2 Corinthians

Simplicity in Christ

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

Because the Corinthians were easily impressed with the scene created by the false teachers in Corinth, they were easily distracted from seeing the simplicity in following Christ. These false teachers used the same tactic the serpent used with Eve in the garden of complicating the clear message of God. The Corinthians had become more interested in great orators and the appearance of spiritual signs than in the simple message of the gospel, and this caused Paul to be greatly concerned for their well being.

Magnify the Lord

“He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 10:17

When Paul wrote the above statement to the Corinthians, he was quoting Jeremiah 9:23-24 which says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord.”

Charity

“And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us.” 2 Corinthians 8:5

Giving. What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you read that word? Many believers are turned off when they hear that word, and I can understand why. It seems everywhere we go someone is asking for money. In fact, just last night I went to Panda Express and as they were ringing me up they asked if I would like to give to a well known charity.

Open Hearts

“Open your hearts to us.” 2 Corinthians 7:2

You can almost hear Paul crying out to the Corinthians, “Please open your hearts to us!” Paul cared deeply for the Corinthians, like a father cares for his children. They had closed their hearts toward him after receiving his stern letter of correction and stopped having fellowship with him, so Paul desperately desired that they would open their hearts to him once again.  

Cultivate Holiness

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

What does it mean to be holy? It means to be set apart. Set apart from what? Scripture reveals that we are to be set apart from an unloving and dying world, in order that we might be used to bring God’s love and life into it. Unfortunately it seems holiness is often thought about in a shallow way today. Many think being holy is merely abstaining from evil things.

Marks of Ministry

“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…” 2 Corinthians 6:4

It is a great privilege to be ministers of God, but as Paul points out, with that privilege comes pain and suffering. The apostle Paul understood this better than most. Despite their shortcomings, the Corinthians were a blessing to him. They loved him and he loved them, yet they also caused Paul a lot of pain and suffering. He experienced the full range of emotions as a minister of God, from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow, which he openly expressed in this letter.

This is the Day

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The new life God wants to give us in Christ is as significant, if not more so, as the life He created in the beginning. In order to bring the magnitude of this point home, Paul on several occasions compares what God did in the beginning to what He is now doing in Christ. Earlier in this letter Paul compared the light that God spoke in the beginning to the light He revealed to us through the face of Jesus Christ. Now in the verse above, Paul implies that just as humans were originally made by the word of God, we are now remade by the word of God through His message of reconciliation.

What Happens Next?

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

Every person who has ever lived has pondered that great question: “What happens next? What happens after we die?” Some think nothing happens after we die, that we simply don’t exist anymore. Others think we are reincarnated as another person or animal, and that how we live this life will determine what our next life will be. I don’t know about you, but these views leave me feeling hopeless.

My Vessel, His Power

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Clay pots were everywhere in Paul’s day since they were used for everything from food to fuel. You would find them near the fireplace, in the windows of people’s homes and in the marketplace. In addition to being unremarkable, they were also very fragile and easily broken. That’s why Paul used them as a metaphor for human beings. We may be weak and easily broken, but by the grace of God we can contain the valuable treasure of the gospel.

Live in the Light

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

The comparison Paul is making here is pretty remarkable. He’s saying the light that shined in our hearts the moment we received the gospel was as dramatic as the moment God spoke light into the dark world in Genesis 1. Paul wasn’t the only one to make this connection. In John 1:1-5 it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Remove the Veil!

“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:16

I think Moses, like many of us, tried to keep appearances up and preserve his reputation with people. We see this when he put a veil over his face to mask whenever the glory of the Lord was fading from him. Isn’t that what many of us do? Don’t we want those around us to see how special and self-sufficient we can be?

Triumph in Christ

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

People in Paul’s day would’ve known about triumphal processions. When a king or some other leader won a notable military victory, the whole city would come out to celebrate him and his troops as they returned home. All kinds of ceremonies and rituals took place to proclaim their victory, and among them was the practice of burning incense. The smell of the incense told the people in the crowds and neighboring streets of what was being celebrated, whether they could see the celebration or not.

Live to Please God

“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12

Someone once said, “If you live to please people, misunderstandings will depress you, but if you live to please God, you can face misunderstandings with faith and courage.” Have you ever been misunderstood by others because of something you said or did? I know the times I have been misunderstood it has caused me to toss and turn all night long. It appears the apostle Paul experienced some sleepless nights as well. Some in Corinth misunderstood what Paul said regarding his plans to visit them, leading them to accuse him of using fleshly or worldly wisdom.

God of All Comfort

“Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:6

It’s easy to read about Paul’s missionary accomplishments and the trials he overcame and think he was a superhero of some kind. Compared to him we may feel weak or lazy, but throughout all of Paul’s letters he points attention away from himself and onto the life of Jesus that lives in him. In essence he tells us over and over, “This isn’t of me. Jesus confronted me and changed me, and I encourage you to do the same because it has made all the difference.”