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The recipients of this epistle knew “Timothy” well. He had come to faith in Christ evidently through Paul’s ministry in Lystra in Asia Minor. He had accompanied Paul on his journey from the second missionary journey on and had gone to Corinth.
Corinth was an important commercial center. The city may have contained over a half-million people at this time. It stood on the narrow land bridge (isthmus) that connected the southern part of Greece (the Peloponnesus) with the northern part.
This shortcut saved merchants the long trip around the southern coastline of Greece. Corinth was the capital of the province of Achaia and the headquarters of a Roman proconsul (governor). It had been the notorious center for the immoral worship of the goddess Aphrodite, and its population was cosmopolitan, consisting of Romans, Greeks, Orientals, and Jews.
Paul intended that the Corinthian Christians would read this letter in the church, but he also wanted all the Christians in the province of Achaia to read it. We know that at this time there was another Achaian church in Cenchrea, and perhaps one in nearby Athens.
“Comfort” (paraklesis) is the keyword in this section, occurring 16 times. 2 Corinthians truly is a letter of encouragement. Paul opens with a greeting and tells them had he intended to visit them but he has experienced trouble, pressure, and at times near death. For their sake, he did not return. BUT he has comfort in all things.
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
- they had experienced an “anointing,” as had Christ (the “Anointed One”). This took place when they trusted Christ as their Savior.
- they had all experienced a “sealing.” A seal signified ownership, authentication, confirmation, and security.
- they had received the Holy “Spirit” as a down payment of the inheritance God has promised.
Discipline and correction are hard. Paul’s last letter was stressful so this time he writes:
4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
Verse 5 talks about forgiving an offender. This might be talking about the man he referenced in the first letter that was unrepentant. They were told to disassociate with him so that he would repent. It appears now it is time to forgive.
5 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
When proper sacrifices were made in the Old Testament, it was noted that it was a pleasing aroma to God. The smell was not pleasing, it was what the smell represented that was. When we sacrifice ourselves to the Lord’s will we are a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills (The Law: The Old Testament), but the Spirit gives life (The Cross: The New Testament).
I know it is frustrating for Christians to talk to unbelievers. WHY DON’T THEY GET IT?? The scriptures will confuse them because there is a “Veil” that is between them and the Truth. (So don’t get frustrated). The veil was torn for you!
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Before that Paul goes on to say that, just as Moses gave Israel the Law with a veil over his face, even today, when the Law is read, a veil descends over the hearts of unbelieving Israelites. Then and now, Israel’s vision is obscured, and they are hard of heart. The “veil” prevents them from seeing the true glory of God. The veil is only taken away when they turn to Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
You are the jar of clay that the hands of God created: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”. Genesis 2:7. The Gospel is the treasure inside you. The sacrifice and resurrection of Christ.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
AND my favorite in this read is:
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ❤️.