Since the time that Paul wrote I Corinthians…the church problems grew worse. Paul would send Titus to Corinth to make sure the church obeyed the apostolic orders Paul had given them. Paul had promised the Corinthians that he would visit them, but circumstances were such that he was delayed along the way. He and Titus finally met, probably at Philippi and Titus gave Paul the good news that the majority at Corinth were behind him and would obey his word. It was this joy that prompted him to write this second letter to the Corinthians.
Paul’s second letter is deeply emotional and shows his love for them. Perhaps no other letter in the NT reveals so much about Christian giving, suffering, and spiritual triumph.
Paul would have to reaffirm his ministry to them, and reveal and defend the false teachings that were going on.
Vs. 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” Paul reveals his heart for the Corinthians. We see him admitting his fears, his failures and the sufferings he would endure. But in the midst of this…He has words to share to them all. The word that rings loud & clear is this: Comfort. Question: Why must the Christian suffer pain? Paul would eloquently & truthfully answer this perplexing question. In an ever changing harsh world we live in…we need comfort, we need to give comfort and we receive comfort from the Lord!
Regarding application…Comfort. Question: What brings you comfort? For me, one of the bigger ones is security. Not just from being safe, but knowing that whatever happens…The Lord is with me. This reminds me of Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” I tend to worry about those whom I love dearly. I worry that something could happen to them, I worry that they could be hurt, I worry that if I am gone, who is going to be there for them. The thoughts in my mind do not bring much comfort…but I must remember that as much as I love and desire comfort for others….How much more does God desire for them? It is then that I must have faith that the God of comfort will always shine through for me, but more importantly to all those I love so dearly.
Vs. 2, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” While these instructions deal with a missionary offerings, the principles apply to Christian giving in general. A church member owes it to the Lord and to his church to bring his or her tithes and offerings to the church. In fact, a church member who has the capacity to give, but does not…is stealing from the Lord! Our lives, our money, our possessions have never been ours…it belongs to the Lord. Therefore, we must give what we have and give it freely! Tithing was a practice that was done even before the LAW came, so this is not a matter of legalism.
Regarding application…Changing Leaders. Vs. 10, “If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.” Its never easy having change and especially change in leadership. But we must embrace new leaders and realize they are carrying on the work of the Lord. Even our own church at CTC lost one of our paid staff recently. Let’s ensure that we cherish the time we have with each other. The passing of the torch will come in all of our lives. Paul showed his love by making sure there would be shepherds to take over the flocks!
Vs. 1, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” The main audience to this letter would be the Greek Gentiles. One of their stumbling blocks would be their unbelief in resurrection of the dead. Paul reminds them of the undeniable fact of Jesus’ resurrection and how because of that reason they are saved. He goes on to share some of his points on why the resurrection of the dead is such an important doctrine to the Christian faith. We are reminded of the wonderful fact that we all will be resurrected and one day live with Jesus! Therefore, we must do everything we can to grasp that hope and never take for granted the bodies He gave us for His glory!
Regarding application…Victory. Vs. 57, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have no reason to give up because Jesus has conquered sin and death! If you really believe in the resurrection and return of Jesus, the end of this chapter should characterize your life. The best is yet to come!!! So let us give Him our best now…in all that we do! It’s never easy giving 100% and believe me…I was a total slacker in high school. But, never underestimate the power and motiviation that Jesus can give us to conquer any obstacle (School, relationships, careers, life choices, families) in our lives! The victory has already been won…all we have to do is join fight and know one day we will truly rejoice in the final victory for eternity!
Vs. 26, “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” Why do we go to church? To build each other up! Part of the issue in this chapter was the emphasis on speaking in Tongues (strange that we still have this issue today). The Corinthians equated spiritual maturity with the evidence of sign gifts and they were focusing on gifts that did not need to be lifted up as . While the NT church was growing, it was not perfect. Unbelievers were coming and were discouraged by the chaotic gatherings of the Corinthian church (vs. 23). Signs and miracles don’t save a person…it is the clear presentation and lifestyle of the Gospel!
