Evening Bible Study
Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first
letter to the Corinthians.
Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city
because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who
After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.
The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to
Now for the third time I am ready to come to you.
This will be the third time I am coming to
you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be
One of the issues that Paul will be dealing with in this letter is the
issue of his authority.
In chapter one we saw that some people were
accusing Paul of being “wishy-washy” because he kept changing his plans of how
and when he would visit Corinth.
The chapter ended with:
1:23 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.
That thought continues …
2:1-2 Paul’s Reasons
:1 But I determined this within myself, that I
would not come again to you in sorrow.
:1 not come again …in sorrow
One of the reasons Paul had changed his plans was that he was frankly tired
of all the grief that came from the confrontations.
Because of that, he had decided to head north from Ephesus to Troas, then
on to Macedonia where he was writing from (possibly from Philippi).
:2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who
makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
:2 who is he who makes me glad
If Paul is continually making them sad, then who will be there to encourage
him when he arrives?
2:2 NLT) For if I cause you grief, who will make me
glad? Certainly not someone I have grieved.
:3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have
sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all
that my joy is the joy of you all.
:3 I wrote this very thing
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 have a chance 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 to you, with
many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love
which I have so abundantly for you.
:4 out of much affliction and anguish of
The words “affliction” and “anguish” are very similar. Both speak of “pressure”, of feeling squished.
In 1Corinthians, it wasn’t easy for Paul to
confront the Corinthians about some of their problems.
In particular, one man had been in an immoral relationship with his step
mom (1Cor. 5)
We have this mistaken notion of love that if I love someone, I will never
cause them to be offended, or have their feelings hurt.
We think that love means you let them live their life however
they want because we are not supposed to “judge” one another.
We think that if we love someone, then we should let them just continue to hurt
us and other people because that’s what it means to “turn
the other cheek”.
I’d like to suggest that we’ve missed the bigger
picture of what love is all about.
How about this phrase: Love wants
the best for others.
Would you agree with that definition?
If I love someone with a healthy love, then I need to realize that allowing
that person to continue to do wrong things, and/or to hurt other people, is not
27:6 NKJV) Faithful are the wounds of
a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Sometimes love has to do the hard thing – something that will cost you
affliction and anguish.
I remember hearing of a time when Pastor Chuck went to
visit a friend who he found out had had an affair. Chuck 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.
If you confront people, but there’s no sense of
“anguish” to you, perhaps you need to rethink what you’re doing.
When you care about someone who is continually doing wrong things, there
may be a time when you put your foot down, or maybe step away from them and
allow them to experience the consequence of their sin.
Some people reach this point out of frustration which
turns to anger.
But don’t do it out of anger, do it out of love.
If you learn to put your foot down in love, then you don’t build up resentment and hatred towards the other
If you learn to take the “tough” line out of love, then
there is chance at restoration some day in some form.
4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love,
may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—
Some people will need to hit a very difficult “bottom” before they even
Some people may need to go through divorce, lose their job, lose their family,
or even end up in jail before they realize they need to get serious about
Though those are all “bad” things, they are not that bad if they cause a
person to turn around.
:5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not
grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe.
:5 but all of you to some extent
The discipline that had been enacted in the church at Corinth wasn’t because Paul’s feelings had been hurt.
Open, unrepentant sin affects the whole church. Paul wrote,
5:6b NKJV) Do you not know that a little
leaven leavens the whole lump?
When we see others living rebellious lives and seemingly without
consequence, there is something evil inside us that says, “Well why can’t I do
:6 This punishment which was inflicted by
the majority is sufficient for such a man,
:6 This punishment …is sufficient
When it’s enough
How do you know when the “punishment” is enough?
I believe Paul is talking about the man that he brought discipline upon in 1Corinthians
Paul ordered this person cast out of the church, turning them over to
Paul is now saying that the person has paid enough. He’s saying that the
person has learned their lesson.
Paul doesn’t say the punishment is “enough”
because it’s been a sorrowful thing.
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.
7:9–11 NLT) —9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the
pain caused you to repent 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 the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away
from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret
for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which
lacks repentance, results in spiritual 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 wrong. You showed that you have done everything
necessary to make things right.
It is not uncommon for us to give up on discipline
The goal of discipline is not just to produce tears,
the goal is to produce a change in behavior.
:7 so that, on the contrary, you ought
rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed
up with too much sorrow.
:8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your
love to him.
:7 forgive and comfort
Sometimes we get confused about why we need to take hard measures against
When we’ve waited too long to begin some sort of
“discipline”, we can end up acting out of anger and frustration.
When discipline comes out of anger, the goal is simply to “punish” the
other person, to let them have what they “deserve”.
God’s goal in discipline is for us to turn our lives around and follow Him.
(Hebrews 12:11 NKJV) Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the
present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.
God’s goal for discipline is “righteousness”, learning to
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in
any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of
gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
:9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put
you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
:9 obedient in all things
Picking and choosing
One of Paul’s reasons as to why he wrote them instead of visiting them was
to “test” them to see just how serious they were about following the Lord.
I’m sure that to some extent we all do this, but
sometimes I am just amazed at how “selective” we can get when it comes to
obeying the Lord.
Sometimes we think we “can’t” obey Him.
