Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 30
PAUL, OUR APOSTLE DEFENDING HIS APOSTLESHIP – PART 2
Now getting back into our study in II Corinthians, and remember that this letter is a follow up to the first letter where Paul had to deal with problems in the Corinthian Church. They had problems like no other congregation under Paul’s Apostleship, and in I Corinthians he had to get rather hard with them. But now in II Corinthians Paul is coming back to encourage these people who had seemingly corrected their problems. Now we’ll be seeing that more and more as we come through this second letter. That in itself must have been an encouragement to the apostle, that he did not have to come personally to them. Paul had intended to personally go down to Corinth, but evidently the message had come to him that his first letter had accomplished its work. The church had dealt with the person in gross immorality, and he was evidently back in the fellowship. So rather than come to them personally he writes this second letter.
I think we can all appreciate that. We have all found ourselves in a position where maybe we’ve had some hard feelings with perhaps a family member and it’s so much easier to just write our thoughts rather than try approach them face to face. And I think this is exactly how Paul felt. He felt he could do more by writing than if he would go and meet them personally and become possibly too stern. Now verse 15. Remember in our last lesson we were talking about how The Lord supplies all the needs of the believers.
II Corinthians 1:15
“And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;” In other words he wanted to come to Corinth and deal with their problems personally. Verse 16:
II Corinthians 1:16
“And to pass by you into Macedonia, (in northern Greece) and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.”
In other words Paul’s itinerary was to leave Philippi, and come to Corinth, and then go back up into Macedonia and visit the churches and then come back to Corinth and head to Jerusalem. But Paul didn’t make it. And because he didn’t make it a lot of his detractors and his accusers would say, “Well you didn’t come because you were afraid to.” And Paul had to deal with these accusations. Remember, always put yourself in Paul’s shoes. He was just as human as we are. Now verse 17. So he says, “Since I didn’t get that accomplished…
II Corinthians 1:17
“When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? (did I say I was coming just to be saying something? No.) or the things that I purposed, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?”
If you looked that up in the Greek what Paul is really saying is this: “Did I come to you and talk in fickle language? Did I just say something to tickle your ears? No way. Whatever the apostle said he said it with full meaning but other things of course intervened. Verse 18:
II Corinthians 1:18-20
“But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus,(Timothy) was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. (It was not fickle language, it was not something superfluous,) For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” In other words Paul is saying “Whatever I’ve said to you I can put it in concrete. I meant every word of it, it was from the depth of my heart and none of this was spoken with frivolity. Now verse 21.
II Corinthians 1:21,22
“Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest (or the down payment) of the Spirit in our hearts.”
Now there is another verse that is a perfect parallel with that and for that we have to go to the Book of Ephesians Chapter 1. Some of these days we’ll be teaching this tremendous letter verse by verse. It’s dealing with our position in the Body of Christ as believers.
“In whom (in Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, (and the word of truth is) the gospel of your salvation: (I Corinthians 15:11-4) in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Now that is part and parcel again of our salvation experience. We have been sealed, we have been marked by the Person of the Holy Spirit Himself. Now verse 14.
“Which is the earnest (and that means just exactly like we use the term today. He is the down payment. A sufficient down payment to make sure that the transaction is completed.) of our inheritance (which we will have by being joint-heirs with Christ, and that’s going to hold it) until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Now if I’m not mistaken we dealt with this verse when we were back in I Corinthians Chapter 15 on the great resurrection theme. I pointed out at that time that, yes, soul and spirit are redeemed in full. We are saved, we are redeemed completely for all of eternity. But at this moment only in the soul and spirit, so what’s left? The body. The body is still in the flesh, it’s still corrupt, it’s still prone to sin and death. But the beauty and joy of resurrection is that we’re going to have a new body. So it’s this same concept that Paul is adhering to in II Corinthians 1:22 when he says again:
II Corinthians 1:22,23
“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Sprit in our hearts. Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.”
