2 Corinthians Survey
Pr Edi Giudetti
We don’t get very far in this book before were are greeted with an understanding of where it stands in relationship to that which preceded it. 2nd Corinthians is as much a book of Comfort as 1st Corinthians was a book of Reproof.
One of the joys I had as a child growing up is that I had a mother who really loved me. She was the disciplinarian in our home and I was the child she devoted most of her time practicing that skill.
I remember as a small boy rejoicing that an entire day went by that I did not get in trouble from mum and needed to be disciplined.
Those were the days of proper discipline, when all people understood God created a padded place on a child that, when stuck by a hand or belt, it would hurt the pride much more than the body. But I knew mum loved me. How did I know?
When I got mum angry enough, she did not spare the rod to spoil the child, she employed it well. I had tears for the temporary pain, but my real tears did not come from the belting, but from feeling that mum did not love me anymore. I would sit in my room waiting for her to come in and comfort me in my sorrow, and when she did everything was ok.
Mum knew how to love her child, she would teach me with the rod of correction, but she would comfort me in my sorrow.
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
I don’t know anyone that likes to be reproved or disciplined for their error. It’s one of the things we all experience in our lives and it’s not something we ever grow to enjoy.
But as a child there was one thing that I did not understand and that was the difficulty my mother had in having to discipline her wayward son.
Children have had experience in being disciplined or reproved, but not yet disciplining or reproving. As a result they have no idea that to reprove is harder than to be reproved. I have had experience in both, and I would rather be reproved and disciplined than have to reprove and discipline. Why?
There is a secret that most children and adolescents, and even some adults don’t yet know about how to cushion the blow of a disciplining hand. And no it’s not about padding up the backside, I am using the term ‘hand’ metaphorically.
Do you want to know children how you will always be able to take the discipline well?
Do you want to know teen agers, how you can always come off best when mum or dad discipline you?
Do you want to know dear adults, the secret to receiving reproof so that it does not cut you to the bone?
The one response that the one receiving reproof can always employ that makes his/her reproof 100% easier to bear, than the one doing the reproving…..
HUMILITY. Accept it with humility. Accept being told off that you did something to hurt or upset someone, even if it may not be true. Be humble before all.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
The reprove has no such opportunity,
- his/her task is expected to be thankless
- to not immediately received.
- There is no “Immediate gratification” for the one doing the reproving,
- he must wait and hope that it went well.
He grieves before he needs to reprove, he grieves during the reproof and he grieves after giving it.
- He loses sleep for it,
- get’s migraine headaches before it,
- cries and often puts it off hoping and looking for a way out of it.
Let me be disciplined ten times a day, every day, than have to discipline and reprove even once a month! The only thing that makes a disciplinarians task easier is when the one being reproved receives it with humility. Nevertheless, it is comfort shown by the one who reproved, that helps to restore the humble heart.
1st Corinthians is a book of reproof, that we had recognized when doing the survey of it.
2nd Corinthians is one of comfort.
Paul the apostle is the writer of both letters and demonstrates the heart of the father of the Lord Jesus Christ toward his children. As the perfect loving parent, God disciplines us, he reproves us to prepare our hearts to receive instruction to be more like him.
The Corinthians demonstrate their humility in receiving of Paul that reproof he gave them in 1st Corinthians, and now he seeks to comfort them with words of encouragement.
There is a lot more in this book to learn, remember this is only a survey that you might glean a general theme.
1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. 2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? 3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
We see the affliction that Paul went through, his anguish of heart in writing to them with many tears and see carefully his motive of love for them as he states not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
This is the same heart that is expected in all of us. We need to be humble of heart but we also need to grow in the likeness of the Lord just as Paul did.
Three times Paul encourages his readers to be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (1 Cor 4:16, 11:1, Phil 3:17).
We are all to grow in the same nature as the Lord, to be conformed unto Christ. To have the courage to rebuke is evidence of maturity in Christ, to have the heart to love and comfort truly shows the love and heart of the father who so loved the world that he gave even his only begotten son, that whosoever beleiveth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Comfort Imitated In Grace
Paul now instructs the Corinthians to comfort the one Paul charged them to remove from their midst because of his fornication, the passage indicates he has repented. Recall his first letter when he wrote in chapter 5;
1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
Recall that Paul told them to have him put out of the Church, and to not have fellowship with him. Lest accepting him in his fornication (Sex outside of marriage), it works as leaven that leavens the whole lump, it corrupts the whole church. And now here in chapter 2 of 2 Corinthians he writes acknowledging the repentance of the man, that he should now be comforted;
5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Remember always to understand that the primary device of the devil is to DIVIDE RELATIONSHIPS.
