II Corinthians Chapter Summary II Corinthians Chapter Summary II Corinthians Chapter Summary II Corinthians Chapter Summary

The following is taken from the Book of New Testament Summaries

  1. (Summer A.D.57?) [Paul's response to Titus' good news from Corinth's reaction to his first letter.] He begins with customary greetings, salutations, and commendations. He is greatly comforted in Christ amidst his most recent severe persecution in Asia (Acts 19). His life has even been in danger, but he knows others are comforted and strengthened in Christ's witness through his many afflictions, and he theirs ( Rom.12:15). Their effectual prayers are greatly noticed. His words to them, though grievous, have not only been above board, but straight from the heart in every way. Though he intended to come earlier but prevented, God is his witness that he was sincere. His word can be trusted, just as Christ always fulfills His promises. His delay was in part to allow them sufficient time to respond to his earlier rebuke that they not be sad when he arrived, similarly causing him great sadness as well. He hopes their joy has since been restored and will be shared when they finally meet. His previous instructions were to strengthen their faith in which they solely stand, and not intended as rule over them. His authority, as theirs, is in none other than Christ who anointed and sealed him by His Spirit.
  2. Their joy is interdependent: if one is sad, how can he make another glad. We ought always rejoice that it be for the edifying of all, even in our afflictions and persecutions! Paul has written hoping that this time of correction, discipline, and repentance might pass before he arrives. He is elated they have dealt with the errant one (I Cor.5), but is now concerned they may go too far in their separation from him. Their forgiveness of the disciplined is absolutely essential that Satan not gain advantage for further damage to their witness to Christ. He has been greatly concerned and anxious in this matter, writing to them with his own tears, passing up opportunities of ministry in Troas where Titus was to have met him with their report. Finally having found him in Macedonia (Philippi?), his spirit is relieved; in fact, their news has caused a sweetness in his soul at this victory in Christ and the triumphing of His Truth, which he holds dear above all else.
  3. [The theme of ministries contrasted or compared is expanded in Chapter 10. Apparently men of prominence, likely Jewish Christians, were present in Corinth with letters of introduction from Jerusalem. Paul's authority was now being questioned by these influential ones in the very Church he had established.] Should he have to reintroduce himself as at the first when they were saved? He had no letter of introduction or authority from mortals then. His power and authority has been, is, and always will be based solely in God who called him into the ministry of the New Covenant. He was God's letter to them and now they to the world. They need no other! The old letter, to be taught others, was written in stone, but the new, upon the hearts of the believers that all men might read wherever they are. The old condemned and brought death; the new makes alive and free in Christ. The glory from the old could not be looked upon by the worshiper as he approached (Ex.34:29-35), but now the veil has been removed ( Lk.24:35; Heb.9 & 10.) and man may live in its presence, all radiating its light ( Mat.5:16), as only Moses before ( Ex.33:11). The veil has been universally removed for all men to look upon Him and live, yet Israel continues in blindness, unable to look within the truth they read, even teach, which brings life and freedom, the Law continuing as their guide rather than the Spirit who has now clearly come. He will teach all men, Jew or Gentile, who will open their ears and eyes to the truth reflected in His words. (Deu.18:15-19; Jn.16:7-15)
  4. [Paul speaks to the core of Christian character that needs no vouchment by another, clearly visible by all, an open letter in the light of God's gospel which he has been given to share with others.] What are letters but a testimony of one to another's honesty? What need is there of them if we have the testimony (letter) of Christ. A Christian's character is beyond reproach, above questioning, where no guile (deceit) can be ferreted. What need have I of letters then, if I have Christ? ( Jn.1:47; 2:25) If I have Christ, I have His Letter! What is His Letter, if it is not His Testimony? (3:3) What is His Testimony, if it is not His Spirit? ( Jn.15:26; 16:13; I Jn.4:2) What is His Spirit, if it is not Truth? ( Jn.15:26; 16:13) What is His Truth, if it is not Freedom? ( Jn.8:32) What is His Freedom, if it is not Righteousness? ( Rom.8:2-4; Ps.71:16; 85:13; 119:144; Prov.12:28; 21:20) What is His Righteousness, if it is not God? ( Ps.33:4-5; 48:9; 50:5; 71:15; 97:2; Mat.19:17) And what is God, if not Love? ( I Jn.4:8) Examine me then, and see if I have the Love of God in my heart, if so, then the Letter of Christ! Don't you see? If I