A Message of Hope to a Church with Many Problems
An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
This commentary has yet to go through Advanced Theological Checking.
Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth less than a year after the first one. After he had sent the first letter, Paul went to Troas. There he hoped that he would meet Titus. Then Titus would be able to speak to Paul. A previous letter from Paul had contained strong words. These words might not have been welcome to the Corinthians. So, Titus would tell Paul how the words had affected the church. However, Titus was not in Troas, so Paul went to Macedonia.
He found Titus there. Titus then told him what he wanted to know. Some of the news was good and some was bad. When Paul first came to Corinth, he taught the true *gospel. But now some *believed a different *gospel. However, some had changed their behaviour. Paul had requested this in his first letter. But some of them opposed Paul’s authority and teaching.
This second letter explains Paul’s reasons for writing in such a severe way. Paul thinks that it was right for him to write like that. He tells them why he thinks that. He tells them too that God gave him the authority to write these things. He tells them also of all the work that he has done. He speaks too of the many dangers that he has met on his travels. The letter also gives advice. It is about having a *collection for the poor people in Jerusalem.
The letter is about how people should live together as a family. The Corinthians were not perfect people. But they wanted to live better lives. Paul had started the church in the first place. But the people had left him. Now they did not want to know him as a friend. Paul showed them the kind of person that a leader should be. He did not use his own strength and power. He knew that he was weak. He knew that he needed God’s help. But there was a great danger in this teaching. The people could have said, ‘You are a weak person. We do not want a weak person as our leader’. But Paul was not afraid of what they thought. Paul was able to show how God used his weakness. God used it to show his own *glory.
1:12-2:4 Paul’s change of travel plans
1:12-14 Paul defends his good name
1:15-2:4 Paul defends his change of travel plans
2:5-11 The Christians at Corinth should forgive the man who *sinned
2:12-13 Paul waits for Titus
2:14-17 The march that tells that Christ is the winner
3:1-3 Does Paul need to send a letter to approve himself?
3:4-6 *Ministers of the new *covenant
3:7-18 Two different *ministries
3:7-11 Paul explains Exodus 34:29-32
3:12-18 Paul explains Exodus 34:33-35
4:1-6 Paul describes his work
4:7-12 Things of great value in pots of *clay
4:13-15 The spirit of *faith
4:16-5:10 The purpose of *faith
4:16-18 We are not anxious
5:1-10 The house in heaven
5:11-7:4 Paul works for the return of healthy *fellowship
5:11-15 Paul replies to those who do not agree with him
5:16-21 God makes us right with himself through Christ
6:1-13 A request to the Corinthians to be friends again with each other
6:14-7:1 An appeal for holy lives
7:2-4 A further appeal to be friends again with each other
7:5-16 Paul’s joy that the trouble is over
8:1-6 The example of the Macedonians
8:7-15 Paul asks the Corinthians to be the best they can
8:16-24 Paul desires that those who receive the *collection will approve
9:1-5 Be ready and avoid shame
9:6-15 Paul asks the Corinthians to give as much as they can
10:1-6 A strong request
10:7-11 Paul replies to those who do not approve of his actions
10:12-18 The right and wrong way to speak with pride
11:1-6 The Corinthians should not *believe everything without question
11:7-15 Why Paul refuses payment for his work
11:16-12:13 The ‘fool’s talk’
11:16-21a Accept me as a fool
11:21b-33 Paul’s *Jewish parents and his troubles as an *apostle
12:1-10 Dreams and *visions
12:11-13 The evidence of a true *apostle
12:14-18 Paul refuses to put a load on the Corinthians
12:19-21 The purpose of the ‘fool’s talk’
13:1-10 Paul will come again with strong action
13:11-13 Final requests and greeting
13:14 The *blessing
Verses 1-2 This is the way that they used to write letters in Greece. First, came the name of the writer. Then came the name of the one who would receive the letter. Then followed a greeting.
Paul calls himself ‘an *apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God’. An *apostle was one who had seen the risen *Lord (1 Corinthians 15:3-10). That was how Paul understood it. God told Paul to *preach the *gospel (Galatians 1:11-12; 2:7). This happened when Paul was on the road to Damascus. Paul met with Jesus then (Acts 9:1-9). So Paul became an *apostle. Paul did not choose this himself. It was by God the Father’s will. The purpose of this choice was that Paul should *preach to the *Gentiles (Galatians 1.12, 16).
Other *ministers had come to Corinth. They did not agree with Paul’s teaching. So, Paul needs to tell the Corinthians that God had chosen him. Paul was a true *apostle. But this was only by the will of God.
Paul includes ‘Timothy our brother’ in this greeting. Paul met Timothy at Lystra. It was while he was on his second *missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy’s mother was a *Jew and his father was a Greek.
Paul sends the letter ‘to the church of God that is at Corinth’. The Greek word for church means a gathering of people. This is the word used for a meeting of the people of Ephesus (Acts 19: 39, 41).
A church in the *Old Testament was a large gathering. It was a large gathering of the people of God. They met to hear God’s word (Judges 20:2). The Christians of Corinth would have understood the word ‘church’ in this way. A church is a group of people. They know God in a special way. Paul often tells us that churches belong to God. Paul wants the best for them because they belong to God.
Paul refers to his readers as ‘*saints’. The word ‘*saints’ means ‘holy ones’. They may not have been very good people. This is how we would think of the word today. The truth was that they were not good people. They were not good in their *sexual behaviour. Even so, Paul addresses them as God’s ‘holy ones’. That is how God sees them. They should behave as God sees them. That is Paul’s desire. Achaia would be the larger area of country surrounding Corinth.
Paul wishes health and happiness to his readers. This was the usual practice in those times. Paul writes like this in six other letters. He changes the common Greek word for ‘greetings’ to a Greek word like it - ‘*grace’. ‘Peace’ is the same as the common *Jewish greeting ‘*shalom’. Paul brings the two together as a *blessing and a prayer. *Grace is free. We cannot earn it. It is not a reward for all the good things that we do.
Paul prays that his readers may know the free *blessing of God the Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ. This peace is with God and with each other. We have this peace with God through the death of Christ (Ephesians 2:13-18). Those who *believe then feel healthy and well. Peace is not just the absence of trouble. That is how the Greeks understood it. However hard our life might be, we can still know God’s peace. We have this peace when we do right and not wrong.
Verse 3 ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our *Lord Jesus Christ’. The *Jews prayed ‘Praise be to God’ or ‘Blessed be God’. This was how praises to God started in the *Jewish *synagogue. They prayed ‘You are blessed, *Lord our God and God of our fathers’. Now Paul describes God as ‘the Father of our *Lord Jesus Christ’. He shows a new understanding of God. God is our Father. We have this understanding through his Son whom he sent into the world (Galatians 4:4).
Paul had suffered much (1:8-9) and God had comforted him. Therefore, he blesses God as the Father. God is kind. He is the God of all comfort. God sent Jesus to rescue us from our *sins (Romans chapters 1-11). This is how God showed his kindness towards us.
Paul describes God as the God of all comfort. These are verses of *thanksgiving. This is Paul’s main subject here. The gods of the Greeks did not have feelings towards people. Our God is a personal God. He feels for us. We see this in Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). The *Old Testament uses the same word ‘comfort’. It says ‘Comfort, comfort my people’ (Isaiah 40:1). The *Holy Spirit is the *Comforter. It is the same Greek word. Between verses 3 and 7, Paul uses the word ‘comfort’ 9 times. It means more than being kind. It means being strong or bold. The God of all comfort gives us strength. He helps us to deal with the problems in our lives.
Verse 4 Paul certainly had many troubles. He speaks about many in this letter (1:8-10; 4:7-12; 11:23-29). God comforts us in different ways. He may remove the troubles (8-11). God took away Paul’s worry. That was when Titus joined him in Macedonia. But more often, God gives us the strength that we need. He gives us strength to get through our troubles. Comfort is the help and strength that God gives Paul in his troubles. That is Paul’s understanding of comfort.
Paul gives another reason why God comforts us in trouble. First God comforts us. Then we can use that comfort. We can comfort another person who is in trouble. God first helps us in our troubles. We can then help to make another person strong. So, in verse 6, Paul says to his readers, ‘if we are comforted, it is for your comfort’.
So comfort is a *blessing. We must not keep it to ourselves. We receive a *blessing from God. We then pass it to someone else. So, as we receive comforts from God, we pass them to other people.
Verse 5 Here Paul teaches unity between Christ and his *disciples. Christ knew that his *disciples would suffer (Mark 14:27). There was a time when Paul punished the Christians. Then the risen *Lord asked him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you cause me to suffer so much? Why are you against me?’ (See Acts 9:4.) So Christ’s *disciples share with Christ when they suffer. They also share in the comforts of Christ. All *blessings come from God. They then flow through Christ. These *blessings are like a glass with too much water in it. The water flows over the top.
Verse 6 The *Jews expected that one day God would comfort his people (Isaiah 40:1-11). This would happen when Christ came to the earth. So, Paul sees that this day has come. Now people will receive comfort and *salvation.
Paul adds to the thought in verse 4. Paul and his friends have had many troubles. God has comforted them. Then they pass this comfort to the Corinthians. The Corinthians will recognise this comfort. It produces good results in their lives. It helps them to be patient in their troubles. It helps them to continue and not to give up. We do not know what they suffered. They may have had troubles in their families. They may have had troubles in the church. Like us, they lived as Christians in an evil world. They suffered and had difficulties. Paul’s word would help them to understand their troubles. Now they would know that they could look to God for help. He would give them the *grace to win over their troubles.
Verse 7 Paul had many troubles with the church at Corinth. We see this in his first letter to them. But Paul could still say, ‘our hope for you is firm’. Paul had written them a severe letter. But still he has great hope for them. God himself will make them strong. This is the reason for their hope. We might ask how God will make them strong. As they suffer with Paul, God will comfort them. That is why Paul’s hope for them is so strong.
Verse 8 Paul writes further about his troubles. We do not know what these troubles were. He may have been very ill and nearly died. He had been in prison. He had been in a *riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41). He could have been writing about these events. However, we know one thing. Wherever Paul went, the *Jews opposed him. It was like this when he was in Ephesus. This may be what Paul writes about here. Paul’s troubles are like a heavy weight on him. The weight is so great that he cannot carry it any longer. Paul wants the Corinthians to know about all these troubles. We do not know what they were. But they were as great as anyone could imagine. The Corinthians must understand this. He thought that he could even have died. His troubles were so heavy.
Verse 9 Paul is trying to describe his feelings. Inside, he felt that he was about to die. God had given Paul a job. It was to tell the good news of Jesus to the *Gentiles. It now seemed that this work would end. To Paul this felt like death.
Abraham had felt like this when he nearly killed his son Isaac. But Abraham *believed that God could raise people from death (Hebrews 11:19). It was the same with Paul. This was Paul’s lesson. He must not depend on himself. He must depend on God. ‘God raises people from death’. Paul knew that God had raised Christ from death. So, God would raise Paul from his experience of death. He would also raise up with Christ all those who trusted him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). Paul understood more and more the meaning of death. So he learned a new, deep trust in God.
This is true of us. The weaker we feel, the more we shall experience the power of God. He is the one who raises us from death. Our God is a living God. He acts now as he has always acted. The God who raised the *Lord Jesus will raise us with him.
Verse 10 God has rescued us through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. He died for us upon the *Cross. One day he will free us. It will be when God raises us to be with Jesus. Paul hopes in God’s final and sure promise.
Many times God rescued Paul and his friends from dangerous situations. Once Paul escaped. Priscilla and Aquila helped him then. They, with Paul, were workers for Christ. They lived in Ephesus at the time of Paul’s troubles (Acts 18:24-19:1). The couple later moved to Rome. Paul writes about these dangers in his letter to the Romans. He thanks Priscilla and Aquila. They had risked their lives for him. All the churches of the *Gentiles were grateful. They were grateful to Paul and his friends (Romans 16:3-4).
We know that there were other times when the *Jews tried to kill Paul (Acts 20:3; 21:10-14; 23:12-15). So, Paul is confident that God will rescue him many times. We shall always have troubles. Paul tells us how we can win over them. Our rescue from death will one day be complete. It will come only through the *resurrection of Jesus Then we shall have peace for ever.
Verse 11 The prayers of Paul’s friends helped him in his troubles. ‘Many prayers’ in the Greek language means ‘many faces’. The idea could be of many faces looking up in prayer to God. So, many people will be able to thank God. This will be through the many faces turning to him in prayer. We may not be very rich. We may have little to give to our friends. But we can help them by lifting up our faces to God. We can work together with them through our prayers.
The prayer ends with thanks to God. When we pray, we should thank God. We should thank him for what he has done. We should also thank him for what he will do.
Verse 12 To *boast is to give an opinion about yourself and what you *believe. There is a wrong kind of *boasting. This is to speak with a wrong understanding of who you are. You also speak with a wrong understanding of what you can do. You depend on your own strength. However, there is a right kind of *boasting. It is to have an honest opinion about yourself. Your opinion comes from your relationship with God. It is about what God has done in you and for you. You are confident of what God can do through you (Romans 15:17-19).
There is something inside a person. It tells him what is right or wrong. That is how Paul understood conscience. It is an internal guide to behaviour. It comes from the highest understanding a person can have of right and wrong. *Sin has affected all human nature. *Sin has also affected this internal guide or conscience.
The understanding of right and wrong could be different for different people. Therefore, conscience cannot be the final judge of right and wrong. Someone may do something wrong. However, his conscience might tell him that it is right. Or someone may do something right. But his conscience might tell him that it is wrong. It may even be something that God says is right. The final judge of our actions is God himself. Paul did judge himself by his conscience. It told him that he was right. But that did not make it right. Only God can judge what is right (1 Corinthians 4:2-5). This does not mean that we should not listen to the voice of conscience. It is important to listen to your conscience (1 Timothy 1:19). It is possible to lose your *faith if you do not listen.
Paul had promised to visit the Corinthians. But for some reason, he had not done so. So, the Corinthians said that they could not trust him. Paul’s conscience tells him that his behaviour is right. His behaviour has been correct ‘in the world’. That means in every place that he has lived. On his first visit, Paul had spent 18 months among the Corinthians. So, he can say that his behaviour has been correct even more with them. This is because he was among them for so long. It was important that they did not doubt his behaviour. Paul brought the message. If they doubted Paul, they would doubt his message too.
Paul points to the difference between the world’s understanding and God’s *grace. The wisdom of the world depends on human thinking and understanding. It depends on the thoughts of clever people. Paul acts by the *grace of God. He trusts in the *Holy Spirit and the power of God. The *Holy Spirit told Paul what to do. It was not his human understanding.
Verses 13-14 The Corinthians said that they did not understand Paul. They did not understand why he wrote to them as he did. Paul did not agree with this. They should understand what he said. He says that there is no reason why they should not understand.
The Corinthians do not understand everything now. But one day they will understand. That will be ‘in the day of the *Lord Jesus’ That will be the day of final judgement. Then they will understand everything. Then they will be able to *boast in truth of Paul and his friends. Paul will also *boast of them. All will become clear.
Verses 15-16 Paul explains why he is certain that he was right. He was right to change his plans. His plan now is to visit them before he goes to Macedonia. Then he can visit them again. This will be on his return from Macedonia. His new plan meant that he would visit them more than once. He would visit them twice. So, he would bless them not once but twice. Further, they would be able to pray for him. They could bless him on his way to Judea.
Verse 17 The Corinthians thought that Paul was weak. They thought this because he changed his plans so easily. Paul asks them, ‘Do you think that I change my plans without thinking?’ ‘Do I make my plans like a man of the world?’ ‘Do I say yes and no at the same time?’ Paul expects the Corinthians to answer, ‘No, we would not expect you to act in that way’.
Verse 18 In *Old Testament times, a man might do something wrong towards his neighbour. He might steal a sheep. Perhaps no-one except God saw it. So the man would make an *oath. He would ask God to do something bad to him if he was lying. Paul is here making an *oath before God. What Paul says is true. That is what the oath is about. He had not said one thing to the Corinthians and then done something different. Jesus said something about making *oaths (Matthew 5:33-37). He did not say that a person should not make an *oath. He said that a person should not make an *oath wrongly. Paul makes *oaths often in his letters. What Paul is saying is important. He wants people to understand that it is important. That is why he makes an *oath.
Verse 19 This was a serious matter for Paul. Paul was telling the truth about his travel plans. It was important for the Corinthians to *believe this. The truth about the message of the *gospel was so important. Paul was telling the truth about it. Therefore, it was important that they knew this. So Paul reminds them of the message that Silas, Timothy and Paul himself *preached. It was the truth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus Christ is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ at the same time. He is ‘Yes’ and he has always been ‘Yes’. Jesus Christ does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever (Hebrews 13:8). The message of Jesus and the *Cross never changes.
Silas was one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church. There, at a meeting, they made decisions. Silas took these decisions to Antioch (Acts 15:22). He was with Paul on the second *missionary journey. Timothy was the son of a *Jewish Christian mother. His father was a Greek. He joined the team at Lystra (Acts 16:1-3).
Verse 20 God makes many promises in the *Old Testament. God keeps these promises in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ‘Yes’ of all God’s promises. Everything that the *Old Testament says will happen. It will happen in Jesus Christ. The *Old Testament is about Christ. It makes sense only when we understand it like that. The *Old Testament points us to Christ. God is saying this about Jesus Christ, his Son. He is his ‘Yes’ to every promise he has ever made.
We agree with what God has said. We agree when we say ‘*Amen’. We say, ‘Yes, it is true’. Jesus is the ‘Yes’. He is also the ‘*Amen’. Everything will come true through him in the end. This will be to the *glory of God. God’s promises will happen in our lives. It will be when we say ‘*Amen’ to them. We may then *glorify God for his *grace to us. We can approach God only in Christ and through Christ. There is no other way. *Sin keeps us away from God. But Christ brings us near to God.
Verses 21-22 Paul explains further why the Corinthians should trust him. He had changed his travel plans. He had not given a reason. However, this was no reason for them not to trust him. Paul had said one thing and done something different. But it was not very important in the circumstances. We might arrange to do something or to see someone. We should then keep that arrangement. Sometimes, however, we may not be able to do that. We do not always know all the facts. Our friends may seem not to keep their promise. But we must not become hard and bitter towards them.
‘Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ’ (verse 21). God himself says that he can trust Paul and those working with him. God himself puts Paul in the right place in Christ. He puts us there too. It is a good place to be.
Next Paul says that God has *anointed them. God chooses a person for a special work. He then *anoints that person. There is an example of this in the *Old Testament. God chose Samuel to *anoint Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:16). In the same way, the *Holy Spirit *anointed Paul and his friends. He *anointed them to *preach the *gospel.
Next, God had put his *seal on Paul and his friends. This showed that he was their owner. In those days a *seal was a person’s personal sign. If a letter was important, the writer would put his *seal on it. The *seal would show that the letter came from him. It did not come from someone else. The *seal would show that no-one had broken into the letter.
This *seal showed that Paul and his friends belonged to God. We belong to God. We do not own ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It is the same for all Christians. God puts the *seal of the *Holy Spirit upon us. A child will know that he has a father and mother. He will know that he belongs to the family. It is the same for a *believer. The *Holy Spirit tells a *believer that God is his Father. He also belongs to God’s family. The *seal of the *Holy Spirit shows that we are *believers.
Someone might buy something from another person. But he may not pay the full amount. He will pay part of the full payment. He will promise to pay the full amount later. This promise is a *guarantee. It means that the rest of the payment will come later. Paul says that the *Holy Spirit is the *guarantee. God has given this *guarantee to all *believers. One day God will give us everything that he has promised. That is the *guarantee. There will be a day when God will raise all *believers from death. We shall then see Jesus. God gives us the *seal (*guarantee) of the *Holy Spirit. He promises that he will keep us safe until that day. What God promises will happen.
Paul is certain that God has chosen him to *preach the *gospel. He is certain that God has given him his *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit will help Paul to do God’s work. Paul’s trust in God is real.
Verses 23-24 ‘I call God as my witness’. This again is an *oath. Paul had not visited the Corinthians. There was a reason for this. It could have been anything. Yes, there was a reason. But it was not the right one. It was that he might save them from pain. We do not know how he might have caused them pain. He does not tell us that. It does not seem to worry him. We see this in other verses (13:1-4, 10). It might be punishment for something that they had done wrong.
However, there is something that Paul does not want the Corinthians to think. He does not want them to think that he is giving them orders. Jesus tells us that ‘the kings of the *Gentiles want to rule over you. They want to give you orders. But it is different for you. Anyone who wants to become great among you, let him be your servant’ (Matthew 20:25-26). An *apostle or any *minister should be one who serves people. He does not give them orders. This does not mean that he should never speak. He should speak if they do wrong.
It is sometimes necessary to tell people that they are wrong. But that need not be a sad thing. Paul works to give the Corinthians joy. He wants to increase their joy. He wants to make them happy people.
Paul wants the Corinthians to be firm in their *faith. That is why he does not rule over them. The Corinthians came to *faith in Jesus Christ through Paul’s work. Now they have their own personal *faith. They keep their *faith by the power of God. Every *believer has his own personal *faith in God. He is responsible only to God. Paul does not want to separate himself from the Corinthians. He does not want to seem to be distant from them. He wants to be one with them. They need him to help them. He needs them to help him.
Verse 1 So Paul decided not to visit the Corinthians again. For that would cause them pain. Paul had planned to visit the Corinthians twice. The first visit was on his way to Macedonia. The second was on his return from Macedonia (1:15-16). The first visit was painful. Therefore, he did not make the second visit. He wrote them a severe letter instead. The next few verses say something about the pain.
Verse 2 Maybe it was only one man who had caused Paul’s pain (5-8). This man had *sinned. So, Paul had asked the Corinthians to punish him for it. They had not wanted to do this. That had caused pain for both Paul and the Corinthians. They must deal with this situation. Only then can Paul be happy.
