Galatians – Chapter 4

Verse 1 – Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,

Just as a child is not of age to be in control of his inheritance till he is of age, the Jews that did not believe in the  Messiah, had not come into their inheritance. No one receives this inheritance that Paul is talking about without Jesus.

Verse 2 – but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

Verse 3 – Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.

Verse 4 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

Verse 5 – to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Verse 6 – And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

If a person does not follow Christ, they are under the bondage of sin. But once a person believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins and rose again, and then the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence in our hearts. When this happens, we are adopted into God’s family making us sons and daughters of the Most High God – Jesus!

Verse 7 – Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Paul’s appeal to those in the churches in Galatia, was that a person who tries to be justified before God by works is a slave to the Mosaic law. But those who are justified by faith in Christ are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter with full rights as an heir to God’s infinite treasures.

Verse 8 – But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.

Verse 9 – But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?

Paul wanted to know after being able to worship God freely, how could they go back to placing themselves under the Jewish law of rites and ceremonies? Do Christians today do this? Some do. It depends on what kind of denomination they sit under. They begin to hold certain days as holy; they restrict themselves to wearing only certain clothes; they have rituals, thinking it pleases God.

Verse 10 – You observe days and months and seasons and years.

Verse 11 – I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

His fears were that they had no genuine Christian principles. If people ever fear that they have gotten off track, they need to go back to the word of God. Be careful who you listen to; don’t fall back into the routine of trying to keep man-made-laws and rituals and ceremonies to please others. Nothing we do will make us more holy in God’s sight. Believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.

Verse 12 – Brethren, I urge you to become as I am for I am as you are. You have not injured me at all.

Verse 13 – You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.

Verse 14 – And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God even as Christ Jesus.

In verse 12, Paul says for them to imitate him in the matter that was discussed beforehand, which was about their ceremonies and rites as Jews. Then he tells them that they have done him “no personal wrong.”

Now in verse 13, he reminds them of past times, even in his weakness, they accepted him as he was.

“My trial,” meaning that Paul was afflicted with various calamities and infirmities, but they did not hinder them from receiving him.

Paul could have had malaria that he contacted in Asia Minor, or it very well could have been disfigurement from the stoning he had received in Acts 14:19. I’m sure he came out of that with some pretty bad scars.

Verse 15 – What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.

Keep in mind that Paul is still talking to them about their leaving Paul’s doctrine for a doctrine that took them backwards into legalism. He reminds them of the love and affection they showed him when he was with them.

Maybe that’s what we need to do when we feel a slipping away of a relationship with God, or anyone else for that matter. Go back to the love and affection we first showed and remember why.

Verse 16 – Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Paul was saddened that the Galatians now viewed him as their enemy because he told them the truth. People haven’t changed much. They still have a tendency to get angry when corrected. We shouldn’t write off someone just because they challenge us to do better or correct a behavior that we have. We all need to check our attitudes at times.

Verse 17 – They (the false teachers) zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.

Verse 18 – But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.

The only way these false teachers could maintain the zeal of the Galatians was to isolate them from the other Gentile churches who were not trying to be justified by the works of the law.

Verse 19 – My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.

Paul had deep feelings for them as a parent would a child. His anxiety for them he compares to the deepest sufferings which human nature endures. This is how the greatest example of ministers of the gospel should feel in regard to their people. “Until Christ is formed in you ,” means: until Christ reigns wholly in your hearts; until you wholly embrace his doctrine and live by it.

Verse 20 – I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I have doubts about you.

Law and Grace Cannot Coexist

Verse 21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

Paul is about to give illustration to show the effect of being under bondage or servitude of the Jewish law, compared with the freedom which the gospel imparts.

Verse 22 – For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.

Abraham had many sons but Paul’s talking here about the freewoman, Sarah and the bondwoman, Hagar. Hagar had Ishmael and Sarah had Isaac.

