).
“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”[2 Cor.16:15,16a]
However, a verse that I believe is worth meditating on for this teaching is;
“Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” This verse offers the first command of our passage: “Flee immorality.” It is a present imperative and should be translated, “Keep on fleeing” or “Make it your habit to flee!” The Bible’s advice for avoiding sexual immorality is simple: stay as far away as possible from the persons and places and things likely to get you in trouble. Real men and women run! They don’t stand in and fight. Some other wisdoms for guiding against sexual temptations are;
CONCLUSION (verse 19-20)
There are three important points in these last two verses. First, we are a temple of God. In 1 Cor 3:16-17, the local church is called the “temple.” Here, the same Greek word (naos) is used of the individual Christian. The term used in both passages for “temple” is not the word for a pagan temple, or even for the Jewish temple structure and grounds; rather, it refers to the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place for the people of God in the Old Testament. Paul is saying that God Himself is resident within us. Your body is His mailing address and P.O. Box. He dwells in YOU! You would probably never consider committing an act of sexual immorality in a church sanctuary, right? But the fact is, as disgusting as that would be, it would be no worse for a Christian than committing the same sin anywhere else. A church building is never called a Holy of Holies, but the believer’s body is. What a difference it would make if we lived with this realization. If the body is a house for the Holy Spirit it should only be used for the very best purposes. We should not allow anything or anyone to spoil it or misuse it. We should keep it in good condition.
Sunday, March 26 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.5:1-13.
Today, we are focusing on how Christian should handle disagreements among themselves. The practice of the brethren in Corinth was to take themselves to court before unbelievers. Paul was strongly against such ungodly practice in the Church.
Paul was distressed and blood might be rushing to his face as he writes, “How dare you go to law before the unrighteous when you have a dispute with a fellow-believer and not go before the church?” There are several things that might have made Paul to be greatly disturbed by the conducts of the Corinthians’ Church;
The people who opposed Paul then were not Christians. However, you might expect the Christians in Corinth to learn something from their experience. But in fact, the Christians were trying to get the support of judges whenever they disagreed with each other.
2) The saints will judge the world & angels: 1 Corin.6:2-3
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?"
It is a modern idea to separate the work of judges and rulers. In former times, ‘to judge’ meant ‘to have legal authority’. So rulers acted as judges, and judges acted as rulers.
The angels are the powerful spirits that God created to serve him. But some angels were not loyal to God. These evil angels control the evil forces that now rule this world (Ephesians 6:12).
a) Saints Judging the world; Rev.20:4, Matt.19:28 “And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”
b) Saint Judging angels(demons); 2 Pet.2:4, Jude 6; “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment”
Paul assumes they do know this, and their actions are completely contradictory to this theology. If these saints are going to reign with Christ and participate in the judgment of the world, how in the world can these Corinthians turn now to the unsaved for judgment? If the righteous will judge the unrighteous at the second coming, how can the Corinthian Christians now be looking to a heathen to judge the righteous?, why is it that they are not now able to judge in the trivial matters of this life?
3) Arguments between Christians and how to deal with them: 1 Corin.6:4-6
If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
Paul, in the light of our Lord’s teaching in Matt.18:15-20 instructed that if a brother has a dispute or an offense with another brother, this should first be addressed personally and privately, one to one. If this does not bring about reconciliation and harmony, then one or two witnesses must be brought along. If this does not result in repentance and reconciliation, then the matter should be taken to the whole church. If the belligerent party does not heed the admonition of the whole church, the wayward saint must be expelled from the fellowship of the church. 1 Cor.2:14-16 Christians Judge with discernment.
4) The right attitude when Christians disagree: 1 Corin.6:7-8
Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
For the competitive Corinthians, life is all about winning and losing. Lawsuits are certainly about winning and losing. Paul makes a most troubling announcement; any Corinthian Christian who takes another believer to court has already lost. Going to court with a fellow-believer is a no-win situation. The better way is to take the loss. Imagine Paul telling us that it is better to be a victim than a victor. Pride prevent many from accepting this view. Following Jesus is a daily journey with your cross (1Pet.2:18-25
5) Ungodly behaviours and the new creature: 1 Corin.6:9-11
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
The list of ungodly behaviours here is to show that people who choose to live in this manner care only about themselves. People with these behaviours will not make heaven. Salvation is the process of turning from darkness to light, from death to life, from sin to righteousness. Salvation means that we should never consider continuing on in sin, even though God’s grace is greater than all our sin.(Rom.6:1).
