Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Sixty-five: Paul writes 2 Corinthians - Part two   Restitution of All Things
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Chapter Sixty-five:

Paul writes 2 Corinthians - Part two


                       THE BOOK OF ACTS 
                              and
                       RELATED EPISTLES

              PAUL WRITES 2 CORINTHIANS - Part two


PERTINENT COMMENTS

CHAPTER SIX

     Paul pleads with the Corinthians not to accept the grace of
God in vain. For it was their time to be called of God, and he
quotes from Isaiah 49:8. It was "A" time of salvation as the
Greek and Hebrew are. There will be salvation offered to millions
yet in the future, but for the Corinthians it was the offer of
salvation for them, it was their time of salvation.

     Then Paul once more gives proof of his ministry and others
like him, by going over many of the trials, tests and troubles,
even physical matters that went as far as imprisonment and
floggings, and they still gave out the word of truth with
knowledge, longsuffering, kindness, sincere love, by the power of
the Holy Spirit, and by the armor of righteousness, by honor and
sometimes dishonored by people. They had good reports said of
them, and evil reports said by others, as well as called
deceivers, but yet they were true teachers. 
     Paul went on with more to prove their right as true
ministers of God. You may want to read it in a modern New
Testament translation (verses 1-13).

     In verses 14-18, he calls for purity of association, be it
single people marrying, or business association. This section is
more than just talking about people you have to work with, if it
was, then to follow this instruction you would have to go out of
the world in seclusion or communes of Christians, and Jesus never
taught that idea (that some indeed practice), for Jesus prayed to
the Father (John 17) that God would NOT take them out of the
world, but keep them from evil. So this injunction by Paul cannot
be talking about having nothing to do with the unconverted in a
secular working situation. It must have to do with VERY CLOSE
ties in things like business partnerships, and yes, in single
Christians not marrying people who are atheists, or anti-God in
an open manner of word and practice. For as Paul says, "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 in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my
people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate,
says the Lord .... And .... I will be a Father to you, and you
shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (verses
14-18).

CHAPTER SEVEN

     Paul now wants to lift them up if they were getting beaten
over the head and downcast with some of his corrections to them,
especially correction from his letter to them that we call 1
Corinthians. He tells them about when they came into Macedonia
and had all kinds of troubles come upon them (the "them" is still
he and those working with him in God's work), and then Titus came
from them to him, and told him how repentant they were, how
desirest they were to do the right thing, and their fervent
attitude of mind towards himself - Paul. 
     He realizes the epistle he sent them made them agonize in
sorrow, and was somewhat sorry he sent it because it may not have
produced what he hoped it would produce in their lives, but now
he feels he need not be sorry he sent it, because it did produce
good results, though they were made downcast for a time. He now
rejoices, not in their being downcast but that "hanging their
heads low" did produce real repentance, and so no permanent
damage in a negative way  resulted by his letter to them.
     He was sure their repentance was true godly repentance, for
it would produce steadfast positive change in their minds and
practices. He knew the repentance or sorrow of the unconverted
world only led to death, but he was confident their repentance
was the godly type.
     He tells them they really had this true repentance because
of the "carefulness"  the  "admittance of errors"  the 
"indignation" against sin,  the  "vehement desire"  the  "zeal" 
to do the right thing, and go the right way, and so they had
proved themselves in the sight of God.
     He gets specific about the man who was practicing immoral
sexual sin (1 Cor.5) and says he got "tough" with them on the
matter because he cared for them ALL, not only for the man
sinning, but for them all. 

     Titus was full of joy in them and their zeal to go God's
way, and this made Paul and those with him even MORE joyful,
because Titus was so overjoyed.  He probably was very
apprehensive about going to them, after Paul had written that
epistle to them and pulled no punches in correcting them.  But he
found that they really had taken it to heart and were zealous to
amend their ways and mind-set, and to go forward in the
pathway of righteousness.
     He tells them that he boasted to Titus about the Corinthian
church, and that his boasting of them to Titus is the very truth
of the matter. And Titus was then even more inwardly affectionate
towards them, and how vivid he remembered their respectfulness
towards him when he came to them.

     Paul rejoiced that he had great confidence in them in all
matters of Christian living (verses 1-16).


