In 1st Corinthians, Paul writes to the believers in Corinth in response to their questions about how to live faithfully in a corrupt environment. He uses this letter to correct and teach them. In 2nd Corinthians, Paul is writing in response to people denying his authority and questioning his motives.
Paul had previously visited Corinth and was to visit them a third time but, instead he wrote this letter to them. He defends his change of plans, explains his actions [1:1-2:13] and reviews his ministry [2:14-4].
Although in 1st Corinthians, he speaks practically, in this letter, he is a lot more personal. He gives his testimony because he knows that acceptance of his advice is vital to the church’s well-being.
Paul describes the New Covenant as the ministry that brings righteousness [3:9] so that the people he was writing to could be reminded that the Old Testament [Moses] is the old law:
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. [3:12-18]
Today’s Nourishment: This letter by Paul, I thought, would have been a hard one to write. He’s not there with the people to defend himself when his authority as an apostle is questioned and denied. You can tell how deeply he wants to prove that his authority does not come from the people around him or from some self-serving appointment but, that he is a servant of God and that the ministry he teaches is Christ centered. This letter shows his openness, sincerity and love for the people of Corinth.
Paul, while facing his own sufferings, trials and distress remains encouraging. Rather than giving up when persecution wore him down, Paul concentrated on the inner strength from the Holy Spirit:
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. [4:16-18]
I pray that these scripture passages encourage you. Do not lose heart! Don’t let today’s pain overshadow the eternal reward. Our human limitations and weaknesses allow the resurrection of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment.
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