About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapters 2:5 and 3:6
In verse 5 Paul says that if anyone who has caused grief, he has not caused him grief, but has caused grief for the church at Corinth. From what Paul has said in the previous verses, you can see that he was grieved to a degree, which in turn caused him to write what he did, which in turn caused grief in his readers. Thus in the long run, the grief that the Corinthian person caused came back to the whole church. That being said, some believe, due to the Greek sentence structure, that it is not the whole church who was grieved, but only the one person who originally caused the grief in the first place. There is a bit of a discrepancy concerning this matter among Bible translators and commentators.
are not really sure who Paul is speaking about here.
Many suggest it is the man having sexual relations with his step
mother that we see in 1 Corinthians 5.
That sounds logical to me.
says in verse 6 that the “punishment afflicted on him by the majority is
sufficient”. If he was talking about the man who slept with his
father’s wife, then the giving of that man over to satan was punishment
thing we should note here is that the church “afflicted punishment” on
a particular man. This is a
form of church discipline which may not be seen too much in the modern
church. We tend to let things
slip and not speak to such things.
we need to understand about church discipline is that it is always
redemptive. It is never done
in spite, or to pay someone back for a wrong he did.
Unless the motivation for discipline is redemptive, it should never
be done. It will do more harm
than good. I'd suggest that
more harm than good has been next to the norm throughout church history.
Thus, in verse 6, we see that Paul said, that whoever this man was,
the punishment that was inflicted on him is sufficient.
It's time to move on.
word "punishment" is translated from the Greek word "epitimia".
This is a legal word. It's
original meaning was associated with the rights of citizenship, but in
Paul's day it meant the "abuse of the rights of citizenship",
thus meaning "punishment or penalty".
verse 7 Paul encourages the church to forgive and extend love towards this
man so that “he would not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow”.
It should be obvious that the man in question has come to his
senses and has repented from whatever sin he was involved in.
I don’t think Paul would tell his readers to love and forgive if
the man had not yet repented. So
once true repentance is proven and clearly demonstrated in a person, you
bring him back into the fellowship of believers in a spirit of
must always remember that forgiveness is only extended after repentance is
established. The reason for
this is that the meaning of forgiveness is the actual removing or the
cancelling of the offense. Forgiveness
is not simply the covering of the offense.
We often confuse love and forgiveness.
We are to love the offender whether he repents or not.
We can only forgive him, cancel is sin, when he repents.
two more predominant Greek words the New Testament uses for
"forgive", including Jesus' usage of the word are "apolyo"
and "apheimi". Both
of these words mean "to let go of, to send away, to cancel …"
It is interesting to note that in 2 Corinthians 2:7 and 10, and
also in 2 Corinthians 12:13, Paul does not use either of these two Greek
words. He uses the Greek word
word is from the Greek root word "charis" which is translated as
grace in the New Testament. I
believe what Paul is saying here, because of this Greek word, that whoever
he is talking about, it's time to show him grace.
I think the emphases is on "grace" not necessarily
"forgiveness", although "forgiveness might well be part of
showing grace. Since most all
translations use the word "forgive" here, we should think in
terms of "forgive", but still, we must understand
"forgiveness" as only taking place "after" one
repents. It would seem then
that the one being talked about here has repented.
verse 8 Paul tells the church "to reaffirm their love for him".
The word "reaffirm" in Greek is an electoral type of
word. It's almost as if the
church voted on loving this man once again.
Remember, the reason for any church discipline is for the one being
disciplined to be restored both to God and to the church.
verse 9 Paul states the reason why he wrote the previous letter, either
the lost letter, or our 1 Corinthians letter, and that was “to see if
they could stand the test and be obedient in everything”. I believe Paul
told these people what should be done with this man.
If it was the man who slept with his father’s wife, then Paul
told them to exclude him from fellowship and hand him over to satan.
This sounded severe, but it had to be done. Then
once the man repented, the church was to reaffirm their love to him. This
was the test that Paul was giving the Corinthian church. They obviously
passed the test after some sorrow.
that Paul was "testing" the Corinthian believers.
His instruction was more than instruction.
