May 10, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Corinthians 11-13.
Background: II Corinthians 10.
Apostles, true and false: Here, Paul has to once again defend himself to the Corinthians as an apostle and a minister of the gospel, as there were some in their number who did not like what Paul had to say and wanted to challenge his authority. Paul, however, has many things to call on to show to the Corinthians that he spoke with authority, though he thought that the very fact that he had to boast in such things was crazy. If anyone should have known who Paul was and with what authority he spoke, it should have been the Corinthians. He had started the church in Corinth with many great signs and wonders, the display of the Holy Spirit. But he does have to resort to boasting in his trials and tribulations, the things he has suffered for the cause of Christ and what he has done for the kingdom, for the Corinthians wouldn’t listen to him. Some had even set up false apostles that were teaching them the things they wanted to hear so that they would not have to listen to Paul. Paul basically puts them in their place by comparing their credentials to his, and showing that he superseded them. When he had come to them, he had preached free of charge so as not to be a burden to them and so that his boasting could be in the Lord. In the end, he says that if he must boast, he would boast in his weakness, which will lead into the next chapter.
1. Thorn in the flesh: In this very familiar passage, Paul talks about the thorn in the flesh that he was given to keep him grounded. In the previous chapter, he talked about boasting in his weakness, and here he does just that, not boasting in what he had been privileged to see and hear, but rather in the weakness that was given him, a messaging of satan to harass him. There have been many ideas about what the weakness was that Paul had to deal with here, and some think that it was either his eyesight or speaking abilities. It could, however, be a specific temptation that Paul had to deal with that he even possible failed at many times. The evidence for this thought is found in the statements of “thorn in the flesh,” as Paul is often referring to sin as “flesh,”messenger of Satan,” who would come with temptation and “My grace is sufficient you,” as God’s grace is usually referred to in the context of cleansing sin. Whatever the thorn was, it was given to him to keep him from becoming conceited, thinking he was better or more important than other people just because he was an Apostle. We can see that some of the trials that we go through in this life are necessary, and God will not take them away from us. His grace really should be sufficient for all of us at all times.
2. Paul’s concern: Paul again starts to defend his apostleship in the latter part of this chapter, claiming that he is not at all inferior to the “super-aspostles” that they had set up to guide them in the ways that they wanted to go. Paul is deeply concerned about the Corinthian church, for he has heard of some of the things that thad been going on there, and he was definitely ready to come to them again to straighten them out. But he did not want to come with a rod, so he wanted to handle the situation delicately. He feared that when he came to them, he would find out that they were indeed doing all the things that he had been told they were doing. Thus, he wanted to send them letters first so that they would have an opportunity to fix some things before he got there. The ball was now in their court.
Final warnings: Before the letter comes to a close, Paul gives the Corinthian church some final warnings and what they need to do before he gets there. He is coming for a third time, and this time he is not going to play good cop. He knows that some of them think that he is two faced, only harsh in letters, but always gentle in person. However, this time he would not do that. He was only doing it for their sake, so that they would not be discouraged with a harsh presence. However, now it was time to do things the hard way. However they were given a chance to change before he got there to do it himself. They were to aim for restoration, agree with one another and rejoice. This is what the church was supposed to look like, and Paul set out to bring the Corinthians back, even if that meant a difficult visit to them in person. We too should always aim to heed these warnings and ever seek the will of God.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 21-24.
Be strong and Courageous.