Category Archives: Paul
Today marks the conclusion of the Fall Bible study, All Things New by Kelly Minter. I hope you have enjoyed this in-depth look at 2 Corinthians. I also hope that you have discovered more about yourself and your relationship with Jesus Christ through all you have learned. Our theme verse for the study was 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV); “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” All of the posts pertaining to this study as well as past studies are available for your use at any time under the Bible Studies Archive tab.
“… I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. The things that make an apostle – signs, wonders and miracles- were done among you with great perseverance. How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!” Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? ” 2 Corinthians 12:11-15
During the early days of the church, signs, miracles, and wonders were proofs that the disciples had been given spiritual authority by God. Some of the people of Corinth still had difficulty believing Paul despite all of the supernatural work he had done before them. They turned to others that Paul called super-apostles because they felt these other men were better equipped than Paul. These super-apostles made demands upon them that Paul didn’t make. Our questions on Day 1 of our lesson were focused on discovering the true proof of Paul’s and of our faith and discipleship. In our cross- reference passages, we learned that the true proof is love. The remaining personal reflection and response questions dealt with one of the chief complaints of the Corinthians which was that Paul wasn’t accepting financial support from them. The questions we answered concerned various aspects, barriers, and difficulties of sharing love and friendship with others.
“Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be….” 2 Corinthians 12:19,20a
In our lesson on Day 2, we considered the four fears that Paul had concerning his upcoming visit to the Corinthian church. We also listed the eight sinful behaviors that Paul highlighted in his letter to them. We answered and reflected on these sins and fears as part of our personal questions for this day.
“This will be my third visit to you….On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.” 2 Corinthians 13:1-4
Our lesson on Day 3 led us to ponder the proof of Christ in our lives. Paul took his time in dealing out judgment among those who were sinning in the church. We reflected on the problems he handled in Corinth and if we,too, are slow to judge and patient to confront in love. We considered how God uses our weaknesses to show His strength in our lives rather than our own strength. We were also led to consider if we perceive God’s favor of blessings, particularly materialistic ones, as evidence of His love and favor on us.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority – the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.” 2 Corinthians 13:5-10
We were challenged to examine our faith during our lesson on Day 4. We reflected on the desires of our hearts, our spiritual passions, what motivates our actions and our prayers as well as our love for others. We also answered questions about the Corinthians and their spiritual condition.
“…Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal,, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Kelly Minter writes in our lesson on Day 5; “2 Corinthians was written to real people in a real city because the gospel is meant to thrive in real life. My prayer is that what we’ve learned along the way will not be mere academic knowledge but will be put into practice.” I couldn’t state the importance of bible study any better. The information is meant to be applied and lived out. The five imperatives that we listed in our lesson challenge us to live vibrant, active, maturing, faith-filled lives as brothers and sisters in Christ. We examined ourselves and our relationships based on these 5 commands during this lesson. May our lives be distinguished by the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.
We have only one week remaining in our fall bible study. The time has flown by! This week, our lessons covered all of 2 Corinthians 11 through the first ten verses of 2 Corinthians 12.
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-4
For our lesson on Day 1, we answered questions, read cross-references, and explored the idea of what Paul meant by the words, godly jealousy. The basic premise is what does it mean to be jealous of or jealous for someone. Continuing on in 2 Corinthians 11:4, Paul states that the Corinthians had heard distortions from others of the message about Jesus, the gospel, and the Holy Spirit that Paul had brought and preached to them. The heart of the problem was that the Corinthian church had placed themselves in a position that allowed their thinking to become in opposition to God’s word and they were in danger of being deceived. The remainder of the questions on this day dealt with the examining of our own hearts, minds, and lives to discover if we believe truth or distortion, have contrary thoughts or beliefs, and whether we love God with an undivided heart.
“But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.” 2 Corinthians 11:5,6
Our lesson on Day 2 centered on how Paul defended himself and how he ministered to the Corinthian church. They had placed value on others who outwardly were more appealing. These false apostles had charisma, influence, and persuasion that drew others to themselves and their ideals. Aren’t we likewise drawn to similar people? We answered questions about how Paul differed from them in how he preached the message of Christ. In one of our cross-references, we learned that his style was characterized by wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:5-7,10). He had knowledge that the churches needed about what truly mattered.
“Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about – I am speaking as a fool – I also dare to boast about.” 2 Corinthians 11:18-21
We learned on Day 3 from our reading that the Corinthian church was putting up with mistreatment as well from the hands of these false teachers. These teachers, Paul had stated, were masquerading as apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13). They looked right but their actions were entirely wrong. In our questions, we compared and contrasted their characteristics and ministry with the characteristics and ministry of Paul’s.
“Are they servants of Christ? … I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27
In defense of himself and the gospel, Paul boasts of all he has endured for the sake of others to know Jesus Christ. His ministry was characterized by humility and love. The remainder of our questions for this lesson reflected on the things we have endured for the sake of the gospel and spending time to journal about a specific action that we can take on the behalf of Jesus.
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 11:30
The questions from our lesson on Day 4 dealt with Paul’s boasting about his weakness as well as the extraordinary vision he was given when he was caught up to heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1,2). We considered our own vulnerability as well as what we hope to be remembered for. In our reading, we learned that Paul wanted to be noted for what he did and what he said (2 Corinthians 12:6). We also considered why he waited fourteen years before sharing his vision.
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Our last lesson for the week considered Paul’s thorn. Kelly Minter shared with us her thoughts on the difficulties and implications of verse 7. We were given space to respond and reflect about our own concerns about this verse. Who gave the thorn? Did God or did Satan give it while God allowed it? These questions were the ones we mulled over. We also considered questions about our own thorns or trials. How have we responded to difficulty? Have we allowed the thorn in our life to become an opportunity to share faith? Has our weakness been used for God’s glory? Has the thorn of your life become something that you wouldn’t trade?
I shared a little of my story last week in a post. This particular lesson was very personal for me because these verses are the ones that God led me to during my initial diagnosis for my disease. Over the years as I have struggled with my illness, I’ve considered whether I would prefer the thorn and the relationship I have with God over being healed and not having the journey with God. Discovering the answer to that question is not easy but important. God’s grace is sufficient.
Start Session 8 this week! You can do it! Only one week left!
Here’s a little extra to enhance the study of 2 Timothy found around the Internet – Enjoy!
- Paul the Apostle: Wikipedia
- Saint Paul, the Apostle: Britannica
- Apostle Paul’s Timeline: blueletterbible
- The Apostle Paul: seedbed
- Paul’s Journeys: Loyola Press
- Mamertine Prison: Wikipedia
- Mamertine Prison: Rome Tour
- 2 Timothy: Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Biblegateway