The Epistle of 2nd Corinthians

This sequel to 1st Corinthians was written shortly after 1st Corinthians. Before it was composed, however, there was another letter that has been lost to us. Some believe this lost letter is contained in Chapters 10-13.

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

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.1

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:2

9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity3 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.

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;

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.

15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;

16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.

17 When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?4

18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.

20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;

22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

1 From Paul-- an apostle of Jesus Christ by God’s will--and Timothy our brother, to the church of God at Corinth, and to all the righteous in Achaia (southern Greece):

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of all mercies, and God of all comfort,

4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, so that we, in turn, can comfort those undergoing their own trials, sharing with them the same sort of comfort that God has given us.

5 For as we endure our own abundance of Christ’s suffering, God’s comfort and consolation are likewise there for us, in abundance, through Christ.

6 And if we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation--and is effective, in turn, to help you endure the same things we do. Or, if we are comforted, it is also for your encouragement and salvation.

7 And our confidence in you is unwavering, knowing that as you are sharing in the same sort of suffering as us, you likewise shall partake of the same comfort.

8 For we would not have you be unaware, brethren, of the trials we faced in Turkey that were so bad we nearly broke under their weight, and despaired of even surviving.

9 But we had a death sentence hanging over our heads to teach us not to rely on ourselves, but to rely on God who raises the dead.

10 God indeed delivered us from what seemed certain death, and still does--and we are confident He will continue to do so!

11 Your prayers for us play a critical role in that, so that the gift (of God’s provision) sent at the behest of many of you who pray for us, will cause many to give thanks on our behalf as well.

12 For our rejoicing is rooted in the fact that our conscience is clear, and we walk with all holiness and godly sincerity in all our dealings with the world, relying on God’s grace and not carnal human wisdom (to guide us). We treat everyone this way, but made special emphasis on living like this with you.

13-14 We’re not writing anything too hard to read and comprehend, and I trust that you will accept and put into common practice as much of it as you understand, so that we can rejoice over each other in the Day of the Lord Jesus.

15-16 In this confidence, I was planning before to come visit so you could have a double benefit: First, by my visiting on my way to Macedonia (northern Greece); and then again on my return from Macedonia on my way to Judea, when you could have seen me off.

17 Since I had determined to do this, do you think I was being flippant in my plans, or that I was acting wishy-washy, as if I were the sort of person who says “yes” when I mean “no”; or “no” when I mean “yes”?

18 But just as God is true, so our word to you wasn’t “Maybe yes” or “Maybe no.”

19 For Jesus Christ--the Son of God--whom I, Silas, and Timothy preached to you, isn’t a “Maybe yes/Maybe no” person--he is absolute and unwavering in his “Yes!”

20 For all the promises of God are fulfilled in him; and in him we say “Amen,” thus glorifying God.

21-22 Now the One who has rooted us both in Christ, and has anointed us--is God, who has also sealed us, and given us the engagement gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

23 Now I call on God as a witness to my soul, that I actually put off coming to Corinth (not because I wasn't being serious about my plans, but) in order to spare you.

24 You see, we don't want to have to come as a bunch of dictators over your faith, but we are fellow laborers for your joy, since you are standing firm in faith.

1. The most difficult notion for new Christians to grasp is that--despite the adoption as sons and daughters of God, despite the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome--Christians still suffer unfairly, and God most often does not supernaturally intervene to halt it! Many believers stumble at this point and fall away from the faith, question their salvation, or doubt God's love, and the devil then uses this as a wedge to separate them from the life of God that transcends what we see, feel, and are subject to on a natural level. Here, Paul reveals that suffering is used by God to build compassion in us for others, and that He uses our own suffering to enable us to encourage others who may be going through the same thing. Yes, we all wish that the troubles of this world could be broken by hyper faith or effective prayer, but it can be God's will for us to suffer (1 Peter 3:17). If so, we are to suffer in faith, remaining steadfast in commitment, and avoiding the murmuring and complaining that the Hebrews constantly showed in the wilderness. Thus, those who have suffered and endured that suffering in a godly manner are used by God to help develop the maturity of other believers who may be going through the same things, but not enduring them with the same attitude that develops the fruit of patience and confidence. Paul thus understood that the constant trials he endured were for the body of Christ that he might, through his own victory over circumstance, be an example of faithfulness for them to imitate and take comfort in.

2. We see here how bad things got for Paul at times, and how God delivered him through the circumstance--but undoubtedly far later down the road than the apostle would have wished.

3. The word here is best translated along the lines of “holiness,” or “honesty,” not “simplicity.”

4. Verse 17 has confused a lot of people with its language and the term “yea yea, and nay nay.” What he’s basically doing is denying a claim he was being wishy-washy by saying one thing and then apparently doing another (by delaying an earlier planned visit). Actually, Paul delayed his visit to give the Corinthians time to repent, lest he have to come and rebuke them. He wanted the Corinthians to know and understand that both his--and God’s--promises were fixed and reliable, despite circumstances incorrectly suggesting otherwise.

 

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.1

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.

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.2

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;3

11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always4 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?5

17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

1 But I had decided to myself that I would not come again if I had to come in a somber attitude.

2 For if I grieve you, who is left that can make me glad except the ones whom I have caused to grieve?

3 That is why I wrote you in the tone that I did, lest when I arrived I would be made sad by the very folk who should make me glad. For I am confident that you all can, and should, share my own joy.

4 I wrote that letter in great distress, with a heavy heart and many tears, not in order to grieve you--but I wrote it so you could know the great particular love I have for you.

5 If anyone has caused grief, the grief was less to me, and more to you--so I will not belabor the point.

6 Let me just say that this man has been punished enough (by being disfellowshipped from the community).

7 So now you should not continue to heap condemnation upon him, but do the opposite, forgiving and comforting him, lest his grief consume him.

8 So I beseech you to show him that you still love him.

9 For I also wrote to you as I did to see if you would be obedient to all you were told.

10 And if you forgive something, then so do I. And if I forgave anything, the person I forgave was forgiven for your benefit by me in Christ’s place as his representative.

11 This was so that Satan should not gain any sort of advantage over us, for we are not ignorant of his strategies (and we know he takes advantage of unforgiveness).

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach the Gospel of Christ, a door of opportunity was opened to me by the Lord,

13 But I had no rest in my spirit, because I could not find Titus, my brother. So, taking leave of them there, I went on to Macedonia.

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in an incense-permeated Triumphal parade in Christ, with the scent of knowledge of Him displayed to all men through us everywhere we go.

