2Corinthians 4-5 are essential for understanding the glorification aspect of salvation. Don't miss the background under Digging Deeper. It's compact, but add a few gray cells and expand it. 1Peter 1 is the next best chapter, to understand the praise, glory, and honor that God gives faithful saints. Go for it.
2 Corinthians 4-5 Gaining Your Glory-Suit
Psalm 140:1-13 Just Protection
8 Yahweh, don’t grant the desires of the wicked. Don’t let their evil plans succeed, or they will become proud. Selah. 9 As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their own lips cover them. 10 Let burning coals fall on them. Let them be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, from where they never rise. 11 An evil speaker won’t be established in the earth. Evil will hunt the violent man to overthrow him. 12 I know that Yahweh will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the needy. 13 Surely the righteous will give thanks to your name. The upright will dwell in your presence."
Observations: 140:1-13 In this imprecatory psalm David seeks deliverance from the proud, evil enemies who attack him verbally and conspire against him physically. He expresses faith in God's protection of him, even though God has let him be in the situation. He calls down nasty judgment upon them, which they completely deserve. David knows that since God is just, He will maintain his cause and turn the tables on the bad guys. David expresses confidence that he will be delivered by noting that the righteous will give thanks to His name (manifestation of His character in answering their prayer), and that the upright (the righteous who pass the test of the storm -Ps 11) will dwell in His presence. By stating this, he is asserting his own righteousness and uprightness.
Application: Even when unjustly under attack, maintain your righteousness and uprightness, for that is the basis of trusting God to justly deliver you.
Prayer: God, may I never be swayed (by the proud and evil folks who seek to make me stumble) from my trust in You and pursuit of living out Your truth; I praise You for protecting me, even in the midst of the battles I face. Amen.
Prayer: God, may I never be swayed (by the proud and evil folks who seek to make me stumble) from my trust in You and pursuit of living out Your truth; I praise You for protecting me, even in the midst of the battles I face. Amen.
TMS Hebrews 10:24-25 Biblical Fellowship
in order to stir up love and good works,
25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as is the manner of some,
but exhorting one another,
and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
Observations: 10:24-25 This passage in the hinge of Hebrews, indicating what we should do in light of all that God has done for us (see comments in Hebrews 10). The answer is simple to know, a little more difficult to do: progress in Faith, Hope, and Love. Each virtue is elaborated on a little bit in chapter ten, but then chapter 11 is about Faith, chapter 12, about Hope, and chapter 13 opens with “Let brotherly Love continue.” In our passage above, the author gives a synopsis of how believers should live in love toward each other, especially as it relates to gathering in fellowship. Remember that fellowship means to have in common, which starts with our being born again into the family of God.
Believers should gather to provoke or stimulate (the word was used on inciting a riot) each other to love and good deeds (blessable behavior). There is no such thing as a lone wolf in the Body of Christ. God expects us not only to gather, but to gather to give to others. That means we need to get from Him first. Assembling a bunch of carnal Christians to seek worth and value from each other is not what God had in mind. The opposite is for like-minded saints to gather and enrich each other, so they will do well at the judgment seat. "All the more as you see the day approaching." This life is the only chance we get, use it wisely.
See the sixth of the 7 PASSAGES for how believers should interact with each other. See the Catacomb Church Blog for how believers should assemble so they interact Biblically.
10:26-27 The importance of Biblical fellowship in light of the coming judgment is underscored by the warning which follows. The temptation for the original audience was to forsake Christianity to go back to Judaism, abandoning the sacrifice (Jesus) which was acceptable to God. All that remained in Judaism for them (see the “Warning Passages" in Hebrews) was judgment, not reward. The temptation for us is to go back to the way we were, the dead works that will be burned up in judgment when Christ returns. Biblical fellowship provides the protection for toddler Christians (so they don't wander off into self-destructive behavior), until they can develop the spiritual maturity to stay on the path and help others do the same.
Application: If you are a young believer, seek out fellow believers who are seeking the Lord according to the truth, and stick with them. If you're a more mature believer, start considering how your interaction with other believers spurs them on to self-sacrificial love and glory getting good deeds.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for the fellowship of believers who seek to love You with all they've got, and love each other as themselves; may I always seek Your purposes for my life and for the lives of others. Amen.
2 Corinthians 4-5 Just like Romans 3 was crucial for understanding justification, and Romans 6 for sanctification, chapters 4-5 are probably the most significant for understanding glorification. Spend whatever time it takes to master them. Come back later to study this (see Week in Review) if you don't fully grasp the light, otherwise you'll continue in the dark. It might help to read both chapters four and five, (of 2 Corinthians, below), before you start reading the observations. While you're at it, throw in chapter 3 to refresh your memory. The section under Digging Deeper goes back to Genesis and develops the theme of restoration to glory that Paul talks about in these chapters. Don't miss it.
2 Corinthians 4 Focus on the Weight of Glory
4:1 "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we don’t faint. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 Even if our Good News is hidden/veiled, it has been hidden/veiled among/en those who are perishing; 4 among whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. 5 For we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake; 6 seeing it is God who said, "Light will 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 clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.
8 We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; 9 pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death works in us, but life in you.
13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, "I believed, and therefore I spoke." We also believe, and therefore also we speak; 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we don’t faint, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; 18 while we don’t look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Observations: 4:1-2 The ministry to which Paul refers is that described in the previous chapter, that of ministering the truth of the New Covenant, with its Holy Spirit, life changing power, which transforms believers into the image of Christ, with resultant glory (see last post). Paul manifests (only used elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 12:7 of the obvious manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives) the truth, by causing it to be written on people's hearts, with resultant life change (“living epistles” in 3:3 make sure you understand that), which causes Paul's ministry to be approved or commended by the recipients conscience (awareness of what is good or bad), as they are blessed by it (“Hey, this stuff works, try it!”). Paul does so in full consciousness that he serves in the sight of God (doing what is right in His sight – see 5:9-10).
4:3-7 The good news or gospel that Paul was preaching “is having been hidden” in/among those who are perishing. This is a periphrastic perfect (like Ephesians 2:8) using a present and a perfect verb to emphasize the present continuing results of something that happened in the past. See chapter 3 (last post) and Acts 28:27 for the callousness to truth that results in the “veiling.” Note that the perfect indicates an event in the past, not a state in which one was born. It's something that occurred as a specific event in one's history. This should be earth (or at least theology) shattering for some. Those who reject truth, wind up being insensitive to it, so that even if it is proclaimed and authenticated with miracles, they won't see it. Those are the ones who are perishing (headed to judgment and destruction), which in the context is loss of reward/glorification, not lack of justification. Note the passage is about glory.