Verse 23 – But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,

Ishmael was born according to flesh because Sarah and Abraham weren’t willing to wait on God to fulfill His promise that Abraham would have a son. So Sarah gave Abraham her bondwoman, slave, and they produced Ishmael. But the promise came when Sarah gave birth to Isaac when Sarah was in her 80’s and Abraham was in his 90’s. This one story is a very good reason to always wait on God and then we won’t have to deal with the consequences of our choices.

When 24 – which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar – (The law was given on Mount Sinai.)

Verse 25 – for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children –

Verse 26 – but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.

“The Jerusalem above,” refers to the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven. (Revelation 21:2)

Verse 27 – For it  is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who do not travail! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.”

Verse 28 – Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.

Verse 29 – But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.

Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, the Judaizers persecuted the true Christians.

Verse 30 – Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

Just as Sarah cast out Hagar and her son Ishmael, Paul wanted the Galatians to cast out the false teachers who were teaching new converts they had to be under the law.

Verse 31 – So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

In other words: Reject what the false teachers were saying about being justified by the works of the law, anything that placed them under bondage again.

It is the birthright of born-again Christians to think and feel and act like freemen and women, and they should not allow themselves to become the slaves of costumes, rites, and ceremonies, but should feel that they are adopted children of God.

 

 

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Galatians – Chapter 3

Verse 1 – Foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

The Galatians had yielded to the influence of the false teachers. Then Paul reminded them to remember the doctrine they had been taught about Christ’s crucifixion.

Verse 2 – This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Verse 3 – Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

I see this still happening today in some churches. After being born-again, some start to make others follow “their” convictions. Paul asked the Galatians, “If you received the Holy Spirit by hearing the gospel and by faith, why would you resort backwards to perfecting the law by works?”

Verse 4 – Have you suffered so many things in vain-if indeed it was in vain.?

Paul reminds them of what they endured on account of their attachment to Christianity. If what they had believed were false, then their sufferings were in vain.

Verse 5 – Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? –

Verse 6 – just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Verse 7 – Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Verse 8 – And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham before hand, saying, “In you all nations shall be blessed.”

Verse 9 – So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Paul tied the example of Abraham’s justification by faith to God’s covenant promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. The blessing being justified by faith is available to all nations through the good news of Jesus Christ, which the promise to Abraham was foretold.

Christ Redeems Us From the Curse of the Law

Verse 10 – For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

Not only is it impossible to be justified by the works of the law, but such a perspective actually brings a curse on people. According to Deuteronomy 27: 26, everyone who does not continue observing every detail of the law is cursed.

verse 11 – But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “The just shall live by faith.”

Verse 12 – Yet the law is not of faith, but  “The man who does them shall live by them.”

Trying to be right, justified with God by our own effort doesn’t work. Good intentions usually fail. Paul points to Habakkuk’s 2:4 declaration, that by trusting God, believing in His provision for our sin, and living each day in His power, we break the cycle of failure. The law does not make provision for faith, but it requires unwavering obedience.

verse 13 – Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),

Verse 14 – that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Paul’s readers were trying to be justified by the works of the Law. They didn’t understand that they were already under its curse. Fortunately, Christ had redeemed those under such a curse by His crucifixion. By Christ hanging on a tree, the cross, Jesus was cursed in our place.

The Gentiles received the “blessing of Abraham” through faith in Jesus Christ. This places them in a position to receive the promised Holy Spirit.

Verse 15 – Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.

When a contract or agreement is made by people involving obligations and promises, no one can add to it or take from it. It will remain as originally made. So it is with God. God made a solemn promise to Abraham. That promise pertained to his posterity. The blessing was connected to that promise, and it was of the nature of a contract with Abraham. This was not connected to the law because the law didn’t come until four-hundred years later. This promise made to Abraham was designed to secure the “inheritance” or the favor of God.

Verse 16 – Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

Paul does not use the plural term seeds, as if the promise extended to many persons, but he speaks in the singular number, and the One is the Messiah. It was the intention of God to confine the blessing to Isaac and his descendants. The promise of the blessing was to go through him and not Ishmael. Then it is even more narrowed down to Jacob, (Esau excluded), to the family of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Later on, narrowed again to Jesse, then to King David; then to Solomon until we reach the Messiah.