am in possession of one, I am in possession of all! And if I am lacking in one, I am lacking in all. Love then is the greater, and by it we know He is in us. ( I Jn.3:16-17; 4:6-17) And Love suffers all. ( I Co.13:4-7) Paul has successfully established his authority and identity in Christ by stating both his argument and giving evidence in his own life of his love suffering for them. No one suffers as he has if the love of Christ does not dwell in him; so do not be fooled by one's outward pomp, circumstance, and letters. A man's life and suffering is sufficient evidence and defense of his own standing in Christ. (A widely known question comes to mind here: If you were arrested tomorrow and charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence in your life to convict you? Letters could be destroyed but the legacy of lost souls won to Christ could not be eradicated. What would be the nature of your evidence? Certainly, all would have to concede in Paul's case it was lives and not letters, to which they did, thus easing the schism that developed among them.) Certainly our suffering, though it may not be fully understood and appreciated by some, will not go unnoticed and unrewarded by God ( Heb.6:10). The rewards will far outweigh the small temporal price paid in suffering for His sake while doing His work. (vs.17; Jn.16:20-22)
  5. Knowing our temporal bodies are His Earthly temple, when it has served its purpose on Earth, be assured its spirit will immediately ascend to the Father. We have been given the assurance of this by His indwelling Spirit. And if the Spirit who is rich above all Earthly measure, who Himself gives gifts to the recipient believer ( I Co.12:11), is only the down payment of the riches to come, how great must those riches be! This is sufficient cause for our earnest expectation to depart the present for the eternal. So, for goodness sake, labor while present that you may be accepted by Him, both now and in the life to come. Glory only in the things eternal, and do not be overly impressed by those who make pomp of their appearance; God will judge the hearts of all men. We seek the approval of no one but Him. And we have, through His atoning work, been made ambassadors in His name. This is by what authority we work and speak.
  6. [Paul continues his vindication of his Apostolic authority.] Their continued questioning of his validity puts them in danger of bringing reproach upon their thriving ministry in Corinth. God's grace, which was bestowed upon them at the first through Paul's original work, was not in vain, otherwise they would still be in their sin and in need of another witness, this time of valid authority. But he has been that witness; therefore, he needs no other or further recommendation to them. His open life of suffering is evidence of his love for both God and them. His heart has been that conduit, enlarged, through which Christ's love could flow to them, and that not of insignificant quantity. He is not their master to lord over them, but they, his children in the faith. His care is parental, desiring to see them grow into the full stature of a man, becoming capable of discerning truth from illusion, false teachers from true prophets. He warns them to beware of worthless men who may rank high in the eyes of other men, but worthless nonetheless for Christ. They are not to associate with such, for their ways are subtle, contaminating them with their doctrine and practices. God's children are to remain sanctified unto Him.
  7. Purity of body and spirit is the way of the one called and separated by and for God ( James 1:27). Paul exhorts them to such a life of moral integrity and honesty, as he himself has lived before them. His soul has not rested since sending Titus with his previous letter. But now that he has found Titus upon his return through Macedonia, his heart is overcome with jubilation for their Godly response, which was the sole intent of his written words. Both his and Titus' love for them is magnified by their humble submission to their direction in this matter. God has been glorified.
  8. [Paul now turns his attention to the offering being collected in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece for the saints in Jerusalem.] Liberality in giving, as Christ so liberally gave, is encouraged that none go lacking and equality might be obtained. As each one is helped, they in turn are to reach a hand behind to lift another, all working hand in hand as one body, fitly joined together, that no disparity exist among them. Christ's Church is one; indeed, it is His body. If one suffers, they all suffer. If one abounds, they all should abound. Titus' personal care for them is commended. Others not named are honored in their readiness and assistance. Let all that is done in these administrative matters be done with full accounting that not so much as a suspicion be leveled against the ministry anywhere. Paul is confident now in their corrected zeal, and is certain they will want to demonstrate their love for the brethren in this opportunity for giving.