Vs. 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Ahhh yes…the love chapter! Keep in mind, we must remember context when it comes to this chapter. In light of the spiritual gifts, Paul emphasizes the fruits of the Spirit are far more powerful than the spiritual gifts. Whenever the church strives for miraculous experiences rather than Christian holiness and character, there will almost always be division, confusion, and dissension.
Regarding application…LOVE. Paul pretty much steals thet thunder from everyone when it comes to explaining love. There is not much more to say when we ponder the word “love”. There are many things in this world we must keep in mind. Christian charater, Christian growth, school, college, career, family, children, elderly parents, grandchildren…yet none of these will mean nothing if we do not have love! Don’t ever waste a day without sharing love in some form. It is the greatest gift we have been given and the greatest gift we can give is the love of Christ!
Vs. 27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Now that’s a pretty good summary of this chapter! Obviously by now, you know that division was a major problem in the Corinthian church. Each group chose to follow who they wanted to and selfishly claiming gifts because of stature and reputation. Paul is quick to remind them that we are all part of something bigger and all molded together. In verse 7, we are told that each of us are given a spiritual gift. Paul goes on to emphasize that we need each other by giving us the example of the body. Take away your right or left index finger and while it seems so insignificant, imagine all the changes you would have to make and adjust to if you lost your index finger.
Regarding application…God Determines Our Gifts. Vs. 11, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” Wow…how much clearer can the Word of the Lord get…As HE determines. I have heard Pastors & other Christians exhort with all their heart how WE must pray for the gift of tongues or some other gift we desire. Folks…it just doesn’t work that way. When you think about it…it’s almost absurd! A true gift is not only a nice present, but a suprise! If we ask for it…it just doesn’t seem the same as if we are taken by suprise. God doesn’t wait for us to figure out which gift we want from a Spiritual menu. Aigoooooooo…if you see a child demand or expect a specific gift from you…it just doesn’t feel as good when you give it to them. You want to suprise them and show them something they didn’t realize or know. I think that is a little bit of God’s perspective on this whole matter.
While it may all sound very Holy & Spiritual when you hear Pastors, Guest speakers, etc. tell you to pray earnestly for a specific gift…please do not be fooled. God is the one who determines our gifting…Not us! I am not advocating not to pray, but to be so ignorant as to pray for a specific gift is ridiculous to me. Pray simply that God would grant the gift(s) He deems the best for you. Don’t come to God with preconceived ideas or notions. Let the Holy Spirit guide you so you are conscience is clear & your mind focused on simply obeying. And don’t be suprised if God gives you different gifts at different occasions in your life as He deems necessary. Our job is to simply pray to do His will.
Vs. 11, “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.” It is easy for the ignorant to misconstrue Paul’s words in this chapter. The Corinthian church might have come to a place where the relationship of men & women in the church was getting misunderstood. Paul was not concerned, as some have argued, for the submission of women…but rather that the completeness or glory of their relationship not be diminished. The issue of head coverings must have been a culturual thing, for Paul did not admonish the Ephesian women to do likewise. It would be comparable to the differences of Korean & American cultures and how that is played in the church settings. It’s a cultural thing that was going on. As Christians, it is our duty to obey the cultures when we are in a different setting so long as they do not violate God’s black & white laws.
Regarding application…Preparing for Service. Vs. 28, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” While we don’t physically partake in communion every week, there is a huge application to this. The Corinthian Christians would commune together and bring food before communion. The problem was, the rich would only share with each other while the poor would go hungry…some would even get drunk! That is why Paul would lash out at them so harshly. They were forgetting the whole reason why Jesus would give us this communion example for us to follow. It came down to the people not preparing their hearts & remembering why they were coming to church. Sure, they had the basics down like all of us do…but their intentions were not for Christ and definitely not for the good of others. Anytime we come to church, we must examine ourselves each time to make sure we are there to encourage & be of beneift to others & to Christ!
