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24Guide 1Cor.01 1Cor.02 1Cor.03 1Cor.04 1Cor.05 1Cor.06 1Cor.07 1Cor.08 1Cor.09 1Cor.10 1Cor.11 1Cor.12 1Cor.13 1Cor.14 1Cor.15 1Cor.16 2Cor.01 2Cor.02 2Cor.03 2Cor.04 2Cor.05 2Cor.06 2Cor.07 2Cor.08 2Cor.09 2Cor.10 2Cor.11 2Cor.12 2Cor.13

Module 24: Vocational Church Life Part 2

Module Guide: 1 Corinthians - Christ and His Church, The Medium of Work; and 2 Corinthians - A Sequel

This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.

1 Corinthians Introduction

The history of the founding of the Corinthian church is found in Acts 18. In the days of the apostle Corinth had become the virtual capital of Greece. It was famous for its wealth, magnificence, and culture. "To live as they do at Corinth" was an expression of the time, which suggested conditions of luxury and licentiousness, for the city was a veritable hotbed of all kinds of impurity.

The church existing in the midst of this most appalling corruption was influenced by it in more ways than one, and this letter was immediately addressed to the correcting of the disorder arising from this influence. It has been called the epistle of New Testament Church order. While that is perfectly true, it describes rather that which is incidental than that which is fundamental. It is a treatise dealing with Church order, but always in view of the fact that the Church is an instrument for the accomplishment of a certain purpose; and pre-eminently, therefore, it is the epistle which deals with the fitness of the Church for fellowship with Jesus Christ in His work.

After a general Introduction (1:1-8) the epistle falls into two main parts. The first is Corrective, and deals with the Carnalities (1:9-11:34); the second is Constructive, and deals with the Spiritualities (12-15). It ends with an illustrative Conclusion (16).

In his introduction, after referring to himself as "an apostle ... through the will of God," and associating Sosthenes with what he was about to write, Paul prepared the way by addressing the Church, describing it as to its character, "sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints"; and as to its equipment, "enriched in Him."

Corrective. The Carnalities

In this division the first thing is the statement of a fundamental proposition, in which the apostle declared that the Church was called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ the Lord, and affirmed the faithfulness of God to such fellowship.

From that point he proceeded to deal with the manifestations of the dominance of the carnal nature in the Corinthian Church, which proved that they were not living as saints, and therefore were not fulfilling the responsibilities of fellowship.

The first subject dealt with is that of the divisions which had arisen among them. The key to the understanding of these divisions is found in the phrase, "the wisdom of words." Each teacher, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, had laid emphasis on some distinctive phase of truth. The Corinthians had grouped themselves into parties around these emphases. A corrective for such schism would be found in an understanding of "the Word of the Cross." Then followed a contrast at length of the wisdom of the age, as manifested in "the wisdom of words," with the wisdom of God, as revealed in "the Word of the Cross." Reminding them of his own method when he first came to them, he was careful to declare that the Word of the Cross was indeed one of surpassing wisdom, dealing with the deep things of God, and the natural man could not receive it.

He then proceeded to show the real meaning of these divisions. They arose out of the carnality of the Corinthian Christians. This carnality had expressed itself in their partiality for certain teachers, and therefore the apostle was careful to teach the subservience and sublimity of the work of the ministry. The subservience is manifest in the fact that all contribute to the final result upon which the heart of God is set. The sublimity is evidenced in the fact that all co-operate with God. Elaborating the figure of the Church as the building of God, he declared that all exercising the ministry of the Word were building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, and that the value of their work would ultimately be tested by Him. The point of the argument is that the supreme matter is the building, and the builders are subservient. Continuing, he rose on to a yet higher level as he declared the purpose of the building - "ye are a sanctuary of God." "The Spirit of God dwelleth in you." In the light of this almost overwhelming statement the apostle wrote the most searching and solemn warning against the destruction of the temple. Summarizing his argument that the wisdom of the age is foolishness with God, he proceeded to show that all things belong to such as receive the revelation; both the teachers, and all the facts and forces which touch personality and affect it. Returning to the subject of the Christian teachers, the apostle defined their responsibility as being "ministers of Christ," and their work as that of "stewards of the mysteries of God." Such a conviction produced independence of the judgment of men, and remitted everything to the final test of the Lord Himself. Then followed a passage laden with scorn for the folly of the Corinthian Christians, and characterized by keen satire. It would seem, however, as though this faithful steward of the mysteries of God feared lest the impetuous sweep of his anger should be misunderstood, and he hastened to close the section in words full of tenderness. The apostle now passed to other evidences of the carnality of the Church. The first was that of a lack of discipline. A case of immorality utterly bad, judged even by the low standards of morality current in Corinth among the Gentiles, had brought no sense of shame to the Church, and consequently no action had been taken in the matter. The Church was called to immediate and drastic dealing therewith, in order first to the ultimate salvation of the excommunicated man; and secondly, to the purification of the Church, which would suffer in its corporate capacity through the toleration within its borders of the leaven of evil. From the particular illustration he deduced the general principles upon which the Church must ever act in the presence of evil within her borders. The wicked man must be put away from the company of the saints.