Verse 3 Paul writes about the previous letter. He refers to the one that contained severe words. Paul had expected the Corinthians to do as he asked. But they had not agreed with him. They did not agree with the punishment that Paul recommended. Paul worried about this. If they had obeyed him, he would have been glad. They too would be glad because he was glad. He felt sure of this. So, when he visited them he would be better able to deal with their problem.
Verse 4 Paul had great trouble and felt much pain. He may have been referring to his troubles in Asia (1:8-9). He felt pain now about the difficulties in Corinth. We can understand why he cried about this.
Paul had written a severe letter. But his purpose was not to make the Corinthians sad. It was to let them know his love for them. True love does not avoid dealing with difficulties. We must not act as if they are not there. True love faces the difficulty and deals with it.
In the end, the Corinthians did as Paul asked in his letter. When Paul heard of this, he was glad. But still this worried him. He cared for the man who had done the wrong. He was afraid that the man might have too much regret. Then *Satan might get some advantage. So, Paul asked the Corinthians to show the man that they still loved him.
Verse 5 Bad results follow when someone does wrong. It is not just that person who suffers. Everyone in the church feels the pain. The church is a body. It is like the human body. It has many parts. If one part is ill, other parts will be ill. Then the whole body will suffer. Someone in the church at Corinth had done wrong. It was not that person only who was sad. All the people in the church were sad.
Verse 6 The Corinthians understand what Paul is saying. They have punished the man. Paul is now happy. The punishment given to this man is enough.
Verses 7-8 Paul asks the Corinthians to welcome the man back into the church. They should *forgive him and comfort him. They should tell him that they love him. If they do not do this, too much regret could overcome him.
Verses 9-11 Paul had tried to persuade the Corinthians to punish this man. That was why he had written his letter. Now he is testing them. He wants to know how they will obey him in everything. It does not matter so much that they obey Paul or anyone else. What does matter is that they obey the *gospel. For the *gospel demands good and correct behaviour. The Bible has many instructions about behaviour. It is important that we obey them.
Paul gives a promise to his readers. This is the promise. If the Corinthians *forgive anyone, Paul will agree with them. He too will *forgive that person.
There was something that Paul needed to *forgive. There seems little doubt about that. We see this from the previous verses. But then Paul adds, ‘if there was anything to *forgive’. This seems strange. Someone may have hurt Paul. But that was not important. This is what he is trying to say. If the Corinthians know that Paul forgives, they will feel free to *forgive the man. Everyone in the church will feel better. They will love each other more.
Paul adds, ‘in the sight of Christ’. This again could be an *oath. The *oath would be ‘I stand in the company of Christ (with Christ). Therefore I have *forgiven the man’. It could also mean that Christ agrees with Paul in this. If Christ forgives, then Paul forgives. This is because Paul knows Christ so well. So he too is able to *forgive. It could be that Paul had no opportunity to *forgive the man. He had never met him. But, in agreement with Christ, he had *forgiven him.
The man who had done wrong belonged to Christ. He was one of Christ’s own people. He was in Christ’s church. The work of *Satan was to steal him from the other Christians. So, Paul says, ‘It is not as if we do not know about *Satan’s plans. We do know about them. So we will not allow this to happen’. The way to prevent *Satan’s plan is to love the man and keep him in the church.
The church is the Body of Christ. Sometimes members do wrong or hurt each other. It is important that the church deals with *sin. Paul shows how we should do this. He sets the example for us all. He shows how important it is for us to be right with each other. We should *forgive each other and love each other.
Verses 12-13 Paul came to Troas to *preach the *gospel. There he found that God had ‘opened a door’ for him (1 Corinthians 16:9). The words ‘an open door’ mean that God had already prepared the way for Paul. God showed Paul that it was right for him to *preach the *gospel there. The door was open and God told Paul to enter.
Titus went with Paul on his journeys. Paul had asked Titus to do certain things in Crete. He asked him to choose leaders for the church there (Titus 1:5).
Paul knew that it was right for him to go to Troas. But it worried him that he could not find Titus there. Paul hoped that Titus would give him a report on the church. He wanted to know what the Corinthians thought about his letter. He was afraid that the letter might have upset the Corinthians. They may have been unkind to Titus because of it. He certainly must have worried quite a lot. In fact, it caused him to leave the ‘open door’ in Troas. He said goodbye to the Christians there. He went on to Macedonia. However, Paul did visit Troas a year later. He stayed there 7 days (Acts 20:6). We could say that God did keep the door open.
These verses show that Paul was honest. This is a help to leaders in the church. Paul does not give the Corinthians a wrong impression. He does not want them to think that he is a strong man. He sometimes made mistakes. Sometimes he worried. He did not want them to have wrong ideas about him. He wanted people to know him in his true character. Always we see God’s strength coming through Paul’s weakness.
These verses give us a rather sad picture of Paul’s work. He has had troubles in Asia. The Corinthians suggest that he may not be honest. The one who had *sinned caused him pain. Also, he left the work that God told him to do in Troas.
Verse 14 However, Paul is able to thank God for all that God is doing. Paul speaks about a great march for winners. Paul and those working with him are at the front of the march. The Roman soldiers often marched like this through the streets of Rome. They did this on their return from winning a war. But this march is not about war. Paul is glad. He is happy about his successes. With God’s help, he is the winner over all his troubles.
When soldiers marched like this, they burnt *incense. It gave out a sweet smell. They offered this sweet smell to their gods. Many people would be watching the march. The smell would spread all over them. So Paul speaks like this about his march. A sweet smell went out from it. The sweet smell was everywhere. It was the sweet smell of the knowledge of God.
Verses 15-16 In the march of the Roman soldiers, the smell of the *incense blew over everyone. But it would not smell the same for everyone. To the Romans, it would have been a sweet smell. They had won the war. But it was different for those who had lost. It would be a nasty smell to them. It was the smell of death. The same applied to the *believers. To them, the *preaching of the *gospel was a sweet smell. It was the smell of life from death. To those who would not obey the *gospel it was different. It was a smell from death to death.
In the Roman march, the smell made by the *incense was for their gods. For Paul, the sweet smell was for God. Paul and his friends offered this sweet smell of Christ to God.
There is a connection between the message and the one who brings it. On the one hand, Paul says, ‘We speak ... like men sent from God (verse 17)’. On the other hand, he writes, ‘because we are to God the sweet smell of Christ (verse 15)’. Then, it is God who ‘through us spreads everywhere the sweet smell of the knowledge of him (verse 14)’. When Jesus was on this earth, he lived and died for us. The one who brings the message of Jesus should be like him. People will either agree or not agree with the message. They will see difference in the character of the one who brings the message. This is the test.
This is why Paul felt so responsible for his work of *preaching the *gospel. So he asks, ‘and who is equal to this work?’ Later, in chapter 3 verse 5, Paul gives the answer, ‘Not that we are able in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves. But through God we are able’. Paul’s strength for him to do anything comes only from God.
Verse 17 A *peddler could be someone in the wine trade. He made his wine weaker by adding water to it. He did this to cheat those who bought his goods. But Paul will not use methods like that in *preaching the *gospel. The word of God is the *gospel spoken by the *apostles. It is that Christ died for our *sins. God then raised him from death on the third day. This is the *gospel, the word of God.
Sometimes God’s word says hard and difficult things. But Paul will not make the word weaker. Those who use it for gain do this (4:2). There are people who do make God’s word weaker. We hear of people like that later in this letter. They do this for profit (11:20). Paul talks too of those who tell of another Jesus. They speak a different *gospel (11:4). He may be referring to these people.
Paul is not like these men. An *apostle is one whom God sends out to *preach the *gospel. God gave Paul this task (Acts 9:1-19). It was after Paul had met with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He is always aware that God is watching him as he speaks. Some might have said that Paul spoke only his own opinions. Paul says that he spends every day before God. He spends every day in the sight of God. Some other people are different. That is why they do not speak truth. The test of Paul’s work is its results. He must always speak the truth from a pure heart.
A person from another town might arrive at a church. Usually he would bring a ‘letter of recommendation’. It would recommend the person to the new church. The content of the letter was this. ‘Here is someone that you can honour. Here is an honest person. Here is someone that you can trust’. But there were people who claimed to be *apostles. They had come to the church at Corinth. They brought letters of recommendation. So, Paul asks whether there is any value in their letters. We do not know who gave them these letters. They could have come from the leaders of other churches. They could have come from those who agreed with the teaching of the false *apostles.
Verse 1 Paul asks a question. Are Paul and his friends approving of themselves again? People say false things about Paul (1:12-14). Sometimes Paul speaks for himself against these people. He finds that this is necessary. But he does not like doing this. After all, he was the *apostle who formed the church at Corinth. Other people had come to Corinth with letters. So, Paul asks whether he should copy these people. Are these letters of recommendation necessary? Do the Corinthians need to write them? Do they need to receive them from other churches? Clearly, he expects the answer to be ‘No’.
Verse 2 Paul encourages the Christians. He tells them to remember that they are here, a Christian church in Corinth. That is the answer. It is through my work that you are here. People only need to look at the changes in your lives. You are people whom the *Holy Spirit has changed from the inside to the outside. So, you are the letter that everyone can read. Everyone can understand it. You want to prove that I am an *apostle. Just look and see who and what you are. There is no value in a letter written on a piece of paper. You (Corinthians) are the letter. That letter comes from our hearts.
Verse 3 A *covenant is an agreement made between two people. In the Bible, the *covenants were between God and his people. A *covenant is God’s idea and not man’s idea. When God makes a *covenant he will never break it. It will last for ever. There is an old *covenant and a new *covenant. God wrote the old *covenant on pieces of stone (Exodus 34:28). He did this through Moses. The *prophets speak about a new *covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-32). God would not write the new *covenant on stones. He would write them in the minds and hearts of people.
The Corinthians are Paul’s letter of recommendation. The letter came to them through Paul’s *preaching of the *gospel. The Corinthians are a living letter. It comes from Christ and Paul is the writer.
Paul goes further. The *Holy Spirit gives Paul the power he needs. There had been changes in the lives of the Corinthians. These came by the power of the *Holy Spirit.
Paul goes still further. God did not write the letter on pieces of stone. He wrote it on the stones (soft ones) of human hearts. God’s *Holy Spirit wrote the letter. The ink was the Spirit of the living God.
Now Paul answers the question of chapter 2 verse 16, (‘and who is equal to this work?’). Paul’s *opponents were sure of themselves. They did God’s work in their own strength. They thought that Paul was weak. He was not strong enough to be a good *minister. Paul agrees that he is weak. However, he is able to be a *minister of the new *covenant. But it is only because God gives him strength.
Verse 4 God gives strength to his servants to do his work. God gives them his Spirit through Christ. God’s *Holy Spirit helps the *believer to be sure of his *faith. He helps him not to be afraid (2 Timothy 1:7).
Verse 5 Paul does not ask for the agreement of men. He is doing God’s work in the right way. Before God, Paul is sure of this. God has changed the lives of the Corinthians. That is the evidence. Paul is saying that we cannot do anything in our own strength. It is only in the strength that God gives.
Verse 6 God gives his servants strength to be *ministers of a new *covenant. Paul uses the words ‘new *covenant’ only in one other place (1 Corinthians 11:25). That was when he spoke about the *Lord’s Supper (‘this cup is the new *covenant in my blood’). The death of Christ set up the new *covenant. ‘New’ here means a different kind of *covenant. It is a *covenant of a new quality. God wrote the old *covenant on stone. The new *covenant is a *covenant of the Spirit who gives life. The work of the Spirit in the new *covenant changes people’s hearts. The new *covenant takes away a heart of stone. It puts a new soft heart in its place.
In the two *covenants, there are different kinds of relationships with God. Under the old *covenant, God is the judge and I am the criminal. The new *covenant is a *covenant of love. It is between a father and his children.
The new *covenant is not of the letter. It is not about words. It is a new *covenant of the Spirit (verse 3). There had been a change in the lives of the Corinthians. That was the evidence. God had brought his new *covenant into their lives. And it came through the work of Paul.
The law that God gave to Moses was about right and wrong behaviour. God gave these laws for our good. They set standards for us to live by. There are many verses in the *Old Testament that show this. Paul explains the difference between the old law and the new one. Moses wrote the old one on stone. The other one was the work of the *Holy Spirit.
Paul goes further to show the difference. He says that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Paul never says that the law is wrong. In the letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, ‘The law is holy, and the *commandment is holy, *righteous and good’ (Romans 7:12). So how can he say that the letter (the law) kills? The answer is that the law kills when we use it wrongly. We sometimes use its rules to prove that we are good people. That is wrong (Romans 3:20). We can be right in God’s sight only by trusting in Jesus. He died to rescue us from *sin and death.
Maybe we keep the law to make ourselves right with God. That can lead only to death. If we try to be right by keeping all the rules, we can only fail. Then we will die. That way is impossible. That way means that we must keep all the laws. We must never once fail. It is in this sense that the letter kills.
The new *covenant does not end the law. It puts the law in its right place. People did not have the strength or the power to keep the *commandments. That was under the old *covenant. Also, there was no provision for *forgiveness when they failed. The way of the Spirit is different. It takes place in the heart of the *believer. Under the new *covenant, God forgives our *sins. He then forgets them. God writes his laws on our hearts. We will then want to keep God’s laws. We will then want to please him. The reason for this is that he has *forgiven us.
Paul has shown the difference between the two *covenants. The first was the old *covenant of the law. The second was the new *covenant of the Spirit (3:6). Paul refers to two passages in Exodus chapter 34. They are verses 29-32 and verses 33-35. These passages explain the difference between the two *covenants. Paul shows that the new *covenant is so much better than the old one.
Paul first explains Exodus 34:29-32 (in verses 7-11). The second part explains Exodus 34:33-35 (in verses 12-18). Both these events brought great fear to the *Israelites.
Verses 7-8 Paul now explains Exodus chapter 34 verses 29-32. These verses tell how God gave the ten *commandments (the law). The hand of God wrote it on two stones. There was a wonderful display of God’s greatness. Moses then came down from the mountain. God had shown Moses a small part of his *glory and greatness. The impression was so great that Moses’ face shone. It shone like the sun. Therefore, Moses had to cover his face. The *Israelites could not look at his face. It shone so much.
But as Moses went down the mountain, the impression slowly disappeared. The *Israelites saw just this small impression of God’s *glory. They were very afraid.
The law written on stones is ‘the work that brought death’. That is how Paul described it. Paul explained this in Romans chapter 7 verse 10. The purpose of God’s *commandments was to give life. Instead, the *commandments brought death. The *Old Testament does promise life. The promise is to those who keep the law (Deuteronomy 5:33). But Paul knew that no one can keep the law and never break it. When someone broke the law under the old *covenant, there was no provision for *forgiveness. That person had no peace. When could he know peace? Only when he knew that God had *forgiven him.
All that the *Israelites knew was the law of Moses. It was like a hard letter of stone. It brought death. It kept them apart from God (verse 6). That is the explanation of how the law brought death. Jeremiah says, ‘They broke my *covenant’ (Jeremiah 31:32).
The ten *commandments are of the old *covenant. It is not possible for anyone always to obey them. But, under the new *covenant, God has given his *Holy Spirit. By the strength of the *Holy Spirit, it is possible to walk in God’s way. It is possible to please him. It is no use trying to obey God’s *commandments in our own strength. Nor can we use the power of our will. We may still break the *commandments. But we trust in the blood of Jesus. He *forgives us and makes us clean. We are then in a right relationship with God. The work of the Spirit is a work of life. It is far better than the old *covenant. That brings death. The work of the letter of the law brings death. The work of the Spirit brings life.
Verse 9 This *covenant blames men. But Paul says that this *covenant is wonderful. We may ask how this can be. Certainly there is blame for anyone who fails to keep the law under that *covenant. Paul says that the new *covenant is better than the old. Under the new *covenant we still fail to keep God’s law. But now God makes us right with himself. But it is not keeping the law that makes us right. Being right with God comes to all who *believe. It is through *faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-26). This new *covenant is about the *grace of God working in our lives. God *saves us. He *cleanses us from our *sins. This is what he wants to do. This is what *grace is.
We do not have to work for this. The old *covenant said, ‘You are *guilty and must die’. Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 21, ‘Christ did not do any *sins. But God made Christ become *sin instead of us. This is so that in him we might become the *righteousness of God’. The new *covenant puts the *righteousness of God upon the *sinner. It is like putting on new clothes.
God says, ‘You are not *guilty. Go free’. Paul says in Romans chapter 5 verse 1, ‘God makes you right by *faith’. He also says in Galatians 3:2, ‘Did you receive the Spirit by keeping the law, or by believing what you heard?’ We become right with God and we receive the Spirit. This happens when we *believe in Jesus Christ. We see this truth again in Romans chapter 8 verse 10. ‘But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of *sin. Yet your spirit is alive because of God’s *righteousness’. That is why the new *covenant is more wonderful than the old.
Verse 11 Paul says that a false trust in the law is disappearing. But that does not mean that we no longer need the law. God’s instruction is still that we should obey his laws. That instruction (to obey the law) has not disappeared. What is disappearing is a false trust in the law. That false trust is this. If we obey the law, it will make us right with God. Under the old *covenant we did not have the power to obey God. This is the point. Those who walk by the Spirit can obey God (Romans 8:4). The old *covenant way of obeying God has now ended (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:19-25).
The old *covenant disappeared. The new *covenant will never disappear. It will last for ever. It is therefore better and more wonderful than the old. The new *covenant is permanent. In that way, it is superior to the one that has disappeared.
Paul now explains Exodus chapter 34 verses 33-35. He explains the difference between himself and Moses. First, Paul is able to come to God in a new way. Moses did not know that way. Second, Paul could see and understand the *glory of God. The *Jews read the law of Moses. But they did not see or understand God’s *glory. The way of Jesus Christ is far better than the way of Moses. Some of the *Jewish teachers did not understand this. The old *covenant of Moses prepared the way for the new *covenant of Jesus. They could not understand that.
Verses 12-13 Therefore, since we have a hope like that, we are very bold. We are not like Moses. Moses had to cover his face. He did this so that the *Israelites could not see God’s *glory. God’s *glory shone in Moses’ face. The impression of God’s *glory was slowly disappearing. But even then, they could not look at it. Paul is very bold to come near to God. He is sure that the new *covenant will last for ever (verse 11). That is the reason. He knows that there will never be a *covenant to replace this one. That is how Paul is not like Moses. Moses could not be as bold as Paul could be in approaching God. This is how Moses explains Exodus 34:33-35.
The disappearing impression of God’s *glory shone in Moses’ face. But the *Israelites were not able to see it. This was not Moses’ fault. The reason was that their hearts were hard. It was still the same when Paul wrote this letter. The hearts of the *Jews at this time were hard. Paul could see this. They could not see that the old *covenant had ended. They could not see that the new *covenant had begun.
It is only through Christ that God takes away the cover over people’s minds. It is like a fence. When we *believe in Jesus Christ, God takes the fence away. It is the fence of not knowing the truth. It is also the fence of doubt. This fence held back the *Jews from understanding the truth. The *Old Testament looks forward to the time when Christ would come and to a new *covenant.
Verses 15-16 Paul repeats what he has said in verse 14. He comes again to Exodus chapter 34 verse 34. Moses went before God to speak to him. Then Moses took the cover off his face. Moses came down from the mountain. He spoke God’s message to the people. Then he put the cover on again. This was because some of the impression and *glory of God was still in his face. This impression was so great that the *Jews could not look at it. So, when Moses went to speak to God, he took off the cover. When he spoke to the people, he put it on again. Paul explains this to the *Jews of his time. A person comes to Christ. God then takes away the cover over that person’s mind.
It is, however, only through Christ that we can come to God. Now we see the light of the *glory of God. We see it in the face of Jesus Christ (4:6).
Verse 17 There is an understanding of God that we call the *Trinity. By this, we understand that God is one person. But he is also three persons in one person. He is God the Father, God the Son and God the *Holy Spirit. Paul says, ‘Now the *Lord is the Spirit’. Here he is not referring to the *Trinity. He does not mean that the Father and the Spirit is the same person. Nor does he mean that Jesus and the Spirit is the same person.
The *Jews of Paul’s day knew God through the law. There is now a new way for *believers come to God. They come through Jesus and the Spirit. ‘The *Lord’ in verse 16 is God. He is God also in verse 17. When people turn to God, he takes the cover from their minds. They recognise that a new age has come. The time of the old *covenant of the law has ended. The new *covenant of the Spirit has begun. Now they know the *Lord (God) as the Spirit. Under the new *covenant the *Lord (to us) is the Spirit.
‘And where the Spirit of the *Lord is, there is freedom’. Under the new *covenant, the power in our lives is the Spirit. This means that we are free from the chains that hold us. The old *covenant of the law is like being in chains and in prison.
People were not free under the old *covenant. They tried to be right with God by keeping the laws. It is not possible to obey all God’s laws. So, you cannot be right with God in that way. It is no use trying to do what is impossible. You are therefore in chains. But under the *covenant of the Spirit you are free of your chains. God does not remember your *sins any more (Romans 4:6-8). God tells you that you are now right with him (Romans 8:1). The Spirit of God tells our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16). The old *covenant asks us to do what we cannot do. Now the *Holy Spirit does for us what we cannot do (Romans 8:3-4). This is what it means to be free.
Verse 18 To cover the face is a way to show shame. There is no longer shame to those who *believe in Jesus. God allowed Moses to come to him with no cover over his face. It is the same for Paul and all *believers. We are free to come close to God. We do not need to cover our faces. We can come to him with no shame. We can come with perfect trust. Like Moses we see the *glory of the *Lord. We look at God with no cover on our faces. We then see and understand God better. The more we look at God the more our minds become free. We see more clearly the truth of the *gospel.
