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2 Corinthians

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The Nature Of Apostolic Authority

2 Corinthians 10:7-11

Paul was a problem for some in Corinth: he rightly exercised authority over the church in the Name of Christ, but some did not like that. They thought they could run their religious club the way they wanted. They were encouraged in that by some who claimed to be apostles (but without Christ's authority), and encouraged to disregard what Paul had taught them.

Wise Authority

2 Corinthians 10:12-14

It is hard to exercise authority in the church (2 Corinthians 11:28) or the home. Pastors, elders and deacons (and parents, who are pastors in their own homes) should be comforted that even the Apostle Paul had to work hard to ensure that he spoke and wrote only with the authority of Christ.

Authentic Motives

2 Corinthians 10:15-18

Paul had been accused, by false teachers, of failing to look after the church in Corinth because he had wrong motives and was not a real apostle (2 Corinthians 12:11).

Godly Jealousy

2 Corinthians 11:1-4

Envy is different to jealousy. Envy is like covetousness, desiring something belonging to someone else: it has a grabbing motivation. Jealousy is the fear of losing someone: it has a guarding motivation. So a husband or wife will be jealous to guard their marriage and parents will be jealous to guard their children.

Godly Service

2 Corinthians 11:5-8

Greek culture was dominated by 'the arts' of all kinds from literature to sculpture and theatre. Their science was mathematical and logical; physical and mental skills developed into sports. Mystical superstition was encouraged in religion which impregnated the culture. Linking all these was oratory, the ability to speak logically, persuasively and winsomely. Good oratory was the power tool of politicians or priests, militia or educators, artists and sportsmen.

The Gospel Is For Giving

2 Corinthians 11:9-11

This title has two true meanings. The gospel is the only way to know how to be forgiven, and the gospel is not a chargeable product. It has been given freely, although at great cost to Jesus, and is to be passed on freely. The Corinthian church had been told by false teachers that Paul's gospel was worthless because he did not charge a fee for teaching it, and he paid for everything he needed. Surely, they would have argued, if the gospel was so wonderful it would have a big price tag, and Paul's wealth would have proved that the gospel was the unique Word from God.

Removing Demonic Masks

2 Corinthians 11:12-15

Masks were an established part of the ancient Greek theatre, allowing the same actor to play multiple roles by quickly changing their facemask. So, the word 'masquerade' means to adopt a different character. Paul saw the false teachers as actors who were evil but pretending to be good. However, unlike in the theatre where everybody knows the actors are only playing a character, false apostles appear to be genuine even though they did not love Jesus. That is why they were dangerous.

Humility and Boasting

2 Corinthians 11:16-21a

In contrast to the super-apostles who had invaded the Corinthian church with their sophistry and eloquent oratory, Paul seems rather bland.  Some thought he was a fool (the word here means ‘ignorant’).  He did not boast of his spiritual prowess; instead he spoke the truth in love to save the lost and build up the church (Ephesians 4:14-16).  Paul did not advertise himself but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5).  Meanwhile, the church was being mesmerised by egoists puffing themselves up - and dragging the church under their hollow spell (1 Corinthians 4:19).  

What Really Matters

2 Corinthians 11:21b-23

Much religion is notorious for its worldliness while dressed up in pious clothes.  Jesus spoke strongly against it (Matthew 23:13-36).  On the other hand, there is a true religion as described in James 1:26-27: "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

The Dangers of Gospel Ministry

2 Corinthians 11:24-26

True gospel ministry is dangerous.  Presenting the truth to defeat the lies of Satan attracts the fury of evil.  Paul was a Jew, well-educated by a respected theologian.  But once he submitted to Jesus Christ and was filled with His Spirit, he became a target for religious fanatics.  They hated having their system of rules and regulations exposed as being worldly and lifeless.  So they declared him a blasphemer for honouring Jesus as Lord.