The next dereliction dealt with was that of the submission of disputes to heathen tribunals by members of the Church. The teaching is clear and remarkable, and has an application for all time. Disputes among saints should be settled between saints, and wholly within the confines of the Church. This decision he based, first, upon the fitness of the saints for judging such things; and secondly, upon the unfitness of unbelievers for the same work.

The last dereliction may be described as desecration of the temple of God by impurity of personal life. The apostle laid down principles revealing the limitations of Christian liberty, and declaring that the believer joined to the Lord "is one Spirit"; and affirmed therefore that all the functions and powers of the life must be dominated by that Spirit. Such a statement revealed, as in a flash, the awful heinousness of all such sin.

The last section of the corrective division arose out of difficulties which had arisen in the Church concerning which they had sent inquiries to the apostle. Very much of this is necessarily local. His answers, however, contained principles of permanent application. Concerning marriage the principles enunciated were, that marriage is in itself honourable and right, that when the marriage union exists between converted and unconverted men and women the believer is not to take the initiative in bringing about a dissolution. If, on the other hand, the unbeliever is the acting person, no blame attaches to the Christian. The all-governing fact in the life of the Christian is that he is the Lord's bond-servant, and must so act as in loyalty to, and fellowship with, Him. The daughters of the King are to settle the question of marriage always and only within this sphere, consenting or refusing according as such action will help or hinder their highest realization of the fulfilment of His purposes.

The next dififtculty had to do with things sacrificed to idols, and from the discussion of the local circumstances we may deduce a principle of permanent application. Love demands the consideration of the weakness of others. In the course of the argument he contrasted knowledge and love: "Knowledge puffeth up," "love edifieth"; and showed that the Christian desire must be to edify, and therefore that love rather than knowledge is to be the true principle of action. The apostle illustrated the principle by his own action in another matter. He claimed the right to cease working for his own living, and to look to them for material support. He declared that, while he had that right, he did not exercise it. This illustration carries out the true value of the first principle laid down. His knowledge of right would have puffed him up. Love resulted in their building up. The same principles he then enforced by illustrations from the religious and athletic feasts. The one master principle obtaining in the mind of those who ran in the races he expressed in these words: "So run that ye may obtain." The goal of the Christian is not merely his own crowning, but the ultimate realization by all, of the purposes of the Lord; so that the question whether things sacrificed to idols must be eaten, must be decided in the light of the necessity for bringing all present matters into subservience to that final issue of the goal.

Continuing to deal with the same subject, he persistently set it in the light of such principles as cover the whole field of life, and illustrated the fact that privilege is not in itself assurance against ultimate failure by reference to the example of Israel. They were guilty of four sins; idolatry, fornication, tempting Jehovah, and murmuring. Because of these, notwithstanding their baptism to Moses, their eating of spiritual food, and drinking spiritual drink, they were over-thrown. The warning based upon the illustration is contained in the words, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." To this warning he added the gracious declaration, "God ... will ... make also a way of escape. ... Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." Then, in sudden and startling fashion, he gave the greatest argument for the Christian position by putting the Christian feasts into contrast with idol feasts. The position is summarized in the teaching that the test of Christian action is expediency, and the test of expediency is edification. This summary is followed by local instructions, and finally the whole teaching is condensed into the form of two governing principles, first, "Do all to the glory of God"; and second, "Give no occasion of stumbling." Dealing with the question of the position of women in the Corinthian assembly, he taught that woman bears the relation to man that man bears to Christ. Man bears the same relation to Christ as that which Christ bears to God. If we commence this argument from the highest fact, the relation of Christ to God, three great facts are borne in upon the mind. God is equal with Christ, God co-operates with Christ, God is the Head of Christ. Carrying this out, we see that Christ has made Himself equal with man for co-operation with man, while yet He is the Head of man. Again following the argument, man is equal with the woman in Christ, for co-operation with her in Christ, while he is yet her head in Christ. The application of the principle is that woman has a right to the exercise of ministry, but that in such exercise she must ever recognize the headship of man. Knowing that this might be misconstrued into an argument for the inferiority of woman, which would lead to their being despised in Corinth, he declared that in the Lord neither is without the other. Both are needed for the fulfilment of His purposes.