15-16 For we are to God a sweet fragrance of Christ. But to them who are saved and them who are perishing we are different smells: To the latter, we are the odor of (physical and spiritual) death. To the former, we are the fragrance of (physical and spiritual) life. And who is up to take on these tasks? (Well, if no one else is, we are!)

17 For we are not those who water down the Message of God (for personal gain) as many do. We preach the Message in sincerity, as though sent and overseen by God; and we speak in Christ’s name.

1. Here, Paul further explains his delay in returning to Corinth: that he did not wish to return and have to rebuke the believers, lest both he and they be in a sour mood over the trip.

2. There is a debate over whom the person mentioned in this passage is. Most presume this was the man who was having an affair with his stepmother mentioned in 1 Cor. 5. If so, apparently he was willing to repent, but the church had anathematized him and refused his re-entry into the body. Paul would thus be saying that a truly repentant soul should be welcomed back as a brother, and restored to fellowship.

Other scholars take the view that Paul is referring to one of his antagonists who apparently had repented of his opposition after being disfellowshipped. The rationale for this view lies in the fact that there is a lost letter to the Corinthians that may have explained the circumstances of this other person’s expulsion from the church. This “lost letter” may be contained in Chapters 10-13 which do present the tone of a “sorrowful letter” mentioned in verse 3, and may provide some justification to this theory.

3. An interesting verse used to substantiate the doctrine of Confession. This is not entirely without merit, although it does not outline the practice as it exists today. At minimum, however, it affirms the right of the apostles to decree that a sin repented of is covered by the blood of Christ. Beyond that, it may show the apostolic gift to remit at least the temporal consequences of some sins, for we note that in virtually every instance where Jesus remitted someone’s sins, it was done in connection with physical healing.

4. More than one person has wondered about Paul’s use of the word “always” here. On the face of it, it sounds as if he is suggesting that Christians only experience victory in all trials. That is obviously untrue, and most likely Paul is stating his confidence that God somehow works through all trials, and that even apparent failures and troubles can have some divine good brought out of them when the Christian maintains his faith through them.

5. “And who is sufficient for these things?” is better understood as: “And who is ready to take on these tasks?” The answer: Paul, his associates, and those who have apprehended the true message of the Gospel.

 

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 3

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?1

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.2

4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:

5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit3: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:4

8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament5; which vail is done away in Christ.

15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

17 Now the Lord is that Spirit:6 and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

18 But we all, with open face7 beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

1 (Now that I have spoken about what we endure on behalf of the Gospel,) do we again make ourselves commendable in your eyes? Or do we--as some others--need letters of commendation either to you or from you (in order to be respected)?

2 You, yourselves, are our letter, one written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men.

3 For you are clearly a living letter from Christ, born from our ministry (in his name), written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God--and written not in stone tablets, but in the flesh tablets of the heart.

4-6 We are sure of this because of the trust we have about you through Christ, to God, and not because we think we’re anything--no, our ability is from God alone, who is the One who made us skilled ministers in presenting the new testament to humanity: Not that of the letter (of the Law), but that of the Spirit, for the letter can only kill us, but the Spirit gives us life.

7-8 But if the giving of a system that brought death (--the 10 Commandments--) written and engraved on stones was so glorious that the children of Israel could not look into the face of Moses because it shined so brightly, even though the glory was fading away, how much more glorious shall the (giving and) ministry of the Holy Spirit be?!

9 For if the giving of (a system that could only bring) condemnation was glorious, much more glorious is (a ministry) that bestows righteousness!

10 For even the original glory of the Torah was, and is, no glory at all in comparison to the glory (of the New covenant) that has exceeded and surpassed it.

11 For if the covenant of the Torah--which has been done away with--was glorious, much more glory remains in the covenant that shall never be done away with.

12-13 Therefore, since we have such hope, we speak freely (and hide nothing), unlike Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look upon the (glory of the) very thing that was being abolished.

14 Even so, Israel’s mind was blinded, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant of the Torah is read--though this veil is removed through Christ.

15 But even to this day, when the books of Moses are read, the veil is upon Israel’s heart.

16 Yet when the heart of a Jew turns to the Lord (Jesus), the veil is taken away (because he now understands the truth of what the Torah pointed to).

17 Now the Lord (Jesus) is the (revelation that removes the veil), and where the (revelation) of the Lord is, there is liberty.

17 (Alternate reading:) Now the Lord is the Spirit (--the revelation that removes the veil--) and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

18 But we all, with our unveiled faces, mirror the glory of the Lord, and we are all being changed, in stages, into the same image of his glory by the Spirit of the Lord.

1. A reference to Paul’s continuous frustration with the Judaisers who would follow in his footsteps, claiming authority from the apostles to direct the new converts away from Paul’s teachings, and indoctrinate them into Mosaic Law.

2. This is yet another criticism of returning to Mosaic Law. Here, Paul shows the distinction and dichotomy between the 10 Commandments written in stone--which ultimately bring condemnation because of man’s unwillingness and inability to even keep them as God wants--and the Spirit, which breathes the life of Christ into the believer and manifests the heart of the Torah in his life.

3. The first reference in the New Testament to the “Old Testament.” It should be noted that referring to the books of the Bible before the Gospels as the “Old Testament” traces itself to Bishop Melito of Sardis in the 2nd century, who used the term in that manner. (Tertullian, meanwhile, coined the phrase “New Testament” for the 27 books after Malachi around AD 200.) Scriptural use of the term refers to the distinction between the Mosaic covenant that was based upon obeying commandments and animal sacrifice, and the covenant of reconciliation to God through the atonement of Christ.

4. My 7th-Day Adventist friends, among others, unfortunately make a false dichotomy between the 10 Commandments and the remaining 603 commandments of the Torah. In their view, “the Law” is actually the 10 Commandments, because they were written by the hand of God on stone (the most permanent material available), whereas the remainder of the Torah was written on parchment, thus suggesting a lack of permanence. The problem is, Jesus’ comments about even ‘jots and tittles’ never passing away can only refer to the full Torah since there is nothing in the 10 Commandments that could be considered an insignificant jot or tittle! Additionally, Ex. 24:6-8 and Heb. 9:18-20 very clearly state that the covenant of God’s Law was the “scroll” of the Law, not the stone of the 10 Commandments! There also was no blood sacrifice involved in the receipt of the 10 Commandments, again making them invalid as a ratified covenant apart from the whole of the Law (Heb. 9:16).