The god of this world, Satan (who grasped at the glory of God and missed it) has blinded (aorist tense, giving a snapshot of usually past action) the minds (to which he has access) of the unbelieving (those who aren't believing Paul's message), lest the light of the gospel of the glory (it's about the glory, not forgiveness) of the Messiah, the image of God (the promised ruler of the world to come) should not dawn on them (so they won't get the glory).
This is the message Paul preaches about Jesus the Messiah, as Lord, and why he views himself as a servant of Jesus for the benefit of the Corinthians (who are already justified).
The God of creation began this world with “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), a localized manifestation of the glory/energy of God, that eventually took shape as our material world (temporarily, the end is coming). God commanded the light to shine out of darkness and also to shine in our hearts. This is a reference to the Holy Spirit (see verse 7) being given to believers (Ephesians 1:17-18), so that they might know the hope (of glory - Ephesians 1:18; 4:1) that accompanies their belief/calling. This shining gives the light (here Paul's being clever again with multiple shades of meanings being given to the same concept in the same passages), which in this instance is the Spirit giving the knowledge of the glory of God, because they've already received the first down-payment (2 Corinthians 1:22). Since they've received the first-installment they know that it exists and is possible, and for them. This is the glory God has promised to those faithful to the Messiah, which is experienced in the face/presence of Christ, the Messiah (cf 2 Corinthians 3:18). But they have this treasure (of a measure of the Spirit shining in them like a firefly flying around in a jar) in an earthen vessel, so that God's power/glory might be seen rather than theirs. As they depend on Him, his power will shine through them as He strengthens and protects, but there is a different shining that Paul has in mind, as elaborated in the next section.
4:8-12 As an common earthen vessel, Paul, and those serving with him, experience difficulties because of their service of Christ in Satan's world, filled with his agents. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31 that “I die daily.” In verse 10 Paul uses dying (nekrosis) rather than death (thanatos) to make the point that he is constantly dying to self (same verb in Colossians 3:5 -mortify) which is sourced in his relationship with Christ, not proclaiming the death (thanatos) of Christ. He dies daily to do the Father's will, as Christ did, so the the life of Christ might be revealed in his body. This is the use of a subjunctive aorist to give a snapshot of a future event. Verse 11 just elaborates what he described in verse 10. Those who live for Jesus will die daily (Luke 9:23-26 “take cross and follow me to glory”), so the life/dominion/glory of Christ will be manifest, revealed, in the mortal flesh (as it is swallowed up by life 5:4). Verse 12 means that as Paul ministers for the benefit of the Corinthian believers, death is at work in him, so that life might be at work in them.
4:13-19 Because Paul believes what God has revealed, he speaks the truth (risking death), knowing that if he dies, God will raise him up (and give him glory) just like He did with Christ. That glorification will occur with those who respond to the truth. Paul ministers by the grace of God so that the Corinthians will receive it and multiply it so there will be much thanksgiving, which reveals God at work, and thus His glory. Therefore, Paul doesn't lose heart. Though outwardly he experiences the wear and tear of opposition, his inner self (man is added) is being renewed (only used in Colossians 3:10) daily. At first glance this looks like something that happens in the here and now, but the next verse makes it clear that it is future glory. Verse 17 makes it obvious that Paul is talking about his glory in the kingdom (as does the next chapter). He views the daily dying as a lightweight annoyance, which produces (works out) a far greater and more abundant glory, that he describes as eternal (vs temporal affliction), and weighty (vs lightweight affliction). Suffering to do the will of God is meritorious and earns a reward (a future bestowal of grace -1 Peter 1). Those who've never studied grace should, to see how the Bible uses it in past/justification, present/sanctification, and future/glorification aspects. Fortunately there is a Survey of Grace on Truthbase.net, which does that for you, but study it yourself and develop your own convictions.
So Paul focuses not on what is seen, the temporal afflictions, but on what is not seen, the eternal glory with which he will be clothed, if he endures (see next chapter) when Christ returns.
Application: Outward suffering for the right reasons produces a weight of glory that makes it all worth while, so don't look at the pain, look at the gain.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks for Your model of suffering righteously for doing the will of the Father; may I deny myself to follow You, and share in Your glory as You've promised. Amen.
2 Corinthians 5 Getting Your Glory-Suit
6 Therefore, we are always confident and know 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 courageous, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.
9 Therefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
10 For we must all be revealed/appear before the judgment seat of Christ;
that each one may receive the things in the body, according to what he has done,
whether good or bad.
11 Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are revealed to God; and I hope that we are revealed also in your consciences. 12 For we are not commending ourselves to you again, but speak as giving you occasion of boasting on our behalf, that you may have something to answer 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 sober mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ constrains us; because we judge thus, that one died for all, therefore all died. 15 He died for all, that those who live should no longer live to themselves, but to Him who for their sakes died and rose again.
16 Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. 18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
Observations: 5:1-8 Paul knows that our earthly body is just a temporary tent compared to the enduring building God has for us in heaven, which lasts forever. Therefore, while in this decaying mortal human form, we groan (as in express grief), longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that we might not be found naked.
Romans 8:23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.
I still remember a conversation I had a quarter century ago, with an acquaintance, for fifteen minutes one night, under a street lamp across from Carnegie Hall. He said, grace, light, power, and glory, are synonyms; then he referenced something about nakedness in Genesis, and our passage in 5:2, and challenged me to check it out. As I walked home, a light flickered, and as I dug into the Scriptures, it became a floodlight that has shone clearly though all the difficult passages of the Bible (thanks Ron!). God's grace is the coin of the realm of heaven; it's what enables business to be transacted in the spiritual realm, and accomplishes God's purposes on earth as well. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we see that it powers saints on earth as well. God's grace or power is a manifestation of His character. The Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29) is also the Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14). I don't want to deprive you of the joy of discovery, but will highlight the case for the terms being synonymous as we progress. See the discussion under Digging Deeper for Nakedness in Genesis, where it's seen how salvation reverses the effects of the Fall, regaining the right to live forever -justification, the holiness and relationship with God that Adam lost -sanctification, and finally restores us to glory -glorification. This is the sense in which Paul doesn't want to be found naked. He wants to be clothed with glory, a glory-suit, so that what is mortal (his physical body) may be swallowed up by life (glory). But wait, there's more. This is the purpose for which God has created us! If you understand Ephesians 3:10, you know this. If not, see comments there, or under Digging Deeper. God has made us for future glory (not just present forgiveness/justification), and given us the first installment of that future glory, but putting the Spirit in our earthen vessel (this is parallel to the parable of the talents the servants received in the gospel, if you get this, you're seeing clearly). Knowing that God's plan is to restore believers to pre-Fall glory, merited though faithful suffering (see Job), Paul has confidence to face the trials, realizing that while in the physical body we are away from our real home which is in heaven with the glorified Lord.
