To Paul's third journey
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2aCORINTHIANS: Written by Paul in late spring 55C.E. from (probably) Ephesus.
Paul has been rejected during his past (second) trip to Corinth (1Co16:1-9) and begs for reconciliation as a friend to other friends. Paul goes back on the subjects which are the most contentious: the heavenly bodies and his credentials & weaknesses. His ministry is under suspicion and competition from other preachers (some of them having letters of commendation) fierce.
This epistle can be called the intellectual letter. Also let's notice the influence of 'Hebrews'.
Paul and his helpers suffered rejection in
Paul is again defending himself and his ministry against the competitors.
2:14 ... Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the
word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant [Heb8:7,9:15,12:24], not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Paul refers to previous Jewish ministry in
contrast to his own:
It appears Paul is fighting back against preachers presenting a "glorious" message.
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
The veil is taken away in Christ:
12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech; 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old [covenant], because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Paul defends again his ministry:
He admits also his message can appear veiled too.
4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But
we have renounced
the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded,
who do not believe,
[Paul believes another (evil) god was in power, likely Satan:
Ro16:20a "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
Let's also notice, in GMark, Peter "unbelieves" the Christian significance of Jesus' Passion and is accused of being Satan:
Mk8:31-33 "And He [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan ! ...""]
` lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God [Heb1:3a], should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
Paul and (faith &) rapture/resurrection:
This issue was of great concern for the Corinthians (1Co15:12-34). Again, Jesus alleged resurrection is propped up to "prove" the future rapture/resurrection of Christians (as in 1Th4:14-15,5:10,1Co6:14,15:12-17,20-21). Also, on this matter, the importance of faith is stressed.
11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according
to what is written, "I
and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that
who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.
[because Paul "revealed" in 1Co15:51 some of his contemporaries (among the Christians of Corinth) will be alive at the "Day of the Lord", 'raise' entails also 'passage to heaven' (= rapture), not only (for the dead) resurrection. This expected rapture/resurrection is also mentioned in 1Co6:14]
` 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen [Heb11:1]. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Paul and the resurrected bodies:
Another great concern for the Corinthians (1Co15:35-58). The trend here is away from any physicality (no "body" as in '1Corinthians') towards ethereal souls. Also, the heavenly "building"/""house" become (eternal) clothing: typical Paul's planned ambivalence.
Note: "building"/"house" might be due to Heb12:22 and also Philo's writings (see next).
5:1 For we know that if our earthly house,
this tent, is destroyed, we have
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
[""Behold, she is in the tent;" that is to say, in the soul." (Philo, 'That the worse is wont to attack the better', XVII, 59)
"he [the proselyte] has received as a most appropriate a firm and sure habitation in heaven" (Philo, 'On reward and Punishment', XXVI, 152)]
2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. But we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. 12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
[allusion to the life of Christians paralleling Christ' death and resurrection: the dying of Christ put an end to pagan life; the rising opens up a new life. This notion will be refined & clarified in 'Romans' (6:2-7). Here is an extract:
Ro6:3-4 "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."]
` 16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh,
[Paul was not a witness of Jesus in the flesh. The "knowing" would be from past eyewitness' testimonies]
` yet now we know Him thus no longer.
[likely allusion to the resurrected Jesus superseding the (past) earthly one]
` 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.
The grand finale:
Paul is imploring again for reacceptance. He makes himself & his helpers look pitiful and is appealing to the hearts of the Corinthians.
4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. [Addition A] 2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation ...
2aCORINTHIANS: later addition
6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." 17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."
7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The preceding paragraph is likely a late addition. It certainly does not fit well in the passage and appears to be an outright insertion. The style is also unlike Paul's.
Paul never mentioned Belial, only Satan (1Th2:18, 1Co5:5,7:5, 2Co2:11,11:14,12:7, Ro16:18). Also the Greek words for "yoked", "fellowship", "part", "agreement", "Almighty" & "filthiness" and the expression "sons and daughters" appears only here in all the Pauline epistles.
Note: verse 18 is obviously drawn from 2Samuel7:14, but, in both the Hebrew and the Septuagint, there is no mention of "daughters" and "son" is singular (referring to Solomon): "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son."And then, it is conflicting with the following verses, where co-existence with unbelievers (even as a spouse!) is accepted: