2 Corinthians 10-13
(Be Faithful and You Shall Be Commended)
December 5th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

- 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

Paul offers closing thoughts and issues statements of tough love in these final chapters of letters to the Corinthians.

First, in chapter 10, Paul defends himself against arguments that he has passive-aggressive tendencies. Passive in person and aggressive in his letters is the charge to which he responds. Paul asserts that he is the same in both instances. He also says he is not one to boast about his accomplishments with the Corinthians or other churches but prefers to allow the Lord to commend as he sees fit.

Chapter 11 is a relatively scathing section as Paul accuses the people of letting their minds go astray from devotion to Christ, conned by imposters masquerading as apostles.

    And now Iím afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.

    It seems that if someone shows up preaching quite another Jesus than we preachedódifferent spirit, different messageóyou put up with him quite nicely. But if you put up with these big-shot ďapostles,Ē why canít you put up with simple me? Iím as good as they are. Itís true that I donít have their voice, havenít mastered that smooth eloquence that impresses you so much. But when I do open my mouth, I at least know what Iím talking about. We havenít kept anything back. We let you in on everything.

    - 2 Corinthians 11:3-6 (MSG)

Paul explains his credentials, but more importantly describes his suffering, including the thorn in his side that he references in chapter 12. He also expresses his concern regarding what he will find when he returns.

Chapter 13 begins with a final warning of an impending visit when he will confront the sinners among them. Paul prays that they will be faithful so that he can use his authority to build them up not tear them down.

Reflection and Application

Sometimes we might feel as if no one else understands how it feels for us to be misunderstood. Next time we can turn to these verses and remind ourselves how even a Saint like Paul had to defend himself regarding misinterpretations of his actions!

Maybe Paul did come across a little tougher in his letter than in person. How many times have we observed that same pattern in email written by someone (our ourselves) in haste and then sent out to an unsuspecting audience. If Paul did make a mistake in his tone, then we can learn from his mistakes by carefully considering what we write and send to others. If we feel ourselves boiling then maybe we should just save the mail to Drafts and re-consider after a brisk walk or a good nightís sleep.

It certainly is better to address conflict in person, as Paul did on other occasions, but maybe his tone was warranted because of the degree of rebellion by the folks in Corinth and his inability to get there in person to address them. He is offering them an opportunity to save their souls before itís too late, so perhaps the tone was necessary. He was even willing to allow himself to be viewed as the cranky old Apostle if that helped to save their soul.

Paul was not afraid to expose his own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. In chapter 12 he described the purpose of the "thorn in his side", which was for God's power to become perfect in Paul's weakness. God reminded him that his grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9 - NRSV). The Biblical expert, Eugene M. Peterson provides a useful comment on this section, noting the following:

    We do not build a life of faith by building defense systems against calamity. Weaknesses are not liabilities that we are ashamed of, but the very conditions in which we experience the action of Christ in us.

    - Eugene H. Peterson (1)

Paul's true feelings are revealed at the end of this letter when he says he would rather use his authority to build up the people. This is the path that we should always seek first Ė seek to build up our colleagues and fellow church members to encourage them. They probably already have enough self-criticism. Save the critical tone for a real emergency and then it will have a big impact coming from one who normally encourages.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What first hand experiences have you had with con men or other swindlers (or what experiences have you read or heard about where other people were victims or potential victims)?
    2. What is a good criteria for determining when someone is preaching the real Gospel or not?
    3. What is a good rule of thumb for when to rebuke and when to be encouraging with fellow Christians?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we thank you for giving us the wisdom found in the Bible. Help us to know how to separate those who have our best interests from those who only seek to satisfy their self-interests.

    Prayer Concern
    Victims of Swindlers


    (1) Peterson, Eugene H, Praying with Paul, A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of Paul, Harper, San Francisco, 1995, Devotional for November 21st

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Overview of Galatians and study of Galatians 1-3 (The Foolish Galatians)

    Comments and Questions
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