High and lifted up – the Darling of Heaven crucified – worthy is the Lamb that was slain.
“Even as I was slain I was taken into the very presence of the Father to be glorified – but I first had to experience the searing pain of being separated from Him. As I have soared into the glory of the Father – I am the only one who actually deserves this honour – but because you have trusted in Me and are therefore in Me – I take you up into the presence of the Father with Me, so that you too can appreciate the glory of His presence. A glory which is impossible to describe in human terms and only will be truly appreciated when you enter into it. So come – my invitation to you is to come – just as you are – without preparation – I will prepare you, I will give you My worth so that you can come with Me. Be excited and filled with expectation.”
As we come now to 2 Corinthians ch 10, we start a new section. Up till now Paul has dealt with the past and the present. Now he looks forward to the future – his expected visit to them again, in person. Seeking to find the true thread of Paul’s thoughts as he pours out many words, I have tried to distill the main theme which he is presenting to these people.
Just let us remind ourselves what we have seen up to now. Paul is dealing here with two lots of people in the Church at Corinth. He is facing a small recalcitrant group who are criticizing him and more or less rejecting his authority. The basis for their rejection is the fact that he has suffered much and had many serious set-backs. On top of that he seems to have been unimpressive in appearance and perhaps did not even speak that clearly. According to them this outward appearance and negative experience, disqualified him from being a true apostle who should be seen as a victor all the time, demonstrating the power which would prove that he is a true apostle..
At the same time he had to keep in mind the many folk who were truly saved in the church and who needed him to encourage them.
His answer to them then in this section is that his apostolic ministry is from the Lord. Not something he has taken upon himself. They should not judge him by his appearance but by the spiritual content of the message that he is bringing to them. It is important to him that he sets this up before he visits them so that he can accomplish the purpose of his visit more effectively.
Ch 10 has three sections and can be summarized as follows:
Verses 1-6; Paul may appear weak and afraid to be bold – yet he confronts those who are against him with some powerful language. He makes the point that their problem is a spiritual problem – revealed in their disobedience. The hint is that there are spiritual forces at work behind this disobedience. The important point is that he has God’s authority to overrule the spiritual forces that are behind their actions. Note – the spiritual weapons are from God Himself.
Verses 7-11; The Corinthians are challenged not to assess Paul on his appearance but on the fact that he has received his authority from God. Paul’s apostolic claim is thus that the ministry he has is a ministry given him by God Himself. This is extremely important, because this reflects on the very scriptures we read and believe are from God Himself, because of this authority He gave Paul. Reflecting back on ch 3:1-3 – the proof of the veracity of his authority is the change in the lives of those who have responded to the gospel message.
Verses 12 – 17; The Corinthians had obviously been boasting in their ministry. Paul compares his ministry as coming from the Lord Himself and warns them that it is not boasting that shows how good their ministry had been but a growth in faith. This would be reflected in making it possible to preach the gospel in regions further on.
Reflecting on this chapter to hear what Jesus was saying to me, I was struck with the continuous insistence by Paul of the fact hat His ministry is from the Lord. It is so easy to start taking any success or failure in one’s ministry as coming from our own ability or failure. It is so important that our message be the message from the Lord and the response that comes is to the Lord’s message, not our ability. This is important in all our interactions with other people, both Christian and non-Christian.
This has also been a timely reminder again of the fact that we need to see the scriptures as from the Lord Himself and therefore the authority in the scripture is from God through the writing of Paul and he other writers who have been included in the canon of scripture.
I also need to see any criticism levelled against me comes from spiritual forces who operate behind the faces of those who voice them and are actually aimed at God Himself and actually not me personally.
Friends, this letter has many of Paul’s words, not always easy to follow the gist of his argument and it has become clear to me that is why it is the least read letter of his. However as part of the canon of scripture we should try and hear what Jesus is saying to us even in these difficult passages. Next week we will look at the next passage which deals with the false apostles of the time. However there are plenty of them around now and we need to be aware of how they operate. God bless you as you read on.