God’s *glory is everything about himself that he chooses to show us. It is everything about God that we are able to receive. We have many false ideas. These come from our earlier years. We receive truth as our minds become free of all these false ideas. The *glory of God and the *glory of Christ are the same. We look at the *glory of Christ. We then understand the *gospel. We see ‘the light of the knowledge of the *glory of God. It is in the face of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
God is changing us into his image. All this comes from the *Lord. He is changing us to become like himself. A Greek word explains this change. It is the same as when a *caterpillar becomes a *butterfly. In the same way God changes the *believer. He changes him from one kind of life to another. The change comes little by little. It gets better and better. The speed of change becomes faster and faster. The *Holy Spirit changes the *believer on the inside. The *believer becomes more and more like God.
We see God in the face of Jesus Christ. In that way, we can see God. This thought is also in Galatians chapter 5 verses 22-23. God is growing inside us the fruit of the *Holy Spirit. All the fruit is in Jesus Christ. We are growing to become like him. This comes from the *Lord, who is the Spirit. The image of God appears in the life of the *believer. It is through the work of the *Holy Spirit. (Please see note on verse 17.)
Life in the Spirit is a new and wonderful life. It is a good life. God gives it to those who *believe the *gospel. This new life brings a change of character. Paul explains his own behaviour as he *preaches this *gospel. Paul writes about this in chapter 4 verses 1-6. Paul has not changed the truth of the message. He explains why some people cannot understand the *gospel. He does this by teaching the *gospel message. This message is that Christ is *Lord. It is also that the *glory of God shines in the face of Christ. This is the Christ whom Paul *preaches.
Verse 1 Paul has described the *glory and wonder of the new *covenant. He did this in chapter 3 verses 7-18. He is very aware that he is able *preach this *gospel. But he knows that it is only through God’s *mercy. He was an enemy of the church. He can never forget that (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). As he remembers, God asks him to be bold. But he still has many difficulties and much pain.
Verse 2 Paul’s plan is not to do things in secret. He will not use false ways of *preaching the *gospel. This was how the snake cheated Eve. To change the word of God is to make it weaker. It is like making wine weaker. You add water to it. Paul will not do this. He will not add false teaching to God’s word. The same idea is in chapter 2 verse 17.
On the other hand, Paul speaks the truth clearly. He wants the agreement of every man’s conscience. Conscience is something that we all have. By it, we know the difference between right and wrong. So, Paul speaks to the consciences of everyone. He is speaking the truth. Their consciences will tell them this. He knows that his work is right. Paul is sure of it. It is right in God’s sight. That is the most important thing. What God thinks is more important than what people think. That is Paul’s understanding.
Verses 3-4 Paul talks about the *Jews. They have a cover over their eyes. It prevents their understanding of the *gospel. Therefore, they do not *believe it. They cannot see:
the *glory of Christ;
how bright and wonderful Christ is;
that in Christ we have a perfect image of God.
They will not *believe. Paul says that they are dying.
‘The god of this age’ is *Satan. ‘This age’ is the time that began with Adam’s *sin. *Satan hates God and is against him. God is love, goodness, *mercy, *grace and much more. *Satan is trying to destroy God and everything that God is. There is a war. It is between *Satan and God. Everyone on the earth is in this war. They may not even know it. *Satan blinds our minds. *Sins such as pride are in the mind. The thoughts of men and women have become foolish (Romans 1:21).
*Satan also attacks our feelings. He attacks our determination to live the Christian life.
*Satan is always trying to prevent the work of God. We see this in 2 Corinthians. God allows *Satan to do this. But God can and will bring light into the minds of people. They will then understand and *believe the *gospel. This should always be our prayer. Paul himself had been blind to the *gospel. Then God took the cover from his eyes. He then *believed (Acts 9:1-19).
The *gospel tells us about the light of the *glory of Christ. The *glory of Christ and the *glory of God are the same. God created man (the first Adam) in his own image (Genesis 1:26). He created him to be like God. The image was perfect. But *sin damaged that image.
We cannot see God. But Christ shows us what God is like (Colossians 1:15-20). Paul speaks about Christ as the ‘last Adam’ (1 Corinthians 15:45-49). God made the first Adam to be like himself. Adam was God’s first and perfect image of himself. *Satan damaged that image. Jesus Christ is the last Adam. He is perfect. He represents man and woman as God wants them to be.
Verse 5 *Preaching sends out an important message. The *gospel is the important message. *Preaching means speaking this message to people. We do not change the message.
Paul explains further what the *gospel is. It is the truth of ‘Jesus Christ as *Lord’. This truth comes by the side of another truth. This is in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 23. Here Paul says, ‘We *preach Christ who died on a *cross’. The one who is master of all is the one who died for us. We should hold together these two truths of the *gospel. We kneel to a master. God allowed people to kill Jesus. It was for our *salvation. This is the *gospel (good news).
Jesus came to us as a servant. Paul came to the Corinthians also as a servant. The Corinthians were not Paul’s masters. It does not mean that. Paul had only one master. He was Jesus Christ.
Verse 6 God’s *glory is
in everything that he is
in everything that he has made
in everything that he does
the wonder, the greatness, the image and the beauty of God
everything about himself that he chooses to show us.
God had shown Paul his *glory. Therefore, Paul could never *preach about himself. He could not bring attention to himself.
In the book of Genesis God said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’. Genesis tells us how God created everything out of nothing. At one time, all was dark. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Our hearts were dark before we knew Christ. In the beginning, God turned the darkness into light. In the same way he gave the light of the *gospel. He brought it into the darkness of our hearts. God gives us light. It is the light of the knowledge of the *glory of himself. God’s *glory is in the face of Christ. We find the same thought in Isaiah 9:2. A Christian is one who has received the light of the *gospel. Like Paul, we can know the wonder and *glory of God. God shows us that this is in the face of Jesus Christ.
We see the *glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Paul describes it here. He gives a very wonderful description of the *glory of God. Paul explains it more completely in Colossians chapter 1 verses 15-20. That passage compares Christ with God. But there is more than that. God created everything in heaven and on earth. Christ was with God then. Moreover, Christ made everything for himself. He holds everything together and keeps it all going. Everything of God is in Christ. We cannot see God. But we can see him when we see Christ.
One day God will bring everything together and make it right. He has done this through the blood of Christ,
Paul has been speaking about the wonderful light of the *gospel. Now he speaks about the weakness of those who *preach it.
Verse 7 In those days people made pots of *clay. They were cheap and broke easily. Once broken, the pot would be of no use. People would throw it away. When we have no problems, it is easy for us to be proud. We might be proud of how well we are doing. Our lives can easily break like pots of *clay. The end for all of us will be death. Our lives are like pots of *clay.
Paul would have seen the cheap oil lamps in the market. ‘The light of the *gospel’ would be the thing of great value. The weak *apostles would be the lamps in pots. These lamps (the weak *apostles) held this thing of great value. It was the light of God. God’s light would shine in the world.
There is no greater power than the power of God. By his power, he created the heavens and the earth. By his power, he raises us from death (1:9). Paul knows that he cannot trust in his own power. The thing of great value is in weak pots of *clay. The power is from God and not from us. The weak pots show this.
Verses 8-9 Paul here gives four statements. On the one hand, he shows how weak he and his friends are. On the other hand, he shows the power of God. This gives them strength. Troubles come from every direction. But no damage comes to them. They are not sure what to do. But they know that God knows what to do. People deal badly with them. But God does not leave them. They are like the cheap pots of *clay. But no one can break them.
Life can sometimes be very hard. But we have a strong *faith in God. It is like a rock beneath our feet. However bad life may seem, we look to the truth. Whatever happens, God is at work. And God is good. This is true. The circumstances of life bring us trouble and difficulty. But always, we look to the *Cross. When Jesus died, that was darkness and *evil. It was greater than ever has been or ever will be. But out of it came the most wonderful *victory. It was the best that the world has ever known. Through the *Cross, we know that God has a purpose. He has a purpose for good in everything. When we fall, God will always lift us up again.
Paul wrote a wonderful verse in his letter to the Romans. ‘We know this. In all things God works for the good of those who love him’. God will make us to be like his Son (Romans 8:28-29). That is God’s purpose. One day we shall be able to look back on our lives. We shall see all the things that have happened. There will be both good and bad. We shall look at our life as whole. Then we shall see that God’s plan for us was good. God’s purpose was to make us like Jesus.
Verses 10-11 Jesus brought life to us through his death. Paul experiences trouble and pain. Wherever he goes, it is there. It is with him all the time. Any Christian will know this kind of experience. It is an experience of the new *covenant. Most people oppose the Christian message. We live in that kind of world.
The life and work of a Christian is not cheap. It costs a lot. Sometimes it costs even death. So, when we suffer, we ‘carry in our body the death of Jesus’. This is how Paul understands it. The glad truth is this. Paul shares the pain and death of Jesus. But he also shares the life of Jesus. For God raised Jesus from death (6:9). On the one hand, Paul experiences the death of Jesus. This is in his troubles and pains. On the other hand, he always wins. This is through the life of Jesus. So, in his daily life he is a winner.
Paul writes like this in his letter to the Philippians. Paul wants to experience God’s power. With that same power, God raised Jesus from death. But Paul knows that there is a price to pay. He must also share in the troubles and pains of Jesus (Philippians 3:10-11). Then he will know this power. We have the life of Jesus in us. But we also share his troubles and pain.
Verse 12 ‘So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you’. Death is at work in Paul. And there is the promise of life for the Corinthians. There is a connection between the two. Paul experiences the death of Jesus daily. He also experiences the life of Jesus. The life of Jesus is in him all the time. That helps both him and other people.
Paul has many troubles. But he is certain that he will win in the end. He knows that God raised Jesus from death. He will raise Paul too. He will also raise other people. Those other people *believe as Paul does. God will bring them together. Together they will stand before God. This will be for their good. They will see God’s *grace. It will work in the lives of more people. This will bring *glory to God.
Verse 13 Paul says that we *believe with a spirit of *faith. With that same spirit of *faith we therefore speak. The writing Paul speaks about is Psalm 116 verse 10. It is, ‘I *believed; therefore I said, “I am in great trouble”.’ God had rescued the writer of the psalm from death. He therefore gave thanks to God. In the same way, God had rescued Paul from death. Paul says the same as the writer of the psalm. He says, ‘We too *believe, and so we speak’. His troubles will not stop him. He will still speak what he *believes. That is the truth of God’s Word.
Verse 14 What Paul is saying is true. Paul knows that. God raised Jesus from death. He will also raise Paul. He will raise all *believers. God raised Jesus from death. That was the first fruit of the harvest. It was the harvest of all the *believers who had died (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). It was a promise of future *blessing. The full harvest will come later. Then Paul will stand before God. He will stand with the other *believers at Corinth.
Verse 15 The *grace of God will reach more and more people. This is the immediate good thing. It has come through Paul’s work. Then comes the final good thing. It is that people will give thanks to God. That will be like a flood. It will bring *glory to God. Everyone should give *glory to God. It is God’s final purpose for the world. That is the reason why he has put us upon this earth.
Paul knows that God’s work is important. That is what helps him to carry on doing it (4:1). Paul will not stop doing the work. He now gives another reason for this. He knows two things. He is becoming weaker in his body. But he is becoming stronger in his spirit. Further, there is the *glory that lasts for ever. He knows that one day he will experience that. Compared with that, his troubles are light. He is certain of this.
Verse 16 On the one hand Paul’s body is wearing away. This is because of his troubles. On the other hand, he is becoming strong. Something is happening in his heart. The heart is the inside part of a person. The inside becomes strong when the *Holy Spirit lives there. The inside has its roots in the love of God, as a plant has its roots in the ground. It finds its strength in God (Ephesians 3:14-19).
We are all getting older. We know that our bodies are wearing away. This could make us sad. But growing older is not all bad. It is a comfort to know that. Yes, our body gets weaker. But our character grows as the body dies. Inside, God is making a new person out of the old. One day there will be a complete new person. We may not see or feel the change that is taking place. We receive this by *faith.
Verses 17-18 No-one could say that Paul’s troubles were light. They were certainly very heavy. He compares his troubles with the future *glory. Then they seem light. The troubles last only a short time. A short period of trouble would come. Then there would come a time of *glory. There would be no end to that time.
It is difficult to describe *glory. We cannot see God. He is great and powerful. He cannot allow us to see him. There is too much of him. We would die if we saw all that he is. However, God’s ‘*glory’ is what God allows us to see of himself. We can see some of God’s *glory. We see it in his *creation. We see it in the sun, the moon and the stars. We see it everywhere in the world round us.
God showed his *glory to Moses. We see the *glory of God in the life and death of Jesus. On the mountain, the three *disciples saw the *glory of God. It rested upon Jesus (Mark 9:2-8). Paul saw the *glory of God. It was when he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-5). He saw God in the face of Jesus Christ.
When we receive the *gospel, God shines his light into our dark hearts (4:6). A knowledge and understanding of God grows inside us (3:18). This comes through the *Holy Spirit in us. The body is wearing away. We can see that. But what God has put in us grows and grows. That we cannot see. The ‘here and now’ part of us dies. But the ‘for ever’ part of us gets brighter and brighter.
There are the difficult experiences of life. There is also the future *glory. There is a connection between the two. In Romans chapter 8 verse 17, Paul writes this. If we share in Jesus’ pain we shall also share in his *glory. That is how we shall become like him.
There is another thing that the *Jews *believed. Jesus the *Messiah would return to this earth. He would return as king. But before that, there would be a time of pain and trouble. It would be like the birth pains of a mother. These are the pains that she has before her baby is born. The whole earth and all Christians cry with pain. It is a pain inside them. They are waiting for the time when they will be like Jesus (Romans 8:22-23). We need to share Christ’s pains in order to share his *glory.
We do not enjoy troubles. However, they do help us to look at Jesus. Something more helps Paul to continue God’s work. He tries not to look on the events that trouble him now. He looks rather on what he will be able to see in the future. Further, events of this life do not last. He is sure about future events. The present world will not last. The new world will last for ever. The Christians in it will last for ever.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says this of Moses. ‘He saw him whom we cannot see. So he kept on’. The one whom we cannot see is God. Moses kept doing God’s work. He did not stop. In the present, he could not see God. But in the end, he would meet the God whom now he cannot see. Paul says in verse 18, ‘So we look with our eyes not on what we can see. We look with our eyes on what we cannot see. For what we can see is in the present time. But what we cannot see is *eternal.
Paul has spoken about the death of the outer body. He has also spoken about his present troubles. These are only little ones. He has spoken about a weight of *glory. This will last for ever. You cannot compare the little troubles with the weight of *glory. Paul explains how he sees his future life after his death. We find this in the next ten verses.
Verse 1 The *earthly tent is the physical body. It is a temporary place. It will end when we die. Then we will receive a new body. There is a connection between the two. The old body dies. The new body will last for ever. It will not be like our human body. Human hands have made that. The *earthly body dies. Then God will raise the *believer from death. He will give him a new *heavenly body.
Verse 2 Here again is the same thought as Romans chapter 8 verses 18-23. *Believers cry with pain. It is the inner pain of a deep hurt. There is a reason for this inner pain. They cry out to God. They desire to be God’s sons and daughters. They do not want to wait a long time for this. God has rescued their bodies from death. They wear the clothes of their *heavenly house. You put on a new place to live in. It is like putting on new bodies. We put them on as we would put on a coat.
Verse 3 Paul is thinking here of the idea of his *soul not having a body. The *Jews did not separate body and *soul. A person is one person, body and *soul together. That is how they understood it. A *Jew would not recognise the idea of a *soul without a body. To him it was like being naked. But it will not be like that when we have our *heavenly bodies. That is Paul’s understanding.
Verse 4 Paul is aware of the troubles and pain in his body. This is like a heavy weight upon him. He has many pains in his present body. Still, he does want to have only a *soul and no body. He wants a new and better body. This body would be the clothes on his *soul. He does not want his present life to be final. He does not want it to stop completely.
It is like two fish. One is a large fish (the new life). The other is a smaller fish (his present body). The large fish takes the smaller fish whole into its stomach. His new life will swallow up his present life. He wants new clothes. They will cover what he already wears (his present life). The result will be something new and better. This life is the old tent. It is the life that we have now. It will die at death. The new body is the *heavenly one. It will burst out with new life.
It is not that Paul is tired of life and wants to die. He wants a new and much better life. It will be in a new body. It will be in heaven. He wants a body that lasts for ever.
Verse 5 Paul adds to the idea that he spoke about in chapter 4 verse 17. The light weight of his present troubles was nothing. It was nothing compared with the future *glory. God has made us for this very purpose. This future *glory was God’s first purpose. It was his purpose when he created us. The present troubles are all part of that purpose (please see Romans chapter 8 verse 17).
Paul is certain of a wonderful future. He knows that this is God’s purpose for him. He is certain of this. This is because God has given him his *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit helps him in his daily life. God has given the Spirit as a first payment. It is a promise. God promises to make the final payment later. God, by his Spirit, raised Jesus from death. He gave him a new body. God has given us the same *Holy Spirit. It is a *guarantee that he will also raise us from death. He will dress us too with a new body. (Please see chapter 1 verse 22 for explanation of ‘*guarantee’.)
Verses 6-7 Life may not have been easy for Paul. But he is sure that God agrees with him. He knows that God is on his side. Difficulties will not prevent Paul from doing God’s work. He is now ‘at home in the body’. That means that he is living on this earth. He is unable to see God. He is ‘away from the *Lord’. We live our lives on this earth. We cannot see God. In that way ‘we are away from the *Lord’. We live by *faith and not by sight. That is how we must live. Now we can see God only by *faith.
Verse 8 Paul is confident. But things could be better. He would rather leave behind his physical body. Then he would really be able to see God. He would see him not only by *faith but also by sight. Paul does not desire a state where he has no body. He is now ‘at home in the body but away from the *Lord’. That is his present state. He may die before the return of Christ. He would then have a new position. His new state would be far better. What he wants most is to leave this earth and to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23).
These verses do raise difficult questions. What happens if we die before the return of Jesus to this earth? Where will we be? Is the *believer ‘asleep’ (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 17)? Or is he ‘with the *Lord’? Where will we be? What form will our bodies take? We do not know. Moreover, the Bible does not give us complete answers.
Paul says that to be with Christ is ‘better by far’ (Philippians 1:23). We shall enter the new body (building). These verses suggest this. We shall enter it immediately on leaving the old body (verse 1). There are two events. The first is the coming of the *Lord (1 Corinthians 15:23). The second is when we ‘go to be with Christ’ (Philippians 1:21-23). In both these events, we can be certain of this. It is that we shall be ‘at home with the *Lord’. We are safe in God’s hands. We can be certain of that. It does not make any difference whether we live or die.
Verse 9 One day Paul will be ‘away from the body’. He will then be ‘at home with the *Lord’. But he does not know when that will be. Neither he nor we can know that. Neither can we decide when it will be. We should live good lives now. That is the important thing. Paul’s purpose in life is to please the *Lord. It should be ours too.
Verse 10 Paul desires to please the *Lord. He is like a child who loves his parents. He will want to please them. It is the same with us. We should want to please our *heavenly Father. But there is another reason for pleasing the *Lord. One day we must all appear before the *judgement seat of Christ.
In Corinth was a stone seat. The judges used it. The Greek name for this stone seat was the ‘bema’. The *Jews at Corinth brought Paul himself before a court like this (Acts 18:12-17). The *Jewish leaders brought Jesus to the *judgement seat of Pilate. Paul is saying that we should all be careful how we live. There is a day fixed for all of us. Then God will bring each one of us before the ‘bema’. The judge will be Jesus Christ.
We will all receive payment from God. Payment will depend on whether our actions have been good or bad. This does not mean that God accepts us only for our good behaviour. We do good things. We do bad things. God accepts us as we are. It is not the things that we do. It is not the things that we do not do. If it were, God could not accept any of us. We all *sin and fall short of God’s *glory (Romans 3:23). God has made a new way for us to be right with him (Romans 3:21-26). Our good works did not *save us. God *saved us so that we may do good works to please him.
We will all receive payment from God. Payment will depend on whether our actions have been good or bad. God will examine the lives and work of his children. He will then reward those who have been *faithful. Those who have not been *faithful will lose their reward. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verses 10-15. God will either give or not give rewards for our work. But we will not lose our *salvation.
What we do ‘in the body’ (in this life) is important. In the next section, Paul tells us how serious a matter this is.
Paul asks the Corinthians to get right again with God. This is the subject of this section of the letter. Paul also wants them to be friends again with him. They find fault with the way he works (5:11-15). He deals with this. He gives the reasons why they should get right again with God (5:16-21). He then makes the appeals (6:1-13; 7:2-4). He then asks them to live holy lives (6:14-7:1).
Verse 11 Paul has been teaching about the *judgement seat of Christ (verse 10). He follows on from that. Paul is not afraid of the *Lord. However, he does respect him. He wants to please him. God sees us all the time. Paul is aware of that. For that reason, he feels that he must warn people. He asks people to turn back to God. However, fear is not the best reason. It is, however, necessary to warn people. There will be a future day of judgement. It would be wrong not to warn a child of the danger of fire. That is an example. Every one of us must appear before the *judgement seat of Christ. We must never forget that truth.
Paul knows that what he does is from God. But he is aware that some do not agree with his work. Therefore, he hopes that their consciences will help them to know the truth.
Verse 12 Paul is a leader. He has an important position. He does not care about that. He does not want people to think more of him because of his position. Paul serves the *Lord. He wants the Corinthians to have right thoughts of the *Lord. That is his great desire for them. It does not matter much to Paul what they think of him.
There was, however, a reason why Paul wanted the Corinthians to think well of him. Some people had opposed him. They would be much better able to answer those people. Those people were proud of outer show. They carried letters of recommendation with them (3:1). They were proud of these. God looks on the heart. He does not look on outer show. Paul is a man whose heart is right. That is how Paul would like the Corinthians to see him. What people see from the outside does not matter to him.