I understand a little about the mentality of the person who is caught in a serious addiction.
You’ve tried to stop, and yet you keep doing that
same thing over and over again.
You’ve come to the conclusion that it’s simply
impossible to do the right thing.
I’ve got a friend who graciously
got permission for me to listen to some of the messages at a recent conference
for those who are in SA (Sexaholics Anonymous) and S-Anon
(those who are married or related to sexaholics).
I’ve heard some stories about
people who were caught in a long term serious addiction for years. And when they hit
bottom and reached out for help, and began to “work their program”, they
actually have achieved what they call “sobriety” (no sex with self or any other
person other than spouse) for many years.
If you’ve told yourself you could never stop, you
It may be difficult and it may require some serious effort
on your part, but it is possible.
Talk to me. I know people.
Sometimes we just don’t “want” to obey Him.
We just don’t want to do what God is saying. We “pick and choose” what we want to obey.
I pray that this is none of you.
:10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.
For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes
in the presence of Christ,
:11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we
are not ignorant of his devices.
:11 lest Satan should take advantage
There was a British subject named Major William Martin, 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
Vialo Weis, Ardmore, Oklahoma. Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 3.
The point is that Satan can get us distracted to be thinking that attacks
are going to come from one place, when they come from a different place.
We can think that we are protecting our church from
“sinners” by distancing ourselves from some people, when in fact there comes a
time when we are opening ourselves up to Satan’s strategies.
(1 Peter 5:8 NKJV) Be sober, be
vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour.
We have an adversary, and how we handle things like
“discipline” can determine whether or not Satan wins.
Some of Satan’s strategies that are involved with the situation Paul is
writing about include …
A wolf doesn’t tend to attack an entire flock, he
will drive one of the sheep from the flock and then attack.
If the “sheep” is ready to return to the flock, the flock needs to welcome
that person back so they aren’t open prey to the
Satan is known as the “accuser” of the brethren.
(Revelation 12:10b NKJV) …for the
accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night…
One of Satan’s tactics is heap condemnation on people to the point where
they feel worthless and think they’re unable to come
back to God.
Yet the Bible says,
8:1 NKJV) There
is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…
When we don’t recognize that a person has
repented, and we don’t welcome them back into the church, Satan can use that to
drive the person away from God.
2:12-17 Triumph in Christ
:12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach
Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord,
:13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not
find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
:12 a door was opened to me
God had opened up some opportunities for Paul to do ministry in Troas, yet
while he was there, he was also waiting for his buddy
Titus to show up and give him an update on what was going on in Corinth.
Saul became so unsettled that he decided to move on to Macedonia, hoping to
reconnect with Titus.
For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there
are many adversaries.
Not every “open door” is something we need to be going through.
Paul had an open door in Troas, but he still decided to go on to Macedonia
because of this sense of “unrest” in his spirit.
: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.
:14 leads us in triumph
leads in triumph – thriambeuo – to triumph, to celebrate a triumph
The Romans had a traditional parade to celebrate the victory of a
conquering general returning from his battles.
The commander would lead the procession in a golden chariot, surrounded by
The commander’s sons would follow his chariot, sharing in the victory even
if they hadn’t fought in the battle.
The parade would include a display of the spoils of war, including captive
enemy soldiers, sometimes even dead corpses.
The Roman priests would also be in the parade burning incense to pay
tribute to the victorious army.
This is from an HBO series on Rome, a “triumph” parade after Octavian
(Caesar Augustus) defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
In looking at the picture Paul is painting,
Jesus is the general who has won the victory.
We might be among His army, or we might just be
seen as His sons who didn’t fight, or perhaps we are the captives.
Paul hints we could even be like the priests burning incense, creating a
fragrance everywhere we go, that people smell and relate to Jesus Christ.
He knows how to lead me
Paul’s decision making process has been called
But in the bottom line, Jesus knows how to lead.
Jesus knew that Paul needed to get to Philippi, and he got him there.
Perhaps we should be a little less critical of folks who are sincerely
trying to follow Jesus, even if it looks like they’re
It’s His triumph
Jesus is the one who is victorious.
He conquered sin and death when He died and rose again.
The “addict” has to come to the place where he/she learns to rely on a
There really is only one. Jesus.
He has won the battle over sin and over Satan.
We are just along for the ride.
When you experience a victory in your life, keep in mind whose victory it
: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
:17 peddling the word of God
For some people, “church” is a solely a business, and being successful is
all about being financially successful.
:17 but as of sincerity
sincerity – eilikrinea (“sun” + “judge”) – purity, sincerity
The word paints a picture of something brought out into the sunlight to get
a better look at it.
2:17 NLT) You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal
profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority,
knowing that God is watching us.
:16 aroma of death … life
God works in us to produce a “fragrance” to others around us.
How do you smell?
People smell your fragrance differently depending on whether they are believers
NKJV) —24 Then Jesus said to His disciples,
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his
life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
If we are living our lives correctly, then all an unbeliever can “smell” is
That see that we have taken up
our cross and have learned to die to ourselves.
To some people, you’re going to
The believers smell something different.
They know that we have found new life in Jesus Christ.
Be careful you don’t get it
backwards and smell like you’re “alive” to the unbelievers and “dead” to the