One of the books we have in the New Testament is Paul's Second Letter to the Corintians. In this letter he is forced to defend himself against a very critical congregaton. They question his motives, his methods, his authority, his authenticity and many things.
Paul has no choice but to tell them a lot about himself. In this letter you really get a glimps of what was in the mind of the Apostle Paul. I would like to examine various concepts that he had as evidence of the authenticity of his experience of the resurrected Christ.
Either that or he was mad. Let's dive into the book of Second Corinthians which can be considered as an autobiography of the man Paul. It is also am excellent standard to hold up to those who would be servants of the Christian gospel today in purity, zeal, wisdom, etc.
Second Corinthians is a tremendous window into the way the man Paul thought. We are so fortunate to have this book in the Bible. Studying this book is something like listening to US Presedent Lyndon Johnsen's recorded phone conversations or hearing the Nixon tapes. I mean in terms of the personal being made open and public.
There is a lot in this letter which is not doctrinal. It is personal. You get to see how Paul the apostle thought and reasoned.
I notice that many people like to adopt an attitude that Paul messed up the teaching of Jesus. In other words they claim that they can take the teaching of Jesus but Paul invented his own brand.
Well, let's see some of the complaints the church in Corinth had against Paul and how he dealt with them.
The first thing I would like to draw attention to is that Paul did not work independently alone. He did not try to be a superstar that needed no one else to help him. This letter he wrote with the assistance of his co-worker Timothy. Paul was not interested in "going it alone" as if he could move and act independently:
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy the brother, to the church of God in Corinthe, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia. (2 Cor .1:1)
Just like the first Corinthian letter is the letter from Paul and Sosthenes, so the second letter was from Paul and Timothy. Whoever heard of Sosthenes? You have to blame and give credit not only to Paul but to Paul and his partner for this letter of Second Corinthians.
I get fascinated by things like this. Paul the apostle and Timothy the brother are the authors of this letter. Timothy was his young protogege so to speak. Timohty was his junior partner. Paul needed Timothy to be with him to write this letter.
This reflects very much the practice of Jesus to send the discples out two by two to preach.
Paul was not independent, isolated, doing his own thing needing no help. He was coordinated and cooperative. He was a team player.
Good points. Paul was forced to talk about himself. He said that he sounded like a fool to have to boast of his experiences. In essence he was saying "You people are making it so I have to brag. This is embassessing to me. You are forcing me to brag"
"Again I say, Let no one think me to be foolish; but if otherwise, accept me even as if I were foolish, that I also may boast a little.
What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord but as if in foolishness, in this condifence of boasting.
Since many baost according to the flesh, I also will boast." (1 Cor. 11:16-18)
He goes on to speak of his credentials to be called an apostle. For some of Corinth were spreading rumors that Paul was a phony. Maybe they were saying "This Paul guy wasn't even one of the twelve disciples. He was persecuting the church when Peter and John and James were risking their lives for the Gospel. How can we trust this fellow. Maybe he wants our money to build up his own religion. We don't think he's a real apostle."
The backround of the letter definitely are disputes and rumors against Paul.
The first thing Paul seems to talk about is his sufferings on behalf of the Corinthian church. He doesn't imply that only he and his fellows suffer. He writes in essence "We are all suffering here together and being comforted together".
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassions and God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our affliction that we may be able to comfort those who are in every affliction through the comforting with hwich we ourselves are comforted by God." (1:3,4)
Paul is saying that he is able to comfort the church because he is also going through afflictions. This is not doctrinal comfort. This is comfort administered because he has been there. Actually he has been through a lot worst things as we will see. But he says he is only able to encourage the Corinthians in their afflictions because the same God of all comfort has upheld them also.
"For we do not want you to be ignorant, borhters, of our afflictions which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living." (v.8)
Again Paul speaks not of himself alone but of "we" - he and his team of fellow workers. He was a team player.
This is no small matter. Paul is saying that they had so many problems in Asia that they dispaired of living. Can you see an apostle in dispair? This should shake our preconceptions about a typical Christian minister. "We dispaired of living." Maybe some of them contemplated suicide or surrendering to death. I don't know. I do know that the man who wrote encouraging letters which have upheld Christians for over 2,000 years admits that he was in dispair of living things were so tough.
I don't think he exagerated. Then Paul gives a positive reason for the terrible affliction that they were forced to endure:
"Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." (v.9)
Paul believed and preached that God had raised Jesus from the dead. Now he says that the crushing afflictions that his team had to endure forced them not to have any confidence in what THEY could do. They were forced to have confidence in the God who raises people from the dead. Specifically, they had to trust in the God Who raised Jesus from the dead - the God of resurrection.