Verse 13 There are two ways of looking at this verse. The Corinthians could have thought that Paul was mad. In a similar way, Festus thought that Paul was mad (Acts 26:22-24). Maybe we are mad, says Paul. But we are mad because of what we do for God. We *preach a pure *gospel. That is what we do for him. Maybe we are not mad. That too is for your profit. Because we are speaking the truth.
Some people opposed Paul’s work. They said that he did not have *spiritual experiences. That was one reason why they opposed him. These experiences could be dreams and *visions. They could be speaking in tongues. Paul did in fact have experiences like that (Acts 22:17). He did speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18). People do have experiences like that. But that is something between them and God. You do not need to have experiences like that to prove yourself. That is how it is with Paul and his friends. They are *apostles. But they do not need these experiences to prove it. They are Christ’s *apostles. But they are not mad. They speak in an ordinary and natural way. That profits those who hear.
Verse 14 Paul explains why he must continue with his work. There could be two things that help him to continue. It could be Paul’s love for Christ. It could be Christ’s love for him. Paul says that one man died for all. Christ died in place of all. Therefore, Christ died the deaths of all of us. Christ’s love for Paul caused him to carry on. That is probably what Paul is saying.
At one time Paul hated the Christians. That was before Christ met him on the road to Damascus. Now love and not hate is at the centre of his life. The love of Christ is his reason for living. Christ died in place of all. This knowledge controlled Paul’s life. It gave him the strength to carry on. That is how much it controlled him.
To know that someone loves you brings great comfort. There is no greater comfort than that. There is no greater force than that. Jesus loved us enough to die for us. That is the best possible comfort. While we were still *sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). That is how much God loved us. This is the *gospel.
Verse 15 Here Paul speaks about Christ’s death and *resurrection. He speaks about the effect that it should have on us. It should be full of meaning for us. It will change the way that we live. Our own happiness and comfort will not be so important.
To follow Jesus is not cheap. There is a price to pay. The price is the death of our *self life. We love him. We want to live for him and please him. We realise how much he loved us. He gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Then we give our lives to him. But we should always be careful. We must not go back to a life of *self-pleasing.
The death and *resurrection of Christ has a great effect upon Paul and his friends. They must tell other people about it. Christ died and God raised him to life. This gives us a right relationship with God. We are no longer enemies of God. We are now his friends.
Verse 16 Paul now understands the meaning of the death of Christ. He is aware of Christ’s love for him. It gives him comfort and strength. He sees everything in a new way. He no longer sees things from a human point of view. There were things that he had once thought important. Now they have little value. He once saw Christ from a human point of view. He no longer holds this view. His new understanding comes from a new knowledge of Christ.
Jesus showed himself to Paul on the road to Damascus. Before that, Paul saw Jesus as a false Christ. Moreover, Paul tried to kill those who followed Jesus. Paul sees Christ now in a new way. Now he knows Jesus as the one who makes everything new. He sees him too as the one whom everyone must obey. Now everyone needs to come to Jesus in *faith.
Verse 17 The effect of Adam’s *sin touched all God’s *creation. All God’s *creation was upset. It waits to be free from its troubles and pains. One day God will give all *believers their new bodies (Romans 8:18-25). Then they will be free.
A *believer is ‘in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:10; 2:6). He or she shares in God’s new *creation. We can now say that the old has gone. The new has come. There will be a time when God will raise all *believers from death. The whole of God’s *creation waits for that time. He will raise *believers to a new life that lasts for ever. While we are on this earth, the old is still a part of us. We have to live with it. There is always a war going on between the old and the new.
In the meantime, we see life in a new way. We are ‘in Christ’ and we always try to please him. Certain things are no longer true when a person is ‘in Christ’. He no longer lives for *self (verse 15). He no longer sees Christ in the way that the world sees him (verse 16). That is part of the old way. We now see Christ in a different way. The old has gone. The new has come!
Verse 18 It can happen that a husband and wife stop talking to each other. They will no longer respect each other. They will no longer trust each other. They were once friends. Now they are enemies. They want to separate from each other. This is what has happened between people and God. They no longer talk to God. They no longer respect and trust him. In this way they becomes enemies of God.
God is the one whom we have hurt. It is *sin that has caused the hurt. ‘But your *sins have separated you from your God. Your *sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear’ (Isaiah 59:2). In the marriage example there is fault on both sides. Often a third person comes in to help. But with God and us, only one side is at fault. Only we have done wrong. We have hurt God. And it is he who acts to put things right.
God is holy. That means that he is different and separate from us. God is completely good and pure. There is nothing wrong or bad in him. He is like fire. Fire will burn up and destroy. It will destroy anything that is not pure. ‘Because our God is a fire that burns everything’ (Hebrews 12:29).
The Bible word for this is God’s *wrath (or anger) (Romans 1:18; 5:9-11). It is not possible for anyone to stand close to God. He is holy. Our *sin would destroy us. He could not prevent it because he is a *righteous God.
There is a wall between God and us. Someone has to knock down this wall. That someone is God. God’s love for people is too great for us to understand. The wall divides us from him. Only God himself can break it.
Verse 19 God’s great desire is that everyone should return to him. He wants everyone to become his friend. Jesus made this possible through his death for us on the *Cross. There he took all our *sin upon himself. It is only right that God should punish us for our *sin. Christ took our place before God’s wrath (anger). ‘God was in Christ’ when Jesus was on the *Cross. Jesus took all our punishment upon himself in his own body. It would have been right for God to punish us. God can save us from his wrath (anger). But it is only if we accept what Jesus has done for us.
Jesus brings us back to God through his death. However, it is still necessary that everyone should know about it. Therefore, Paul says that God gave us a job. It is to tell people about the way back to God. Paul speaks about this in verses 19 and 21.
We are to help people to return to God and to be his friends. We tell them what God has done for us through Christ. The wall that separates us from God is our *sin. This is what hurts God more than anything does. God loves us. He is gentle and kind. So you might ask, ‘Why does he not *forgive us and forget our *sin?’ He cannot say, ‘It does not matter. I will forget your *sins’. That is because he is holy. There is this wall of *sin between God and us. Someone must remove it. God’s work through Christ has removed this wall. Now God does not count our *sins against us. That is the effect of the removal of this wall.
Paul repeats this in Romans chapter 4 verse 8. He says that God will *justify a person by *faith. That person then has peace with God. The *Lord will never count his *sin against him. We find this *blessing in Psalm 32 verse 2. It was a promise for the *Jews. However, this *blessing is not for *Jews only (Romans 4:9-12). It is for all who *believe. But it is different for those who do not *believe. God does count their *sins against them.
Our job is to tell people the good news. This was Paul’s work. Moreover, it is for all Christians. People will then understand. They will stop being God’s enemies. They will become his friends. This will give them great joy.
Verse 20 If you are an *ambassador, you represent your king in another country. This is your job. You tell them that yours is a good country. You explain this to the people of that country. Paul is Christ’s *ambassador. Paul’s job is to explain that Christ’s country is a good one. It is a country where Christ is king. Paul does this by *preaching the *gospel. God wants to bring people to himself. He has done this through the death of his Son. This is the message. Paul speaks for Christ to the Corinthians. He is desperate for them. He asks them to make themselves right again with God.
Verse 21 We are all *guilty. We all experience darkness and despair. This comes from being apart from God. We suffer pain because of *sin. God’s love for the world is very great. This verse helps us to understand this. Christ ‘had no *sin’. He was completely free from *sin. Every person in the world is a *sinner. But you cannot say that about Jesus. God caused Jesus to be *sin for us. However, God did not make Jesus a *sinner. He caused Christ to be *sin for us.
A court would decide that a person should die. They would then hang him upon a tree. This was in *Old Testament times. God put a curse upon that person (Deuteronomy 21:23). Christ set us free from this curse (Galatians 3:13). He himself became that curse for us. That curse should have been upon us. But God put it upon Christ instead.
Jesus died on the *Cross. There God put all our *sin upon him. Christ never *sinned. Jesus Christ was always completely at one with his Father. He was on the *Cross for a short time. Then that unity ended. He was apart from God. His experience was that God had left him. To be apart from God is death. Jesus knew this experience in his death. He died and he was in Hades (a place for the *souls of dead people). This is hard to understand. It is a mystery.
Think of the Garden of *Gethsemane. Then we can perhaps begin to understand. There we read of Jesus’ pain. We can then perhaps understand his cry from the *Cross. He cried, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me?’ He knew no *sin. Yet he died in our place. He took upon himself the weight of our *sin. That is death. It means to be separate from God.
*Sin is an awful thing. We may think that we are not bad *sinners. We have not killed anyone. We do not steal. *Sin is the evil nature that is inside each one of us. We need the Holy Spirit to show this to us. It is like a huge debt that we owe. It is like a debt of a million pounds. Jesus told a story about this (Matthew 18:21-35). The man in the story had a huge debt. He could never pay this back to his master. It was more than his life’s wages. His master cancelled the debt. We could never pay our debt however long we lived. Jesus Christ paid it when he died on the *Cross. He set us free of this huge debt. It is a free gift. We receive it by God’s wonderful *grace.
It did not cost us anything. It cost him his life. On the one hand, God judged Christ for all our *sins. On the other hand, God judged us. His judgement made us free from our *sins. There is something else. We become the *righteousness of God. Everything that is right in God belongs to us. He is right and holy. We become the same. God makes us right with himself. All is well between God and us. He does not regard our *sins against us. Paul could never stop *preaching this message. It was the only thing that mattered to him.
Verse 1 Paul is writing to the Corinthians. He is writing as one who works together with God. He asks again that they return to God. The Corinthians were *believers. They had received God’s *grace. But some of them ask questions about Paul. They ask about his position as an *apostle. Paul has a great desire. It is that they do not lose their experience of God’s *grace. They may have doubts about him. Doubts like those might cause them to lose that experience. He does not want that.
Verse 2 ‘The time for action is now. Now is the time when God will support us. Now is the day of God’s *salvation’. Isaiah spoke these words to the *Israelites (Isaiah 49:8). Paul uses them now for the Corinthians. God will help them. For Paul, every day is a day of decision. It is a day of decision for those who are not yet *believers. It is also for those who are having doubts.
Verses 3-5 Paul fears that the Corinthians will find something wrong with his work. They will make this an excuse for not listening to his message. Paul had asked them ‘not to receive God’s *grace in vain’. They could refuse to receive Paul’s message. Then they would be refusing God’s *grace. They might then say that it is Paul’s fault. Paul is putting difficulties in their way. Paul does not want them to think that.
Paul did not want to draw attention to himself. We saw that in chapter 3 verse 1 and chapter 5 verse 12. He is *preaching a wonderful message. All he wants is that the Corinthians accept it. It is the message of God’s *salvation in Christ. That is why Paul brings attention to himself. It is the only reason. God has given him the authority. The Corinthians must understand that. The authority is for Paul to be an *apostle. Therefore, the message comes through Paul. It comes straight from God. Those who hear the message must trust him. This is important. That is why he says, ‘As servants of God we praise ourselves in every way’.
Paul explains further his claim to be God’s *apostle. He writes about his troubles and pains. He gives these in more detail in chapter 11. The list has nine parts. They are in groups of three.
First, there are troubles, difficulties and worries.
Then there are beatings (people struck him many times), prison and *riots. For the *riots, see Acts 13:50, 14:19, 16:19 and 19:29.
Last, there was hard work, nights with no sleep and hunger.
Paul shares all these troubles with his master, Jesus Christ. As servants of Jesus Christ, we need to be ready to suffer (Matthew 10:24).
Verses 6-7 Paul now lists good things that help a person’s character. Purity is to act in a way that is pure and honest. God will bless the pure. Only they can stand before him (Matthew 5:8). Understanding is knowledge. It is knowing what to do and when to do it. Patience is to be calm and at peace. Perhaps we live with difficult people. We should not worry about it. Kindness is to be kind to people and to want to help them. A kind person puts himself in the place of another person. He tries to understand how another person is feeling.
The power in Paul’s life is the *Holy Spirit. He grows in Paul the fruit of true love. *Holiness is a desire to honour and to serve God. This was of first importance to Paul. True speech is always to tell the truth. Especially, we should tell the truth of the *gospel. Our *faith rests not on human understanding. It rests on God’s power. In 1 Corinthians, Paul wants that ‘your *faith might not rest on men’s wisdom. It should depend on God’s power’ (1 Corinthians 2:5).
‘With *weapons of *righteousness in the right hand and in the left’. The sword would be the *weapon of attack. It would be in the right hand. The *weapon of defence would be in the left hand. It would be the *shield. Paul in other letters uses the idea of *weapons. This makes his words clear. These *weapons are not the *weapons of war. They are *spiritual *weapons. They stand for God’s *righteousness. They are in fact stronger than the world’s *weapons. They will win the battle against the enemy. The enemy is *Satan (Romans 10:3-5). Paul uses the word *weapon also in Ephesians chapter 6 verses 10-20.
Verses 8-10 Paul now lists nine pairs of opposites. One part of each pair looks at his work. It looks at it from a human point of view. The other part is the true view. Paul is ‘in Christ’. The true view is of the work of one who is ‘in Christ’. Paul’s *opponents look upon him as an object of shame. They give him a bad name. But there are those who see him no longer from a human point of view. They honour him and think well of him. Some thought that Paul needed a letter of recommendation. They saw him as a false *apostle. Other people would see him as a true *apostle. They saw him no longer from a human point of view.
In the world, Paul was of no importance. But true *believers knew him well. Paul often came before the judges. He was often in danger and beaten. From an ordinary view, his was not a happy life. But God helped him again and again. God kept him alive. By God’s *grace, Paul was able always to be cheerful. To the world, Paul would appear to be a sad man. Paul *preached the *gospel to the Corinthians. But he did not look for payment. Neither would he make the *gospel weak for reward (2:17). Paul had little money. In that way, he was poor. But in *spiritual experience he was rich. He knew the *blessings of Christ. He was able to share these *blessings with other people. He was rich in that way.
Paul has been showing that there is no fault in his work. He now asks the Corinthians to be friends with him again (verses 11-13).
Verse 11 Paul tells the Corinthians that he has spoken to them clearly and in the open. He has not hidden anything. Further, he has a good heart. His heart is large and wide. He wants only the best for them.
Verse 12 Paul opens wide his mouth and opens wide his heart. In the same way, he opens his friendship to the Corinthians. He has warm feelings towards them. But the Corinthians are different. They oppose Paul. They have a narrow place in their hearts for Paul. It is almost as if they have no place at all for him. Their hearts are opposite to Paul’s wide and open heart.
Verse 13 The Corinthians owed their birth as Christians to Paul. He now sees himself as their *spiritual father. As a father loves his children, so Paul loves the Corinthians. In verse 11, he spoke to them as ‘Corinthians’. Now he speaks to them as ‘my children’. Paul comes to them with an open heart (verse 11). He comes as a father to his children. He appeals to them to show the same open heart to him.
Verses 14-16 *Believers should not join together with those who do not *believe. A man should not join together two kinds of animals. This is in Leviticus 19:19. He might want to join an *ox and a *donkey. The result would be the birth of another kind of animal. The law did not permit that. Neither should he plant two kinds of seeds in the field. Neither should he wear clothes made from different materials.
This law is also in Deuteronomy 22:10. A man should not tie together an *ox and a *donkey. This would be to plough a field together. These animals are of a different kind. They do not mix by nature. Mixing like that is wrong. Through Christ, the Christians are pure. Those who are not Christians do not have the same nature. There is a difference between the two types of people. They must not join in relationship. They must not live in close relationship.
Paul uses this law as an example for *believers. *Believers should not mix with those who do not *believe. Here is an example. A *believer should marry only a *believer. Paul teaches this (1 Corinthians 7:39). Here Paul advises that a widow may marry again. But he adds this. The husband ‘must belong to the *Lord’. So, Paul could be teaching here about husbands and wives in marriage.
There were, however, people near who were not Christians. They *worshipped in their *temples. They *worshipped devils. Probably Paul is requesting Christians not to mix with them. Christians should not join them in their *worship (1 Corinthians 10:14-22). Verses 15-16 help us to understand this. Christians should not separate from *unbelievers. Paul does not mean that. They will be among them in their day to day lives.
Those who are right with God will keep away from *evil. Light has nothing to do with darkness. God has nothing to do with *Satan. Paul describes *salvation in this way. It is the movement of a person from one *spiritual country to another (Colossians 1:12-14). In one country, a person comes under the authority of the king of darkness. He is *Satan. In the other country, a person comes under the authority of God’s son. He is King Jesus. A person becomes a Christian. He then moves from *Satan’s country into Jesus’ country. Christians are under the authority of the king of light. They must have nothing to do with the king of darkness, *Satan. Christ has nothing in common with *Satan. Those who do not *believe practise evil works. The *believer will keep away from people like that.
The ‘*temple of God’ was in Jerusalem. It was the place where the *Jews *worshipped. The ‘*temple of God’ is now the Christian church. People *worshipped in other *temples. They *worshipped devils. *Worship of God in the Christian church is not like that. It is just the opposite.
Christians are ‘the *temple of the living God’. A Christian’s body is God’s *temple. That is how Paul describes it (1Corinthians 6:16-20). All Christians together are also God’s *temple (1Corinthians 3:16-17). Here he speaks about the church in that way. It is a *temple of a living God. It is not the same as other *temples. Their gods are dead gods. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them. I will be their God. They will be my people’ (Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27).
Paul is giving promises from the *Old Testament. God will live with his people. He will walk with them. He will be their God. They too will be his people. The same promise is in Revelation 21:3. In the *Old Testament days God was present with his people. At first, he was with them in tents. Then he was with them in the *temple. Now he is present everywhere. He is also near at hand. He is present in the lives of his people. He is present in them through his *Holy Spirit
Verses 17-18 Paul uses words from Isaiah and Ezekiel. Babylon was a nation that did not know God. Isaiah appeals to the *Jews. He asks them to come away from these people. He appeals to them to return to Jerusalem. In the same way, Paul appeals to the Corinthians. The people near to them *worship in their *temple. They *worship the false gods of Corinth. Paul desires that they leave these false gods.
Ezekiel says, ‘And I will receive you’. In the same way, God will receive the Corinthians. The people near to them do not know God. The Corinthians must come away from these people. Then God will receive them. Paul then brings a promise from 2 Samuel chapter 7 verses 8 and 14. It is that God will be a father to them. They will be his sons and daughters. The *Lord God is our father and we are his children. We are the *temple of the living God. God lives in this *temple. These are precious promises. Life with God is far better than death with other gods.
Verse 1 The Corinthians have all the wonderful promises of chapter 6 verses 16-18. Paul writes to them as his ‘dear friends’. Or it could be ‘the ones whom I love’. False *worship is like dirt on your body. Paul appeals to them. They should clean themselves from this dirt and *evil. What touches the body touches the spirit. What touches the spirit touches the body. Therefore anything to do with false *worship touches the whole body. You touch what is not clean. Then the outside (body) or the inside (spirit) will be dirty. Paul gives further understanding of this in his first letter (1 Corinthians 6:15-18; 10:19-21). Paul says, ‘Let us make ourselves pure’. He includes himself and his friends in everything he says.
For the meaning of ‘*reverence or fear of God’ please see the note on chapter 5 verse 11. Paul is not afraid of the *Lord. But he does respect him and wants to please him. In this whole section, Paul appeals to the Corinthians. They must have nothing to do with false *worship. They need to make their *holiness perfect. This comes from a healthy fear of God.
Paul is asking Christians to live holy and pure lives. They live in a dark world. False gods have made it a dirty world. They should stay away from those who *worship false gods. In that sense, Christians should be separate from the world. But that does not apply to normal daily life. They cannot nor should they be separate from ordinary life.
They should be careful about the kind of work that they do. There may be connections with *evil. They should avoid these. They should not marry someone who is not a *believer. Maybe they are already in a marriage like that. They should not try to separate from it (1 Corinthians 7:12-15). Each person should make decisions like that himself.
Verse 2 There were many wrong things in Corinthian society. Here are some examples:
Wrong use of sex
*Worship of false gods
Wrong use of money
People often made false charges against the early church. One related to the *communion supper. People accused them of killing their babies. This was during the supper. Therefore, people could have doubted Paul. They could have said that he had taken part in *sinful practices.
So, Paul appeals to the Corinthians again. He asks them to make room in their hearts for him and his friends. He appeals to the Corinthians to open their hearts. He lists three points:
He and his friends have done no wrong to anyone. In fact, the Corinthians had done wrong to him.
They had not led anyone into evil practices.
They had not themselves gained at cost to other people. Paul may be thinking about the *collection of money. It was for the *believers in Jerusalem. Perhaps the Corinthians are saying that Paul was not honest in this. Paul is honest in his use of money.
Verse 3 Paul has spoken strong words. The attacks against him and his friends are not true. This is why he uses strong words. He has, however, a purpose in speaking as he does. His purpose is not to blame them. Most of the Corinthians were on Paul’s side. Only a few opposed him. So, this is why he speaks as he does. Their friendship is of high quality. It is true friendship. They now live together in peace. If necessary, they would also die together. Their friendship is like that. When we suffer, it is not the end. Even when Christians die, it is not the end. Life always follows. Paul often writes about this truth. He has already spoken about this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12.
Verse 4 Paul has written severe words against the Corinthians. But he still *believes in them. He is still proud of them. Moreover, they are a help to him. Paul still has many troubles. The Corinthians, however, have acted upon his ‘severe letter’. That knowledge gives him great joy.
Paul has been defending his behaviour and his work. He now returns to the description of his travels (2:13).
Verse 5 Paul had hoped to find Titus in Troas. But he did not find him. So he went on to Macedonia. Here he still met troubles. There was no rest for his body. The troubles he refers to are arguments. The arguments were with those people who did not *believe. The arguments were also with *believers. These too opposed him. His inner fears could have been about his safety. He had also written his severe letter. He did not know how the Corinthians might receive it. That could have worried him.
