Scholars estimate that this second letter to the Churches in Corinth was written the same year as the first, 55 A.D. It had come to Paul’s attention that other teachers had approached the Corinthians and challenged his authority. It appears that their challenge was based on the fact that Paul didn’t charge them anything (a “you get what you pay for” sort of argument) and that he was pocketing the collection he took for the followers in Jerusalem. They also attacked him because he had changed his itinerary (so he can’t be trusted). Paul’s defense is compelling; it rests on the results of his teachings. This was a measure of true teaching: did it produce the sort of life promised by Jesus?
Following are readings to bring you through the letter in one week, with some questions to jog your thinking.
MONDAY - 2 Corinthians. 1:1-3:6
In chapter 1 verse 9, Paul identifies God as the one “who raises from the dead.” In the midst of persecution that made him wish for death, he put his hope in the God who raises from the dead. This way of thinking came up again in chapter 3 verse 6 when he says that the Spirit gives life. What does that mean to you? How has the Spirit given you life? Can you remember a time when the hope of resurrection encouraged you to press on?
TUESDAY - 2 Corinthians 3:7-6:2
Chapter 5 verse 17 is a favorite of mine. It talks about the reality of the victory of the cross. We are wholly new people, reborn in the restored image of God. This is nicely explained by chapter 6 verse 1 where Paul says, “do not receive God’s grace in vain. “ See the truth is that when you were baptized a new you was brought to life, one capable of allowing Jesus to be King. Paul is urging the Corinthians to live out of the righteousness offered them (see chapter 5 verse 21). Do you sometimes “bound” to sin, do you find yourself doing things you don’t want to do? Is it hard to believe that you are already 100% righteous? Do you feel free to follow Jesus with your actions, words and thoughts?
WEDNESDAY - 2 Corinthians 6:3-7:16
Reread chapter 6 verse 14 - chapter 7 verse 1, what does this section mean? What does it mean to be yoked to someone? When you consider the way Paul said he was willing to be “all things to all men that by any means I may save some” what does he mean when he calls the Corinthians to be separate from the world? Is there a time where you found yourself “unequally yoked?” How did it turn out? What about someone else, have you watched someone unequally yoke themselves?
THURSDAY - 2 Corinthians 8:1-10:18
Consider chapter 8 verses13-15, what keeps us from living out this ethic? In verse 15 Paul is quoting from the Exodus wanderings in the dessert when the Israelites picked quail and manna off the ground and shared so everyone had enough. He is telling the Corinthians that they have been incorporated into a people with a long history of communal living. What is keeping us from living this way today? How does that ethic collide with capitalism? What does plenty look like to us now? How about then? How about now around the world? Could you find ways to give more cheerfully?
FRIDAY - 2 Corinthians 11-13:14
The phrase in chapter 11 verse 14, Satan masquerades as an angel of light, deserves some thinking. What does that mean? Have you seen it to be true in your own life? Reread chapter 11 verses 23-29. Tough life huh? Not that Paul didn’t also have good times, but he was making a list of struggles God had brought him through. What would your list of hardships look like? Have you trusted God in times of struggle? What does that do for your faith?
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