Bible Study – Getting To Know God’s Will Chap 14 Part 1 of 3 19 March 2017

Getting To Know Gods Will

Chap 14 Part 1 of 3

 

Book of 2 Corinthians

Chap 4,5,6

 

2 Corinthians Introduction

 

The Epistle begins with “Comfort”.

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4; “3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  4Who 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.” 

 

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians in response to serious problems that had developed in the church at Corinth. These problems manifested themselves in attacks upon Paul and his apostolic ministry. Divisions within the church and their attacks upon Paul denied the very essence of the gospel.

 

2 Corinthians 5:19; “19To 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.” 

 

The problems at Corinth had been developing for some time. The formation of groups attached to their favorite preachers indicated less than full support for Paul. In 2 Corinthians, especially in chapters 10-13, opposition to Paul had developed into open hostility and rebellion. This opposition included rejection of his ministry and his gospel. Paul’s first ministry in Corinth was on his second missionary journey

READ: Acts 18:1-18

Ephesus was Paul’s center for ministry on his third missionary journey.

READ: Acts 19:1 to 20:1

 

While there, Paul’s evangelistic efforts seem to have been highly successful. His ministry in Ephesus continued for two years and was so successful that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord”.

 

Acts 19:10; “10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”   

 

As Paul’s ministry at Ephesus was flourishing, trouble brewed at Corinth. Both Ephesus and Corinth were coastal cities, separated only by the Aegean Sea. Communication between the two cities was easy. Contacts between Paul and the Corinthians were frequent, and the reports became increasingly disturbing as hostility to Paul increased. During Paul’s early ministry in Ephesus, a party spirit developed in Corinth. Church members became self-centered rather than Christ-centered. Hostile teachers may have come into Corinth and promoted the problem. In 2 Corinthians Paul reminded the Corinthians they had been led astray by leaders who took advantage of them in order to exalt themselves.

 

2 Corinthians 11:20; “20For 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.” 

 

Reports of trouble came to him by “Chloe’s people” and others.

 

1 Corinthians 1:11; “11For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.” 

 

Because of these reports and in response to a letter from the Corinthian church, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in which he warned of the dangers of the self-centered life instead of the Christ-centered life of love.

 

Too many of us have a tendency to use a wrong standard for measuring character – particularly our own.  We compare ourselves among ourselves and our conclusion is that we are as good as the average – or maybe a little better.

 

2 Corinthians 10:12; “12….but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

 

But average Christians are not what God needs; so, perhaps we should copy Wesley’s prayer,

 

“Lord make me an Extraordinary Christian”.

 

Paul already had written them a letter that warned against association with immoral people.

 

1 Corinthians 5:9; “9I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:”   

 

All of this letter has been lost, unless a fragment has been preserved in 2 Corinthians.

 

2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1; “14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  16And 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.  17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty….1Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 

 

 First Corinthians, therefore, was Paul’s second attempt to deal by letter with their problems. Paul urged Apollos, who had returned from Corinth, to go back to Corinth. Apollos refused.

 

1 Corinthians 16:12; “12As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.”  

 

Paul then sent Timothy.

 

1 Corinthians 4:17; “17For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.”   

 

Timothy failed to solve the problems and was again with Paul when he wrote 2 Corinthians.

 

2 Corinthians 1:1; “1Paul, 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:” 

 

During this period, Paul made a brief visit to Corinth. Although not recorded in Acts, this visit appears in three references: in

 

2 Corinthians 2:1; “1But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.” 

 

2 Corinthians 12:14; “14Behold, 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.” 

 

2 Corinthians 13:1; “1This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”   

 

Having been a painful visit,

 

2 Corinthians 2:1; “1But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.”   

 

It must have failed to produce reconciliation. Paul sent a letter of such strong rebuke that he regretted sending it. Later he rejoiced because the letter had made them sorrowful unto repentance.

 

2 Corinthians 7:8-10; “8For though I made you sorry with a letter, 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.  9Now 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.  10For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” 

 

Titus probably was the bearer of this letter.

 

2 Corinthians 8:616-17; “6Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also….
16But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.  17For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.”   

 

It was not preserved unless all or part of it survives in: 

 

2 Corinthians 10-13; “10To 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;  11Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 12Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,  13I 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.” 

 

Sometime after Titus left for Corinth, Paul left Ephesus. He stopped at Troas, where he found an open door for missionary work; but his heart was not in it. 

 

2 Corinthians 2:12-13; “12Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,  13I 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.”   

 

Paul had longed for Titus to return with news that the problems had been solved in Corinth. When Titus failed to meet him, he feared that all had been lost in Corinth. Titus finally met Paul in Macedonia.

 

2 Corinthians 7:6-7; “6Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;  7And 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.”   

 

He brought the good news that attitudes in Corinth had improved. Paul then wrote 2 Corinthians, promising an early visit to them. In the most autobiographical of his letters, Paul revealed much about himself, his calling, and his ministry. Among Paul’s other letters, only Galatians comes close to 2 Corinthians in what it reveals about Paul.

 

The Minister And The Ministry

 

This epistle well could be termed a document on the minister and ministry. As Paul defended his own character and ministry, he enunciated those principles that should characterize every person who has been called to minister in Christ’s name. Although the apostles were the leaders, ministry was not limited to them. The whole congregation has a responsibility for ministry. Just as God “reconciled us to himself through Christ,” He has given to “us the ministry of reconciliation”.

 

2 Corinthians 5:18; “18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” 

 

This letter was not written as a theological treatise. It was written to deal with specific problems in a local situation. Nevertheless, in confronting these problems, Paul has given insight into rich theological truths for all Christians. Second Corinthians, therefore, is always contemporary for those who would understand better the meaning of ministry in the name of Christ.

 

2 Corinthians Teaching

 

Second Corinthians challenges us to give ourselves to the ministry of healing broken relationships. This ministry is grounded in the fact that God has reconciled us to Himself and given us a ministry of reconciliation

 

2 Corinthians 5:19; “19To 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.”   

 

This task has to do primarily with the reconciling of people to God, but it includes the reconciling of people to one another. All Christians are to give themselves to this ministry.

 

Divisions within destroy the ministry of the church to the world. Christians, therefore, are to minister to one another in a spirit of love and mutual forgiveness. Only a church whose members are reconciled to one another can carry on a ministry of reconciliation.

 

We should reflect the redemptive love and forgiveness of God in all areas of our ministry. Even as the church at Corinth dealt with an offender in their midst, Paul admonished the people to forgive and comfort the offender.

 

2 Corinthians 2:7; “7So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”   

 

Our function is not to overwhelm others with harsh condemnation, but to lead them to repentance and to acceptance of God’s forgiveness.

 

Those who lead in ministry need the concern and support of those they lead. Even Paul, the great apostle, was heartbroken and discouraged because of problems among the Corinthians and their failure to give him their confidence and support. At Troas, therefore, he was unable to preach even though a door was open to him.

 

2 Corinthians 2:12-13; “12Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,  13I 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.” 

About Ephraim J. Stockwell

Ephraim J. Stockwell, Born 30 May 1926 in Howell, Michigan, USA; Grew up on a farm in Uniontown, Pennsylvania; Served in Army during WW2 in European Theater of Operations; College in West Virginia, majoring in Physics and Electronic Engineering; Employed by NASA Headquarters, Wash. D.C. as Head of Network Operations (Retired), Husband of Joan Morgan Stockwell, father of 3 sons; Jack, Mark and Rick; Family includes 17 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren.
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