When we were saved, we were completely saved, severed from our past identity and given a new identity. We were washed, cleansed of our sin and our guilt. We were sanctified, set apart from sin unto holiness. We were justified, legally declared righteous through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, imputed to us by faith. All of this transpired in the name of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor.5:17).
Thursday, March 16 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we concluded the topic “Servants of Christ”. In the study, we looked at Paul’s dealings with those in the wrong in the Corinthian church and learned from and took his example as instructions to us for handling problem people in the Church. In today’s study titled “Confronting sexual immorality in the church.” We will be learning from Paul’s letter how and why the church should confront sexual immorality in the church.
PART 1: REFUSE TO TOLERATE REBELLION IN THE CHURCH (1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-8)
In these first eight verses, Paul presents two problems. There is a problem with an immoral man. But secondly, and even more importantly, there is the failure of the church to take sin seriously. It was a matter of general knowledge, the talk of the town that a man was living (co habiting) with his step mother! And the church did nothing about it! Instead, verse 2 says they responded with pride and disobedience. It is likely that the Corinthians were boasting despite the immorality, rather than because of it. They were boasting in the social status of the man while ignoring his offense.
1. How Paul Handled it
2. What the Corinthian church should have done (Verse 2, 5)
Many people believe that the notion of church discipline is “old fashioned”; some even play the “grace card” What about grace and compassion they ask? Verses 6-13 explains.
3. Why should a church practice church discipline?
So, let’s ask ourselves a tough question (only for self-examination purposes): Are you involved in some sin that, if revealed, would devastate your loved ones and destroy any ministry you have? Okay, maybe you haven’t done what this man did, but are you involved in Internet pornography, or an emotional affair at work, or abuse of prescriptions drugs, or the greedy pursuit of wealth. Whatever it is, stop today! Because sin is spiritual cancer! Get into an accountability relationship. Begin practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study. God will grant you plenty of grace if you come clean with Him and others.
PART 2: REFUSE TO STOP REACHING OUT TO THE WORLD 1 CORINTHIANS 5:9-13
In this section, Paul informs us that church discipline is for believers. It is widely accepted that Paul wrote four different letters to the church at Corinth. In one of his previous letters, the Corinthians apparently misunderstood Paul. They thought he didn’t want them to have any association with any immoral person. Paul clarifies and explains that this ban only pertained to Christians. When sinners sin, they are merely doing what they are supposed to do. Sin is a part of a sinner’s job description! The difference between a sinner and a saint is that a saint doesn’t have to sin anymore.
Paul concludes chapter 5 with two pointed verses: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (5:12-13). Christians have no jurisdiction over outsiders and have no business usurping a task that belongs to God alone. Those outside are left in God’s hands, and the church has the responsibility to seek to win them over, not to nag, intimidate, or seek to control them. Many of us are trying to clean up the world’s fishbowl when all God asks us to do is fish. Jesus says, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). If you’ve been spending your time trying to scour the world, put down your scrub brush, pick up your fishing pole, and go for the fish!
Parts of this study was culled from How to Handle a Scandal by Keith R. Krell.
Monday, March 13 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.4:1-13.
“It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful)” 1 Cor.4:2
Today, we are looking at the concluding verses of this chapter; 1 Cor.4:14-21.
1) Paul’s Fatherly Appeal: 1 Corin.4:14-15
I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Paul was not writing to shame the Corinthians over their failures but to rescue or correct them from their errors. Paul is a model of godly leaders. He is a very different leader from those whom some Christians in Corinth are choosing to follow, leading them into doctrinal errors. This is his admonition in Gal. 6:1
In Corinth, the Christians may have considered it difficult to understand why Paul’s opinions still mattered to them. Paul had left Corinth to go elsewhere; they had other teachers now. Paul was saying that they were doing many wrong things in their church.
Paul’s reply was that he still had a responsibility for their church. And that responsibility had its origin in Paul’s love for them. If those other men were teachers, Paul was like their father. He birth the Church.
It was Christ who gave Paul that responsibility and that love. Christ sent Paul to Corinth. And there, Paul was the first person to declare Christ’s message publicly. That was when Paul’s love for the Christians in Corinth began. And that was how the church in Corinth began.
