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2 Corinthians 3:16; 4:15, 1518; 5:910comment (0)

August 5, 2010

By Robert Olsen

Related Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:16; 4:15, 1518; 5:910

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

The Faithfulness Factor
2 Corinthians 3:1–6; 4:1–5, 15–18; 5:9–10

Rely on God (3:1–6)

The Corinthians were questioning Paul’s credentials. Other teachers were coming to the church at Corinth and had letters commending them to the church, and apparently these teachers were questioning why Paul had no such letters. The Corinthians were then questioning Paul’s authority since he did not have such letters when he came. How strange that Paul needed to have letters asserting his authority, when he was the one who founded the church in the first place. Furthermore Paul asserted that since they had been converted, then he obviously had authority since his message came with power from the Holy Spirit. But in order to keep the Corinthians from thinking he was boasting in himself, Paul pointed to Christ as the source of his authority. And since Paul had been commissioned directly from Christ, he had the true calling and authority of an apostle. Despite the opposition he faced from some in Corinth, Paul continued to press on, trying to gain their approval and maintain his relationship with them. He was being faithful to the church in Corinth even when it was turning its back on him. This is a good model for us as we strive to keep our relationships intact within the church even when others turn their backs on us.

Stand by the Gospel (4:1–5)
Paul began to show how the gospel impacts the lives of believers. First of all, Paul pointed out that they do not lose heart. One of the most practical applications of the gospel is that since we have an eternal reward, we do not need to worry about our lives and what happens to us. Christians are able to face trials knowing that they have the ultimate victory over death because of the work of Christ. Paul insisted that he was faithful in proclaiming the true message of God to the Corinthians. He did not distort it or try to use the believers in Corinth for his own personal gain. Yet even though he preached the clear gospel, why was it that not all of the hearers accepted the message? Paul recounted how Satan deceives many people who reject the gospel. Even if we preach the gospel clearly, this does not mean that those to whom we speak are going to accept it. Satan is the great deceiver and the father of lies. However, this does not mean that we should stop preaching the gospel. We need to be faithful messengers of God’s grace to a lost and dying world even if it rejects us since it is not us they are rejecting but Him.

Concentrate on the Eternal (4:15–18)
As a servant of Christ, Paul had faced trials of all sorts as he sought to be obedient and preach the gospel. However, in spite of these persecutions, Paul always kept his eyes on the eternal glory awaiting him. He recognized that this life is temporary and our main goal is to be concerned with eternal matters. Therefore Paul was able to look at his trials as slight and momentary because he lived with the realization that eternity is a lot longer than our time on earth. Likewise we need to remember that each person will one day face judgment. Those without Christ will spend an eternity in hell apart from God. When we live with that realization, we are motivated to spread the gospel so that others will not suffer this fate.

Anticipate the Future (5:9–10)
Following up on this theme of the eternal, Paul mentioned how all believers are going to face judgment. Unlike judgment for unbelievers, the judgment of believers does not result in condemnation but shows how they lived. Did they live for personal gain or the sake of the gospel? Were they motivated by selfishness or a desire to see God glorified? This was in contrast to some in Corinth who believed that being a Christian meant they were free from all constraints and could live however they wanted. Paul did not advocate salvation by works though — salvation has always been by grace through faith — but Christians are still to live to please God. Since we know that we will all be judged by what we do here on earth, as Christians, we ought to be motivated to live in a way that will bring glory to God and live to serve Him faithfully every day.

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