The last matter discussed at length in this section was that of the Lord's Supper. In their observance of this sacred ordinance, which was intended to be the symbol of communion, they had manifested differences and divisions. The condition of affairs existing is a startling revelation of the carnality of the Church. In order to the correction of these abuses he first told them the simple story of the institution of the sacred feast, and then declared its value to the world, and in solemn words warned them against the condemnation consequent upon unworthy eating and drinking. Thus closed the distinctively corrective section of the letter. There were other matters needing attention, but these the apostle dismissed in the words, "The rest will I set in order when I come."

Constructive. The Spiritualities

Turning from the corrective section of his letter, to the constructive, the apostle devoted himself to dealing with the spiritualities, which conditioned the order of the Church, and equipped her for her service, under three heads; the unifying Spirit, the unfailing Law, the ultimate Triumph.

In setting forth the great truth of the unification of the Church by the Spirit of God the apostle first showed how the union was created. The master principle is that of the Lordship of Jesus, and the power both for confession and obedience is that of the Holy Spirit. In the administration of the unification, the unifying force is God in the three Persons of His Trinity. Within the unity there is variety of gifts, ministries, workings. The whole truth may be summarized thus; the Spirit bestows the gifts or capacities; the Lord directs the service; God bestows the power. This threefold fact the apostle then dealt with in greater detail. The diversities of gifts by the Spirit is set forth in the enumeration of nine separate and distinct gifts, all of which are bestowed by and under the control of the one Spirit. The ministrations of the Lord are illustrated under the figure of the body, wherein diversity is recognized as the consent of all members to the government of the Head, that government creating the principle of power and unification. The subject of the workings of God is introduced by a fundamental statement, "God hath set," and then an illustrative list of eight manifestations of ability follow.

The teaching concerning the unifying Spirit ended with the injunction to desire earnestly the best gifts, and the promise that the apostle would show the most excellent way to obtain them. That he now proceeded to do by dealing with the unfailing law. That law briefly is love, and in the chapter which is so full of beauty we have his analysis of love. He set forth first its values, showing it to be the strength of service, the energy of equipment, the dynamic of devotion; and then named its virtues in a double seven ; finally declaring its absolute victory in the all-inclusive declaration "love never faileth," which declaration he demonstrated by comparison between the things that pass and the things that abide, of which latter he declared love to be the greatest.

Having thus dealt with the law, he proceeded to show how it operates, returning to the subject of gifts. The whole teaching here may thus be stated; the desire for the best gift is to be tested by the profitableness of the gift in the edification of another, and thus finally the inspiration of true desire is love.

Finally the apostle turned to the discussion of the ultimate triumph, setting in its light all the difficulties and disorders of the little while. Dealing first with Christ's resurrection, he claimed that it was established by three lines of proof: his preaching, and the results following in their own experience; that the resurrection was in harmony with the declarations of Scripture; that it was attested by a company of those who actually saw Him after resurrection. He then set forth the importance of the doctrine of resurrection in regard to the salvation and the resurrection of the saints, in regard to the programme of God, and in its bearing on present conduct. Turning to the discussion of intellectual difficulties, he practically summarized them in two questions: "How are the dead raised up?" and "With what body do they come?" Dealing with mistaken ideas concerning the doctrine of resurrection, he claimed that death was in itself a process of resurrection, and that there might be continuity of personality without identity of the material body, but insisting that the new body would come in some sense out of the old. All through he used the illustration of the single grain of seed. In answer to the second question, "With what body do they come?" he described, in a wonderful passage, the new body as being soul-governed. Finally he uttered anew his assurance of the fact of resurrection, and ended the whole argument with a magnificent challenge to death which breathes the spirit of triumph over it.

