God shows his Power when we are Weak

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of 2 Corinthians

www.easyenglish.info

Philip Smith

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A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

About 2 Corinthians

Author

Paul wrote the letter called 2 Corinthians. See 2 Corinthians 1:1 and 2 Corinthians 10:1. The letter contains information and language that are in the style of Paul. The letter tells us about his life and the things that he did. No other letter that he wrote has so much information about Paul. Early church leaders like Polycarp (156 A.D.) say that Paul wrote it.

The city called Corinth

The city was on a narrow piece of land between northern and southern Greece. It was an important city for trade. All the goods that went by land from north to south, passed through it. It had two ports. One was on the east side and the other was on the west side. People often emptied the goods from their ships at one port or the other. Then they took them by land to the port on the other side. This was only four miles. The journey by sea was 200 miles. About 750 000 people lived in the city. It was the one of the chief cities in Greece. The *Roman writer Strabo wrote: ‘*Corinth was always great and wealthy.’

There was a large rock in the centre of the city. The *temple of the *Greek *goddess Artemis (or Diana) stood on this rock. She was the *goddess of love. People praised this *goddess by having sex with male or female priests. ‘To behave like a *Corinthian,’ meant to have sex with a person whom you had not married. In his first letter, Paul explained to the Christians there why such behaviour is wrong.

The church was large. Most of its members were *Gentiles (not *Jews). They came from the middle and lower social classes. Many had lived evil lives before they became Christians. It was difficult for them to free themselves from their past *sins.

Paul and the church at Corinth

We read about Paul’s first visit to Corinth in Acts 18. We know that this was about the year *AD 50 from a book by Gallio. He was the *Roman *governor (Acts 18:12). He was there for one year in the year *AD 51. Paul stayed for about 18 months. Then he left to go to Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla. Whilst he was at Ephesus, he wrote a letter to the Christians at Corinth. He told them not to be good friends with immoral people. (Immoral people have sex with a person whom they have not married.) We do not have a copy of that letter. (Some people think that it was 2 Corinthians 6:11–7:1. If it is not, perhaps Paul repeated part of the letter in that passage. We do not know.)

After this, some people brought messages to Paul from Corinth. People from the family of Chloe told him about the church at Corinth. They said that it had divided into groups. Each group followed a different teacher. Other people told him that there was bad *sexual behaviour among the church members. Then they asked Paul to answer some of their questions. Some questions were about marriage and divorce. Other questions were about the food that they should eat. They also asked questions about how they should use *spiritual gifts. They asked as well, about what happened after death. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians as a reply to these questions.

Paul then visited Corinth again. The people’s reaction to his letter was not what he had hoped for. The visit was a painful one for both Paul and the Christians at Corinth.

When he got back to Ephesus Paul wrote them a severe letter. He wrote about this letter in 2 Corinthians 2:1-4. He did not write it to make them sad. He wrote it to show that he loved them. Some people think that 2 Corinthians chapters 10-13 is this severe letter. (Nobody can prove this, however.) Titus took this letter to Corinth. He returned to Paul with the good news that the Christians at Corinth had changed their ways.

Paul then wrote the letter called 2 Corinthians. In it, he explained why he had not come to visit them for the third time. He had promised to do this in 1 Corinthians 16:5. He told them to collect (ask people to give) money for the church in Jerusalem. In his letter, he also opposed those who did not think him to be a real *apostle. (An *apostle is a person whom someone sends to do a special task. In *New Testament times, they were people who had also met the *risen Jesus.) People thought that Paul was not a real *apostle. He was not one of Jesus’ 12 *disciples. He did not behave like the other *apostles who came to Corinth. He did not ask for money. But Paul was an *apostle because God chose him.

People opposed Paul at Corinth

Most of the Christians at Corinth had changed their ways. Some still opposed Paul. They thought that Paul was not a powerful person. He could write powerful letters but he was not a great speaker. He did not look attractive. He had some kind of illness (2 Corinthians 10:10; 12:7). He refused to accept money from them for his work. There were false *apostles. They said that they were better than Paul was. We cannot be sure who these people were. In 2 Corinthians 11:21-24, Paul refers to ‘*Hebrews, *Israelites, Christ’s servants…’ Perhaps the false *apostles said that they were Christian *apostles. However, they wanted the *Jews and *Greeks in the church to obey all the laws of *Moses. So they *preached a ‘different good news’ (2 Corinthians 11:4). But their message was not really God’s good news.

The contents of the book

2 Corinthians 1:1–7:16

Paul explains his behaviour and his work as an *apostle

·          2 Corinthians 1:1-2

Greeting

·          2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Paul gives thanks for God’s comfort

·          2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Paul’s escape from great danger

·          2 Corinthians 1:12-2:17

Why Paul changed his plans

·          2 Corinthians 3:1-18

The work of the Spirit is better than the work of the law

·          2 Corinthians 4:1-15

Human weakness and God’s power

·          2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10

The Christian’s hope

·          2 Corinthians 5:11–6:10

The work of making friendship between people and God

·          2 Corinthians 6:11–7:1

Paul warns against union with those who do not give honour to God

·          2 Corinthians 7:2-16

Paul’s joy about the change of attitude by the Christians at Corinth

2 Corinthians 8:1–9:15

The money for the Christians in Jerusalem

·          2 Corinthians 8:1-24

Arrangements to gather the money

·          2 Corinthians 9:1-15

How Christians should give

2 Corinthians 10:1–13:14

Paul’s authority as an *apostle

·          2 Corinthians 10:1-18

The qualities that make Paul an *apostle

·          2 Corinthians 11:1-33

Paul’s answers to those who oppose him

·          2 Corinthians 12:1-13

Paul’s experience of *glory and weakness

·          2 Corinthians 12:14–13:4

Paul answers his *opponents and promises a third visit

·          2 Corinthians 13:5-14

Paul prays that they will become better people. He prays that God will do good things for them

Chapter 1

v1 From Paul, an *apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s choice, and our brother Timothy. This letter is to the church of God in Corinth. It is also to the *saints in Achaia. v2 I pray that God our Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ will show you kindness. And I pray that they will make you calm.

