September 22, 2014

Scripture and Comments, September 22-27

Monday

Morning - Ps. 39, 2 Sam. 16:23-17:14, 2 Cor. 6:1-10
Evening - Ps. 33, Mt. 5:1-6

Commentary, 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Referring to the fact that he ministers to the Corinthians in Christ's stead, and as an ambassador for Christ, Paul says he is a worker together with Christ (6:1).  It is as an ambassador and co-labourer of Christ that he pleads with the Corinthians to be reconciled to God (5:20) and to "receive not the grace of God in vain" (6:1). He quotes Isaiah 49:8 which tells of the Gentiles receiving the Redeemer, telling the Corinthians that they live in the age of the fulfillment of that prophecy; "now is the day of salvation" (6:2).  This reinforces the appeal to be reconciled to God.
                
Starting at verse 3 Paul writes of his service by which the Gospel was taken to the Gentiles, including those in the Corinthian Church.  His service proves he is a minster of God, for in it he endured many trials and pains which included beatings and prisons.  "Watchings" means lack of sleep and rest; "fastings" are not voluntary fasts, they are hunger due to lack of food.  We see a picture here of a man who, forced to go without sleep, spent the night in prayer, who, having nothing to eat, counted it as a fast unto God.  Verse 10 is a fitting close of today's reading.  Paul bore many sorrows, yet he rejoiced in his work.  He suffered the loss of all things, yet made us rich in the things of Christ.  He himself owned nothing, yet in Christ he possessed all things.

Tuesday

Morning - Ps.40, 2 Sam. 17:15-23, 2 Cor. 6:11-7:1
Evening - Ps. 36:5, Ps. 47, Mt. 5:17-26

Commentary, 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1

Paul has taught the truth to the Corinthians.   His mouth has been "open" unto them.  But he gives not only his words to them; he gives his heart also.  His heart is "enlarged."  It is overflowing with compassion and feeling for the Corinthian people.  His heart is as open to them as his mouth (6:11).  If anything is holding them back from God, it is within them, not in him.  Every true preacher of the Scriptures wants to be able to say he has taught the truth and opened his heart to the people in such a way as to place no obstacle in their way.  If he has done this, any impediment to their peace with God lies in them.  Note that Paul asks the Corinthians to open their hearts to him (6:13).  Let the Church love and respect the ministers who love them enough to "set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments."

Unequally yoked (6:11-18) refers to following false teachers and false churches.  Corinth was rife with men who claimed to be apostles, but were not sent from Christ and did not preach the truth.  Revelation 2:2 shows false apostles were widespread and were troubling many churches.  Paul says to follow them is to be like a calf joined with a strong, mature ox.  This is a common way to train young oxen.  The stronger ox takes the young one along with him by brute force, thus the young one learns to respond to commands and pull the load.  This is a graphic picture of a soul learning the service of a false teacher.

In reality, being yoked to a false teacher is the same as being yoked to the devil (Belial in 6:15).  As Christ has no peace or fellowship with the devil, a Christian can have no peace with the teaching of someone who does not believe or teach the truth.  To attempt it is like light trying to have fellowship with darkness, or righteousness trying to have fellowship with sin (6:14).  It is like the Old Testament Jews placing idols in the Temple (1 Sam. 5:2, 2 Cor. 6:16).

Paul appeals to several Old Testament passages to show the Scriptural validity of this point. Notable among them is Isaiah 52:11, "go ye out from thence," which tells the Jews to leave the pagan city of ancient Babylon. "Wherefore, come ye out from among them and be ye separate" (6:17).  The promises of verse 18 are for those who obey the will of Christ revealed in 14-17. This passage has tremendous application to the contemporary situation.  Today’s church shoppers often look for programs and entertainment rather than Biblical faith and practice.  They ask, “how good is your band?” rather than “how Biblical is your preaching?”