We also need to attend to growing Christians around us with love, forgiveness and fatherly or motherly care. Younger Christians should be able to depend on older Christians for love, non-judgemental correction and Godly care. Gal. 4:19
2) Imitate Me: 1 Corin.4:16-17
“Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”
Fathers often tell their children to imitate them. Perhaps a child is unsure what to do, or perhaps he is afraid or foolish. So the father tells the child, ‘Copy what I do.’
That is a much better way to teach than just to give instructions. The child sees what the father is doing. The child has confidence because his father is doing that thing first.
Paul has just described himself as the ‘father’ of the church at 1 Cori.4:15. And here he speaks not merely as a teacher, but as a father. For 18 months, the Christians in Corinth had seen how Paul behaved (Acts 18:11). So they knew his statements in 1 Corinthians 4:10-13 were true. That was how he had behaved in Corinth. And that was how he wanted them to behave, too.
If church leaders today would not tell anyone to imitate them, perhaps their attitude is different from Paul’s attitude. Perhaps they feel that they are carrying out a job, like a teacher. Perhaps they feel unable to take the sort of responsibility that Paul took.
The assignment of Timothy to them was to teach and remodel Christ life he saw and received from Paul. Paul had discovered that he could trust Timothy (Philippians 2:19-22). And Timothy always respected Paul. Paul was constantly praying for Timothy (2 Timothy 1:3). 2 Timothy 1:4 shows us that they were true friends.
We likewise should follow the examples and lives of our godly leaders and remodel Christ’s lifestyle to younger Christians around us. Can we be trusted to raise godly followers for Christ? Will any youth or young Christian want to grow up to be like us?
Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
The issue of pride in the Church in Corinth is a serious challenge. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul urged the Christians in Corinth not to have proud attitudes. Here, in 1 Corinthians 4:18-19, he says clearly that some of them were already proud. He also explains the reason why they had that attitude. It was because Paul was not there in Corinth to oppose them. Nobody in Corinth could act in the power of God’s Holy Spirit to stop them.
When Paul arrived at Corinth, he would deal with those proud people. Paul preferred to speak to people in a humble, gentle manner that showed real love. But such gentle words will not usually convince proud people to change their attitudes. It was usual for a father to take a stick and to hit a proud child with it (Proverbs 22:15).
Paul had something much more powerful than a stick to deal with the proud people in Corinth. And he certainly would not depend on his own words, as the proud people did. Instead, Paul would ask God to give him the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with this situation.
Paul’s words to the Corinthians are for us as well, and they have much to say. Paul’s leadership is described as a radical contrast to the worldly-wise leadership. Paul’s dealings with those in the wrong at Corinth are an example of his instructions to us in handling problem people in the Church.
Friday, March 03 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
1. Servant Leadership [verse 1-2]
2. Handling Criticism, Lifestyles and Humility [verse 3-7]
3. Fools for Christ Sake [verse 8-13]
B. By using the phrase "we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men", Paul is referring to the difficult task of preaching the gospel. It is rewarding and refreshing to know however that God has used the foolish things of this world to confound the wise” (1 Cor.1:27). "We are fools for Christ's sake". God's wisdom is foolishness to the world; even sometimes to arrogant Christians. "To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless" These verses reflect Paul's own experience. "we toil, working with our own hands” reflects the Jewish emphasis on the appropriateness of manual labour (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8). This stresses the importance of hard work and taking responsibility instead of depending on others for goodwill. Paul and the other apostles led by example. We must consciously lead by example. I believe this will make working rewarding and encouraging.
C. "when we are reviled, we bless”. Paul is reflecting the teachings of Jesus (Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 2:23). The term "reviled" is also included in the list of sins in 1 Cor. 5:11 and 6:10. This term refers to personal verbal abuse, while the term "slandered" or “defamed” means public defamation (2 Cor. 6:8). Paul experienced verbal abuse from many false teachers, but it was the church at Corinth that must have wounded him the most. A group of people whom he personally led to Christ became his most vocal slanderers. Jesus Christ experienced same ridicule and we will at some point in our walk with the Lord experience same. We must however face this with the right attitude whenever we do.
Tuesday, February 28 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
A. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 [AMP] – The Result of Immaturity
Paul starts off by rebuking the Corinthians for their carnality and divisions. He pointed out that because they had failed to grow, he could not speak to them as unto spiritual men, but as unto carnal men, as to babes in Christ still under the command of carnal and corrupt affections; evidenced by is jealousy, strife and divisions. The Corinthian church had received some of the first principles of Christianity, but had not grown up to maturity of understanding in them, or of faith and holiness; and yet they were very proud of their wisdom and knowledge. It is very common among those who have little knowledge and understanding to have a great measure of self-conceit.
B. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 [AMP] – Misdirected Attentions
Paul then addresses the reason for the strife and division in the church – the idolizing of ministers! He made them realize that the ministers (himself) included were just servants; mere instruments used by the God of all grace. He, by so doing de-emphasized laying importance on ministers but on the Almighty instead! Everyone has their own task (calling). His was to plant, Apollos was to water but growth and fruitfulness is not given to any man but God Himself. He then makes the Corinthian church see that the “planter” and the “waterer” are one. Although they may have their different gifts, these gifts all come from one and the same Spirit. They are fellow-labourers in the same work; employed by one Master, and are in harmony with one another. Care should be taken because they may be set in opposition to each other by contentious party-makers.
C. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 [AMP] – Building with Care and with the Right Materials
Paul kicks this section off by giving the glory to God about his ability of being a skilful master builder. Though he gives himself such a “title”, it is not to gratify his own pride, but to magnify divine grace. He was a wise master-builder, but the grace of God made him such. He then proceeds to advise that great care should be employed, not only to lay a sure and right foundation, but to erect a regular building upon it. Nothing must be laid upon it but what the foundation will bear, gold and dirt must not be mingled together. The learning point here is that ministers of Christ should take great care that they do not build their own fantasies or false reasoning on the foundation of divine revelation. What they preach should be the plain doctrine of their Master, or what is perfectly agreeable with it.
D. 1 Corinthians 3:15-23 [AMP] – Purity and True Wisdom
Finally, Paul gets really serious with the Corinthians talking about how seriously God expects us to protect our temples! If we destroy our bodies, God will destroy us! Then he prescribes humility, and a modest opinion of themselves, for the remedy of the divisions and contests among them; advising them not to be led away from the truth and simplicity of the gospel by pretenders to science and eloquence, by a show of deep learning, or a flourish of words, by rabbis, orators, or philosophers.
Friday, February 10 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Last week, we continued our study of the book of Corinthians and examined 1 Cor.1:18-21.
We saw the contrast between human and Godly wisdom. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the world, but it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.
Since the world has not come to know God through its wisdom, God will make Himself known to some through means which the world regards as foolish. Imagine the saviour of the world was born in a manger and crucified on the cross. 1 Cor.1:27 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty”
Today, we are looking at the first sixteen verses of chapter two. Paul approached the Corinthians with great humility, both in speech and character. His main focus was the mystery of Christ and His cross.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Paul came to Corinth at the beginning, preaching to them the gospel of Jesus Christ with humility and simplicity. It was through his simplistic message and methods that the Corinthians, once pagans, became saints. Paul now reminds them of his message and manner when he first came to them which resulted in their salvation. He needed to remind them because they were now exposed to other teachers trying to complicate the simplicity of the gospel. Paul came to Corinth with a clear sense of his own limitations, knowing that the salvation and sanctification of men could only be accomplished by the miraculous intervention of God. Vs 3 “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling”.
Paul was not interested in making disciples for himself but for Christ. If men were converted because of Paul’s wisdom and because of his persuasive skills, they could then be led astray by anyone who was wiser and more persuasive. Paul’s desire was that men would place their faith in God and in His power rather than in men’s wisdom (verse 5).
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Paul’s words here help us to distinguish between God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom. God’s wisdom was revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming, but the world rejected Him and the wisdom He manifested (1 Cor.1:24). The wisdom of God is “eternal wisdom,” a wisdom established in eternity past. The wisdom of this world is “empirical wisdom,” based upon that which can be seen and heard and touched. The wisdom of God is otherwise. It is not seen by the naked eye, it cannot be heard with the ears, it cannot be fathomed by the natural mind. It surpasses even man’s imagination. Most people in the present age would not recognise this wisdom. That is why Paul called this wisdom a mystery, in other words, a secret. The mystery is that, at a future time, God has a plan to share his glory with all his people (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Colossians 1:26-27).