Paul greets the Christians at Corinth. He introduces himself as an *apostle and Timothy as his brother in Christ. Timothy is like a brother to Paul because they are both in God’s family. Paul did not send himself. God sent him. He was not like the false *apostles whom God did not send. Timothy was not an *apostle but a Christian leader. Paul writes to the church in Corinth. ‘Church’ here does not mean a building but a group of people. They met together to hear *God’s word. The *Greek *Old Testament uses ‘church’ to describe the *Israelites as they gathered in front of God. ‘Saint’ means a person who belongs to God. The people at Corinth were God’s special people. Paul wanted them to behave in the way that God desired. They did not do so. ‘Achaia’ means the country called Greece except for the region called Macedonia. As Paul greets the people, he prays that God will make them ‘calm’ (the *Hebrew greeting). He also prays for ‘kindness’ for them. This is a *Greek word. It means that God gives his love to us freely.

v3 Praise to the God and Father of our *Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who cares about our pains. He is the God from whom all comfort comes. v4 He comforts us in all our troubles. Then we can comfort other people who have troubles. We give them the comfort that God has given us. v5 As we share the pains of Christ, so by him we can share God’s comfort. v6 When we have pain, we can give you comfort and *salvation. But when we receive comfort, you also will receive comfort. This will help you to suffer with patience the same difficult experiences that we have suffered. v7 Our hope for you is firm. You have suffered troubles as we also have done. We are sure about this. You will share in the comfort that we have received.

Paul had an experience of great pain. He praised God because God understands. And God cares about our pains. God comforts us in them. ‘Comfort’ here is more than mere sympathy. It means to give them help and hope. God comforts us so that we can comfort other people. This is the result of what God has done for us. To ‘share the pains of Christ’ does not mean that His pains were not enough. It means that we suffer because we follow him. He also gives us God’s help. Paul’s pain helped him to give comfort to other people. If he received comfort, he could pass it on to other people. They were suffering pain for their trust in Christ as Paul was. Paul was confident. The people of Corinth had to suffer troubles like him. They would also receive the comfort that he had received.

v8 We want you to know, brothers, about our great pains. We suffered them in the district called *Asia. We had great difficulty. We could not deal with it. We gave up all hope that we would remain alive. v9 It was as if someone said that we must die as a punishment. However, this happened so that we should not trust ourselves but God. He brings people back alive from a state of death. v10 He rescued us from a terrible death and he will rescue us. We trust that he will keep us safe in the future. v11 You will help us as you pray for us. Many who help us will give thanks for God’s kindness. He has shown us this in answer to the prayers of many people.

Where Paul uses ‘we’ in this book he refers to himself. He felt crushed (completely destroyed) like someone whom a judge would punish with death. We are not sure what this trouble was. Some people think that it was a feeling of despair without any hope. Other people think that it was a physical danger from his enemies. However, Paul learned from this not to trust himself but God. God is more powerful even than death. God had rescued Paul from that terrible situation. God would free Paul from anything. So God could even bring Paul back from death. There would still be dangers in the future. Paul asked the Christians at Corinth to pray for him. As God answered their prayers, they could give thanks to God.

v12 This is something of which we are proud. Our conscience tells us this. We behaved with the *holiness and *sincerity that God gives. We have done this in the world and in our *relationships with you. We did not follow the wisdom of the world, but the kindness of God. v13 We do not write so that you cannot read or understand the meaning. v14 You have partly understood us. I hope that you will understand us completely. Then you will be proud of us. We will be proud of you on the day of Jesus Christ.

Some of the Christians at Corinth said bad things about Paul. He had promised to visit them but he had not done so. After he had written 1 Corinthians, he made a ‘painful visit.’ He had not intended to make that visit. As a result of the visit, he wrote them a severe letter. He did not visit them again. The Christians at Corinth said that he was only like any other man. He kept on changing his mind. They also said that they did not understand his letters. They thought that he wrote one thing but he meant something else. They could not trust him to visit them. Therefore, they said that they could not trust his message about God.

In his reply, Paul said that his conscience was calm. He had behaved in a good and honest way when he was with them. He had not done anything that other people had not known about. There were no hidden meanings in his letters. He hoped that the Christians at Corinth would understand this. If so, when Jesus returns as Judge, they and Paul would be proud of each other.

v15 I was so sure of this that I intended to visit you first. Then you could benefit twice. v16 I would visit you on my way to Macedonia. Then I would visit you on the way back from Macedonia. So you could help me on my way to Judea. v17 I did not make plans like someone who is always changing his mind. I am not like a person in the world who says ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the same time. v18 As certainly as we can trust God, our message to you is not ‘yes’ and ‘no’. v19 Timothy, Silas and I *preached about Jesus Christ the Son of God to you. Jesus is not a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ person. It is always ‘yes’ with him. v20 However many promises God has made, Christ is always the ‘yes’ to them. That is why by him we can say ‘*Amen.’ In this way, we give *glory to God. v21 God makes you and I stand firm in Christ. We belong to him. v22 He has marked us to show that he owns us. He put his Spirit deep inside us. This is a certain promise of all that he will give us.

