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He escaped this and decided to go on to Macedonia to meet Titus, who would be coming up through Macedonia on his return from Corinth. Paul could wait no longer for news, his anxiety over the Corinthians was so great. He also intended to raise some money there for the relief of the Christians in Jerusalem who were experiencing great difficulty because of a famine there. With these two concerns at heart, he went to Philippi in Macedonia. There he met Titus and received word that the sharp, caustic letter he had written had accomplished its work, and that the majority of the Corinthian Christians had repented of their rejection of his ministry and had begun to live again the life of Jesus Christ.

A minority was still unyielding, however, and still rebelling against the authority of the apostle. So, from the city of Philippi. Paul wrote the second letter to the Corinthians which expresses so much of the anxiety and agitation of the heart that he experienced. With that background you can understand something of the passion of the apostle as he writes. From the trouble, tears and heartache that is reflected in this letter come the three great themes which it embodies: the ministry within the church; giving and service, or ministration by the church; and the subject of authority, i.

When you read them through you will find that the first five chapters, particularly, are a wonderful explanation of what the ministry within the church ought to be. The apostle knew that the church at Corinth was failing to understand the true functions of ministers of Jesus Christ. As a result, they were waiting to obey the teaching of the true ministers of Christ -- Paul himself, Silas, Timothy, Titus and others who had come to them.

Because they were failing to obey the teaching of the Word of God, they were thus failing to fulfill the ministry in Corinth. That is why this church, which seemingly had everything, could do nothing in the city of Corinth. It is to correct this difficulty that these two letters were written. With that key, we can understand the reason for Paul's trouble, tears and his anxiety. In these opening chapters we get a great declaration of what the ministry ought to be. As Paul states in chapter three, for instance, it is not the ministry of the old covenant, but of the new.

In other words, the message is not the demand of the law upon people to compel them to follow certain rules and regulations. When Christianity becomes that it always becomes a deadly, stultifying, dangerous thing.

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Unfortunately, it has become just that among many, many people. Then it is no longer a matter of following an indwelling Lord, but simply a grim determination to try to follow certain rules and regulations -- demands that are made upon the flesh. As Paul says that -- that old covenant, exemplified by the Ten Commandments -- makes its appeal to us, and its demand upon us, but without an accompanying dynamic to fulfill it.

It is always a ministry of death. He goes on. This is the new arrangement for living, not the old grim determination to clench your fists and set your teeth and try to do what God wants you to do -- that is never Christianity -- but the realization that he has provided in you the Holy Spirit to minister to you the life of a risen Lord in whose strength and grace you can do all that life asks of you.

That is the new arrangement for living.


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In this section, therefore, he sets forth the resources of a Christian. First, there is the Word of God. Notice how he puts it in chapter four:. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

2 Corinthians: Bible Study and Commentary

We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word There is where the failure of the church lies in so many areas today -- clever, subtle tampering with the Word of God, undermining its authority, changing its message, ignoring its declarations, refusing to act upon the facts that are declared. Paul says we have renounced all this. Second, as I have already suggested, there is the indwelling treasure, the mysterious indwelling Spirit of God.

You see this in chapter 4, verse But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. It is not because of our personalities, nor that we are such clever, smart. It is obvious that what is happening is something far beyond what we can naturally do. We have this treasure in an earthen vessel in order to show that the power is not ours, but that it belongs to God.

With this, Paul links the principles of the Cross. This is the secret by which the power is released. Is your life this way? Are you showing the kind of life that can only be explained in terms of God at work in you? That is what Christianity really is. As people observe you, they should see the earthen vessel and say.

The kind of life this person is exemplifying can never be explained by the sort of stodgy, dull person he naturally is. Something else must be at work. You find it set forth in chapter 4, verse 10,.

2 Corinthians: An Introduction and Study Guide

That means always to accept God's judgment upon the flesh -- upon the natural life. He has judged it in the Cross and declared it to be worthless. Paul says, "I am always carrying about with me that sentence of judgment upon the natural life, in order that the life of Jesus, with all its glorious possibilities, might be manifest in me.

2 Corinthians: When I Am Weak, I Am Strong

In order that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. That is why you have difficulties. That is why tomorrow morning you may have a hard time at the office. Your boss may call you in and rip you up one side and down the other quite unjustifiably. If you whine to yourself, "Why does this kind of thing happen to me? Why does it always have to be me?


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What have I done to deserve this? You are put into these situations in order that you may react, not like the men and women of the world with resentment, bitterness, railing and fighting back, but, rather, in such a way that the life of Jesus might be manifest in your mortal flesh.

That is the secret of the new arrangement for living, and that is what Paul says is the glory of the Christian ministry and the Christian life. God has a great future ahead for us. The life we now live is the preparation for that life which is to come. Therefore, as he says,. This brings us into a face to face confrontation with a great scriptural declaration of the transforming character of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This good news does what nothing else can do. That is why Paul was never ashamed of it, in Corinth, Rome, or anywhere else, because it can do what nothing else in the world -- no philosophy, no line of argument, no education process, no reformation of any type -- can ever accomplish.

It is a transformation by the implantation of a new life. And he[Christ] died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.

Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians Review Questions Chapters

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Paul says that God has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation and "So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us" and declaring that he has already reconciled the world unto himself and that his message then to all men is "be ye reconciled unto God. In chapters eight and nine we have Paul's declaration of the ministrations of the church. The great discourse on giving was occasioned by the collection Paul was taking for the relief of the famine-stricken saints at Jerusalem.

Giving, he says, is to be the proof of love. Listen Now. 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 —11; Paul then departed for Macedonia. The apostle composed this letter near the end of AD 56, possibly in the city of Philippi.

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.

If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies. Sign up for our emails to find out about our authors, new releases, and special offers. The church in Corinth was a problem for the apostle Paul. So much so that, with a clear view of godliness balanced with an attitude of love and humility, he gently admonished them and corrected them by means of a letter—1 Corinthians.