Paul, in Athens, had an opportunity to speak at one of the greatest universities in the ancient world. He tried hard to explain about God and about Christ in a manner that the people there could understand. However, most of those people did not believe; they even started to laugh at Paul (Acts 17:16-34). The most intelligent people in the world could not understand things that every Christian can know.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
God has great plans for those who love Him and this plans are beyond the reach of the enemy (Jer.29:11). But a person’s mind does not know about these things unless God’s Spirit shows them to that person. That should not surprise us; one person does not know another person’s secrets. A person does know his own secrets. Deep inside him, in his spirit, that person knows his own desires, plans and intentions.
God has desires, plans and intentions for the people who love him. God does not allow everyone to know about these things; they are his secret (2:7). But God’s plans are not secrets for the people who love God. That is because God has given his Holy Spirit to them. And the Holy Spirit shows them what God is doing. In the future they will share his glory (honour and greatness), but already they share his Spirit (John 16:13).
It is not necessary to have great knowledge or intelligence in order to become a Christian. But it is essential that each Christian should allow the Holy Spirit to teach him. 1 John 2:20 “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
Paul contrasts two different kinds of people here; The Natural man and The Spiritual man.
The first kind of person has life that comes from this world (2:14). He is not allowing God’s Holy Spirit to teach him in the manner that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 2:13. Instead, this person follows the opinions and attitudes that he has learned from this world. As we saw in 1 Corinthians 2:12, those opinions and attitudes really come from the devil. So the things that the Holy Spirit wants to teach seem foolish to this person.
The second kind of person has life that comes from the Holy Spirit (2:15). God teaches this person by means of the Holy Spirit. So, this person can understand what God is doing (2:9-10). And this person even does things by the power of the Holy Spirit that other people cannot understand. That is possible because the Holy Spirit guides this person (John 3:8; Acts 1:8, Rom.8:14).
Paul’s question in vs 16 comes from Isaiah 40:13. ‘Who knows God’s thoughts?’ he asks. We expect the answer ‘nobody’. But that is not Paul’s answer. Only someone who has God’s Spirit can understands God’s thoughts (2:11). But Christ has given his Holy Spirit to his people (John 16:5-15). So now, they think as Christ thinks. In other words, they have the mind of Christ.
Conclusion: The Christian life can only be lived successfully in the power and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to depend on and walk with Him daily.
Friday, February 10 2017
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
In verses 18-25, Paul reminds the church that those who are status seekers will never gain recognition and status from the unbelieving world. The gospel does not appeal to human pride; it cannot even co-exist with it. The gospel informs us that there is only one thing to do with pride—crucify it. The “word of the cross,” that is, the gospel, is not a status symbol to unbelievers; it is an offense. For those of us who “are being saved,” the gospel is the power of God. For the unbeliever, the cross is a shame; for the Christian, the cross is glorious. Let us see Romans 1:16 also.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
The conflict between divine wisdom and power and the secular world’s view of the matters of the cross should come as no surprise. Throughout history God has worked in ways that the world would never have imagined or believed. God’s purpose in history is not to glorify man but to glorify Himself by demonstrating the foolishness of man’s wisdom. The text which Paul cites in verse 19 is one indication of God’s intention of proving man’s wisdom to be folly.
“Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvellous work among this people, a marvellous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” – Isaiah 29:14
This verse shows that God has always worked in a way that is contrary to human wisdom. The following questions and acts of God are proofs.
No wonder, a man of faith will still be joyful even in the face of adversity. Why?
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Does the world think that God’s wisdom is foolish? God has set about a course that will prove man’s wisdom to be foolish. God will use foolishness to prove the ungodly to be fools. Since the world has not come to know God through its wisdom, God will make Himself known to some through means which the world regards as foolish. God has chosen the cross of Christ as the means whereby men may be saved from their sins. Have you ever seen the look on the face of an unbeliever when you tell him or her that Christ died and took their sin away over 2000 years ago? You sound weird and crazy.
Jews and Gentiles may agree on few things, but they mutually hold that the cross of Christ is foolish. The Jews are into power through signs and wonders. All through our Lord’s life, they wanted to see signs and wonders. They expected their Messiah to be a wonder worker, here to do their bidding. Even the disciples bought into this frame of mind, so that Peter rebuked the Lord for speaking of His cross (Matthew 16). The Gentiles were into a different kind of power—mind power, human wisdom. They took pride in following great intellectual thinkers or powerful orators. The message of a humble carpenter’s son, who died as a common criminal on a Roman cross, was not that which the Gentiles sought.