5:9-10 Therefore (conclusion which follows from the above) Paul wants to please God, so he'll receive glory from Him. Paul gives us his ambition and motivation: his aim is to be well-pleasing to his Lord; his motivation is knowing that he'll be judged and receive good or bad in his body, according to what he has done (as in hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” - you have to have done something, done it well, been good, been faithful, and been a servant, to hear this). See the detailed explanation and analysis of verses 9-10 under 7 PASSAGES (Our Relationship with the Lord Jesus) in the sidebar. Memorize, study, and meditate on these verses, they make all the difference in this life and the next. Your choice.
5:11-15 Knowing the fear of the Lord (being careful to do what is right in His sight because He is the just Judge of both believers and unbelievers), Paul persuades men regarding the truth regardless of the opposition. God knows what he does and why, and the conscience of the Corinthians should as well. Paul isn't boasting, but giving them ammunition to defend him against the agents of the dark side. If he appears a fool, it's for Christ's sake (remember Festus in Acts 26:24-25). If on the other hand, Paul appears sane, it is for the purpose of ministering to them. The love of Christ is either Christ's love for people or Paul's love for Christ, both are possible and both senses are used in other Scriptures, but the former (a subjective genitive) is preferable in light of the context. The following verses speak of God loving people as shown by His death for them (Romans 5:8), but the preceding argument is that of fearing the Lord and appearing before His judgment seat. He wants to do what is pleasing to Christ, which is having on his heart what is on Christ's heart, which is the reconciliation of people to Himself (so He's able to share His glory with them in His kingdom is the fuller story). Since Christ died for all, all were dead (lacked dominion, see comments on eternal life under Digging Deeper), and thus needed to be brought back to life, so that they would not live for themselves, but for Him who died for their forgiveness, and was raised for their glorification (see comments on Romans 4:25).
5:16-21 As a result of his commitment to Christ' purposes, Paul no longer views people from a worldly perspective. Anyone in Christ is a new creation, the old person is gone and the new is here to stay. See comments on 5:17 in the TMS section of the post on Romans 6. God has reconciled or brought back into relationship (Matthew 5:24) those who were alienated from Him, and given them the job of ambassadors to bring others into relationship with Him. Verse 20 is either: 1) the content of what Paul announces; or 2) an appeal to the Corinthians, who were already believers; or 3) an appeal to those were some who were antagonistic to Paul, and not believers. The best choice is number 2; the concept of reconciliation goes beyond forgiveness to a holy and righteous relationship, to which Paul was exhorting them. This fits the opening plea and concluding appeal of the next chapter, to not receive the grace of God in vain, and be holy and blessed by God. Thus verse 21 is saying that Jesus died for our sins, so that in Him, or better, in union with Him, we might (hina+subjunctive = intended, not guaranteed purpose, otherwise it would have been “result”). It appears that Paul uses reconciliation in two senses. To the world (verse 19) it involves not counting their trespasses against them; but to those who believe (who have been reconciled in that sense) God wants a relationship that can only be achieved by holy righteousness (verse 20). The next chapter will make this point (6:1; 14-18), so don't reject it until you read and understand it in the context.
Application: Make it your ambition to do well at the judgment seat of Christ by doing what is pleasing in His sight, which will involve righteously reconciling others to Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks for dying for me so that I might be reconciled to You, and share in Your future glory; may I live so as to hear You say: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Amen.
Matters of Life and Death
Matters of Life and Death
Adam and Eve were originally clothed with glory in the Garden. God said that in the “day” they ate the fruit they would die. They ate, but then are running around playing hide 'n seek with God. They don't look very dead. Then they get kicked out of the Garden, and live for hundreds of years. How did they die? The clue is in recognizing that in the day they ate, the first thing that happened is that they noticed they were naked. It's not like that was the first time they looked down. In Genesis 2:25 the text says they were naked and not ashamed. But now they were, and sought to cover themselves. Previously they had been covered. Their nakedness is the major subject of the interaction with God after they sinned, and He takes steps to update their wardrobe with fur, instead of their vegan approach. Previously they had been covered with glory, and their glory departed.
Adam and Eve had a Suzerain-Vassal relationship with God. They needed to be loyal to Him, and He would protect and bless them. By rebelling against His rule they violated the covenant, and were deposed from rulership. An Ancient Near Eastern text records a Suzerain (greater power, like an emperor) saying that his Vassal (a lesser power like a king or governor) was unfaithful, so he “slew” him or “put him to death” and led him captive in chains back to the Suzerain's capital city where the Vassal served out the rest of his days in the dungeon. What? How can he be put to death and then be grinding grain in the dungeon? To put to death was to deprive someone of dominion or rulership. To live is to exercise dominion or rulership. God makes the same promise to the nation in Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy 30:15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil... 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;"
Physical death can be viewed as a lack of dominion or volition. A corpse can't do much.
What Adam and Eve lost in the Fall is reversed in Christ, in chiastic order:
Lost glory (naked-loss of dominion)
Lost holiness and an un-hindred relationship with God (ashamed; hide 'n seek)
Lost the right to live forever (sin-no tree of life)
Gain right to live for ever (forgiveness-escape lake of fire) = justification
Gain relationship with God and progressive holiness = sanctification
Gain glory-suit (clothed with life, restoration to glory and dominion and blessing in the future kingdom of the Messiah) = glorification.
God's overall purpose in our world is to glorify Himself. He does this by displaying His character, power and glory. When He blesses faithful believers with glory, He reveals that He is the One with all the glory. Hence those who seek after glory, glorify Him. We'll see more of this theme in the upcoming epistles. But who is He trying to impress?
