Sunday, December 6, 2015

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians Part 17 – Paul’s Sufferings

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians
Part 17 – Paul’s Sufferings
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org


INTRODUCTION
Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth began with letting the church know that Paul was happy to hear that the church had received and responded correctly to his first letter.

Remembering James 5:19, 20 " My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."  

Paul explained why he didn't visit them and that he was pleased they had responded well to his first letter, even though not all had repented.

Last week we looked at Paul encouraging the church to allow the offender of incest return to the congregation, because he had truly repented and turned away from his sin, therefore he had been forgiven. Paul said that his punishment by the church forcing him to leave the congregation was enough, and that since he had repented and was forgiven, they must allow him back.

Paul reminded them that it was not that long ago, they too were not living as God wanted them, and they repented, and were forgiven by Paul.

Paul reminds the church in Corinth, and us as well, that forgiveness to those who have repented is essential, not only because we are commanded to do so by Christ, but because when we forgive, we keep Satan from having a way to outwit us.

Satan will use our unforgiveness as a weapon against us in his schemes.

As long as we have unforgiveness against someone who has repented, we are being disobedient to the Lord, which in turn allows a foothold for Satan to work against us.

Satan is always looking for an area of our lives where we are being disobedient, which allows him room to work his schemes against us.

Last week Paul spoke about the False Apostle, this week about his sufferings.


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE II Corinthians 11:16-33
16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.


Paul as well as his ministry of the Gospel was under attack.

Paul proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was not only a true Apostle, but his accusers were actually false Apostles.

Paul now does something he said in verse 17 which is “not speaking as the Lord would.”, or rather, having to boast about his sufferings as evidence of God’s providence on Paul’s life.

Boasting is not something Paul wants to do here, but feels is necessary to end this foolish talk about him not being an Apostle, not being in God’s favor, or not doing the lord’s work.




    I.      PAUL’S DEFENSE
a. Let no man think I am a fool, but as a fool receive me that I may boast a little
                                                     i. Paul was embarrassed he had to boast about himself

                                                  ii. He felt the proof he gave was enough to defend his apostleship and ministry, however, he wanted to put an end to any doubt

                                               iii. Paul states this isn’t what the Lord would want (boasting), but it was permitted in this case to deal the Corinthians and Paul’s accusers


b. Vs 18 Since many were boasting the way the world does, I will too
                                                     i. Paul does this because this was the way they were judging him as a false apostle

                                                  ii. So Paul took their attacks, and proved they were wrong by their own standards

                                               iii. Although this may appear petty, or as if he were attacking his accusers, he was actually answering their claims against him, and then completing their inquiry by submitting his sufferings as proof

1. The proof was his ministry was continuously attacked by Satan, yet, Paul always survived because he was called by God and Paul’s ministry would not be stopped.


c. Paul says in vs 19
                                                     i. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise
1. The Corinthians had allowed false teachings to enter the church  because they felt they were more spiritual and wise than Paul

2. We see traces of Gnosticism, as well as false teachings considering Old Testament Laws, etc.

                                                  ii. You put up with anyone who enslaves you
1. They allowed the leaders of the church to add unbiblical laws and rules on them, which Paul reveals in I Corinthians was one of the causes to all of the sexually immoral behavior which was taking place.

2. This was brought about by the false apostles, not only in Corinth, but anywhere else they were allowed to intrude.

                                               iii. and you put up with those who exploit you or take advantage of you
1. The Gnostics were trying to take over the Corinthian church because of their wealth of material on monetary goods.

2.  We see this in I Corinthians as well when Paul addresses some of the Gnostic teachings in the Corinthian church in his first letter addressing the false teachings about Jesus not actually going to the cross and dying.
                                                iv. if a man exalts himself
1. The false apostles exalted themselves, not Christ

                                                   v. if a man slaps you in the face
1. The false apostles were treating the people with little respect, as if they slapped them in the face.



II.        To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
a. LIT - “in reference to dishonor I speak, how that we were weak, and in whatever anyone was bold - in foolishness I say it - I am also bold.”

                                                     i.  In other words, The accusers say I am weak and they are bold, I say I am bold!

                                                  ii. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church shows boldness
1. However his accusers stated Paul would be weak and not bold at all in person.

2. They claimed his words were empty and his character was weak in person.

                                               iii. Remember, Paul warned, “I will be as bold in person as I was in letter, I hope I do not have to be, but I will be when I arrive.”


b. They say they are these things, so am I
                                                     i. Are they Hebrews? Are they Israelites? Are they Abraham’s descendants? Are they servants of Christ?
                                                  ii. Am I crazy to even ask such a question?


c. We are both these things, but I am more!
                                                     i. I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

                                                  ii. His accusers, the false apostles, could not lay claim to any of these things.

                                               iii. They were simply there to push Paul and the true Gospel of Christ out of the Corinthian church, and take it over with their false teachings, so that they could control the people, their materials and money.

                                                iv. This is the goal of every religion...
1. The reason the Lord is against religion and religious leaders.

2. The teachers of the Law had become a religion as opposed to what God asked of them, to be the conduit between Him and His people until the Savior arrived.



III.      PAUL IS LABOR COVERED IN DANGER WITH THE CONCERN FOR THE CHURCH ON TOP
a. As if all that was against Paul was not enough
                                                     i. He brings to light the fact that he can hardly sleep at night because of the state of the churches founded in the Lord

                                                  ii. He faced daily concern for them.

                                               iii. All of the churches which had been planted needed constant supervision, which was painfully obvious.

1. Many of Paul’s epistles were directed at correcting the various planted churches back into God’s grace.


b. So, Paul asks in vs. 29, Who is weak?
                                                     i. Paul saying here he carries the burden of each and every church member.

                                                  ii. and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

                                               iii. Paul makes it clear, he is NOT perfect, he does feel weak, afraid, tired, worn out, and even burns inwardly from sin sometimes...

                                                iv. However, he states in vs 30, I will boast of the things which show my weakness.


c. Paul’s weakness showed he was a regular person
                                                     i. but the fact he was saved repeatedly proves that God is at work in his life and ministry.


Paul states in vs 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 

If his accusers call him a liar, they are in fact calling God a liar.

He closes the verses today reminding everyone of his conversion in Damascus, recorded in Acts 9


CONCLUSION -
Paul was exposed to death many times, and every time the Lord protected him.

The Lord is my mighty tower, and He is mighty to save.

Paul was called to be one of the Apostle founders of the New Testament, this New Contract between God and man, purchased in the blood of Christ, so that we, the weak, struggling regular person, could, through Jesus Christ, have a relationship with God the Father, and receive everlasting salvation, for as long as we belong to Him.

Paul has silenced his accusers, proven his Apostleship, proven his ministry, proven his strengths and weaknesses, and stands at the end as the one who brought the Corinthian church and people back into a right relationship with God the Father, by revealing their sins, and showing them the road back.

Remember all Paul has been through in today’s verses, because he will refer to them in next week’s sermon.


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