2 Corinthians – A Challenging Church for Paul

 (July 15, 2020 version)

 

2 Corinthians is one of Paul’s more personal epistles, about family matters with the church. It is very frank, showing a very imperfect church, and how Paul deals with the situation. While dealing with the situations in the Corinthian church, Paul reveals the more about himself in 1 and 2 Corinthians than he does in any other books. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1818 remarks that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians primarily as a teacher, and 2 Corinthians primarily as a pastor.

 

Sequence and Dating of 2 Corinthians: Paul had the following interactions.

a) 50-52 A.D. Paul first visited Corinth on his second missionary journey after Athens in Acts 18.

b) Wrote a letter to them that is now lost

c) 54-55 A.D. Wrote 1 Corinthians, probably while at Ephesus

d) Made a second “painful” visit to Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:1; 12:21)

e) Wrote a third letter to Corinth that is now lost

f) 55-57 A.D. Wrote 2 Corinthians after having visited Corinth twice (2 Corinthians 12:14; 13:1)

g) Visited Corinth a third time.

 

The 17 Pre-Nicene (up to 325 A.D.) writers who quote from 2 Corinthians

Ignatius of Antioch (c.110-117 A.D.)

Theodotus, probable Montanist (ca.340 A.D.)

Diognetus (c.130 A.D.)

Origen (225-254 A.D.)

Epistle of Barnabas (100-155 A.D.) allusion

Novatian (250/254-257 A.D.)

Polycarp (c.150 A.D.)

Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.)

Christians of Vienna and Lugdunum (177 A.D.) allusion

Firmilian of Caesarea (256 A.D.)

Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.)

Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)

The Muratorian Canon (190-217 A.D.)

Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) mentions Paul’s letters including Corinthians

Scillitan Martyrs mentions Paul’s writings

Methodius (c.250-312 A.D.)

Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.)

Athanasius (318 A.D.)

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.)

Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)

Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.)

 

They have 214 quotes from 2 Corinthians, quoting 42.8% (110) of the 257 verses.

 

Earliest manuscripts of 1 Corinthians

p46 (100-150 A.D.)

Bohairic Coptic (3rd/4th centuries)

Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.)

Sahidic Coptic (4th century)

Sinaiticus (Si) (340-350 A.D.)

 

p46, covers 91.1% of 2 Corinthians, or all but 23 verses.

 

An Outline of 2 Corinthians

1 Paul’s despair of life and confidence in Christ

2-3 Pain and Reconciliation

4-5 Do not lose heart because we are reconciled

6-7 Urging them not to Receive God’s grace in vain

8-9 Appeal for Collections for those in Jerusalem

10-13 Appeal to Accept Paul’s Apostleship


2 Corinthians 1 Paul was Grieving but not Fickle

 

1. In 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; and 2 Thess 1:1, since there was only one church in a city, should there be only one church per city today?

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 1:1, since the Bible gives the example of one church per city, and no counter-examples, then should the example become our rule as the local church teaches?

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 1:1-11, how can we be comforted, or comfort others?

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 1:4, should we comfort criminals, practicing homosexuals suffering from AIDS, and others who suffer justly?

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 1:5-11, why would Paul tell others about his struggles here, and when should we tell others?

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 1:6, how do the afflictions of Paul and Timothy give the Corinthians consolation and salvation? People usually are not consoled on hearing that others are suffering.

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 1:8-9, why did Paul despair of life itself, since Paul said, “to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” in Php 1:21?

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 1:9 one benefit of Paul’s depressing circumstances was that Paul was reminded not to trust in himself. How do we practice not trusting in ourselves?

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 1:10, why does Paul speak of God’s deliverance in three different tenses?

 

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 1:15-20, did Paul lie by saying he was going to come again and then not coming?

 

 

 

11. In 2 Cor 1:15-20, how should the world be able to trust that a Christian’s “yes” or “no” is an honest, bona fide “yes” or “no”?

 

 

 

12. In 2 Cor 1:17-19, should believers ever go back on a promise?

 

 

 

13. In 2 Cor 1:17, how are believers supposed to make plans in a godly manner vs. a worldly, carnal manner?

 

 

 

14. In 2 Cor 1:23, when should we change plans so as not to embarrass someone else?

 


2 Corinthians 2-3 Pain in even Good Relationships

 

1. In 2 Cor 2:1-4, when should we avoid a visit because it is “painful?

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 2:5, when we rebuke someone who needed rebuking, how do we know the limit of not being too severe with them?

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 2:11, what is the danger of not taking needed disciplinary action?

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 2:10-11, was this the same man who had his father’s wife in 1 Cor 5:1-5?

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 2:11, what is the danger of not expressing forgiveness when needed?

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 2:12-13, why should the Corinthians and Titus feel a bit bad here?

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 2:14, since Christians always triumph, then why do Christians fall sometimes?

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 2:15-16, how are we the fragrance of Christ?

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 2:17, since many corrupted the word of God, do we have only the corrupted words of God, and the true word of God has perished from the earth?

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 2:17, how can even orthodox teachers “peddle” or “make merchandise” of the Word of God?

 

 

11. In 2 Cor 3:5, how do we cultivate not having confidence in ourselves in a proper way, vs. an improper way?

 

12. In 2 Cor 3:11, what exactly was passing away here?

 

 

13. Does 2 Cor 3:13-15 mean that Moses’ choosing to put a veil over his face was the reason Jews were blinded to Christ?

 

 

14. Does 2 Cor 3:17 saying the Lord is Spirit prove Jesus is the Holy Spirit as Oneness Pentecostals believe?


2 Corinthians 4 Jars of Clay with Treasure should not Lose Heart

 

1. In 2 Cor 4:2, what are some possible tools to share the gospel that we should NOT use?

 

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 4:3-4, why would God allow the Gospel to be hidden for those who are perishing?

 

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 4:4, who is the god of this age?

 

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 4:7 what are the “jars of clay” that contain treasure?

 

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 4:7, why would God choose to put treasure in jars of clay?

 

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 4:8-9 what is Paul doing here?

 

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 4:1, 16-17, why did Paul not lose heart?

 

 

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 4:17, what does the term “weight of glory” mean?


2 Corinthians 5 - Be Confident: You will Have to Give an Account

 

1. In 2 Cor 5:2, why was Paul so dissatisfied with living here on earth?

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 5:2,4 if Christians are supposed to be content in life, why should we “groan”?

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 5:2-4, could unclothed and clothed refer to an “intermediate state” between death and resurrection?

 

4. In 2 Cor 5:5 is the pledge a promise or token of a future payment, for a first installment with the rest coming later?

 

5. In 2 Cor 5:7, does “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” (KJV) relate to instrumental music?

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 5:10, do even unbelievers come before the judgment seat of Christ?

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 5:11, do Christians need to know of “the terror of the Lord?”

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 5:13, was Paul ever mentally insane?

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 5:16, what are some ways to regard someone from a spiritual point of view vs. a worldly point of view?

 

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 5:17, when someone becomes a new creature in Christ, can they lose their salvation and “unbecome” a new creature?

 

 

 

11. In 2 Cor 5:17, how are Christians new creations in Christ?

 

 

12. In 2 Cor 5:19, what exactly is the “reconciliation” spoken of here?

 

 

13. In 2 Cor 5:20, how does this verse summarize Paul’s ministry (and ours)?

 

 

14. In 2 Cor 5:21, how could Jesus “be made sin” since Jesus was without sin in Heb 4:15?


2 Corinthians 6 – Thriving under Adversity

 

1. In 2 Cor 6:1, how can people, receive God’s grace in vain, or resist the Holy Spirit in Acts 7:51?

 

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 6:3, what are some ways we can put a stumbling block in someone’s path?

 

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 6:4-5, how does Paul group his difficulties?

 

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 6:5, why would we ever have self-imposed hardships?

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 6:6-7, what is the relationship of these to the previous list?

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 6:8-9 why are all of these nine paradoxes here?

 

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 6:11-13, what is the context of Paul’s appeal here?

 

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 6:14-18 and Eph 5:7, what does this mean about being yoked with unbelievers?

 

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 6:14-17, how does this relate to the previous three verses (2 Cor 6:11-13)?

 

 

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 6:17, why is purity important?


2 Corinthians 7 – How to Reconcile

 

1. In 2 Cor 7:1, how can we cleanse ourselves, since only God can cleanse us?

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 7:1 what is the difference between : “cleansing” (2 Cor 7:1), “washing of regeneration” (Tt 3: 5), “renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tt 3:5), “be born again” (John 3:7), and “newness of life” (Rom 6:4)?

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 7:1, since God purifies/cleanses us, how are we to purify/cleanse ourselves?

 


4.
In 2 Cor 7:2, how could Paul say he “wronged no one”, because before he became a Christian, Paul had many killed?

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 7:2, why do you think Paul saw a need to defend himself here?

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 7:2, why is it important for us to say we have wronged no one (or make amends if we did)?

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 7:8, why did Paul say he did not regret it, though he said he did regret it? How does this relate to our circumstances some times?

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 7:2-8 can be seen as an appeal for reconciliation after a previous severe letter. When you we accept reconciliation by another, and when should we be the active party in trying to reconcile with someone?

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 7:2-8, when we are trying to reconcile with someone, what are some things we can say?

 

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 7:10, what is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?

 

 

 

11. In 2 Cor 7:11, do you think this is indignation toward themselves or towards someone else?

 

 

12. In 2 Cor 7:11, when should we have this kind of indignation?


2 Corinthians 8 – Cultivate the Art of Gracious Giving

 

1. In 2 Cor 8:1-3, do you think a church or Christian having to live under affliction and hardship was more abnormal or normal at that time?

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 8:1-7, what is really incredible to believe about Paul’s appeal here?

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 8:5, why do you think under hardship they could so easily give themselves first to God and then to other Christians?

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 8:6, and 2 Cor 8:7, what is “this grace/privilege” (charis in Greek) that they are given the responsibility to abound in and why is it important?

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 8:8, what is the difference between Paul “speaking by commandment” and “not by commandment”?

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 8:9, how was Christ rich but became poor?

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 8:9, does the atonement give us financial prosperity, as some word-faith teachers say?

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 8:11-13 and 2 Cor 8:6, what does Paul mean that they were to finish that which they started?

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 8:15 what happened to those who took too much manna? How does this happen today?

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 8:16-17, 2 Cor 8:6, 2 Cor 8:23, and 2 Cor 7:13-15, what was special here about Paul often bringing up Titus?

 

 

11. In 2 Cor 8:18-19, since Titus was trustworthy, why did Paul have another unnamed brother go with Titus too? Should we always have two people regarding money?

 

 

12. In 2 Cor 8:24, why should we be concerned not just about our love, but about the proof of our love?


2 Corinthians 9 – Complete What You Start

 

1. In 2 Cor 9:1, when should we be concerned that other believers are not completing what they started?

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 9:2-3, when we find that we are failing at completing something we know we should do, what can we do to motivate ourselves to get moving?

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 9:2-3, are there some things that we start with the best of intentions, and do not complete, because we should not?

