Daily Bible Reading

Daily Bible Reading
WBF Building before the Great Fire of 1909

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Dec 3, 2 Cor 1-4

Today's readings are 2 Cor 1-4. Tomorrow's are 2 Cor 5-9.

2 Corinthians was written sometime between 55 and 56 AD. It is an intensely personal, somewhat autobiographical letter from Paul. Its primary theme is the tension between suffering and the power of the Spirit as it plays out in Paul's life. It is meant as an example of what it's like to truly live the Christian life.

While the Corinthian church had resolved many of the issues Paul addressed in his first letter, new false teachers arose, and they were having an influence on the church. They disputed the authenticity of Paul's apostleship, saying he had suffered too much to be a true apostle. Paul is concerned. If the church rejects his teaching on the suffering of Christ and the cross, then it is rejecting the gospel itself.

In 2 Cor 1, Paul gives thanks for the very suffering his opponents use to accuse his authority as an apostle. Paul maintains that suffering causes a believer to turn to God in a profound way. Any suffering a Christian endures will be used by God to produce direct, intimate communion with Him. The comfort that comes from that kind of relationship with the Lord would then be a testimony and a source of comfort to others who suffer in a similar fashion. In other words, the suffering a believer goes through should cause him to seek the Lord with fervor. Then, his deeper relationship with God would be an example of how God uses suffering to draw Hia people closer.

Paul has had to change his plans on visiting Corinth. His "Yes, yes." and "No, no" comments are to explain that he intended to come but had to submit to God's will which caused him to change his plans. Instead, he sent them a "tearful letter" addressing their new struggles. This infers that there was an additional message that was between 1 & 2 Corinthians. We do not have that letter. It has not been preserved as part of the canon and would not be if discovered. While being informative to their particular situation, it was not seen as authoritative or inspired by the new church or the apostles.

As a result of that tearful letter, the church had done well in punishing the leader of the previous uprising against Paul (2 Cor 2:5-11). Paul encourages them to embrace teaching that "spreads the aroma of Christ" and relies on the presence and power of the spirit rather than anything that elevates the teacher.

Paul makes it clear, in 2 Cor 3, that any influence he's had on the church is because of the power of the gospel and presence of the Holy Spirit. The church's changed and changing hearts are the evidence of the presence of the Spirit and the authenticity of Paul's teaching.

Paul shuns cunning ways and refuses to "tamper with God's word" which seems to be the tactics of the false teachers and his accusers. Paul may be suffering and afflicted but has not lost heart because he has hold of the light that is the gospel. This should give the Corinthians hope. Any suffering or affliction they endure, like Paul, for the sake of the gospel, is only preparation for eternal glory. 

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