Monday, August 02, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: 2 Corinthians 2-6

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

This week, I am working through 2 Corinthians, chapters 2-6.

Chapter 2

  • Verse 1 - I guess this goes to show how having access to multiple commentators can be useful.  I was using Fee for 1 Corinthians, who seems to argue that the visit to Macedonia planned by Paul at the end of that letter is to be connected to the visit Paul references having failed to make in chapter one of this letter.  However, Bruce argues differently.  Since no earlier "painful visit" seems to be referenced in 1 Corinthians, and this verse clearly seems to imply that Paul has already had such a "painful visit" with them prior to writing this letter, he argues that the "painful visit" must have taken place between that letter and this one.1  This seems to throw into question whether or not Paul successfully made the visit he planned at the end of 1 Corinthians.  Perhaps he did?
  • Verses 5-8 - I wonder what the particular offender (that Paul seems to be writing about) did.  Bruce notes a traditional interpretation identifying this person with the one engaged in a relationship with his own stepmother from 1 Corinthians2, but this cannot be anything more than speculative.
Chapter 3
  • Verses 7-18 - The story Paul alludes to here (re: Moses' radiant face) comes from Exodus 34:29-35.
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
  • Verses 1-5 - I am reminded that Paul was, by profession, a tent-maker. If he was a ship-builder, would he have used an analogy about boats, instead?
  • Verse 10 - This bit about judgment, and everyone "receiv[ing] what is due them" seems at odds with the gospel of grace as we usually understand it from Paul.
  • Verse 16-21 - This part about being "ambassadors," engaging in a "ministry of reconciliation" is one of my favorites, but I have to confess that I am nowhere near as good at reconciliation as I'd like.  Perhaps that's normal, but I don't really want to use that as an excuse, either.
Chapter 6
  • Verses 3-10 - Something about this passage reminds me about 1 Corinthians 9:1-23, where Paul asserted that he wasn't making demands (that he had every right to make!) in order to win as many people for Christ as he could.
  • Verse 14 - I've often seen this verse used specifically in the context of marriage (that is to say, "Christians shouldn't marry non-Christians").  While I believe that this is a faithful application of this passage, it seems to me that Paul is writing more expansively than just about marriage here.  That said, what limits should we set?  It seems clear from other parts of Paul's writings (1 Corinthians 5:10, for example) that he isn't telling believers not to associate with non-believers at all.  So, what constitutes being "yoked together"? (Note that the TNIV lacks the feel of "unequally" yoked that the Greek seems to intend.3  I'm not at all sure why that part's left out.) 

1F.F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Corinthians, (The New Century Bible Commentary) Eerdmans, 1971, p. 183.
2Bruce, pp. 184-185.
3See Bruce, p. 214.

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