Though called a “covenant” in Scripture, there are some factors to be considered: First, because of Israel’s’ rebellion, Moses broke the first set. The author believes this was because the people had disqualified themselves from this simple covenant and Moses realized this. The 603 extra commandments that followed as punishment would be the basis of Paul’s stating that the Law “…was added because of transgressions.”  Originally, the full scroll of the Torah was joined in some way to the ark (KJV says “in the side” of the ark, and some ancient rabbis--rabbi Meir, for instance--actually taught it was placed inside the Ark alongside the replacement stone tablets) and thus given equal prominence with the stone tablets as shown in Deut. 31:26. Other rabbis (Gaon, and also the Rebbe in modern times) viewed the Decalogue as category heads under which the remaining 603 were grouped, or as encapsulations of the 613, and thus the 10 represented the 613, with all 613 equally binding. The author’s speculation is that since some items within the Ark had nothing to do with the covenant of Law, they all represented the rebellions and murmurings of Israel in the Wilderness, with God’s mercy seat above illustrating the ‘triumph of mercy over judgment’ (James 2:13), and thus the 10 Commandments were not there as a ratified covenant apart from the full Torah, but were there as an illustration of rebellion and mercy. Whatever the case, the people wound up with a covenant of 613 commandments, not 10 (Heb. 9:16)!

Certainly, the 10 Commandments are a wonderful basis for righteous living, and they harmonize with some of the minimum requirements to enter the Kingdom. (As noted in Acts 15, the Holy Spirit lists the minimum requirements that must be met to join the Christian community, some of which harmonize with parts of the 10 Commandments, but the Spirit does not repeat the Decalogue, which He could have, and should have done, if the Adventist view is correct.) But it is spiritual heresy to teach that we are “under” the 10 Commandments in the way that the Jews were “under” Mosaic Law, for the 10 commandments have been “abolished” as binding law through which observance places a man in God’s right standing. (See also Romans 4:15.)

A critical blow to extremist Messianic and Adventist theology is also found here through verse 13. As shown in these passages, the entire Mosaic covenant, from the 10 Commandments forward, was in the process of being abolished from its inception, as noted from the glory that was fading from Moses’ face from the time he received it! This notion will always be an offense to the “child of the flesh” who cannot transition from Law to Grace, or Old to New covenant because he will see it as a choice between Law and lawlessness when it is actually a choice between Law, lawlessness or liberty! Thus, if “religious” people are not accusing a minister with this revelation of preaching lawlessness and antinomianism, that minister is not preaching the Gospel of Paul!

5. “Old Testament” here is a synonym for the covenant of the Law. This is also the first reference in the New Testament to the “Old Testament.” It should be noted that referring to the books of the Bible before the Gospels as the “Old Testament” traces itself to Bishop Melito of Sardis in the 2nd century. (Tertullian, meanwhile, coined the phrase “New Testament” for the 27 books after Malachi around AD 200.) Scriptural use of the term refers to the distinction between the Mosaic covenant that was based upon obeying commandments and animal sacrifice, and the covenant of reconciliation to God through the atonement of Christ.

6. This verse has caused problems for many because of its strangely Modalistic language, which seems to say Jesus is Himself the Holy Spirit. I personally solve the problem by interpreting the passage to mean not that Jesus is the Holy Spirit--or any other sort of spirit--but that the word “spirit” here is being used as an Eastern idiom for a revelational teaching or doctrine, a notion I employ in the paraphrase. Paul would thus be using a word play. I can be wrong, of course--but if I am, we are left with the need to explain Paul’s use of dangerously Modalistic language.

7. Paul is referring again to the superiority of the Christian covenant over the Mosaic, for the Israelites could not even look upon the glory of Moses unless he wore a veil. Now, under the covenant of adoption, we can behold God face-to-face as sons and daughters, and also reflect God's attributes through the indwelling power of the Spirit as the glory on Moses' face prefigured this.

 

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4

1 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 God1 deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded2 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.

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.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

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.3

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;4

14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

15 For all things are for your sakes5, 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.

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.

1 Since, by God’s mercy, we have this ministry, we do not grow weary.

2 But we have renounced all dishonest and underhanded methods of preaching the Message of God--not handling it deceitfully, but displaying its truth clearly (by our words and actions,) which all men may see and judge in the sight of God.

3-4 But if our Gospel is veiled to anyone, it is to those who are lost: Those unbelievers whose minds have been blinded by the god of this world to keep the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ--who is the image of God--from shining to them.

5 For we don’t preach ourselves; we preach Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

6 For God, who commanded, “Let there be light!” out of the darkness, has shined in our own hearts to give the light of knowledge of His glory that was revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (rather than Moses).

7 But we have this treasure in the clay pots (of our bodies) so that the glorious power can be seen to be of God, not us.

8 For we are troubled wherever we turn, but we do not distress. We are perplexed, but we do not despair.

9 We are persecuted, but God does not forsake us. We are thrown down, but not destroyed.

10 We always bear in our bodies the death-torment of the Lord Jesus’ passion the day he was crucified, that the (resurrection) life of Jesus might also be manifested in our bodies.

11 For we who live are ever being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the (resurrection) life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death is in and upon us so that you can be full of life.

13 We, having the same spirit of faith as David who wrote in the Psalms: I believed, and therefore have I spoken, also believe, and therefore we speak,

14 Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us up as well, and will bring us forth with you (on Judgment Day).

15 All things we do and go through are for your benefit, so that as His abundant grace spreads, more and more people will give thanks, and God will be glorified.

16 This is why we shall not grow weary! So, though our physical body is perishing, our spirit is re-energized with new life daily.

17 For the worst that can befall us is only a light affliction that lasts but a moment, and it develops in us a far more tremendous weight of eternal glory.

18 So we fix our gaze and follow not what we see with the normal eye; but we focus on and follow the invisible, for what is visible is temporal, but what is invisible is eternal.

1. Another common mistake by Christians is to see the phrase “the word of God” as being a synonym for “the Scriptures.” In fact, that phrase is almost never used in that manner within the New Testament; it is actually used in the sense of God’s proclamation, message, or decree. Paul otherwise in this verse is bringing out the fact that he has done nothing disreputable in his ministry, adhering to a high Christian standard.

2. It is noteworthy to bear in mind that every non-believer, no matter how learned or moral, is under demonic deception and blinded to the truth of the Gospel until the Holy Spirit aids in lifting that deception.