He then made his ultimate appeal, which must be read in close connection with the fundamental proposition. Having shown the perils of the carnalities, and corrected them by a declaration concerning the spiritualities, he laid upon the saints to whom he wrote the solemn charge that they should be "stedfast, unmovable, always abounding" in that fellowship into which they had been placed in the "work of the Lord."

Illustrative Conclusion

The conclusion is local and personal, yet nevertheless is an interesting commentary upon the theme of the whole letter. The idea of fellowship in service obtains from first to last, as to the collection for the troubled saints at Jerusalem, as to the apostle's own manifold activities, as to Timothy, and Apollos, and other loved ones who help in the work and labour; until at last the Lord in Whose work all are engaged is declared; and those who love Him not are pronounced Anathema. The final word is that of the grace of the Lord as a message of blessing to Corinth, and in that the apostle has fellowship also, in that he sends to them his love in Christ Jesus.


PART A: INTRODUCTION - 1 Corinthians 1:1-1:8

A.1. The Writers - 1Cor. 1:1

  1. Paul
  2. Sosthenes

A.2. The Church - 1Cor. 1:2-1:8

  1. Nature - 1:2-1:3
  2. Character - 1:4
  3. Equipment - 1:5-1:8

Part B: CORRECTIVE - THE CARNALITIES - 1 Corinthians 1:9-11:34

Fundamental Proposition - 1Cor. 1:9

B.1. Divisions - 1Cor. 1:10-4:21

  1. The Wisdom of Words, and the Word of the Cross - 1:10-2:16
  2. Causative Carnality Corrected - 3:1-4:21

B.2. Derelictions - 1Cor. 5:1-6:20

  1. Discipline - 5:1-5:13
  2. Disputes - 6:1-6:11
  3. Desecration - 6:12-6:20

B.3. Difficulties - 1Cor. 7:1-11:34

  1. Concerning Marriage - 7:1-7:40
  2. Concerning Things sacrificed to Idols - 8:1-11:1
  3. Concerning Women - 11:2-11:16
  4. Concerning the Lord's Supper - 11:17-11:34a
  5. Conclusion - 11:34b

Part C: CORRECTIVE - THE SPIRITUALITIES - 1 Corinthians 12:1-15:58

C.1. The Unifying Spirit - 1Cor. 12:1-12:31

  1. The Creation of Unification - 12:1-12:3
  2. The Administration of Unification - 12:4-12:7
  3. The Realization of Unification - 12:8-12:31

C.2. The Unfailing Law - 1Cor. 13:1-14:40

  1. The Law - 13:1-13:13
  2. The Law at Work - 14:1-14:40

C.3. The Ultimate Triumph - 1Cor. 15:1-15:57

  1. The Gospel of Christ's Resurrection - 15:1-15:11
  2. The Importance of Christ's Resurrection - 15:12-15:34
  3. Intellectual Difficulties - 15:35-15:50
  4. The Assurance and Challenge - 15:51-15:57

Final Injunction - 1Cor. 15:58

PART D: ILLUSTRATIVE CONCLUSION - 1 Corinthians 16:1-16:24

D.1. Concerning the Collection - 1Cor. 16:1-16:4

D.2. Paul the Worker - 1Cor. 16:5-16:9

D.3. Timothy the Worker - 1Cor. 16:10-16:11

D.4. Apollus the Worker - 1Cor. 16:12

D.5. Injunctions to Workers - 1Cor. 16:13-16:14

D.6. Inter-relation of Workers - 1Cor. 16:15-16:18

D.7. Salutations - 1Cor. 16:19-16:24

2 Corinthians Introduction

The second letter to the Corinthians was evidently the outcome of the first. Titus, and perhaps Timothy also, had communicated to the apostle certain facts concerning the reception of his first letter. There were in Corinth those who imputed wrong motives to him, denied the sufficiency of his apostolic credentials, and practically refused to believe in him. In this letter the apostle answered these people, vindicating his claim and his conduct. In doing this he remarkably revealed his heart, and declared how high and holy was his conception of the office of the ministry.

If the first epistle was that of the Church prepared for work by corrective and constructive statements, this may be said to be a picture of the apostle himself as a worker, in suffering, in love, and in the consciousness of the authority conferred upon him by God.