What’s he saying? “I did not come to Corinth purposely so that I would not be more stringent in reproof, and a letter would be a kinder way in doing it.” So Paul just knew that the time was not right for him to make a personal appearance among this congregation. And as we teach II Corinthians don’t forget what we learned in I Corinthians about all the problems, and all the necessary reproofs that were brought upon that congregation. And remember Paul was broken hearted over what was taking place there. So all of this is in the back of his mind, and of course the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and we never want to take anything away from that. Now verse 24:
II Corinthians 1:24
“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.”
Now look at that verse again. Paul is not overlording them like a totalitarian dictator. Oh he is their apostle, he’s their teacher, he’s the one who brought them out of pagan idolatry. But he is not standing over them with a heavy whip, or in a totalitarian way, but rather he is simply a helper of their joy and what makes it all possible? For it’s by faith. Now you see if Paul had been the progenitor of a religion, and he was the grand guru of that religion, then yes, Paul could have stood over them, and held the whip over them and made them adhere to everything that he said. But that’s not the case. You see Christian liberty – Oh listen, the average believer today still does not comprehend the liberty that we have in this age of Grace. Liberty, now that brings up another verse in the Book of Galatians in Chapter 5. My these verses just ring in my mind as I’m teaching that Paul is telling these Corinthians, carnal as they were, with all their problems “You’re not where you are because I have forced you there. You’re not what you are because I’m standing over you.” No, even the Corinthians in their carnality were still enjoying Christian liberty. And we have a lot of so called Christians today that have no concept of Christian liberty at all. They have no idea of what liberty in the Gospel of Grace amounts to. And here Paul has again been appealing to the Galatian believers much like he does to the Corinthians not to let the Judaisers destroy their faith.
“Stand fast therefore (with your feet in concrete if I may use the example) in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
And that’s exactly where most people constantly put themselves. They want to put themselves under a legalistic situation where someone lays down the Law that they must do this and do that. Well that’s not Christianity! True Christianity is liberty! And remember I’ve always followed that with liberty is not license. Now let’s come back to II Corinthians, and move on into Chapter 2. Don’t lose sight of what I said in my introductory remarks that in these first 6 chapters we will find Paul constantly defending and reminding the Corinthians of his Apostleship as not tied to Jerusalem, not tied to Peter and the eleven, but tied only to the ascended Lord of glory.
II Corinthians 2:1
“But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.” (or in much sorrow). Here again his reasoning for not coming personally to the city of Corinth, and meeting with the church, but rather writing them a letter.
II Corinthians 2:2
“For if I make you sorry, (in other words if Paul would come down on them too hard) who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?” In other words the human response is if Paul would come to Corinth and just come down on these people would he experience a joy in that kind of response? Of course not.
II Corinthians 2:3
“And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow (or grief) from them of whom I ought to rejoice; (In other words he would hear about things taking place in the church that would make him sorry instead of being able to hear things that would make him joyful.) having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.”
Paul’s whole mental concept concerning this carnal church at Corinth was that they could grow and become real trophies of God’s Grace in spite of all the pressure. And don’t lose sight of the fact that these early Christians, the moment they professed faith in Christ, were under pressure. They were under pressure from the Jewish element, they were under pressure from the pagan element, and just a precious few of them were won for The Lord. Just a precious few would come into this liberty of Christianity. Now verse 4.
II Corinthians 2:4
“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart (now Paul’s not over emphasizing) I wrote unto you with many tears; (I was reading one commentary on this letter by an old Bible teacher. He said “Paul must have written this letter with a quill dipped in tears.” I think that’s just about true as his heart was broken, he was in tears because of what he was hearing from the congregation at Corinth.) not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.”