Paul explained that he had intended to visit them twice. The first visit would have been on his way from Ephesus to Macedonia. The second visit would have been on his return journey. He did not intend to change his mind when he made those plans. He did not make promises that he did not intend to keep. God is *trustworthy. The good news is true. Jesus is not a person who keeps changing his mind. He was the Person about whom Timothy, Paul and Silas had *preached. God says that Jesus is the ‘yes’ to all his promises. Jesus proves that all God’s promises are true. So when we pray by Jesus Christ we can say ‘*Amen’. This is a *Hebrew word that means ‘firm, steady, *trustworthy’. We use it at the end of prayers. It shows that we agree with them. We are sure that God will answer them. In this way, we give *glory to God. People who sold things used the words ‘to stand firm’ in business. This meant that they would keep their promises. The mark of possession was a ‘seal.’ This was a piece of *wax that they put on an official piece of paper. It showed who owned it. A ‘guarantee’ (certain promise) was a payment of part of a sum of money. This was a *sign that the full amount would be paid in the future. God gives us the *Holy Spirit to show that we belong to him. One day we will share the *glory of heaven if we stand firm in Christ.

Chapter 2

Ch1v23 God is my witness. I did not return to Corinth in order to save you from a difficult situation. v24 We are not trying to control what you believe. We want to work with you so that you will have joy. What you believe helps you to stand firm. Ch2v1 I decided not to make another unhappy visit to you. v2 If I make you sad, only you can cheer me again. v3 That is why I wrote that letter to you. I did not want you to make me sad because of my visit. Instead, I wanted you to make me glad. I was sure that you would all share my joy. v4 But when I wrote, my mind was full of deep *sorrow and pain. I wrote to you with many tears. I did not want to make you sad. I wanted to tell you how much I loved you.

(Verses 23 to 24 really belong to chapter 2. The original writers of the Bible did not divide it into chapters and verses. Other people did this much later on. These divisions do not always help us to understand the Bible.)

Paul did not change his plans because he was afraid of the Christians at Corinth. He did so to avoid another painful visit. (See Introduction: Paul and the church at Corinth.) The words mean that he could have come to punish them. He did not want to do that. He was not there to rule over them (perhaps like the false teachers among them). Their trust was strong enough. Jesus was their *Lord. Paul was just someone who served them. He wanted to work with them so that they could all share each other’s joy. This would only happen when they all had the same purpose. The letter (verse 3) was the one that Paul sent after his visit. We do not think that we have that letter in the Bible. (But some people think that 2 Corinthians may actually be two letters. They think that 2 Corinthians chapters 10-13 is the ‘severe’ letter. There is no clear proof of this idea.) Although Paul wrote a severe letter he did so with tears and great *sorrow. He did not intend to make them sad. He wanted to show how much he loved them. He wanted the best for them.

v5 If someone has made somebody sad he has not only done it to me. He has made all of you rather sad. I do not want to be too severe! v6 You have punished him enough. v7 Now you should forgive him and comfort him. Then he will not feel that he has lost all hope. v8 So please tell him again that you love him. v9 I wrote that letter as a test. I wanted to see if you would obey my every command. v10 If you forgive anyone, I forgive that person as well. If there was anything to forgive, I have forgiven it. Christ knows that I have forgiven everything. I did this to help you because I love you. v11 We do not want *Satan to succeed. We know very well the way that he works.

Paul now writes about the person who has caused all the trouble. This man probably caused trouble when Paul made his unhappy visit. Perhaps this man upset Paul by his words. And this man also upset the whole church. Because of Paul’s severe letter, most of the people had punished this man. Perhaps they made him leave the church for a time. Some people wanted the punishment to be even more severe. Paul said that they had punished the man enough. Now they should forgive him and bring him back into the church. They should show their love for him. If they did not, the man might leave the church completely. Paul said that he wrote the letter as a test. It was to see if they would obey him.

Now that they had forgiven the man, Paul forgave him as well. Paul did not continue to dislike the man because of his actions in the past. Paul forgave the man by Christ, because he loved the Christians at Corinth. He wanted the man to come back into the church. He did not want *Satan to divide or to destroy the church. The devil’s method is to prevent unity.

v12 I arrived in *Troas to *preach the Good News about Christ. There I found that the *Lord had opened a way for the work there. v13 But I could not stay there because I could not find my Christian brother *Titus. Therefore, I said goodbye to the people there and I went on to Macedonia.

Paul continues the story that he started earlier (chapter 1 verses 15-16). He had arranged to meet *Titus at *Troas. He wanted to hear what the Christians at Corinth had done as a result of his severe letter. In *Troas, people had listened to him and some had become Christians. But *Titus was not there, and so he could not give Paul news about the Christians at Corinth. Therefore, Paul could not remain there for long. So, he said goodbye and went on to Macedonia. Paul was willing to show the Christians at Corinth how weak he was. Then they could see that he depended on the power of God.

v14 Thank God! He always leads us in Christ’s *victory procession. By us, he spreads the knowledge of Christ everywhere like a beautiful smell. v15 We are like the sweet smell of Christ that we are offering up to God. Those whom God is *saving smell it. Those who are becoming lost also smell it. v16 To one group, we are like the unpleasant smell of death. To the other group, we are like the pleasant smell of life. We would not be able to do this task without God’s help. v17 Unlike many other people, we do not teach the word of God in order to make money. Instead, we speak in front of God in a sincere way, because God has sent us.