Verse 17 – And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that should make the promise of no effect.

God kept His promise to Abraham and has not revoked it. Thousands of years have passed and He saved Abraham through faith (because Abraham believed God), and has blessed the world through Abraham’s “Seed”, by sending the Messiah as one of Abraham’s descendants.

Verse 18 – For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

The Law Was Given to Drive Us to Faith

Verse 19 – What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by hand of a mediator.

Verse 20 – Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

Verse 21 – Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

Verse 22 – But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Paul clarifies that the law was never in conflict with God’s promises. Before faith in Christ delivered us, we were imprisoned by sin. God knew we could not keep the law perfectly, so He provided a way of escape – faith in Jesus Christ. Without faith in Christ, people are still prisoners kept in sins grasp.

Believers Are Free From the Law

Verse 23 – But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward by revealed.

Verse 24 – Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Verse 25 – But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

I have talked to many Christians down through the years that believe they have kept the 10 Commandments and that’s what they guide their life by. I always asked them, “Did you keep them perfectly?” They would always end up saying, “Well at least I didn’t kill anybody.”

Sometimes it is best to not argue with someone who doesn’t know their Bible. But in a nut-shell, if one lives by the law, you cannot break one law and be justified. You have to live by them perfectly. None is capable of that., but Jesus. We as  believers accept what Christ did by faith, and are therefore free from the penalty of the law.

Verse 26 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Keep in mind that Paul is talking to the Galatian church. Some Bible versions say “children of God.” Some like to quote that, “We are all God’s children.” No we are not!!!! Read the rest of the sentence. Only those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ are God’s sons and daughters.

Verse 27 – For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

When a believer is baptized, they have washed away their old life, died with Christ, and rose again to put on the righteousness of Christ.

Verse 28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

All are on the same level; all are saved in the same way; all are entitled to the same privileges.

Verse 29 – And if you are Christ’s , then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

There’s that little two letter word, “If.” You are Christ’s, then through Abraham. Abraham’s seed brought the Messiah. The Jews believed that they were the spiritual descendants of Abraham.  We as believers inherit the blessing of Abraham through faith, not by being obedient to the law.

 

 

Galatians – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – Then after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.

Verse 2 – And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preached among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.

Verse 3 – Yet not even Titus who was with me, being Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

Some were teaching that, upon conversion, one must be circumcised. so when Paul went to the leaders in Jerusalem he told them privately this was not necessary.

Verse 4 – But this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),

Verse 5 – to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

When Paul took Titus, a Greek Christian, to Jerusalem, the Judaizers (false teachers) said that Titus should be circumcised. Paul adamantly refused their demands. Paul was basically telling them that Gentiles did not need to become a Jew before becoming Christians.

Verse 6 – But from those who seemed to be something – whatever they were, it makes no difference to me, God shows personal favoritism to no man – for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.

Paul was not intimidated by those who seemed to be important. Whatever their rank, it did not affect Paul’s authority.

Verse 7 – But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter

Verse 8 – (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),

Verse 9 – and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

The church leaders, James, Peter, and John, realized that God was using Paul to reach the Gentiles, just as Peter was being used to reach the Jews (the circumcised). After hearing Paul’s message, they gave Paul and Barnabas their approval (the right hand of fellowship).

Verse 10 – They desire only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

The need for believers to care for the poor are a constant theme in Scripture.

Verse 11 – But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;

Verse 12 – for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.

Verse 13 – And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

Before these Jews came to Antioch from Jerusalem, Peter was eating with the Gentiles. After these Jews came, he separated himself from them because he feared them. Paul rebuked Peter to his face. The Jews that came from Jerusalem believed the Gentiles converts needed to follow all Jewish rites.

Verse 14 – But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

Verse 15 – “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

Verse 16 – knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Paul was not saying that we shouldn’t obey the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament laws, he was saying that by keeping the law it would never be enough to make us acceptable to God. The law does not make us righteous.