It was now time for the test.
the term "obedient in everything" in verse 9. Those who would
like to emphasize "apostolic or ecclesiastical authority" will
point these words out. They
would say that Paul was in fact giving the Corinthians a test to see if
they would in fact "obey him" as their apostle, as their
authority. There might well be
a measure of "apostolic authority" here but we cannot take it
too far. In the last verse
Paul was telling these people that they must now love this person who had
committed such a bad sin. The
Greek word "agape", which is the most meaningful selfless word
for love we have in the Bible, and is often seen as the kind of love God
has for us, is the test that Paul is presenting these people with.
It's God's love, God's forgiveness, that Paul is testing them with.
Therefore, even if this is "apostolic authority" in
action, Paul is not dictating his own will.
He is helping these people to be "obedient to Jesus", not
just to him.
says in verse 10 “that if they forgive anyone, then he will forgive him
as well”. This was a matter
of trust. Paul’s trust in
these people must have increased due to their obedience to what he told
them. So if they felt that the
man repented, he would forgive him as they did.
John 20:23 Jesus speaks of His disciples "forgiving sin".
It is important to understand, as disciples of Jesus, and as His
representatives, part of our job is to "forgive people's sins on
behalf of Jesus". In
other words, because of the meaning of the Greek word for
"forgive" in John 20:23, we actually, on the behalf of Jesus,
"cancel" people's sins. This
may sound too Catholic for some, but this is New Testament thinking that
many Evangelicals have ignored because it sounds too Catholic.
That being said, we were not the ones who paid for this
forgiveness. Jesus did that.
We simply represent Jesus in the forgiveness process.
Since He forgive sinners when they repent, we have both the right
and responsibility to pronounce forgiveness to the repentant sinners.
sin that this man committed was really a blemish on the Corinthian church,
of which Paul was not really a part of since he did not live in
and restoration of this individual was important “in order that satan
would not outwit” them, “because we are not unaware of his schemes”,
Paul says in verse 11. We can
therefore conclude that Satan can enter into a church situation where a
man legitimately repents, still feels bad, but not loved by the church.
How we deal with the repentant brother is very important.
If we don't treat him right, we could lose him for good.
says that he, and the Corinthians were not unaware of the schemes of
satan. Part of satan's
activity is to reduce the repentant sinner to a place of total
discouragement, and how he does this is through us Christians.
We need to understand all of satan's ways, and where he is often
involved, is in the church. Christians
can therefore be a tool of satan. I
think we've all seen this before. Satan
is just as active in the church as he is outside of the church .
He might actually be more active in the church.
was always looking for open doors to preach the gospel.
We noted earlier that he stayed in
is a Roman province on the eastern shore of Asia Minor, north of
words "open door" here means that God causes a revival to take
place. People were being led
to Jesus because of Paul's preaching.
You would think this would make Paul very happy, but it didn't.
In the midst of people coming to Jesus, his heart was still broken
over the church at Corinth. Paul had the heart of a real
pastor. Again, this is why I
believe anyone aspiring to be a pastor should study second Corinthians.
You see a real heart of a pastor in Paul.
see Titus mentioned in verse 13. He
was to bring good news from
verse 14 on to chapter 7, verse 5, we have a bit of a interruption in
Paul's train of thought. There,
he picks up on Titus again.
verse 14 Paul gives “thanks to God who always leads him in a triumphal
procession". The words
"triumphal procession" is a Roman and Greek idiom.
When a victory was won, the victor would head a parade through the
streets. People would stand
along the parade route holding torches in celebration.
Paul felt that he was in such a parade of victory, with Jesus in
the lead. You see here the mood changes that Paul goes through.
He had just expressed great pain and sorrow, and now he is
expressing thanks and victory.
though Paul left that open door in
verse 14 and on, Paul says that he and his fellow ministers of the gospel
are the "aroma of Christ". In
other words they represent all that is good about Jesus.
During the victory parade of the Roman generals that I spoke about
a couple paragraphs back, part of the celebration was to burn incense
along the parade route. Paul
might well be continuing on with the symbolism of the Roman parade by
using the term "fragrance" as a sweet smelling aroma.
note in verse 15 the phrases, "those who are being saved", and,
"those who are perishing". Salvation
is a process. In one sense of
the word, we are saved. In another sense of the word we are being saved,
and yet will be saved. The
same is true with those who are perishing.