Paul uses the description of a *Roman *victory procession. A *Roman general who had won a battle would lead a procession of soldiers and *prisoners. They would walk through the streets of the city. The priests carried *incense with them as they walked. To the *victors, the *incense meant that they would live. To the *prisoners it meant death. Paul was a *prisoner in Christ’s *victory procession. He was weak. He was not successful and strong. His *opponents said that they were strong.

Christians show that they belong to Christ. This is like the beautiful smell of *incense to other people. ‘Knowledge’ here means personal experience. To those who believed it, it smelt of life. To those who *rejected it, it smelt of death. Paul wondered who was able to do this work. He said that none of us could do it by ourselves. We all need the help of God. The false teachers only wanted to make money. The false teachers’ good news was not as good as Paul’s good news! Paul was sincere in what he *preached. He lived his life ‘in front of God’. He remembered that one day God would be his judge. God sent him when he made him an *apostle.

Chapter 3

v1 But we are not trying to recommend ourselves. And we do not need letters to recommend us, like some people. v2 You are like our letter. It is as if our recommendation is on us for everyone to know and to read. v3 Your lives are like a letter from Christ. This is the result of our *ministry. He did not write his letter with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. He did not write it on stone but deep inside living human people.

Paul did not have anything from outside to prove that he was an *apostle. He was not one of the 12 *disciples. The Christians at Jerusalem had not written a letter about him. He could only say that God had called him to be an *apostle. Then it seemed as if he was recommending himself. In fact, he was not.

The false teachers had letters from other churches. These letters said how good they were. They wanted the Christians at Corinth to write similar letters to recommend them. Then the false teachers could go on to other places. Paul had no letter. But the church at Corinth was better than a letter. Many of the Christians at Corinth had lived bad lives before they became Christians. However, their lives had changed. Now they were different. Other people could see the results. A church leader did not achieve these results. Christ himself did. It was as if the Spirit of God had written the letter. People could see the truth of this because of the new lives of the *believers. The *Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) were on blocks of stone. The Spirit wrote this letter inside human people.

‘The things that made Paul suitable are not on paper but in persons’ (C.F.D. Moule).

v4 We can say this because we trust in God by Christ. v5 We cannot say that we are able to do any of this work by ourselves. It is God who helps us to do it. v6 He made us able to be servants of the new agreement. We do not just do what the law says. We depend on the Spirit. The law causes death, but the Spirit gives life.

Paul now explains why he was so confident. God had changed peoples’ lives at Corinth. So Paul was sure that God had chosen him. Paul had not changed their lives. God had done this by Christ. Paul was now God’s servant of the new agreement. Jesus made this new agreement between God and people when he died for us. The old agreement said that people must obey God’s laws. People were not strong enough to do this. The new agreement gave the Spirit. The Spirit helps people to obey God’s laws. The old agreement caused death because people could not obey the laws. God did not forgive them when they did not obey the laws. But now the Spirit helps us to obey God’s laws and so he brings life.

v7 The *ministry which brought death came with *glory. God cut the words of the law in letters out of stone. The *Israelites could not look at the *glory in the face of Moses. They could not do this although it was *fading. v8 The *ministry of the Spirit will be even more *glorious. v9 The law which brings death was *glorious. The *ministry that brings a right *relationship between God and people is even more *glorious. v10 What was *glorious in the past seems to have no *glory now. There is a much greater *glory now. v11 What was disappearing came with *glory. That which will last always has much greater *glory.

Paul talks about the difference between the old agreement and the new agreement. People opposed him. They talked about the old agreement by Moses. They said that it was the same as, or even better than, the agreement by Jesus. Perhaps the Christian *Jews at *Corinth still wanted Christians to obey the old law. They did not want them to follow the new agreement. Paul said that the old agreement was *glorious. However, God only intended it to last for a short time. The new agreement of the Spirit was even more *glorious. The old agreement could only bring death. It told people what to do. It could not help them to do it. As a result, God would *condemn them. The new agreement would bring life. The Spirit gave people power to do what God wanted. The new agreement in Jesus was more *glorious than the old one. They could not go back to the past.

v12 Because we have this hope, we are very bold. v13 We are not like Moses. Moses had to cover his face so that people would not see the *glory. They could not look at the *glory although it was *fading. v14 They did not understand. Even today, that cover is still over their minds. This happens when they read the books of the old agreement. The cover is still there. God only takes it away when someone trusts Christ. v15 When they read the books of Moses today, the cover is still over their minds. v16 But when someone turns to the *Lord, the cover disappears. v17 Now the *Lord is the Spirit. Where the Spirit of the *Lord is present, there is freedom. v18 There is no cover over our faces. So we see God’s *glory clearly. That *glory changes us. We become more and more like him. This *glory comes from the *Lord, who is the Spirit.