Verse 17 – “But if , while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!

Verse 18 – “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

Verse 19 – “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

“I have died,” means being crucified with Christ, as if the believer died on the cross with Jesus. There the Christian lives by faith in Jesus Christ.

Verse 20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Verse 21 – “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

Through the cross and Christ’s death, is the only way to salvation. None of us could ever be good enough to be justified. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for yours and my salvation. Believe in Him and you shall be saved.

 

Galatians – Chapter 1

Introduction: Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a vigorous attack against the “gospel of works” and a defense of the “gospel of faith.”

Paul wrote this epistle in response to a report that the Galatian churches were suddenly taken over by false teachings of certain Judaizers who professed Jesus yet sought to place Gentile converts under the requirements of the Mosaic Law.

Chapter 1

Verse 1 – Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead),

Verse 2 – and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:

Verse 3 – Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,

Verse 4 – who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Verse 5 – to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.

Paul is about to make it very clear in this letter that, salvation is by grace, not works. If salvation is by works, man gets the glory; if salvation is by grace, God gets the glory.

Verse 6 – I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,

When people set up additional requirements for salvation, they deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross.

Verse 7 – which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

Verse 8 – But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Regardless of what other religions boast, there is only one way to Jesus Christ, and only one way to the Father, and that is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Verse 9 – As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Verse 10 – For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul is talking as a minister of God, not as an employee trying to please their boss, or a child trying to please their parents. When we minister, are we saying what pleases man or God? Meaning, do we speak the truth?

Verse 11 – But I make known to you brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

Verse 12 – For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught of it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Meaning: Paul’s words were more than his own ideas.

Verse 13 – For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.

Verse 14 – And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

Paul had been one of the most religious Jews of his day, keeping the law and relentlessly persecuting Christians. Paul had been sincere in his zeal, but wrong.

Verse 15 – But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,

Verse 16 – to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,

Verse 17 – nor did I go to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

When Paul says, “I did not confer with flesh and blood,” he means he didn’t discuss and then have to decide to be obedient with anyone or even himself. He resolved at once to follow the command of the Savior, and obey Him.

Verse 18 – Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.

Verse 19 – But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.

Verse 20 – (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God I do not lie.)

Verse 21 – Afterward I went into regions of Syria and Cilicia;

Verse 22 – and I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.

Verse 23 – But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
Verse 24 – And they glorified God in me.

Paul had been miraculously changed from being a persecutor of Christians to a Christian himself. We know from reading the Book of Acts what type of man he was before he met Jesus.

Do people see an obvious change in your life, compared to what you were before you met Jesus? Paul’s life is an excellent example of a changed life. If you don’t see a total transformation of a person’s life, then maybe they are just, “impostors.” There has to be evidence when someone is born-again!

2 Corinthians – Chapter 13

Paul’s Warning to Examine Yourselves

Verse 1 – This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.

This quote is from Deuteronomy 19:15 – the testimony of two or three witnesses established a pattern for verifying the truth of accusation. Jesus reaffirmed this in Matthew 18:16 as a principle for church discipline. If the Corinthians sinners did not repent before Paul got there, he would expose the evildoers.

Verse 2 – I have told you before, and foretold as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare –

Verse 3 – since you seek a proof of Christ speaking to me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.

The Corinthians had called in question Paul’s authority. Paul was about to show them by whose authority if they did not repent before he got there.

Verse 4 – For though He was crucified in weakness yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.

Verse 5 – Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.

Should we not examine ourselves – spiritual check-up, to see if we truly are who we say we are? Are we taking steps to grow closer to God? You have to be a true believer yourself in order to know an impostor.

Verse 6 – But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

Verse 7 – Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified.

Profession of faith and possession of faith are two different matters. There is assurance of those who are in Christ: (1) believing the truth about Jesus Christ, (2) living according to Christ’s commands, (3) and the love test – love for God and all those in God’s family. We will show this love in how we treat others.

Verse 8 – For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

Verse 9 – For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.