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 9:5 what is interesting about this Greek word for “generous gift”?

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 9:6, does this principle of sowing mean that if we give money to God, we will be financially prosperous?

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 9:6-11, what should be our motivations for giving?

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 9:8, how does God make all good/grace abound to the Corinthians and to us?

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 9:15, how this gift is unspeakable or indescribable, since could Paul talk about it so much?

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 9:15, was Paul’s appeal successful?


2 Corinthians 10 – Boldly Meek

 

1. In 2 Cor 10:1-12, do you think Paul needed to defend his ministry here? Was Paul merely “defensive” or was he “offensive” too?

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 10:8-11, when should we be “bold” in our authority, and risk being thought of as a jerk, vs. being “meek” and risk being thought of as weak and powerless?

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 10:12, how are we not to compare ourselves with ourselves, since we are to do so in Gal 6:4-5?

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 10:12, why would some believers oppose Paul?

 

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, since Paul never boasted except in the cross in Gal 6:14, what was Paul doing here and in 2 Cor 11:18-12:6?

 

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, when should we highlight what we have done, and when should we not?

 

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, what are some ways Christians can unfortunately “go beyond the limit”?

 

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, was the cross Satan’s victory and not God’s, as Rev. Moon’s Unification “Church” claims? (Home Study Course for the Divine Principle 5th edition (1977) p.30 Divine Principle p.143. Dialogue p.161)

 


2 Corinthians 11 – Godly Jealousy and “Christian Self-Defense”

 

1. In 2 Cor 11:2,11,28-29, what is godly jealousy, how does it differ from human jealousy, and why did Paul have it?

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 11:2, while we are not to have human jealousy, how are we to have more godly jealousy?

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 11:2, what is the difference between “godly jealousy” and calling someone a “sheep stealer”?

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 11:4, who are the many Jesuses?

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 11:4, how do you tell is something or someone of “of a different spirit”?

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 11:5, was Paul “not in the least inferior”, or was he the “least of the apostles” as 1 Cor 15:9 says?

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 11:12-15, apparently these false-apostles were bad-mouthing Paul. What should we do when people bad-mouth us, or a friend of ours?

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 11:13, if someone opposes the truth, when should you gently try to reason with them, and when should you publicly shame them as a false apostle or counterfeit Christian?

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 11:13-15, how do some false apostles masquerade as children of light?

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 11:13-15, why do these masquerades seem to work so well in society today and historically?

 

 

11. In 2 Cor 11:24, was Paul beaten five times by 40 stripes or 39 stripes?

 

 

12. In 2 Cor 11:32, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for Aratus, governor of Syria?


2 Corinthians 12:1-13 – Let God have Your Weakness

 

1. In 2 Cor 12:2, when did this happen 14 years ago?

 

 

 

2. Does 2 Cor 12:2 show three Heavens, identical with Mormon teaching?

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 12:2, just how many heavens are there?

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 12:6,11, when, if at all, should we “speak as a fool” as Paul does here?

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 12:7, why was Paul given a thorn?

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 12:7, what was the thorn? - physical affliction, appearance, homosexuality, another evil temptation, or depression?

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 12:8, since Paul understood the importance of not being proud, why did God not take the thorn from Paul after Paul prayed about it?

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 12:9-10, what does “when I am weak, then I am strong” mean?

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 12:9-10, what are ways we can give God our weakness?

 

 

 

10. In 2 Cor 12:10, was Paul strange here?

 

 

 

11. In 2 Cor 12:12, what were the signs of an apostle?


2 Corinthians 12:14-21 – Parenting Spiritual Children

 

1. In 2 Cor 12:14, when it is right, fair, and legal to get some money or financial support, under what circumstances would it best for you not to take it?

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 12:15, does Paul expending himself for the Corinthians demonstrate the Catholic doctrine of indulgences?

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 12:16, how was Paul being crafty?

 

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 12:16-18, why do you think people sometimes make up accusations against others with absolutely no basis for doing so, and why do other people believe them?

 

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 12:16-18, when should we not stand up for our rights, when we should in fact have those rights?

 

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 12:20, what are gossip and slander, and why are they wrong?

 

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 12:20, what are some circumstances when, like Paul, you still want to return to a situation or place, even though you were embarrassed or know you will be uncomfortable in that situation?

 

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 12:21, how could Paul be humbled before the Corinthians?

 

 

 

 

9. In 2 Cor 12:21, what do you think when you find unrepentant sinners still sinning, and they are inside the church?


2 Corinthians 13 – Coming Back After Awkward Separation

 

1. In 2 Cor 13:2 and 1 Cor 4:21, should we ever threaten people, including fellow Christians, like Paul did?

 

 

 

 

2. In 2 Cor 13:3, what do you do when you find Christians who are impressed by the wrong things?

 

 

 

 

3. In 2 Cor 13:3, how would you describe the role of “weakness” in the Christian life?

 

 

 

 

4. In 2 Cor 13:3, when does “weakness” show up in us?

 

 

 

 

5. In 2 Cor 13:1,3, Mt 18:16, and Dt 19:15 why do people tend to jump to conclusions with flimsy evidence, and are unable to acknowledge a conclusion even with strong evidence?

 

 

 

 

6. In 2 Cor 13:5-8, how do we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith?

 

 

 

 

7. In 2 Cor 13:6, why did Paul say, “But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified”, since we never truly know if others are saved?

 

 

 

 

8. In 2 Cor 13:12 and 1 Thess 5:26, what do we know about the custom of a holy kiss?

 

 

 

 

9. Does 2 Cor 13:14 prove the Trinity true?

 

 


2 Corinthians 1 Paul was Grieving but not Fickle – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; and 2 Thess 1:1, since there was only one church in a city, should there be only one church per city today?

A: There are three scopes of expressions of Christian unity: believers within the same local assembly, believers from different assemblies, and unity among different churches. This answer only addresses the third scope, with four points to consider in the answer.

1. These four verses do not mean that there should be only one meeting place, especially with hundreds of thousands of Christians in one city.

2. Nothing says human administrative divisions have to dictate how churches are organized. They can be in many geographic places, though this does not justify churches due to doctrinal and other divisions.

3. All genuine Christians are already a part of the one, true church of Jesus Christ. If a Christian’s loyalty to his own local church or denomination is greater than his loyalty to God, then that Christian has his loyalties wrong.

4. Unfortunately, many Christian leaders have failed to take the teachings and commands on unity among Christians seriously enough. Read Ephesians 4:3-4; Philippians 1:27; 2:1-4; 4:2; Romans 15:5-7; John 17:20-23. See the next questions and questions on 1 Corinthians 1:10-14 and Ephesians 4:4 for more discussion.

 

2. In 2 Cor 1:1, since the Bible gives the example of one church per city, and no counter-examples, then should the example become our rule as the local church teaches?

A: No. If you believed that every example, without either a command or counter-example should be followed, then Christians would have to:

a) Never meet in buildings; only meet in homes (1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 2).

b) Never go to court as a plaintiff for any reason.

c) Men never wear pants. All can only wear sandals, not shoes.

d) Never eat potatoes, corn, jalapeno peppers, or other foods from the new world.

e) No ice cream, pizza, popsicles, or foods they could not have known in Bible times.

f) Do not use English in worship as this was unknown to Bible writers.

g) Never ride in cars, bicycles, planes, or farm machinery.

h) Never use farm implements and any machines invented after the time of Christ.

i) Never have refrigerators, electricity, gas, radio, or TV.

j) Other strange rules.

   Rather we should follow scripture’s example, even without a command if:

1. There is a good reason for following the example,

2. There are no counter-examples, and

3. The reason for no counter-examples is not simply due to time, technology, culture, or circumstances of a non-moral nature.

   If something does not meet these three tests, then is it automatically all right to do? -Not necessarily. We should judge what we should do by being filled with the knowledge of scripture and asking, “What would God want us to do?”

 

3. In 2 Cor 1:1-11, how can we be comforted, or comfort others?

A: Comforting another is an individual thing, depending on the person and circumstances. WE might be comforting someone with a sudden loss, learning they have a chronic condition, or going to prison.  2 Corinthians 1:1-11 shows us six aspects of being comforted or comforting another Christian.

a). God understands our suffering 2 Cor 1:5

b). Shared past experience 2 Cor 1:6,8-9

c). Remember our future hope 2 Cor 1:7; 2 Thess 4:16-18

d). God comforts us directly 2 Cor 1:3-5

e) Rely on God to deliver us 2 Cor 1:9-10

f) Prayer 2 Cor 1:11

 

4. In 2 Cor 1:4, should we comfort criminals, practicing homosexuals suffering from AIDS, and others who suffer justly?

A: Yes. 2 Corinthians 1 does not limit the scope of who we are to comfort. When we comfort others who suffer justly, we should keep the following in mind.

1. They need to see Christ’s love shine through us, and to know that God loves them and desires that they repent and become His children.

2. We do not need to dwell on their crime, but we should not excuse their crime as trivial or insignificant. We should not pander to them as saying it was unjust that they were caught, or that life or the system is unjust.

3. While we do not minimize their sin, we should emphasize that Christ brings forgiveness and healing for our sins.

   See Now That’s a Good Question p.479-481,533-535 for more info.

 

5. In 2 Cor 1:5-11, why would Paul tell others about his struggles here, and when should we tell others?

A: Paul in his letters generally does not talk himself much, and when he does, he is usually upbeat and positive. Here is a notable exception. In verse 1:11 he indicates that he is telling them so that they could pray for him better. It gives them a chance to understand him more, and they can see, by his example, that even mature obedient Christians can suffer from depression at times. Finally, they can see how Paul copes with depression, by drawing closer to Christ. As the Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.554 says, paradoxically the grace of God is more keenly felt not in the best of times, but in the worst of times.

 

6. In 2 Cor 1:6, how do the afflictions of Paul and Timothy give the Corinthians consolation and salvation? People usually are not consoled on hearing that others are suffering.

A: People do receive consolation by hearing that a beloved friend made it through an affliction OK. Paul’s suffering for the sake of the gospel brought the salvation of Jesus to the Corinthians and others.

 

7. In 2 Cor 1:8-9, why did Paul despair of life itself, since Paul said, “to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” in Php 1:21?

A: Philippians 1:21 shows the attitude Paul had in prison and the attitude we should have. Paul was a human with moments of despair though, and in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul was being candid, and not glossing over how low he felt at that time.

   There is a point here that Christians can apply to our own lives. If you teach the right way to feel about something, yet you have felt differently at times, that is OK; be honest with others about admitting when you had been weak in faith. More important than putting on an insincere “always happy” face for one another, is being authentic and not being guarded with other brothers and sisters.

 

8. In 2 Cor 1:9 one benefit of Paul’s depressing circumstances was that Paul was reminded not to trust in himself. How do we practice not trusting in ourselves?

A: You can look at this question in two ways.