3. This is a reference to Christian suffering, which is one means by which we are made into Christ’s image.

4. This verse is used by some in the Faith movement to bolster faith and confession principles. It is better understood as making the point that Paul did not keep silent about the truth he had found for fear of his own life, but rather that he proclaimed the truth regardless of the consequences.

5. Better paraphrased as: “All things we do and go through are for your benefit.

 

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 5

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.1

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

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.2

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.3

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.4

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.5

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.6

11 Knowing therefore the terror7 of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.8

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.9

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation10;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.11

1 For we know that if our earthly tabernacle--our bodies--crumble to dust, we have a new tabernacle in heaven built not with human hands, but by God.

2 For while we are in this body, we groan in our inward parts, greatly desiring to be clothed with the body from heaven that awaits us,

3 So that once we don it, we will not be naked.

4 For we who are in this earthly tabernacle groan, being burdened by the overwhelming urge not to be naked, but to be clothed in the way that our mortality will be swallowed up in (eternal) life.

5 Now (God), who created us for this, has given us the down payment of the Holy Spirit (to lead us toward that state of ultimate perfection and eternal life).

6 Therefore, we are always confident in that knowledge while we are at home in the body and absent from the Lord.

7 For we walk by what we believe, and not by what we see!

8 We are confident, I say, and more willing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.

9 But we labor so that, whether we are present with, or absent from the Lord, we may be pleasing to him.

10 For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, where everyone (--saved and unsaved--) will be handed out what is appropriate to what they have done, be it good or bad.

11 Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we try to convert men to the faith. But God knows our motives are pure, and we trust you know that too, deep down.

12 For we, again, do not boast about ourselves to you--but we give you the opportunity to boast about us so you can have an answer for those who glory in outward appearances and not from what is in the heart.

13 If we’re “crazy,” it is because we do what we do for God. If we’re sane, it is because of you.

14 For the love of Christ constrains us to do this, because we have come to accept that if one died for all, then all were dead;

15 And that he died for all, so that all who are alive should no longer live for themselves, but instead live for him who died and rose from the dead (to give them true and eternal life).

16 So, at this point, we no longer see people in the same way as we used to, just as we who once knew Christ as a mere human being now see him much differently too!

17 Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a totally new sort of creature, and the old things have passed away, making all things new.

18-19 All credit for what has been done goes to God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and given us the ministry of converting people from a state of unacceptability, to a state of purity and acceptance, proclaiming how God, through Christ, was converting the world to Himself, while graciously ignoring man’s sins against Him; and He has imparted that message of reconciliation to us so that we can tell others.

20 Now we are Christ’s ambassadors, and it is the same as if God Himself were begging you to accept what we say. So we beg you, in the place of Christ, to be reconciled to God.

21 For God made Christ, who knew no sin, to become sin for us, so that we--in him--could be made the righteousness of God!

1. The ‘earthly tabernacle’ referred to by Paul is our mortal body. Paul’s point here is that there is a glorified body awaiting us in the Resurrection.

2. Using poetic language in verses 2-4, Paul has basically made the point our inner man yearns for our entire being to be free from sin and clothed with the perfection of the Spirit, something that cannot occur before death and resurrection.

3. This verse could be paraphrased as: “Now Christ, who has ordained us to this, has given us the down payment of the Holy Spirit (to lead us toward that state of ultimate perfection and eternal life).”

4. One of a number of verses challenging the false doctrine of “Soul Sleep.” When coupled with chapter 12, verse 2, no question is left regarding whether man has a spirit that has consciousness beyond the shell of the body.

5. This is a somewhat controversial verse. One could (like the cults) view it as suggesting that we must make sure we do enough good deeds to escape God’s condemnation and be worthy of salvation even if we are believers. The problem is, this notion would contradict other teachings of Paul on the salvation issue. The word “accepted” can, and should be, understood as “pleasing.” Thus, the verse is saying that we labor to do the things of God so that He will be pleased with us, rather than hope that He will “accept” us into the Kingdom by somehow judging whether we have lived righteously enough to pass muster.

6. This is another misunderstood verse. Some take the view that it means God (or Jesus) will stand the Christian up and review every sin he ever committed. After raking us over the coals for our sins, He will then briefly list the good things we did, and then give us a reward we don't deserve. But the judgment spoken of means two different things to two different groups: The saved have their sins washed away, and those sins will never again be brought to their remembrance. Thus, only the “good” things they have done will be reviewed and rewarded, based on the motivations of the person. The unsaved, who are bound for a Godless eternity, cannot receive a reward no matter how much “good” they have done, nor can any “good” in their earthly lives somehow offset the penalty for any of their sins.  (If it could, there would be no need for Christ; all one would need do to achieve eternal life would be to do enough good deeds to offset his bad deeds.) Thus, the unsaved is judged according to the sins he committed, and no review of his “goodness” comes into play. It should also be noted that “Christ” does not appear in all texts; some have “God” instead.

 

7. “Terror” is too strong a word; “fear” is the correct word.

8. In verses 11 through 15, Paul is summing up the point that he does what he does to please Christ, and that one who has chosen to follow Him lives to serve others in His name.

9. This difficult verse can be paraphrased like this: “So at this point we no longer see people in the same way as we used to, in the same way we who once knew Christ as a mere human being now see Him much differently.

10. “Reconciliation” is a word referring to a money-changer exchanging non-kosher money for kosher coinage acceptable for use in the Temple.

11. This verse opens up a can of worms. Some teachers deny the clear statement of the verse here that Christ literally was “made to be sin” on the cross, and redefine the verse as “sin offering.” However, the truth doesn’t mean Jesus became a demonic being or the personification of sin, but it does mean He took man’s sin upon Himself and paid the penalty as if He had committed those sins.

 

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 6

1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

3 Giving no offence1 in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

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.

11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you,2 our heart is enlarged.

12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.3

13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:4 for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

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.

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,

18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

1 We then, working together with Christ, beg you also not to receive God’s grace in vain.

2 For God says: I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee. And now is the accepted time; and now is the day of salvation!

3 So we do nothing that could possibly cause anyone to stumble, so that our ministry is not brought into disrepute.

4-5 But in everything we do, we patiently uphold a high standard as ministers of God despite afflictions, trials, distress, whippings, jail, vigilante mobs, hard work, insomnia, and starvation.

6-7 We display purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, and sincere love through the Holy Spirit, the message of truth, and the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness as our sword and shield.

8 We maintain a high standard in the face of honor or dishonor, whether we are spoken well of or denounced, and whether or not we are accused of being deceivers--despite our being sincere.

