Monday, November 21, 2011

Second Corinthians

Second Corinthians. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Paul was a missionary who established and grew churches in Asia and Europe. He also kept up correspondence with several churches. The Bible includes two of his letters to the church at Corinth, though some think the book we call Second Corinthians may be Paul’s fourth letter to that congregation.

Second Corinthians covers a lot of ground. The Corinthians were prone to get puffed up and too ready to listen to self-seeking teachers and set aside the Gospel and sound doctrine. Sometimes they seem like children, and sometimes Paul addresses them that way. Don’t judge them too harshly; modern Christians can too easily fall into the same errors and we have fewer excuses.

Part of the letter is informative. Paul writes about what is going on in his life, his travels, his missionary work, and news from other churches.

The letter is also a tool of teaching. In the instance of someone who had been disciplined for wrongdoing, Paul reminds the church to forgive and remember that the purpose of chastising is to lovingly return people to good relationships, not to punish them indefinitely. He reiterates the Gospel and reaffirms the belief in resurrection.

The letter is encouragement as well as instruction. Paul exhorts the church to live the kind of life they were called to, imitating Christ with purity, humility and generosity.

Paul defends himself, too. Other teachers visited Corinth. In some cases, they were not faithful to the Gospel, taught falsely, aggrandized themselves, and took advantage of their positions. Paul contrasted himself to these other teachers, reminding the Corinthians of his conduct among them, his humility and his support of himself without taking using the resources of the Corinthians. He especially emphasized his faithfulness and constancy in the Gospel.

In anticipation of a future visit, Paul sent a gentle warning. He wanted to come to Corinth and find the church in good shape, full of people dedicated to the truth and active in goods works. He wanted them to be the kind of people he was bragging about. He didn’t want to come to find a lot of problems.

Pau’s tone in this letter is interesting. I find it to be often humorous, especially in the ironic argumentation and the way he points out the absurdity of some of the things said against him and the faith. Paul speaks as an older brother with tough cajoling, a mother with gentle nagging, a father with loving discipline, and a friend with persuasive pleading, and a shepherd calling his sheep to safety.

Paul also wrote
First Corinthians

If you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in
The Gospels
King James Bible