The letter does not easily lend itself to analysis, but may be divided by the principal subjects dealt with. Introduction (1:1-11), the Principles of the Ministry, an Answer to Criticism (1;12-7:16); the Collection for the Saints, an Exhortation (8-9); the Visit to Corinth, a Vindication of Authority (10:1-13:10); Conclusion (13:11-13:14).

After the salutation, the apostle, before dealing with the matters calling forth the letter, wrote of a great trouble through which he had passed, and expressed his joy in the comfort that had come to him, principally on account of the ability to comfort others arising therefrom. He had passed through some affliction in Asia, in all probability a sickness in which he had come nigh unto death. He recognized the aid afforded him by their prayers, speaking of his deliverance as a gift bestowed upon him by them. Thus appealing to their love and sympathy, he prepared them for much he was about to write in defence of himself against the misinterpretation of some in Corinth.

The Ministry

The attitude of those in Corinth who were hostile to him arose out of their misconception of the true vocation of the Christian minister; and in this first division of the letter he wrote first in personal vindication, then in instruction concerning the ministry, and finally in appeal to them.

He began by reminding them inferentially that he did not purpose according to the flesh, but rather under Divine guidance realized through the Lordship of Jesus, and interpreted by the Spirit.

He then explained the action which they had criticised, that namely of his not having come to Corinth, according to his declared purpose. He had remained away, out of love for them, that he might spare them, and to this assertion he called God to witness. His sorrow over their sin was such that to have come would have been to have done so in sorrow, and thus would have brought sorrow to them. He had therefore written, that the cause of the sorrow might be removed. Having thus referred to his first letter, the apostle returned to the subject of the incestuous person with which he had dealt therein. Evidently they had followed out his instruction, and dealt in discipline with the wrong-doer ; and the effect had been salutary in his case. He now urged them to the duty of manifesting their love, by restoring this one to their fellowship. He urged this action, "that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his devices."

Perhaps nowhere in the New Testament is the subject of the ministry set forth in its sublimity as in the section following. He first dealt with its power. Describing the work of the ministry as a long triumphant march, he cited the Corinthian church as an evidence of the fact. That triumph was due to the fact that the ministry was no longer of the letter, but of the Spirit. This told the secret of victories won, and revealed the nature of the power of the ministry. Passing more deeply into the statement of the reason of the power and triumph of the ministry, he declared the greater glory of the ministration of righteousness by the life-giving Spirit. It was the declaration of a message of transforming life which was demonstrated by the transformation wrought in those who declared the message. The culminating statement in the discussion of the subject of power declared that the God of original creation has shined in the heart giving the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The earlier part of the paragraph declares the results of which this statement reveals the cause. They are, as to the ministry, "we faint not," "we have renounced the hidden things of shame," "we preach ... Christ Jesus as Lord"; as to the hearers the negative result only is referred to, that namely of the veiling of the Gospel, the apostle affirming that it is only a veiled Gospel to those who perish. To summarize, the apostle first declared that the ministry is a triumphant march, and that the church at Corinth was the credential of the fact. The reason for this is that it is a ministry exercised in the power of the Spirit, and consequently transforming life. Finally it is a ministry through which God Who said, "Let there be light" at the beginning, says it again in the human heart, so that the darkness is dissipated, and the life is transformed.

This ministry, so full of triumph, is yet exercised through great tribulation. The treasure is in earth ern vessels, and these are subject to affliction. This is a revelation of a great principle in all successful work. It is through the breaking of the earthern vessel that light flashes out upon the pathway of others. Yet throughout this statement also, the other truth is recognized. The power is such that all the pressure upon the earthern vessel is not sufficient to destroy it.

Yet once more, tribulations are endured because of the hope which burns brightly in the midst of travail. The ultimate triumph will be that of resurrection; and by comparison with the weight of glory, the burdens and afflictions of the ministry are light. Moreover, tribulation is seen to be a process which issues in victory. Through the travail comes the birth, through the suffering comes the triumph, through the dying comes the living. Beyond the present tabernacle in which there is groaning, is the house of God.

These visions produce no carelessness, but consecration. At the portal of the ultimate stands the judgment-seat of Christ, where He will test our work, destroying that which is unworthy, and purifying even the best of its dross.

He next declared the twofold impulse of the ministry to be the fear of the Lord, and the love of Christ. The second is the exposition of the first. Much is gained by the change in the Revision from the word "terror" to the word "fear."

Finally the aim of the ministry is that men may be reconciled to God.