Wednesday

Morning - Ps. 45, 2 Sam. 18:1-17, 2 Cor. 7:2-16
Evening - Ps. 62, 63, Mt. 5:27-37

Commentary, 2 Corinthians 7:2-16

2 Corinthians 7:2 is part of a larger section of 2 Corinthians written to demonstrate the truth of Paul's claim in 2:17,

"For we are not as many who corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."
                   
The Corinthians had followed false apostles, and Paul is showing them that he and the other true Apostles are the ones who were called and commissioned by Christ.  They are the ambassadors for Christ, who beseech the Church in Christ's stead (2 Cor. 6:20) and have taught the truth at great cost to themselves (2 Cor. 6:4-12).  Therefore, or, "now for a recompence," this is what the Apostles desire from the Church; "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:13-14).  Do not yoke yourselves with those who lead you astray and destroy your souls.  "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing."  It is difficult to find a clearer and more direct statement about how to deal with those who teach or practice untruth in the name of God than 2 Cor. 6:14-17.  It is also difficult to find a clearer and more direct statement about who is and who is not the true people of God than 2 Cor. 6:18.  In a sense, 2 Cor. 6:14-18 is a conclusion drawn from the facts and statements found in 2 Cor. 2:17-6:12.  That conclusion is; separate yourselves from the false apostles.  7:1 restates the conclusion in terms of cleansing yourselves from filthiness.  We are to separate from the false teachers, and wash their teachings out of our minds as we would wash filth off our bodies.  Strong language.

7:2 gives a second conclusion based on 2 Cor. 2:17-6:12; receive the true Apostles.  This means more than simply loving or honouring them, it means to receive their teaching.  It means to receive the Gospel that was taught to them by Christ, and preserved in their lives and work.  It also means to attend their preaching.  It is not enough to say, “I believe it.”  We must also devote ourselves to the diligent attendance of a Biblical church.

Verse 3 returns to demonstrating Paul's love and compassion for the Corinthians.  He found no rest in his soul until hearing from Titus that things were going better in Corinth (7:5-6).  Paul had heard of the strife in Corinth, and sent Titus to them with a letter from him.  We know that letter as 1 Corinthians.  This letter caused the Corinthians great sorrow (7:8) for it was very costly to return the church to the Apostles' doctrine.  Yet Paul rejoices that they were made sorrowful because their sorrow led them to repent of sin and embrace the truth (7:9).

Verse 11 is somewhat difficult for some to understand because it appreas to commend the Corinthians for revenge.  The verse does not mean that the church took personal revenge on others; only that they cleaned up the church and their own lives.  They threw out the false teachers and their followers, they returned to the Biblical faith, and they returned to Biblical morality.  Paul was greatly relieved when he received news of this from Titus.  It was in the hope that they would do this that he wrote 1 Corinthians.  Now, being comforted by the news from Titus (7:13), he rejoices in confidence in the Corinthians (7:14-16).   

Thursday

Morning - Ps. 56, 2 Sam. 18:19, 2 Cor. 8:1-15
Evening - Ps. 66, Mt. 5:38

Commentary, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

The subject of this part of 2 Corinthians is Christian charity.  The Christians of Jerusalem were in dire need.  Paul urged the churches he founded to gather an offering and send it to Jerusalem for their relief.  The Corinthians had not done so, despite their being in relatively prosperous circumstances.  So Paul urges them again to contribute.  He begins by telling them of the gifts from Macedonian churches.  "[W]e do you to wit" (8:1), means "we want you to know" and refers to "the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia."  By God's grace they were moved to give generously though they were in affliction and poverty (8:2).  They were persecuted, and persecution drove them to poverty, yet they gave unselfishly.