9 Our standard is the same if we are unknown or well-known. We are always on the verge of dying, yet we continue to live. We are always being scourged by one authority or another, but yet we survive.

10 We are ever facing sorrow, yet we always rejoice. We are always poor, yet make others rich. We never have anything, but we possess everything (through Christ).

11 O you Corinthians, we have taught you all we know, and exposed our hearts to you.

12 We never restrain our affection for you, but you restrain yours from us!

13-14 If you would show the same affection for us as we do you, I beg you, as I would my own children, to open your hearts and receive what I have to tell you: Do not enter into marriage with an unbeliever! For what accord does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what communion does light have with darkness?

15 What agreement does Christ have with (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with a worshipper of false gods?

16 What agreement does the Temple of God have with idols? For you are the Temple of the Living God. Remember God said: I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people...

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,

18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

1. This is the only place in the New Testament where this word, which means to cause a person to stumble, is found.

2. “Our mouth is open to you” is an idiom meaning: “We have taught you all we know.”

3. This, and the following verse, are obviously very difficult to understand. The best paraphrase I can offer is:

We never restrain our affection for you, but you restrain yours from us!

If you would show the same affection for us as we do you, I beg you, as I would my own children, to open your hearts and receive what I have to tell you: Do not enter into marriage with an unbeliever! For what accord does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what communion does light have with darkness?

 

4. This is an absolute command that Christians are never to marry a non-Christian. However, the line is drawn at leaving an unsaved spouse to find someone else, unless that spouse abandons the marriage or is unfaithful.

 

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 7

1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,1 perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.

3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.

4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.

6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.

8 For though I made you sorry with a letter,2 I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.3

11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!4 In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.

13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.

14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.

15 And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.

16 I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.

1 Dearly beloved, since we have these promises from God, let us cleanse ourselves from any contamination of our flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in reverence toward God.

2 Open your hearts to us. We have done wrong to no man, nor have we corrupted or defrauded anyone.

3 I don’t say this to condemn you--for as I have said before, you are in our hearts, and we are ready to live or die for or with you.

4 I can speak boldly to you, for great is my pride in you. I am filled with comfort, and am exceedingly joyful through all our tribulation.

5 For when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we had trouble on every side. We had faced every sort of fight on the outside, and we were greatly afraid on the inside.

6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downtrodden, comforted us by the arrival of Titus.

7 And not only by his arrival, but also with the good report he told about you that brought comfort to both him and us. He told us of your longing (to see me), your mourning, along with your passionate concern over me--and I rejoiced all the more when I heard that.

8 For though I grieved you in an earlier letter, I am not sorry, though for a while I was sorry because I knew that letter grieved you--but that was only temporary.

9 So now I am rejoicing--not that you were just grieved, but that you were grieved in a way that moved you to repentance. You had a godly sorrow, and thus were not really harmed by us in any way.

10 You see, godly sorrow brings forth repentance to salvation with no regrets, while worldly sorrow (is only a feeling with no change in behavior that) brings forth death in the end.

11 You are living proof of that. You had a godly sorrow, and look what it produced: Such a quick response it wrought in you, such a desire to wipe the slate clean, such remorse (toward sin), such fear, such strong desire, such zeal, and such vindication! In all the things you’ve done, you have shown yourselves innocent in this matter.

12 That’s why, when I wrote to you, I did it not for the good of the offender, nor for the sake of the one offended, but I wrote it so we could all apprehend how concerned (each of us is for the other) in the sight of God.

13 Therefore we were comforted by all this, and rejoiced even more when we saw Titus and the way his own spirit was refreshed by you all.

14 For if I have boasted to him about anything regarding you, I have not been made ashamed. But just as we spoke everything to you in truth, likewise the boasting of you I made to Titus was found to be equally truthful.

15 And his inward love and passion for you is all the stronger when he remembers how obedient you were, receiving him with fear and trembling into your midst.

16 I therefore rejoice that I can be confident in you in every way!

1. This is a critically important verse against the doctrine of  “Once saved, always saved,” which shows that sin contaminates the soul by attacking saving faith, with the potential for causing one to lose saving faith and be lost.

2. Not necessarily a reference to 1st Corinthians, but possibly a reference to the famous “lost letter.”

3. This verse illustrates what true repentance is: A genuine sorrow that results in a change of attitude and behavior. This is distinctly different from the false repentance that comes from regret over the circumstances one now finds himself in as a result of his deeds.

4. “Revenge” is better understood as a word meaning “vindication.”

 

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 8

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.1

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.

6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

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.

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.

13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:

21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.

23 Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

1 Now, brethren, we want to tell you about the grace of God bestowed upon the Macedonian churches (and especially the church at Philippi).

2 Though facing many trials and afflictions, their abundance of joy, despite their deep poverty, caused their generosity to overflow.

3 For I can attest to the fact that, of their own free will and ability, they not only gave what they could, but went even beyond that and were willing to give until it hurt.

4 Eager to share in the task, they begged us to accept the gift (we knew they could not afford to give), and pass it on to the righteous in Jerusalem.

5 And they went beyond our expectations, first seeking God’s will over what they should give before they even placed themselves at both the Lord and our disposal with their gift.

6 So we asked Titus, since he had approached you about this earlier, to return and finish this task, and receive what comes out of the grace you have for the relief fund.

7 Therefore, since you are abounding in all things like faith, speaking, knowledge, enthusiasm, and in your love for us--let us see that you abound in this grace (of giving) as well.

8-9 I don’t say this as a commandment, but only to point out how the other churches have treated this task; and so I hope to see proof of your own sincere love--for you know how our Lord Jesus Christ displayed his own grace: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, that you, through his poverty, could become rich!

10 So this is my advice: Since you were the first people last year to offer to give, and the first to start a collection, it would be good for you to finish what you started.

11 So fulfill the collection from the resources you have with the same zeal you had when you decided to do it.

12 For if a man there has a heart for this, then we’re ready to accept what he can give, not what he can’t give.

13 For I don’t mean for other men to have their bills paid while you go into debt for them.

14 But my view is that your current prosperity can come to the aid of the Jerusalem church, which is in need; and someday their prosperity may be the source to help you when times get tough there. Thus, everything will even out in the end.

15 As the Scripture says: He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

16 But thanks be to God for His putting the same love for you in the heart of Titus that I have for you.

17 For he certainly accepted our commission to return to you; but more than that, he was eager to return.

18 And we have sent with him our brother who has been widely praised in all the churches for his work in the Gospel.

19 Not only that, but he was chosen by the churches to accompany us with the Jerusalem relief fund, which is being collected by us for the glory of the same Lord, and is evidence of your eager sincerity.