Verses 6-7 Paul knew God’s comfort in all his troubles (1:3-11; Isaiah 49:13). Titus had come to him. That too was a comfort. Paul was glad to see him. The Corinthians had comforted Titus. Paul was also glad to hear about that. Titus told Paul what the Corinthians thought of him. They had great love for him. They had deep feelings for him. They knew about Paul’s difficulties. Paul’s joy was therefore greater than ever.
We as Christians should take God’s comfort to other people. There are always people who need comfort. They are in any church. Our hearts need to be open to help them. Many people are in trouble. We feel that we want to keep away from them. We feel that that we cannot do much to help. We do not know how to help them. This may be true. But we can always be by their side. We can pray for them and support them.
Verses 8-9 As a father is to his children, so Paul is to the Corinthians. Sometimes he knows that he must be hard on them. But it will be for their good. That is how it was with Paul’s letter. It was a severe letter. Paul says that he is sorry for that. But he knows that it was for their good. He knew that his letter hurt them. It made them sorry only for a while.
You write someone a severe letter. You feel that it is for their good. Still it is difficult to write it. It might hurt them when they read it. You know that. So, Paul was not happy about the pain that he caused. But the letter brought good results. He was happy about that. The Corinthians had regret. But it was the kind of regret that God wanted for them. That kind of regret led them to turn away from their *sin.
Verse 10 There is *godly regret and *worldly regret. Paul explains the difference. *Godly regret leads to a change of mind and heart. It then leads to a change of behaviour. By *faith, these lead to *salvation. So, instead of regret, there is a new joy. *Godly regret hates the *sin. There is a strong desire not to *sin again.
*Worldly regret is just the opposite. Someone has discovered your *sin. That is why you are sorry. Pain may follow the wrong action. You are sorry about that. But there is no change of mind or heart. There is no desire to change your behaviour. You might think that no-one will discover your *sin. Then you would repeat the *sin. There is no *faith in God in this kind of regret. The result is not *salvation. It is death.
David is an example in the Bible of *godly regret (Psalm 51). Peter is another (Mark 14.72). Then there is Paul himself (Acts 9:1-22). Esau is an example of *worldly regret (Genesis 27:1-40 and Hebrews 12:15-17). There is also Judas (Matthew 27:3-5).
Verse 11 Paul was pleased with the result of his severe letter. It had produced *godly regret in the Corinthians. He now lists some of the good things produced in them. They wanted to make themselves right again with Paul. Earlier they had not accepted Paul. They had not recognised him as God’s *apostle. Now they realise the damage that they might have caused. They fear God because of this.
They would now punish the man who had done wrong. Now they can say that they are without *guilt. They have taken the right action about the *guilty person.
Verses 12-13 Paul now gives his main reason for writing the severe letter. He wanted the Corinthians to act against the *guilty person. That was true. But that was not the main reason for the letter. It was not about Paul’s position with the Corinthians. He was not looking again for a place of honour with them. The letter brought *godly regret. They now realised how important Paul was to them. This could be only for their good.
Moreover God had called Paul to be his *apostle. It was important that the Corinthians understood this. To turn against Paul was to turn against Christ. Paul’s enemies were *preaching ‘a different *gospel’ (11:4). The Corinthians had acted in a way pleasing to God. The letter encouraged everyone. This was the good result of Paul’s letter.
Moreover, Paul had met Titus. This meeting brought him joy. Paul explains the reasons for his joy. Titus had fears. He wondered how the Corinthians would deal with him. But when he came to Corinth, he lost his fears. In fact, the Corinthians had given fresh life to his spirit.
14-16 Paul had spoken to Titus. He told him how good the Corinthians were. It was all true. Titus discovered this when he visited them. So Paul was not ashamed of the Corinthians. Titus now had greater love for them. Paul has great comfort in all this.
Paul’s feelings towards the Corinthians have changed a lot. We see this in this chapter. Paul thought he might even have died (1:8-9). This was because of his great troubles. Now Paul is full of joy for the Corinthians. This change has come through the power of God. There is no doubt about that. It comes through God’s Word and by his Spirit. At one time Paul’s work seemed to be at an end. Now he has new life and hope for the future.
Paul now writes about having a *collection. It will be among the *Gentile churches. It will be for the poor *Jewish *believers. They live in Jerusalem. There was little food there at that time. It was during the rule of the Roman Emperor Claudius. (An emperor is a very important ruler.)
Verses 1-2 Paul had already asked the Corinthians to give money. This was to help the *Jewish *believers in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). He speaks to them again about this. God had given *grace to the Macedonian churches (Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea). We have an account of Paul’s work in these churches (Acts 16:11-17:15). This *grace had given them a great desire. That desire was to give to other people. It was not easy for the Macedonian Christians to give. It was a time of great testing.
It was wonderful the way that these people gave. They were very poor people. A rich church should give to a poor church (verses 13-15). Paul says that this is right. But here we have a poor church giving to a poor church.
Paul also gives the reason why they gave so much. It was because of their great joy. They may not have had very much. They may not have given very much either. But they gave freely of what they had (Mark 12:41-44).
Verses 3-5 The Macedonians were very poor. So Paul did not expect them to give so much. However, they gave as much as was possible. In fact, they gave even more than that.
They gave because it pleased them to give. It was a benefit for them to give in this way. The word for gift is the same as the Greek word for ‘*grace’. They understood the truth of Jesus’ words. ‘You get more *blessing when you give than when you receive’ (Acts 20:35). The Greek word means ‘sharing’ (or *fellowship). It is the word used for Holy *Communion. The whole church shared in this act of love and care. They did it together. They did it for their *Jewish brothers and sisters. They saw this as an act to support the *saints. The word used for ‘support’ is the word used for a servant or *minister.
Paul was an *apostle ‘by the will of God’. He is now asking the Corinthians to give. It seems that he did not need to ask the same of the Macedonians. They gave because it was in their heart to give. They saw giving as a part of God’s will for them. That is why they gave. They lived to do God’s will. His will was that they gave everything of themselves. They gave their money, their time and everything. They gave all to Jesus Christ their *Lord. They gave also to Paul, his *minister. They gave their money. Their giving came out of love and care for other people. They gave it too in answer to God’s will for them.
God’s desire was that they recognise Jesus as their *Lord. Also his desire was that they would recognise Paul as God’s *minister. Paul compares the giving of the Corinthians with that of the Macedonians. Maybe this will cause shame to the Corinthians. He has another hope. It is that the Corinthians too will receive the gift of the *grace of giving (Romans 12:8).
Verse 6 Titus had already started to talk to the Corinthians. He spoke about the *collection. Their understanding of the *grace of giving had already begun. This was through Paul. So, Paul asks Titus to complete for them what he had begun.
Verses 7-8 Paul praises the Corinthians. He tells them that they are best in everything. They have the best *faith. They have the best speech and the best knowledge. They have a great desire and love for Paul and his friends. Paul then asks them to give in this *grace of giving. He wants them to give all that they can. He does not order them to give. He is testing their desire to give. He wants to know how real their *faith and love are. He does not want them to give because he orders them. They need to give because they want to give.
He tests them by comparing their *faith and love with other people. These would be the Macedonian Christians. Yes, Paul could order the Corinthians to give to the *collection. But he wants to see their reply. It will show the reality of their *faith.
Verse 9 Paul gives as an example ‘the *grace of our *Lord Jesus Christ’. God has great love for all the people of the world. He desires to save them from the results of *sin (John 3:16). This is by his *grace. We see this *grace in Christ. He was rich, but for us he became poor.
Although Jesus was a king, he was not born in a palace. There was no room for him in the hotel. He was born outside with the animals. He was a *carpenter. He would be like a shopkeeper today. So, he would not have been poor. He did not ask for money on the streets. He was not that kind of person. Jesus was a *preacher. People would give money to a *preacher. People asked *preachers to meals in their homes. The *disciples had enough money. They could give to the poor (John 12:3-6). Jesus was not a rich man. Neither was he a poor man.
So how can we say that he was poor? From the beginning, Jesus was God and was with God (John 1:1). He is equal with God. Jesus is all that God is. He shares with God in everything. This is how Jesus was rich. He came from the highest place. He descended to the lowest place. He became a man (Philippians 2:6). As God, he was rich. As man, he became poor.
Christ had no money. But that was not why he was poor. He did not become poor to make us rich with money. That is not what Paul meant. Christ came to this earth to give us different riches. These riches are our *salvation. They are the *blessings that come with that. The riches are *eternal life. This is for now. It is also with Christ for ever in the future.
Jesus became poor for us. But it was not only in his birth. Then he was a weak human baby. He became poor for us,
when people did not receive him (John 1:11),
when all his friends left him and ran away,
when Judas *betrayed him,
in the pain of the garden of *Gethsemane,
when he died for us on the *Cross.
All this made up the price paid for our *salvation.
Verses 10-11 Paul has given the example of Christ. He gave of himself in love. Paul now gives advice to the Corinthians. We obey God from the heart. This gives him great pleasure. This is the lesson that Paul is trying to teach. God wants us to obey him. It is always good for us too to obey him. But there is a better way. You do the right thing. But you do it because you want to (from the heart). That is better than doing it because someone tells you to do it.
Paul reminds the Corinthians how they were a year ago. Then they were the first to give. Moreover, they wanted to give. Then they had the eager desire to give. So, Paul now asks them to make the desire real. This can only be by action. Paul wants them to finish what they had begun. He wants them to act now and not later. Men from the church in Macedonia could arrive. They would see that the Corinthians had done nothing. That would have been bad. The Corinthians would be ashamed. The desire to give might be very strong. But it would be of no use unless they did give.
Verse 12 If the Corinthians wanted to give, that would please God. However, he did not expect them to give from what they did not have. It is the same for us.
Verses 13-15 In 46 AD there was very little food in Jerusalem. Other countries in that region were the same. Compared with the Jerusalem Christians, the Corinthians are rich. Paul wants them to be equal in what they have. Just now, the Jerusalem Christians are poor. The Corinthians have plenty. So Paul asks the Corinthians to give of their plenty. This will provide for the needs of the Jerusalem Christians. However there could be a different situation. The Jerusalem Christians could have plenty. The Christians at Corinth could have little. That time might come. Then Paul would expect the Jerusalem Christians to act the same.
He does not expect the rich to give so much that they make themselves poor. He does not want everyone to be equal and everyone poor. Paul is not giving an order. It is not an order that they must obey. He wants to see in them a desire to give. This desire must come from the heart.
Paul points to the way that God fed the children of Israel. This was when they were in the desert. God sent *manna from heaven. Moses gave an instruction to the head of each family. He was to take one measure. That would be for each member of his family. So, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much. And he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed’ (Exodus 16:18). Everyone had enough. No-one had too much. Paul sets an example for Christian churches to follow. Those who have too much should give to those who have too little.
Verses 16-17 God gave Paul a great care for the Corinthians. He gave Titus the same care. Paul thanks God for this. Titus has only just returned from Corinth. It was a long journey back. Paul did not need even to ask him to make the journey. Titus’s care was so great. Titus and Paul would agree about sending this gift to Jerusalem. The Corinthians did not need to doubt that.
Verses 18-19 Paul sends another friend with Titus. The churches speak well of him. They value him for his work. His work is *preaching the *gospel. Other churches had chosen this important man. So he too, with Paul and Titus, understood the importance of the *collection.
This *collection is ‘for the *glory of the *Lord’. That is how Paul sees it. At one time, there was a division. This was between *Jews and *Gentiles. This was before the time of Jesus. He broke down the wall of division. That happened when he died upon the *Cross (Ephesians 2:14). It was different after that. The *grace of God was working in both groups. He was working in the lives of both *Jewish and *Gentile Christians.
The *Jewish and *Gentile churches had different customs. The leaders in Jerusalem had given instructions about this. The *Jews had their own customs and laws. The *Gentile Christians did not need to follow these. So having this *collection was important. It showed unity between the two groups. The *collection would be to the *glory of God. That is how Paul saw it. It was through the new unity between the two groups. It showed too of the Corinthians’ desire to help the *Jewish Christians.
Verses 20-21 It seems that the *collection was quite a large one (verse 20). Paul’s enemies were always trying to find fault with him. Everyone should see that Paul used the money in the right way. That was important to Paul. Paul himself could have taken the money. But that would not have been right. The church should use it only to help the poor in Jerusalem.
Men would carry the money to Jerusalem. They must be men that people would trust. That was important (1 Corinthians 16:3). Paul controlled a large amount of money. He needed to be very careful. He must act in the right way. People must see that his actions are right. They must be right in the eyes of the *Lord. They must be right in the eyes of men. So, Paul chose three men other than himself. They would manage the *collection. These were Titus and two ‘brothers’. The word ‘brothers’ here means men who helped Paul. They were close to him.
Verse 22 Paul is sending the men to Corinth. He now speaks about the third person in the group. This man has proved himself. He is eager to serve the churches in many ways. He understands the Corinthians. He knows about their *faith and desire to give. He is therefore even more eager. He wants to join the group. He will be with Titus and the other brother.
Verse 23 Paul has chosen his men to send to Corinth. They are Titus and the two brothers. Titus is Paul’s friend. He works with Paul and is close to him. The two brothers represent their churches. They are also *apostles. The churches have sent them out. They will travel with Paul to Corinth. Perhaps later they would go to Jerusalem. They would then carry the *collection.
These brothers are also an honour to Christ. They are an honour to his *glory. The *collection is an honour to the *Lord (or the *glory of Christ) (verse 19). That is how Paul speaks about it. These two brothers share in Paul’s work. So they bring *glory to Christ. They represent their churches. Their churches also bring *glory to Christ.
People have the control of money in a church. It is important that they do what is right. They do it in the eyes of the *Lord. They do it also in the eyes of men (verse 21).
Verse 24 Paul hopes that the Corinthians will have the *collection. He hopes that they will have it ready. They must have it ready for the team when they arrive. That will be to show:
the Corinthians’ love for Paul,
that the good things that he has said about them are true.
Blessing will also come to the churches of the two brothers. They will see for themselves the love of the Corinthians.
Verses 1-2 Paul writes to the Corinthians about the *collection. But there is no need for him to do this. They themselves had asked him about it in the first place (1 Corinthians 16:1-5). Moreover, they were eager to give. He had told the Macedonians how eager they were. That made the Macedonians even more eager. They wanted to join with the Corinthians in the *collection. The church in Achaia had also been ready to give. This was since last year. Moreover, the Corinthians had set a good example. It gave most of the Macedonians the desire to follow them. We note here how Paul praises both the Corinthians and the Macedonians. He does not tell one church about the bad things in the other church. He points only to the good things in both.
Verses 3-4 Paul knew that the Corinthians had a great desire to give. Therefore, he had a high opinion of them. He had told the Macedonians of this. He needs however, to be sure that they act upon their desire. So, he is sending Titus and the two brothers ahead. There is a reason for this. Some from Macedonia might visit with Paul. But the Corinthians might not have done anything about the *collection. How would Paul feel about that? He would be ashamed that he had been so sure about them. The Corinthians too would be ashamed. Macedonians did in fact visit Jerusalem with Paul. Acts 20:2-6 tells of three of them. They were Sopater of Beroea, and Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica.
Verse 5 Paul would arrive in Corinth. Maybe the Corinthians had done nothing about the *collection. Or they might have given little. Then Paul would have been sorry. He wanted them to give because they wanted to give. They should not give because Paul had told them to. Paul wanted them to give out of love. Not because they felt that they must give. To give because of love would be better.
Paul could have visited the Corinthians. He could then have spoken about the *collection. But he wants to teach the Corinthians about the purpose of giving. He thought it better to write this in a letter. Then they would have time to think. They would have time to understand. He could have spoken to them in person. But then they might have thought that he was ordering them to give. Paul’s desire was that they give out of love. So, Paul sends Titus and the two brothers ahead. They would make sure that everything was in order. He also wants the *collection to come from the heart. He knows that then it will be a good one. *Collections like that are usually large ones.
Verse 6 Paul helps the Corinthians to understand his teaching. He uses an example from work on the farm. You sow few seeds. Then you will gather a small harvest. You sow many seeds. Then you will gather a large harvest. Here the seeds are the gifts to the *collection. You give plenty. The more blessed will be those who receive the gifts.
The Bible often uses this example of sowing and gathering. You sow good things. You will then gather the fruit of love (Hosea 10:12-13). That fruit will last for ever. The opposite is also true. If you sow *evil, you will gather *evil. What you sow, you will gather (Galatians 6:7).
Verse 7 Paul again asks the Corinthians to examine themselves. They must ask themselves what their reasons are for giving. Paul wants them to give. Therefore, they feel that they must give. That is not a good reason. Giving may help them to feel good. But then they would be pleasing themselves. Maybe they give through pride. Other Christians will see them give. Then other Christians will think well of them. There is also another thought. Maybe God will love them more if they give more to him. That is certainly not true.
There are wrong reasons for giving. You feel that you ought to give. So you give. Maybe you do not give. Then you think that God will not love you. You should give because you want to give. You should give from the desire of your heart. That is the right kind of gift. You think and decide in your heart about your giving. Then you will know how much you should give. This *collection is to help the poor *Jewish Christians. It also tells of the Corinthians’ love for them.
This verse describes a person who gives. ‘God loves a someone who gives cheerfully’. He is a happy person. Happy here means being very happy. He laughs in a very loud way. He laughs and jumps for joy. That is how he feels when he gives. That is what the Greek word for ‘cheerful’ means. God loves someone who is happy to give. It is because God himself is happy to give (see verse 15).
Verse 8 The word ‘all’ appears four times in this verse. The word ‘every’ appears once. There is:
all that you need and
every good work.
The Macedonians thought that they were poor. Yet they were able to give much. The Corinthians were richer than the Macedonians. God had given them plenty of his *grace. Many results would follow. *Grace would be enough to cover everything. It would be enough to cover every occasion. It would always cover everything that they needed. They will flow over in good works. It would be like a river in flood. There is so much of it. The results of this large amount of *grace would be like that.
Verse 9 Paul here writes words from Psalms 111 and 112. These words are about God’s *blessings. God blesses the one who fears him. He blesses the one who loves to obey him. God gives much to a person like that. He gives him all the *blessings of Psalms 111and 112. That person in turn gives much to help the poor (Psalm 112:9). God has made a person like that right with himself. He will stay with God for ever.
Verse 10 Now Paul refers to Isaiah 55:10 and Hosea 10:12-13. The farmer sows seeds of wheat. When the harvest comes, he uses some of the wheat. He makes bread to sell. He makes some for his own needs. He keeps some of the seeds. Later he will sow them again. Each year the harvest will increase. Then he will have more and more seed to sow.
The seeds the Corinthians sow are their gifts. The harvest that God brings will be sufficient for their needs. But there is more than that. It will bring a rich harvest to the *Jewish Christians (verses 12-14). The more they give, the more God will make them rich. The richer they are, the more they will have to give.
The Bible does teach that God blesses people. He blesses those who love him. He blesses them with health and riches. God gave Job twice the amount he had before his troubles. This is in the last chapter of Job. It is true that God does bless us in this way.
However, we must be careful to have a right understanding of this. We must give in the right way. We might think, ‘I will give more to God. Then God will bless me more’. That would not be right. You might think, ‘If I give much, God will give much back to me’. God does not promise that. God will give you all that you need. That is what God promises. Then he will give you enough for every good work (verse 8).
Verse 11 God’s *grace was working in them. That gave the Macedonians the desire to give. God’s *grace would work in the Corinthians too. God’s *grace would make them very rich. They could give every time that they saw a need. Some of us have plenty to give. There are many needs about us, but we do not always see them. We need God’s *grace to open our eyes to the needs of people.
Many took part in this *collection. Many, other than Paul, gave. Some took the *collection to Jerusalem. They all helped those in need, so many would be able to thank God.
Verse 12 Paul describes these gifts of money as a ‘support’ or ‘help ’. Paul uses the same word in his letter to the Philippians (Philippians 2:30). Here Paul speaks about Epaphroditus. He almost died. The result was ‘to make up for the help that you (the Philippians) could not give me (Paul)’. The gifts not only helped those in need. They were also an act of help to God. Paul sees this result in any kind of ‘help’. It is that many people will give many thanks to God.
Verse 13 The Corinthians have passed the test. They passed it through their desire to give. Men will praise God. They have obeyed the good news of Christ. As they love Jesus, so they obey. They give as Jesus loved and gave (even his life). They act as Christ would act. In this they bring happiness to the *Jewish *believers. It will be the same for any other people that they help.
God *saves us by his free *grace. It is not through good works such as giving. We do not give to prove that God has *saved us. We give to show our love to him. We give to thank him that he has *saved us.
Verse 14 This *collection for the *Jewish Christians will bless them. It will bless them in many ways. They will be able to buy food and clothes. Also, they will see the *grace of God working. They will see it working in the lives of the Corinthians. They will have a new love for the Corinthians. They will pray for them. The *Jewish and the *Gentile Christians should be one people. They should be one in Christ. This is the desire of Christ (and Paul). The result of this *collection will be just that.
In these verses, there are many lessons about giving. Giving helps those who are in need. It helps the one who receives. It gives him new *faith in other people. Perhaps he thinks that no-one loves him. It will help him to know that that is not true. He will thank God more. People live separate lives today. The act of giving brings people together. It no longer separates people. It joins one person to another.
Verse 15 Christ was rich. By God’s *grace he became poor. It was for us (8:9). We cannot understand this gift of God. We cannot describe it. We cannot find the right words. Paul uses a Greek word. No other books of that time use that word. Paul uses it only in this letter. The gift is Jesus. God has given us this wonderful gift. We should compare all our giving with that. We should be happy when we give. We should thank God when we give. We should thank him that we can share this wonderful gift. We can share it with some other person.