Verse 10 – Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

Paul’s intention was to build up the body of believers, not tear them down.

Verse 11 – Finally, brethren farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Verse 12 – Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Verse 13 – All the saints greet you.

Verse 14 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Love means that sometimes we have to confront those we care about. Paul cared deeply for the Corinthians, enough to correct them. Too often, people don’t want to confront because they know how the other person is going to react. Why can’t people just admit when they have wronged another? Christians should do so without having to be told by another to do so. We are to confront in love, wanting to restore, not destroy!

2 Corinthians – Chapter 12

Vision of Paradise

Verse 1 – It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:

As an apostle, Paul received direct revelations from Christ. The visions mentioned here by Paul, are nowhere else in the Bible.

Verse 2 – I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out-of-body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

Paul is talking about himself. (This event could very well have taken place when he was stoned and perhaps died.) The third heaven is God’s dwelling place. The first heaven is the atmospheric sky, and the second is the planetary sky.

Verse 3 – And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows –

Verse 4 – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

What Paul saw could not be expressed. It was so astounding he could find no words to describe, so he didn’t.

Verse 5 – Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities.

Paul chose to speak of himself in the “third-person” and keep himself out of view. Though he keeps himself out, he says of such a man, it would be proper to boast.

Verse 6 – For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I forbear, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.

Paul could have elaborated more on what he had seen or heard but decided not to. He wanted the Corinthians to evaluate him on what they had seen or heard directly from him.

Thorn In the Flesh

Verse 7 – And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffer me, lest I be exalted above measure.

Let’s not take this one verse out of context and assume that Paul had some physical aliment. He does not say what Satan used to “buffer” him. Paul distinctly says it came from “a messenger of Satan.”

Paul had been a Roman soldier confident in everything he did. Now, as an apostle, Paul had great success in preaching the gospel and planting churches, not to mention all his writings. Paul may very well have been in danger of “spiritual pride.” There is no sin that is more subtle, insinuating, deceptive; none that lurks more constantly around the heart, than pride!

Perhaps Paul had kept this vision quiet for 14 years because of the flattery from his friends that would have puffed him up.

Paul doesn’t speak of this thorn as an affliction. He doesn’t complain of it; he does not say it was sent in cruelty.

The thorn means anything pointed. Whether it refers to some infirmity or pain in the flesh or the body, Paul doesn’t  say. Whatever this thorn was it was to prevent “spiritual pride.”

Sometimes, our sufferings and trials are used to keep us humble. (Just a thought.)

Verse 8 – Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

I find it interesting that Paul chose to use the word “depart” and not “to remove.” This makes me think; rather than a physical disorder, it was spiritual. Also notice, Paul prayed three times in his request, and then he submitted to the will of God. Could that be a lesson for us when asking for something?

Verse 9 – And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power may rest upon me.

When we admit to ourselves that we cannot do anything without Christ, His power and strength will be all we need to accomplish His will.

Verse 10 – Therefore  take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distress, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Should we not all have this attitude? In our infirmities (our weakness), in reproaches (scorn and persecutions), while they may be painful and very uncomfortable while going through, nothing compares to the joy of Christ always giving His grace!

Paul’s Signs Support His Apostleship

Verse 11 – I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing.

Verse 12 – Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.

Paul had performed divine signs in front of the Corinthians and that should have been proof that he was called by God.

These signs and wonders were not just for the apostles. Jesus said in Mark 16:17, 18 – “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; (Verse 18) “they will take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on thee sick and they will recover.”

Now, my question is: Have you read anywhere after Jesus said this that the signs stopped? No!! These signs will follow those who believe! What the apostles did when preaching the gospel should be evident today also, but it’s far and few.

Verse 13 – For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong.

Once again, Paul was being sarcastic to the Corinthians.

Verse 14 – Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. and I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

As a father provides for his children, Paul tells them he has labored and provided for them spiritually.

Verse 15  – And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

There is nothing that hurts so deep than to not have the love for your family returned. When we are believers, we have a family of other believers, and the church at Corinth was Paul’s family. They had hurt him deeply with their actions.