CHAPTER EIGHT

     Paul tells them of the generous free giving of those in
Macedonia, to aid the Christians who needed help. They went over
and above all expectations, and were eager to help, and
especially in that they first dedicated themselves to the Lord
and to Paul and his helpers for whatever God desired, might be
done.
     He was going to send Titus back to them to encourage them to
complete their giving.  Paul was not against using some
"psychology" with people, for he tells them they excel in many
ways, they had faith, gifted speakers, much knowledge, and
enthusiasm. He now wanted them to excel in giving, but giving
from the heart. He did not say they "had" to give, but points out
other churches were eager to do it. He tells them how Jesus was
full of love and kindness, and that He gave Himself so they could
be rich.
     The Corinthians had started to give about a year earlier and
Paul wanted them to finish what they started. In fact it was they
who proposed the idea to give to help the brethren in in need. He
points out it is not how much you can give but the attitude in
giving what you can. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. God does
not expect you to give what you do not have. But he tells them
they did have at this time, much they could give, to help others,
and then one day when they may need help, others will help give
to them. Then he quotes Exodus 16:18 to them, "He that gathered
much had nothing left over, and he that had gathered little had
no lack."

     Paul now moves back to Titus, and tells them that he had the
same enthusiasm for them as he himself had. He was willing and
welcomed the request that he visit them again. Paul says that
another brother will accompany Titus. This brother is highly
praised in other churches, and was appointed to company them as
the offering is taken to the saints, and also to guard against
any suspicion, for they were anxious that no one could find any
fault in the way they were handling the generous gift to help
needy brethren.
     Paul also tells them that another third man will accompany
Titus and the second man, has been tried and tested and proved to
be faithful, and that he has great confidence in the Corinthians.
We are never told the names of these two other brothers that
would travel with Titus.

     He tells them that if anyone asks about Titus, they can say
of a truth that he is Paul's partner, co-worker, in serving them.

As for the two other brothers they can say that they are apostles
(as the Greek is) of the Church of God, and they are splendid
example of those who bring glory to Christ.
     
     He finishes this section, by encouraging them to show much
love to these three men, and to prove to all the churches that
the boasting of Paul and his helpers, about the Corinthian
brethren, is very justified (verses 1-24).

CHAPTER NINE

     Paul explains why he is sending the three men. He once more
uses some wise "psychology" - he tells them he knows the zeal
they have to continue the giving that they started a year ago. He
tells them he has boasted about their zeal to many others, but so
the boasting will not come back on him in a negative way, he
wants them to be ready. For he says, if some from Macedonia come
with him and should find they were not prepared with their gifts
to serve the saints, then him and his partners would be hanging
their heads in shame and embarrassment. The three men coming to
them would then, beforehand (before he and those from Macedonia
came to them), help prepare their gifts for the saints (verses
1-5).

     He then gives a nudge that is both positive and negative,
depending which side of the fence you are on. He says:

     "He which sows sparingly shall reap sparingly; and he which
     sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man
     according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give: not
     grudgingly, or because he feels somewhat forced to give, for
     God loves a cheerful giver. And then God is able to make all
     favor abound towards you; that you, always being blessed
     with many things, can abound to every good work. As it is
     written, 'He has given out abroad; he has given to the poor:
     his righteousness will remain and be noted and praised by
     others' (Ps.112:9)" (verses 6-9).

     Paul tells them that the giving to help the saints at this
time of their need, will give great praise to God from all who
see it and are involved in the whole situation. People will see
they are subject to the Gospel of Christ, and will praise God.
These people will keep them in their prayers, for the nature of
the Lord that is in them (verses 10-14).

     It is indeed a part of the very nature of God and Christ to
help, to serve, to give to others, when in need, be it spiritual
or physical.

     Paul then ends this chapter by reminded them (more good
psychology used here) of the ONE gift from God that can hardly be
put into words. Of course they would know what Paul was referring
to - the gift of the life and sacrifice of God's Son - Christ
Jesus - for their sins and for their salvation. So giving some
physical gift to help saints in need, would hardly then seem to
be any big deal at all.

CHAPTER TEN

     Paul tells them he is pleading with them in gentleness as
Christ would. Some were saying Paul was bold in his letters but
timid in person, but if necessary when he came to them, he would
be very bold towards those who thought he acted from just human
motives. He says that they use God's great weapons to fight the
battle of destroying the Devil's strongholds. And with those
weapons they destroy the carnal ideas of the ones who lead them
away from the truth. 
     Paul pleads with them to know that he and those with him,
are of Christ, and they should not look on the outward
appearance.  He wanted them to know that his writings were not an
attempt to use "scare tactics" on them, for some had told them
that they need not fear Paul, although his letters were strong
and demanding, in person he was weak, and not at all an eloquent
speaker. He tells them that if needed his personal presence will
also be forceful and demanding (verses 1-11).

     
     The rest of this chapter is worth a full quote from the "New
Living Translation"  Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois,
USA.