Their generosity moves Paul to ask the prospering Corinthians to give also (8:6).  But the gift must be their choice, not Paul's.  He gives no Apostolic command here (8:8-10).  Rather he urges them to give out of Christian love, as Christ gave Himself to them in love (8:9).  Verses 12-15 do not teach socialism.  They teach that we help our truly needy brethren, knowing that if we become needy they will give to supply our need.  We are not to give to our detriment, nor are we to support laziness and ease (8:13). The "equality" of verse 14 does not mean that all should have an equal amount of the world's goods, but that all should give to help the truly needy. 


Friday

Morning - Ps.69, 1 Sam. 19:1-10, 2 Cor. 8:16-24
Evening - Ps.51, Mt. 6:1-8

Commentary, 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

2 Cor. 8:16-24 continues to address the issue of the offering the Corinthians will give to help the Church in Jerusalem.  Titus has become very fond of the Corinthians, and is anxious to return to them (8:16-17).  It was Titus who delivered the letter of First Corinthians to the people of Corinth.  He also stayed with them and helped them work through the letter and return the church to the Apostolic (Biblical) faith.  During this time he developed a deep respect and love for their faith and devotion.  He met Paul in Macedonia to tell him about the events and results in Corinth.  In response to Titus' report, Paul wrote the letter we are now reading and which we know as "Second Corinthians." Titus carried this letter back to Corinth.  Along with Titus went at least two others (8:18 & 22).  The first was known for his work in the spread of the Gospel (8:18).  The other was known to be diligent in the many aspects of the faith (8:22). Both were probably from Macedonian churches.  Three men would be less likely to fall prey to the robbers and other dangers on the journey.  They would also show the absolute integrity of the mission (8:21).  In Jerusalem, the three could affirm where the money had come from and how much was sent.  This could also be verified by contacting the churches that gave the money.  They could also carry the thanks of the Jerusalem Apostles back to the churches, thus, confirming that the full amount had reached them.  This was not done because of doubts about the offering or the men.  It was done to show the absolute honesty of all involved, for they knew the false apostles in Corinth would accuse them of lying about their purpose, and of keeping the money for themselves.

Having stated clearly the trustworthiness of the men (8:23), Paul closes the chapter by urging the Corinthians to be generous.  This will prove the Corinthians' love.  Paul has "boasted" about the Corinthians to the Church in Macedonia.  Having received the good report from Titus, he probably told the Macedonians that the Corinthians could be counted on to give generously.  Their gifts would show that he was correct.
                                                                                  
Saturday

Morning - Ps 68, 2 Sam. 19:11-23, 2 Cor. 9
Evening - Ps 67, 93, Mt 6:19

Commentary, 2 Corinthians 9

Paul's "boast" about the Corinthians is that they were ready to give a year ago (9:2).  Achaia is the southern tip of Greece, which resembles a hand on a map.  It is superfluous for him to remind them of the offering again (9:1), but, in order to prevent embarrassment by not being ready, he reminds them again (9:3-5).

Verses 6-15 have often been distorted to mean that giving to the service of God ensures that God will multiply your gifts back to you.  But Paul is not promising God will increase your material wealth just because you give money to His work.  Such giving is not a gift but an investment.  Its objective is not the glory of God, but personal gain.  Paul is talking more about spiritual matters than financial matters.  He is encouraging people to give freely expecting no financial return on their gifts.  It is not to gain wealth that they are to give, but because they have already been blessed with it. The Corinthians were already prosperous people.  God had already blessed them with material abundance.  Now they are given a chance to help others who are in true need and to enable the spread of the Gospel.


There will be benefits for their generosity.  Truly God will make all grace abound toward them (9:8).  But, notice that grace is given to enable them have sufficiency in all things that they "may abound to every good work."   In verses 10 and 11 Paul prays that God will give them abundance, especially in righteousness.  But he does not promise or imply that sending money to Jerusalem will guarantee them more money in return.  The benefits of giving money are the same as those for every other thing they do in God's service.  They cause the receivers to give thanks unto God (9:12), and they cause the givers to reap bountifully of the grace of God (9:6 & 8).