Paul said that he had every right to be bold. The reason was that he had this hope of *glory. Moses covered his face so that people would not see God’s *glory. The people were not able to look at God’s *glory, although that *glory was *fading. The old agreement was only for a short time. The *Jews did not understand the books of Moses when they read them. It was really as if they had covers over their minds. God only removed the cover when they trusted Christ. Then they found that Jesus gave them his goodness. This was what the law ordered. What Moses wrote was true and great, but it was not complete. When Jesus came, he gave us God’s complete truth.

The old agreement is like a step to *glory. The new agreement is the complete *glory. ‘The *Lord is the Spirit’ means this: The God of the *Old Testament has shown himself as Father, Son and *Holy Spirit. When the Spirit works in a person’s life, they serve God. They do not do this because they have to. They do it because they want to. Their attitude is different. They see God’s *glory clearly in Christ. They find that the *glory changes them. They become more and more like Jesus as the *Holy Spirit works in their lives.

Chapter 4

v1 God in his *mercy has given us this work to do. As a result, we do not lose hope. v2 We do not do things in secret and evil ways. We do not try to make people believe lies. We do not give a false meaning to the word of God. The opposite is true. We tell the truth clearly. We know that God sees everything. He sees everything that we do. Therefore, we live in a way that is attractive to everyone’s conscience. v3 Those who are lost cannot find our good news. v4 The god of this world (that is, the devil) has made blind the minds of those who do not believe. The result is that they cannot see the light of the good news of the *glory of Christ. He is the exact *likeness of God. v5 We do not *preach about ourselves but about Christ Jesus as *Lord. We are your servants because we love Jesus. v6 God said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness.’ He has made his light shine in our minds. This light gives us the knowledge of God’s *glory. And God’s glory shines in the face of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s work was different from the work of those who opposed him. He had not visited the Christians at Corinth. They said that he had given up. Paul said that he had not given up. And he had not lost hope. He told God’s message in an honest manner. He did not do things in a way that was wrong. He did not change the message about Jesus. He spoke the truth so that the people could understand. The devil hid the good news. He did this so that some people could not understand it. They did not understand that Jesus was God himself. Jesus said this in John 14:19. ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father.’ Paul did not talk about himself, but about Jesus as God. Paul loved Jesus because of what Jesus had done for him. As a result, Paul served the Christians at Corinth. Those who opposed him attracted attention to themselves. They persuaded the Christians at Corinth to follow them. Paul probably remembered his experience on the road to *Damascus. Then he saw a light from heaven. This light came from the God who created light. When we have this light, we meet God himself in Christ.

v7 It is as if we have *treasure in *clay pots. So this great power comes from God. It does not come from us. v8 We often have great trouble but nothing has destroyed us. We do not understand everything but we do not lose hope. v9 We suffer in a cruel way for what we believe. However, God does not leave us on our own. Things knock us down, but they do not kill us. v10 We always carry around in our body the death of the *Lord Jesus. As a result, people will see the life of Jesus in our body. v11 Because, whilst we are alive, we are always in danger of death. This is because we serve Jesus. As a result, people may see his life in our human bodies. v12 So death is our experience, but life is your experience. v13 The Bible says, ‘I spoke because I believed.’ We have that same kind of belief. Therefore, we believe and we speak out. v14 We know this: He who made Jesus alive after his death will also give us life with him. He will take us with you to where he is. v15 All this is for your advantage. God’s kindness will help more and more people. As a result, they will offer more prayers of *thanksgiving to the *glory of God.

In those days, people often kept valuable things in jars. People made these jars out of earth. These jars were not worth anything. But the things that were in them were wonderful. Paul says that people are weak. They will die in the end. God shows his power as he works by weak people. Paul had great troubles but his troubles would not destroy him. He did not always understand what God was doing. He did not always know what to do. However, he did not lose hope. He had belief in God. He suffered for what he believed. But God did not leave him without any help even if everyone else was against him. He may have lost a battle but he would never lose the war. Paul says that his body and his emotions were suffering. Jesus suffered pain as well. As God helped Paul, people would be able to see the life of Jesus. This life was working in his weak body. God used Paul by these troubles to bring life to the Christians at Corinth.

Paul knew that he could die during such experiences. He had already been near to death, as he tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:9. He repeats the words from Psalm 116:10. He had not lost hope. Even if he died, God would cause him to live again. The fact that God made Jesus alive after his death made this certain. Therefore, death would not separate Paul from Jesus or from the Christians at Corinth. More and more people would come to know what God was doing by Paul. As a result, they would learn to thank God and to give him *glory.

v16 So we do not lose hope. Our *outward physical bodies are dying, but our *inward *spiritual life is daily growing more. v17 Our small troubles only last for a short time. They will help us to reach an *eternal *glory. This is much greater than anything that we suffer. v18 We do not concentrate on things that we can see. Instead, we concentrate on things that we cannot see. Because the things that we can see last only for a short time. The things that we cannot see last for all time.

Paul repeats what he said in verse 1. He would not lose hope. His troubles affected his body. In the end, they would cause death. But as his body got weaker, his *spiritual life got stronger. He could see with his eyes the weakness of his body. But he knew that his *spiritual life was growing. His troubles would help him to reach an *eternal *glory. That would be much greater than his troubles could ever be. The troubles showed that nothing in this world would last. He turned his attention to the *unseen things that would last for all time. He prepared for them.