     "Oh, don't worry; I wouldn't dare say that I am as wonderful
     as these other men who tell you how important they are! But
     they are only comparing themselves with each other, and
     measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness! But we
     will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to
     stay within the boundaries of God's plan for us, and this
     plan includes our working there with you. We are not going
     too far when we claim authority over you, for we were the
     first to travel all the way to you with the Good News
     of Christ. Nor do we claim credit for the work of someone
     else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow
     and that our work among you will be greatly enlarged. Then
     we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other
     places that are far beyond you, where no one else is
     working. Then there will be no question about being in
     someone else's territory. As the Scripture say, 'The person
     who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has
     done' (Jer.9:24). When people boast about themselves, it
     doesn't count for much. But when the Lord commends someone,
     that's different!" (verses 12-18).

CHAPTER ELEVEN

     Paul asks them to allow him to continue speaking as a fool.
We begin to see Paul used "tongue in cheek" or "sarcasm" at
times. There can be times, maybe not too often, but at times it
is quite proper to use "sarcasm" - the context is, as we shall
clearing see in this chapter, addressing the claims of boastful,
arrogant, "religious teachers" who were not really of God but
FALSE apostles, DECEITFUL workers, transforming themselves as
to LOOK like apostles of Christ, but were really the workers for
Satan, who can come looking like the light of righteousness
(verses 13-15).
     
     Paul had led them to Christ, but was now fearing they would
be led astray. Again the "New Living Translation" makes it all
very plain:

     "But I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure
     and simple devotion to Christ; just as Eve was deceived by
     the serpent. You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you,
     even if they preach about a different Jesus than the one we
     preach, or a different Spirit than the one you received, or
     a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. But I
     don't think I am inferior to these 'super apostles.' I may
     not be a trained speaker, but I know what I am talking
     about. I think you realized this by now, for we have
     proved it again and again (verses 3-6).

     Paul reminds them that he served them at no cost, it didn't
cost them a dime, as he was supported by other churches and by
himself working at a secular job. And this fact Paul took some
glory in.
     He plainly tells the Corinthians that those he is now
speaking about are FALSE apostles, and that they have fooled them
by disguising themselves as light and righteousness, but he is
not surprised for Satan himself can come looking like a "night in
shinning armour sitting on a white horse"  so to speak (verses
13-15).


     Those false apostles wanted to "boast" - so Paul say he will
also. 

     "I don't think I've lost my  wits in talking like this to
     you, even if you think so, please listen to me. Bragging is
     not what the Lord wants, but I'm acting as a fool," Paul
     went on to say with tongue in cheek. "since some want to
     boast about their human achievements, then so will I, for it
     seem you enjoy listen to fools." 

     Can you see the "sarcasm" just flowing out of Paul's mouth?
Yes it was, and sometimes in dealing with false ministers it must
be this way. Some of the prophets used derision and sarcasm
against false priests and prophets (see Elijah with the prophets
of Baal in 1 Kings 18).

     "You even put up with these false minister guys when they
     make you their slaves, and take all kinds of things from
     you, take advantage of you, and in a figure of speech,
     slap you in the face. Hummm, I'm ashamed to say, we were not
     strong enough to do that,"  continues Paul with irony,
     ridicule, and scoffing, in his tone of voice. 

     "Okay they want to boast do they, well I can join in that
     game. They claim they are Hebrews, so am I. They say they
     are Israelites, so I am also. They claim descent from
     Abraham, I too can claim that. They say they serve Christ,
     now I'm really speaking  like a mad man, but I have served
     Him much more. I've worked harder, been put in jail more
     often, been whipped more times, five times the Jews flogged
     me, each time 39 lashes. I've been beaten with sticks three
     time, once nearly stone to death. I've been shipwrecked, and
     spent a whole night and day adrift in the sea. I've
     travelled more than they, been in danger from flooded rivers
     and robbers. I've faced danger from Jews and Gentiles, in
     cities, in deserts, on the seas, and from men who claimed to
     be serving Christ but were sure not. I had many a sleepless
     night, be in physical pain, and weariness, I've gone hungry,
     and thirsty, and sometimes been shiveringly cold, not having
     enough clothes. Then to add to all this, I've had the care
     of and concern of many churches on my mind and how they are
     maturing and getting along with each other. Well, if I'm
     going to boast it is better I boast about how weak I am,
     just a human man, who can feel all the discomfort and
     physical pain I've had to endure. God knows I tell the
     truth, praise be to Him. When I was in Damascus they were
     setting a plot to catch me, but I was lowered in a basket
     from the city wall, and I escaped from that evil they
     desired to do to me" (verses 16-33).

