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2 Corinthians 10:13, 1518; 12:1421comment (0)

August 26, 2010

By Robert Olsen

Related Scripture: 2 Corinthians 10:13, 1518; 12:1421

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

Relationships: The Improvement Factor
2 Corinthians 10:1–3, 15–18; 12:14–21

Approach Courageously (10:1–3)

The letter’s tone changes in these last three chapters. Up to this point, Paul had been defending himself cautiously. In these last sections, Paul became more forceful in his argumentation. He responded to some accusations that he was timid in person but forceful in tone in his letters. To this group of accusers, Paul’s apostolic authority was in question because of this perceived duplicity. Furthermore some in Corinth had accused Paul of preaching according to the world’s standards. He responded to the first accusation by explaining that his goal was for the Corinthians to deal with the matters he addressed in his letters so that when he arrived in Corinth, he would not have to spend time disciplining members. To those who claimed that Paul lived by the world’s standards, he explained that though he was human, he did not use human methods to wage war. It is clear that Paul was trying to preserve his friendship with the Corinthian church, but more importantly, he was trying to follow God’s commands. If he needed to be bold with the believers there, then he would be bold. In our relationships with others, are we likely to try to keep the peace by ignoring ungodly behavior or are we willing to confront it in order to affirm godly attitudes and actions? It is imperative that we try to preserve our Christian relations but not if it means overlooking ungodly behavior.

Challenge With God’s Work (10:15–18)
Paul was concerned about improving his relationship with all of the believers in Corinth, even those who were critical of him. He wanted to have a unified body in that church so that he could concentrate on expanding his evangelistic endeavors to areas beyond. It is likely that Paul hoped that through spiritual maturity, the Corinthians would be able to support him as he took the gospel to other areas, and he was specific in telling them his hope. Likewise, if we are in the midst of a struggling relationship with another believer, then we may need to identify how both parties can join together in a new phase of God’s work.

Declare Any Concerns (12:14–18)
In order to demonstrate his love and concern for the Corinthians, Paul told them that he did not plan on being a burden. Just as with his former visits, he would refuse to take any money from them. This showed how much Paul did not want anyone to get the wrong idea — that he was interested in them solely for what he could get from them. But just as parents save up an inheritance for their children, Paul, as the spiritual parent of this church, refused to take anything from them, instead spending himself on them. In pleading his innocence, he even mentioned when Titus, his co-worker, came to Corinth and did not take anything from the believers there either. Just as Paul tried to clear up any misconceptions with the Corinthians in order to effect reconciliation, we also should seek to bring about resolution with our fellow Christians in order that the body of Christ might be unified and glorify God. We may need to take initiative in broaching the divide, just as Paul did.

Seek to Strengthen (12:19–21)
Paul’s main concern was not so much that he be considered innocent before the Corinthians but in the sight of God. At several junctures in this letter, Paul stated that he was speaking before God, showing them how serious these issues were. Paul was not trying to merely win a human argument; he was showing that his actions were in line with God’s desires. Paul expressed his concern that when he returned to Corinth, the church there would be in disarray, which would humiliate him in front of the believers with whom he might be traveling (see 2 Corinthians 9:3–5). Not only would this humiliate Paul but he would also have to humiliate any Corinthians who were sinning, which he obviously did not want to do. For each of us, when we are confronted with broken relationships in our churches, we need to do our best to make sure that we are biblical in our approach to reconciliation and try to convince the offended party of our innocence before God.

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