This *collection was a good one. We know this from other *Scriptures (Romans 15:25-26; Acts 24:17-21).
We are in the last three chapters of Paul’s letter. There is now a big change in the way he writes. In chapters 1-9, he comforts the Corinthians. He tells them how pleased he is with their behaviour. But their present behaviour does not please him. A group of Christians has come to Corinth. They oppose Paul. He is strong in his attack against them. This group has entered the church at Corinth. They have turned the people against Paul. This is an attack against Paul. It is an attack against his authority. Again, Paul needs to defend himself. The attack against him is a serious matter to Paul.
Verse 1 Paul refers to the words that Christ spoke of himself (Matthew 11:29). Jesus said that he was gentle and humble in heart. So, Paul now speaks to the Corinthians in the same spirit. Paul did not come as a strong person when he first visited them. His *opponents say that he does not have sufficient authority. He has not the authority that an *apostle ought to have. Paul is strong sometimes, but at other times, he is weak. He is strong when he is far away from them. He is weak when he is close to them.
Verse 2 Christ said that he was gentle and humble in heart. He did not mean that he was weak. He was not afraid of people. Paul can say the same. Paul too will act as a strong man. He will have no fear. He will be strong when it is necessary. Paul’s enemies say that he acts as a weak person. He does not have the authority of an *apostle. He acts as the world acts. That is what they say.
These people said other things. He did not have the help of dreams and *visions (12:1). Neither did he perform great wonders and *miracles (12:11-12). They said too that Christ did not speak through him (13:3). They said that Paul acted in the way of the world. He did not have the leading of the *Holy Spirit. But if it was necessary, Paul could be strong. He could act as a true *apostle. He is coming. He hopes, however, that it will not be necessary to act in that way.
Verse 3 We all do the same things. We eat and we sleep. We work and we play. We all know joy and regret. Paul agrees that we live in the world. The world fights in its own way. Paul will not agree to fight the war as they do. In the world’s way, you fight in your own power. You do not fight in the power of the *Holy Spirit. The world fights in certain ways that would not be right for a Christian.
Verse 4 We use *weapons in the Christian war. The war is against *Satan and *evil. A *stronghold is a castle. The castle is *Satan’s power. With that power, he has control over the lives of people. Paul uses *weapons to win in this battle. But they are not the *weapons of the world. They are not swords or guns. The *weapons that Paul uses have the power of God in them. In this verse the *weapon is the *preaching of the *gospel. God sends his power into the world through this *preaching.
Verse 5 The castle that Paul is thinking about is on a high hill. It has thick walls. No-one can get through them. The castle is in people’s minds. Their minds are against God. The *gospel is about *salvation through Jesus Christ. But people do not want to hear it. The castle describes a certain type of mind. It sets itself against the knowledge of God. It is the castle of human pride. It is the arguments that people make against the *gospel.
Paul will destroy these false arguments. The battle is in the minds of people. Paul will win the battle. He will do it by *preaching the *gospel. He will break false arguments. People’s thoughts will now be under the rule of Jesus Christ. Paul’s every thought is under control to obey Christ. He is that kind of person.
Verse 6 There were ways in which the Corinthians were not obeying Paul. The church at Corinth came as a result of Paul’s work. He was their *apostle. Maybe *Jewish Christians had come to the church. They might have *preached a different *gospel. One person could have started to control the church. Or perhaps it was a group of people. There is another possibility. Maybe the *Jewish Christians were asking the Corinthians to obey *Jewish laws. One of these would be *circumcision. Paul could not tell *Gentile Christians to obey laws like that. That would be to *preach a different *gospel (11:4). Paul even describes people like that as ‘servants of *Satan’ (11:13-15).
Paul wanted complete *obedience. They must obey his (true) *gospel. Paul waits for them to obey him. They must change their minds. They must bring their minds under the control of Christ. Then Paul would be ready to punish the false *apostles. When we *preach the *gospel we are in a battle. It is for the minds of people. These verses remind us of that.
Verse 7 Paul claims that he and his workers are *apostles of Jesus Christ. Their work is to *preach the *gospel. Jesus Christ himself has sent them. The Corinthians should not doubt this. It is true. That ought to be quite clear to them. It is a fact. Moreover, there is a church in Corinth. That should be the proof. Suppose that Paul’s *opponents also belong to Christ. Suppose that they also are his *apostles. That is what they think. But Paul doubts this. Then it is also true that Paul belongs to Christ.
Verse 8 Jesus Christ gave Paul authority to *preach the *gospel. This was when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. For Paul it was a very important meeting. There Christ made him an *apostle. People needed to know this. Maybe he was not speaking with the authority of an *apostle. If this was so, people should know it. Paul was very careful about this. He could be giving just his advice or opinion (11:17). It was a very important matter. The Corinthians must know that he spoke as Christ’s *apostle. As an *apostle, he spoke with power and with authority. For that reason they must obey him. He may have been weak. He was weak as Christ was weak. But the power of God worked through him just the same.
Christ gave Paul this authority. He gave it to build up the Corinthians. His purpose was not to destroy them. Often Paul needs to talk about his authority. But he would rather not talk like that. He does not keep changing his behaviour. They need to know that. He might be present with them. He might be writing a letter (verses 9-11). His behaviour is always the same. So, no-one will be able to cause him to be ashamed.
Verses 9-10 Paul’s *opponents have been speaking to the Corinthians. Paul knows what they have been saying. He now repeats what they say. They say that he sends them letters using severe words. He speaks about an authority that he does not have. When he is present in person, he is weak.
Perhaps Paul had an illness. Perhaps he was small. Maybe he was not a big, strong man. There is a writing about 200 AD. The title is ‘The acts of Paul and Thecla’. It says that Paul was a small man. He was bald. His legs were not straight. He had a big, bent nose. He had thick hairs over his eyes. That may or not be true. This is how people then may have seen Paul. It gives us some idea of what he looked like.
Paul’s *opponents did not like the way that he spoke (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul may not have been a clever speaker. A man who had *sinned spoke against Paul. Paul then wrote a severe letter. He chose not to meet the man in person.
Verse 11 Paul may not have shown his authority on his previous visit. That does not mean that he had no authority. Paul can be as strong when he is present. He can be strong in his letters. Paul will show the Corinthians his strength. This will be on his next visit,
Verse 12 In those days, a teacher would say that he was a good teacher. He would compare himself with other teachers. People compared themselves with each other. They compared themselves with Paul. These are some of the guides they used:
Being a good speaker (10:1)
Asking payment for their speaking (11:7-11)
Signs and wonders (12:12)
These, they say, show that they have special authority from God. Also, they show that God speaks through them. They speak, so they say, with words of strength and *victory.
Paul, however, was often weak. Sometimes people behaved badly towards him. Sometimes he was in prison. Jesus himself warned about this. Life would be like this for those who followed him. These people compare themselves one with another. They are not wise, says Paul. They do not understand. There is only one right way to compare oneself. It is to compare oneself with our *Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
Verses 13-14 God chose Paul to be a *minister. He was a *minister to the *Gentile nations. There had been an important meeting in Jerusalem. They decided where each of the *apostles should *preach the *gospel. The decision was that James, Peter and John should go to the *Jews. Paul and Barnabas should go to the *Gentiles (Galatians 2:7-9). These are the ‘proper limits’ of Paul’s work. Part of those ‘proper limits’ was to reach ‘even to you’ (the Corinthians). So, Paul was not working where God did not allow him to work. No-one could say that.
These men said that Paul worked outside his ‘proper limits’. Paul said that he had the right to *preach to the Corinthians. The first reason was that God had sent him to the *Gentiles. The second reason was that he was the first to *preach in Corinth.
Verse 15 Paul does not need to go beyond his ‘proper limits’. He does not need to talk about his work for God. He does not need to talk about the work of other people. He does not need to compare his work with their work. He has no need to show that he is doing a good job. Paul suggests that his *opponents are doing that. They are praising themselves for work that Paul has done already.
Paul hopes that the *faith of the Corinthians will grow. Then his work among them will grow. They too will share in Paul’s *ministry. Paul would then have a stronger place to work from. The church at Corinth would become a strong rock. That would help him to move to other *Gentile nations.
Verse 16 One of these nations could be Spain. Paul speaks about his desire to take the *gospel there (Romans 15:24). He could be thinking too of other countries in that area. Paul will become a strong rock. Other people have already *preached in other areas. Paul does not want to *preach in those areas. He does not wish to build on the works of other people (Romans 15:20). He would not work in a place where God had not sent him. Neither would he take any credit for the work done by another person. Paul suggests this about his *opponents. They were working in Corinth (Paul’s church). Therefore, they were doing what Paul would not do. He was careful to stay inside the limits given to him by God.
The world is large. There are many people in it who have not heard the *gospel. There is still a great need for *preachers. They need to go to places where other people have not been.
Verse 17 The wise man should not be proud about his wisdom. The *prophet Jeremiah said this. The strong man should not be proud of his strength. The rich man should not be proud of his riches. God is good and kind. He is right in all that he does. A man should understand and know God (Jeremiah 9:23-24). This is what a man should be proud of. Jesus taught the 70 *disciples the same lesson. They had done many good works and *miracles. They were happy about all that they had done (Luke 10:17-20). But Jesus told them a better way to be happy. There is a right kind of pride in the work that we do. We should be proud of it. But we do it only by God’s *grace. We should therefore always give him the *glory.
Verse 18 It is God who tests his workers. A man may praise himself. But the *Lord does not say that he has done well. A person may come through a difficult testing. But only God can tell him that he has done well. Only God can say that he has passed the test.
Paul is afraid that the Corinthians will turn away from his (true) *gospel. They might follow the different (false) *gospel. This is the *gospel of his *opponents. Paul has to do things that he does not like doing. He describes this in this section. He does not like speaking of his authority. He does not like talking about himself. He does not like comparing himself with other people. He may have to do any of these things. But he wants only that Christ has the *glory.
Verse 1 It is not right for a man to praise himself. That is what Paul has just said. Only God should give praise. Therefore it is foolish for his *opponents to praise themselves. The Christians at Corinth agree with Paul’s *opponents. They think that praising yourself is right. But this is foolish. So, Paul too will be foolish and praise himself.
Verses 2-3 The example Paul now uses is that of marriage. In Paul’s day, there were two parts to a marriage. The first was ‘the *betrothal’. In that ceremony, the man and woman became man and wife. It made the marriage legal, but they had to wait a year. This was for the final part of the marriage. That was the ‘the *nuptial’. During the one year, no sex took place between them. Only death or divorce could break the marriage. The woman might sleep with another man during the year. That would be *adultery. The *nuptial part made the marriage final and complete.
Paul had great care for the Corinthians. He promised them to one husband. That husband was Christ. It was the *betrothal ceremony. He was acting for God in this. They must remain pure. Paul had to make sure of that. It would be until the final part of the marriage (the *nuptial). Then the marriage would be complete. That would be when Christ came back again to the earth.
Paul refers to Eve in the Garden of Eden. There the snake spoke to Eve with pleasing words. Eve listened to him. It is the same with the Corinthians. Paul is afraid that *Satan will cheat the Corinthians. It would be the same as he cheated Eve. *Satan might turn their thoughts away from a pure love of Christ.
Eve ate the fruit. Her mind had given way to the snake’s lies. It was the same with the Corinthians. There was a battle in their minds. They lost that battle. They had a problem with their minds. Paul has already spoken about this. He said that we make every thought a *prisoner. We make every thought obey Christ (10:5). Paul writes about this too in another letter. It is the letter to the Philippians. He prays that the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
The snake did not tempt Eve to *sexual *sin. The same applies here with the Corinthians. *Satan did not tempt them to *sexual *sin. *Satan tempts in the mind. The main attack of *Satan is on the minds of Christians. Through their minds, he tries to lead them away from their love of Christ.
Verse 4 What God says is his Word. The snake told Eve this: What God said was not important. But he really said that God’s Word does not matter. Therefore, Eve need not listen to it. It is the same with the Corinthians. They listen to the false *apostles. They *believe that their (different) *gospel is the true one. *Satan tells them to listen to that. *Satan is telling the Corinthians that Paul’s *gospel is not true. Therefore, they need not listen to it.
The false *apostles *preached another Jesus. It may be that they *preached a Jesus of power and strength. That was true, but it was not the complete truth. When Jesus came to this earth ‘he made himself nothing’ (Philippians 2:7). Jesus knew what it was to be weak. He knew what it was to suffer. The *disciples left Jesus alone. They even left him to die. Jesus knew what that was like. Jesus allowed himself to die. No-one took his life from him. He was still the *Lord when he died. That was the true Jesus. Any other Jesus would be another Jesus. That was Paul’s understanding.
Paul *preached the *gospel to the Corinthians. This was when he was with them. The Spirit whom they received was the *Holy Spirit. Paul *preached in the power of the *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit grew the fruit of the Spirit. He grew it in the lives of the Corinthians. This brought change in their lives. The fruit of the Spirit is love, kindness, patience and *gentleness (Galatians 5:22). But now they have received a different spirit.
The spirit of Paul’s *opponents was different. A different harvest came from that spirit. It was not the fruit of the *Holy Spirit. The Corinthians looked for better jobs. They wanted to take control of other people’s lives. That was the kind of spirit that was in them. Paul *believed that this spirit came from *Satan (11:13-15).
They had received a different *gospel. Certain things were important to these *opponents of Paul. This letter lists them. They are:
Clever speaking and knowledge (11:6)
Dreams and *visions (12:1)
Signs and wonders (12:12-13).
They talked of power and strength. They put these qualities first in their *preaching. Jesus died in weakness. But he also died as *Lord. The Corinthians did not talk very much about Jesus. They *believed the false teaching of Paul’s *opponents. Paul cannot understand how they can be so foolish.
Verse 5 Suppose that there was a list of *apostles. Then Paul’s *opponents would be the highest in it. That is what they would think. They would think that they were the best of all. But Paul is not less than these (so-called) great *apostles. Paul is certain of that.
Verse 6 People used to have special lessons. These would be in the art of speaking. They earned their living by speaking in public. Paul was not one of these people. Paul agreed that he might not be a good speaker. He might not be as good as the false *apostles are, but there is something far more important. It is that he is better than they are in knowledge. God gave this knowledge to Paul. It was when he met with Paul on the road to Damascus. There God made known to him the mystery of the *gospel (Ephesians 1:9).
Paul understands the mystery of the *gospel. That is what he means by knowledge. These people, however, do not understand this mystery. In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, Paul speaks words from Isaiah 64:4. The *prophet says, ‘No eye has seen. No ear has heard. No mind has understood what God has made clear. He has made it clear to those who love him. Then Paul adds that God has made it clear to us by his Spirit. Paul has this kind of knowledge. But his *opponents do not have it. Paul taught the Corinthians. This was during the 18 months or more that he was in Corinth. He would have made this very clear to them. He made it clear too in his letters.
Paul worked among the Corinthians. But he did not ask them to pay him. This did not please them. He refused to accept pay. His enemies gave these reasons why:
Paul had a low opinion of them.
Paul had an ordinary job. He made tents. That was not the right kind of work for an *apostle (they said).
It showed that Paul had no real love for them.
In spite of this, Paul will not change his practice. In no way will he copy his *opponents (verse 12). He will not put himself on the same level with them. Paul now starts a strong attack on his *opponents (13-15).
Verse 7 We know that Paul made tents to earn money. This was during his first stay in Corinth (Acts 18:1-4). The Greeks regarded a teacher as a very important person. Teachers did not work with their hands. They had a poor opinion of work like that. It was not good enough for a teacher. That is why they would not have thought well of Paul. So Paul argues like this.
Let us agree:
that what the Greeks think is true
that this is not the right way for a teacher like me to earn money
that yes, I earn money in this way
by doing this, I bring myself down
therefore, I am not in the high place of a teacher.
I *preach the *gospel to you and take no money for it. Is that a *sin? How can it be a *sin for me to bring myself low? Think about the result. It is to raise you up.
Verse 8 Paul uses the word ‘rob’ here. It is a strong word. It has a strong meaning. It is like robbing a dead soldier. It is like taking his *armour. Once he depended on it. Paul had not taken money from the Corinthians, but the effect was this. He had, in effect, ‘robbed’ other churches. He had used their money to support the Corinthians. It was important for the Corinthians to understand this.
Verse 9 Paul earned money. But it was not enough to pay for his work in Corinth. The churches in Macedonia helped him. Perhaps the church at Philippi helped him too (Philippians 4:10-18). Therefore, he did not need to ask for help from the Corinthians.
Verse 10 Corinth was the capital city of the Roman area of Achaia. Nowhere in this area will Paul stay quiet. He will not accept payment from the Corinthians. He will go on telling everyone this. Paul had refused their help, but he had allowed the Macedonians to help him. This did not please the Corinthians.
Verse 11 Paul will not accept money from the Corinthians. Paul’s *opponents have suggested a reason. They say that it is because Paul does not love them. He had accepted payment from the Macedonians. Therefore, he loved the Macedonians, but he did not love the Corinthians. Paul did not try to argue about this. He had no need to. God knows his true feelings towards them.
The Corinthians’ money gives them the right to have power over other people. This is how they think. The rich person’s desire is to gain by his riches. It will not please him if he cannot do that. The gain he desires is power. He wants to have a position of power over other people. There are rich Corinthians in this big city. They need to learn a lesson. It is about the use of money. It is possible to give to the poor for the wrong reasons. This is especially true of those who are rich. It gives them a sense of power. They have power over the one who receives. That person will then be in debt to the rich person.
There is another thing. Paul could feel that he was in debt to the rich people. It would then be more difficult for him to *preach the *gospel to them. It would not be easy to receive money from rich people. For he would be *preaching things that they might not want to hear.
Verse 12 Paul is certain about this. He will not change his ways. He will not ask the Corinthians for money. Paul’s *opponents claim to be equal to him. They claim that they are equal in every way. Paul wants to show them that this is not true. Paul’s *opponents expected the Corinthians to pay them for their work. Paul was not against a *minister being paid (1 Corinthians 9:7-14), but these men were greedy for gain. It was not so with Paul. That was one way that Paul was not equal to them. These men accepted payment. They wanted Paul to do the same. Suppose he did accept payment. They could say that they were equal with Paul.
Verse 13 Paul says what he thinks about his *opponents. He says it with strong words. They are false *apostles. They are not honest workers. They only pretend to be *apostles of Christ.
Verse 14 The snake tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. It seemed to her to be an *angel. It seemed only to want the best for her. There was a *Jewish story. It told of *Satan coming to Eve. He looked like an *angel. Paul understood *Satan’s ways (2:11). *Satan tempts us, but he does not always seem to be evil. He comes instead as an *angel of goodness and light.
Verse 15 Paul has no doubt about what his *opponents are like. *Satan hides his true character. People cannot see who he really is. His servants will do the same. These people appear as servants of right and goodness. There are people in the church like this. They appear to be servants of God. The truth can be that they are servants of *Satan. And they may not even know it.
All must appear before the *judgement seat of Christ. Paul has reminded his readers of this (5:10). Then they will receive good or *evil. It will be for what they have done during their lives.
In this letter Paul shows three ways in which *Satan attacks *believers. This is how he tries to separate people. It makes them weak. The ways are:
He makes us have a hard heart and refuse to *forgive other people (2:10-11).
*Satan tries to keep people in the dark. Then they cannot see the *glory, the power and the beauty of Christ (4:4).
*Satan tries to keep Christians apart by false teaching about Christ (11:3, 14).
Paul does not like talking about himself. Only a fool talks like that, but Paul’s *opponents talk a lot about themselves. Therefore, they are fools. The Corinthians have listened to them. That is sad. Paul is talking like a fool. The Corinthians need to understand why he is talking like this. He does not have the *Lord’s authority for this. So why must he talk about himself as the Corinthians do? There are fools other than Paul. The Corinthians are wise enough to listen to them.
Verse 16 Paul knows that this way of talking is fool’s talk. However, he does not want the Corinthians to think that he is a fool. That is not true. They are listening to the false *apostles. That is the reason why he talks like this. All right, he says, deal with me as a fool. So, listen to me as you have listened to the other fools (Paul’s *opponents). You agreed with them. Then agree with me.
Verses 17-18 It is not the *Lord’s way to talk like this. Paul makes this clear. The *Lord does not want Paul to talk about his successes. These people talk as the world does. They speak about the wonderful things that they have done. They speak about power. They speak about the opinions of men. They speak about great *spiritual experiences. But they do not speak about what pleases God. This kind of talk has brought success to Paul’s *opponents. The Corinthians have listened to them. So Paul must talk in the same way. But he knows that it is foolish.
Verse 19 The Corinthians were proud of their wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:18-20). Paul now laughs at them. What wise people are you? You are so wise that you listen to fools. You are wise enough to listen to fools like these. Then listen to a fool like me.
Verse 20 Paul is like Jesus his Master. He came as a servant to other people. He came not as a boss but as a servant. Paul’s *opponents were not like that. They were the bosses. The Corinthians were the servants. The Corinthians did not object to this. Look at what they are doing to you, says Paul. They have made you their servants. They are greedy for your money. They lie to you and you *believe them. They lift themselves up. They put themselves in a high position. They would strike you in the face if you did not please them. That is what they are doing to you.
Verse 21a Paul’s *opponents have told the Corinthians that Paul is weak. Paul agrees with that. He and his friends are weak. Again Paul laughs at them. He is ashamed to agree with his *opponents. He and his friends are weak. We are too weak to:
make you our servants
be greedy for your money
lie to you
put ourselves in a high position
strike you in the face if you do not please us.
Yes, we are weak. We are too weak to act in the awful ways of our *opponents.
Paul’s *opponents took pride in their ancestors. Ancestors are people in the past from whom the families of your father or mother came. Their parents and their parents before them were *Jewish. They claimed too that they were servants of Christ. Paul claims that he too is *Jewish. Also that he is a better servant of Christ than they are.