Long-term, when we want to tell God, “I got this one, I don’t need you”, that is a sign we are heading for a fall. The vast majority of people, at least in the west, think they have more control over what happens to them than they actually do. They think they have more certain knowledge of how things will turn out that they actually have. The best-laid plans are one traffic accident, one crime, one serious disease, or one cancer diagnoses can totally make those plans go down the drain.

Day-to-day, do when ask for God’s strength and help when we have problems, or don’t see any way we can do it on our own. That is wrong if we ask God only as a last resort. We should be asking for God’s power to flow through us all the time. The reason we should ask is NOT just to be respectful to God, but because we really need it, to do all that God wants us to do.

 

9. In 2 Cor 1:10, why does Paul speak of God’s deliverance in three different tenses?

A: There are three different aspects we should think about.

In the past, God has already delivered us. God has already delivered us from death and its penalty through Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins.

In the present, God delivers us from peril now, and preserves our, sealing our salvation.

In the future, we will receive the promised inheritance and rewards, but we don’t have them yet.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1821-1822 for more info.

 

10. In 2 Cor 1:15-20, did Paul lie by saying he was going to come again and then not coming?

A: Paul did not promise them he would come; he only told them he intended to come. Today, we should distinguish between someone making a promise and simply declaring their intentions. When the situation changes, it is fine for their intention to change.

 

11. In 2 Cor 1:15-20, how should the world be able to trust that a Christian’s “yes” or “no” is an honest, bona fide “yes” or “no”?

A: A mobster once defined an honest man was “once he is bought he stays bought.” That is not how Christians are to be. We are to be “unbought” and not accept bribes or other secret payments.  When someone makes an agreement with us, they should be able to trust us that we will not “bend the rules” when we think we won’t be caught. When it is entrusted to us to judge something impartially and justly, we should be open and discharge our obligation honestly, regardless of whatever money we could make by accepting a bribe.

 

12. In 2 Cor 1:17-19, should believers ever go back on a promise?

A: The Bible indicates that believers should not go back on a promise, except for the following conditions.

1. A girl living at home is overruled by her father (Numbers 30:3-5).

2. A wife is overruled by her husband (Numbers 30:6-8,15).

3. Of course, our number one priority is to please God. Thus, you should not keep a promise, if the promise was to sin and disobey God.

4. Consistent with 3, many Christians see that if keeping a promise or telling the truth would contribute to the murder of a person, then we should seek to preserve their life. This is why some Christians lied to Nazis when the Nazis asked if they were hiding any Jews.

 

13. In 2 Cor 1:17-19, how are believers supposed to make plans in a godly manner vs. a worldly, carnal manner?

A: When we make a commitment, people should be able to rely on us to keep our commitments. The only exceptions are a commitment to do evil, or we are unable due to factors beyond our control. Don’t alter your plans just for self-interest. Don’t be fickle. Don’t make plans due to a desire for revenge, envy, hatred, or greed. Finally, don’t make commitments you don’t have to make. You can tell people your current intentions, without making it a promise or commitment. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1392-1393, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.986, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.556-557 for more info.

 

14. In 2 Cor 1:23, when should we change plans so as not to embarrass someone else?

A: If we have not already made a hard commitment, then look at the pros and cons of doing something vs. not. In general, you don’t want to do something to embarrass someone else. But if not doing it would let down a lot of people, for the sake of the feelings of one person, then the best thing might be to do it anyway. But you might try to gently let the person know you are going to do it and why. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1393 for more info.


2 Corinthians 2-3 Pain in even Good Relationships – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 2:1-4, when should we avoid a visit because it is “painful?

A: We should not avoid things just because they are unpleasant, or do things just because they feel good. Apparently the previous visit, the second visit, did not go well at all with some. Paul wanted some time before coming back again probably to avoid a repeat of the previous visit. Paul’s goal was not avoiding pain, but reconciliation. Sometimes if someone is very unhappy with you, it is good to give them a little time before dealing with it.

   Similarly, as parents we should not discipline our children when we have lost our temper. It is perfectly fine to tell your kid, I am going to punish you for this, but not right now. I need time to cool down first. Then discipline the kid as appropriate to help the kid, not to gratify your anger.

   Paul wrote them a letter, in part, as a more appropriate substitute for a painful visit.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1824-1825, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.326-327 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1393 for more info.

 

2. In 2 Cor 2:5, when we rebuke someone who needed rebuking, how do we know the limit of not being too severe with them?

A: Here are three points to consider in the answer.

a) Discipline, including church discipline, should never be a goal, but rather a tool. It serves a purpose of trying to bring the individuals back to repentance, and showing the rest of the church, and the world, that this behavior or belief is intolerable in the church.

b) As to the level of discipline, consider the probable outcome continuing the current course of action, and consider the probable outcome with the alternative.

c) How does the discipline look to the person being disciplined. Does it seem arbitrary, mean-spirited, or inconsistent, letting some off and being more severe with others.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.328 for more info.

 

3. In 2 Cor 2:11, what is the danger of not taking needed disciplinary action?

A: There is danger that the individuals involved won’t repent. There is danger of the bad example for the rest of the church. This might appear to be the “least painful” option short-term, but it can be the more painful option long-term. But think long-term. The goal is not how the person needing discipline will feel temporarily today, but what will endure in their heart and character.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1825 for more info.

 

4. In 2 Cor 2:10-11, was this the same man who had his father’s wife in 1 Cor 5:1-5?

A: It is rather unlikely, because Paul says, “if there was anything to forgive.” The only possibility is if he was falsely accused of being with his father’s wife. But this not being the same man strongly implies an intermediate letter between 1 and 2 Corinthians that was not preserved. See The Bible Commentary : New Testament p.558, the New International Bible Commentary p.1393, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.329 for more info.

 

5. In 2 Cor 2:11, what is the danger of not expressing forgiveness when needed?

A: 2 Corinthians 2:11 says that Satan can destroy by excessive sorrow and discouragement. Discipline, without letting up, or without the person being disciplined seeing any possible hope of it ending, tends to produce despair. Why submit to the discipline, when submitting to it is perceived as having no effect vs. not submitting to it. So if a church member is discipline, it is good to also discuss future conditions of restoration. Otherwise the person can conclude that there is no hope of coming back from this.

   As J. Sidlow Baxter says, Satan spiritually can use a sieve (Luke 22:31), devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), weeds to choke (Matthew 13:22), “wiles” to deceive (Ephesians 6:11), the disguise of an angel (2 Corinthians 11:14) and snares to trap people (2 Timothy 2:26).

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1825 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.329 for more info.

 

6. In 2 Cor 2:12-13, why should the Corinthians and Titus feel a bit bad here?

A: Paul was giving up what looked like a great evangelistic opportunity in the city of Troas to return to check on them. Many of the Corinthians would be happy to see Paul, but Paul’s diversion kept him from preaching to others. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1826 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 2:14, since Christians always triumph, then why do Christians fall sometimes?

A: The Greek does not say we are triumphing here, but rather we are part of Christ’s triumphal procession. 2 Corinthians 2:14 does not imply that Christians always triumph sinlessly over everything, for Christians still sin. Rather, we are a part of Christ’s triumph at the cross, and we will be triumphant over life in general, as we enter the hall of victorious heroes: that is, Heaven. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.333 for more info.

 

8. In 2 Cor 2:15-16, how are we the fragrance of Christ?

A: The same word for “fragrance” or “aroma” (euodia) was used in the Septuagint of Old Testament sacrifices. In Roman triumphal processions, the general would lead followed by his soldiers and the captives. They would have incense too. The incense might remind the general and soldiers of the rewards they could anticipate. Simultaneously the incense might remind the captives of the foul-smelling mines they might be sent to as slaves. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1826-1878 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.559 for more info.

 

9. In 2 Cor 2:17, since many corrupted the word of God, do we have only the corrupted words of God, and the true word of God has perished from the earth?

A: No. Even in Paul’s time there were many false teachers. Deceitful teachers can still teach a corrupted word of God. However, the true word of God will never be absent, and God’s word will never be lost, as Isaiah 59:21 promises.

 

10. In 2 Cor 2:17, how can even orthodox teachers “peddle” or “make merchandise” of the Word of God?

A: Outside of religion, there were many unscrupulous peddlers who would sell wine mixed with water, or other adulterated goods for dishonest profit. This means giving people the truth, or giving people sacraments primarily for money. In previous centuries some Roman Catholic priests did not life friars (traveling preachers/priests) so much, because they would go into established parishes, hear confessions and offer absolution for indulgences when the priest would not, and get money by giving people the communion bread. They would be a loss of income for the priests as long as the friar was in the area.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1827 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1394 for more info.

 

11. In 2 Cor 3:5, how do we cultivate not having confidence in ourselves in a proper way, vs. an improper way?

A: Some people don’t. They exude over-confidence and arrogance, and are unpleasant for many others to be around. And they typically don’t even know why.

  If God does not make us sufficient for our ministry, then we won’t be successful at it.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1828 for more info.

&&&

 

12. In 2 Cor 3:11, what exactly was passing away here?

A: This refers to the entire law, including the Ten Commandments, not just the ceremonial law.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1830 for more info.

 

13. Does 2 Cor 3:13-15 mean that Moses’ choosing to put a veil over his face was the reason Jews were blinded to Christ?

A: No. Paul brought this up as an analogy based on Exodus 34:33-35 to illustrate how people so close to God’s glory could still be so blind. Paul also shows how essential it was to first turn to the Lord to not be blinded. Finally, a person cannot fully understand all the meanings and foreshadowing in the Old Testament, unless they read the New. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.619-621, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1830-1831, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.337-338, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.561-562, and the New International Bible Commentary p.1395-1396 for more info.

 

14. Does 2 Cor 3:17 saying the Lord is Spirit prove Jesus is the Holy Spirit as Oneness Pentecostals believe?

A: The Triune God is Spirit, but that does not mean it was impossible for Jesus not to also have a physical body, both before and after the resurrection. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.150 and When Cultists Ask p.243 for more info.


2 Corinthians 4 Jars of Clay with Treasure should not Lose Heart – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 4:2, what are some possible tools to share the gospel that we should NOT use?

A: We should not use force or other coercion or laws. We should not use fines, bribes, or other monetary inducements. We should not use lies or deceit. We should not use flattery or slander. A daughter of mine once told me “I am going to find which of my friends are not Christians, and not be friends with them. I explained to her that this was wrong. Since we want people to voluntarily choose to love God, they have to voluntarily be able to make that choice. If we put them under pressure to do so, then we are in the horrible position of trying to be the Holy spirit in bringing people to Christ.

   This is why, when we give food to the hungry, medical care to the sick, or loans to the poor, we give those things regardless of whether or not they are Christians or have expressed an interest in coming to Christ.

 

2. In 2 Cor 4:3-4, why would God allow the Gospel to be hidden for those who are perishing?

A: For those who suppress the truth about God they have already been given (Romans 1:18-32), God is under no obligation to give them more truth. Indeed, if someone is going to reject God, 2 Peter 2:20-22 shows that the less they know, the better it will be for them.