Chapter 5

v1 We know this. Our body is like an *earthly tent. If our *earthly tent falls down, we will have a permanent building. God has made it. Human hands did not make it. It is a house in heaven that will last for all time. v2 While we wait for this, we make a very sad sound. We very much want to have this house in heaven. And we shall possess it, like someone who puts on new clothes. v3 Then we shall not be without clothing. v4 Whilst we are in this tent (that is, our bodies), we make a very sad sound. We feel as if we are carrying a heavy weight. We do not wish to die, as nobody wants to be without clothes. We want to put on our new clothes. We want our permanent house in heaven. Then *eternal life will replace that life which only lasts for a short time. v5 God has made us with this plan. He has given us the Spirit as a certain promise that this will happen.

Paul uses two different descriptions at the same time in order to explain a Christian’s attitude to death:

·    Death is like someone who leaves a tent in order to move into a permanent house.

·    Or, it is like someone who puts on new clothes.

Paul made tents to earn money. Here he uses them as a picture of our bodies. When someone pulls our ‘tent’ down, we will have a house. God has made it. It will last for all time. After we die, we will rise again. Then we will have new bodies. They will not grow old or get weak. We shall be more completely alive in heaven than we are now. Until this happens, we will not be completely happy. We always desire to possess this new house, like someone who puts on new clothes.

Paul hoped that the *Lord would come before Paul died. Then he would not have to die (be without clothes). Instead, he would be able to put on his new clothes (his new body) immediately. He would like to put the new clothes on top of the old ones. He did not want to suffer the experience of death. The new house (which is our *eternal body) will replace the old body. God made us with the plan that we should have *eternal life. We have the Spirit of God as a promise that this will happen. The word ‘promise’ in the *Greek language today means a ring. A man gives this to a woman when he promises to marry her.

v6 We are always confident. We know this: While we are at home in the body we are away from the *Lord. v7 We live because we trust him. We do not see him. v8 I repeat, we are always confident. We would choose to be away from the body and at home with the *Lord. v9 So we have a strong desire to please him. This is whether we are at home in the body or away from it. v10 Christ will be the judge of us all. Each of us will receive what we deserve. This will be for the good or bad things that we did in our bodies.

Paul had hope for the future, so he was always confident. Now, he says, we are away from the *Lord. We trust him, although we do not see him. If we had the choice, we would choose to be away from our bodies. We want to be in heaven where the *Lord is. The Christian wants to please God in this life and in the next life. As our judge, Jesus will look at our lives. Our good works will not *save us. God has *saved us to do good works. We will not lose our *salvation in this judgement. God accepts us if we trust in Jesus. We will get a reward if we serve God loyally. We will lose a reward if we do not. God will reward us because of his grace (a free gift). 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says this. The day of judgement will test the quality of each person’s work. If it passes the test, God will reward the person. If it does not pass the test, God will destroy the work. The reward may be the words of Jesus. ‘Well done, good and loyal servant. Receive the joy of your *Lord.’ (See Matthew 25:21.)

v11 We understand the fear of the *Lord. Therefore, we try to persuade people. God knows what we are like. I hope you do as well in your consciences. v12 We are not trying to praise ourselves. We are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us. Some people are proud about things that they can see. They are not proud about what someone is, deep inside himself. You can give them an answer. v13 If we seem mad, it is because we serve God. If we seem sensible, it is for your *spiritual benefit. v14 Christ’s love controls us. We are completely sure that Christ died for all. Therefore all have died. v15 He died for all. Therefore, those who live should not still live for themselves. Instead, they should live for him. He died for them and rose again.

Paul says that the thought of judgement caused him to understand the fear of God. One day he must answer God’s questions about what he had done in his life. As a result, he was making every effort to persuade people to believe in Jesus. He knew that God would be their judge. That would happen if they did not believe in Jesus. God knew that Paul was sincere about this. Paul hoped that the Christians at Corinth knew it as well. He was not trying to praise himself but to give them information. They could use it to answer those who opposed him. Perhaps when he spoke in *tongues people thought he was mad. This was for God’s *glory. If he acted in a serious way it was for their *spiritual benefit. Christ’s love for him directed all that he did. He was sure that Christ died for all. Because of that, all had died. Christ died for all. People trusted Christ and received *eternal life. They would no longer live for themselves. Instead, they would live for Jesus. He died for them and also rose again. Although Jesus died for all, he did not rescue everyone. His death made it possible for everyone to have his or her *sins forgiven. However, it only rescued from *sin those who believed. (These are people who trust him. As a result they receive *eternal life.) Those who did live would not live to please themselves. Instead, they would live to please the one who died for them.

v16 We no longer make an opinion about somebody’s value in the way that the world does. We used to think about Christ in that way. We do not do it any more. v17 If anybody is in Christ, he is a new person. The old life is over. The new life has already begun. v18 God has done all this. By Christ, he has changed us from his enemies into his friends. Our task is to make people into his friends. v19 God was bringing people back to friendship with himself by Christ. He did not keep a list of their *sins so that he could punish them. He has given us a message. The message tells them how he makes them his friends. v20 God has chosen us to speak for Christ. God is sending you his invitation by us. We ask you again as if Christ were speaking to you himself. ‘Let God change you from his enemies into his friends.’ v21 Christ did not do any *sins. But God made Christ become *sin instead of us. As a result, we can receive God’s goodness by him.

Paul used to estimate Christ’s value in the same way as everyone else. Jesus said that he came from God. However, people did not believe him. So they killed him.