  9. During his previous time with them, Paul was made aware of their zeal toward all saints everywhere. He has bragged on them throughout Macedonia of their readiness in this offering over a year ago. The time has now come for them to engage seriously in this endeavor before his coming, that his praise of them not be in vain. Their giving will not be ignored by God who loves a cheerful giver. As a man gives from his heart, he will be repaid in kind. God will not leave destitute one who gives of his last, when it is given freely from the love that lives within him. God will bless, that one can bless again, and so on and so on... As a result, brotherly love will abound the more! By this the world will see how men are the lovers of other men's souls, giving God great glory.
  10. [Paul's defense of his bold letters they have compared to his outward appearance.] Don't mistake his meekness for weakness when he is present with them. His life is the example of Christ, remaining in constant service to others. The natural eye sees only the outward, but within him is the constant evolving process of bringing even his minutest thoughts under His dominion. Don't think for a minute that he won't correct error when it is seen or heard. He fears no man, nor has authority from any. His authority is from God alone, and he does not abuse it to their destruction. He has done no man ill, nor does he go about troubling others won to Christ by another as some are doing to his ministry, claiming to be of greater significance with their letters, questioning his work. Maybe they should be winning others to Christ rather than frustrating those he has won. We all are in this together, each belonging to Him, none more important than another! He has not been guilty of involving himself in matters beyond his scope of calling (Ps.131), as some may claim, but all has been under the purview of the Gospel he was called to preach, themselves being his evidence of this!
  11. [Paul continues his defense.] As an infant. he has founded them in Christ, that through purity of life and doctrine they may grow up in Him a fit Bride ready for His appearing. He is troubled that someone would come in behind him to frustrate this Godly goal; therefore, his jealousy is Godly. He should not have to boast of his Apostolic calling, no less than any of the other twelve, but these false teachers who have slipped subtly in among them have forced him to. Beware, they are not to be trusted. Their appearances are deceiving. Be careful of your own self-glorying, for it will permit like-kind to slip in among you, lifting themselves in prominence, to your own demise. These are enemies of the cross of Christ ( Ph.3:18). Remember how he was when with them, how he did not receive at all from their sustenance, though he had every right. He was totally self-supporting, and when he did go lacking, it was the Churches in Macedonia that made up for it. Compare his life with those now among you; measure their words and ways. See if Christ is glorified in their speech and work. Go ahead and compare their heritage to mine, he says, their sufferings and sacrifices, and you will find I excel them all for the glory of Christ!
  12. [Paul concludes his defense.] He relates an out-of-body experience by one he knew, quite likely himself (when stoned at Lystra, Acts 14:19, or in direct revelations while in Arabia, Gal.1:12,17-18?), and how he received visions of glory and revelations from God ( Eph.3:2). That he not be exalted in himself beyond the measure of mortal, he was given a thorn in the flesh, for which he petitioned God three times for removal. God's answer was a promise of sufficient grace to overcome any fleshly weaknesses. Therefore, it is a treasure to bear about in his carnal sufferings: for in them God's grace abounds and Christ's strength is operative, producing greater works than he could ever accomplish through his own power. He asks their forgiveness in boasting, but when he should have been highly esteemed in Christ, he was not. They have allowed these man-followers to divide them. He asks also their forgiveness for not allowing them the blessing of care for him while he was with them, but this was done that no one falsely charge him of covetousness. And besides, why should a parent take from his own children? Paul admonishes them to take care in putting all this envying, strife, and sin aside before he comes, for he will be strong in the Lord for their correction.
  13. [Paul's warnings.] He reminds them of the times of his necessity for their care. When he comes on this third, they will clearly and finally see his words have power, being established by more than one witness! If they desire proof of Christ's power in him, they will see it! They really aren't aware what they are letting themselves in for! He speaks with the full authority of the power of God. This they will see when he comes. He challenges them to a serious self-examination of their standing in Christ before he arrives, for God will reveal the reprobate at his coming. His Truth will prevail and that which is false will be exposed! Hopefully, all this will be corrected before he arrives, that their joy might be full and further rebuke unnecessary. Final farewells are given and their unity is enjoined. A threefold blessing is offered: (1) the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, (2) the love of God, and (3) the communion of the Holy Ghost be with them.
- Author: Ken Livingston
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