 

3. In 2 Cor 4:4, who is the god of this age?

A: This is Satan, who has been given a degree of control over this world according to 1 John 5:19. He is called the prince of this world in John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11. Satan is also called the ruler of the kingdom of the air in Ephesians 2:2. See also Ephesians 6:12 and Colossians 1:13. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1833 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.621 for more info.

 

4. In 2 Cor 4:7 what are the “jars of clay” that contain treasure?

A: To answer this question, we have to know first what the treasure is, and look at the verses before and after. “This treasure” is specifically “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” according to 2 Corinthians 4:6.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 shows that we are

Hard-pressed but not crushed (4:8)

Perplexed but not in despair (4:8)

Persecuted but not abandoned (4:9)

Struck down but not destroyed. (4:9)

We carry around the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body (4:10)

We who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that life may be revealed in our mortal body (4:11).

Death [martyrdom] is at work in us [Paul and his companions], and [so that] life [eternal] is at work in you [Corinthians] (4:12).

   In addition, jars of clay can be used for whatever purpose the owner wants (Jeremiah 18:1-10), some vessels for noble purposes and some for ignoble (1 Timothy 2:20-21).

   It is interesting that 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 would make no sense at all to be put after 2 Corinthians 4:6 unless 2 Corinthians 4:7 was in between, crucially linking the two.

   The jars of clay are “us” (4:8-9), our body (4:10), and our “mortal body” (4:11).

   God has chosen to put this great treasure in us, who are unflatteringly called jars of clay. Jars of clay are very plain looking, and a jar does not last long; it is easy for someone to smash it. Nevertheless, a jar of clay can be useful, and it can faithfully hold the liquid contents inside it without leaking.

   It is a fundamentally new experience in the Bible that the treasure God gave to us is stored, not inside an incense box or an ark, but inside our very selves. The Old Testament foreshadowed this when it said, “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD.’ because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 31:33-34a NIV)

 

5. In 2 Cor 4:7, why would God choose to put treasure in jars of clay?

A: The contrast of the indescribable treasure and very inexpensive clay jar. When people often put precious gems in expensive settings of gold, putting a treasure in a jar of clay would seem strange, unless you were trying to hide the treasure. Clay jars were common and very unimpressive. This is to show that it is God who has the glory not us. Also, with Gideon’s army in Judges 7, the light from the torches did not show until they broke the clay jars they were in. So people are to see treasure, and light common from us, who admittedly are very common. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1834-1835 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.343 for more info.

 

6. In 2 Cor 4:8-9 what is Paul doing here?

A: Just like he spoke of treasures in jars of clay, he follows up with more paradoxes.

2 Corinthians 4:8, in order to retain the puns in Greek, could be translated, “squeezed but not squashed, at a loss, but not losing it, persecuted but not left for dead, knocked down, but not knocked out. … deadly blows but not dead”

Knocked to the ground, but not grounded, always dying but never dead. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.563 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.342 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 4:1, 16-17, why did Paul not lose heart?

A: The short answer is that he chose not to. 2 Corinthians 4:1 says it is because he had this ministry. 2 Corinthians 4:16, says that outwardly he was wasting away. In other words, the beatings, stonings, and being in dungeons and chains took a toll on his body, and he was not as physically strong and healthy as he used to be, or as he otherwise would be without the persecutions. But the twin prizes, of seeing people come to the Lord, and his own future homecoming to heaven, made it worth it. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.345 for more info.

 

8. In 2 Cor 4:17, what does the term “weight of glory” mean?

A: The Hebrew term for glory can also mean heavy or heaviness. “Heavy” was a way the Hebrews thought about God’s glory.

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.346 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.565 for more info.

 


2 Corinthians 5 - Be Confident: You will Have to Give an Account – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 5:2, why was Paul so dissatisfied with living here on earth?

A: For similar reasons as someone who has been on the road for months can be eager when they are about to return home and see their family. We Christians long to see Christ face-to-face, and to meet all the believers who have gone on before us. Unfortunately, the movie Heaven Can Wait has the exact opposite message.

   The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1838 has a fascinating comment here. Paul’s deliberate, but abrupt change of metaphors from tents to clothing might be because, as a tentmaker, Paul realized that the same cloth was sometimes used to make both clothes and tents. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.988-989 points out that the metaphor of describing our body as a tent goes all the way back to Plato and Pythagoras.

 

2. In 2 Cor 5:2,4 if Christians are supposed to be content in life, why should we “groan”?

A: We should be satisfied and content with following Christ and receiving what He has given us. But paradoxically, we should long for and even groan to leave this tarnished, mad, and heartbroken world and dwell forever with God. We are almost like a little like the little kid on a trip, who frequently asks, “Are we there yet?”

   The word “Groan in verses 2,4 contrasts with “confident” in verses 6,8. So we are to have confidence, and be groaning at the same time, rightly understood. However, we are not groaning because we currently have an earthly body, but rather because we long for our immortal body/

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.1398 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.348 for more info.

 

3. In 2 Cor 5:2-4, could unclothed and clothed refer to an “intermediate state” between death and resurrection?

A: There are two views.

Three states: in this body, in heaven before the resurrection, and in the New Heaven and earth in a resurrected body.

Two states: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.565 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.346 see this as only two states: “unclothed” mortality, and “clothed” eternal life in heaven. In support of the two state view is that Paul is contrasting only two things here: mortality and immortality.

 

4. In 2 Cor 5:5 is the pledge a promise or token of a future payment, for a first installment with the rest coming later?

A: The Greek word for pledge here, arrhabon, can go either way, depending on the context.

Future promise: In support of the first meaning, our bodies are frail and mortal, and we only have a promise of a heavenly body totally unlike our earthly body.

Down payment: In support of the second meaning, we are now a new creation, we belong to Jesus now, we have the Holy Spirit now, and the Kingdom of heaven is within us now.

   Of course a third viewpoint is that this Greek word fits perfectly here, because both meanings are true. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.347-348 for more info.

 

5. In 2 Cor 5:7, does “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” (KJV) relate to instrumental music?

A: Not at all, despite what a Church of Christ author teaches. This does not relate to instrumental music any more than this verse relates to singing or clapping. The Church of Christ booklet Instrumental Music in Worship p.28 says that Instrumental Music in Worship “1. Violates the law of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17).” Likewise the other two verses given as to support instrumental music violating the law of faith do not have anything to do with music either.”

   On pages 3-5 the author, James M. Tolle, tries to say that any worship that is not revealed in the divine word is not by faith, and a meticulous investigation of Christ’s revelation will not produce a single word in favor of instrumental music in worship. However, the Old Testament is God’s word, and the book of Revelation is actually the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The New Testament does not mention pulpits either. If we “meticulously” ignore the Old Testament such as Nehemiah 8:4, one could make a stronger case that we should not have pulpits in the church than that we should never have instrumental music. It is sad to see to see how people can try to use totally irrelevant verses to support their sectarian doctrines.

   Now evangelical Christians do not say that churches must have musical instruments, or that a person cannot be a genuine Christian if they are wrong on this point. However, this issue can be more serious than just music, as legalism can keep people from experiencing the grace and freedom that are in Christ.

 

6. In 2 Cor 5:10, do even unbelievers come before the judgment seat of Christ?

A: No. There are two judgments.

1. The first judgment is the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, where believers are pronounced righteous through Jesus. Though some Christians think believers are not even present at the Great White Throne Judgment, all Christians agree that believers have nothing to fear from the Great White Throne Judgment.

2. 2 Corinthians 5:10 is speaking of a second judgment, called a “bema-seat judgment” just for believers to judge what they did for Christ and reward them appropriately. See the discussion on 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 5:11, do Christians need to know of “the terror of the Lord?”

A: Modern translations say “the fear of the Lord”. We Christians are to know the fear of the Lord, in the proper way of reverence and respect for God, and also fear for those who do not know God. Other verses that speak of our proper fear of the Lord are Genesis 22:12; Proverbs 1:7; 1 Samuel 12:14; 2 Chronicles 6:33; 19:7; Nehemiah 5:9; Psalm 19:9; 22:25; 33:8; 119:74; 128:1; Ecclesiastes 8:13; 12:13; Isaiah 11:3; Jeremiah 5:22; Micah 6:9; Malachi 3:5.

 

8. In 2 Cor 5:13, was Paul ever mentally insane?

A: This does not say that Paul was every crazy. Paul is saying here that if he ever had the appearance of being “beside himself” or “out of his mind” it was for their sake.

 

9. In 2 Cor 5:16, what are some ways to regard someone from a spiritual point of view vs. a worldly point of view?

A: &&&

 

10. In 2 Cor 5:17, when someone becomes a new creature in Christ, can they lose their salvation and “unbecome” a new creature?

A: Genuine Christians disagree on the possibility of losing your salvation. See the discussion on Ephesians 1:14 and Hebrews 6:4-10 for more info.

   However, since God knew before the creation of the world who would go to Heaven, nobody can surprise God and become one of the unelect.

 

11. In 2 Cor 5:17, how are Christians new creations in Christ?

A: We are new creations in the following ways:

1. Positionally: We are given the certain promise of eternal life.

2. Experientially: We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, and we are in the process of being made holy.

We are still the same in the following ways:

1. Physically, we still have the same bodies, which are subject to disease, injury, and death.

2. Our sinful nature is still there.

3. We still commit sins.

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.621-624 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1841 for more info.

 

12. In 2 Cor 5:19, what exactly is the “reconciliation” spoken of here?

A: &&&

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.568 for more info.

 

13. In 2 Cor 5:20, how does this verse summarize Paul’s ministry (and ours)?

A: &&&

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.568 for more info.

 

14. In 2 Cor 5:21, how could Jesus “be made sin” since Jesus was without sin in Heb 4:15?

A: The answer lies within 2 Corinthians 5:21 itself. God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us. The guilty weight of all our sin was laid upon the sinless one. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.351, When Cultists Ask p.244-245, When Critics Ask p.471-472, and the discussion on Hebrews 4:15 for more info.


2 Corinthians 6 – Thriving under Adversity – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 6:1, how can people receive God’s grace in vain, or resist the Holy Spirit in Acts 7:51?

A: Remember that the original hearers of 2 Corinthians 6:1 are people who processed to accept Christ in Corinth. Three key points to consider in the answer.

1. God can do anything and everything He wants.

2. If He chooses, God’s hands can do things in vain. As an example, Romans 10:21, quoting Isaiah 65:2 says, “all day long I [God] held out my hands to this disobedient and stubborn people.” (NET Bible)

3. Notwithstanding, God’s mouth never decrees in vain, but God’s words always accomplish what He desires (Isaiah 55:10-11).

In summary, God’s decrees are never in vain, but God sometimes chooses to allow things that are in vain and break God’s heart.

 

2. In 2 Cor 6:3, what are some ways we can put a stumbling block in someone’s path?

A: &&&

By omission too

 

3. In 2 Cor 6:4-5, how does Paul group his difficulties?

A: Paul has three groups of three difficulties each. The first is troubles and tight corners in general. The second group is hardships caused by other people. The third group consists of self-imposed hardships. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1401, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.569, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1843, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.356-357 for more info.