One of God's purposes in giving us glory is to demonstrate to Satan and his hench-angels that they should have obeyed (Ephesians 3:10). The oldest book of the Bible, Job, has this theme as well. God creates and blesses (when they obey Him) an inferior being, man, to show that obedience is a just requirement, which Satan and company should have followed. If man can obey, the fallen angels should have. This explains Satan's attack on Job, and his blinding people to the light of the glory (he doesn't blind them to forgiveness, but the glory).
I'll elaborate more on this section in the future, so if you see another link or reference to it, check it out; it will be “new and improved” just like we should be.
God in a nutshell: God wants to reconcile people to Himself so He can bless them, and reverse the effects of the Fall in our salvation.
Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is not only the suffering Savior, but the coming Lord, Judge, and King, before whose judgment seat we believers will be judged for what we've done in our bodies.
Us in a nutshell: We lost our glory as humans in Adam, but we can gain it back in Christ, if we live as God instructs. Why wouldn't we?
Where to Go for More:
2 Corinthians 1-3 Encouragement, Liberty, Glory
Psalm 139:1-24 Awesomely and Wonderfully Created
7 Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, and settle in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand will hold me. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me; the light around me will be night"; 12 even the darkness doesn’t hide from you, but the night shines as the day. The darkness is like light to you.
(NIV to 18)13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully/awesomely and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would kill the wicked. Get away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20 For they speak against you wickedly. Your enemies take your name in vain. 21 Yahweh, don’t I hate those who hate you? Am I not grieved with those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred. They have become my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. 24 See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."
Observations: 139:1-24 Wicked people build their worth and value by putting others down. Prideful people build their worth and value by accomplishments at the expense of others. Godly people build their worth and value by doing what is pleasing in His sight. But all of God's children can find worth and value in God's knowledge and creation of them.
139:1-12 David draws comfort from God's omniscience (139:1-6) and omnipresence (139:7-12). God knows everything that goes on in our lives, and there is no place we can go that is outside the realm of His care for us.
139:13-18 David praises God for His omnipotence in creating him as He did. God created us as He wanted us to be. We humans are awesome and wonderful creations (in the image of God – Gen 1), with a purpose and meaning by virtue of being created by God, who has planned days and good works for us (Eph 2:10). He doesn't make mistakes nor trash. There are no accidents. This gives us worth and value, and the basis of a good self image (what's not to like?). Anyone who doesn't appreciate God's handiwork doesn't have good taste, and isn't worth paying any attention to. God thinks the world of you, so why should you care what morons don't think?
139:19-24 David asks God to eliminate his enemies who are also God's enemies, since David is God's loyal friend. He also asks for God to reveal anything he needs to change or improve so that he can get to where God wants him to go.
Application: Accept yourself as the wonderful creation of God which you are, and devote your energies to fulfilling the purposes for which He knit you together.
Prayer: God, I praise You for the wonderful job You did in planning and creating me. Search me, God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked or offensive way in me, and guide me in the way that is more pleasing to You. Amen.
TMS Matthew 18:20 Corporate Prayer
in My name,
I am there
in the midst of them."
Observations: 18:20 This is used as a passage about fellowship in the TMS, but its major context is that of church discipline (see comments on Mt 18). There believers were gathered to do God's will in helping an erring believer respond to reproof and rebuke, and rejoin the fellowship of believers. (Like the situation in 1Cor 5 referenced below). As believers gather in the power/authority/name of Jesus, which would imply submission to His will, to do His will, then He is there in the midst of them. This is not what constitutes a Church, but the same dynamic should apply. God's ears are always open to the prayers of His people (2Chronicles 6:39; 30:27), when they seek Him according to His will. Two or 2,000 carnal Christians gathered and chanting “Jesus, Jesus” probably isn't what He had in mind. See Catacomb Church Blog on corporate prayer.
Application: God listens to three, two, or even one person who prays to Him under the conditions He has specified, namely, in His name, submitted to His will.
Prayer: God, thanks that You are present in the prayers and praises of Your people; thanks for the privilege of being able to seek You and pray together. Amen.
2 Corinthians 1-3 This epistle has some of the best teaching on glory (2Cor 4-5), giving (2Cor 7-8), and grace (2Cor 12), but the rest deals with the heart of Paul in fighting the spiritual battle for the welfare of the Corinthians, some of whom despise him. Poor Paul is like the parent with ungrateful and rebellious children. God gave the Corinthians life through him, and he tended and cared for them, only to have them go over to the dark side and fight against him. The background is a little difficult to reconstruct, but goes something like this: Paul had established the Church (Acts 18) and ministered there for a year and a half; he wrote a letter, the prequel to 1Corinthinans, which we don't have, trying to correct problems; he wrote 1Corinthians trying to correct still remaining problems, but Satan's agents fought against the truth and sought to discredit Paul; he visited again, referenced in chapter two, which didn't go well; he wrote a third letter, the severe and sorrowful one, delivered by Titus, which is not extant; some responded to truth, some still resisted, so he writes this fourth letter, 2Corinthians, and plans to visit again. The exact flow is difficult to follow since much is written to not present truth but persuade without hurting feelings, so it is veiled and shaded. However, in this post there are some clear principles on suffering, encouragement, ministry, and the Holy Spirit worth noting and applying.
2 Corinthians 1 Encouragement to Endure
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the assembly of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies/hesed and God of all comfort/encouragement; 4 who comforts/encourages us in all our affliction/tribulation, that we may be able to comfort/encourage those who are in any affliction/trouble, through the comfort/encouragement with which we ourselves are comforted/encouraged by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort/encouragement also abounds through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort/encouagement and salvation. If we are comforted/encouraged, it is for your comfort/encouragement, which produces in you the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.
7 Our hope for you is steadfast, knowing that, since you are partakers of the sufferings, so also are you of the comfort/consolation/encouragement. 8 For we don’t desire to have you uninformed, brothers, concerning our affliction which happened to us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, so much that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us out of so great a death, and does deliver; on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us; 11 you also helping together on our behalf by your supplication; that, for the gracething bestowed on us by means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on your behalf.
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we write no other things to you, than what you read or even acknowledge, and I hope you will acknowledge to the end; 14 as also you acknowledged us in part, that we are your boasting, even as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.