After his experience on the road to Damascus, Paul changed his ideas. When a person trusts Christ, he is completely different. The old life is gone. The new life has begun. It is as if God begins to build their new house (verse 1)! God has removed everything on his side that separated him from people. The death of Christ satisfied the demands of God’s *justice. Jesus took the punishment for people’s *sin. The death of Jesus also took away the anger of God against *sin. After people trust Jesus, God does not still keep a list of their *sins. Now Paul’s task was to tell people how they can become friends with God again. He asks them again and again to let God change them. Paul speaks of an *exchange. Although Jesus did not do any *sins, he took our *sin. He gave us his goodness instead so that we could become friends with God.

Chapter 6

v1 As people who work with God, we ask you this again and again. ‘Do not receive God’s kindness in such a way that it does not affect you.’ v2 God says this: ‘When the time came for me to show my *favour, I heard you. When the day came for me to rescue you, I helped you.’

Listen! This is the time of God’s *favour. Today is the day when he can rescue you. v3 We do not want anybody to think that our work is not good. Therefore, we try not to put anything in anybody’s way. v4 Everything that happens to us shows that we are true servants of God. We suffer troubles but we do not complain. We lack the things that are necessary for life. We have great *sorrow. v5 People hit us as a punishment. They put us in prison. There are *violent protests against us. We work hard. We have nights without sleep. We suffer hunger. v6 We are pure. We have knowledge, patience and kindness. We have the *Holy Spirit. We have real love. v7 We speak the truth and we have the power of God. We have *righteousness like a *weapon in both hands. v8 People respect us and people hate us. People praise us and people blame us. We are honest. But people behave as if we tell lies. v9 People know us. However, they act as if nobody knows us. People think that we are dying. But we are still alive. They beat us, but they do not kill us. v10 We have great *sorrow but we are always full of joy. We are poor but we make many people rich. We have nothing but really, we possess everything.

God had given Paul and all Christians the special right to work with him. Paul warns the Christians at Corinth. God’s kindness is a free gift. So they must not try to do something to get *salvation. This was what the other teachers told them to do. But such behaviour is not the way that God wants his people to live. Paul repeats Isaiah 49:8. He says, ‘God’s day of *salvation is now.’ The Christians at Corinth must not waste their chance. Another day might be too late. Paul did not want anything in his life to turn people away from God. Although Paul had to suffer, he did not complain. He writes a list of the things that tested him. There were troubles, lack of the basic needs of life, and great *sorrow. Then there were difficulties that other people caused. They hit him as a punishment (11:24). They put him in prison (Acts 16:23). They protested against him (Acts 13:50). Then there were personal difficulties. He had these when he tried to spread the good news. These were *overwork, lack of sleep and hunger. Paul tried to live in a way that showed God’s nature to other people. Paul’s moral life was pure. And Paul knew by experience the truth of Jesus. So Paul was patient and kind. He had the gift of the *Holy Spirit. He had a real love for people. He had the right *weapons for the *spiritual battle. Then he writes a list of the things that his enemies said about him. But Paul says what he was really like.

v11 Dear Christians at Corinth, we have spoken in a frank way to you. We are sincere. v12 We do not control you. But you are controlling your own feelings. v13 So be fair! (I am speaking to you as if you were my children.) Be sincere!

v14 Do not try to work together with *unbelievers. Goodness and *sin are opposites. Darkness cannot exist where there is light. v15 The devil is Christ’s enemy. So a *believer should not work with an *unbeliever. v16 *Idols must not share the house of God. We are the place where the living God lives. God said, ‘I will live with them and walk with them. I will be their God and they will be my people.’ v17 So the *Lord says, ‘Leave them! Separate yourselves! Stay away from unholy things. Then I will accept you. v18 I will be your father. You will be my sons and daughters’, says the *Lord who can do anything. Ch7v1 Dear friends, we have these promises. Let us avoid everything that makes body or *soul unholy. We will make ourselves really *holy because we respect God.

Paul writes to the Christians at Corinth as a father writes to his children. He loved them as a father loves his child. The Christians at Corinth did not love him in the same way. They welcomed those who brought a false message. They did not welcome Paul himself. He asks them to show love to him because of all that he had done for them.

He then talks about their *relationship with people who do not believe. He says that they cannot work together with them. He is referring to Deuteronomy 22:10. ‘Do not plough with ox and ass together.’ (The ox and the ass are different farm animals.)

But Christians should not separate from other Christians just because they do not agree about everything. Nor should they separate completely from people who do not believe. He writes about this in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. If they tried to do that, they would have to leave the world! But he means that they could not have close friendship with *unbelievers. All the *cultural activities of the Greek people centred round the *worship of *idols. Some people would invite them to a meal to give honour to a false god. During the meal, people would pray to the false god. Christians must not do this.

Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 10:21 that Christians should not join in *worship with *unbelievers. ‘You cannot drink the cup of the *Lord and the cup of wicked *spirits.’ Christians could not praise *idols or practise magic. This meant that they might not be able to join in many of the *cultural activities. Because of God’s promises, *believers should make themselves *holy. They should make every effort to respect God.

These verses are also important in relation to marriage. Christians should not marry *unbelievers. But if someone is already married to an *unbeliever, they should not separate. Instead, the Christian should try to help the *unbeliever to understand God’s message.

Chapter 7

v2 Be sincere with us. We have not done wrong things to anyone. We have not made anyone behave wrongly. We have not cheated anyone. v3 I am not saying this to *condemn you. I have said before that you are special to us. We are ready to live or die with you. v4 I am very sure about you. I am so proud of you. You comfort me. In all our troubles, my joy gets greater and greater.

