2Corinthians 2

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 7, 2000

Introduction

Paul has written now to the Corinthians for the second time. He is probably writing from Philippi, where heís stopped briefly after having fled Ephesus for his life. His three year stay at Ephesus had ended with the city in a riot and people wanting to kill Paul. Life hasnít been fun for Paul, but God has comforted him through it all.

One of the issues that Paul will be dealing with in this letter is the issue of his authority.

As we saw in chapter one, some of the people accused Paul of being kind of wishy-washy because he had promised to come to Corinth earlier, but hadnít kept his promise. The chapter ended with:

(2 Cor 1:23-24 NLT) Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn't return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. {24} But that does not mean we want to tell you exactly how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy as you stand firm in your faith.

2Corinthians 2

:2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?

(2 Cor 2:2 NLT) For if I cause you pain and make you sad, who is going to make me glad?

:3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

Paul had written his last letter to them rather than visit them because he wanted to wait and visit them under better circumstances. Rather than coming and having to be heavy handed with them, he wanted them to work out their problems first and then he could visit them with joy.

:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

Some have suggested that there is a missing "sorrowful letter". I believe Paul is talking about 1Corinthians where he dealt with the man who was in an immoral relationship with his step mom (1Cor. 5).

Lesson

Love can be hurtful

I think we have the idea that if we really loved each other, we would never ever do anything that would cause the other person sorrow or grief, as if we should never be hurting each otherís feelings.

In reality, when someone close to me says something that hurts my feelings, even if it is true, there is something in me that thinks that they donít care anymore for me.

But this is not the truth. The Bible says,

(Prov 27:6 KJV) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

If you are concerned about a friend, and you see something that concerns you, wonít you say something?

Illustration

Norman Vincent Peale: "The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism."

Anonymous Quotes:

"I misplaced our Christmas list. Now I haven't the slightest idea who our friends are."

"It's easy to tell who your real friends are. They're the ones who stab you in the front."

Quote

Religion and celebrity do not mix. Religion and fame might work well together, but celebrity is a different matter.

The distinction? Try this out: Celebrities do not have friends. They are surrounded by people, but are actually isolated. They have ... people who tell the noted, soon to be notorious, pastor what he wants to hear until he begins to believe the publicity. Such friendless clergy take themselves seriously, lose perspective, put themselves above the law, and invent self-justifying rationales.

What are friends for? ... Friends say to people who acquire power and positionóand even the pastor of the humble parish has some of tható"Watch it, buddy," or "We knew you when ..." or "This time you went too far."

-- Martin E. Marty in The Christian Century (Nov. 4, 1992). Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 2.

Lesson

Confronting in love

(Eph 4:15 KJV) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Paul says that he wrote the letter with "many tears". He confronted them in grief and love, not in anger.

Illustration

I remember hearing of a time when a pastor (Chuck) went to visit a friend who he found out had had an affair. The pastor went to lecture the man, but all he could do was weep. Nothing was ever said. Just tears. It was the thing that ended up breaking the man and bringing him back to the Lord.

:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

I believe Paul is talking about the man that he brought discipline upon in 1Corinthians 5.

Paul had cast this person out of the church, turning them over to Satan.

Paul is now saying that the person has paid enough. Heís saying that the person has learned their lesson.

But keep in mind that Paul isnít saying this just because he knows how sorrowful the other person is. Paul is saying this because the man had truly repented. We see this when we get to 2Corinthians 7. The punishment was "sufficient" because it had brought repentance.

(2 Cor 7:9-11 NLT) Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. {10} For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. {11} Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.

We need to be careful that we walk the fine line here. Itís not uncommon for us to give up on discipline too quickly.

Illustration

When you are disciplining your child, you will find that they will know how to get to your sympathy. They will learn how to cry just enough to get you to stop the "time out".

The goal of discipline is not to produce tears, the goal is to produce a change in behavior.

Is the behavior changed?

:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

Godís heart in discipline is not to punish for punishmentís sake, but Godís heart is towards restoring.

(Gal 6:1 KJV) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

(2 Cor 2:9 NIV) The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.

Ryrie: Though they had accepted Paulís authority in the case of the rebel, they had yet to prove that they accepted it in all things

:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Satan has several different strategies.

One of his strategies is that of condemnation. He is the "accuser of the brethren"

(Rev 12:10 KJV) Öfor the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

One of Satanís best efforts is to make people feel worthless and so far from God that they donít dare even try to come back.

Another of Satanís strategies is to separate Christians.

Charles Ryrie writes, "as long as the matter was not settled, Satan kept Paul and the church estranged."

A wolf doesnít attack an entire flock, he will drive one of the sheep from the flock and then attack.

Lesson

Be aware of the enemyís plans.

(1 Pet 5:8 KJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Illustration

The February 26, 1974 edition of Insight told the story of Major William Martin, a British subject who is buried near Huelvo on the southern coast of Spain. Martin never knew the great contribution he made to the Allied success in the Second World War, especially in Sicily, because he died of pneumonia in the foggy dampness of England before he ever saw the battle front. The Allies had invaded North Africa. The next logical step was Sicily.

Knowing the Germans calculated this, the Allies determined to outfox them. One dark night, an Allied submarine came to the surface just off the coast of Spain and put Martin's body out to sea in a rubber raft with an oar. In his pocket were secret documents indicating the Allied forces would strike next in Greece and Sardinia.

Major Martin's body washed ashore, and Axis intelligence operatives soon found him, thinking he had crashed at sea. They passed the secret documents through Axis hands all the way to Hitler's headquarters. So while Allied forces moved toward Sicily, thousands and thousands of German troops moved on to Greece and Sardinia--where the battle wasn't.

Satan works with more cunning than even the Allied plan, getting us to fight many temptations in places where the real battle isn't. Often, temptations hurt us most where we least expect them.

-- Vialo Weis, Ardmore, Oklahoma. Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 3.

:13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

God had opened some opportunities for Paul to do ministry at Troas, but he became upset when Titus hadnít shown up yet to give him a report on things in Corinth, and he moved on to Macedonia to meet Titus.

:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

causeth us to triumph Ė thriambeuo Ė to triumph, to celebrate a triumph

JFB: "Paul regarded himself as a signal trophy of Godís victorious power in Christ. His Almighty Conqueror was leading him about, through all the cities of the Greek and Roman world, as an illustrious example of His power at once to subdue and to save. The foe of Christ was now the servant of Christ."

savour Ė the smell of incense burning.

During the triumph procession, there would be a group of people parading who carried burning incense. The smell of incense would draw people to the parade to see the triumphant procession.

Paul is not only a trophy of Godís victory, but is also like the burning incense, drawing people with the fragrance.

:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

(2 Cor 2:15 NLT) Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing.

Paul is saying that as he is giving himself to serve the Lord, that Jesus is making his life to be the sweet fragrance of a sacrifice to God, one that is pleasing to God.

:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

We smell differently to different people.

To those that are being saved, we have the smell of life. To those who are rejecting Jesus, we smell like death.

:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

corrupt Ė kapeleuo Ė to be a retailer, to peddle; to make money by selling anything; to get sordid gain by dealing in anything, to do a thing for base gain

sincerity Ė heilikrineia Ė purity, sincerity, ingenuousness; from Ė heilikrines Ė pure, sincere, unsullied; found pure when unfolded and examined by the sunís light; free from foreign mixture.

(2 Cor 2:17 NLT) You see, we are not like those hucksters--and there are many of them--who preach just to make money. We preach God's message with sincerity and with Christ's authority. And we know that the God who sent us is watching us.

Lesson

Loving the lost.

Do we have a heart to reach those who donít know Jesus? What are your reasons for them coming to Jesus? Is it for you or for them?