15 In this confidence, I was determined to come first to you, that you might have a second benefit; 16 and by you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and to be sent forward by you on my journey to Judea. 17 When I therefore was thus determined, did I show fickleness? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be the "Yes, yes" and the "No, no?" 18 But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not "Yes and no." 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not "Yes and no," but in him is "Yes." 20 For however many are the promises of God, in him is the "Yes." Therefore also through him is the "Amen," to the glory of God through us. 21 Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; 22 who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts. 23 But I call God for a witness to my soul, that I didn’t come to Corinth to spare you. 24 Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are fellow workers with you for your joy. For you stand firm in/by faith.
Observations: 1:1-11 Paul opens with a wish for the Corinthians to receive the blessings of grace and peace from God. He then blesses the God who blesses His people by comforting/encouraging them in all their affliction. The translation of “comfort” is somewhat misleading. The word (parakaleo Strong''s #3870) literally means to “call along side,” not “come alongside.” It is more usually translated “beseech” or “exhort” in the KJV, but in modern times “encourage” is preferred in most contexts. “Comfort” has the idea of “there-there now,” as in comforting a toddler who got a boo-boo on their knee. There is a Greek word for this (paramutheomai Strong's #3888) which means to “speak alongside” and used of folks consoling Mary and Martha over the death of their brother (Jn 11:19,31). The only other times it is used in the NT are in 1Thessalonians 2:11 and 5:14.
The purpose of encouragement is to produce courage for “patient enduring of suffering” (verse 6), not the marshmallow comfort of feeling that something bad shouldn't have happened to you. There is a place for that, but Paul's usage of encouragement, here, and at other places is that of strengthening to face difficulties. So God gives encouragement in tough times (usually through the truth -Rom 15:4 encouragement). When we are weighed down beyond our power to endure, we draw on His power and grace to endure (by abiding in Christ, the Vine, and His words -Jn 15). But God does this, so we can use what we've learned to help others, thus having a fruitful ministry in helping them persevere for the prize (saved=glorification -verse 6). Paul doesn't trust in His strength to endure, but trusts in God who raises the dead (as happened to him at Lystra -Acts 14:19).
Paul's hope on behalf of the Corinthians is sure, because as they partake of suffering they will partake of the encouragement or reward (Rom 8:17). God has delivered, does deliver, and will deliver. The three aspects of salvation (justification, sanctification, and glorification) are in these verses. Notice that the hope is in the future aspect of God's deliverance. Paul considers the prayers of the believers an aid in his deliverance, so that thanks and praise might be given by many to God.
1:12-24 In the second half of the chapter Paul turns to defending himself and message against the accusations and fault-finding of Satan's agents, because he had changed his plans to visit them. In not coming to visit them when they were more engrossed in sin, he was sparing them the judgment they would experience in person. In verse 20 God is glorified as we respond affirmatively to His promises (causing the revelation of His character, actions, and bestowal of reward). In verse 21 Paul states that God “establishes” (as in on a foundation), “anoints” (as in empowers), and “seals” (as protectively mark). Paul says that the Holy Spirit is a down-payment, or promise of more to come (the Spirit of Glory). See comments on Ephesians 1.
Paul mentions an important ministry principle, in the last verse. God gives authority to leaders to build others up in their faith (belief and trust in God's revelation), for them to experience joy (fellow-workers with the individuals for their joy). Sometimes bad leadership is more concerned about their own joy, rather than the joy of those they serve. Usually those who object to authority are not walking or living by God's promises (Heb 11:6), and don't have joy to begin with.
Application: God gives encouragement in difficult times so we can endure, and help others as we've been helped.
Prayer: God, thanks that You give encouragement in response to my prayers and those of others, so I can draw upon you grace and endure for the prize; please guide me in helping others experience Your encouragement. Amen.
2 Corinthians 2 Fragrance of Life or Death
5 But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow, not to me, but in part (that I not press too heavily) to you all. 6 Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many; 7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his excessive sorrow. 8 Therefore I beg you to confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now I also forgive whomever you forgive anything. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
12 Now when I came to Troas for the Good News of Christ, and when a door was opened to me in/by the Lord, 13 I had no relief for my spirit, because I didn’t find Titus, my brother, but taking my leave of them, I went out into Macedonia. 14 Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and reveals through us the sweet aroma of his knowledge in every place. 15 For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God, in those who are being saved, and in those who are perishing; 16 to the one a stench from death to death; to the other a sweet aroma from life to life. 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 of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ.
Observations: 2:1-4 Paul had written the second lost letter (see intro) not to make them sad, but to cause them to repent. Our initial reaction to someone reproving or rebuking us is to think that they hate us; but the opposite is usually the case. Only those who genuinely love us will care enough about our present and eternal destiny to risk rejection in saying something we might not want to hear. The Corinthians were a source of joy to Paul, so he wouldn't want to cause them unnecessary sorrow.
2:5-11 Many think that this section refers to the incestuous sinner from 1Corinthians 5 who had been disciplined by the Body, per Paul's instructions, although some think it refers to someone who had slighted Paul (about which we have no context). The former view has more to commend it, since it does give us a context and instruction for accepting back into fellowship those who repent. By continuing to shun the repentant believer and not forgive them, bitterness would result, a red-flag for attracting demonic attention and resultant defilement of many (Heb 12:15). The purpose of God is not to have us dwell on past sin, but present holiness, and future glory. Satan's purpose is otherwise.
2:12-17 Paul goes back to His change of travel plans, in looking for Titus, who is mentioned eight times more in this book, than in the one that bears his name. Apparently Titus had information about the Corinthians that Paul was anxious to know, because of his concern for them. It was in Troas that Paul first received his Macedonian call (Acts 16:8-9), which resulted in his ministry to the Corinthians. He arrived there through much persecution and affliction. Reflecting on the ministry that resulted, Paul praises God for the victory over the trials that God had given the apostolic band, as they were in union with Christ. Through them, the sweet aroma of Christ was revealed to all, to those who are being saved (present tense) Christ is the aroma of life. To those who reject and are perishing, it is the stench of death. God makes them sufficient/worthy/adequate (3:45) for this honor and labor. Paul doesn't peddle the word of God for personal profit, but speaks with pure motives (sincerity) knowing he will have to give an account to God.
Application: We need to forgive ourselves and others as God has forgiven us, so we can move on, away from our sin, to better and brighter things; otherwise, Satan will use guilt, bitterness, and disunity to disrupt God's plans for our lives.
Prayer: God, thanks that You accept us back into fellowship with You when we repent; may we accept ourselves, and each other, as You have accepted us. Amen.
