Friday, June 08, 2018

Reading Through 2 Corinthians #2 (6-9)

schenk 1 CorinthiansThis post moves on to a read through of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians still accompanied by 1 & 2 Corinthians: A Commentary for Bible Students, by Kenneth Schenck. In 2 Corinthians 6-9 Paul continues to call the church to reconciliation and an attitude that serves and gives to others. I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

In the rest of chapter 6 and 7 Paul resumes his focus on reconciliation. His discipline has been painful for the Corinthians, but he would do it again because it has resulted in their repentance and growth. Now he urges full forgiveness and reconciliation with the offenders. He also urges the Corinthians to reopen their hearts to him for full relationship. We should always forgive offenders, but full reconciliation of relationship comes only after mutual repentance.

Paul’s example calls us to reexamine our priorities and set them in order. He calls us to lay aside the things that ultimately do not matter, especially any sins that might easily “beset us” (Heb. 12:1, KJV). He invites us not to worry about the fleeting pains and discomforts of this present world because in Christ we truly possess everything we need. 2 Corinthians 6.3-13, 290

Whatever is contrary to God in our lives, whatever opposes righteousness or furthers disbelief, these are things we must extract from our lives. We must “come out” from these people and things. We must not “touch” these unclean things. Anything that contaminates us and distracts from the fact that we belong to God, that we are “holy” to God, we must separate ourselves from these things. 2 Corinthians 6.14-7.1, 296

True repentance involves change, a change of attitude that leads to a change of behavior. Paul’s actions, while they did not feel good to the Corinthians, were ultimately for their betterment, for it led them to change...The Corinthians also show us the crucial importance of repentance in a Christian’s life, after coming to Christ. Here we remember that Paul primarily thinks of salvation as a future event that will take place on the Day of Judgment when we escape God’s wrath by way of Christ (Rom. 5:9). Appropriate repentance throughout our Christian life is the path to our ultimate salvation. 2 Corinthians 7.2-16, 299

Chapters 8-9 are a plea from Paul for the Corinthian church to contribute to the offering he was collecting for the poor in Jerusalem. Paul begins by motivating them with the example of the, much poorer, Macedonian church of generosity and sacrificial giving. He also asks them to live up to his "boasting" about them. He then explains the logistics of the offering. It is important that all church finances be transparent and accountable. Finally, he underlines the principles behind Christian giving. Believers should give out of a spirit of thankfulness for what Christ has given them and out of a love for his people. We should feel the obligation to share in the same way we feel obligated to blood relatives. Giving to the needy in the church body is one of the best ways to demonstrate the family unity we have in Christ

Throughout this discussion we should remember that Paul was not raising this money for himself. This was no building fund he was creating for his own church or some sale of books he himself had written. He was raising this money for the poor in someone else’s church...The greatest example of selfless giving is Jesus, the greatest example for any of us to strive to emulate...While the Corinthians could not hope to pay Jesus back for what He did for them, they could “pay it forward” in a small way by helping others. 2 Corinthians 8.1-15, 303-304

Paul says if everyone gives as God blesses them, then everyone in the church will have as much as they need. This aspect of the early church is one that we might profitably revisit today. Do I hoard the material blessings God has given to me? What of my “treasure on earth” might better serve some needy part of the body of Christ or serve as an evangelistic tool to the needy of the world? 2 Corinthians 8.16-9.5, 305

The person who rationalizes what they can give has failed to give cheerfully and so has already left God’s will unfulfilled before giving anything...The New Testament comes to us from a world that was part agrarian and partially a monetary society, and the church was not yet organized formally enough to specify the recipient of its giving. But the principle of giving to those in need and of supporting those who minister is still clear, as is the principle of giving in proportion to God’s blessing. 2 Corinthians 9.6-15, 308

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