20 His presence will help us avoid any false suggestion of impropriety on our part regarding all the money we’re collecting.

21 So we are being honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22 We’ve also sent with them another brother whom we have often proven faithful in many tasks, and who has been eager to go since he learned of the great confidence I have in you.

23 Now if anyone asks about this other brother Titus, he is my partner and associate in my work among you. If anyone asks about the brethren with him, they are apostles from the churches, and a glory to Christ.

24 So show love to them, and let the other churches see the proof of your own love and of our boasts about you.

1. Paul is making reference to the fact that the Macedonians materially contributed to help their fellow Christians elsewhere, despite their own hardships. Through the remainder of this and the next chapter, he goes to great lengths to encourage the believers to be ready to imitate the example of himself and his companions; and he goes so far as to send on some of his assistants beforehand to make sure he won’t be disappointed.

What prompted this unusual concern on Paul’s part we cannot know. Apparently, he was concerned that the Corinthians would not follow through on their earlier promise to have a bountiful donation ready for him to take to the church in Jerusalem, which was undergoing great hardship and persecution.

 

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 9

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.1

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:

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 righteousness2;)

11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;3

13 Whiles by the experiment4 of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

1 For as regards (the great need the righteous in Jerusalem have at this time for assistance), there is no need for me to write in detail.

2 I am aware of your eagerness to come to their aid, and have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that southern Greece was ready to get things going a year ago. Your zeal has provoked very many of them into action as well.

3 Even so, I have sent the brethren (bringing this letter) to you, to make certain you have carried through on this, lest my boasting of you be found to be premature,

4 And those from Macedonia who accompany me arrive to find you unprepared, which would bring shame for this confident boasting--not upon you, but upon us.

5 Therefore, I thought it best to encourage the brethren to go on before us to make certain that everything talked about before, regarding your blessing, was in place and ready for our arrival. I did this with the motive of seeing this be something given as a blessing, rather than something given out of intimidation.

5 (Alternate reading): Therefore, I thought it best to send the brethren ahead of us to make certain that everything talked about before, regarding your blessing, was in place and ready for our arrival. I did this with the motive of seeing you place yourselves in a position to receive blessing, and not out of a desire to profit off you.

6 But I tell you this: He who sows sparingly, shall also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully, shall reap a bountiful harvest.

7 So let every man give out of what he has decided in his heart to share. Never give grudgingly or out of obligation, for God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And remember that God is able to meet every need you have out of His abundant grace so every need can be met, and so you can be in a position to abound in every good work.

9 As it is written: (A righteous man) hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

10 Now may God, who gives seed to the sower, both give you food for your tables and multiply the harvest of the seed you have sown, increasing the fruits of your charity,

11 And enriching you to the point you can give even more, which through us will cause those to whom we deliver the gift to give thanksgiving to God.

12 For the disbursement of your charity does more than merely supply the needs the righteous--it also results in God’s being thanked by many.

13-14 This radical gift will be proof of your following the Gospel of Christ, and will show your commitment to they and all men, causing them to glorify God for you, and offer up exuberant prayers for you as a result of your generosity born from the exceeding amount of God’s grace in you.

15 Thanks be to God for the indescribable free gift of grace! 

1. It is interesting that while some ministers condemn and ridicule so-called “Give to get” preaching, Paul seems to use a less-extreme version of the same theology here in his plea to Corinth, advising them that those who give generously to help others can count on God’s generosity being poured back upon them in like measure.

2. “righteousness” is better understood as: “Charity.” It is not referring to righteousness in the sense of godliness.

3. This difficult verse could be paraphrased like this: “For the disbursement of your charity does more than merely supply the needs the righteous--it also results in God’s being thanked by many.

4. “Experiment” should be translated: “Proof.”

5. This verse could be paraphrased like so: And the prayers they offer up for you as a result of your generosity, born from the exceeding amount of God’s grace in you, will bear fruit for you long after your gift is given.

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 10

1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:1

2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5 Casting down imaginations2, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.3

7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.

8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.4

13 But we will not boast of things without our measure5, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

14 For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:

15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith6 is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.

17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

1-2 Now I Paul, “the one who is bold from a distance when he writes, but a wimp in person,” beseech you personally, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, not to force me to show how bold I can actually be when I come face to face with those who have accused us of operating out of purely human motives!

3 For though we may be men, living and walking in bodies of flesh, we don’t fight by using mortal man’s weapons or mortal man’s tactics.

4-5 For the weapons we use in warfare are not natural ones, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down human logic and every lofty mindset that seeks to hinder and exalt itself over the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity and making it obedient to Christ.

6 And we are ready to take action against every person in the church who refuses to obey God’s truth after those of you who will obey it put it into practice.

7 Are you still making the mistake of making judgments based on outward appearances? If anyone there thinks he is one of Christ’s, then he should also bear in mind that we are Christ’s as well!

8 For even if I am being rather heavy-handed in my use of the authority the Lord has given us as apostles for your building up--not your tearing down--I will not be ashamed.

9 I am not trying to arouse fear in you only by writing a letter!

10 For “his letters,” they say, “are strong and powerful, but he’s wimpy in person, and can hardly string two words together.”

11 Let whoever thinks that, know that we will be just as bold in person as we are in letters!

12 Now we are not daring to number ourselves with, nor compare ourselves to, some who blow their own horn and pat themselves on the back. These people who measure their lives against each other’s, and compare themselves with each other, are anything but wise.

13 So we will not boast of things outside the scope our authority; we will boast according to what we did within the scope of authority God gave to us to reach you with the Gospel.

14 For we are not overstretching in these comments as if we had not been with you from the beginning. But we were the ones who first preached the Gospel of Christ to you.

15-16 So we don’t boast beyond what is proper--meaning, we won’t take credit for other men’s work (as some seem to be doing in our case). But we have confidence that, when your (understanding) is increased, we will be more respected and heeded in your eyes, and will then have proper respect in your area of the world. Then we can go on to preach the Gospel in regions beyond you where it is unknown, rather than following in the footsteps of other men and milking their work.

17 But he who glories about anything, should glory in the Lord.

18 For the one who will be approved is not the one who commends himself; but the one approved of will be the one whom the Lord commends.

1. A reference by Paul to the fact that he was a powerful letter-writer, but in person was a less-than-imposing speaker.

2. “Imaginations” could be understood as the worldviews that arise through human reasoning and logic outside of the Scriptures.

