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2 Corinthians 4:1-6

You can read the text here.

Paul and his co-workers faced real difficulties during their missionary journeys. However, he knew that God was always sustaining them so they carried on. Since they have a ministry that reveals glory, they preach openly and honestly, with no deception and nothing to hide. They plainly appeal to everyone, speaking the truth before God. Now not everyone perceives the truth in their message, so it is veiled to some, but they are not going to participate in the life in the age to come anyways.[1] Seeing the gospel is equivalent to hearing with faith. This is what Satan prevents.[2] The enemy has blinded them so that cannot see God's glory in the person of Jesus, the Christ.[3] That is what they preach, Jesus, not themselves, they are his servants, and hence theirs as well.[4] This is Paul's experience, that God moves when received with faith. His glorious light shone into Paul and transformed him via knowledge of God through the sight of Jesus. What he…
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2 Corinthians 3:7-18

You can read the text here.

Paul continues to mount a sustained defense of his ministry in this section. His main tool is to argue from lesser to greater. The baseline assumption throughout the section is that the Mosaic covenant and law are glorious and there is no attempt to denigrate it.[1] So, if that covenant is glorious, then surely the coming of the Spirit, with its power to transform is even more glorious. Here glory is best understood as manifestation of the divine nature. So, the reasoning is clear, the Spirit with its ability to transform and bring life and righteousness is more glorious than the ministry that ultimate brought condemnation because it did not bring about the required transformation.[2] As a result the time of the Law is ending because the Spirit surpasses the Law.

Paul now shifts and probably tackles a specific charge laid against him. Paul was very frank in the way he presented the gospel, not veiling it from the Corinthians, like Moses did from the Israeli…

2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6

You can read the text here.

Paul continues with a more general defense of his ministry. This section is not defensive but he still is clearly playing some defense.

Despite all of that happened along the way, and all of the opposition Paul can thank God.[1] God is victorious and in his victory parade, Paul himself willingly gets paraded around in his suffering, because his suffering spreads the victory. Paul may appear defeated but in reality he is exuding the sweet odor of Christ's sacrifice in his example and preaching.[2] Only those who are being saved have the discernment to correctly identify the smell, however. And to those who are not, it is the stench of death. Paul is not in this role because of any inherent quality he has, God has qualified him for this role and God sends them in contrast to others who may have less pure motives.

Why is Paul bringing this up? Is it to commend his ministry to the Corinthians? No, he isn't and he doesn't need to prove his credential…

2 Corinthians 2:1-13

You can read the text here.

Paul continues to explain his deviation from his originally communicated travel plans. He did not want to visit and have to offer a rebuke for a lingering problem within the community, thereby causing them pain. He wanted his next visit to be a joyful meeting, rather than a painful one, as causing them pain would be painful for him. Likewise seeing him joyful would bring them joy which was the goal of his intended visit. He wrote the painful letter to challenge them for this reason, out of love, since their personal meetings were rare, the loving thing to do was to deal with the problem via letter so that their in person meeting could be as sweet as they both desired.[1] It was also written to test their character, to see if they would be obedient.[2]

While Paul did write to challenge them to deal with an issue related to a member within the congregation, it wasn't he who was affected by the problem, it was rather the Corinthian body itself. Paul was gl…

2 Corinthians 1:12-24

You can read the text here.

Paul now moves on to begin a defense against a complaint leveled by the Corinthians. They charged his with being unreliable or untrustworthy because he did not keep his plan to visit Corinth. Paul rebuts that. He acted with sincerity and on judgment day both will be proud of each other when their mutual sincerity is proven.

Paul did mean what he said. He wanted to visit and intended to. He is Christ's ambassador and "the reliability of Christ who puts the divine promises into effect is reflected in the reliability of his apostle."[1] God is faithful and that should be good enough for the Corinthians since Paul is his authorized ambassador.[2] God anointed him for this work, and gave them both the Spirit as a guarantee of God's grace, a continuation of the grace they had already seen through Paul. Thus, they should trust Paul's sincerity because God's has already been demonstrated.

The goal of his visit was to be uplifting to the Co…

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Sorry for the long gap here between posts. I had originally intended to swig to Ecclesiastes next, but I have decided to push that off and tackle 2 Corinthians instead. During this study I'll be relying on Thrall and Matera.

You can read the text here.
Paul writes to the Corinthians and to some surrounding churches related to the congregations in Corinth.[1] He opens with his usual greeting of grace and peace from the Father and Jesus giving a positive tone to the opening of the letter. 
He then offers a blessing to God for his abundant mercy and consolation. Paul has suffered much but God has supported him through it with the result that he can pass that support on to others when they suffer for the sake of Christ. As suffering has increased, so has the comfort Paul has received from Jesus. And whether Paul is suffering or he is receiving consolation (i.e., regardless of the circumstances), God is using Paul, through his experiences, for the benefit of the Corinthians, so that th…

Books of the Year 2018

2018 was the year of Karl Barth, so much of my reading was focused on his theology. However, I did have time in the first nine months to read some other interesting books as well. The last three months I did not read much due to various constraints (hence also no blog postings) but I believe I still have five excellent books to feature!
5. Christian Theologies of Salvation: A Comparative Approach ed. Justin Holcomb

Christian Theologies of Salvation is a wonderful overview of views of salvation held by many key theologians through the entire history of the church. The collection of essays is of remarkably consistent quality for a multi-author book. All in all a great, informative read! You can read my full review here.
4.  Karl Barth and the Incarnation: Christology and the Humility of God by Darren Sumner

Barth's Christology is a complex, difficult thing to study. Sumner's book was invaluable providing a very helpful survey/distillation of key points throughout Barth's caree…