Are you seeing the heart of this man? In spite of all their failures contrary to his teaching and doctrine, did he ever lose his love for them? No. And it was a constant battle in that early church. These church members had come out of abject paganism with no moral foundations whatsoever; with no concept of the one Creator God, they were ignorant of all these things. They didn’t have the Old Testament like the Nation of Israel did. They had just recently heard the apostle preach them the Gospel of God’s saving Grace (how that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose again.) And how they were now set at liberty, and yet to see that they really hadn’t consummated all of the Grace of God that would give them victory over their past lifestyle. And there was no doubt about it. They were still dipping back into their old lifestyle, and this is what the apostle is so grieved about. And yet understanding the circumstances he could equate with all of this, that you couldn’t expect these people to all of a sudden live like Peter, James, and John did, because it would take time for them to grow. So catch this as you read these verses. Now verse 5:
II Corinthians 2:5
“But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part; (in part here usually means a percentage or fraction. In other words it wasn’t the whole congregation that was grieving him, but a percentage or fraction of them.) that I may not overcharge you all.”
Do you get that? So Paul wasn’t condemning the whole congregation because they weren’t all guilty, but there was that small percentage that was grief of mind. Now verse 6.
II Corinthians 2:6
“Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.” (or the majority)
Now when you have a majority then you also have a minority. So it was not a total consensus but it was enough of a majority that the Church could take the action. Well what do you think Paul is talking about when he says, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment,” Now verse 7:
II Corinthians 2:7
“So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”
Do you know who Paul is talking about? Well let’s turn back to I Corinthians Chapter 5 and look at it again, and it was a gross situation. When we came through I Corinthians I touched on it lightly, because I realize that I have a lot of kids that watch this program, and I don’t want to get overly explicit. But yet I guess more kids nowadays know more then we did when we were 20. But here we find one of the shortfalls of this congregation at Corinth. Now verse 1.
I Corinthians 5:1-3
“It is reported commonly (everybody in town knew about it) that there is fornication among you and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.” (Paul says, “even the Gentiles don’t do anything that low.” And the congregation wasn’t doing anything except maybe grinning or joking about it.) And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body , but present in spirit, have judged already (or made up my mind already how to deal with it) as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,” Now here is what Paul is admonishing the congregation to do.
I Corinthians 5:4,5
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, (as a congregation) and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one (as this guilty man) unto Satan (not for the destruction of his soul, but) for the destruction of the flesh, (inflict him with a sickness, or maybe take him out with death) that the spirit (of this guilty person, this saved individual who was a member of the congregation) may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
So does Paul consider this guy lost again? No. But this guy is in dire straights, because he is living in gross immorality, but the church is just as guilty as he is because they’re not doing anything about it. Now after that I hope you can pick up again what he says in II Corinthians.
II Corinthians 2:6
“Sufficient to such a man (that we just read about) which was inflicted of many. (or the majority)
So the Church had evidently taken corporate action and the majority had voted to deal with this man to get him to straighten up his act (even though there was a minority that is probably like many liberals we have even today that would say, “Oh, leave them alone, because people are people.”). Now verse 7 again:
II Corinthians 2:7,8
So that contrariwise (or on the other hand) ye ought rather to forgive him, (even of a gross sin like that) and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.”
Isn’t that something? That’s not an attitude that most of us would take. But even today that’s what we’re supposed to do. When someone is overtaken in a gross failure, what does the average Christian do? Smile about it, joke about it. They never consider the fact that the person needs prayer and encouragement and forgiveness. Let’s look at one more verse in the Book of Galatians that will just put the frosting on the cake for this. I’m sure that this event in Corinth had a direct bearing on this verse in Galatians. It happens all the time and it still does. But we can’t just wink at it, but rather we must deal with these people and restore them.
“Brethren, (believers) if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, (the leaders of the congregation) restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Do you see what he’s saying? Anytime you come down on a situation in harsh judgment on a fellow believer, who are you setting up to be the next one to fall? Yourself. So instead, in that attitude that Paul had, we should forgive that man, and continue to love him. I think as we come to the end of the letter we’ll find out that the Church at Corinth did deal with it, and they did bring the man back into fellowship.