Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Paul wrote the Epistles of 1 and 2 Corinthians as a loving father. In his first Epistle Paul disciplined the Corinthians. Parents know that in disciplining children we run the risk of alienating them. If a parent disciplines a child without limitation, the child may want to run away from home. After writing 1 Corinthians, Paul was concerned about how the believers at Corinth would react to his discipline. Paul was not at rest about the matter, and he even regretted somewhat writing that Epistle. He was concerned that the entire church in Corinth would be alienated from him. Because of his deep concern, he was eagerly awaiting Titus to bring him news of the response of the Corinthians to his first Epistle. In chapter two Paul did not have rest in his spirit, for he did not find Titus. But we see from chapter seven that Titus came with good news.
Paul’s first Epistle had caused sorrow to the Corinthians, but this sorrow produced repentance unto salvation. That salvation was a full reconciliation. When Paul heard this good news, he was beside himself with joy. As he says in 7:13, “We rejoiced more abundantly over the joy of Titus.” When he wrote his second Epistle, Paul was in such an atmosphere of encouragement and joy. Thus, as we read chapter seven, we can touch the feeling in Paul’s spirit, a feeling of deep concern for the church in Corinth.
All those who would care for the churches or serve the Lord need to be impressed with Paul’s spirit in chapter seven. Here we see the proper attitude in serving the Lord. We also see that in ancient times the fellowship between the believers and the apostles was not as shallow as it is among believers today. In ancient times, the believers were in the hearts of the apostles, and the apostles were in the hearts of the believers. The fellowship among them all was very deep. They lived together in such a deep fellowship that they were even willing to die together.
The situation among many Christians today is very different. Christians may travel from group to group without having deep fellowship. For them, a Christian group is like a hotel where people come, stay for a while, and then go elsewhere. Our fellowship in the Lord’s recovery should not be like this. The local churches should not be motels for those traveling from place to place. As members of our Father’s family, our fellowship should be deep. We should be in one another’s hearts, and nothing should be able to separate us from one another. Even if we are disciplined by others, we should still love the church family and never forsake it.
Chapters eight and nine of 2 Corinthians are both on the matter of the apostle’s fellowship concerning the ministry to the needy saints. Apparently this has nothing to do with what Paul has covered in chapters six and seven. In 2 Corinthians 6 and 7 we have Paul’s work of reconciliation, and in chapters eight and nine, the ministry to the needy saints. Without the reconciliation described in chapters six and seven, it is not possible to have the ministry to the needy saints presented in chapters eight and nine. Hence, the ministry in these chapters is the issue of the work of reconciliation in the preceding chapters. This means that if we would carry on a proper ministry to the needy saints, we need to be reconciled to God, brought back to Him in full. We need to be those living in God, those who have no separation between them and God. The ministry to the needy saints recorded in chapters eight and nine is extraordinary. In order to have this extraordinary ministry, a ministry to the needy saints in other parts of the world, we need a reconciled life, a life fully reconciled to God.
In his second Epistle, Paul first pointed out to the believers at Corinth that as ministers of the new covenant, the apostles had received the ministry to reconcile God’s people fully back to Himself. Then in chapter six Paul carried on this ministry, doing a fine work to reconcile the distracted Corinthians back to God in full. After accomplishing such a work, he went on to fellowship with them that they should have a ministry to supply the needy saints.
The sequence in these chapters is important. If chapters eight and nine were at the beginning of this book, they would certainly be out of place. But one chapter follows another like steps in a staircase. I believe that as Paul was writing this Epistle he had the sense that he was taking one step after another. Only after he had done an excellent work to reconcile the distracted saints back to God did he present them with the ministry of caring for the needy saints. Thus, we should not regard these chapters as separated and isolated. Apparently chapters eight and nine are on a different subject from chapters six and seven. Actually in Paul’s thought all these chapters are connected.
Through Paul’s reconciling work, the saints in Corinth were brought back to God, repented, and received more salvation. Then in 8:1 Paul says, “Furthermore, we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given to the churches of Macedonia.” The word “furthermore” indicates that certain preparations have been made and that a particular atmosphere and condition exist for the writer to present something further. Thus, Paul goes on to speak of the grace of God bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia. His aim was that the Corinthian believers would participate in supplying the needy saints.
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