Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 30
2 CORINTHIANS 1:1-3:18
Remember as we begin this lesson: to get the full meaning and understanding from Scripture, and to help you understand what you read, it is best to always determine to whom a portion of Scripture is written. What are the circumstances, and who is writing it. Remember things written to the Nation of Israel or their representatives were for the Jews only. Here in II Corinthians we are realizing that Paul is now following up his first letter which was a letter of reproof and correction. So in this letter we know that, first, Paul is defending his apostleship, because of all the snide remarks that are coming out of Corinth. Paul was like us, and was heartbroken about some of the things that were being spoken about him. Yet, on the other hand it was a recognition that the first letter had done it’s work. So we’ll continue on with that thought. Remember in our last lesson Paul is more or less commending the Church for having dealt with the man of gross immorality and having restored, and forgiven him, evidently, and that’s as it should be. Now verse 9:
II Corinthians 2:9
“For to this end also did I write, (to take care of this immoral situation, and to get the man straightened out.) that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.”
Are you going to respond to this immoral situation or are you going to ignore it. But the majority responded to it, and had evidently voted to deal with this individual, and get him into a place of forgiveness and restoration. Now verse 10:
II Corinthians 2:10
“To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: (Paul had that much confidence in them that if they had the mind of forgiveness he could go along with it.) for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ:”
Now Paul had absolutely no power of forgiving sin and we know that. Only Christ Himself can do that. But in the Name of Christ he could agree with them that when they had restored this individual and forgiven him then he could concur. What was the real purpose of bringing this individual, who had failed so miserably, to a place of restoration. To keep Satan from getting the upper hand! Now verse 11:
II Corinthians 2:11
“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
You all know the verse that says Satan can transform himself into an angel of light. And he can make it appear that he is promoting the Scriptures and as he does it he leads millions astray. Satan is a master at that, and so The Lord has given us the direction of the Holy Spirit. He’s given us the mind and intelligence that by searching the Scriptures we can sort these things out. It just thrills my heart when people tell us that they have suddenly realized that some of the things that they thought were part and parcel of the Christian experience are not, according to The Book. I had a lady call the other night who wanted me to give her Scriptures to tell her that this particular practice was wrong. I told her that I couldn’t do that, but I did tell her to see if she could find Scripture that instructs people to do it. I also told her that if it’s not in The Book then it must be wrong. Anything that is part and parcel of our practice of the Christian walk is in The Book. If it’s not in The Book then look out because you’re on thin ice. How many times have I made the statement, “It’s just as important to see what the Scriptures don’t say, as what they do say.” A lot of people go through life thinking something is in The Book because they heard it some place. But listen, you’ve got to search the Scriptures and if it’s not taught in Scripture run from it like a plague. So Paul says in verse 11:
II Corinthians 2:11b
“…for we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) devices.” Now Paul is going to bring in his own past experience when seemingly Satan had almost beaten him down in despair.
If you can picture in your mind the Mediterranean Sea and Turkey as it winds out to the West. Also remember Paul’s early ministry was there in that western half of present day Turkey which was called Asia Minor. Then you have the Aegean Sea between Turkey and the mainland of Europe which is Macedonia or northern Greece, and Athens in southern Greece. And on this map in your mind you go around the peninsula into the Adriatic Sea and across from that is Rome. Now here Troas is located on the western shore of what is present day Turkey. Evidently Paul had made arrangement with Titus, his fellow worker there in Asia Minor, to meet him at Troas. Then they were going to go on around to the northern reaches of Turkey or along the Black sea which at that time was called Bithynia, and then head back to Asia. But remember back there they couldn’t just drop a note in the mail, they couldn’t send a telegraph message, they certainly couldn’t phone – how they communicated in the ancients I have a hard time understanding. But somehow or other Titus and Paul had made an agreement to meet here in the sea port town of Troas, which was actually the ancient city of Troy. Now look at what Paul says:
II Corinthians 2:12,13a
“Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, (and we’re going to look in the Book of Acts as to what that was) I had no rest in my spirit, (in his own being) because I found not Titus my brother:…”
When Paul couldn’t find Titus, his brother in The Lord, can you imagine what that must have felt like? Here they had no means of communication so he had no way of knowing what had happened to Titus. Why isn’t he at Troas at the appointed time? And then at the very same time when he’s so distressed about what may have happened to Titus, The Lord comes on him with something totally different; contrary to what he thought he was going to do, and the two were almost a clash in the man’s thinking. Now let’s look at that in the Book of Acts Chapter 16 and here Paul has been ministering in western Turkey which was then Asia Minor So we find him at Troas. Now verse 6:
“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, (in other words back to the East) After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: (after that Paul had probably planned on taking a route back to Antioch in Syria) but the Spirit (that’s the Holy Spirit) suffered (or permitted) them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. (where he was expecting to meet Titus.) And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, (northern Greece) and prayed (or begged) him, saying `Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’ And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi,…” (which was up there in northern Greece.)
Now come back to II Corinthians Chapter 2, and get this whole scenario that is coming down on the apostle. On the one hand he is heartbroken and distressed because Titus for one reason or another, was unable to keep his appointment at Troas. But evidently it was at this same time that The Lord revealed, by way of a vision, that he was to go over into Macedonia or Greece and preach the Gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4) which we know he did. Now verse 13 again:
II Corinthians 2:13
“I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.”
So what does Paul do? In spite of the fact that he had lost track of Titus, he is obedient to The Lord’s call now to go across the Aegean Sea and begin his ministry in Macedonia. Now verse 14:
II Corinthians 2:14a
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph…”
Do you do the opposite? On the one hand he is depressed, down and distressed, and yet he’s always triumphant. These are tremendous lessons for each of us. Paul was just as human as we are, he had the same passions and appetites and feelings. He could get down, and he could rejoice. Now reading on:
II Corinthians 2:14,15
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, (they are the recipients of God’s Grace) and in them that perish: (a potential sweet savor to them that are perishing.)
