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Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for 2 Corinthians

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When the church in Corinth received Paul's first epistle, those who were against Paul became more vocal, even expressing doubts about Paul's authority and apostleship. This second epistle is mainly Paul's defense and testimony of his ministry.

2 CORINTHIANS 1: THE COMFORT OF GOD

v. 1 God, not man, calls and ordains people for the ministry. Paul's authority was from God.

v. 2 God is the source of grace and peace, and Christ is the avenue by which grace and peace flow to us.

v. 3 "Blessed" means "praise be unto". "Mercies" also means "blessings". "Comfort" is the Greek word used for the Holy Spirit which means "One who comes along to help".

v. 4 When we experience God's help and comfort during a trial. we're better prepared to minister to others (1 Corinthians 11:23).

v. 5 Paul had endured many sufferings and had even been given up for dead. Those who say that all Christians should be healthy don't under stand God's dealings with man. Though God didn't remove Paul's thorn in the flesh, He did give him the strength to bear it (Chapter 12:7-9).

v. 6-7 Paul could see the purpose for his sufferings.

v. 8 Paul may have been speaking here of a serious illness, being fed to the lions, or some other torture he had to endure (1 Corinthians 15:32).

v. 9 When Paul thought he was dying, he found a deeper trust in God.

v. 10 It takes more faith to make a total commitment to God and to rest in whatever He chooses to do with us, than it does to demand that He heal us and to put conditions on our service to Him.

v. 16-24 Paul had planned to visit Corinth on the way to Macedonia. He decided not to go when he heard of the turmoil his first letter of correction had caused.

v. 22 "Earnest" means a "deposit", which shows good faith.

2 CORINTHIANS 2: HOW TO RESIST SATAN

v. 1-2 Paul didn't want to visit the church to discipline the Corinthians. for the believers there had been a joy to him.

v. 4 It was agonizing to Paul to write his epistle to the Corinthians, for he had to settle many problems in the church in that letter.

v. 6-8 The man from the first epistle who had been involved in the incestuous affair had repented, so Paul told the Christians to forgive, comfort, and confirm their love for the man.

v. 11 To keep Satan from taking advantage of a situation to destroy us. we need to:

(1) recognize the attacks of Satan,

(2) resist his attacks by refusing them through the victory Christ won for us on the cross,

(3) rejoice in the victory over Satan.

v. 14 When the Romans won a great battle. the celebration would include a victory parade and the burning of incense. The fragrance "savour" of the incense would fill the city.

v. 17 "Corrupt" means "make merchandise". Some men used the work of God as an opportunity to prey on people. They seek to make financial gain from the believers. Paul was aware that God was always observing him.

2 CORINTHIANS 3: THE NEW COVENANT

v. 5 The greatest lesson of strength we can learn is that God is our sufficiency (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13).

v. 6 The letter of the law condemns us all to death, but the new covenant of grace by the Spirit of God gives us life. Many people misinterpret this verse and say that Bible studies deaden us and emotional experiences bring life to the Church. The "letter" of the law condemns me to death.

v. 7-13 Moses covered his face so the people wouldn't see the glory of God fading from his face.

v. 14 The glory of the law has also faded; because, when Jesus Christ established the new covenant, the old covenant was no longer necessary. We don't need the law to establish our righteousness, for our faith in Christ does so according to God's grace and faithfulness.

v. 15-16 The Jews regard the law as if the veil were still there; they don't

see that the glory has faded away. One day they'll be able to see the law without the veil

v. 18 Our faces are unveiled so that we can clearly see the glory of Christ. With our eyes on Him. we're changed into His image by the Holy Spirit.

2 CORINTHIANS 4: THE HOPE OF GLORY

v. 3-4 The Gospel is unseen by those who are lost, because Satan has blinded their eyes These people are often too prejudiced to reasonably discuss spiritual things. We need to pray that God will destroy the blinding power and influence Satan has over them and that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to the truth (Chapter 10:4)

v. 7 The greatest treasure on earth is the good news of God's love for us, the Gospel; and God has graciously chosen to put this treasure into us, the earthen vessels.

v. 9 We're never forsaken by God.

v. 14 We know that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will also raise us.

v. 17 Though this life is often painful. our problems will seem mild and only temporary when we see it from the other side

v. 18 We can comfort ourselves by keeping our eyes on spiritual rather than material things, for the spiritual things are eternal

