Survey of the Book of II Corinthians
Of all the letters the Apostle Paul wrote, II Corinthians may be regarded by most readers as the most personal. Usually the educated Saul/Paul is in a "professional" role, training preachers, teachers, elders, and deacons alike in the finer points of how to live and to lead the Christian life. This time, we see Paul in the midst of self-doubts and arguments. Paul defends his ministry and his apostleship more in this letter than in any other.
His situation was not unlike that of any other father. Children see fathers in their most un-guarded moments and in their times of greatest weakness. Chapters 3, 4, 10, 11, and 12 have considerable content in Paul's defense of his work with them, his apostleship, and his methods.
Paul had a considerable stake in them. But as would be the case in any congregation of the Lord's church, he had an interest in their souls. He did not want to see false teachers and false apostles come in to turn them away from the truth. His defense of his work was both personal and professional. Paul worried that he had gone too far-if he had charged them money for preaching them the Gospel, would they have prized it more?
In chapters 2 and 7, Paul alludes to the situation of the previous letter in which a man was living with his father's wife (I Corinthians 5). Considerable corrections had been made by the church at Corinth, and now it was time to forgive and to receive the man back into the fellowship of the church.Paul also speaks to matters of conscience. How much should the Christian reproach himself when he realizes he has sinned? Enough to repent from the sin--but not so much that he has a lack of faith in his God's ability to forgive him (II Corinthians 7: 10). This teaching is especially important in situations where people have done things that prevent restoration. Such could be the case of a murder or a robbery where what was stolen could never be replaced. This teaching is concurrent with Jesus' in John 8--"Go thy way, and sin no more." This however does not mean "Go thy way, and sin some more."
The most complete New Testament dissertation of the Bible on giving is in chapters 8 and 9. He spends much more time on the motive and mood for giving, and very little on exact amounts. Giving benefits the one who gives far more than it benefits the receiver.
For the insightful, Paul provides a look at the temporary nature of these human bodies-"earthly tents," he called them-words that would provide comfort and meaning for many a mourner at the graveside of a believing but departed loved one. This also helps the Christian put less emphasis on providing for the body and more on preparing for eternity.
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