Satan desires eternal division
Satan desires eternal division,
- the separation of the lost from God,
- separation of the Godly from God,
- Separation of the Godly from one another.
- And the separation of the lost from the Godly
Satan desires eternal division, WE must not be ignorant of his devices and this device is second only to the corruption of the word of God. But the primary purpose of that corruption is for eternal division!
Satan’s primary goal for his existence is the eternal separation of man from God, everything else is just a means to that end!
Reproof IS NOT DIVISIVE, it is instructive and its end is that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works! Paul instructs the Corinthian Church that they now restore the man who has sorrowed for his sin, that he be not swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
What grief it would indeed be, if after he has sorrowed after a Godly manner, that he is not comforted!
I remember my tears when mum did not come to me for a while to comfort me after discipline. I was so sorry and so sad and needed her comfort, I can relate to being “swallowed up with overmuch sorrow”
Remember to always be quick to comfort and restore those you rebuke. Always look for opportunity to open your arms to those who seek your forgiveness, Lest Satan should get an advantage of [you]: [do not be] ignorant of his devices.
For as long as you willingly hold a grudge against the one you have rebuked, for whatever reason, know for certain that Satan is the one that now has the advantage. Be always willing to forgive, restore and comfort, ALWAYS!
In this example we rejoice; Paul concludes this chapter showing, that in living this way, we manifest our knowledge of God;
2:17Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
Our faithfulness in this effort is so distinct to that of the world that it leaves a rotten taste in their mouths, but a sweetness in the mouth of all that are saved. To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.
Comfort IMITATED In Ministry (3-4:7)
But it is not only in the restoration of the repentant are we to imitate Paul, but also in ministry. Chapters 3-4:7 Paul reminds them that their very lives and manner of life is a demonstration to all people of the successful ministry of Paul, a ministry he encourages them to emulate not according to the letter of the Law but by the spirit of Grace.
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
What a change has been wrought within the lives of these people who once where given over to dumb idols, to now demonstrate as an OPEN LETTER to the world the wonderful epistle of Christ! This brethren is the ministry in which we are to minister, but recall it cannot happen without the change that has occurred first in the heart and lived in the life.
We read the Bible to grow in the knowledge and manner of Christ, but WE ourselves may be the ONLY EPISTLE some will ever read, we are living letters, Epistles … known and read of all men how Christ, through his word and our faith in that word, has changed and transformed us. We don’t live the way we did before. Paul goes on to explain in chapter 4:1-7
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
All who now see our manner of life should see a change, a dramatic evident change, this is how we know we are of the Lord and also how the LOST know. But this living gospel in our lives and confirmed by our mouths, that should be evident to all, is not seen or heard by all, why?
4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
COMFORT IMITATED In Trouble (4:8-5)
We are encouraged to imitate not only in life and ministry, but also in trouble.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
When we read of Paul and his fellow travellers and their trials, we should be encouraged by their faith and willingness not for the comforts of this world, but for Christ. Paul says “11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
But why do Paul and his companions do this, why do they give themselves to heartily to this work?
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
This is done for our sakes, Paul knows his outward man perishes, but there is a new man within, renewed day by day. Paul rejoices in his affliction, he has no hold on this world nor in this life but desires wholeheartedly to give his life, to spend and be spent completely for the sake of the Gospel. Consider what he says next;
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
This is living by faith and should encourage us all to imitate. What is it that we live for, do we live for today’s comforts? What comfort occupies our time the most, our comforts or the comfort of those who are lost?
Consider it for a moment.
I’d like you to consider for a moment the things that Paul here refers to as “Light affliction” as he gives a defence of his ministry in Chapter 11:22
22Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
Paul did not want to tell of all this, but there were some who doubted of the value of his ministry. But for who’s comforts did Paul dedicate his life, his own?
