Introduction – Principles of Life in II Corinthians

Principles of Life in II Corinthians

We are aware of four letters the Apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Achaia.  The second and fourth letters have been recorded in the New Testament.  They are called I and II Corinthians.  Parts I and II in this series of lessons was dedicated to an exegetical approach.  Please review the introduction of Part I, Lesson Three.  Parts III-V are dedicated to hermeneutics.  We are thinking about the meaning of these scriptures for us today.  The following are some of the principles we learned in I Corinthians.  We will keep these in mind as we study II Corinthians:

I.     Part III.

  1. The secret wisdom of God destined for the glory of God’s sons and daughters is being worked out in Christ.  I Cor. 1:30; 2:7; II Cor. 6:18.
  2. Division of the church of God is unacceptable to Deity because;
    a.  The members were transferred to Jesus’ rule over God’s kingdom when they were born again (I Cor. 4:20; 15:24).
    b.  They are the temple of God on earth (I Cor. 3:16, 17; II Cor. 6:16).
    c.  The church is the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-14).
    d.  All of the foregoing theologies embody the concept of the Greek word Koinonia.  It has been translated communion, sharing and fellowship.
  3. The church has the responsibility to settle their own disagreements and maintain the purity of the behavior of the members in the body (I Cor. 5:4, 5; 6:1, 7).

II.    To recall other principles Paul taught in I Corinthians, chapters one through six.  Please review Part III, Lesson Seven, items 1-10 Part IV.

  1. Marriage covenants are between God, one man and one woman.  All sexual relations outside marriage are sins against the bodies of those who participate.
  2. The function of the consciences of all mature human beings can be understood by the scenario in a judicial court room.  The difference in the court room scene and what happens in our inner man is that we are our own judge, jury, prosecutor, advocate and witness (I Cor. 10:27-30).
  3. Paul’s declaration, “Everything is permissible,” demands a clear understanding of the law of life in the new covenant (I Cor. 6:12; 10:23).  The law of life for the spirit of mankind belongs in the same category of law as the law of nature that describes the body in which our spirits dwell.
  4. There are two distinct realms available for mature people; the “world realm” and “in Christ.”  I Cor. 12:12, 13.  Christians who practice love are salt and light for people who inhabit the world (I Cor. 13:2).  We learn to become all things to all people to win some (I Cor. 9:22).  This means we may “bracket” our value system so people will allow us to communicate the gospel to them; however, we never “set aside” the law of life (I Cor. 9:21).
  5. A Christian’s hope in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead satisfies our “God given” need for security.

The lessons in Part V will be about the principles of life we glean from II Corinthians.  These will be based on our exegesis in Parts I and II.  Our exegesis controls our hermeneutics.  A scripture can never mean what it never meant.  See, “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth,” by Fee and Stuart

I Corinthians chapter sixteen and II Corinthians chapters one and two are, for the most part, exegetical work.  Part II, Lesson Five, entitled “Paul’s Literary Style in II Corinthians” was dedicated to helping us move out of I Corinthians and into the content of II Corinthians.  The first big thought, or issue, is contained in chapters one through seven of II Corinthians.  After settling a relationship matter between himself and members of the churches in Achaia in these chapters Paul turned to the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.  This second issue is found in chapters eight and nine.  Finally, we learn the context in which we must read all the letters in chapters ten through thirteen.  Please review the “You, We, They” charts in Part I, Lesson Three.

“Following the style of the writer” is an exegetical principle we must not abandon in our study of the Corinthian letters.  Paul will make use of the word “boasting,” as he did in the first four chapters of I Corinthians.  He will use this “technical word” to promote some key points in II Corinthians.  He has built up this word, “boasting,” to bring to the reader’s mind a picture he wants us to see every time it appears.  Paul borrowed the picture from Jeremiah 9:24, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”  I Cor. 1:31; II Cor. 10:17.  He will use it to “hammer home” his plan to expose the opposition.  Satan’s people are those who were claiming to be equal with Paul’s calling as an apostle.  They were working behind the scene in this scenario.  They made use of the weaknesses in some members of the church to discredit Paul in order to divide and conquer God’s people in Corinth.

Please review Part II, Lesson Three.  There is another issue about Paul’s style we must not miss; therefore, the following excerpt has been added from Part II, Lesson Five:

Paul had sent Titus to find out the church’s response to his letter.  He did not find Titus in Troas so he went on to Macedonia.  He probably wrote II Corinthians from there.  Titus came with the good news about the repentance of the church in general, not just one man.  Paul was elated to hear “at every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”  II Cor. 7:11.

Let us consider the significance of Paul’s style in these seven chapters.  He informed the church about his move to Macedonia because he did not find Titus in Troas (II Cor. 2:12).  If Titus had met Paul in Troas or even in Macedonia when he first arrived with his good news, all of this drama could have been deleted from II Corinthians.  Another thought, when Titus did come, why wouldn’t Paul have just torn up what he had written and begin a new letter starting with chapter eight?  Why bother with the heavy drama in the first seven chapters?

He did not start the letter over.  But, why not?  Let us hypothesize that he did not write the letter until after Titus arrived.  Perhaps he had some things he wanted to say and he chose this style to get them said.   What Paul wrote in chapters three through six may have been directed at the more serious problem of boasting about the wisdom of men.  This was leading to division in the body of Christ.   End of Excerpt.

The foregoing points in this introduction of II Corinthians are historically specific for reading this letter.  There are some broader concepts we need to keep in mind as we read all Bible documents.  We must keep in mind both why and how God created each of us.  He created us for the express and only purpose of developing as children in His eternal kingdom (Heb. 2:10-13).  Parents understand their children will not develop properly without discipline by tribulations.  God uses tribulations to develop His children for the same reason (Heb. 12:4-13; II Tim. 3:12-17).  Please review the chart in Part I, Lesson Five.  The context for scriptures must be understood in relation to the foregoing purpose and the way God created us.  Please review the chart in Part II, Lesson One.  There are some spiritual principles embedded in II Corinthians 1:1-2:17; however, they are understood in the context of Lesson Five, Part II.

The following are the titles of the lessons in Part V:

Lesson One.      Christian’s Fellowship of Suffering and Encouragement

Lesson Two.      Christians Boast of a Clean Conscience

Lesson Three.  Maintaining Relationships

Lesson Four.     The Ministry of Reconciliation

Lesson Five.      God Loves a Cheerful Giver

Lesson Six.         If I Must Boast

Lesson Seven.  Divine Power to Demolish Strongholds

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