There are two radically different views of the same gospel. The view of the unbeliever, whether Jew or Gentile, is that the gospel is foolish and weak. The view of the Christian is that the gospel is the wisdom and the power of God. Even that which seems to the unbelieving eye to be God’s weakness and foolishness proves in the end to cause man’s wisdom and power to pale in insignificance.
“Look at yourselves,” Paul challenges the Corinthians. Granting the possibility of a few exceptions, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the rule. By and large, the church is not composed of the wise, the mighty, or the noble, when judged by fleshly (unbelieving) standards (verse 26). Instead, God has chosen to save the foolish, the weak, and the base and despised, the “nobodies”. The word “chosen” in verse 27 is very significant, because it underscores that God chose those on the lowest rung of the social ladder. It was not that these were all that would come to God; it is that these are those whom God ordained to come to Him. It was not that God could do no better; it was that God chose not to do better. Are you not glad you were chosen?
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” – Ephesians 1:4
Following the principle set down in verse 19, Paul explains why God selected the undesirables of this world for salvation. God has purposed to nullify the wisdom of the wise and to humble the proud. He has chosen to do so by employing means and people that the world rejects as weak and foolish and worthless. God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, the weak things of this world to shame the strong, the base and despised things to humble that which is highly esteemed (verses 27-28).
God has not done this because the weak and foolish are any better than the powerful and the proud. He has set aside the highly regarded and employed those things which are disdained so that all the glory might come to Himself and not to mere men. This is the concluding point Paul makes in verses 29-31. If God were to achieve His purposes through the worldly wise and powerful, we would be inclined to give the praise and glory to the men He has used rather than to God.
How often, when men seek to evangelize the lost, or when they attempt to motivate Christians (and unbelievers) to give or to serve, do they appeal to human pride? They glorify certain tasks and positions, so that people will fill them for that glory. They publicly laud the gifts or service of people, so that they will be proud of their contribution. Gospel thinking requires us to do just the opposite. We must cease trusting in our goodness, in our works or efforts, in our worthiness, and cast ourselves on the sinless Son of God who died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sin, and giving to us His righteousness as a free gift. The gospel which saves is the gospel which humbles, and that humbling gospel is the basis for Christian unity and harmony.
Friday, February 10 2017
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Last week, we started with the introduction of the books of 1&2 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians was written by Paul in respond to the moral failures of the Corinthian Church. He provided an important model on how the church should handle the problem of sin and other important issues which was misunderstood by the Church. We must have it behind our mind, as we progress in this studies, that the Corinthian Church was a gentile (Non Jewish) Church.
Today, we are looking at the first seventeen verses of chapter one. Paul started with salutation to the Church, followed by commending them that they came short in no spiritual gifts. He then addressed the issue of division in the Church.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, by the will of God, was the apostle to the gentiles (Non-Jews) and brought the gospel to Corinth (Acts 18:1-8,11). The Church in Corinth was the fruit of his ministry (1 Corin. 9:2; 2 Corin. 3:1-4). He wrote with full authority. His words were not to be ignored.
Paul defined the Church as;
(a) “those who are sanctified (Made Pure) in Christ Jesus, called to be saints (Holy),”
(b) “all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
We clearly see that the Church consist of those who are sanctified in Christ (Blood washed) and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Pray in the name of Jesus our Lord). This is the best way to define those who are members of the Church of Christ and not just members of a local assembly.
Paul emphasised their connection with other Christians, both in Corinth and elsewhere. Some groups in Corinth were acting as if they were the only real Christians (Corin.1:11-12, 14:36).
Paul’s epistle, though addressed to the saints at Corinth, was also written to the church at large (all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours). That is, Paul’s teaching to the saints at Corinth is just as applicable and just as authoritative for the church at Philippi, Ephesus, London, Dublin, Lagos and anywhere in the world (1 Corin. 4:16-17).
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The normal expectation, based on the reports Paul got about the Church, will be to start with rebuke, but Paul was kind to them and he wrote to them in a gentle manner. He knew that they had not been Christians for a long time. Here is a church that has begun to listen to false teachers and who is challenging Paul’s authority. Here is a church which condones immorality and “unconditionally accepts” a man whose sin shocks the unbelieving pagans of that city. Here is a church whose personal conflicts are being aired out before unbelieving eyes in secular courts. How can Paul possibly give thanks?