They are perishing, and they will continue to perish throughout
are some, those who believe in predestination, say that there are two
groups of people. The Cain
group and the Abel group. God
chooses some to salvation and others to damnation.
That's why, so they say, we have those who are being saved and
those who are perishing.
see these two groups in verse 16. Those
who are being saved are the one's who really like the aroma of the gospel.
But, those who are being lost, this aroma disturbs them greatly.
Every time the real gospel of Christ is preached, it draws a line
through the audience who hear the gospel.
Some accept the gospel and some reject it.
If there is no one that rejects the gospel you preach, it might
well be that you are not preaching the real gospel.
It is a watered down gospel that is often the case these days.
verse 16 Paul asks, "who is equal to this task"?
In other words, who can handle the responsibility of preaching the
real gospel? Paul would say
that he is equal to the task, only because of the calling of Jesus on his
life. He then goes into verse
17 and points out some who are not equal to the task.
tells us in verse 17 that “many peddle the gospel for profit”, but not
him. He preaches with
“sincerity” as one “sent from God”.
Even back in the early days of the church some chose preaching as a
career because they could see financial gain in their job.
Paul did not view his work as a career with the reward of money.
He was a bond servant to the Lord.
He could do nothing else but preach the gospel whether he was paid
or not. What a challenge to
some of today’s pastors and their CEO salaries.
Greek word translated as "peddler" here was often used in Roman
culture for a huckster of cheep watered down wine".
Hucksters would stand in the market place selling their watered
down wine for cheap as if it were the best wine available.
The simple fact is "you get what you pay for", but cheap
wine was attractive for the ordinary person.
Many preachers these days are modern day "gospel
hucksters". They water
down the gospel. They get the
big crowds, and along with it, they get the big salary.
Tell the people nice things, things they want to hear, and you
become popular. Paul was not a
the last part of verse 17. "…we
speak before God, as men sent from God".
Paul is sincere in what he says for two reasons as stated here.
He stands before God as he speaks, meaning, God hears every word.
And, he believes that God has sent him to say the things he says.
Paul is very serious about his mission in life.
In one sense of the word, he is not accountable to man.
In the long run, he is accountable to God, the one who sent him and
the one who is listening to him.
3 verse 1 says, “are we beginning to commend ourselves?”
By telling the Corinthians that he and his companions were not in
the ministry of the Lord for the money, was not meant to be seen as Paul
patting himself on the back. He
was merely stating the fact. Paul
does not need any “recommendations” from anyone.
His life and work tells the accurate story.
As a matter of fact the Corinthian church itself was a “letter of
recommendation”. They were a
living letter to Paul’s ministry. They
were the proof that he was a real apostle of God, teaching and preaching
for all of the right motives, as Paul states here.
says in verse 1 that some men actually do need letters of recommendation.
We're not sure what men he is talking about.
It could be men like the false teachers we see him talking about in
the book of Galatians. I would
not be surprised if this is what Paul had in mind.
The false teachers needed to go out of their way to persuade people
that they weren't false teachers. They
would give each other letters of recommendations.
These letters might also be a matter of pride, as in, "look at
me, I've got lots of supporters". . This seems to be the context of
what Paul is saying here.
in verses 2 and 3 we see the idea that the Corinthians themselves are
Paul's letter of recommendation. This
living letter was not written by ink on “tablets
of stone, but by the Holy Spirit on tablets that were the hearts of
the Corinthians. It is the
Holy Spirit in the lives of the individuals and the church as well that
makes the church a living letter. If
we limit the Holy Spirit’s involvement, then we will not be a living
letter that the world can read.
important that you and I as Christians should understand that we might
well be the only Bible that some people ever read.
In one real sense of the word, we are a living Bible to those who
don't know Jesus, and therefore, we must live as the Bible tells us to
live. This is really what Paul
is saying here.
the words "tablets of stone" in verse 3.
Paul is beginning to introduce the topic that compares the Old
Testament with the New Testament. The
"tablets of stone' here is a clear reference to the Law of Moses.
He is comparing the Law of Moses to the Holy Spirit.
When believers receive the Holy Spirit, they become a living letter
sent from Christ to the world. It
is no longer the stone tablets in the hands of people that is the witness
to God. It is human beings who
have the Holy Spirit living in them that is the witness to God.
verse 4 Paul tells his readers that he is very confident, yet this
confidence is not in himself, but in the Lord He serves.