2 CORINTHIANS 5: OUR EARTHLY TENTS

v. 1 Tabernacle "means tent" Paul often refers to our bodies as tents temporarily housing our spirits

v. 5 Earnest "again means deposit." The Holy Spirit is the down pay ment God has given to show us that He is earnest about completing the work He has begun in us.

v. 6-8 Death is actually moving from the tent to our new house. Paul's desire was to leave his body and join the Lord in heaven

v. 10 When we Christians stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the motivations behind our works will be evaluated The works prompted by base desires will be burned. and only the ones done in the right spirit will remain. We will be rewarded according to these. Our judgment will have nothing to do with our salvation, for that was determined when we accepted Christ. There will be a different judgment for sinners before God's great white throne (Revelation 20:11-15).

v. 11 "Terror" means "fear" or "reverence".

v. 13 Some people were saying that Paul was crazy; being "beside oneself" indicated a split personality.

v. 15 Colossians 3:4; Philippians 1:21.

v. 16 We want to know Christ by the Spirit, not merely know of Him through what others say.

v. 17 Many of our difficulties as Christians arise from the struggle between our new spiritual nature and the fleshly body in which it is trapped.

v. 18-19 God wants us to participate in the reconciliation of the world to Him the plan He was working out during the life of Christ.

v. 20 We're representatives of Christ with the authority to speak for Him. As ambassadors, we're not at home in this corrupt world, but our hearts are at home in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16).

v. 21 God imputed our sins to Jesus and imputes His righteousness to us. What a deal!

2 CORINTHIANS 6: THE MINISTRY

v. 3 If a minister does something that offends people, they blame the ministry.

v. 4-5 "Approving" means proving. "Necessities" means "going without." These are some of the physical strains of the ministry.

v. 6 Pureness. knowledge, long-suffering and kindness are the emotional pressures the minister deals with.

v. 7-10 The Holy Ghost, love unfeigned, and verses 7-10 are the spiritual aspects of the ministry.

v. 14-18 This is a warning to those Christians considering marriage to an unbeliever. What fellowship has straightness with crookedness? "Belial" is Satan.

2 CORINTHIANS 7: GODLY SORROW

v. 2-4 Paul felt free to open his heart to the Corinthians.

v. 5-7 Paul had second thoughts about the first letter he sent to the Corinthians, because he had dealt harshly with them. He wanted them to realize that he only wrote so strictly because he loved them as a father (v. 12).

v. 10 Sorrow with repentance brings changes. Sorrow alone accomplishes nothing Peter was sorry he denied Christ, and he repented. Judas was sorry he betrayed Christ but. instead of repenting. he killed himself.

v. 13-16 Paul was delighted with the attitude and the changed behavior of the Corinthian Christians when they read his letter.

2 CORINTHIANS 8: THE EXAMPLE OF THE MACEDONIANS

v. 1 The northern part of Greece was called Macedonia; the southern part was called Achaia. Corinth was in Achaia.

v. 2 The Macedonians were poor, but they gave freely to the saints in Jerusalem.

v. 3 "Power" means "credit"

v. 4 Paul didn't want to take the gift from the Macedonians at first, because he knew how poor they were themselves. However, he revealed that they wanted to be part of the fellowship of the body by ministering to the church in Jerusalem.

v. 5 After we give ourselves to God, He guides us in giving to others.

v. 8 Paul wasn't commanding the Corinthians to give but asking them to show their love.

v. 9 Paul uses Jesus as another example of sacrificial giving.

v. 10-11 The Corinthians had decided to send a gift to Jerusalem the year before. Paul was telling them that the time had come to act on that decision.

v. 14 Paul sought a balance between those who had an abundance and those who were in need in the Church. He knew the Corinthians themselves might someday need help from the other churches.

v. 18 The "brother" mentioned here is probably Luke.

v. 20-21 Paul wanted to keep the handling of the money they collected above suspicion.

2 CORINTHIANS 9: THE SPIRITUAL LAW OF GIVING

v. 6 This is an important spiritual law. Spiritual laws are as reliable as the laws of nature.

v. 7 Giving should be between God and the individual. We shouldn't give under pressure ("necessity") or grudgingly. but as we have decided in our hearts. "Cheerful" here is also translated as "hilarious".