This should be our attitude toward baby Christians. We should correct them in love (Gal.6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”)
God’s grace to the saints in Corinth and everywhere was boundless. He enriched them in everything. They were enriched in all speech and all knowledge. The Corinthians had no critical need for which God had not made provision through the apostolic preaching of Christ. God had already provided all that was necessary for “life and godliness” in Christ (2 Pet.1:2-4). No gift was lacking in the church. God had provided just the right gifts for the growth and maturity and ministry of the saints in Corinth. If the church at Corinth was failing, it was not due to any failure on God’s part to provide for their needs, but rather a failure on their part to appropriate these means.
God had begun to do his work in their lives. And Paul was confident that he could trust God to complete that work (Phil. 1:6). God had given them a real relationship with Christ.
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”
There are problems of division in the church which are wide spread and widely known. The quarrels and dissension are due to a party spirit on divisions which focus on personalities—individuals with which certain members have identified—to the exclusion of others. Every one of Paul’s examples is of a person who identifies with a particular person, and thus who stands aloof from others. Each says, “I am of Paul or of Apollos or Cephas or Christ.”
The problem as it is introduced here is a “follower problem” rather than a “leader problem,”
The root problem underlying the Corinthian quarrels and factions is pride. We see this clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corin.4:6. Paul reminded the people in all these groups that Christians belong to Christ. It was Christ who died to save them.
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Paul takes us to the core question: Is salvation about the work of men or about the work of Jesus Christ? All four of the groups mentioned by Paul in verse 12 were man-centred. The fourth group was a little more subtle about it, but all of these individuals took pride in themselves, based upon their perceived allegiance. Paul wants to make the point clear and unmistakable: Our salvation is totally about Christ’s work. Those who are man-centred need to be reminded of the gospel and of their salvation, to recall that salvation is Christ-centred. Christ has not been divided, so how can His body, the church, be divided? It was not Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or any other mere man who died on the cross of Calvary; it was Christ whose shed blood cleansed us from all sin.
Conclusion: Jesus assigned each of us to specific assignments in the body like Paul, Apollos and any of the leaders in the Church. They are not to be hero worshiped or become sources of division
Friday, February 10 2017
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
This year we will be studying the two “official” letters written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. Although the Corinthian letters were addressed to a single church and were concerned primarily with local problems existing at that time, they should be of special interest to you and I as seekers of truth and those who want to please the Father.
Paul wrote the 2 letters to the Corinthian church popularly known as 1 & 2 Corinthians.
Paul’s authorship of the first epistle is widely accepted in the scholarly community, though it was not the first letter Paul wrote to the Corinthian people (see 1 Corinthians 5:9). We know that the Corinthians misunderstood an earlier letter from Paul (5:10–11), though that letter has not survived. Therefore, it is Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians that we know as 1 Corinthians—the first letter to the Corinthians that God inspired.
Four years prior to writing the letter we know as 1 Corinthians, the apostle had spent eighteen months in Corinth, so he was intimately familiar with the church and many of its congregants. The recipients of the letter must have understood the letter’s significance, not only to their own circumstances but for the church worldwide. In AD 95, Clement, the bishop of Rome, wrote a letter of his own to the Corinthians in which he invoked the authority of Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians. Only a few decades after its origin, this letter to the Corinthians had travelled outside of Corinth and was considered authoritative beyond its initial Corinthian context.
Paul had been in Ephesus for more than two years on his third missionary journey when he received a disturbing report of quarrelling within the Corinthian church, a report he received from people associated with one of its members, Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11). The church he had founded so recently (Acts 18:1–17) had already developed deep divisions, a situation that required immediate action. Paul penned his letter in AD 55, just as he was planning to leave Ephesus for Macedonia (1 Corinthians 16:5–8).
WHY THIS LETTER IS IMPORTANT TO US
First Corinthians contains a frank discussion of the church and the issues that impacted real people in the first century. The Corinthian church was corroded with sin on a variety of fronts, so Paul provided an important model for how the church should handle the problem of sin in its midst. Rather than turn a blind eye toward relational division and all kinds of immorality, he addressed the problems head on. In his bold call to purity within the Corinthian church, Paul made it clear that he was willing to risk the good opinion of some in order to help cleanse the sin that tainted the church.
First Corinthians addresses reports that Paul received from Chloe’s household, as well as a letter he received from the church itself (1 Corinthians 7:1). In this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul covered a number of different issues related to both life and doctrine: divisions and quarrels, sexual immorality, lawsuits among believers, marriage and singleness, freedom in Christ, order in worship, the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and the right use of spiritual gifts; he also included a profound teaching on the resurrection.
