Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: 2 Corinthians Studies|
Chs.1 & 2
General Introduction to this form of Bible Study
Before you start reading the Notes, may we recommend the following:
1. You pause and pray and ask for God's help for the Bible to come alive to you.
2. You have your Bible open infront of you and read the passage through completely first.
3. You work your way through the questions looking for answers in your Bible.
4. Then and only then, read through the commentary.
The primary objectives of these studies are a) to get you to read the Bible and b) to take in what you have read. At the end of each page of studies (normally a chapter) there will be a 'Recap' to remind you of what you have read. At the end of every 'set' (see the front Contents page) there will also be a 'Summary' and a 'Conclusions' that cover the pages in that set.
Chapters 1 & 2
Introduction to Chapters 1 to 7:
Paul had helped established this church at Corinth and then from time to time had written to them. In 1 Corinthians we have Paul writing to them to straighten out various things that had been going wrong, a positive, almost aggressive letter requiring wrongs to be righted. In this letter we have an entirely different approach. Other false apostles had come to Corinth and the church there was in danger of being led astray by them. Instead of a strong attack on them, we find a highly defensive, very person letter. Clearly complaints had been made about him not having come again when he said he would
The Structure of these Studies
The studies in this particular Series cover the first seven chapters in which Paul seeks to explain his conduct, especially in respect of his change of plans and the nature of his previous letter.
In the following Series we'll cover chapters 8 to 13 where Paul speaks about the collection for the Christians at Jerusalem and then vindicates his apostolic authority
The Benefit of this Letter
This letter is the most personal piece of Paul's writing in the entire New Testament. It gives us an insight into the hardships of the apostolic ministry. Perhaps more than anywhere else in the Bible these writings show us how God takes the weak things of the world to confound the wise. In these studies we'll see Paul use a number of graphic illustrations to convey truths about the spiritual realities of the Christian life. In a time when the way of the world, which often creeps into the church, declares be strong, go for number one and look good, Paul's revelations in this letter come as a salutary reminder of the nature of the kingdom of God
PART ONE : “Comfort & Correction”
In this first section observe the approach that Paul uses. He first of all presents himself and his team as those who have had to be comforted by God and who can thus give comfort. The implication? We are weak and aren't coming to you in our own strength. Then he goes on to explain why he has had to change his plans, which was all bound up in his need to bring correction through his previous letter.
Chapter: 2 Cor 1
Passage: 2 Cor 1:1-2
A. Find Out:
1. How does Paul describe himself? v.1a
2. Who also writes with him? v.1b
3. To whom does he first write? v.1c
4. But who also does he include? v.1d
5. What blessing does he seek for them? v.2
The opening verses of Paul's letters are always instructive. Paul identifies himself, as he always seems to do, and then designates himself by the term apostle. Again this he often does, the exceptions being to Titus and to the Philippians where he calls himself a servant, to Philemon where he calls himself a prisoner, and to the Thessalonians where he gives himself no designation. An apostle is merely “a sent one”, one sent out by Jesus Christ to build and establish his church. The term carries with it a certain authority for these were the foundation builders of the church. Paul has already written at least one (probably two) letters of correction to this church and now he is having to write yet one more, but in this letter he does not exercise heavy authority, but in fact opens his life to these people. Position does not have to involve heavy authority!
Paul also includes Timothy in his greeting as he so often does, so we see that these two men must have often been together in the ministry and Paul was happy for the younger man to be identified with him. He identifies his readers as the church at Corinth but also is happy for it to be read in all the surrounding churches. He seeks peace and blessing for his readers, as he so often does. In virtually all ways this seems a very ordinary opening but the letter is unique.
A. Find Out:
1. What 3 descriptions of God does Paul give? v.3
2. What does God do? v.4a
3. So we can do what and how? v.4b
4. What 2 things did Paul see in his life? v.5
5. How did those two things work out for good? v.6
6. And why was his hope about them sure? v.7
If we are really honest, there are none of us who really relish suffering for Christ. But what does “suffering” mean? It means receiving the opposition and persecution of the world and the enemy as we stand for Christ. Paul stated that persecution was a guaranteed part of the Christian life for anyone who was desiring to be godly (2 Tim 3:12), and now he addresses the other side of persecution - comfort!