 

4. In 2 Cor 6:5, why would we ever have self-imposed hardships?

A: First two things that are not the answer and then the answer.

Not the answer: While we can have self-imposed hardships as consequences of our sins, that is not what is in focus too.

Not the answer: Sometimes religious people do foolish things that hurt themselves physically, in the mistaken belief that God is pleased with them doing things against their body that God never asked for.  Some Shi’ite Muslims bloody their backs by throwing chains across them. Trappist monks, instead of spending more time traveling out and sharing the gospel of Jesus as Jesus commanded, take vows of silence for a period of time. Some monks and nuns, instead of working hard to show God’s love to other people, perform physical hardships on their body, through abuse of semi-starvation, weakening it, thinking that pleases God more than what God told them to do. Fasting is good, to a point, but when you are incapacitated from helping others you have lost sight of your purpose on earth.

The answer: The context is self-imposed hardships that a Christian chooses to endure for serving God, inside the will of God. Why would we ever have self-imposed hardships? Why would a wrestler forego deserts when he is trying to make weight? Why would a good salesman get up early to catch a flight to negotiate a deal? Why would a soldier march and train all the time before going into battle? On a baseball team people have different roles, but as a Christian you should aspire to be more than a benchwarmer. Just as an AWOL soldier is one who has just disappeared by walking away from his duty, you can have AWOL Christians who sort of disappear when God has something for them to do. Just how serious are you about telling the world who Christ is?

 

5. In 2 Cor 6:6-7, what is the relationship of these to the previous list?

A: These qualities are the secret of how Paul could continually endure the previous difficulties. When Paul uses the general term “weapons of righteousness”, he is implying that he does not want to use other, unrighteous weapons, (coercion, threats, bribes, etc.)

 

6. In 2 Cor 6:8-10 why are all of these nine paradoxes here?

A: These are often opposite situations. Through the difficulties of each, Paul was not only supposed to endure, but to thrive. He is emphasizing the contrast between temporary, earthly circumstances with eternal and spiritual reality. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.569-570 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 6:11-13, what is the context of Paul’s appeal here?

A: The previous six verses show Paul’s difficulties, how he endured and thrived in those, in all circumstances. Here he is politely asking what they are going to do. He will follow this with an appeal for money to alleviate the coming famine that will hit Jerusalem and Judea.

   Someone once compared a church to a football game. In a football game there are 22 players in desperate need of rest, and 60,000 fans in desperate need of exercise. Are a few people in the church doing most of the work? Are only a few people in the church giving a substantial percentage of their income, or is everybody doing their part and pitching in? In a church there are people who are primarily givers and takers. Some can give generously of money, others of their talents and others of their time. If you are a new believer, a baby Christian, and you are primarily a taker, that is perfectly fine for the stage you are at. But if you have been a Christian for a while, are you primarily a giver, or a taker?

   A.W. Tozer said, “Paul was a little man with a vast interior life; his great heart was often wounded by the narrowness of his disciples. The sight of their shrunken souls hurt him much.” (The Root of Righteousness, 1955). Quoted in the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1844.

 

8. In 2 Cor 6:14-18 and Eph 5:7, what does this mean about being yoked with unbelievers?

A: This is a very fitting analogy. For best results, two oxen yoked together need to have similar strength and both pull in exactly the same direction.

   Christians also apply this verse to marriage, dating in one-on-one dates, and business partnerships. They generally do not believe this applies to employment in a company, public stock ownership, and membership in secular social clubs, and organizations, and charities.

   Imagine if a Christian and non-Christian are married, and the Christian wants to sacrificially give a large amount of money to a Christian mission or church. How would that go over with a non-Christian? Often (though not always) unbelieving spouses draw a believer away from the Lord.

   See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.457 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.624-626 for more info, and Now That’s a Good Question p.421-422 for applying this to business.

 

9. In 2 Cor 6:14-17, how does this relate to the previous three verses (2 Cor 6:11-13)?

A: Some Christians might want to be better givers, but they really cannot because they are compromised. They might be compromised in a marriage where the spouse does not want to donate to the church. They might be compromised by expensive habits that take a lot of money. They might be compromised by sin, where they are not suitable for certain roles. They might be compromised by distractions that suck up all the time they could be spending serving God. Sometimes you have to “uncompromised” yourself before you can be the giver God wants you to be. They might be compromised by syncretism with other religions, astrology, Masonic lodges, or the occult.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.360 for more info.

 

10. In 2 Cor 6:17, why is purity important?

A: There is only one real reason: God said so. That reason, without the rest of this answer, is sufficient enough. To rephrase the question, what are reasons we see why our purity is important to God? There are at least three reasons.

Our purity is one key way we please God.

Purity is a good example to others, both non-Christians and Christians as 2 Thessalonians 2:10 shows.

Purity in Greek means both holiness and single-mindedness of purpose. Purity also involves freeing yourself from distractions to be devoted to God.

   The phrase “come out from them” is from Isaiah 52:11, where they were told to leave Babylon. In a similar manner, we should leave places, including places of employment, where we are not being pure to God. If you are involved with a job or company that is actively leading people away from God or righteousness, you should get another job.

   Likewise we should not be members of churches that do not want to follow God. While no church is perfect, we should not fellowship with churches where God and His word are not paramount. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1846 states, “The problem abounds on every hand today among evangelical Christians in liberal and neo-orthodox churches. They are continually asking, ‘What shall I do?’ God’s answer is found here. They should leave a fellowship where the Lord Jesus is not honored and exalted as God’s well-beloved Son and the Savior of the world. They can do more for God outside such a fellowship than they will ever accomplish inside it.”

   See the Evangelical Bible Commentary p.990 for more info.


2 Corinthians 7 – How to Reconcile – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 7:1, how can we cleanse ourselves, since only God can cleanse us?

A: On our own, we can neither cleanse ourselves or even 100% sincerely desire cleansing.

With the Holy Spirit, we can submit to God, turn our life over to Jesus, and have God’s life touch and fill each and every dark corner of our lives. To allude to Philippians 2:12-13, all true believers have the responsibility to work out the salvation that is within them.

 

2. In 2 Cor 7:1 what is the difference between : “cleansing” (2 Cor 7:1), “washing of regeneration” (Tt 3: 5), “renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tt 3:5), “be born again” (John 3:7), and “newness of life” (Rom 6:4)?

A: They all refer to the Christian life, but they refer to different aspects. Christ provided justification for us on the cross 2,000 years ago. Yet today we still are being regenerated as we have saving faith in God. Furthermore, as a Christian, God is in the process of cleaning up our lives. God not only provides forgiveness for sins (i.e. sinful acts), but God is transforming our sinful nature. Now we will not become sinlessly perfect until we die, but as we follow Christ we become more and more Christlike here on earth. A symbol of us choosing to publicly identify with Christ’s death and cleansing, is water baptism, which is a pledge of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21).

 

3. In 2 Cor 7:1, since God purifies/cleanses us, how are we to purify/cleanse ourselves?

A: God provides the power, but we are responsible too, as we interact with God. Whatever place we are in as a believer, we should expect (and desire) that in three to four years we will be significantly more like Christ than now.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.1401 for more info.


4.
In 2 Cor 7:2, how could Paul say he “wronged no one”, because before he became a Christian, Paul had many killed?

A: 2 Corinthians 5:17 answers this: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV) Once the press discovered that an evangelist had an affair many years ago. The evangelist admitted to this wickedness, but said that Christians would not hold this sin against him and his ministry, as it was done before he became a Christian. The evangelist was right, -as he should have been.God completely forgave Paul of every thing he did, and Paul forgave himself too, as should we.

 

5. In 2 Cor 7:2, why do you think Paul saw a need to defend himself here?

A: Apparently Paul had heard of some people who were attacking his character or ministry. WE are not to be proud or arrogant, but if someone attacks our character or ministry it is fine to speak to defend yourself. The way Paul is speaking he is not saying he thought the Corinthians believed these slanders. Nevertheless, it is good to clear these things up anyway. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.361 for more info.

 

6. In 2 Cor 7:2, why is it important for us to say we have wronged no one (or make amends if we did)?

A: For our own conscience and for our testimony. Making amends is a part of repentance. IF we stole something, we should give it back. If we took money, or destroyed something of value, we should repay it.  Sometimes we cannot make amends, perhaps because we lost contact with them or they died. But when we can make amends and reconcile with them, we should do so right away, because a time could come, unexpectedly, when you can no longer do so.

 

7. In 2 Cor 7:8, why did Paul say he did not regret it, though he said he did regret it? How does this relate to our circumstances some times?

A: At the time he wrote the severe letter, Paul was very uncomfortable doing it, and he feared that he might have been too severe with them. But later when Paul saw the result, their repentance, he was glad he wrote it. But he was eager to tell him and get rid of any hard feelings they had.

   Surgery can be painful, but necessary. Punishing a child can be painful, even for the parent.

 

8. In 2 Cor 7:2-8 can be seen as an appeal for reconciliation after a previous severe letter. When you we accept reconciliation by another, and when should we be the active party in trying to reconcile with someone?

A: Reconciliation should never, ever be hindered by us having a bitter of unforgiving spirit. Not only do we need to forgive the wrong things the other person might have done to us, but we also need to forgive them of things they didn’t do wrong, but we mistakenly felt were wrong at that time. One should freely forgive the other person, but one should place the appropriate level of trust in the other person, particularly if the person has been dishonest before. Forgive a thief, but don’t tempt him but trusting to him all your valuables.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.990-991 for more info.

 

9. In 2 Cor 7:2-8, when we are trying to reconcile with someone, what are some things we can say?

A: Depending on the situation, you can emphasize three things.

Remember the past: the love and affection, the good times, the commitment

Consider the present: who we are, and what we are doing

Look to the future: our hope, and working stronger together

 

10. In 2 Cor 7:10, what is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?

A: Worldly sorrow includes regret at getting caught, and sadness at the consequences to yourself and others. Worldly sorrow is what Esau had in Hebrews 12:16-17.

Godly sorrow may or may not include the previous, but includes

1) Understanding sin’s seriousness and that God was the primary one you sinned against (Psalm 51:4).

2) Broken heart toward God (Psalm 51:17), including recognizing our need to cry for God’s merciful forgiveness and cleansing (Psalm 51:1-2).

3) Commitment to never do that again (Psalm 51:10-12).

4) Continuing in relationship with God on the right way, and never go that sinful way again. (Psalm 51:13-15,18), yet realizing that our service is not desired as much as our obedient heart (Psalm 51:16-17).

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1848 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1402 for more info.

 

11. In 2 Cor 7:11, do you think this is indignation toward themselves or towards someone else?

A: Indignation “more probably” refers to indignation towards themselves according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1848. It might not necessarily be personal indignation towards oneself, but corporate indignation that this happened in their church, and they tolerated it for a period of time.