2 Corinthians 3 From Glory to Glory
3:1 Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God; 5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God;
6 who also made us sufficient as servants/ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the service/ministry of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away: 8 won’t service of the Spirit be with much more glory? 9 For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses. 11 For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
12 Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, 13 and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn’t look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away. 14 But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away. 15 But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 But whenever 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 Now, we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Observations: 3:1-5 Paul wants to establish his credibility so the Corinthians will listen and follow what he says. But since some would charge him with presumptuous self-promotion, he cites the work in the lives of the Corinthians as his letter of recommendation from the Spirit of God. Wisdom is justified by her children. They, at least the ones who heard and obeyed, fleshed out the word of God in their lives, becoming living epistles. This wasn't a result of Paul, but God working through Paul to bless them, as Paul spoke God's word.
3:6-16 Paul then contrasts the letter of the law which God wrote to tablets of stone in the OT, which produces death for sin, with that which the Spirit wrote in their hearts and results in life. Probably some of Paul's detractors were Jewish (as was the case in much of Acts), so he demonstrates the superiority of the glory of the Spirit in the New Covenant to that of the Old Covenant (much like the author of Hebrews does). Paul was a minister of the New Covenant (see comments on Jer 31:31), specifically that aspect of the Spirit giving life. The OT came with a glory that fades, as shown by Moses losing the mountain glow. The NT has a greater glory, which surpasses that of the Law. The glory of the NT will remain, as the next two chapters detail. This is Paul's hope. Many Jews, in both the time of Moses and Paul's time, reject God's law and authority in their lives, and thus their minds became insensitive to truth and were hardened.
Acts 28:27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them."
So they don't respond to the truth and turn to God. But when the Holy Spirit convicts them (Jn 16:8), and they turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away, and they can see clearly.
6:17-18 Paul equates the Lord with the Spirit (see sentence immediately above). Where the Spirit of the Lord is (who now resides in their hearts as a seal – see 1:22) there is liberty, or freedom, from sin (Jn 8:31-32; Rm 6:18) and the law, and death (Rm 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.). Now, having the veil removed, and seeing clearly the glory of the Lord, we are transformed (metamorphosized). This word is used of us in Romans 12:1-2 when we go from being carnal caterpillars to beautiful butterflies, by the renewing of our minds, and of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17:2; Mk 9:2) when He was seen clothed with His glory. The former leads to the latter for us. We are transformed into the same image, for one degree of glory to another, as a result of the ministry of the Spirit, who conforms us to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29), as we focus on Him.
Application: As we turn to the Lord, and keep focused on Him, we will be changed into His image.
Prayer: God, thanks for the ministry of Your Holy Spirit in my life, and Your desire to give me freedom and glory; may I be responsive and receptive, and become more like Jesus. Amen.
God in a nutshell: God gives encouragement so we can endure, and share it with others. God always leads those who follow Him into victory.
Build-a-Jesus: Jesus shines in hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling those who receive Him to be transformed into His image and share in His glory.
Us in a nutshell: Those who seek to serve God will be welcome by those who seek God according to truth, and despised by those who don't. God's servants are made sufficient by God's Spirit to do His will, regardless of the response of others. Those who respond well, become like Christ, both now, and in the future.
Where to Go for More:
1 Corinthians 15-16 Gospel of Resurrection
Psalm 138:1-8 God's Word and Ways
6 For though Yahweh is high, yet he looks after the lowly; but the proud, he knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me. You will stretch forth your hand against the wrath of my enemies. Your right hand will save me. 8 Yahweh will fulfill that which concerns me; your hesed/loyal covenantal love, Yahweh, endures forever. Don’t forsake the works of your own hands."
Observations: 138:1-8 In the midst of trouble, David praises God for exalting His word and ways/name. “Name” is put for the character, reputation and authority or power of God. He reveals His name in rescuing His humble servants and answering their prayers, in accord with His hesed and faithfulness to His promises. God is exalted on high, but looks after the humble (Isa 57:10); the proud don't have a close relationship with Him. God displays His glory by revealing His name, ie, encouraging, strengthening and delivering or saving those loyal to Him. David trusts in God's enduring loyalty/hesed to save him, and fulfill the promises God made to him.
Application: Since God has exalted His word and ways above all, it makes sense to devote the best of our efforts to knowing and following them.
Prayer: God, thanks for being the God who communicates, and remains ever true to His promises; may I know and trust You more and more intimately each passing day. Amen.
TMS Philippians 4:6-7 Get the Peace of God and God of Peace
but in everything
by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy --- meditate on these things.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.“
Observations: Phil 4:6-7 These verses are a great encouragement to pray about whatever concerns you. Prayer is conversation in a relationship (See studies on Prayer on Truthbase.net, including the Survey of Biblical Teaching on Prayer that encompasses all the instructions on prayer in the Bible). If you're just doing what comes naturally, you're not praying in the Spirit, nor Biblically. As a child of God, you have the privilege to talk with Your heavenly Father about everything in your life, getting guidance, encouragement, admonishment, strength and perspective, as well as answers. Prayer is expressing dependence upon God, which is why proud people have lousy prayer lives, and rarely pray for their daily bread and needs. Prayer is for getting things (“Ask and it shall be given to you” said Jesus -Mt 7:7; “You have not because you ask not” -Js 4:2). We might not get the exact thing we asked for, because God won't give His faithful children what isn't best for them. So rest in His peace, because you know He knows what's best. Fortifying yourself with prayer (more praise focus in God's ability and sufficiency, like Jesus in the Garden acknowledging that God could do anything) and supplication (more of a petition, asking), with thanksgiving (that He knows what's going on, what you need, and what's best), is the way to guard your mind from anxiety, and your heart from bad, panic decisions. The peace of God will guard you.
Own this verse by studying it (see 7PASSAGES in the sidebar) and then pass it on to others.
4:8-9 But wait! There's more! Getting anxious, praying, getting peace...getting anxious, praying, getting peace, is an oft-repeated cycle, that misses out on something far better. Would you rather have the peace of God, or the God of peace? To get God Himself, follow the steps in verses 8-9. Focus on the right things, and obey what you know is right, and God will be with you (John 14:21).
Application: Develop the habit of automatically praying when encountering whatever causes anxiety and experience the peace of God. Even better, practice the skills in 4:8-9 to experience the God of Peace.
Prayer: God of peace, thanks that I can pray to You about anything that causes me concern, and thanks that I can know You and Your ways to the extent that I need not be concerned about anything except pleasing You. Amen.
1Corinthians 15-16 Chapter 15 serves as the climax of the book, explaining the implications of the gospel and the resurrection. The fact of Christ's resurrection is used to prove that we will be resurrected. And if that is the case, it makes a huge difference in how we live, because our behavior in this life determines our glory in the next. Don't be deceived about this, your labor will be rewarded, your laziness won't.
1 Corinthians 15 The Full Gospel of Glory
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who is not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the assembly of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Whether then it is I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. 15 Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn’t raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. 18 Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits, then those who are Christ’s, at his coming. 24 Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For, "He put all things in subjection under his feet." But when he says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him. 28 When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.
29 Or else what will they do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead aren’t raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If I fought with animals at Ephesus for human purposes, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, then "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 33 Don’t be deceived! "Evil companionships corrupt good morals." 34 Wake up to righteousness, and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised?" and, "With what kind of body do they come?" 36 You foolish one, that which you yourself sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 That which you sow, you don’t sow the body that will be, but a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind. 38 But God gives it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial differs from that of the terrestrial. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However that which is spiritual isn’t first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let’s also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood can’t inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Observations: 15:1-2 Paul recaps what he preached to the Corinthians, as a motivation for Christ honoring, other-centered lifestyles. Everyone knows verses 3 and 4, which “define” the gospel, but most are clueless about the surrounding context, which put the facts of the gospel in its applicational context. Take this two question quiz: Is salvation conditional? Do all get the same thing in heaven? If you read the text above, it should be obvious that the correct answers are yes, and no. See comments on the introduction to Matthew for the different aspects/meanings of “salvation.” Once justified, always justified by faith is always true. But sanctification and glorification are different stories. Paul writes to those who received the gospel, and believed it, and stand in/on it, as the basis of their future hope. But, if they don't hold firmly the word that Paul preached, they will have believed in vain. In Acts Paul summarizes what he taught all over, including to the Corinthians:
Acts 24:15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
Acts 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
Those who don't hold firmly to the message will lose out on the hope that Christ's resurrection offers. They can believe, but their belief will be in vain. People can also receive God's grace in vain (2Cor 6:1). Paul elaborates what he means about “in vain” in verse 10. Grace is supposed to produce fruitful labor for the kingdom. It's not about getting sins forgiven but about receiving one's hope, or reward. What is your belief producing for you?
15:3-11 The message, gospel or good news, preached by Paul and the other apostles had two parts. First, the Messiah died for our sins, according to the first part of Isaiah 53, and was buried, as proof. This is good, because it pays the eternal death penalty for our sins, so we don't have to. This is only part one. The news part of the good news, which at first glance isn't news to most people is that Christ was resurrected, according to the very last part of Isaiah 53. The last verse in Isaiah 53 talks about the Messiah dividing the spoil of His victory (rulership/glory over the earth) with others (as does the rest of Isaiah, and other passages). That's the part which is news to many. It's not just about getting our sins forgiven, but about getting glory, which the rest of chapter 15 will demonstrate. Paul first provides additional proof of Christ's resurrection so it can't be denied when he starts applying it. He tells us about Christ's appearance to Peter and James which we wouldn't know about otherwise, and the 500. Then Paul refers to Christ's appearance to him. He confesses his unworthiness to be an apostle because of his past persecution of the church, but then writes the words that have given hope to all who truly understand their sin: “But, by the grace of God I am what I am.” The past gets wiped out by the grace of God and all things become new to those who believe. Those who hold firmly to that message, go on to use the grace/power of God according to His purposes, the gaining of glory. When God pours out glory on His faithful saints, He is seen as having it, and thus is glorified. That's the message the apostles preached (cf 1Pt 1 and James) and what NT believers believed.
15:12-19 But there are always those doing the Devil's work who deny truth, particularly that about glory (the stuff Satan grasped at and lost). There were some denying that there is a resurrection from the dead (in which the righteous will be rewarded -Daniel 12:2-3; Lk 14:14). Paul says that if there is no resurrection, then Christ wasn't raised, and we're all headed to the lake of fire. Those who died, will miss out on the future kingdom of the Messiah, since they won't get resurrected. If we only have hope of blessing in this life, we're to be most pitied, because those who followed in times of persecution would often be deprived of temporal benefits, and then martyred, and wind up with nothing.
15:20-28 But Christ has been resurrected, and became the first fruits of those who have already died. The first fruits were offered to God as an expression of faith that more would come. So Christ, then those who had died (1Thess 4:14-17), then those who are alive at Christ's coming to set up and rule over the Messianic Kingdom. He will reign until all his enemies are subjected to Him, the last being death. Then He will submit Himself to the Father that He might be all in all.
15:29-34 There apparently was a practice, mentioned only here in the NT, of the Corinthians baptizing people in the place of those who died. The Eleusian mystery religion, in the town next to Corinthian has a such a practice. The cult was built around the annual spring resurrection of Persephone, who had been abducted by Hades. The initiates believed that those who knew the mysteries and practiced them would be resurrected to reward in the future. The baptism probably symbolized identification with the death and resurrection of the goddess. This is parallel to Christian water baptism, usually the first step of discipleship, symbolizing the death to self and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6). Spirit baptism, immersion in the power of the Spirit ,was true of all believers as Paul taught in 1Corinthians 12. So, based on the spiritual immaturity of the Corinthians, they might have assumed everyone needed to be baptized, and might have been baptizing people in the place of those who had believed, but had not gotten a chance to be baptized. This is nowhere commanded and runs contrary to the emphasized importance of individual responsibility and faith on the part of each person. Paul alludes to the custom, to make his point, that there was belief in a resurrection in this practice, not to validate the practice (since much of what he said about justification by faith would invalidate it).
Paul then appeals to the practice of his own life and that of his fellow-laborers. If there is no resurrection, if this life is all there is, then one might as well eat and drink and live for this world, because when we die, it's all over. This was also common in stoicism and epicureanism, one of the few beliefs shared by both philosophies. This is the attitude John the Baptist called people to repent of (Luke 3). If there is no resurrection and reward, then there is no profit in self-sacrificial service. Verse 33 is another of the “Don't be deceived” passages directed at NT believers, and also dealing with consequences and loss of reward for badly behaving believers (cf 1Cor 6; Gal 5). The evil company they were hanging around was corrupting their good moral intentions. Paul reprimands them sharply, telling them to wake up to righteousness (because they're missing it), and to stop sinning (because they are). They, the sinning believers (see 15:1-2), living just for this world, have no knowledge of God. They should be, and will be ashamed. Note the corrective is not to believe that Jesus died for their sins, but to start living in light of that. Those who think that if a person sins they were never a believer have the same knowledge problem the Corinthians did (and don't know the Bible either).