Upon the basis of this teaching concerning the ministry the apostle made his first appeal. Beseeching the Corinthians to be reconciled to God, he urged his argument by a description of the methods of his own ministry. This was an appeal not to outsiders, but to his children in the faith, and was for consistency, as though he would say to them, You are reconciled to God, be reconciled to God; you have received the grace of God, receive it not in vain.

He immediately followed with an appeal for consecration. In words full of tenderness, he pleaded with them, by declaring his love for them, and that they were not straitened in him, but in their own affections. He called them to separation, citing the great promises of God. These promises create the profoundest argument, not only because they appeal to the highest sentiment, but also, and especially, because in their fulfilment will be found power sufficient for the perfecting of holiness. The call is to separation, and to the putting away of filthiness both of flesh and spirit. Where this call is obeyed, the promises will be fulfilled, and at once the process of perfecting in holiness will go forward.

The section culminates in an appeal full of local colouring and suggestion. The apostle, evidently conscious that in the case of some, at least, he had been excluded from their affection, in a great cry gave expression to the hunger of his heart when he wrote, "Make room for us." He then referred to the period of his sorrow in Macedonia, of his joy when Titus told him that they had received and been obedient to his letter, and his final word was one of magnificent hopefulness, "I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you." Perhaps there is hardly a chapter in the writings of Paul in which the heart of the man is more perfectly revealed; and the charm of it is to be found in the natural humanness which is manifested, and yet which all the while is under the constraint of that love of Christ which makes the fear of the Lord the supreme motive in all life and service.

The Collection for the Saints

The apostle now turned to the subject of the collection for the saints at Jerusalem, concerning which he had written in his previous letter. First he reported the action of the churches in Macedonia. They had given according to, and even beyond, their power. Their method was that they gave themselves. If self is given, nothing is withheld.

Then with extreme delicacy the apostle urged the Corinthians to emulate so excellent an example, citing the example of Christ. Turning to the business side of things, he told them that Titus and another were sent to encourage them in the carrying out of their liberality, and was careful to show the necessity for avoiding any chance of misinterpretation in matters financial, as he wrote, "We take thought for things honourable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." He then declared the credentials of Titus and the other, and appealed to them to act in such a way as to prove their love, and vindicate his glorying on their behalf.

In concluding the subject of the collection for the saints the apostle declared that he was not urging them to give. That they would do, but he was desirous that their giving should be glad and spontaneous, and that they should be well in advance in the matter of bounty, and not, as he says, in the matter of extortion. In order to stimulate them, he declared that such giving was of the nature of seed-sowing, and that ever means harvest. In order that the harvest may be bountiful let the sowing be bountiful. He excluded two methods of giving, first, "grudgingly," that is, very literally, sorrowfully; "or of necessity," that is, the giving of such as simply give from a sense of duty, and have not found the higher impulse of delight. For the correction of these false methods he declared "God loveth a cheerful giver." He then proceeded to declare the advantages of giving, or, if we may apply his own figure here also, to describe the harvest resulting from such sowing as he urged. The first of these was the fact that they would fill up the measure of the wants of the saints. That in itself was good, but the outcome was even better. Through such ministry they would create the cause of glory to God. And yet again, they would reap the intercession of those they helped - a harvest of precious value. The final word concerning this whole subject was an expression of thanks to God for His unspeakable gift, for the apostle knew that the remembrance of that would do more than all his argument to stimulate the generosity of those who had received the inestimable blessing.

The Apostle's Coming to Corinth

In the third division of the letter Paul vindicated his authority in an argument that centred round his proposed visit to them, and the criticisms which had been passed on him. In this division he seems to have had in mind more especially the minority who had been opposed to him. He first pleaded with them that there might be no necessity for him to change the methods that characterized his actions when amongst them. Evidently some had criticised him as courageous in his absence, while they declared him to be lowly when present. He declared his readiness if need be to be courageous in their presence. In answer to the criticism of those who evidently had declared themselves to be Christ's as the reason for their opposition to him, he in turn declared that he also was Christ's, and announced his ability to use his authority if necessary, finally claiming that he had such authority directly from the Lord, and did not depend upon self-commendation.