Verses 21b-23a Paul does not like talking about himself. That is why he keeps saying, ‘I am speaking as a fool’. But he knows that it is necessary to talk like this. Paul’s *opponents claim that they are so much better than Paul. Paul deals with their claims:
First that he is *Jewish and a servant of Christ (22-23)
Then that he has dreams and high *spiritual experiences (12:1)
Then that he does *miracles (12:12).
The first claim that Paul makes is that he is a true *Jew. His parents were *Jews. All before them were *Jews. The next claim is that he is an *Israelite. There may not be much difference between ‘*Jews (*Hebrews)’ and ‘*Israelites’. It was possible for a *Gentile to become a *Jew. He would then become an *Israelite. So an *Israelite may be one who is not born a *Jew. A person like that would then follow the religion and customs of the *Jews.
The next claim is that Paul is ‘a *descendant of Abraham’. This means that his parents and grandparents came from Abraham (see Romans 11:1). Paul may be giving a *spiritual meaning to ‘*descendants of Abraham’. God said that Abraham became right with God. This was through his *faith. It was not through the (*Jewish) law (Romans 4:3). We too may therefore become children of Abraham (Romans 4:24). We do this by accepting Jesus Christ by *faith.
Paul uses these different words to show that he is *Jewish. It is difficult to understand why he does this. Maybe it is because his *opponents make this claim. Paul can then make an equal claim to be *Jewish.
Paul still talks as a fool. These people may be servants of Christ. However, he does not agree that they are (verses 13-15). They may say that they are servants of Christ. But Paul will not accept that they are equal. He is a better servant. No servant of Christ should compare himself with another. Paul has already said this (1 Corinthians 1:11-16). It is, however, a serious a matter. So he feels that he must talk like this. He feels that he is right to go on talking like a fool.
Verses 23b-25 Paul lists his severe tests. ‘See what a fool I am’, he says. He is a fool for Christ. He is a *missionary. He has worked harder than anyone else (1 Corinthians 15:10). He was in prison for a night. That was in Philippi. It was before he wrote this letter (Acts 16:19-40). There must therefore have been other times of testing. We do not know about every occasion. When they whipped Paul, they hit him very hard. Many times he nearly died. Paul explains this further in verses 23-24.
Jesus warned his *disciples that men would whip them. This would happen in the *synagogues (Matthew 10:17). Paul had ordered this for the Christians (Acts 22:20). It was before he himself became a Christian.
But there should be no more than 40 strokes. That was the *Jewish law (Deuteronomy 25:1-3). They could however make a mistake in counting. Then the person might receive more than 40 strokes. That would have broken the law. Therefore, they gave 39 strokes. That was to make sure that they kept inside the law. They whipped Paul like this five times. It happened in *synagogues. A punishment like that could kill a man.
Paul was a Roman citizen. Therefore, they could not beat him with big sticks. That was the law. Acts 16:22-23 tells of one beating like that. It was in Philippi. They beat him three times with big sticks. Once they threw stones at Paul. They could do this until a person died. This was the *Jewish law. Sometimes a mad crowd would throw stones at a person. This happened to Paul in Lystra. Everyone thought that he was dead (Acts 14:19).
Three times Paul was in a *shipwreck. There was great danger on the seas in those days. He was in a boat in the open sea. He was there for a night and a day. It was like the time when they threw stones at him. It could have brought him near to death.
Verse 26 Paul went on many journeys. He lists the many dangers that came to him.
There were dangers in rivers.
There were dangers from *robbers. It was dangerous to travel on your own. A *robber would almost certainly rob you.
He faced dangers from *Jews and from *Gentiles too.
He was in danger in the city.
He was in danger in the country.
He was in danger in the desert and at sea.
He was in danger from false brothers. By these he probably meant other Christians. These would be like his *opponents in Corinth. They were against him and his *gospel.
Churches can have troubles even today. They can have even greater troubles than Paul had. C. H. Spurgeon, a famous *preacher, spoke about this. He spoke about the troubles in church meetings. These could be greater than the troubles caused by *robbers.
Verse 27 Paul worked very hard. Life was hard for him. He *preached for long hours. He did not get much sleep (Acts 20:7-12, 31). Sometimes he would make tents at night. Then he would *preach during the daytime (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8). He earned money by his work. He received gifts from the Macedonians, but still he did not have enough to live on (Philippians 4:10-13). He would often have been hungry. Often he would be without good clothes to keep him warm.
Verses 28-29 Paul has been talking about troubles. These affect his body. Now he speaks about other troubles. These affect his feelings. He worries about what happens in the churches. He has worries for all the people that he cares for. He cares as a *shepherd cares for his sheep. He shares in their troubles. If they feel weak, he too feels weak. Some are weak in *faith. Some are strong in *faith. Unfortunately, the strong do not help the weak. The strong could even cause the weak to *sin (Romans 14:1-23). This behaviour makes Paul very angry. His anger is like a fire inside him.
Verses 30-33 So far Paul has listed his troubles. These give the idea that he is a strong man. He needs to defend himself. He feels that he must talk about himself. But he would rather talk about his weakness. In that, he is more like Jesus. He escaped from Damascus. This story shows his weakness.
People would have known about most of Paul’s troubles. But they would not know this story. So Paul calls on the God and Father of the *Lord Jesus. God knows that Paul is telling the truth. Paul adds, ‘We bless him for ever!’
King Aretas was the king of Damascus. This was in 37-39 AD. Paul had been *preaching in the city. He *preached without fear to everyone. He *preached that Jesus is the king of the *Jews. The *Jews did not like this. So they tried to kill Paul. They went to the man who governed the city. They asked him to act against Paul. He put soldiers all round the city. Then Paul could not escape.
Paul had wanted to enter Damascus before this. That was before he became a Christian. Then he was angry with the Christians. He brought letters for the *Jewish leaders. These gave him power. He could take the Christians back to Jerusalem. They would go back as *prisoners. Now it was very different. The *Jews were trying to catch Paul. They wanted to put him into prison. Paul’s friends put him into a basket. They passed him through an opening in the wall. They sent him down to the ground. So he escaped (Acts 9:23-25).
A Roman soldier would be in a battle for a city. He would win a prize. It was for being the first over the wall. It is very different for Paul. He went down the wall to run away. He would not have liked running from trouble. So Paul tells a story like this. It is a story against himself. It does not give the impression of a strong and important person.
Verse 1 Paul does not want to talk about his good works. He knows that there is no profit in that. But his *opponents are talking about these things. The Corinthians are listening to them. Paul answers their questions. He may lose the argument if he does not. He knows this.
In the Bible, God talks to his people. He talks through dreams and *visions. He talks like that many times. God spoke to Zechariah in the *Temple. God had heard Zechariah’s prayer. God told him that his wife Elisabeth would have a son. His name would be John (the *Baptist) (Luke 1:8-23). Peter, James and John saw a *vision. They were on the mountain with Jesus (Matthew 17:9). Stephen saw a *vision. This was just before he died. It was of ‘the Son of Man’. He was standing at the right side of God (Acts 7:55-56). The *Lord spoke to Ananias in a *vision (Acts 9:10). Peter had a *vision of animals that were not clean. These came down from heaven in a sheet. As a result, he went to see Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman soldier (Acts 10:17, 19; 11:5).
Paul himself had dreams and *visions. He once had a *vision of the *Lord. It was when he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:6-11; 26:12-20). That was the first and most important time. Afterwards Paul saw a *vision of a man of Macedonia. He was asking Paul to come over and help them (Acts 16:9-10). God gave Paul the *gospel through a *vision (Galatians 1:12). (See also Ephesians 3:3-5, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15.)
Verses 2-4 It does not seem that Paul is speaking about himself here. It seems that he is talking about another man. He still tries hard not to speak about himself. He would rather show that he is weak (11:30). He could have said, ‘14 years ago, I had a *vision’. Instead, he says ‘I know a man in Christ who had a *vision. This was 14 years ago’. So Paul is speaking about himself. Clearly, this was after he had become a Christian. He is not talking about the *vision that he had on the road to Damascus. To be ‘in Christ’ is to be a new person.
God lifted Paul up ‘to the third heaven’ (verse 2) and ‘to *paradise’ (verse 3). Paul uses the same words ‘lifted up’ on another occasion. It applies to Christians. These are those who are still alive on the earth. It is when Christ comes again. God will then lift them up. They will meet the *Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Men in Paul’s day spoke of different heavens. They spoke sometimes of three. Sometimes they spoke of five and sometimes of seven. There were different levels of heavens. The first heaven would be the clouds and the sky. We can see these. After that, there were other heavens.
There is a *Jewish story. It says that God’s *glory-cloud was upon the earth. This was at the time of Adam. Adam *sinned. Then the cloud went up to the first heaven. Cain killed Abel. Then the cloud went up to the second heaven. With each evil event, the cloud went up one heaven. In the end, it reached the seventh heaven. This was when Abraham went to Egypt and Isaac was born. Then the cloud went down one heaven. So, it went down heaven by heaven. Then it again reached the earth. This was when God took the *Jews out of Egypt. Moses was their leader. The *glory-cloud was on the earth again. It was in the tent in the desert.
This is only a story. It may not be true. However, it does give us an idea of different heavens. There is also a story of four *Jewish teachers. They went up into *paradise. Only one came back alive. The experience was so terrible.
One thing is clear from these stories. People then would have understood what Paul was saying. There was something awful and terrible about experiences like that. This would have been clear to them. That is why Paul did not want to talk about his experiences. Great men in the *Old Testament had experiences like that. There was Enoch (Genesis 5:24). There was Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-12). But they stayed in heaven. Paul was still on the earth. Paul was like these great men. He could say that he too was someone important. That is just what Paul would not do.
Paul had had a *vision. It was a great and wonderful experience. But he cannot describe what had happened to him. He did not know whether he was in his body or out of his body. He did not even know whether he still had his body. Perhaps this experience was only in his spirit. Maybe it was apart from his body. God lifted up Enoch and Elijah in this way. But they did not return to the earth. The Spirit also carried Elijah from one place to another. The devil tempted Jesus. He took Jesus to the top of the *Temple. He took him to a high mountain (Matthew 4:5, 8). God carried John in the spirit to a desert (Revelation 17:3).
We cannot be certain about Paul’s experience. Maybe he had an ‘in the body’ experience. Maybe it was an ‘out of the body’ experience. Paul says that only God knows what it was. It does not matter that we do not know.
People in those days often heard secrets from God but they were too holy to mention. There is something like this in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul wrote about a mystery. In past times God hid this from people. But now God made this mystery clear. God chose not to hide it any longer. God made it plain to everyone (Ephesians 3:2-6).
In Paul’s *vision, God had spoken secret things to Paul. These things were for him alone. They were too holy and awful for anyone else to hear. Paul probably saw something of the *glory of God. He may have seen God with all the *angels round about him. Moses had a *vision like this (Exodus 24:10). So did Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-3). So did Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4-28), So did John (Revelation 4:2-11). Paul told no one of what he saw. Moreover, God did not allow him to tell anyone of what he heard.
Verses 5-6 Paul had this *vision 14 years ago. He does not want to speak about himself as he was then. Since then, he has had many troubles. Now he wants to talk only of his weaknesses. Suppose that he did talk about his wonderful experiences. That would still not make him a fool. He would be speaking the truth. Paul wants people to judge him as they see him now. He does not want them to judge him by some past experience. Yes, Paul had wonderful experiences, but they were in the past. He wants people to see him as he is now. This is with all his weaknesses. What he does now is important. What he says now is important too. These are the standards by which people should judge him.
Verse 7 Paul sees a possible disadvantage in this wonderful experience. He might have too high an opinion of himself. He might think himself to be a greater person than he is. This could be the disadvantage.
Paul uses the word ‘*thorn’ here. It gives the idea of a cut in the body. This causes pain. The *Old Testament uses the word in this way. God told the *Jews to drive out the people of the land. He tells them the result of not driving them out. These people would be like cuts in their eyes. They would be like *thorns in their side (Numbers 33:55). The *prophet Ezekiel also gave a promise. He told of a time when the *Jewish people would no longer have bad neighbours. These neighbours were like *thorns that hurt the *Jews. In each of these verses a *thorn is something that brings trouble to someone. Paul had some kind of trouble. Paul asks God three times to take it from him.
Paul says that this *thorn in his body is ‘a messenger of *Satan’. A messenger is someone who brings a message. Someone has sent this *thorn to trouble him. In the story of Job, God allowed *Satan to trouble Job. However, God allowed *Satan to go only so far. God did not allow *Satan to kill Job (Job chapters 1-2). There was another occasion in Paul’s life. It was when he visited the Thessalonians. Paul wanted very much to see them again. But he could not do so. *Satan prevented him (Thessalonians 2:17-18 and Acts 17:1-10). So God allowed *Satan to trouble Paul. He allowed him to have a *thorn in his body.
God and *Satan are not equal. It is important to understand this. *Satan can do only what God allows him to do. Jesus has power over every evil force. *Satan had no power over Jesus (John 14:30-31). Demons (bad angels) must obey Jesus (Mark 1:21-28; 5:1-13). Jesus gave power to his *disciples (Mark 6:7). Therefore Paul had power from God, but God allowed *Satan to trouble Paul. *Satan upset Paul’s plans. God allowed Paul to have a *thorn in his body.
God has a plan for us. His purpose is that the plan will work out in the end. God will always do what he wants. God does allow *Satan to send us troubles. Yes, *Satan did prevent Paul from going to Thessalonica. Still he *preached the *gospel there. He *preached to the people in Beroea, Athens and Corinth (Acts chapters 17-18).
This *thorn in Paul’s body helped him. He could see a purpose in it. He must not think too much about his wonderful experience. He must not become too happy about it. This *thorn had its advantages. It prevented Paul from thinking too much of himself. It helped him not to depend on his own powers and strength.
Many have asked about Paul’s *thorn in his body. Many have tried to answer this question. The answers are in three groups.
1. It was some kind of *spiritual power that troubled Paul. He may have had a strong *temptation. It might have been a *temptation to do wrong in some way.
2. The troubles came from Paul’s *opponents. They were Paul’s *thorn in his body. This would be something like the troubles that the *Jews had. It was when they did not drive out the people from the land. The people would still be there as *thorns in their side.
3. It was some illness of the mind or body. This could have been eye trouble. It could be difficulty in speaking. It could be *epilepsy or *malaria. The Galatians said that they would have taken out their eyes. They would have given them to Paul. So some think that he had eye trouble.
We do not know what this *thorn was. It is probably better that we do not know. We can however learn a lesson from it. That is what is important. Paul is trying to teach a lesson. The *thorn helps us to think about the lesson. Whatever it was, it gave Paul very much trouble. He asked God three times to take it away from him.
Verses 8-10 This experience of Paul brings him pain. Jesus also suffered pain. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is interesting to compare the two. Both prayed to God. They prayed that God would remove their trouble. But, for both, God did not take it away. God encouraged Jesus and gave him strength. He would soon die on the *Cross. He was able to face this awful testing. God also gave Paul the strength to get through his testing. God would not remove the *thorn. This was his message to Paul. Instead he would give Paul enough *grace. He would continue giving him enough *grace. There would always be enough grace for him. He would win the battle.
Then God explains to Paul the effect that this testing would have. It will affect the people close to him. They will see God’s strength at work. It will come through Paul’s weakness.
Paul talks about this in his first letter. The people of the world were wise, but they were not wise in a *godly way. The Corinthians would not be the top people in the world. This was God’s special choice for them. They were not born as princes and princesses. God chose foolish people to cause shame to the wise. He chose weak people to cause shame to the strong. He chose people of little worth. This showed what strong, wise people were really like. They were just weak people. They had no inner strength.
There is a lesson in this. Each of us depends on God for everything. No-one can stand alone before God. We must not tell God how good or strong or wise we are. Maybe we do think that there is something good in us. But we should say that it all comes from God. It comes through Jesus Christ. This is God’s will. God chooses whomever he wants. He chooses weak people. Moreover, he seems to take pleasure in this. His people are special people, but the world does not regard them as anything special (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). God reminds Paul of these things. Paul is right to speak much about his weakness. God tells him that he is right. Further Paul’s *opponents are wrong. They are wrong to speak much about their strength.
We live in a world of trouble and pain. We do pray that God will take away our pains. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he does not. God does not do everything that we ask him to do. We must then not allow our hearts to become hard. This is important. God always answers our prayers, but sometimes it is in a different way. It may be different from the way that we ask. God always gives enough *grace. There is enough for us to win over our troubles. God’s *grace also draws us closer to Christ.
So, Paul is very happy to talk about his weakness. Then the power of Christ will be in him. Paul does not enjoy weakness in itself, but that does not matter. The power of Christ is with him. It comes as the result of his weakness. That is what matters most.
Paul lists his weaknesses. People have said nasty things about him. Men have beaten him many times. Life has been difficult. But Paul can be glad about all this. It is all for the *glory of Jesus Christ. The *thorn in his body is a gift from God. That is how Paul sees it. It has taught Paul a lesson. Yes, he has many weaknesses, but through them, he is strong.
Paul has been teaching lessons about weakness and power. Paul’s readers would learn a lot from these lessons and so can we. We must remember, however, why Paul teaches in this way. Paul’s *opponents say that he cannot be a true *apostle (10:10; 11:21). To them a true *apostle is a strong person. He is one who has many dreams and *visions. No true *apostle could be weak like Paul. That is what they say. Here are God’s thoughts on power and weakness. Here are lessons on dreams and *visions. Dreams and *visions are not the most important things. Paul shows the kind of person that a true *apostle should be. He shows this in his own life. Paul is that kind of person, but his *opponents are not.
Verse 11 Paul repeats what he has said before. Defending himself is foolish, but the Corinthians force him to do it. It is their fault. Further, it was unnecessary. Paul brought the *gospel to the Corinthians. *Miracles and wonderful things had happened. They were the result of Paul’s *preaching. Paul’s behaviour had been the best. The Corinthians themselves could have told everyone these truths. Then there would have been no need for Paul to speak.
The Corinthians ought to remember when Paul had first visited them. God had used him in a wonderful way. Paul’s *opponents say that he is nothing. That is what he thinks about himself. Even so he is no less that these ‘chief *apostles’.
Verse 12 Everywhere that Paul went, the same things happened. There were signs, wonders and *miracles. They came by the power of the *Holy Spirit. This followed his *preaching. He *preached to the *Gentiles. That included the Corinthians (Romans 15:17-19). These things are the signs of a true *apostle. Paul’s *opponents themselves agree with this. If that is so, Paul too is a true *apostle.
Verse 13 The Corinthians argued something like this. Paul did not want the Corinthians’ money. Therefore, he did not love them. Other churches paid Paul for his work, but Paul did not accept pay from the Corinthians. Therefore, Paul must love the Corinthians less than these other churches. That is how they argued.
Paul did not want to put a heavy load upon the Corinthians. That is the true situation. That would be the result if they paid Paul. Paul’s *opponents wanted Paul to put this load upon them. That is how it seemed. Paul laughs at them. They are such wonderful people! They take as much money as they can from the Corinthians. Paul is not like that. He does not to take their money. They say that Paul is wrong not to take it. He is wrong never to put a load on them! Paul asks the Corinthians to *forgive him that he has done this wrong!
Verse 14 The Corinthians became Christians on Paul’s first visit. They then became the church at Corinth. Paul visited them the second time. Then he had hard things to say to them. These things caused them much pain. Now he wants to visit them a third time (13:1, 10). They may want to pay him for this visit. Paul will still refuse to take money. Paul does not want their money. He would rather have their love and friendship.
In things of the Spirit, Paul is the father. The Corinthians are his children. It is like that in the family. Children do not work. They do not have to look after their parents. That would be foolish. No, parents care for their children. They work and set aside money for this purpose. It is the same with Paul and the Corinthians. Paul does not expect them (his children) to set aside money for him (their father). Paul’s *opponents say that Paul is doing that. But Paul says that this is not right. He says, ‘In the Spirit, I am their father. I care for them. They do not care for me’.
Verse 15 Paul is happy to spend everything that he has for the Corinthians. Parents give to their children like that. Paul too is happy to give everything of himself. He will give his own life if necessary. Paul followed his master, Jesus, in this. Jesus said that there is no greater love than this. It is that a man would die for his friends (John 15:13). Paul often speaks about giving his life for other people. He felt this especially for the *Jews. These were the people of his own country (Romans 9:3).
Paul does not want to be like a heavy weight upon the Corinthians. He will give his own money. That will help to take away the weight from them. He will give his life for them if necessary. Paul says that he is loving them as much as he can. Does this mean that they will therefore love him less?
Verse 16 The more Paul loves the Corinthians, the less they love him. Paul understands why this is. He will not take money from them. That is how he shows his love. Paul knows that this is the truth. He has not put an extra load on them. He will not take money to pay for his visit. Paul’s *opponents know this too.
They say that Paul is very clever. He will still get their money. There will be a *collection for the poor *Jewish Christians. Paul will take money from that. That is how he will get their money. We see this in verses 17-18.
Verses 17-18 Paul asks, ‘Did I make a profit through any of the men that I sent to you?’ Then Paul mentions Titus and one of the brothers (8:16-17, 22). This is to make it clearer. He had asked them to go to Corinth. He asks again, ‘Titus did not make a profit from you, did he?’ He expects the answer to both questions to be ‘No’.
Paul then asks, ‘Did we not act in the same spirit and in the same way?’ He expects the answer to be ‘Yes’. All of them had acted in the right way. Paul expects his readers to agree with that.
Verse 19 Paul knows what the Corinthians think of his foolish speaking. They have been saying false things against him. They think that Paul has been defending himself. But this is not so. Paul does not care what men think. He does not need to defend himself before anyone. Paul knows this. He stands before God and answers only to him (5:10). He speaks in the sight of God. He speaks from his position in Christ. That is the only safe place to be. Paul does not have to depend on whether the Corinthians think well of him.