Paul puts absolutely no confidence in any human being, and that
includes himself. Humans are
sinful. He basically says this in verse 5.
He goes on to say in verse 6 that God has made him and his friends
in ministry “competent ministers of the new covenant.”
This new covenant is different than the old covenant in that it is
based on the Holy Spirit and not on the letter of the Law, not on a
written code of ethics.
verse 6 Paul says that the letter of the Law kills but the Spirit gives
life. To properly understand
what Paul is saying here, you need a good understanding of how Paul views
the Law of Moses as seen in his letter to the Romans, and throughout his
writings. In short, the Law
tells us not to do certain things. Once
we know the Law does not allow for certain things, then we want to do
these things more than ever. We
thus sin more than we did before we knew the law.
Then, because sin brings death, more sin brings more death in our
lives. This is why Paul says
the letter of the Law kills. The Law of Moses was never meant to save
people. It was meant to show
people their sin. It was also
a prophetic message predicting the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ
who would be the one who saves us from the penalty of our sins. The
Law of Moses predicts many things beyond the coming of the Saviour.
It also predicts
seen in Acts 2, the reception of the Holy Spirit in a life brings life to
people. The new covenant is
based on what Jesus did on the cross.
The sacrifice that Jesus made takes the place of any sacrifice that
we can make. But the story
does not end there. We need
the Holy Spirit in our lives to make this new covenant work.
We cannot stop at the gospel story as told in the four New
Testament gospels. We need
Acts chapter two in our lives as well.
you read Jeremiah 31:31 to 34, you will see where the prophet predicts the
coming of a New Covenant that is written on the tablets of our hearts.
This is what Paul is getting at here.
The New Covenant is internal, not external.
That being said, this is not a putdown on the Old Testament.
If we don't understand the Old Testament, we will not understand
what the Christian life is all about.
One failure of Evangelicals is that we have ignored the Old
Testament to our peril.
my opinion that one of the most misunderstood things in Christian circles
is how to understand the Old Testament in light of being a New Testament
Christian. We cannot grow in
the Lord as we should if we continue in this misunderstanding.
For example, Evangelicals are confused to the matter of the Law of
Moses. They say we must tithe,
that is, give 10 percent of our income to the church.
The problem is that why do we demand this law to be obeyed and not
other laws, of which there are 613. Also,
if you study the tithing laws, there are more than one law, and if you put
them all together, the tither turns out to be more like 27.5 percent
annually, not 10 percent. I
think you can see the problem here.
the Sabbath law too. We often
attempt to "keep the Sabbath day holy".
One problem is we're keeping the wrong day holy.
According to the Law of Moses, the Sabbath is our Saturday, not our
Sunday. Also, in the attempt
to keep the Sabbath day holy, we're not following the rules of holiness.
We're following our own rules.
Again, I think you can see the problem here.
In verses 6 through 8
Paul refers back to the Old Testament story when Moses presented the Ten
Commandments to the people after being in the presence of God.
This is recorded in Exodus 34:28 – 35.
It was a glorious moment in
He says that if the presentation
of the Law that kills, or produces death in people was so glorious,
how much more glorious is the “ministry of the Spirit”.
And it was, in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was first introduced to
Note the words "fading though it was" at
the end of verse 7. The
brightness of God's glory did not stay on Moses all the time.
It began to fade. You
might even think that Paul is using the fading of the glory typologically
here. That is to say, as the
glory of the Law of Moses faded from the face of Moses, so the Law itself
over time fades away, and is eventually replaced by the Holy Spirit and
the New Covenant.
In verse 9 Paul tells his readers that the Old
Testament Law brought
condemnation to those under the Law, yet the Law and its presentation to
the people was glorious. But
the giving of the Spirit that brings “righteousness” to people is even
more glorious. Note that the
Law condemns but the Spirit brings righteousness, both imparted and
imputed. The condemnation
aspect to the Law of Moses is important for us to understand, especially
in light of those these days who want to follow the Law in all it says.
For those who want to obey the Law of Moses, it is
important to see what Paul says about the Law in verse 10.
He says that the Law has no more glory.