3. Meaning that once those able to receive Paul’s message have done so, the others who reject it will be dealt with in person by the apostle on his return.

4. The past several verses, continuing on to the end of the chapter, have been a criticism of the Judaisers, who have arrogantly been seeking to overturn Paul’s work among the Gentiles by drawing the believers into following them.

5. “Measure,” throughout this chapter, should probably be viewed as the authority given Paul by God over the churches.

6. “Faith” here appears to be used as a synonym for understanding (Matt. 16: 8, 11). This may be because the Jews viewed faith not only as belief or trusting, but as something practically made up of love of God, knowledge of His ways, and obedience to Him.

 

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 11

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.1

4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things.

7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?2

8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness3; whose end shall be according to their works.

16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.

17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.

19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.

21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

22 Are 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.

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

33 And through a window in a basket4 was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

1 Would to God you would bear with some more of my foolish talking--but I know you are bearing with me.

2 You see, I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I acted as the Matchmaker between you and the one husband whose marriage I arranged with you; and I want to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

3 But I worry, lest somehow--as the serpent tricked Eve through his cunning--your minds will likewise be deceived into abandoning your sincere dedication to Christ (and that you’ll wind up with a different husband than the one you were espoused to).

4 For if some so-called (“Super apostle”) comes and preaches a different sort of Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive another Spirit than the one you first received, or another sort of Gospel than ours that you have not accepted--you seem open to listening and heeding the person deceiving you with these false ideas and false Christ!

5 I don’t think I have shown myself inferior to these “Super apostles” in any way.

6 But though my speech may be less than brilliant, my knowledge speaks for itself as we have proven by all the things we have done among you.

7 Did I do something wrong when I humbled myself in order to exalt you, by preaching the Gospel of God without any notion of charging you for it?!

8 I robbed from the resources of other churches, taking donations from them to see my needs met, during my ministry there with you.

9 And when I was with you and in need, I asked nothing from any one of you. Instead, all the funds I lived off came from the brethren arriving from (northern Greece). I have deliberately kept myself from being a burden to any of you, and I will continue that policy.

10 I swear by the truth of Christ that is within me, that no man shall stop my boasting of not taking a cent off any of you in (southern Greece)!

11 Why (didn’t I take what you would have given me)? Because I don’t love you? Well, God knows I do!

12 But I will go on in the same manner as I have been doing, to show up these self-absorbed men for what they are, since they claim to be like us, but would never follow our actual example (--which is proof of their hypocrisy)!

13 For these are false apostles, deceitful laborers transforming themselves into the outward appearance of apostles of Christ.

14 And no wonder, for even Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light.

15 Therefore, it is no great shock if Satan’s servants can also transform themselves outwardly as servants of righteousness. Their fate will be according to the deeds they have actually done (from their black hearts)!

16 I repeat--let no one make the mistake of thinking I am a fool. But if indeed I am a fool, here is the sort of fool I am, and here is the foolishness I could boast of:

17 Keep in mind this is not the Lord’s way of speech, but I’m talking like the foolish braggarts we’re speaking of--so bear with me.

18 Seeing that men are boasting over mere human achievements, I will do some boasting as well (since that seems to impress you).

19-20 Because apparently you’re so “smart” that you eagerly put up with these fools who boast for their own glory, and by this let them put you into bondage, and devour you, and rob you, and glorify themselves while they insult you the whole time!

21 To my shame, I admit we’ve been “stupid,” (compared to these people,) so let me now brag like them. Keep in mind I am only talking foolishly like them--this is not what I actually believe!

22 Are they Hebrews? Well--so am I! Are they Israelites? Well--so am I! Are they descended from Abraham? Well--so am I!

23 Are they ministers of Christ? Keep in mind I am only talking like a fool. I am far more so! I’ve worked harder. I’ve been beaten more times than I can count. I’ve spent time in prison. I’ve faced death uncounted times!

24 The unbelieving Jews gave me the thirty-nine stripes five times (because I wouldn’t cease to preach)!

25 Three times, I was beaten with rods. Once, I was stoned. Three times, I was shipwrecked--and one of those times I spent a full day and night in the water until someone rescued me.

26 On my many travels, I’ve often had to cross swollen rivers, faced bandits, and faced peril at the hands of my own countrymen. I’ve faced danger at the hands of the heathen. I’ve been in danger in cities, in the wilderness, and at sea. I’ve been in peril by false brethren.

27 I’ve spent many sleepless nights in pain and at the end of my strength--and even during times when I was injured, hungry, or cold and without proper clothing, I’ve kept watch over the flock.

28 Besides all the pressure from the outside, there is my inner passion and concern over all the churches I deal with daily.

29 Who there is weak without my being weak with him? Who there stumbles, that I am not indignant over it?

30 But if I really must boast, let me boast of my true weaknesses.

31 Our Blessed God, the Father of our Lord, knows I do not lie:

32 In Damascus, the governor, under King Aretas, had a garrison of trrops on the lookout for me, hoping to apprehend me.

33 But through a window, hanging on a braided rope, I was lowered down the city walls and escaped his clutches.

1. This was one of Paul’s points that Christianity throughout the ages has missed as it repeated the mistake of Judaism, constantly trying to regulate behavior and godliness by hosts of man-made traditions and commandments. Paul rarely articulated holiness in the way the church itself has over the centuries. He understood true holiness came as a fruit of salvation, and thus was given birth his constant fight to break the church free from the mindset that conformity through mandated behavior equaled godliness.

2. In verses 7-10 Paul reminds them of the fact that he never took so much as a dime from people, receiving his stipends from other churches. This apparently was in contrast to his opponents who fleeced the sheep for their own benefit.

4. “righteousness” here means acting godly, displaying an outward form of holy living while inwardly having failed to comprehend the true basis of salvation. Examples in our own culture would be religions or movements that equate lifestyle with acceptance by God. In the case of the LDS Church, this problem was perfectly articulated by the opening prayer of the Mormon prophet at a conference I once observed, who prayed: “Heavenly Father, we thank Thee that because we are walking steadfastly in the Ordinances of Thy Church, we are able to appropriate the faith unto salvation.”

Well, one does not appropriate faith because he walks in obedience to the commandments. One walks in obedience because he has already been saved.

While we often criticize groups like the Mormons, many Christian brethren believe precisely the same thing! They may say it differently, but at the core of some so-called holiness movements is a presumption that because one lives in an austere manner, God accepts him as His child and considers him to be in a place of right standing.