The line of thought that joins these topics together was Paul’s emphasis on Christian conduct in the local church. The apostle expected that Christian people would live according to Christian ideals, or as he told them, “You have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body” (6:20).
Corinth was a large, international metropolis, filled with people from different backgrounds. Idol worship to gods such as Aphrodite was particularly prominent in the city, though Corinth contained numerous temptations far beyond her temples. In this sense, Corinth was very much like a modern urban area, containing unending opportunities to engage in sinful behaviour without any apparent consequences.
Such a community clearly had a negative influence on the Corinthian church. But notice that Paul’s instruction to the believers was not to retreat from their city. This was not Paul’s vision for the church then or now. Instead, he directed us to live out our commitment to Christ ever more faithfully in the midst of nonbelievers. Paul expected that we Christians would shine our light into the dark places of their world by worshiping in a unified community that was accountable to one another. He expected that we would settle our problems internally, that we would encourage one another in the pursuit of purity, and that we would strive together by holding tightly to the hope of
our bodily resurrection to come.
Paul wrote 2 Corinthians at a vulnerable time in his life. He had learned that the church at Corinth was struggling, and he sought to take action to preserve the unity of that local body of believers. The letter is riddled with personal comments as Paul revealed details about the persecution he had suffered for the sake of Christ as well as about a mysterious thorn in the flesh that kept him reliant on God.
After sending Timothy off from Ephesus to deliver the letter of 1 Corinthians, Paul, in his concern for the church, made a quick visit of his own to Corinth. Afterward, Paul returned to his work in Ephesus, where he wrote a sorrowful letter to the Corinthians that has not been preserved (see 2 Corinthians 2:1–11; 7:8). Paul then departed for Macedonia. Once there, he received a good report from Titus regarding the Corinthians (7:13), which led Paul to write a fourth letter to them, titled “2 Corinthians” in the Bible. The apostle composed this letter near the end of AD 56, possibly in the city of Philippi.
WHY THIS LETTER IS IMPORTANT TO US
This letter offers a great deal of personal insight into Paul’s life that is not present in any other New Testament book. However, in chapters 8 and 9, his letter also clearly reveals God’s plan for His people to give to others. Paul first focused on the generous example of the Macedonian churches, largely Gentile, who gave to their Jewish Christian brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Then he exhorted the Corinthian believers to make donations of their own to the work in Jerusalem. Several realities about Christian giving become clear in these two chapters: Christians give generously according to, and at times beyond, their financial abilities; Christians give their money across racial and national lines; Christians who make commitments to give should follow through with those promises; and Christians should give cheerfully, rather than under compulsion.
The church at Corinth had recently been struggling with divisions and quarrels. But for a majority of the believers, the problem had been solved by the time Paul wrote 2 Corinthians. Many had repented of their sinful ways and had come back into unity with one another and with the leadership of Paul.
However, Paul still felt the need to articulate a defence of his apostleship and his message. Some in the church had apparently taken his meekness among them to be a sign of moral weakness or lack of authority (2 Corinthians 10:1–2). These accusations led Paul to defend himself by arguing that he was on the same level of importance as the other apostles, that he had deep knowledge of the Christian faith, that he had suffered profound physical punishment in the name of Christ, and that he had received visions and revelations from God (11:1–12:13).
Just as Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the wake of their repentance from divisions and quarrels, the message for today is clear: living in unity requires us to humbly forgive one another and to follow our leaders. Second Corinthians reminds us that even as Christians, we hurt each other and need to forgive those who wrong us (2 Corinthians 2:7). That Paul was willing to exhort the Corinthian believers to forgive those who had fallen away and repented, even as he defended his own apostleship against a vocal opposition, illustrates the apostle’s commitment to this way of life among God’s people.
In what ways do you struggle to forgive others and/or to follow your godly leaders? An overinflated sense of ourselves often leads us to strike out on our own or hold on to our frustration and anger regarding the choices of others. However, just as Paul reminded us of Jesus’s ministry of reconciliation (5:17–19), we must seek to reconcile relationships in which disunity reigns. Look out for the pitfall of disunity with leaders and other believers in your own life while striving to live among all people in humility.
This overview of 1 & 2 CORINTHIANS was culled from Charles Swindoll’s Insight for Living Website