This week, I am working through 2 Corinthians, chapters 7-11.
- It seems clear that, although Paul has been distressed by some of the issues he has been admonishing the Corinthians about throughout this letter, his relationship with them remains strong, and it remains important to him. If there were criticisms before, they are balanced out by compliments here.
- Verses 1-9 - Of course, it all seems more than a little passive-aggressive when that buttering up is followed up so quickly by "see how generously these people, who are rather poor, have given. Now I want to test to you to see how well you give!"
- Verse 13-15 - Of course, it probably also seems passive-aggressive of me to suggest the obvious implications of this passage for how churches should give to their denominations today, but so be it. In theory, denominational giving structures exist to fulfill this same purpose, so that poorer churches may have the same opportunities as wealthier ones. Obviously, this does not pan out in reality as often as it ought to. Maybe a wealthier church has doctrinal disagreements with the larger denomination. But should the poorer churches suffer as a result?
- Verse 18 (and 22) - Who is this "brother," and why doesn't Paul name him explicitly?1 The same questions apply to verse 22, which seems not to be the same unnamed "brother," but yet another one.
- Verses 1-5 - See my comments on chapter 8, verses 1-9.
- Verses 1-11 - Paul is apparently responding to charges of inconsistency (and perhaps cowardice!).
- It seems appropriate to link to Michael Card's "God's Own Fool" here (it's less than three minutes long, so go ahead and have a listen!).
- Verses 32-33 - Paul seems to be referencing the events recorded in Acts 9:-23-25., but seems less eager to blame the Jews (as Luke did), instead referencing the civil authority of "the governor under King Aretas" (who, as father-in-law to Herod Antipas, apparently did hold power over the region including Damascus at that time2).
1F.F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Corinthians, (The New Century Bible Commentary) Eerdmans, 1971, p. 224, suggests that the traditional identification has been with Luke, but notes that the gospel with Luke's name has not yet been written, and there is no indication the Luke was famous for his evangelism at this point in time.
2See Bruce, pp. 244-245.