II Corinthians 9-13
We are in the Church Stream reading from the New Living Translation.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
9 – This is the continuation of the 2-chapter “giving passage” that starts in 8 – that we read last week. It is the origin of why Christians throughout the world are noted as “the giving people” /or/ “the nice people” It’s a banner passage instructing us to give cheerfully, generously, to not be surprised when blessing matches the proportion of our giving. Paul’s teaching is truly a headwater passage that created and thereby changed the nature of charity ever since he wrote this book.
10 – Paul’s authority is what is presented here. There had been some rabble/trouble-makers that were spreading around contrary opinions and insisting that Paul should not be listened to. Gee, have you ever heard of someone doing this in a church, eh? We sure have. Anyway, Paul, undeterred, proceeds right along with the impetus of who the enemy is. [The Enemy is not the people around us.] It’s a well timed bit of advice to remind us what is to be focused upon. Note: -Paul uses his authority to build people up. -Those who are denouncing Paul’s authority are using their self-appointed platform to cause dissension. This is self-evident proof of who should be listened to and who should be ignored. Paul’s reminder of what priorities are and what is worth boasting about is “cut to the heart” stuff that is very relevant today.
11 – Paul takes a moment to deal with, explain, and expose the false prophets who are discrediting Paul no matter what he does. Whether Paul refuses an offering or Paul takes up an offering – they accuse him either way. Take a hint, when one cannot be pleased with whatever happens [e.g. Paul’s critics], they are likely not a person to be listening to nor modeling life after and certainly not trying to learn anything from. Their phoniness gives them away as Satan uses lies nearly 100% of the time. Paul’s trials are his testimony that authenticates His calling and Apostleship. No one would press on like He did with minimal pay unless they are doing it for God and according to God’s calling. There is no other motivation, humanly speaking, to proceed if God Himself were not behind Paul’s life guiding and directing him.
12 – When Paul talks about being caught up into the third heaven wherein he saw/heard things that were astonishing beyond description, the best argument for this experience is that it happened when he was unconscious after being pelted with stones in Ephesus and left for dead. As people are likely to boast about when something marvelous happens to them, or after some great achievement, Paul on the other hand, boasts about his weakness – for it is through this that the Holy Spirit is allowed to shine through him v.s. having to compete with an illustrious personality. This ends up being a greater testimony to “God at work” and therefore his life is something more so that is to be modeled. And his pain [that does not go away, even through prayer] further asserts that Paul’s life is powered by Christ Jesus Himself … not his personal storehouse of sterling virtue rooted in him having a golden personality (rumor has it Paul was NOT a “looker” to behold either). Paul is powered by Jesus and Jesus only.
13 – Paul gives some final advice prior to his plans for stopping in Corinth a third time. He urges them to seek power in walking in Christ, to examine their heart and ways, do right and seek truth. He ends with a lovely list that can best be summed up as a reminder to “act like Christians!” His love for the Corinthians does come out quite clearly.
The motif that surfaced in the reading this week, I am sure there are more but what we saw was, “do EXACTLY what God asks for”. When God has exact instructions, best not ‘get creative’ or careless …
Nadab and Abihu got punished by God that may seem extreme when they were burned to death by fire from God. No, they got careless with precise instructions. We don’t do cabinet work with a hatchet, we don’t clean our teeth with street sweepers, we don’t help people up who have stumbled using a backhoe. Be precise. We demand precision of others. All the more-so with God.
– Ahab was told to kill Ben-Hadad but he called him over and started talking commerce and deals and trade for after the war was over. And in the next chapter; I Ki. 21 he sits back passively while his pagan wife, Jezebel, schemes to murder an innocent man. He’s wrong against his own conscience and he’s wrong with direct orders. So a prophet tells of his imminent death and Ahab dies from an arrow.
-Ps. 86:11 nails the matter: “Teach me your ways Lord, so that I may live according to your truth. Grant me purity of heart so that I may honor you.” That’s clear enough, yes?
-Jeremiah is told to purchase land in a region that will very soon become a warzone. That is bad advice according to most every human scale of judgment. But God said to and Jeremiah did and it was a testimony to God bringing the people back as soon as all is ready for the return (after the 70 years of captivity)
-In Amos the Lord said to the family of Israel, “come back to me and live”. If God says this it’s obvious that he wants us to live. He has exact instructions and yet that does not make God an exacting ogre. He simply wants us to live. This should encourage us.
-When Jesus told Simon/Peter to go out to where it’s deeper and let down nets again, that is persistent instructions to give a weary experienced fisherman who’s caught nothing after long night shift. Imagine if Peter snapped back at Jesus and said, “no buddy, ‘been fishing all night. We’ll try later ([whoever you are!]…remember, Peter had scarcely met Jesus!)” Peter would have missed his calling and it would have changed history -not for the better..
-After a protracted monologue to the Corinthians, wherein Paul breaks down how to deal with false prophets -and there are many facets to this advice-, he tells the Corinthians in II Cor. 13:5, “examine yourselves…”Paul wanted THEM to have genuine faith. They were an impressionable people and the false prophets had affected some of them. After all this, it would be a nightmare to have them be guilty of straying -even out of sincerity. It would have been wrong all the same. This would require they be honestly looking into their own hearts. It’s advice that never it outdated.