Verse 16 – But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile!

Verse 17 – Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you?

Verse 18 – I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?

Perhaps some feed-back had come to Paul concerning a collection from them for the Jerusalem church. I’m sure the false apostles had something to do with it because they were charging for their preaching.

Verse 19 – Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.

Verse 20 – For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbiting’s, whispering, conceits, tumults;

Verse 21 – and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and licentiousness which they have practiced.

The Corinthian church had allowed the secular society dictate to them. Has this very thing happened today in our churches? You bet it has. Christ is coming for His church, and you can rest assured that it won’t be a church that is not separate from the world.

 

 

 

 

2 Corinthians – Chapter 11

Verse 1 – Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly – and indeed you do bear with me.

Folly in boasting. The idea here seems to be boasting is generally foolish, and not to be indulged in, but tolerate him just a little.

Verse 2 – For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Paul had taught the Corinthians to prepare themselves for the Redeemer, Christ, as a virgin bride is presented to the bridegroom.

Verse 3 – But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupt from the simplicity that is in Christ.

The Corinthians sincere devotion to Christ was being threatened by false teachers. Just as Eve lost her focus by listening to the serpent, we too can get side-tracked with our devotion.

Verse 4 – For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.

Every preacher, teacher, or prophet, has to be proven by God’s Holy Word. Scripture is your authoritative guide. If they contradict God’s Word, they are false teachers. There is no other Messiah but One – Jesus Christ! People get led astray because they don’t know the Original!

Verse 5 – For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.

Paul had given them proof in the miracles which he had performed and the abundance of labor in teaching them, and didn’t want false teachers getting their affection that they should have for him. Paul had also proven to them that he was sent by God.

Verse 6 – Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things.

Paul was a brilliant thinker, but was not good at public-speaking. Evidently, these false teachers were great public speakers, because they were getting the Corinthian’s attention enough to question Paul’s authority.

Verse 7 – Did I commit sin in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?

The false preachers may have suggested that Paul was an amateur because he didn’t charge for his preaching.

Verse 8 – I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.

Jesus Himself, taught that those who minister for God should be supported by the people to whom they minister. But Paul thought that by asking support in Corinth, it might be misunderstood, so he supported himself.

Verse 9 – And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what was lacking to me the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

Verse 10 – As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Verse 11 – Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!

Verse 12 – But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.

In other words: Paul will continue to preach at no charge, which was a contrast between him and the false teachers.

Verse 13 – For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.

They pretend to be apostles, but they had no divine commission from God.

Verse 14 – And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

Verse 15 – Therefore it is no great thing is his (Satan’s) ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

I don’t know why false teachers, false prophets, and false preachers think that they can pretend to be speaking the gospel and really are doing it to get rich. They think that their motives will escape God in the Day of Judgment. It won’t!

Verse 16 – I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me a fool, that I also may boast a little.

Verse 17 – What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

Verse 18 – Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast.

Verse 19 – For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!

Paul was being sarcastic.

Verse 20 – For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.

You bear patiently with people who impose on you in every way, and those who are constantly defrauding you, though you claim to be so wise.

Verse 21 – To our shame, I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold – I speak foolishly – I am bold also.

Verse 22 – Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.

Verse 23 – Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.

Paul presented his credentials to contradict the charges that the false teachers were making against him.

Verse 24 – From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

Verse 25 – Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;

Paul was sacrificing his life to bring them the gospel, something the false teachers would never do.

Verse 26 – in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

Verse 27 – in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness –

Verse 28 – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

Verse 29 – Who is weak, and I not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

Paul was identifying with the converts.

Verse 30 – If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.

Verse 31 – The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.

Verse 32 – In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to apprehend me;

Verse 33  – but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Paul wanted the Corinthians and all who read this letter to know what he endured in order to bring the gospel. We may not ever go hungry, get beat, or thrown in prison for preaching the gospel, but we will be mocked and ridiculed. Can you handle it?