It's lost its glory. It
is thoughts like these that disturb some Christians who want to obey all
aspects of the Law. It was
also these kinds of things that got Paul in trouble with the Jewish
In verse 11 we see that Paul says that which “is
fading away”, referring to the Law cannot be compared to the glory of
the things belonging to the Spirit “that will last” forever.
Again, this is one verse of many that shows us how Paul views the
Law. Paul believed that the
Law has been replaced by Jesus Himself, and thus it is fading away.
The only reason for the Law now is to bring us to Jesus.
The laying aside of the Law of Moses, and how
Christians should understand the Old Testament is one of the most
misunderstood concepts in the church today. We pick and choose what Old
Testament Laws we want to promote for our own benefit, not understanding
they all have been laid aside. Churches like the tithing Laws found in the
Law of Moses. They use this
law for their own benefit, but in reality, the tithing law doesn't apply
Christians. I won't discuss
this here. I've done that
In verse 12 Paul says that he has “hope”, and as
a result of this hope he can be “very bold”.
The Holy Spirit and His ministry and glory will last into eternity,
giving Paul this hope of a better future.
With this in mind Paul casts off fear and timidity and lives his
life with boldness.
In verse 13 Paul continues by reminding his readers
about Moses. Because of the
brilliance of Moses’ face after being in God’s presence, he had to put
a veil over his head. Not so
with Paul, for he would preach boldly and openly the gospel of
Jesus. He would not
hide and hold anything back.
Note again that Paul states that Moses had the veil
over his head, even when the veil was fading away.
Just when Moses felt the glory was dull enough to remove the veil,
we don't know. But again, I
think Paul is making a back handed point here.
Even when the Law was first given to Israel, it began to fade away. He's simply pointing out the fading aspect to the
Moses had a veil over his head, yet in verse 14 Paul
speaks of another veil that is over the understanding of
Paul says at the end of verse 14 that only Jesus can
remove the veil that is over the Jews.
God will do that at the end of this age when God pours out a spirit
of grace and supplication on them as Zechariah states in Zechariah 12:10.
In verse 16 Paul says that the veil not only covers
their understanding but it covers their “hearts” as well, and the only
way to remove this veil is to give your life to Jesus.
He says, “only in Christ can this veil be taken away”. Without
Jesus speaking to the heart of a person, the person can never understand
the gospel. We can talk to
them about Jesus as much as we can, but Jesus must talk to them as well.
This makes intercessory prayer very important.
In preaching and sharing the gospel, we must understand that we
can't do it alone.
Paul is saying that God Himself has covered
In verse 17 Paul says an interesting thing.
He says, “now the Lord is the Spirit”. What is Paul saying
here? The Lord obviously
refers to Jesus. Therefore he
is saying that the Holy Spirit is actually Jesus.
“And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. The
Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and He produces freedom in the life
of the believer.
When Paul speaks of freedom here, he's not talking
about freedom from structure, freedom to sing and dance in a meeting, or
any such thing. He's talking
about being set free from the veil of not understanding.
The NIV in verse 17 says, "the Lord is the
Spirit". The Greek text
says, "the Lord the spirit is".
I point this out because different translations translate this
differently, and it all depends on whether you think the word
"spirit" should be capitalized.
You should understand that New Testament Greek never uses capital
letters. Thus when translating
"spirit" it's a matter of interpretation, not literal
translation. Should it be "Spirit" as in "Holy
Spirit", or, should it be "spirit" as in a generic spirit.
Beyond the word "spirit", some suggest the word "Lord"
refers to "Yahweh", while others believe it refers to Jesus.
It is clear that "Yahweh is spirit",
therefore that would fit the text well.
However, if the word "Lord" refers to Jesus, then, we
should note that "Jesus is the Spirit".
In other words, as we see in other New Testament passages, the Holy
Spirit is called "the spirit of Christ".
You can decide for yourself how you want to view this.
In verse 18 Paul says as Christians, “we have
unveiled faces that reflect the glory of God”.
We should not hide the glory that is within us.
Our lives should be a living testimony
to the glory of God, because the Holy Spirit lives within us.
As we are reflectors of
God’s glory, we are in the process of being changed into the
likeness of Jesus Himself. This
is important because Paul believes that there should be a transformation
that takes place in the life of the believer, but this transformation does
not come about by obeying laws. It happens because of “the Lord, who is
that Spirit”. Once again,
Jesus Himself is the Holy Spirit in another form”.