 

12. In 2 Cor 7:11, when should we have this kind of indignation?

A: When we are in sin, and have not repented, we should be indignant that we are not representing, to God, the angels, and even demons who we really are. &&&


2 Corinthians 8 – Cultivate the Art of Gracious Giving – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 8:1-3, do you think a church or Christian having to live under affliction and hardship was more abnormal or normal at that time?

A: It was normal for Paul not perhaps not so normal for all churches – yet. However, soon after that time, with persecutions and later barbarian invasions it was more normal than abnormal. Today we should not think that living as a Christian under hardship or adversity is abnormal.

 

2. In 2 Cor 8:1-7, what is really incredible to believe about Paul’s appeal here?

A: Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, was persecuting the saints in Jerusalem. Now, years later, he is urgently appealing to people who did not know Christ at the time of Saul’s persecution, to give generously for the same people he was imprisoning and having killed. If you had asked the average Christian fleeing from Saul of Tarsus if they believed that one day he would be collecting an offering for the Christians in Jerusalem he or she would think you were crazy and have a very, very hard time believing you. God works like that sometimes though.

  It is also interesting that Paul is apparently unaware of how quickly he shifted from being thankful that he and they are reconciled, with asking them for donations for the Church in Jerusalem.

 

3. In 2 Cor 8:5, why do you think under hardship they could so easily give themselves first to God and then to other Christians?

A: Christianity is about loving and caring, especially of God and His people. However, secondarily Christianity is about not loving and not caring. It is about not loving the world, and not loving yourself more than others. It is about not caring for ourselves as much as the kingdom of God. Paul modeled that attitude well, for he was much more concerned with getting the word of the gospel spread than what happened to him.

 

4. In 2 Cor 8:6, and 2 Cor 8:7, what is “this grace/privilege” (charis in Greek) that they are given the responsibility to abound in and why is it important?

A: This is the grace of liberal giving. We want to abound in this grace today too. We can be missing out on all God has for us, and has for us to do, if we don’t abound in this also.

 

5. In 2 Cor 8:8, what is the difference between Paul “speaking by commandment” and “not by commandment”?

A: As an apostle, and as a leader over them, Paul could have commanded they give so much. But then where is the generosity and initiative with the command and coercion. He wants them to give, but he wants it to be from their own determination and generosity. If they had asked Paul how much they needed to give, Paul probably would have told them to pray about it and then decide themselves. There are times as a Christian leader that we should “speak by commandment” and times when we should not.

 

6. In 2 Cor 8:9, how was Christ rich but became poor?

A: Christ was rich in heaven before He came to earth. He gave much of that up as he was born of a peasant woman in Bethlehem. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1851 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 8:9, does the atonement give us financial prosperity, as some word-faith teachers say?

A: No. Paul says that though Jesus was rich [in Heaven], for our sake He became poor that we might become rich. How someone could confuse the true riches of eternal life with paltry material riches on this earth is surprising.

   If someone insisted on claiming this as guaranteeing earthly riches too, I suppose one could make a case that Christians can be as financially wealthy as Paul. (Paul was not very rich at all, as regard to earthly riches.) See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.348 and When Cultists Ask p.135-136, p.245 for more info.

 

8. In 2 Cor 8:11-13 and 2 Cor 8:6, what does Paul mean that they were to finish that which they started?

A: Some people get excited about giving of their money, resources, or time to a project, and then their interest fades. Others are better at following things through. It is not that the first are not sincere, but sometimes they need to be reminded and encouraged to carry things though.

 

9. In 2 Cor 8:15 what happened to those who took too much manna? How does this happen today?

A: Paul is quoting Exodus 16:18. Exodus 16:19-20 tells of others who took extra manna to hoard it for the next day. The hoarded manna had worms in it. Today when people hoard riches, it too can create “worms” that ruin their life and their families’. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1852 for more info.

 

10. In 2 Cor 8:16-17, 2 Cor 8:6, 2 Cor 8:23, and 2 Cor 7:13-15, what was special here about Paul often bringing up Titus?

A: While Titus was undoubtedly a good Christian worker who knew the truth, could teach and pastor, none of that is in view here. Titus’ heart really cared for them. As we minister to others, inside and outside of church and our family, do we really show them that we really care for them, versus just going through the motions?

 

11. In 2 Cor 8:18-19, since Titus was trustworthy, why did Paul have another unnamed brother go with Titus too? Should we always have two people regarding money?

A: It is not that Paul did not trust Titus, but this would avoid the appearance of evil or accusation that perhaps Titus siphoned off part of the money. We need to do things honestly in the sight of the Lord, but we should do things honestly in the sight of people too.

What if you collected a lot of money, did not count it, and gave it to a person to give to someone else. But you knew the person you gave all the money to had the highest integrity. Is there anything wrong with that?

  Let me ask a different question. Actually it is the same question, except that instead of money it was deadly poison. Would there be anything wrong with that? At our judgment committing suicide by deliberately drinking deadly poison might much worse than stealing the money. So if they were might be similar at our judgment, what makes them so different now?

 See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1852-1853, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.992, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.372 for more info.

 

12. In 2 Cor 8:24, why should we be concerned not just about our love, but about the proof of our love?

A: The means the expression of our love. Maybe we deeply love others, but just thinking sentimental thoughts does not do much. Do we show our love to others, in meaningful and

appropriate ways?


2 Corinthians 9 – Complete What You Start – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 9:1, when should we be concerned that other believers are not completing what they started?

A: &&&

Sometimes people engage in “ghosting”. The act eager to participate, and then you never see them again.

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.575 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1853 for more info.

 

2. In 2 Cor 9:2-3, when we find that we are failing at completing something we know we should do, what can we do to motivate ourselves to get moving?

A: It is important to fight procrastination. &&&

Write down a list of what you need to do, keep the list, and check it off.

James 4:17 says “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (NKJV)

 

3. In 2 Cor 9:2-3, are there some things that we start with the best of intentions, and do not complete, because we should not?

A: &&&

Sometimes external circumstances, health, and financial reverses causes us to change our plans.

 

4. In 2 Cor 9:5 what is interesting about this Greek word for “generous gift”?

A: This word, eulogia, was often used in Greek meaning to speak well of the blessings of someone else. The sense here is that speaking good and doing good here are intertwined. You “speak” your love and blessing towards others (such as the church in Jerusalem) by doing something about it. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.375 for more info.

 

5. In 2 Cor 9:6, does this principle of sowing mean that if we give money to God, we will be financially prosperous?

A: No. Sowing and reaping does not necessarily have to be the same. It would be unfortunate if giving to God in this life only gave us rewards in this life and not in Heaven. The rewards Christians will receive in Heaven make any rewards in this life on earth look very small.

   It is sad that many only see a relationship with God in terms of what they see in this life on earth.

   See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.107-108 for more info.

 

6. In 2 Cor 9:6-11, what should be our motivations for giving?

A: &&&

We should have pleasure in giving because we know that it pleases God.

One Christian decided to live on 10% and give the 90% to God.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.376 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 9:8, how does God make all good/grace abound to the Corinthians and to us?

A: There is no bottleneck on God’s part of God giving everything we need in this life. God may not always give us all we desire, but if we lack what we need, the fault is not God’s but man’s. We should make sure we are living up to our responsibility God gave us to help others have what they need.

 

8. In 2 Cor 9:15, how this gift is unspeakable or indescribable, since could Paul talk about it so much?

A: A lifetime on earth is not long enough for Paul, or anybody else, to fully and exhaustively describe the magnitude of what God did for us when Jesus died on the cross. But we can try. As Christians, we want to spend our lifetimes “thanking God for His indescribable gift”.

 

9. In 2 Cor 9:15, was Paul’s appeal successful?

A: Apparently so. The Epistle to the Romans was written about five months after 2 Corinthians. Paul speaks very approvingly of the gift of the churches in Macedonia and Achaia in Romans 15:26-28. Thessalonica and Philippi were in Macedonia, and Corinth was the major city in Achaia. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.378 for more info.

 


2 Corinthians 10 – Boldly Meek – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 10:1-12, do you think Paul needed to defend his ministry here? Was Paul merely “defensive” or was he “offensive” too?

A: One might think that if someone did not need to defend himself from challenge, that would be Paul. However, even Paul suffered from false accusations. While it might seem awkward that Paul would change to this subject, there was not really any better place to say this. Paul was both defensive, defending himself, and offensive in that he questioned why these other “super-apostles”, (a name of ridicule), felt that had the authority to say that he was not to be listened to. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.576-577 for more info.

 

2. In 2 Cor 10:8-11, when should we be “bold” in our authority, and risk being thought of as a jerk, vs. being “meek” and risk being thought of as weak and powerless?

A: Some people confuse meekness with weakness. Just because Paul was gentle and meek, does not mean he could not assert the authority of an apostle. For example, when Elymas the sorcerer opposed him on Cyprus, Paul told him that God would strike him with blindness, and God did in Acts 13:8-10. Romans 14:10-13,15 teaches we are to be gentle with “weaker brethren”. Yet also Romans 14:16 says we are not to allow what is good to be spoken of as evil.

   Two main differences between boldness and arrogance are that with arrogance you want the spotlight, and with arrogance you think yourself better than the other people. But apart from that, boldness that is good can be just as loud and strident as arrogance.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.383 for more info.

  

3. In 2 Cor 10:12, how are we not to compare ourselves with ourselves, since we are to do so in Gal 6:4-5?

A: 2 Corinthians 10:12 criticizes one who compares himself with himself. If you just compare yourself with yourself, then I suppose you will always be in first place! Galatians 6:4-5 says we are not to compare ourselves with others, and we are to test our own actions, but it does not say to compare yourself with yourself.

   Once there was a survey where managers were asked to rank themselves; were they in the top 10% of managers, the top 20%, 30%, etc. About 90% of managers ranked themselves within the top 10%. We might chuckle at this, but actually they might all be correct. All of them probably were within the top 10%, by their own standards.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1857 for more info.

 

4. In 2 Cor 10:12, why would some believers oppose Paul?

A: In 2 Cor 10:1-2 some were not opposing Paul per se as much as wanting to critique him. But others actively opposed him. Some wanted to cut Paul down to size by contrasting the bold words in his writings with the timid words face to face. Others might have wanted to say they had higher credentials, being in Christ longer, or at least, not ever persecuting Christians. Some might have been former Jews who believed in Jerusalem, and did not assent to the results of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.993 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.577 for more info.

 

5. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, since Paul never boasted except in the cross in Gal 6:14, what was Paul doing here and in 2 Cor 11:18-12:6?

A: Four points to consider in the answer.

1. 2 Corinthians 10:13-15 says Paul would not boast beyond his proper sphere.

2. While it was in Paul’s proper sphere (not ours) to establish his own credentials as an apostle, Paul was reluctant to do so, as 2 Corinthians 12:11 shows.

3. In 2 Corinthians 11:18-12:6, Paul was objectively telling the Corinthians about a particular man. If you read carefully, you can tell that the man is Paul himself.

4. Paul was probably reluctant to do so, because by establishing his credentials by this way, some could see in that an example for them to boast, if Paul had not also written 2 Corinthians 10:17-18.

 

6. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, when should we highlight what we have done, and when should we not?