CHAPTER TWELVE

     Paul admits that all this boasting" was foolishness, but as
they seemed to like some foolishness he would continue with if
for a while. He tells them he knew a man (probably speaking about
himself) that was caught up to the THIRD heaven (yes the Bible
speaks of three heavens, our atmosphere heaven, the heaven of the
starts, and the heaven where God lives), he did not know if he
was literally there in body or in the minds-eye, or vision. But
he saw and heard things that just cannot be uttered with the
human voice. He tells them that that experience is indeed worthy
of boasting about, yet he will not dwell on such as that, but on
his weaknesses. And he says he has plenty of them to boast about
that would not be foolishness. 
     He did not want anyone to think more highly about himself
than they should, even with all the great miracles he had done
and wonders he had seen. In fact he tells them, that to keep
himself humble, God had given him a "thorn in the flesh" -
something that was pretty well a constant torment to him. We are
never told what it was. Some have speculated it was bad eye
sight, maybe pain in the eyes, or others things, but the simple
fact is no one knows what it was. And there is no need really to
know. It is enough to know it was some kind of a "thorn in the
flesh" and it kept him in a constant remembrance that he was very
much flesh and blood.
     Paul had prayed three different times, asking God to remove
this thorn, but the final answer came to him that it would not be
removed, yet God would give help to him to endure it. He writes
that God's specific words were, "MY gracious favor is all you
need. My power works best in your weaknesses."
     He was glad to then boast in his weaknesses, his hardships,
insults, persecutions, calamities. For through his weakness he
was made strong, and it all led to Christ's benefit in His
Gospel.

     He tells them they have made him act like a fool in saying
these things, but he tells them once more that he is not in any
way "inferior" to these so-called "super apostles" (a little
sarcasm coming out again). They should have known that when he
was with them for he gave proof of being a true apostle of God,
and sent by Him, to them. This was all evident in the signs and
miracles and wonders  he did among them.
     He is going to come a THIRD time to them, and does not want
any physical thing from them, only their spiritual grow. He gives
to them the analogy of "parent and children" - the parent gives
and takes care of the children, not so much the other way around.
He only wants to give himself to them, so they can be spiritually
mature. But he admits that the more he gives the less he is
loved. Then he says that some admit he was not a burden, but
still think he was sneaky and took advantage of them in sly,
tricky ways.  He answers that by telling them to look at the men
he sent to them, like Titus, and see if they acted sneaky and
tricky with them.  Of course they did not, and then those men and
himself are one, they act, and speak, as one. They work together
in the same way.
     He goes on to say they are not saying all this just to
defend themselves, but they speak as the servants of Christ.  God
is listening, and Paul and his companions do everything for their
benefit. He was still somewhat afraid that when he came to them
he would not find what he desired to find, and then they would
not like his response.  He was afraid he would find, jealousy,
anger, selfishness, backbiting, gossip, vain conceit, and
disorderly conduct. He was afraid to come and find that many had
not really repented at all, from impurity, sexual immorality, and
other lustful pleasures of the flesh (verses 1-21).

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

     This was the third time Paul was going to visit them, and it
was a true Old Testament verses that said, "The facts of every
case needed to be established by the testimony of two ot three
witness" (Deut. 19:15). He tells them that he had warned those
practicing gross sin, when he was there on his second visit. He
warns them again, that this coming time he will not spare
anything, but be open and blunt. He will give them all the proof
they want or would wish for, that Christ was very much in him and
speaks through him, and they knew Christ was a power in them from
the gifts of the Spirit among themselves. And Christ who was for
a moment weak in death, NOW lives today in the mighty POWER of
GOD! So, Paul and his fellow workers are weak in some ways as
human, but they lived in Christ, and POWER they sure had, if they
needed it to be used among the Corinthians.

     He tells them to EXAMINE themselves, to make sure they were
in THE FAITH, If they could not tell if Jesus was IN them, then
they had failed the examination test! He hoped they had realized
that he and those with him HAD PASSED the test, and were APPROVED
by God.
     He tells them that they will pray to God that those in
Corinth will not live the wrong way of life. Even if they think
Paul and his helpers have failed, they still wanted them live
the right way before the Lord. 
     He reminds them that he and the others never want to oppose
the truth but to stand for truth at all times. They wanted to see
the Corinthians restored to spiritual maturity.
     Paul tells them he is writing all this before he comes to
them, hoping he will not have to deal harshly with them when he
does arrive at Corinth. He wants to use his authority from Christ
only to build them up and not tear them down.

     I will end with Paul's last words of this epistle from the
"New Living Translation."

     "Dear friends (Greek "brothers"), I close my letter with
     these last words: Rejoice. Change your ways. Encourage each
     other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and
     peace will be with you. Greet each other in Christian love
     (Greek "with a sacred kiss"). All the Christians here send
     you their greetings. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
     the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be
     with you all."

                 ...........................

When I started on the "pertinent comments" of the two Corinthian
epistles, I did not plan on it being as long as it has turned
out. But I saw there was so much important teaching in these two
letters of Paul,  I could not  pass over them in too short a way.
All of the epistles of Paul, letters of other apostles, and the
book of Revelation, are after all, a part of the New Testament
Bible Story.

May 2004

TO BE CONTINUED 


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