"We're finished. It's all over for us. We have no way out. We have no way to go on. We cannot continue. If we continue it won't be because of our power. It will only be because of the God Who raised Jesus His Son from the dead."
This is the essence of Paul's thought here. He really believed that only the God Who is able to conquer death could help them out.
The comfort and encouragement that Paul offers the afflicted Corinthians is to look to the God of resurrection. He points them to the God of resurrection and not to their own self ocnfidence. He does so because this is his own personal experience. There was no way out except up. Only the God of resurrection can get you through.
Paul really believed in the God Who raised Jesus from the dead to the point that it was his only hope in his afflictions. And it was also the only hope WORTH telling anyone else about.
It is a very personal book and so obviously not written by someone else or later that it should be accepted as what Paul himself, along with his associates as you mention, wrote. I've got to go on a business trip for a few days but would love to discuss this book and what can be gleaned from it concerning Paul, the apostle.
On the subject of Jesus, it's pretty clear that either Paul was mad, or he had indeed experienced the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. There is no alternative.
And in the last message I wrote that Paul said he and his associates "dispaired of life". The amazing thing about this is that this "life" Paul dispairs of is not the natural Psyche life of the soul. He said they were suffering so bad that they dispaired of the zoe, divine life of Christ.
Paul is going beyond risking his life and all for the gospel. The opposition and trials got so bad that he dispaired of the gift of eternal life. He dispaired of Christ as his new spiritual ZOE life.
It is hard to imagine how a Christian worker could get so pressed with troubles that there would be a dispair of Jesus Himself. This is brutally honest of Paul to admit.
Yet as we can see, he was not left in dispair. The God of resurrection, he claims, delivered them. When pressed beyond themselves the God who raises the dead lifted them up and out of such depressing afflictions.
Why was Paul doing this ? Was he a madman ? I think he knew that what they the apostles were working at was the real truth of the universe. They were gripped by such a sense of obligation that they had no other choice but to serve this Jesus Christ, God's Son.
Come what may in opposition, rejection, persecution, betrayal, they were constrained by the love of Christ to be apostles.
Which is worse, liking women too much or not liking them enough?
Interesting enough, in no other epistle in the New Testament that I can recall, does a writer refer not only to "sons" of God but "daughters" of God as well.
Therefore '"Come out from their midst and be separated, says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you";
And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:18)
What other writer in the New Testament emphasized that God had not only male sons but female "daughters" ? .
If I were a woman I would prefer the spiritual worker who taught about "sons and daughters of God" to the worker who thinks his leadership role gives him right to steal other men's wives and commit fornication with young girls, convincing them that this is some priviledge for them.
Your false dichotomy is bad enough. But you seem further befuddled to not see clearly that abusing woman physically is a further and more serious violation then just considering their social status to be much the same as the surrounding culture would.
It isn't a dichotomy at all. If I ask you whether malaria is worse than sickle-cell anemia, I'm not suggesting that those are the only two diseases in existence.
But you seem further befuddled to not see clearly that abusing woman physically is a further and more serious violation then just considering their social status to be much the same as the surrounding culture would.
You're moving the goalposts. Nothing was said about physical abuse of women.
I'm simply pointing out that Paul's attitude toward women wasn't necessarily "better" than that of Koresh or Jones.
Edited by ringo, : Spe;;ing/punctuation.
Edited by ringo, : More sprlling.
"It appears that many of you turn to Hebrew to escape the English...." -- Joseppi
Paul put himself on the same level with those over whom he had some amount of apostolic authority.
" But the One who firmly attaches us with you unto Christ and has anointed us is God" (2 Cor. 1:21)
This is not Paul claiming that he alone is firmly attached to Jesus Christ. This is rather Paul reminding that the closeness he enjoys with Christ they too have.
It is God who has firmly attached to the anointed One, Paul and his fellows apostles WITH the Corinthian church. In a real sense he and the churches under his ministry are on the same level of intimacy with Jesus Christ.
Where is your evidence that the Corinthians challenged Paul about mistreatment of Christian sisters ? Where is evidence of their complaint about this ?
Where do you see that the Corinthian church thought he was overbearing with the sisters ?
Paul wrote letters to the Corinthians. If we have any details at all about their side of it, we have only his word for it.
In his own words:
quote:1Co 14:34-35 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
"It appears that many of you turn to Hebrew to escape the English...." -- Joseppi