A: &&& One thing is to focus more on the facts and less on what was accomplished by you.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.380 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, what are some ways Christians can unfortunately “go beyond the limit”?

A: &&&

Exaggerating your accomplishments, boasting about what someone else did, as though it were your own work, taking all the credit for something you shared in, boasting about what you could have done, boasting about what you intend to do, or boasting about yourself in general.

   Apparently the false teachers had done a great deal of boasting, and the Corinthians had fallen for it. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1407-1408, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.578-579, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1857-1858 for more info.

 

8. In 2 Cor 10:13-15, was the cross Satan’s victory and not God’s, as Rev. Moon’s Unification “Church” claims? (Home Study Course for the Divine Principle 5th edition (1977) p.30 Divine Principle p.143. Dialogue p.161)

A: This is directly contradicted not only by Paul’s attitude in 2 Corinthians 10:13-15, but by Colossians 1:20 and Colossians 2:13-15. Galatians 6:14 says, “But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (NET Bible)

   Paul in Philippians 3:18-19 laments that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul and the early Christians did not consider themselves enemies of the cross of Christ, as one would expect if they thought it was Satan’s victory.


2 Corinthians 11 – Godly Jealousy and “Christian Self-Defense” – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 11:2,11,28-29, what is godly jealousy, how does it differ from human jealousy, and why did Paul have it?

A: &&& Paul was even willing to be embarrassed by talking foolishly, if it would help them, according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1859.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.385,392, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.581-582 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1864 for more info.

 

2. In 2 Cor 11:2, while we are not to have human jealousy, how are we to have more godly jealousy?

A: We can through a specific kind of prayer. Pray that God would make your heart more like His. Ask that you would see what is more important, with God’s eyes, and that you would see what is less important. Ask that you would have a heart not for distractions and other things, but for people that they would come to know and love God.

  We need to realize what Oswald Chambers said. “Prayer doesn’t prepare us for greater works; it is the greater work.”

 

3. In 2 Cor 11:2, what is the difference between “godly jealousy” and calling someone a “sheep stealer”?

A: &&&

 

4. In 2 Cor 11:4, who are the many Jesuses?

A: There are many false Jesuses, but only one real Jesus. If a person claims to believe and obey Jesus, that is not good enough. You have to believe and obey the real Jesus of the Bible.

 

5. In 2 Cor 11:4, how do you tell is something or someone of “of a different spirit”?

A: &&&

 

6. In 2 Cor 11:5, was Paul “not in the least inferior”, or was he the “least of the apostles” as 1 Cor 15:9 says?

A: The context of 2 Corinthians 11:3 was comparison with false apostles who taught a false Gospel. The NIV translates, “But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles.’

The context of 1 Corinthians 15:9 was comparison of timing and pre-Christian life with the other true apostles. Paul still was the hardest-working of the true apostles according to 1 Corinthians 15:10.

   See When Critics Ask p.472 and Haley’s Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.247-248 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 11:12-15, apparently these false-apostles were bad-mouthing Paul. What should we do when people bad-mouth us, or a friend of ours?

A: &&&

Larry’s email

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.1409 for more info.

 

8. In 2 Cor 11:13, if someone opposes the truth, when should you gently try to reason with them, and when should you publicly shame them as a false apostle or counterfeit Christian?

A: &&&

 

9. In 2 Cor 11:13-15, how do some false apostles masquerade as children of light?

A: &&&

 

10. In 2 Cor 11:13-15, why do these masquerades seem to work so well in society today and historically?

A: &&&

 

11. In 2 Cor 11:24, was Paul beaten five times by 40 stripes or 39 stripes?

A: Deuteronomy 25:3 does not say they had to give 40 stripes, but rather a maximum of 40 stripes. These were five separate occasions, and it was apparently the Jewish custom to always give one less than 40 just to be certain they did not go over by miscounting, so it probably is 5 X 39 stripes. Jews would give the lashing in the synagogue. According to Makkoth 3:14, if the person died before the 39 lashes were completed, the person doing the lashing was not responsible for the person’s death.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.581 and 1001 Bible Question Answered p.342 for more info.

 

12. In 2 Cor 11:32, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for Aratus, governor of Syria?

A: No. We do not know who the governors of Syria were at that time this happened in Acts 9:24,25. While Paul quotes from an Aratus in Acts 17:28, this was a different Aratus, who died in 240 B.C. According to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.393-394 we do not know if at this time Damascus was a client state of Rome, indirectly under Roman control, or directly under Roman control because there are no coins recovered from that time period that would say. However, we know that by 63 A.D., after this time, it was under direct Roman control.


2 Corinthians 12:1-13 – Let God have Your Weakness – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 12:2, when did this happen 14 years ago?

A: This probably happened when Paul was in Arabia, between his conversion around 34-36 A.D. and his first missionary journey, which started 46-47 A.D.

 

2. Does 2 Cor 12:2 show three Heavens, identical with Mormon teaching?

A: No. That Paul was caught up in the third Heaven does not validate the Mormon concept, which was totally unknown prior to the Nineteenth century. In particular, the Mormon “Telestial Heaven”, which is said to be slightly worse than earth and where many people go, would not sound like Heaven at all to a Christian or Jew. See When Cultists Ask p.246 for more info.

 

3. In 2 Cor 12:2, just how many heavens are there?

A: Scripture does not say, but apparently there are at least three. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1865 mentions the sky and clouds above us are one. The stars are another. Where the angels live would be the third.

Many at that time thought of seven heavens. These include Irenaeus of Lyons (c.160-202 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.), and Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.).

However Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) said this was not scriptural. “The Scriptures which are current in the Churches of God do not speak of ‘seven’ heavens, or of any definite number at all, but they do appear to teach the existence of ‘heavens,’ whether that means the ‘spheres’ of those bodies which the Greeks call ‘planets,’ or something more mysterious." Origen Against Celsus book 6 ch.21 p.582-583

   Among heretics, the Sethian Gnostic Apocryphon of John (c.150-185 A.D.), and the Book of Baruch according to Origen. The Sethian Gnostic Hypostasis of the Archons ch.94 p.168 mentions the seventh and the eighth heaven.

   In Jewish literature TB, Hagigah, 12b mentions seven heavens according to the New International Bible Commentary p.1411

 

4. In 2 Cor 12:6,11, when, if at all, should we “speak as a fool” as Paul does here?

A: &&&

See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.995 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1411 for more info.

 

5. In 2 Cor 12:7, why was Paul given a thorn?

A: One reason Paul knew of in 2 Corinthians 12:7 is so that he would not be conceited. If God had additional reasons, He did not say.

   Sometimes Christians have just one thing, be it circumstance, personal appearance, or personality trait in themselves, their spouse, or others, that they want God to change, and God does not do it. When God turns down our requests in prayer, He does not always tell us why. Whatever the reason, God does not want us to be so satisfied in this life that we lose our anxious longing for the next. Remember, some people can be too big (in their own eyes) for God to use, but nobody can be too small. See also the answer to the next two questions.

 

6. In 2 Cor 12:7, what was the thorn? - physical affliction, appearance, homosexuality, another evil temptation, or depression?

A: Scripture does not say, probably because we do not need to know. When people dogmatically say it was a certain thing, it can tell more about those people than it does about Paul. Theories have ranged from eye problems, malaria, migraine headaches, epilepsy, earache, speech impediment, and various temptations. The New International Bible Commentary p.1411 favors either eye problems, or malaria, possible picked up at Perga.

   Many Christians have a thorn, a #1 thing they are struggling with or trying to accept. If you have a thorn, remember that Paul had one too, and God could still use Paul in a mighty way, as long as Paul relied upon God’s strength, and not his own.

   Finally, if Jesus can accept other Christians with thorns, then so can I (See Romans 15:7). See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.627-629, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1865-1866, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.583 for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 12:8, since Paul understood the importance of not being proud, why did God not take the thorn from Paul after Paul prayed about it?

A: There is a big difference between hearing the message not to be proud and having something that guarantees you will not have to fight that battle. See also the answer to the previous two questions.

 

8. In 2 Cor 12:9-10, what does “when I am weak, then I am strong” mean?

A: When you are flat on your back, it is very easy to look up. When we are made very conscious of our own inadequacy, it is often then we are strongest in relying on the Lord. Our best efforts, in our own strength, are nothing compared to what God can do through us. To loosely paraphrase Hudson Taylor, when we can fulfill all our plans without God’s working in us, then our plans are not big enough.

 

9. In 2 Cor 12:9-10, what are ways we can give God our weakness?

A: Christians often think we should give God our love, time, money, ambitions, career, and life, and we should. Christians want to give a good testimony that we are loving, wise, smart, and “successful” whatever that may mean. But these are just giving God our strengths.

   What if you have a sin that you keep falling into. You can repent and be sorry, and at least give God your sorry heart. But what if you don’t really want to repent; you kind of enjoy your sin. Then you can be honest with God, tell Him you have a wicked heart. Ask Him to show you, whether by feelings or external circumstances, what that does, and change your wicked heart to a sorry one. Then you can give God your sorry heart, and ask Him to purify you. Purification does not just mean you won’t do that anymore. It means you won’t even want to do that anymore.

   You can be more transparent with others about your struggles and weaknesses, and not just appear to others as someone “too good to be true”. However, if you are susceptible to a sin, you don’t tell others who might tempt you in that way.

   Finally, don’t overlook that Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 says he would “boast of his infirmities”. In other words, Paul would publicize of his difficulties. We can be honest about our shortcomings and sins. However, don’t share about sin in such a way that either you glorify it and tempt someone else to the same sin, make it easier for someone to tempt you, or cause someone to turn away from fellowship.

 

10. In 2 Cor 12:10, was Paul strange here?

A: Not at all. Rather, Paul wisely realized that the things that caused him distress from a worldly point of view were some of the tools God used to maintain Paul being strong in Christ.

   As Christians, it is only natural to want to shelter our children and other loved ones from all life’s trials and storms. We would never want to restrict how God can work in their life, but if everything we do effectively limits their opportunity to have growing experiences, then we are doing our children no favor.

 

11. In 2 Cor 12:12, what were the signs of an apostle?

A: While others could prophecy and do miracles also, the apostles had these gifts in a tremendous degree, as Acts 2:42; 3:3-9, 5:4-12,14-16 show.

 


2 Corinthians 12:14-21 – Parenting Spiritual Children – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 12:14, when it is right, fair, and legal to get some money or financial support, under what circumstances would it best for you not to take it?

A: &&&

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.583-584 for more info.

 

2. In 2 Cor 12:15, does Paul expending himself for the Corinthians demonstrate the Catholic doctrine of indulgences?

A: Not at all. Paul is simply saying he is willing to “spend everything he has” (monetarily and materially), and “expend myself” (time and physical life) as well for the Corinthians.

   If it did prove the doctrine of indulgences, then since Paul was not dead yet, a person living on earth could provide indulgences for other people living on earth.

   See When Cultists Ask p.246-247 for more info.