15:35-50 Paul next deals with the objection of those limited by only what they can and have seen, namely, the question of what kind of body would a resurrected worm-eaten person have? Just like a grain of wheat dies and decays to give rise to a new form, so the human body will decay and give rise to a new form. There are differences between kinds of flesh, and between terrestrial (earthly) and celestial (heavenly) bodies. There are also variations in the glory that the heavenly bodies have, and even within the class of stars, each differs in degress of glory or power. Note that this is about believers getting differing degrees of glory. Some will get more or less than others based upon their faithfulness, and suitability for reward. Those who eat, drink and live like this world is all there is will not have the same reward of those who fight the good fight of faith like the apostle Paul. Just like we have borne the earthly image of the first Adam in having a living soul (mind, will, emotions), so we will bear the heavenly image of Jesus, the second Adam, who is a life-giving Spirit. Flesh and blood can't have an inheritance in the Kingdom coming from God (as promised in the OT, the Messiah's Rule), just like corruption inherits incorruption (it's the other way around).
15:51-57 Paul concludes with proclaiming a mystery (previously unrevealed truth) that brings him back to the beginning of the chapter. We will not all remain dead when we die, but will all be changed. When Christ returns at the last trumpet in Revelation 11:15 believers will be resurrected (1Thess 4:16) for reward and rulership in the kingdom, and then they will be given their glory, and rule. Being given glorified bodies (see the important comments on 2Cor 5), swallows up corruption and death. God gives victory over death through the relationship with our Lord Jesus the Messiah.
2Corinthans 5:3 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 purpose is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a first installment.
15:58 The conclusion of Paul's explanation of the good news is that believers need to be steadfast and immoveable (in accord with the admonition in verses 1-2; cf Col 1:23 “not moved away from the hope held out in the gospel”), and work (sweat a lot) in the Lord's work, knowing that their labor is not in vain, but that it will be richly rewarded with eternal glory, when they are resurrected (just like Christ). This is the good news!
Application: If you snooze and snack, you lose; if you work and worship, you win. Your choice.
Prayer: Lord God, may I not be deceived about my purpose here on earth, but sow the life you've given me, so that it will yield abundant glory in the future. Thanks for the possibility. Amen.
1 Corinthians 16
5 But I will come to you when I have passed through Macedonia, for I am passing through Macedonia. 6 But with you it may be that I will stay, or even winter, that you may send me on my journey wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now in passing, but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without fear, for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But set him forward on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I expect him with the brothers.
12 Now concerning Apollos, the brother, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brothers; and it was not at all his desire to come now; but he will come when he has an opportunity.
13 Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong! 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 15 Now I beg you, brothers (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have set themselves to serve the saints), 16 that you also be in subjection to such, and to everyone who helps in the work and labors. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus; for that which was lacking on your part, they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge those who are like that.
19 The assemblies of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you much in the Lord, together with the assembly that is in their house. 20 All the brothers greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 This greeting is by me, Paul, with my own hand. 22 If any man doesn’t love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. Come, Lord! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Observations: 16:1-12 Paul turns his attention to some final details, the collection for the saints, and travel plans, before he ends with some great exhortations. He advocated that they weekly set aside funds, as the Lord prospered them, for the benefit of the saints in Jerusalem (who were often persecuted by losing their jobs when the became believers). In 2Corinthians 9, especially verse 7, Paul will give more instructions on giving. He also details his plans to spend more time with them, but that he doesn't want to abandon the great door of opportunity that God has opened for him in Ephesus (along with great opposition). Just because there are lions lying in front of the door, it doesn't mean that the door is closed. Usually great opportunity lies behind difficulty. He cautions them to be nice to Timothy, and help him on his way financially, and explains that Apollos won't come until the timing is better.
16:13-14 Paul warns them to be on their guard, and stand firm in their belief that the Lord is coming back to reward them (cf Heb 11:6). Courageous and strong echo the instructions given to Joshua on the brink of entering the Promised Land (Josh 1:6,7,9). The inheritance is not gained by sinful sluggards. He reminds them of the primary command regarding their behavior, let all they do be done in love (to the glory of God -10:31). They needed to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others, according to His will, so He looks good in the eyes of all.
16:15-18 Carnal Christians have difficulty in submitting to anyone because they think that doing their own thing is essential for their happiness. They also can't trust God for looking out for them because they are still in rebellion to Him. Paul urges them to submit to those who serve the saints and those who labor in the Lord's field. See the S-word for more on submission, Ephesians 5:21 for submission in the Body (this is the climatic verse of Ephesians for building Body unity), and Hebrews 13:17 for how unsubmissive believers lose their reward.
16:19-24 Paul sends greeting form the churches in Asia, as well as Aquila and Priscilla (order reversed this time) who have a church meeting in their house. He gives another of the the one another passages: “greet one another with a holy kiss” (as opposed to a pagan one). A holy kiss seeks to honor another, while a pagan one seeks to gratify one's desires. There should be an affection among the members of the family of God (unless they're squabbling with each other). Paul actually writes a line with his own hand (someone else wrote the letter -cf Rm 16:22). He ends with a curse and a blessing.” To those who don't love the Lord Jesus Christ (as in remain loyal to Him and obey His commands), let him be accursed (anathema) as in cut off from blessings. But Paul wishes the blessing/grace of God to be upon those under Christ's Lordship, and he loves those who are in union with Christ Jesus.
Application: Don't become a statistic in the Christian life of those who didn't finish well, but be on your guard, standing firm in the faith (believing the promises of God), submitting to Biblical leadership, and doing all in love.
Prayer: God, thanks for the examples of those who have labored for You, both in the Scriptures and in my life; may I imitate their example by Your grace, and please You. Amen.
God in a nutshell: God will resurrect faithful believers and give them differential glory.
Build-a-Jesus: Jesus will rule as promised with those faithful to Him, subduing all under Himself, and then submitting Himself to the Father.
Us in a nutshell: We should labor wholeheartedly in the service of the Lord (we should also know what that means), knowing that He will reward us for doing so.
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