This is what Paul wants most of all for the Corinthians:
He wants to make them strong. That is what he hopes to do through his work with them.
He wants to build them up. He does not want to knock them down.
He wants them to know the true purpose of his teaching. It is not to defend himself. It is to build up the church.
We note that Paul calls them ‘the loved ones’. Paul loved the Corinthians. Men were *preaching a false *gospel. That is why his attack is so strong. That is why he speaks so much about himself. But he does not worry what they think of him.
Verses 20-21 Paul loved the Corinthians. He worked hard to build them up, so he is worried about his next visit. He is worried about what he may find. They may not be the kind of people that he hoped for them to be. Paul is ready to come on his third visit (verse 14). He does not want to feel disappointed with them. He gives them a warning. They may not find him as they want him to be. He will take strong action against the church. He will take strong action too against his *opponents.
When Paul visits, he is worried about the *sins he will find. He lists these *sins:
The first two are quarrelling and *jealousy. There had been quarrels. They were about who their leader should be. It might be Paul, Apollos or Peter (1 Corinthians 1:11-12).
Then there was anger. Some of them divided into different groups. They were against each other.
People told lies about each other.
They whispered against each other. But the one that they spoke against could not hear. He could not hear what they said.
They praised themselves.
They spoke of the wonderful things that they did.
The church was not a peaceful place. There was no order in it.
There was noise and trouble everywhere.
Paul spoke of these things in his other letter. He spoke about love and the use of *spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians chapter 13). In that letter, Paul also spoke of the behaviour of women. He also spoke about bad behaviour in the *Lord’s Supper.
Paul will come to Corinth again. He fears however, that the problems of the past will still exist. He is afraid that God will bring him very low. The Corinthians will have a very low opinion of him. He spoke of this feeling when he came to Corinth before. Then he came with some of the Macedonians. His fear then was about the *collection. He was afraid that the Corinthians would not be ready for it (9:3-4). He is afraid that he will find even greater cause for shame. Those who *sinned before might still be *sinning. They may not have turned away from their *sin. There may be few who live pure lives. He may find *sexual *sins. He may find that they take their pleasures in evil entertainment.
Paul spoke about a man who had been in a *sexual relationship with his *stepmother. He wrote about this in his first letter. He spoke too about the wrong use of sex (1 Corinthians chapters 5-6). Some people could see nothing wrong in these things. Some people argued that the law allowed all things (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). Paul gave instructions on how to deal with people like that. His purpose was that they would stop *sinning (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). The body of a Christian is the home of the *Holy Spirit. Therefore *sexual *sins should have no home in the Christian’s body. The *Holy Spirit and *sins like those could not live together (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
The man Paul spoke about had been in a *sexual relationship with his *stepmother. Maybe he was the leader of Paul’s *opponents. We know that the Corinthians did deal with this man. In fact, they were too hard on him. Paul asked the Corinthians to be less hard on him. He asked that they should *forgive him (2:6-8). Some had *sinned and not turned away from their *sin. So this man probably was not among those. It is not enough only to be sorry for *sin. Paul may be thinking now of his *Jewish *opponents. They have changed the *believers’ thoughts. They have turned them away from a pure love of Christ. These Corinthians have returned to their *sins (11:3).
Verse 1 Paul’s first visit was when he came to *preach the *gospel in Corinth. The second visit was after he wrote the ‘painful letter’. This third visit could be a painful one.
*Jewish laws were in the *Old Testament. They were for use in court cases. There always had to be two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus too said the same thing. Someone might have something against another person. He should go to the church about it. He should take two witnesses (Matthew 18:16). Paul looks ahead to his next visit. He knows that there will be trouble. He will speak to the church. Some have spoken against him. They have said false things. He will tell the church about these. Paul has some hard things to say to the Corinthians. Therefore, he asks for two or three witnesses. The law requires this.
Verse 2 Paul had already warned the man who had *sinned. This was during his second visit. The man may have been the one who had used sex in the wrong way (12:21). Or it may be those who even agreed with these *sins (1 Corinthians 5:2, 6). Now, in his absence, he repeats the warning. Whoever they may be, Paul will be hard on them. This time he will not only write painful words. In person, he will speak painful words to them.
Verse 3 A true *apostle should be a strong person. A true *apostle should also be able to speak with power (10:10). He should also do wonders and *miracles (12:11-13). That was what Paul’s *opponents said. Paul agreed with that. Paul had done all these things, but he worked through the power of the *Holy Spirit. Paul has already explained this. The power of Christ is upon weak people. It is not on strong people. Christians should *preach the *gospel. That is what matters. It is not strong and clever words that matter.
Christ will deal with the Corinthians. Paul will not deal with them. Jesus Christ was weak when he died. But that does not mean that he was a weak person. He is now the judge. Some of the Corinthians had behaved badly. That was at the *Lord’s Supper. Paul reminded them that some were weak and ill. Some had even died. Therefore, it would be better if they judged themselves. They would then change their behaviour. Otherwise, Christ would judge them. That would not be good (1 Corinthians 11:30-31). Christ is speaking through Paul. Christ has given Paul authority to act for him. Paul has given a serious warning.
Verse 4 Yes, when Christ died he was weak. Then God raised him from death and now he lives by God’s power. Paul and those with him are weak too. They are weak, as Christ was weak. Christ was weak when he died. But now Paul lives with Christ. He lives by the power of the same God. By his power, God raised Christ from death. That power is working in Paul, Christ’s *apostle. Paul may be weak. Paul will later meet with the Corinthians. Then God will give him the power of a judge.
Verse 5 It is not Paul who needs to test himself. Paul asks the Corinthians to test themselves. Are they still in the *faith? Does the *gospel affect their lives? The church is the *temple of the *Holy Spirit. So too is the Christian. A Christian does not belong to himself. Christ has bought him with the price of his blood (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). Christ’s *Holy Spirit is inside him (the *temple). So how can he have anything to do with bad behaviour? Paul reminds them of who they are. He reminds them how they should behave. They should remember that they are living *temples of the *Holy Spirit.
Verse 6 The Corinthians should test themselves. They might pass the test. They will then make a discovery. They will recognise that Paul and his friends also pass the test. The test will show whether the Corinthians are true *disciples. It will also show whether the *Holy Spirit is in them. Paul and his friends brought the *gospel to them. The same rules apply to them, so they too pass the test.
We should test ourselves. We will find that we are true Christians. The *Holy Spirit is in us. Then we will recognise other people who also pass the test.
Verse 7 Paul shows his love for the Corinthians. He prays that they will not do wrong. He prays that they will keep their *faith. He prays that they will not use sex in a wrong way. Let us suppose that they pass the test. This will show that Paul too passes the test. But that is not the purpose of the test. Paul does not worry about passing the test. He does not worry about appearing right in their eyes. The important thing is that they keep away from wrong. It is important that they do right. It might seem that Paul and his friends have failed the test. That does not matter.
Verse 8 On the other hand, Paul cares about what the Corinthians think. They must not think that he and his friends have done wrong. He could never risk that. Paul makes this very clear. He *preaches the truth of the *gospel.
Verse 9 Paul does not care if he seems to have failed. Paul says that. But that is only if the Corinthians do what is right (verse 7). Now he goes further. He will be glad if he is weak. But that is only if that makes the Corinthians strong. God’s strength comes through weak people (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Often Paul talks about this. Strong Christians are those who live good lives. The *gospel requests that. It does not matter what the Corinthians think of Paul. He prays only that they may get better and better. He prays that they will be perfect. The Bible meaning of ‘perfect’ here is ‘mend’ or ‘repair’. With God’s help, they will mend (or repair) their lives. The Bible uses this same word ‘mending’ of James and John. They were ‘mending their nets’ (Mark 1:19).
Verse 10 Paul has been absent from the Corinthians. He has warned them. He hopes that they have listened. He hopes to visit them again. He hopes that he will not then need to be hard on them. The *Lord has given him authority. He does not want to be hard in its use. Paul hopes that they will stop listening to the false *apostles. He hopes that they will live good lives. He hopes that they will live by Bible rules.
God has given Paul authority to raise people higher. His authority is not for bringing them lower. Sometimes bringing them down has been necessary. An example was when he handed a man over to *Satan. God would allow something to destroy his body. Then God would save his *soul (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). Paul should help to build up the church. He should not try to destroy it. That was the most important thing.
Verse 11 Paul ends his letter. He says goodbye to all the Christians in the church at Corinth. He asks for change in their lives. They should always be looking to be perfect. That should be their intention. He asks them not to listen to the different *gospel. This is the one *preached by Paul’s *opponents (11:1-6). He asks them to look to him. He is their true *apostle. He requests that they put away *sexual *sins (12:20-21). He asks that they agree with each other. He asks that they live in peace. As they obey his requests, Paul prays for them. He prays that the God of love and peace will be with them.
Verse 12 In the *New Testament, a kiss was a way of saying hello. Jesus entered the house of a man called Simon. But Simon did not kiss him. This was something that Simon ought to have done (Luke 7:45). Jesus told Simon that. Jesus forgave a woman. She then kissed his feet many times (Luke 7:38, 45). A son left his father’s home and lived a bad life. Then he returned home. His father kissed him (Luke 15:20). In Paul’s letters, this happens many times. He asks the Christians to say hello to each other with a holy kiss.
The kiss is to be ‘a holy kiss’. It is a way of saying hello. Also, it says that you come in peace. You come as a friend. Paul uses the word ‘holy’. Paul is saying that the Christians kiss only as friends. They do not kiss as if they are lovers or husband and wife.
Verse 13 Paul wrote his letter in a city. All the *saints there say hello. This means every Christian says hello.
We may wonder whether the Corinthians listened to Paul. We may ask whether they did as he requested. They did not throw away his letter. We still have it. So, we may understand that they did listen to him. We may understand that they did change their ways.
Verse 14 This is a prayer that God will bless the Corinthians. God is one person and yet three persons. The *blessing comes from God. It comes as God the Father, God the Son and God the *Holy Spirit. This is the only place in the *New Testament where we find this. We know this as ‘the *Benediction’.
In chapter 8 verse 9, Paul spoke about the *grace of our *Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was rich but he became poor. This was so that we might be rich. *Grace is God’s blessing. We do not have to earn it. We do not have to work for it. God gives it to us freely without cost. He wants to give it to us. He is that kind of God. We do not have to be good to receive it. We do not have to pay for it. God is a person. He wants to do good things to everyone. That is his nature. Paul prays for the *grace of the *Lord Jesus Christ. Paul prays that the Corinthians may receive this *grace.
God is love (verse 11). Jesus died on the *Cross. There he showed his love for us. There we see his love most of all. He could not have done anything more than that. Through Jesus’ death, we can be right with God. We can have peace with God. We do not have to work for it or to pay for it. Paul prays this love of God for his readers.
‘*Fellowship’ means to take part or share in something. God has given his *Holy Spirit to the church. We cannot see the *Holy Spirit, but he is a person. He shows us who Jesus is. He helps us to know Jesus better. He helps us to show Jesus to the world. This is Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians. He prays for them to share in all that the *Holy Spirit does. We pray ‘the *Benediction’. We *believe that God will answer our prayer. He will give us his *grace and his love. He will give us a share in all his *blessings.
adultery ~ sexual [see sexual] activity between a married person and another who is not the legal husband/wife.
ambassador ~ a minister sent by a king or a State to another.
amen ~ may it be so (used after a prayer).
angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages from heaven; pure spirits, greater than men and women, who give love to God; they do what he wants and take care of those who are accepted into God’s family; a bad *angel, or one that has fallen, who serves Satan [see Satan].
anoint, anoints, anointed ~ to mark a person with oil to show that God has chosen them; he has marked them with the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit].
apostle ~ a man whom God chose to lead his church; one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to be his helpers and to teach about him.
armour ~ equipment that gives protection to a soldier.
Baptist ~ a person who baptizes [see baptize] people.
baptize ~ to put a person in to water, or put water on a
person; how we show to everyone that we belong to Christ.
believe ~ [see faith] to follow something; you are sure that it is true.
believer(s) ~ a person who knows Christ.
bema ~ a platform where speakers stood in ancient Greek cities.
benediction ~ a blessing that is spoken.
betray, betrayed ~ to give a person to an enemy.
betrayal ~ the act of giving a person to an enemy by not being loyal.
betrothal ~ a promise to marry.
blessing, blessings ~ the good things that God does for us; asking for God to help us and do good in us.
boast, boasting ~ to give an opinion about yourself and what you believe.
butterfly ~ an insect with broad wings, usually with bright colours.
carpenter ~ a man who works with wood to make things.
caterpillar ~ the state of the insect that later becomes a butterfly [see butterfly].
circumcision ~ to cut off the loose skin from the end of the sex part of a boy or man; for Israelites [see Israelites] it was a proof that a man agreed to obey God’s laws; a sign of a pure spirit.
clay ~ earth, heavy and firm when dry, stiff and soft when wet.
cleanse, cleansing ~ to make clean by washing.
collection ~ a sum of money collected by members of a Church.
Comforter ~ another name for the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit].
commandment ~ a command given by God; the ten important commands or rules of God given to Moses on the mountain of Sinai.
communion ~ the ceremony of the Lord’s Supper [see Lord].
Corinth ~ an ancient city in Greece.
covenant, covenants ~ an agreement between two people; an agreement between God and a person or people; a shared agreement between two or more people.
creation ~ the act of God making the world and everything there is; everything that God has made.
Cross ~ two pieces of wood fixed together. The Romans punished people by fixing them to a cross to die. Jesus died this way; the Cross is now the sign of the church of Christ; not to put yourself first but to put Jesus and other people first in your life.
descendant ~ one coming by birth from parents and grandparents before you.
disciple ~ one who follows another and learns from him; a person who believes in Jesus; a person who follows the things that he teaches.
donkey ~ an animal that carries people and heavy things.
earthly ~ of the earth as opposed to heaven.
epilepsy ~ a disease that makes the person fall to the ground, sometimes with strange movements of the muscles.
eternal ~ things that have always been and will continue for all time; a thing which has no beginning or ending; a thing which never changes.
evil ~ wicked, bad, doing bad things.
faith ~ the belief in someone or something; agreement with, and doing the things that God teaches; to follow his words even when they seem difficult; belief and trust in God and in Jesus his Son; belief that the Holy Scriptures [see Scriptures] are true; ‘the faith’ means the things that Christians believe about Jesus.
faithful ~ to be full of faith [see faith] and standing firm.
fellowship ~ to have a common interest; a group of people having a common interest.
forgive, forgiven ~ to show pity (mercy [see mercy]) and not to remember bad things; not to remember sin [see sin]; to set free from wrong things that we do.
Gentiles ~ people who are not Jews [see Jew]; people who do not know God; people of all nations.
gentleness ~ to be kind and gentle; to be free from anger.
Gethsemane ~ a garden on the slope of the Mountain of *Olives in Jerusalem, where Judas betrayed [see betray] Jesus.
glorify ~ to give praise to God.
glory ~ the power and great importance of God; great beauty and like a great king; a bright light coming from God or Jesus.
godly ~ to agree with God’s laws and to obey them.
gospel ~ the good news that God has helped people who love Jesus, through the life, death and raising from death of Jesus Christ; the good news of the things that Jesus has done for us; the message from God to us; the four books at the beginning of the New Testament [see New Testament].
grace ~ a gift of God that we do not deserve and cannot earn; what God gives because he is generous; the help and protection coming from God.
guarantee ~ to make sure that something will be done; to make oneself responsible for something.
guilt, guilty ~ a sense of shame and knowing the wrong things that we have done.
heavenly ~ in or of the heavens.
Hebrew ~ the language that Jews speak [see Jews].
Hebrews ~ a book in the New Testament [see New Testament]; the Jewish [see Jewish] people.
holiness ~ description of God, set apart, perfect, wonderful; completely good, with nothing bad in it; belonging to God; separate from sin [see sin], pure, clean.
Holy Spirit ~ the Holy Spirit is a person, but not human as we are. He lives and works for God; equal and joined with God and Christ, he does the work of God among the people in the world; God’s Spirit sent by Jesus to help people; another name for God; also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the one who comforts.
incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it is burnt; used in praising God at the Temple [see Temple] in Jerusalem.
Israelite(s) ~ the people of Israel; the people who are Jews [see Jews] living in Israel.
jealousy ~ a feeling of spite against another person; a desire to possess something owned by someone else.
Jerusalem ~ an ancient holy city, important to the Jews [see Jews], where the Jews built the Temple [see Temple].
Jew, Jewish ~ a person who is from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a person who believes the faith [see faith] of the *Jews.
judgement seat ~ a place for judges to sit when they are hearing a case in court.
justify ~ the act of God when he says that he sees us as good. He says this at the moment when we are *saved. This is the moment when we trust Jesus.
justified ~ the state of having been put right with God.
kingdom ~ where God rules as king; land ruled by a king.
Lord ~ the name for God in Holy Scriptures [see Scripture]. It means that he is head over all; a name that we use for Jesus when we obey him; someone with authority.
Macedonia ~ an ancient country north of ancient Greece.
malaria ~ a disease that causes a person to be ill and very hot. Insects (mosquitoes) carry it.
manna ~ the food that God gave to the Israelites [see Israelites].
mercy ~ help to those who are in need or difficulty; the love that God shows in forgiving; God’s love and goodness; God’s pity towards all that he has made; being kind to bad people.
Messiah ~ a special servant of God; a name for Jesus Christ; it means the person who is sent to save people from the anger of God because of our bad ways; the only one who can put people right with God; the one who will come again to rule over God’s kingdom [see kingdom]; God’s anointed one [see anoint].
minister, ministers ~ one who serves; the leader of a church; one who takes the gospel [see gospel] to other people.
ministry, ministries ~ service or work connected with religion.
miracle(s) ~ an extraordinary event that cannot be explained.
missionary ~ of or connected with the work of religion; a person sent for that purpose.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.
nuptial ~ connected with marriage or a wedding.
oath, oaths ~ a serious appeal to God; a statement of promise or truth.
obedience ~ obeying authority; being ready to obey.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Holy Scriptures [see Scripture]. It includes the holy things that the writers wrote before Christ’s birth.
Olive ~ a kind of tree that has fruit.
opponent(s) ~ one who is on the opposite side in an argument or struggle.
ox ~ an adult male animal that does heavy farm work.
paradise ~ a world of happiness and peaceful rest.
peddler ~ a person who carries things to sell while travelling about.
preach, preaching ~ to tell and explain good news about Jesus Christ to a group of people.
prisoner(s) ~ a person kept in prison as punishment for a crime.
prophet(s) ~ those who are able to tell to other people what God wants; people who spoke for God; someone who tells of things that would happen in the future.
resurrection ~ to be raised from death to live again.
reverence ~ a feeling of deep respect.
righteous, righteousness ~ being right with God; people that God sees as clean and not his enemies.
riot, riots ~ behaviour that is against the law; a noisy struggle against rulers when they make laws that people do not agree with.
robber(s) ~ one who steals.
saint, saints ~ a holy one; one who knows Jesus Christ as *Lord (see *Lord).
salvation ~ to be set free from the punishment and power of sin [see sin].
Satan ~ a name for the chief bad spirit; the top devil; the bad one known also as the devil.
save ~ rescue; make free from the power or punishment of *sin.
Scripture(s) ~ the things written in the books of God’s holy word, also called the Bible; the book that tells God’s truth; it shows that the Lord [see Lord] Jesus Christ has come.
seal ~ a mark or stamp; a sign of evidence on something.
self ~ the character or nature of a person or thing.
sexual ~ an act that happens between the sexes, involving both male and female.
shalom ~ a Hebrew [see Hebrew] greeting meaning ‘peace be with you’.
shepherd ~ one who looks after sheep; a church leader or minister [see minister].
shield ~ a piece of armour [see armour] that you hold in front of you to protect the front of the body.
shipwreck ~ when a storm ruins a ship or it strikes a rock or becomes ruined at sea.
sin, sins, sinner ~ actions by which people oppose God.
soul ~ the inner life of a person.
spiritual ~ life relating to the spirit.
stepmother ~ a woman who takes a mother’s place by marriage to a father.
stronghold ~ a castle or well protected place.
synagogue ~ a meeting of Jews [see Jews] at worship [see worship] or the building where they would meet for this.
temple ~ a special building where people went to praise God or false gods.
Temple ~ the special building in ancient Jerusalem where Jews [see Jew] went to praise God; the holy place in heaven where God is.
tempt, temptation ~ to test someone or to try to make them do evil things.
thanksgiving ~ an expression of thanks to God.
thorn ~ a sharp point on a plant.
Trinity ~ God in three Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit].
Troas ~ a city in the north-west of Asia Minor.
unbeliever(s) ~ a person who does not accept any belief in religion.
victory ~ success in war; the winning of a struggle.
vision ~ a mental view or image of something that is not actually present at the time.
weapon(s) ~ a tool of war used for attack or defence in war or fighting.
worldly ~ of this world; loving the things of this life.
worship ~ a way to act when we are with God; giving thanks to God and Jesus. Usually we worship together with other people, with prayers and much happy singing; to bend down to God or a false god; to show honour to God and to say that we love him very much.
wrath (anger) (of God) ~ God is holy; therefore, God must act against all that is not holy; God’s necessary act against sin [see sin] (because he is holy).
The Message of 2 Corinthians ~ Paul Barnett ~ BST The Bible Speaks Today
2 Corinthians ~ Colin Kruse ~ Tyndale N.T. Commentaries ~ IVP
New Bible Commentary ~ 21st Century Edition ~ IVP
The Letters to the Corinthians ~ William Barclay ~ The Daily Bible Study ~ The St. Andrew Press ~ Edinburgh
A Bible Commentary for English Readers by various writers ~ Charles John Ellicott, DD. ~ Cassell & Co. Ltd.
© 1997-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words)
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