4. Probably not in a “basket” as is translated in the KJV, but by a braided rope.

 

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 12

1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body,1 I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven2

3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

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.

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh3, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me:4 for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?5

18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?

19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.

20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

1 It is stupid to boast like this, but let me now tell you of some visions and revelations from the Lord.

2-4 I knew a man in Christ some fourteen years ago, who was caught up to the third (level of) heaven. Now whether he was there bodily or in the spirit alone, I can’t say--God knows. And I knew this man, who--again whether there bodily or in the spirit alone, I don’t know, but God knows--was caught up to the Garden of Eden which is there, and heard things so utterly incredible that he was forbidden to share them with even one soul!

5 I could glory and boast of a man like that. But even so, I refuse to glory about what I have done or seen. Instead, I will glory in my weakness.

6 Even if I wanted to glory--and, in truth, glory I could without being a fool--I won’t, lest any man think more of me than he should, based on what he has seen or heard from me.

7 (God also didn’t want me to get proud and boast,) and so, to keep me from getting overly proud of all the revelations I was given, I received a thorn in my flesh: one of Satan’s (most powerful) fallen angels, who has plagued me with turmoil (every single place I go).

8 Three times, I cried out to the Lord to deliver me from this being.

9 But his answer was: “The grace I give you (to endure) is enough, for my strength is greatest when you are weak (and unable to solve your problems through your own strength and wisdom, for it’s only then that I can fully work through you).” Knowing that, I thus prefer to glory in all my infirmities (and not grieve over them), so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 (So bring it on!) I will revel in weakness, insults, and in my having to do what I must without regard for my personal safety! I will revel in distress and in persecution for Christ’s sake. I will rejoice (in Satan’s face) over every one of these problems--for when I am weak in these situations, I am strong through Christ. (And with Christ empowering me, Satan cannot possibly stop me!)

11 Yes, I have become a total fool for boasting like this, but you have forced me to. You should have had respect for me otherwise, for I am no less important or used than the highest-ranking apostles.

12 Truly, the signs of an apostle were displayed among you: signs, wonders, and mighty deeds done while I patiently endured among you.

13 For what did I do among you there that was in any way inferior to what I do in any of other the churches but for the fact I did not burden you (with my own needs)? Forgive me for this (apparent) wrong!

14 Look--this is the third time I will be coming there, and I will not take any money from you even now! I seek nothing from you but your hearts, for parents should not take from their children, but they should store up an inheritance for them.

15 I will very gladly spend my money--and even myself--for you, though apparently the more I love you, the less I am loved by you in return!

16 But that is how it was--I took nothing from you. But because I am apparently a fraud, I was merely lulling you into a false sense of security before sweeping in for the kill, right?

17 Did I make so little as one copper piece off any of the people I sent to you?!

18 (For your own good,) I asked Titus and another brother to go to you. Did Titus ask you for any money, or did we both instead refuse to take anything from you? Didn’t we both behave exactly the same?

19 Again, do you think we’ve just been making excuses for ourselves? We speak in plain sight of God as men of Christ--but everything we do, dearly beloved, we do for your building up.

20 (I write as I do because) I truly fear that I will come and not find you functioning as I would hope to see you, but instead I worry I’ll find things like: arguing, jealousy, bad feelings, disputes, gossip, rumor mongering, arrogance, and disharmony.

21 I also fear that when I return, my God will shame me among you [for the obvious failure of what I thought I had accomplished], and thus I will be broken in grief over many who have already sinned and have not repented of the uncleanness, sexual sin, and lasciviousness they have committed.

1. If the plethora of Scripture elsewhere isn’t enough, this verse here totally refutes the false doctrine of “Soul sleep,” for Paul says he is unsure whether he was physically present in heaven, or whether his spirit had left his body. Had Paul believed the false notion that people don’t really have a spirit body that could exist outside of the physical shell of the body, he would never have said he was unsure whether or not he was physically or spiritually in heaven.

2. In Jewish belief, there were a total of seven levels of heaven: Vilon, Rakia, Shechakim, Zebul, Maon, Machon and Araboth. The third level, Shechakim, was where manna was made and the Torah created. It was from here that God also revealed Himself to the Patriarchs. There were also some beliefs that the Garden of Eden was taken up to heaven before the flood, and so Paul may have believed he was literally within the Garden of Eden on the third plane of heaven, thus accounting for his reference to “Paradise.”

3. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” has always been a matter of speculation. First, it might be better understood as a “Splinter” or “sticker” under the skin that festers and causes irritation. Whether this “thorn” was bad eyesight, his opponents, the constant irritation of the Judaisers overturning his work, or some demonic spirit behind these problems cannot be known for certain.

4. Paul is basically being sarcastic here, saying, “I’ve been boasting because you people have been forcing me to do it!”

5. Returning to justifying himself, Paul rhetorically asks if he has done anything to exploit the Corinthians as his opponents have been claiming.

 

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 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.

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:

3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.

4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

12 Greet one another with an holy kiss.

13 All the saints salute you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

1 This will be the third time I have come to you. As Scripture says: In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word (accusation of a crime) be established.

2-3 I warned you before, and give fair warning again, as if I were there rather than absent, what I said on my second visit: I am writing to tell those who have remained in sin--and to everyone else there--that when I arrive, I will not show any mercy (but will deliver the full pronouncement of God against the impurity in the church there), since you seek proof that Christ is speaking through me. And trust me--he is anything but weak among you; in fact, he is mighty among you (which some of you will be finding out the hard way).

4 For though Christ was crucified in his human weakness, yet he is now alive by the power of God. We also, humanly speaking, are weak in him; but we will live with him by the power of God--a power that we will be also using in our dealings with you!

5 (And so I suggest you) regularly examine yourselves to see if you are really in the faith. Test your own hearts and motivations. Do you recognize the presence of Jesus Christ within you--unless, of course, you are reprobates (without a true faith)?

6 I trust that you will come to see that we are not reprobates!

7 Now I pray to God that you have nothing to do with evil--not so that we should look good in the eyes of others, but so that you should walk in integrity, even if we are viewed as reprobates.

8 Our job is to stand for the truth, and never to stand against the truth!

9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong, for our greatest wish is your perfection in Christ.

10 Therefore, I write as I do while I am absent, lest when I come I must use sharp words and waste the power of the Lord meant for your building up on having to tear you down in judgment.

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be mature. Be comforted. Be united, and the God of love and peace shall be united with you.

12 Give everyone a holy kiss from us.

13 All the righteous salute you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

 

 

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