So it isn’t to those who are already lost, but rather to those who still had opportunity to hear him preach the Gospel. Paul was the good news for them, just as well as he was to those who had already embraced the Gospel. Now verse 16:
II Corinthians 2:16
“To the one we are savour of death unto death; (in other words if they didn’t respond, then spiritual death was their end results) and to the other (the ones who did respond) the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
Now I hope I have enough time to do with verse 17 what I did with it the other evening. Every once in a while a word will just catch my mind, and I’ll think, “I’ve got to chase this one down in the Greek.” And here in verse 17 was one of those times.
II Corinthians 2:17a
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God:…’
What does Paul mean when he says corrupting the Word of God? So I went and found the Greek, and the Strong’s concordance and did some checking. Well the Greek word here is `kapeleuo.’ Now that Greek word is just Greek to us isn’t it? But you can look it up in the Septuagint or the Old Testament Hebrew translated into the Greek by 70 Jewish scholars back quite a few years before Christ (and the reason I put a lot of emphasis on the Septuagint is because that was the Greek that Jesus always referred to). Whenever Jesus would quote from the Old Testament, if He didn’t quote it from the Hebrew then He would quote it from the Septuagint Greek. That’s where a lot of our Greek scholars put the Greek language together for our benefit.
Now when you compared that Greek word `kapeleuo’ from the Septuagint it meant “One who was a huckster or one who would hock his wares, or from Isaiah Chapter 1:22 it meant someone who was selling or was hocking an adulterous product.” Now turn for a moment to the Book of Isaiah, and you will see when Bible study gets to be fun, or at least I think it is. How The Bible all so beautifully fits together. And the word “corrupt” in the English doesn’t really show you this. We just think of corruption as something that has begun to spoil, but maybe this will help you see it. Now here in Isaiah we find Isaiah coming down on the Nation of Israel because of all their sins and wickedness.
“How is the faithful city become as harlot! it was full of judgment: righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
What’s Isaiah talking about? The city of Jerusalem. At one time it had been a righteous city and the Jewish people were obedient to the Mosaic Law, and the system. But what had happened? They had become so wicked, and that’s why Isaiah was castigating the nation. So this city that at one time had been full of righteousness was now full of murderers. Now verse 22:
“Thy silver is become dross, (it was no longer pure silver, but rather impure. Now here is a word translated corrupt in II Corinthians 2:17) thy wine mixed with water:”
What were they doing? They were adulterating it, they were making it a cheap product. And this is the very same word that Paul uses. Paul says, “I didn’t come unto you with wine watered down with water. I didn’t come to you as a huckster hocking his wares which were not worth half of what he claimed.” All of that is wrapped up in that one word “corrupt.” Now coming back to II Corinthians Chapter 2. For Paul says:
II Corinthians 2:17
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: ( a lot of people do hock an adulterated product of the spiritual.) but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
Now I’m also thinking about another verse that corresponds. Let’s go back to the Book of Jude for a moment. I imagine that these were the kind of people that Paul had in mind when he said, “For we are not as many which bring you an adulterated product, but rather we are bringing you the real thing.” And remember Paul is defending his apostleship. He said, “I’m not like these false teachers. I’m bringing you the absolute truth.” Now look what The Bible says concerning false teachers. I think this is the best description that you can find anywhere in Scripture. In fact I think II Timothy Chapter 3 is almost word for word like Jude. Now verse 8. Here Jude has given the example of the fallen angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah and so forth.
“Likewise also these filthy dreamers (he’s talking about false teacher who are hocking an adulterated product. They) defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities,” Now verse 10: “But these speak evil of those things which they know not; (does that sound familiar? They will ridicule the truth of Scripture, but have they ever really studied it? No. So what are they ridiculing? Something that they know nothing about. They ridicule it because it’s the Word of God.) but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, (now that rings a bell doesn’t it? When much of society lives at the level of animals. That’s where these false teachers are coming from. They’re no higher in their thinking than the animal world so they are as brute beasts) in those things they corrupt themselves.”
They can live in the moral level of an animal and they think that they’re living it up. Now verse 11:
“Woe unto them!…” These (false teachers) are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, (false teachers can bring a cloud on the horizon of hope but all of a sudden the adherents suddenly realize that it’s nothing) carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.”
Now these are all descriptions of what Paul says he was not. He said, “I did not come corrupting the Word of God, I did not come like we see in verse 13.”
“(like a) Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
And that is what the world is falling for tonight. They’re falling for this line of false teaching that is nothing but an adulterated product. It’s so sad to be sure. Now coming back to II Corinthians. And let’s look at verse 17 again in defense of his apostleship.
II Corinthians 2:17
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
Paul didn’t come to these Corinthians with fickle language, or half truths, but everything that Paul spoke was prompted by the Holy Spirit, and he was here because of his love for Christ as we will see in Chapter 5. The love of Christ is what constrained Paul. So Paul was able to suffer all the privations that he will list a little later in this letter. He went through privation after privation, and there is no doubt he was being accused of not bringing the truth, because you see he wasn’t agreeing with the Judaisers in Jerusalem. He was not working hand in glove with Peter and the eleven. He was out here proclaiming something that they really knew nothing of. So, consequently, he was being bombarded with all of these false accusations that should have been reserved for false teachers. But isn’t it amazing how so often it’s the other way around. Instead of the false teacher being bombarded, it’s those with the truth who come under attack.