Having thus referred to authority, he proceeded to claim the authority of apostleship. After apologizing for boasting and stating the reason why he was compelled to do so, he proceeded to boast of his apostleship, commencing with the remarkable statement that he was "not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles," as his exercise of the apostolic office proved in its manner, its method, and its motive. He then plunged into a comparison between himself and some whom the Corinthians had received, giving the credentials of his ministry in a passage which gathers up into its sweep facts concerning himself, which at once place him in the very front rank of the servants of Christ. Yet if he himself must needs glory, he determined that it should be in the things that concerned his weakness, and called God to witness as to the truth of what he wrote. His boasting now took on a new and startling characteristic. In the history of his apostleship there had been something supernatural, and not to be finally explained. Of this he would glory. He had received direct and remarkable revelations which it was not possible for him to speak of in detail. The purpose of these revelations had evidently been that of giving him courage and confidence in his work, for their peril lay in the direction of his becoming "exalted overmuch." With reference to the thorn in the flesh, which followed the revelations, he declared, "Now will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." As the section concerning his apostleship commenced with an apology for boasting it closes in the same way. Yet he declared, "Ye compelled me." As his actual glorying began with a statement of his apostolic authority by comparison with others, so now he ended in the same way. "In nothing was I behind the very chiefest apos-tles, though I am nothing."

As the letter drew to conclusion the apostle was careful to make perfectly clear what his attitude in writing had been. All his dealing with them had been conditioned within three facts; first, it had been in the sight of God; second, it had been in Christ; and third, it had been for their edifying. He cared little for their approval of his conduct, but much for their being approved before God. Out of such desire he delivered his message under the sense of responsibility to God, and with a consciousness of its authority, because he spoke in Christ.

Finally he announced the method of his third coming to them to be that of a severe investigation, and declared that when he came they would have a proof of Christ's speaking in him. He then urged them to personal examination. They were to test themselves, and to prove whether they were in the faith.


The last words are words of cheer. A series of brief exhortations indicate what their true attitude should be. Then follows the declaration that "the God of love and peace shall be with you," and all concludes with the benediction, and it is to be carefully noted that this letter, which is perhaps the severest that the apostle wrote, yet ends with the benediction in its fullest and most gracious terms.


PART A: INTRODUCTION - 2 Corinthians 1:1-1:11

A.1. Salutation - 2Cor. 1:1-1:2

  1. The authoritative Note - 1:1a
  2. The inclusive Note - 1:1b
  3. The Salutation - 1:2

A.2. Thanksgiving - 2Cor. 1:3-1:11

  1. The Values of an Experience of Suffering - 1:3-1:7
  2. The Experience from which the Values came - 1:8-1:11

Part B: THE MINISTRY - 2 Corinthians 1:12-7:16

B.1. Personal Vindication - 2Cor. 1:12-2:11

  1. A Defence of Principle - 1:12-1:22
  2. An Explanation of Action - 1:23-2:4
  3. Parenthesis - 2:5-2:11

B.2. Concerning the Ministry - 2Cor. 2:12-5:21

  1. Its Power - 2:12-4:6
  2. Its Tribulation - 4:7-4:12
  3. Its Hope - 4:13-5:10
  4. Its Impulse - 5:11-5:19
  5. Its Aim - 5:20-5:21

B.3. The Consequent Appeal - 2Cor. 6:1-7:16

  1. For Consistency - 6:1-6:10
  2. For Consecration - 6:11-7:1
  3. For Continued Fellowship - 7:2-7:16

Part C: THE COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS - 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15

C.1. The Example of the Macedonians - 2Cor. 8:1-8:5

C.2. The Deputation - 2Cor. 8:6-9:5

C.3. The results to Follow - 2Cor. 9:6-9:15

PART D: PAUL'S COMING TO CORINTH - 2 Corinthians 10:1-13:10

D.1. His Authority - 2Cor. 10:1-10:18

  1. His Appeal to them to be obedient - 10:1-10:6
  2. His Answer to the criticism of the Christ party - 10:7-10:11
  3. The Claim to Divine Authority - 10:12-10:18

D.2. His Apostleship - 2Cor. 11:1-12:18

  1. His Apology for Boasting - 11:1-11:4
  2. His Boasting - 11:5-12:10
  3. His Apology for Boasting - 12:11-12:18

D.3. His Programme - 2Cor. 12:19-13:10

  1. The real purpose of his Writing - 12:19-12:21
  2. His Procedure on Arrival - 13:1-13:10

PART E: CONCLUSION - 2 Corinthians 13:11-13:14

E.1. Words of Cheer - 2Cor. 13:11-13:14

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