2 CORINTHIANS 10: PAUL DEFENDS HIMSELF

Some scholars believe that Chapters 10 through 13 are actually a second epistle and Chapters 1 through 9 are a third epistle Certainly. there seems to be much in these next chapters to make the Corinthians sad (chapter 2:2); and they don't seem to follow the tone or content of the preceding chapters.

v. 1 Apparently, some of the Corinthians who disliked Paul had ridiculed his appearance. "Presence" also means "outward appearance"

v. 2 It seems that one man in the church in Corinth criticized Paul and had gathered a small group around himself. He seemed to use everything against Paul-from his appearance to the collection for the church in Jerusalem. One of the accusations against Paul was that he was guided by his flesh and not by the Spirit (Chapter 1:17).

v. 3-4 Paul's methods of defense were not carnal but spiritual.

v. 5 We need to ask the Holy Spirit for help in controlling our imagination and thoughts.

v. 8 Paul didn't want to tear the people down with his authority but to

build them up.

v. 15 Paul had taken the Gospel to the Corinthians, but another man was building on the foundation Paul had laid. There are always those who come into an established work and try to draw people after themselves. This man in Corinth was trying to build himself up by tearing Paul down.

v. 17-18 Some people take unto themselves the glory due to God for His works through them.

2 CORINTHIANS 11: PAUL'S TRIALS

v. 2 In the Jewish culture, espousal was the period between engage ment and marriage. It was the complete commitment of the couple to one another. However, the marriage wasn't consummated until the wed ding ceremony had taken place. A friend of the groom was assigned to watch over the bride during the espousal period to assure her virginity until the wedding day. Paul here pictures himself as the friend of the groom, Jesus Christ, and Paul desires to present the Church to Christ as a chaste bride.

v. 3 Satan used half-truths to beguile Eve when he tempted her to eat the forbidden fruit.

v. 4 Other teachers had come into the Corinthian church and had introduced a gospel of works rather than the gospel as Paul had preached it.

v. 6 The Greeks highly prized graceful and eloquent speech. Some of the Corinthians had said that Paul wasn't a polished orator, but he said that he spoke with the authority of knowledge.

v. 7-9 Paul accepted a love offering from the Philippian church while he was living and ministering in Corinth.

v. 13-15 God will judge the false teachers who lead the sheep astray.

v. 16-18 Paul was reluctant to have to defend himself against the criticisms of those in Corinth who were against him, but he felt compelled to protect the flock by establishing his authority.

v. 24 The 39-stripe beating was enough to kill a man. Paul endured five such beatings for preaching the Gospel.

v. 25-28 Paul went through pain, torture, hunger, weariness, shipwreck, and dangerous journeys to carry the Gospel wherever Christ led him. Besides this, Paul was concerned about all the churches.

2 CORINTHIANS 12: PAUL'S WEAKNESSES

v. 1 Expedient" means "necessary."

v. 2 Fourteen years earlier, Paul was stoned in Lystra. His friends thought he was dead. Paul himself didn't know if he was dead or alive. Perhaps this was the occasion of Paul's experience. The "third heaven" refers to the dwelling place of God. The first heaven is the atmosphere around the earth. The second heaven is the celestial heaven of the sun and moon.

v. 4 Paul's experience was beyond his capacity to describe it.

v. 5 Paul chose to glory in his weaknesses rather than in his experiences, ministry, or spiritual power.

v. 7-8 "Thorn" is also translated "twisting stake" which indicates excruciating pain. This was the physical suffering he endured from the "thorn". The messengers (angels) of Satan brought mental anguish. When God didn't heal him or answer right away. Paul felt spiritual pain.

v. 9 God's answer to Paul was that He would be strong in Paul's weakness.

v. 10 When we know we're weak, we allow God to work through and in us as He desires.

v. 12 The signs of an apostle were:

(1) he must have seen the risen Christ, and

(2) he had to have the gift of the working of miracles.

v. 14 Paul enjoyed his financial independence from the Corinthians. He wanted to give to them. not take from them.

v. 15 Paul would gladly have given of himself for the Corinthians.

v. 16 Paul here quotes his enemies. They said that he had been crafty about money and, instead of allowing the Corinthians to support him, was going to keep the collection for Jerusalem for himself.

v. 17-18 Paul pointed out that neither he, Titus, nor the other brethren had taken any money from the Corinthians for themselves.

2 CORINTHIANS 13: PAUL'S WARNING

v. 2-3 Paul says here that on his next visit to Corinth he wouldn't spare those who walk in an unrighteous path.

v. 5 Paul warns the Corinthians to examine themselves, to prove whether or not they are really in the faith. Without Christ the Corinthians would be reprobates.

v. 8 Paul knew that the truth about himself would be revealed in time and the liars exposed. Unfortunately, damage is sometimes done before the truth is known.

v. 11-14 Paul closes his letter with some beautiful admonitions and a loving benediction.


Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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