 

3. In 2 Cor 12:16, how was Paul being crafty?

A: Paul was being sarcastic here and in 2 Corinthians 12:13. Paul was apparently accused of being crafty and taking advantage of them, when the truth of the matter was that he could have rightfully asked them for monetary support, but he chose not to ask.

   The New International Bible Commentary p. 1412 says that perhaps some were suggesting that when Paul was taking up this huge collection, he would secretly pocket some of the money.

   As Christians, sometimes we can make an extra effort for others, only to have it thrown back in our face by suspicious people. We are to keep on loving them though.

 

4. In 2 Cor 12:16-18, why do you think people sometimes make up accusations against others with absolutely no basis for doing so, and why do other people believe them?

A: &&&

 

5. In 2 Cor 12:16-18, when should we not stand up for our rights, when we should in fact have those rights?

A: &&&

We should not when there is something more important than our rights. When giving up what we ought to have can further sharing the gospel, help e someone’s spiritual life, or help others in general.

Turn the other cheek

Not needing to have the last word.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1867 for more info.

 

6. In 2 Cor 12:20, what are gossip and slander, and why are they wrong?

A: Gossip is telling something about someone else that does not need to be said, even if it is true. Gossiping betrays a confidence, as Proverbs 11:13; 16:28 and 20:19 say.

Quarrels are sustained through gossip, as Proverbs 20:20 says.

Gossiping is a temptation, just like eating choice morsels of food, according to Proverbs 18:8; 26:22.

Gossipy people are specifically rebuked in Romans 1:29; 1 Timothy 5:13.

   However, do not be crushed when people maliciously gossip about you; they did the same to John the Apostle in 3 John 10.

Slander is closely related, it is saying negative things about others that are either knowingly false, or else the speaker has not bothered to check if they were true or false. Slander differs from someone believing they are saying the truth and being mistaken. Flattery includes saying false positive things about others.

   The Bible never tells us merely to reduce the slanderous things we say; rather we are to have no slander at all on our tongue as Psalm 15:3, Titus 3:2, and James 4:11 show.

   Slander is a favorite tool of the beast in Revelation 13:6.

   Do not be surprised when people slander you; Jesus and believers were slandered in Psalm 38:20; 54:5,10; 119:23; 1 Peter 3:16. However, while others will slander Christians, Christian widows and other Christians do not need to give an opportunity for slander, as Timothy 5:14 shows.

 

7. In 2 Cor 12:20, what are some circumstances when, like Paul, you still want to return to a situation or place, even though you were embarrassed or know you will be uncomfortable in that situation?

A: It might sound contradictory but it isn’t, any more than a large positive, minus a smaller negative still yields a positive. Sometimes the pain of embarrassment is great or less depending on your pride and unwillingness to be shown as weak or imperfect. When you judge that the anticipated pain of doing something is less than the contentment of it or pleasure of doing God’s will. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.401 for more info.

 

8. In 2 Cor 12:21, how could Paul be humbled before the Corinthians?

A: This does not mean Paul was proud before them. Rather, Paul could be humbled in their esteem by being sick, as Paul got sick in Galatia (Galatians 4:13). It might seem strange to them that the man they heard healed others was sick himself. Actually, Paul’s sickness showed that the healing was not from the power of Paul, but the power of God.

 

9. In 2 Cor 12:21, what do you think when you find unrepentant sinners still sinning, and they are inside the church?

A: This is unfortunate, but no different than Paul observed in Corinth. The church is full of people who make mistakes, for who of us is perfect. The church at Corinth also had a least one person, Paul should have, put under church discipline and excommunicated until they repented.

   So we should not be surprised when this occurs, but we should not compromise our essential beliefs or practices in being permissive. Even when someone is asked to leave the church, we should still love them and pray for them, and if possible counsel and preach to them, in hopes that they repent and can come back.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1868 for more info.

 


2 Corinthians 13 – Coming Back After Awkward Separation – some brief answers

 

1. In 2 Cor 13:2 and 1 Cor 4:21, should we ever threaten people, including fellow Christians, like Paul did?

A: There is a proper time and place for warning people in three ways.

1. We should not fail in our responsibility to warn others of what God has said of people’s impending doom if they refuse to turn their life over to Christ.

2. As wise parents set up rules and consequences for their children, and a corporate manager sets up goals, incentives (and disincentives) for their employees, those who lead the church should make it clear what they expect of the people they work with.

3. Even more so, as an apostle, Paul had a special authority to command, warn, and rebuke other Christians.

   Unfortunately, some Christian churches can have leaders who do not lead people to God, and members who would not follow them even if they did.

 

2. In 2 Cor 13:3, what do you do when you find Christians who are impressed by the wrong things?

A: There are six things you can do.

Pray for them, that they would be able to focus what is significant, and equally importantly, be able to see what is not.

Encourage them when they do focus on the important things.

Correct them when they are focusing on trivial things or evil things. Patiently explain why we should not focus on those things.

Rebuke them as needed when they continue to be attracted to the wrong things.

Be an example of focusing on the important things yourself.

In humility, check to see if perhaps you might be the one who is mistaken. Perhaps they are right or else partially right.

 

3. In 2 Cor 13:3, how would you describe the role of “weakness” in the Christian life?

A: Weakness was a part of Paul’s life, and weakness is a part of our life, whether we realized and admit it or not.

Before God, confess your sins, and also acknowledge your weakness. Pray for God’s power (because you need it), to overcome weaknesses in your life.

To yourself, realize that you don’t have the ability yourself to do all God intended you to do, and more importantly, to be all that God intended you to be on earth. But with God’s power working in you, you Do have the power to do all God intended you to do, and to be all that God intended you to be.

To others, be free to admit you are not perfect and be willing to share your weaknesses. However, don’t do it indiscriminately, throwing pearls before swine. Also, don’t share your temptations in such as way that someone could use that information to tempt you.

 

4. In 2 Cor 13:3, when does “weakness” show up in us?

A: A strong support and a flimsy support can both look the same, until you put a load on both. Likewise, a firm faith and a flimsy faith can look the same to others, and be miscategorized in the person’s own mind until testing and trials come.

Potential persecution can show if a faith is firm or not. What if people think less or me, or worse, if I share the gospel or serve God.

Risk usually seems to be lower if you don’t do anything. If God wanted you to do something, but it was more risky than not doing it, would you place the risk in God’s hands, while still being prudent, or would you think your life was all up to you?

Hardship can show what kind of faith we have. You sing of the joy of the Lord when everything is going well, - as you should. But when things are not going well, or you or a loved one is dying, has your singing stopped? Or in the face of the sorrow and loss, can you still sing of the joy of the Lord? Which kind of singing is the more painful to demons’ ears, and more pleasing to God?

 

4. In 2 Cor 13:1,3, Mt 18:16, and Dt 19:15 why do people tend to jump to conclusions with flimsy evidence, and are unable to acknowledge a conclusion even with strong evidence?

A: There are three factors in play here. First, people are quick, often too quick, to reach a conclusion that they wanted to reach all along. People can have a confirmation bias of focusing on evidence that supports what they already concluded, and ignoring evidence that goes against what they already concluded. Second, people are often unaware that they are doing that. Third, even when a person sees that they might be wrong, there can be a pride factor that won’t let them admit they might be mistaken. Unbelievers do this, and believers too. This is a weakness we need to realize that we have. One way to mitigate this weakness though, is to fellowship with other believers, especially ones with different backgrounds and upbringing than you, and perhaps you can help them see where the jump to conclusions and have confirmation bias, and they can help you.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.1413 for more info.

 

5. In 2 Cor 13:5-8, how do we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith?

A: While people can have assurance of salvation, people can have a counterfeit conversion and a false assurance too. How do you know if your assurance is genuine? Or if someone does not feel assurance, maybe recognize that maybe they are missing salvation, or else that have salvation but are just missing the assurance.

   Have you committed to accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior? DO you believe in Jesus dying for our sins and physically rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-6)? Do you believe what God taught us in His scriptures (1 John 2:24)? Do you love God and not the world (1 John 2:15-16)? Do you spend time with God, in prayer and reading His word? While you are not sinlessly perfect (1 John 1:8), do you want to leave your sins behind and grow to follow God more fully (1 John 3:6-10)? Do you want to obey God (1 John 2:4-6) and walk in light not darkness (1 John 1:5-7)? Do you love others (1 John 2:9; 3:10; 4:20-21)? Are you willing to share your faith with others? Do you love others (1 John 2:9; 3:10; 4:20-21)? If the answers are all yes, then you are fine.

   But as someone once quipped, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

   The emphasis on this has Paul also implying “don’t examine me, examine yourselves” according to the New International Bible Commentary p.1413.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.403, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.585, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.996 for more info.

 

6. In 2 Cor 13:6, can we know if anyone else is a reprobate?

A: The word “reprobate” in the King James version is better translated “disqualified” or “unapproved [by God]”. See also the next question for more info.

 

7. In 2 Cor 13:6, why did Paul say “But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified”, since we never truly know if others are saved?

A: Paul is talking about testing our lives in the light of scripture. While no Christian will be sinless on earth, genuine Christians will be gradually coming closer and closer to the absolute goal of Christlikeness. That is the test Paul means.

 

8. In 2 Cor 13:12 and 1 Thess 5:26, what do we know about the custom of a holy kiss?

A: It was practiced by early Christians, and it is still practiced in the Coptic Church today according to the Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 footnote 3 p.185.

Athenagoras (177 A.D.) “On behalf of those, then, to whom we apply the names of brothers and sisters, and other designations of relationship, we exercise the greatest care that their bodies should remain undefiled and uncorrupted; for the Logos again says to us, 'If any one kiss a second time because it has given him pleasure, [he sins]; 'adding, 'Therefore the kiss, or rather the salutation, should be given with the greatest care, since, if there be mixed with it the least defilement of thought, it excludes us from eternal life.'A Plea for Christians ch.32 p.146

Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.) “Having ended prayers, we salute one another with a kiss.” First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.65 p.185

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) has an entire chapter on the kiss of peace, chapter 18. Here is how it starts off. “Another custom has now become prevalent. Such as are fasting withhold the kiss of peace, which is the seal of prayer, after prayer made with brethren.On Prayer ch.18 p.686

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1870 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1413 for more info.

 

9. Does 2 Cor 13:14 prove the Trinity true?

A: No. While it implies the Trinity is true, it does not prove it. A “threeness” of the Father, Son, and Spirit is proved by this verse plus Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; John 15:26; Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:14-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:3-5; Hebrews 9:14; Jude 20,21; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2; and Revelation 4:8.

   Threeness is a part of the doctrine of the Trinity, but even Mormons believe in threeness without believing in the Trinity. (Note that while the LDS church officially denies the Trinity, I have met many Mormons who make the honest mistake of saying they believe the Trinity. They say this because they do not understand the doctrine of the Trinity, and they simply believe it means the Three are united in love, spirit, and purpose.) For a description of the doctrine of the Trinity, see the discussion on Matthew 28:19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.

 

In 2 Corinthian 4:6, piling up genitives is Paul’s style according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.341