Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
As the book of 1 Corinthians indicates, there were many problems among the Corinthians. But through Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians, many of them were brought back to the Lord. They experienced a further reconciliation to God. Some may have even been brought back to God in a full way. But although many problems had been solved, one problem still remained—the matter of Paul’s apostleship. The most subtle thing in a local church is having questions concerning the apostles, concerning those who minister Christ to the churches.
Paul kept this point until the last because the dealing with other matters was a condition necessary for dealing with this matter. If the saints still had many problems and if the situation among them had not been calmed down, it would not have been appropriate for Paul to speak about his apostleship. It would not have been the right time for him to vindicate his apostolic authority. However, since at least most of the Corinthians had become calm and the problems among them had been solved, Paul realized that the time was now right to deal with the last problem, the problem the believers had with respect to his apostleship. The last problem in any local church is always the problem with the ministering ones, with the apostles.
Because it is difficult for anyone to vindicate himself, Paul found it difficult to vindicate his apostolic authority. If he had been vindicating the apostolic authority of Peter, the matter would have been much easier. It is always easier to speak on behalf of someone else than it is to speak directly concerning ourselves.
In chapters ten through thirteen Paul is performing the difficult task of vindicating his apostleship and thereby solving the last problem that existed in the church in Corinth. If this problem were not solved, the church in Corinth would still be sick. Any church that has a problem concerning the apostles is unhealthy. Because the church in Corinth had a problem with Paul, the ministering one, that church was sick. Therefore, the last four chapters of 2 Corinthians were written for the purpose of solving this problem. It would have been much better if someone else, such as Timothy or Peter, could have done this for Paul. However, no one could replace Paul in writing these chapters.
In chapters ten through thirteen Paul is actually dealing with the problem caused by the Judaizers. This means that here he is dealing with the Judaizers themselves, who were a serious problem. In dealing with the Judaizers, Paul first says in chapter ten that the weapons of the apostles’ warfare are not fleshly, but powerful to God to the overthrow of strongholds. Elsewhere in chapter ten Paul goes on to say that whereas he remained within his limit, the Judaizers went beyond their limit.
In chapter ten Paul first indicates to the Corinthians that they had been indoctrinated, that at least they had been influenced by Judaistic teachings. According to Paul’s word in 10:5, those teachings were reasonings and high things rising up against the knowledge of God. Such rebellious thoughts had been injected into the Corinthians and had caused them to be rebellious. Therefore, there was the need of spiritual warfare to tear down the strongholds of the high reasonings and to make every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ.
The source of this rebellion was the Judaizers. The Judaizers had clearly overstepped themselves. God, according to His sovereignty, had not apportioned the territory of Achaia to the Judaizers. Actually, God had apportioned nothing to them. Nevertheless, overstretching themselves, they went out on their own and as a result interfered with the apostle’s jurisdiction.
In vindicating himself against the Judaizers, Paul realized that it was not becoming to mention them openly in writing. This is the reason many Christians have a difficult time understanding chapter ten. When I was young, I read this chapter again and again without understanding what Paul was talking about. At that time, I had no idea of the background of this chapter. One day I came to know the history and the background, and this enabled me to know Paul’s feeling and touch his spirit in this chapter. Then I began to understand 2 Corinthians 10 in the way explained above. Now we can see that Paul wrote this chapter in order to deal with the Judaizers, who had stirred up rebellion among the believers at Corinth. Verses 4 through 6 of 2 Corinthians 10 do not refer to unbelievers, but refer to the believers at Corinth.
The apostles went out to preach the gospel and to teach the truth within God’s measure and according to His rule. Their activity truly was of God. Then the Judaizers overstepped themselves and violated the apostles’ jurisdiction. That kind of overstepping always brings in rebellion. This was the cause of the rebellion within the believers at Corinth, and made it necessary for Paul to fight against the high thoughts and rebellious reasonings. In chapter ten Paul is actually engaging in warfare against this kind of rebellion. In this chapter we see rebellion and also the overstepping of the proper measure.
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