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Sunday, March 3 2013
2 Corinthians: The Devil's Fight Along The Way
Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians was written not long after the first (see 1 Corinthians: That Rock Was Christ), however much had happened that had caused Paul to change the itinerary of his journey through Greece. The second epistle was written primarily in explanation of that, to the Corinthians, and "also to the saints in all Achaia."
"1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God [see Straight Street], and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God [see Can You See The Church?; see also Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?] which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 1:1-2 KJV)
The revised schedule was explained because "we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia." It was also a warning to the Corinthians that trouble met, or followed, Paul almost everywhere he went now - a testimony in itself that Satan was becoming afraid of Paul, not as a mere man, but of the work that he was doing to liberate people from the Devil's world of lies and ignorance.
"1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation [see The Church In The End Time and Could Christ Return Tonight?], that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
Paul then emphasized that his change of schedule wasn't a breaking of his promise to visit, but rather that the Devil was putting up a fight along the Way.
"1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 1:13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 1:14 As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus [see Who Is The LORD?, When Is The LORD's Day? and What Is The Day Of The LORD?].
Paul then expounded how it would be easy for him to visit them if he was preaching the false "truth" that holds humanity in darkness, "but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" he had to struggle against the "blinded" powers of the world.
"4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully [see Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall and The Messiah's Warning About Christian Charlatans]; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not [see Who's Hiding On Your Wall?], lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:1-6 KJV)
Paul repeated through the epistle his own mortality, perhaps as a further warning to the Corinthians that death itself might delay him even more - but not forever.
"5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?], we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 5:3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 5:4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
Without going into detail, Paul summarized what was delaying him - violent opposition and imprisonments, to which he responded peacefully. It wasn't yet the time for hell fire.
"6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed [see the Fact Finder question below]: 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 6:7 By the word of truth [see What Does Word of God Mean To You?], by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 6:8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 6:9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 6:10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." (2 Corinthians 6:3-10 KJV)
Some of the most famous sayings of the Bible are found in Paul's epistles, including "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." While loving everyone, and teaching everyone who would listen, there remained the line of Truth that was not to be compromised, regardless of the cost or consequence.
"6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers [see The Yoke Of Freedom]: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 KJV)
The principle applied even more so to the "leaders" who sound and appear righteous, but are nevertheless vile if they do not preach the Truth.
"11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ [see The Messiah's Warning About Christian Charlatans]. 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light [see Who's Hiding On Your Wall?]. 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works [see also Works Means Obedience]." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV)
Paul then gave some examples of living according to Christ's example. The Messiah came from "the highest heaven"; Paul was given, in vision, to see some of it. But like the Messiah, Paul never boasted of it. So too, Paul's "thorn in the flesh," which was figurative, but just as painful.
"12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven [see also Are We In Heaven Now?]. 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
Paul closed the epistle, which was written to let the Corinthians know that he would be delayed in arriving, but was also used as a major teaching document, with a balanced "uplifting" - do what is right, don't do what is wrong, if you desire salvation (see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners).
"13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 13:2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 13:3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness [see Nisan 14: The Sacrifice Of The Lamb Of God], yet he liveth by the power of God [see Counting On The Resurrection]. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
Studies For The Book Of 2 Corinthians
Fact Finder: In what ways are the Name of God blasphemed?
This Day In History, March 3
473: Gundobad nominated Glycerius as emperor of the Western Roman Empire.
1284: The Statute of Rhuddlan incorporated Wales into England.
1575: Mughal Emperor Akbar of India defeated the Bengali army at the Battle of Tukaroi.
1847: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
1857: Britain and France declared war on China.
1861: Serfdom was abolished in Russia by Czar Alexander II.
1875: The first organized hockey game was played, in Montreal, Canada.
1878: The peace treaty at San Stefano was signed, ending the Russo-Turkish War and gaining independence for Serbia.
1904: Kaiser (the German form of "Caesar") Wilhelm II of Germany becomes the first person to make a sound recording of a political document, using Thomas Edison's phonograph cylinder.
1918: Germany and its allies signed the treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Russia, ending hostilities between them in the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).
1919: The first international air mail was flown from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington.
1919: The world's financial cost for the First World War was estimated to be about $197 billion.
1921: Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best of Toronto announced the discovery of insulin.
1924: 5 months after Turkey was made a republic on October 29 1923, the Grand National Assembly abolished the caliphate of the Ottoman empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1966: John Lennon set off an international protest when he was quoted in the London Evening Standard as saying that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus Christ."
1991: Latvia and Estonia voted for independence from the Soviet Union.
2002: The people of Switzerland narrowly voted in favor of becoming a member of the United Nations.