The Bible, God’s Word, is an amazing library stocked with historical accounts, doctrinal instruction, practical instruction, defense of the faith, social ethics and so on. It is incredible in the truth and knowledge it contains and every day it is fresh and powerful – instructing, guiding, correcting, blessing, building those that study its volumes.
We are beginning a study, preaching through the Second letter of Paul to the Corinthians. This letter would be found in the library under the heading of Biographical work. It is a letter written by Paul to defend his life’s work. It is sad that on occasion one is forced into this position. We would hope that the evidence of our lives would not be tampered with by jealous or ignorant men, but sin is seeking to have its way in the lives of men and slanderous accusations of wrongdoing are to be expected. The Lord warned of this when He spoke to the disciples these words –
Matthew 10:24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
The Lord ever served and pleased His Father, going about doing good, and yet men fabricated false evidence in order to disparage His person, destroy His work, and deliver Him to be executed.
We will preach this letter with this in mind, a biographical treatise with the subheading of ‘The Defense of the Faithful’.
Introduction: 2 Corinthians 1:1,2
A. The writer – The identification of the writer, his authority, and his associate.
1. The Writer – Paul, the founding missionary preacher of the church at Corinth.
2. The authority – an Apostle of Jesus Christ, called into this ministry by God.
3. The associate – Timothy, the missionary preacher and associate of Paul.
(Well known to the Corinthians)
Acts 19:21-22 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
1 Corinthians 16:10-11 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.
B. The recipients.
1. The church at Corinth primarily.
2. The saints in Achaia.
The letter was to be circulated to include the church in Cencherae, to the east of Corinth, and churches and saints northward to Macedonia including Athens.
3. The slanderous lies, rumours and gossip were centered in Corinth but would spread quickly as people traveled and told the things that they had heard – (without verification)
C. The reality of his love for them.
1. The expression of goodwill. 2 Corinthians 1:2
Note that Paul expressed this same love for other churches –
Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:28, 2 Thessalonians 1:2
These churches seemed to hold the apostle in great regard, loving him and the ministry of the Word of God.
It is a time of rejoicing in one’s heart to tell someone you love them and pray for the Lord’s blessings on them when they return that love to you, but what about when they are questioning your motives and your ministry. At the very beginning of this letter, Paul manifest the love of the Lord in his care for them.
2. The experience of God’s blessings through the Lord Jesus Christ is drawn upon in Paul’s desire for the Corinthians.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
3. The expectation of Paul.
a. The saints to listen, believe, and accept the truth.
1). Grace and peace do not come through Paul, they come through the Lord!
2). Grace and peace are manifested in the life of Paul, but are not produced by him.
b. The saints to accept Paul simply for who he is –
1). A man saved by the wonderful grace of God.
2). A man called by God as an Apostle to preach the gospel.
1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
3). A man sent forth by God to establish churches.
1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
4). A man given by God to teach the church, growing to maturity –
Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
And in all of these things we will see in the letter, we will see that which has been repeated often – we will see Paul as a man, flesh and blood, emotional, strong, weak, filled with joy and also sometimes filled with anger. He is a man and the point is that the ministry is about the Lord working through a man that is willing to keep on through wonderful blessings and incredible hardships. He was a man and we will see that he desired that they would know him as a man that loved God and through Him, loved them. He cared for their souls and the ministry of the Lord and so he put himself in the position to write this letter. He could have just walked away – it would have been easier, but he did not. He wanted to see them right with God. He wanted to see the church in one accord in the doctrine of God reaching out to the unbelieving world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
What about you today?
Are you willing to love others to the point of sorrow and suffering. You may say that this should not be the way – one day it will not be this way – when we are with the Lord, but now we are living in a sin cursed world.
Are you willing to stand for right, stand for God?
Are you willing to care for the souls of men?
It is God’s will that we love others, stand for right, and care for the souls of men!
We must begin here and now! Are you saved? Baptized? Serving?