He describes God not only as the Father of Jesus, but also as the God of compassion and comfort. The Lord is there with us to comfort us in any trying circumstances that come against us when we stand for him (not things we bring on ourselves for being stupid!).
For Paul, comfort is a two-sided blessing. It is a blessing to receive and a blessing to pass on. It's really a sequential chain: suffering - comfort - blessing others. We can't comfort others if we haven't been comforted and we won't be comforted until we have been through times of opposition and we won't go through times of opposition until we stand publicly for Christ. There's also another fruit of comfort given in v.6, that of “patient endurance”. When we are comforted by God it means that we can put up with further suffering while we patiently wait for the Lord to deal with the situation.
A. Find Out:
1. What does Paul want to tell them about? v.8a
2. How great was the pressure and with what result? v.8b
3. What did they feel about it? v.9a
4. Why did it happen? v.9b
5. What was he able to say about God's help? v.10
6. What part did his readers play, and with what outcome? v.11
Paul has just spoken about the God of comfort. Now, he says, I don't want you to think I'm just using words here, we've been through this. On his travels in Asia Minor , specifically the province called Asia , things happened to them whereby they even thought they were going to die! That was how bad it had been! Of themselves they couldn't cope with it. It had only been the Lord that had seem them through. Now, he says, there are two benefits when this sort of thing happens.
The first benefit is that we learn to lean more on the Lord. Our tendency is to rely upon ourselves. When we get into crisis situations that are beyond our capabilities we then cry out to the Lord and rely on Him. Yet, that is the very thing He wants us to learn to do on a daily basis, without having to wait for a crisis to promote it.
The second benefit is that afterwards, we will be able to look back and see the hand of God preserving us and God will be glorified. Again and again the Scripture says our lives are to glorify God, e.g. Matt 5:16. When we have come through the crisis we can then see God in it and we praise Him.
Note also that Paul says they get through with the help of the prayers of God's people. Prayer helps, so pray!
A. Find Out:
1. What was Paul's boast? v.12a
2. How had they done what they had done? v.12b
3. What did he hope? v.13,14
4. What had he planned to do? v.15
5. How had he planned to do that? v.16
6. How had he not done it? v.17
So far in this letter we have had Paul's testimony of how they had been through trials that were so severe that they despaired of life itself - yet God had brought them through.
Now he testifies, almost as a challenge to anyone to deny it, that they had conducted themselves well when they had been in Corinth . They had done everything with holiness and sincerity, according to God's grace. He wants his readers to understand all this so that they can feel good about the apostles. That's why he seeks to write simply and openly, so they can understand the apostles more fully.
In fact he had planned to come to see them on his travels to Macedonia (but we'll see tomorrow why that didn't happen) so that they could seek to be a blessing to the church there at Corinth . He hadn't made these plans casually so that he might easily change his mind, but in fact that trip hadn't come about.
Paul seems to be seeking to establish his integrity in the eyes of his Corinthian readers, for he has yet to do some strong talking and wants them to understand his credentials. He is an apostle sent from God (v.1) who has been through thick and thin for the sake of the Gospel and who has sought always to minister in the grace of God.
A. Find Out:
1. What does Paul say his message isn't? v.18
2. What does he say that, in Christ, it is? v.19
3. What are all God's promises “in Christ”? v.20
4. How do we stand firm? v.21a
5. What has God done? v.21b,22
6. Why had Paul not come to Corinth ? v.23
Paul is both explaining his own actions and also seeking to encourage the Corinthian Christians. He is explaining why he hasn't come to see them, even though he had originally planned to come. It's not that he keeps on changing his mind; it's simply that though he planned to come when he found what was happening, he didn't want to have to come and bring strong words of rebuke.