Vs. 6, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” Paul continues the theme of food sacrifced to idols. The reason why he reminds them of the Israelites was that they were doing the same thing. Though the Isaraelites experienced the power of God, they would later fall away into temptation…just as the Corinthians were doing. They were relying too heavily on their security and not understanding their life was to be one of self-discipline and sacrifice. We are reminded of the wonderful fact in vs. 13 that not temptation can overcome us.
Regarding application…Our Intention. Vs. 31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” In the context of this passage, we see what Paul meant by this verse. What we eat, what we do, how we act in front of others is all about realizing our behaivor can either glorify God or shame God. So, while you may be able to listen to secular music and not be stumbled…ask youself this: Is it beneifical…is this type of music truly benefiting me? Is this type of movie truly benefiting me? Is this type of talk truly benefiting me? We don’t live in an isolated world. We must always be aware that we are be observed by the world, other young Christians, even Satan…but most importantly our Father in Heaven!
Vs. 3, “This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me….” Paul spends this chapter defending himself and using himself as an example. Though Paul had every right to live how he wanted to regarding those certain grey areas…he chose not to. One of the admiral things Paul would do was not burden the Corinthian church financially. Though he had every right as an Apostle and full-time worker, he chose not too for their sake. He did accept support from other churches, but he chose to not burden the weaker Christians in Corinth. To all of those people who scorn & look down on Pastors, missionaries & other workers for the Lord, this better be a convicting argument we read from Paul. No soldier supports himself, but receives supplies and wages from his government. The farmer who toils in the vineyard is privileged to eat the fruit. The shepherd expects to get milk and meat from the flock. Is it unreasonable to expect a local church, then, to support the pastor? (vs. 7)
Regarding application…Living for Others. Vs. 19, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ…What an example we have here!!! Paul would strip himself of all desires & live his life for the benefit of others. Don’t misunderstand Paul’s choice to accomodate as you read on pass vs. 19. There is saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” But that was not what Paul meant. He was not lowering his standards…he was laying aside his personal privileges. It was not hypocrisy…but sympathy. He tried to understand those who needed Christ and enter into their experiences. He did this for others so they would be saved, but the amazing thing about this is that…there was a reward in the end =) There is also another saying, “What comes around, goes around.” When we choose to live for others, Jesus will reward us in such a way that I cannot rightly explain! We must live a life desiring to please our Father in Heaven! Just as a young child desire to do good to hear the praises of their parent…we must desire to do good to hear the praises of our Lord!
Vs. 1, “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” All too often, the seasoned Christian who has some knowledge of the Bible are prone to think too highly of themselves when they are around the baby Christians. In fact, the one who brags of knowing much, actually is proving he knows nothing! We must be sensitive to others and their experiences…obviously everyone has grown up differently. Paul makes a statement that we probably are not aware when we sin in such a way (vs. 12) with others…we are actually sinning against Jesus!
Regarding application…Accomodating Others. Vs. 9, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” Paul reveals to us our true nature…we are a selfish creature. For example…while a more mature Christian may not be stumbled by secular music…if they are listening to it in front of a person who just became a Christian, they could most definitely cause a younger one to stumble. Question: How so? Let’s say, the young Christian just came out of a life of rap music where they actually lived the way so many rap songs talk about. Then they finally are convicted by the Holy Spirit to leave that type of lifestyle. After Bible study one night they are getting a ride home with an older Christian who they respect immensely. However, the older Christian is listening to the Notoriuos B.I.G. The younger Christian is in shock and doesn’t say anything, but thinks it must be okay to keep listening to that type of music. Because rap music played such a huge part of their old self…the younger Christian at first was convicted by the Spirit to leave that type of music, but the witnessing of the older Christian listening to it convinced the younger Christian it must be okay. Before you know it, the younger Christian is not only listening to that type of music again, but the lure of that lifestyle and the friends assoicated with that music bring them back to living ilke their old sinful self. While the older Christian wonders a couple of weeks later why so and so has all of the sudden stopped coming to church. You see brothers & sisters…while you may not be stumbled by certain things…it’s not always about YOU! I truly hope & pray you take that into consideration the next time you do something questionable and think its no big deal. Pray that God would reveal to your heart the things you may do that can cause your younger brothers & sisters to stumble.