Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
As we read the book of 2 Corinthians, we may think that by the end of chapter nine Paul has covered all the necessary points and that there is no need for him to write further. However, in the last four chapters of this Epistle Paul covers another crucial matter which is in his heart. This is the matter of his apostolic authority. He said a little about this in 1 Corinthians, but because the time was not right, he did not cover it adequately. When 1 Corinthians was written, the situation was not ready for Paul to come to the matter of his apostolic authority. But by the time of 2 Corinthians 10, the storms have ceased, and everything is calm. Thus, with everyone quiet and at peace, there is a tranquil atmosphere. In such an atmosphere and condition, Paul comes to the question of his apostolic authority. In chapters ten, eleven, twelve, and part of thirteen, Paul places this matter before the Corinthians and deals with it from different angles.
Because he is an excellent writer, Paul always deals with any matter thoroughly, not leaving ground for any argument. As we shall see, this principle is true of Paul’s vindication of his apostolic authority. The Corinthian believers needed to be clear about this, and we also need to be clear about it.
In 10:1 Paul says, “But I myself, Paul, entreat you through the meekness and forbearance of Christ, who as to appearance am indeed lowly among you, but absent am of good courage toward you.” Notice that this verse begins with the word “but.” “But” here indicates a contrast. In chapters eight and nine the apostle spoke pleasantly with the dear saints in Corinth, encouraging them to have fellowship in the ministry to the needy saints in Judea. Immediately after that, he desires to make himself more clear to them by vindicating, with a severe and unpleasant word, his apostleship, even his apostolic authority. This was due to the vague and clouded situation caused by the false, Judaistic apostles (11:11-15), whose teaching and assertion of what they were had distracted the Corinthian believers from the fundamental teachings of the authentic apostles, especially from the proper realization of Paul’s standing as an apostle.
We need to be impressed with the fact that this section of 2 Corinthians stands in sharp contrast to the preceding section. Paul’s word in chapters six through nine is pleasant, but at times his word in chapters ten through thirteen is severe and even unpleasant. As we read the last four chapters of this book, we may wonder if Paul has lost his tender, intimate concern. Some may even criticize him for his severity. Actually, it was because Paul was so spiritual that he could write these chapters in the way he did.
In 10:1 Paul tells us that he entreated the Corinthians through the meekness and forbearance of Christ. But he does not tell us the purpose of his entreaty. He tells us how he entreated, but he does not say why he entreated. If you read through the rest of this chapter, trying to find the purpose of Paul’s entreaty, you will not be able to find it. Paul simply does not state the purpose of his entreaty. Did he, then, make a mistake in writing? No, Paul’s concern is with how he entreats the saints rather than for what purpose he entreats them. This indicates that Paul’s way of entreating is more important than the purpose of his entreaty. For this reason, Paul points out that he entreated the believers through the meekness and forbearance of Christ.
Suppose a brother who is giving a message cares only for his purpose in giving that message and not for the way he gives it. That would be a serious mistake. We should learn of Paul to pay even more attention to the way we do something than for our purpose in doing that thing. Actually God cares more for the way we do things than for our purpose, our goal, in doing them. However, many Christians today care hardly at all for the way of doing things; they care primarily for the purpose, the goal, the result. There is a saying that the end justifies the means. Those who heed this saying do not care about the way of doing things; they care only for their purpose. This concept is deplorable and needs to be condemned.
Christians may think that as long as their intention is to do a work for the Lord, they need not care about the means used to accomplish it. For example, in preaching the gospel they may use worldly methods or entertainment. Therefore, I want to emphasize that in the Bible God shows that He cares more for our way than He cares for our purpose. As a heavenly ambassador, Paul also cared more for the way of doing things than he cared for the purpose. This is the reason he describes the way he entreated the Corinthians, but does not mention the purpose. May we all learn of him in this matter.
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