Sunday, August 9, 2015

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians Part 1 – INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND LETTER

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

This is the second recorded letter from Paul to the church in Corinth, written in 57 A.D., the same year as I Corinthians.

While the message of the first letter Paul sent to the church in Corinth focused on calling the church to repent from their adulterous behavior, suing one another in public secular courts, behaving in an unscriptural manner, believing themselves to be more spiritual than others because of certain practices they invented, and believing and teaching false doctrines brought into the church by either Coptic Gnosticism, or converted Jews who do not believe Jesus died on the cross, this second letter's message was that of comfort and ministry.

At this time, Paul learned his first letter accomplished what it was meant to, and the church as well as specific individuals addressed had thoroughly repented.

However, there were new perils in the church. Judaising teachers, armed with letters of introduction from the church in Jerusalem. They were trying to get believers to convert to Judaism.

They preached a gospel other than Christ, denounced the Apostleship of Paul, and caused much hostility towards him. This brought about the writing of this second epistle.

In this Epistle, Paul praises the Corinthian church for obeying his previous letter; he urges them to allow the restoration of the repentant transgressor, to warn a few who had not repented, to warn them against false teachers, to vindicate his apostleship, and to urge them to pay what they promised for the poor in Jerusalem.

This letter from Paul is unlike others, in the sense that it does not continuously flow. There are times where you can feel Paul become upset about certain issues, then return to his natural flow.

This letter is basically broke into three parts. Chapters 1-7 he explains his delay in visiting, giving an account of his sufferings, Chapters 8-9 he exhorts the church, encouraging them to keep their promises, and Chapters 10-13 Paul's tine changes there is sternness and irony as he vindicates his Apostleship, and proves his right to their love and respect.

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

a.      Father of compassion, God of all comfort
                                                                         i.      This does not deny the fact that tribulations will come!

                                                                      ii.      However, it does guarantee comfort in the midst of tribulation

b.     He comforts us in all our troubles
                                                                         i.      So that we can comfort those in trouble

                                                                      ii.      with the same comfort we received ourselves from God

                                                                   iii.      Your life, your troubles, your experiences, can help and comfort others.

                                                                     iv.      You can give comfort to those suffering in ways you too have suffered, and been comforted by God
c.      We share abundantly in both
                                                                         i.      The sufferings of Christ

                                                                      ii.      The comfort that abounds

a.      If we are distressed  
                                                                         i.      It is for your comfort and salvation

b.     If we are comforted
                                                                         i.      It is for your comfort

c.      Our hope is for you
                                                                         i.      Just as you share in our sufferings, you share in our comfort

a.      The troubles we experienced in Provinces of Asia were great
                                                                         i.      Beyond our ability to endure
1.      Those who say God will not give you more than you can handle, this is not true. This comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Paul is talking about TEMPTATION, not sufferings.

2.      God does give us more than we can handle, as He does here with Paul.

                                                                      ii.      It was so bad Paul says they despaired of life itself!

                                                                   iii.      If Satan hates anything, he hates the cross, so he attacks those who preach Christ and Him Crucified.

b.     We felt we received the death sentence
                                                                         i.      Paul thought he was going to die

                                                                      ii.      But this happened so we would not rely on ourselves
                                                                   iii.      but on God, who raises the dead

                                                                     iv.      This trial for Paul was meant to teach not only submission, but absolute trust in God.
1.      Jeremiah 17:5 "This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
   and whose heart turns away from the Lord."

To be "blessed" instead of "cursed", trust in God, draw strength from the Holy Spirit, turn your heart towards the Lord!

c.      He delivered us
                                                                         i.      from the deadly peril
1.      The believer cannot die until the Lord deems his work finished.

                                                                      ii.      And will deliver us again!

Paul says in verses 10 & 11
10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Paul proclaims his deep conviction of the effectiveness of intercessory prayer.

Romans 15:30-31
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there

Philippians 1:19
For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

Philemon 22
And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

If God is all knowing, and can do anything, why must we pray for others?

Because we are in the dispensation of "Grace", or the "Church Age", and God has chosen to not only allow sin to cause a separation from Him, but to overlook and hold back judgment.

In a sense, God causes a "blind spot" to sinful situations, and it is up to us as believer's to bring those situations into the sight of God, to bring these things before His throne, and to lay them at His feet.

Isaiah 59:2 "Your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear."

When we pray, we "bring into light" things which need God's attention. Things hidden from God's face because of sin.

Ephesians 5:11-14
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead evenexpose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

In a world filled with chaos, we pray because prayer is the antidote to anxiety. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We pray because prayer alleviates our weariness. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). 

Prayer deepens our relationship with God. Prayer brings us closer to Him. He created us with a need for connection, and prayer is connection. Praying is talking to the Lord, just like friends talk to each other and are brought closer together through their sharing. When we pray, we share our innermost being with Him. Through prayer, we are transformed and renewed. Prayer reminds us that we are dependent on God and not on ourselves. Prayer draws us closer to God. 

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