Turn back with me to chapter 6 as Paul encourages those he writes to and explains to them how he sees his “light affliction which is but for a moment” and that you might understand what is in his mind when he says, “which worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”
Consider Chapter 6:4-10
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
The Pilgrims progress in your newsletters this week and last week, (25th and 18th March 2018) is a good companion to Pauls writing here. We need to own Christ both in riches and in rags, both in Irons as well as in applause. Even in sorrow Paul rejoices, even in poverty he makes many rich, as having nothing but he knows of a certainty that he possesses all things. Paul so well imitates Christ that we too should be followers of him.
COMFORT OTHERS (8-9)
In this Paul demonstrates his comfort for others and encourages by his example their Comfort of Others. Chapters 8-9 Paul encourages this church to commit what they said they have committed for the benefit of the poor in Jerusalem. Paul here speaks of the wealthier Corinthians taking notice of the example of the poor Macedonians respecting the comfort of God bestowed on others.
1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
The Macedonians are examples both of a great trial of affliction and yet a willingness not only to give of the little they had, but of “their own selves to the Lord”. This is the truest example of giving all that we have for the comfort of others.
And now should not those who abound in so much also be willing to give, if even the poor are willing? Should they not be encouraged to be blessed and like the Macedonians have the abundance of their joy …. abound unto the riches of their liberality?
But look at how Paul encourages them, it is not by law or by force, but by a desire that they will be blessed.
8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
An interesting choice of words, Paul encourages them to prove by action, that their love to others is sincere and genuine.
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Paul tells them that if they had determined to give a year ago, they should now perform it. But notice that he expects them to have given consideration of what they would give; 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Paul explains more clearly at the beginning of Chapter nine, again reminding them of their professed zeal for the Lord and the ministry of the Lord for which Paul had boasted to others, yet he desires they would fulfill what they had determined to fulfill;
1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: 2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. 3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: 4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Our willingness to comfort others is made evident here.
Our faith in the ministry of the Lord is also made evident here.
We can speak much with our mouths but it is when our hands go into our pockets to portion according to what we have for the work of the Lord, it is then our ministry to others is manifest.
Note importantly that Paul has no intention to make people feel uncomfortable in this giving of money for the ministry, that Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. This is the reason we don’t pass a bag around but have a small box at the rear of the building for those committed to the Lord to give.
Passing the bag around is unnecessary if every man gives according as he purposeth in his heart, This tells certainly of a preparation beforehand. This way we are also confident none will give grudgingly or feel the invisible pressure of necessity, as eyes watch the traveling bag through the pews.
Brethren, the gift we give is for the comfort of others through both the ministry of the word, (that the Ox is not muzzled as he treads out the corn), but also to alleviate the distresses of others, that there be equality in comfort.
God is able to make the cheerful giver abound, without lack, 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
BE COMFORTED IN CONFIDENCE (10-13)
The Church in Corinth began to lose confidence that Paul had authority to preach the truth to them. There had been some come into the Church that challenged the apostleship of Paul and these next few chapters are a sad indictment of their lack of trust in him, as he finds it necessary to boast of his authority in the Gospel of Christ. This was not what he desired to do, but he felt compelled to do so, that they may be comforted in confidence that they had received the word of God as it is in truth.
1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Paul continues almost to the end of this epistle to demonstrate confirmation of his apostle ship, not for the sake of boasting, for he makes clear that he would much rather “glory in his infirmities” (12:9)
Because of his desire to show that it is not him but Christ who works through him, not for the glory of Paul but for the glory of God, for when he is weak then he is strong. This differs a great deal from many ministers who claim to be ministers of God but glory in themselves. But it seemed to be the same back in his day also.
We are the Corinthians of the 21st Century. We too needed to be reproved many times for our own errors, but we also look to be encouraged in how we should consider to live this new found life. Brethren, the life we now live should be so separate and distinct from the way the world lives.
Our lives now have a true purpose and when we follow that example Paul has encouraged us to follow, we wake each and every day with joy looking forward to ministering to the comfort of the comfortless, that they may hear of the comfort of Christ and rejoice with us.
Give to those who need, fill their bellies with food and then they will have ears to hear the Gospel of Christ. Show the love of God to them that they may see the epistle of God written in your hearts, you may be the only letter of Christ they ever read.
Determine to live distinct from the world “By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”