No, he says, the Christian life isn't yes and no, constantly changing your mind because of uncertainty. It is constantly positive. The Gospel isn't full of doubt, it's totally positive. The promises of God that come to us, fulfilled in Christ are not doubtful, they are totally positive. Jews sometimes claim that Christians only take the positive promises of the Old Testament and not the negative ones, and there is truth in that. Everything Christ has done and everything that comes to us as a result of his work on the Cross is positive, is good, is beneficial. God has confirmed all this by putting His own Holy Spirit within us, His own presence, His own power; you can't get better than that!
A. Find Out:
1. What had Paul decided? v.1
2. What was his reasoning? v.2
3. Why does he say he wrote? v.3a
4. What confidence had he when he wrote? v.3b
5. How had he written? v.4a
6. What had he wanted to convey? v.4b
This is at least Paul's third if not fourth letter to Corinth . In 1 Cor 5:9,11 Paul indicated that he had written prior to what we now call 1 Corinthians. Now he is referring to their response to one of his letters. Whether it is 1 Corinthians or another one in between isn't clear. When he had written, it is obvious (v.3a) that he wrote to correct something wrong and had hoped that it had been put right (which is why it may refer to 1 Corinthians which is all about putting right wrong things). He had anticipated that they would understand what he had said, would accept it and rejoice in it. Indeed he had been deeply grieved that he had had to write it and had written with a deep sense of love for them.
However, from what he says here, it seems that his letter had not been warmly welcomed. Indeed the whole of this present letter may be with the express purpose of seeking to address their reactions to his previous letter. Anyway, because of this response, he had decided not to visit them. He didn't want to come and create an acrimonious situation that would only add to their pain. Observe that Paul could have written authoritatively and powerfully against their reaction, but instead writes with gentleness and humility. What an example!
A. Find Out:
1. What had obviously happened? v.5
2. What had further happened? v.6
3. So what does Paul say they ought to do now? v.7,8
4. Why had he written previously? v.9
5. How did Paul say he would follow what they did? v.10
6. Why? v.11
The Corinthian church was one where things went wrong (as in most churches at some time or other!). Someone had obviously been sinning publicly and one suspects , from what Paul had said previously, that nothing had been done about it - which was why Paul had written previously. Now he speaks further on this matter.
First he reminds them of the effect of someone in the church sinning in this way: it causes grief to the godly. This will not only be just to one person but to the whole body that is submitted to Christ.
The next thing is that the church as a whole should take action against the sinner. The elders may take the action but the whole church should endorse it by their behaviour. The sinner should know that he or she is not only offending the Lord but they are also offending the whole body of Christ. Discipline by the whole church should be brought. (see also Jesus' teaching in Mt 18:15-17).
What is the purpose of that, according to what Paul says? It is to bring sorrow to that sinner and then repentance and restoration. Yes that is to be the intended outcome - the restoration of the sinner (see also Gal 6:1). Satan would want that person separated off and destroyed but the Lord wants repentance, forgiveness and restoration for them.
In this first group of 7 studies we have seen Paul:
These chapters are born out of what had been happening. There had been sin in the church there and Paul had written chiding them for they had not dealt with it. Their slowness to act had actually put him off coming to them for he didn't want to rebuke them again. In sharing this he seeks to show that he does feel for them, indeed he understands (implied) that they need comforting, for he's been through the need himself. So, now that the sinner has repented he is gentle towards him and recommends they forgive and restore the man.
1. Suffering brings comfort and patient endurance.
2. Suffering makes us lean more on God & brings praise to God.
3. A man in authority also needs feelings.
4. Feelings mean correction comes with gentleness.
5. Feelings also mean forgiveness will come with compassion.
Thank God that He understands us. Ask that we may similarly understand one another.
PART 2 : "Realities of Christian Life & Ministry"
In this next Part watch how Paul describes the Christian life and ministry: an aroma of Christ, letters written by Christ, ministers of a new covenant, earthen vessels who hold the glory of God. Note all through that we are the work of Christ.