Paul now continues what he was saying in 2 Corinthians 6:13. He again asks them to be sincere. The *Gentiles thought that his message against *idols was too strict. The *Jews thought that he was not strict enough! He says that he had not done wrong things to them in any way. He had not taken their money to use it himself. He was not *condemning them. Other people said that he had faults. He loved them so much that he was willing to live or die with them. He considered that he could trust them. He was actually very proud of them. They comforted him and they made him joyful although he had many troubles.

v5 When we came to Macedonia, we could not relax. We had trouble wherever we went. People attacked us and we were afraid. v6 But God, who comforts sad people, comforted us by the arrival of Titus. v7 It was not only his arrival that comforted us. It was also the fact that you had encouraged him. He told us how much you want to see me. He told us how sorry you are. He also said how worried you are about me. As a result, my joy is greater than ever.

In 2 Corinthians 2:13, Paul said how very anxious he had been. Titus had not arrived in Troas. As a result, Paul sailed to Macedonia. There he waited for Titus to come. During this time, Paul suffered greatly. Perhaps he was unable to sleep. He had trouble from those who opposed him. Perhaps he worried about Titus’s safety. However, God brought him comfort when Titus arrived. Titus brought good news. The Christians at Corinth were sorry about the wrong things that they had done. They were sorry about what they had said. They were worried about Paul. This news gave Paul great joy.

v8 Even if my letter made you sad, I am not sorry about it. I was sorry at first. I saw that my letter had hurt you. It only upset you for a short time. v9 Now I am happy. This is not because I made you sad. It is because your *sorrow led you to change your ways. You were sorry in the way that God wanted you to be. Therefore, we did not hurt you. v10 When God makes people sad, they have a change of attitude. That leads to *salvation and nobody is ever sorry about that. When the world makes people sad, the result is death. v11 Because God made you sad, you now have the right attitudes. You became serious. You wanted to defend yourselves. So you became angry and afraid. You felt a strong desire to take action. You became so eager to punish the person who did wrong things. You have shown that you are without fault in the whole matter. v12 I did not write to you because of the man who did wrong things. Nor did I write because of the man who suffered as a result. I wanted you to see in front of God how much you care for us.

Paul now explains the real reason for his worries at *Troas and *Macedonia. It was about the severe letter that he had written to them. He wondered how it would affect them. He was sorry that he had to write it. It had hurt them, although that was only for a short time. However, it had an encouraging result. They were really sorry and they changed their ways. They wanted to be free from their *sin. They wanted to do what God wanted. This was different from other people’s attitudes. Many people only feel sorry because of the trouble that their *sin causes. They do not hate *sin. They only hate the problems that come as a result. Compare the stories of Peter and Judas at the death of Jesus.

·    Peter said that he did not know Jesus. Afterwards, he was very sorry and he wept.

·    Judas was only sorry about the results of his evil deed. He was not sorry that he had given Jesus to his enemies. In Judas’s case, the fact that he was sorry caused his death.

Paul then makes a list of the ways that the Christians at Corinth had changed. They wanted to show how much they supported Paul. They punished the man who had done wrong things. Paul did not write the letter because of the man who had done wrong things. He did not write it because of the man who suffered as a result. He wrote it so that the Christians at Corinth could understand their true thoughts. They had a helpful attitude to Paul as Christ’s *apostle. Therefore, they accepted his good news. They did not accept the message of those who opposed him.

v13 That is why we have comfort. In addition to our comfort, we had great pleasure. We saw how happy Titus was. You had encouraged him. v14 I told him that I was proud of you. You have not disappointed me. We have always spoken the truth to you. And now you have proved that our proud words about you to Titus were also true. v15 His love for you grows even greater. He remembers how *obedient you were. He remembers how you greeted him with fear and *uncertainty. v16 I am glad because I have complete confidence in you.

Paul was very pleased that Titus was so happy. This was because of the way in which the Christians at Corinth had greeted him. He had told Titus how proud he was of the Christians at Corinth. They had proved that his words were true. The Christians at Corinth did their very best to please Titus. Paul writes like a father who is proud of his children. Notice that Paul now feels a great relief. This was after he was so anxious in Chapter 2.

Chapter 8

v1 Brothers, we want to tell you about the kindness that God showed to the churches in Macedonia. v2 Even when they were suffering a severe test of their belief, their joy was great. Although they were very poor, their gifts were very generous. v3 I can *assure you about this. They gave as much as they could. They gave even more than they could afford. Nobody forced them to do this. v4 In fact, they asked us many times. They wanted to serve other Christians by their gifts. And they asked that we would be good enough to allow them to join in with this task. v5 They did much more than we had hoped. First they gave themselves to the *Lord. Then, as God wanted, they gave themselves to us as well.

In Acts 11:27-30 a *prophet *prophesied a *famine. So the *disciples asked people for money for the churches in *Judea. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul had told the Christians at Corinth how to do this. In 2 Corinthians 8:10, they had begun but not completed it. Here Paul reminds them. He encourages them to complete this work. He tells them what the Christians in *Macedonia did. The *Macedonians had many troubles at that time. They were also very poor. Perhaps Paul had not intended to ask them to give anything. But they asked him to allow them to give to the people in Jerusalem. They did even more than that. They gave themselves to the *Lord. They also gave themselves to the service of his people. God gave them ‘grace’ (that is, the free gift of his kindness). They asked for the grace that they could give to other people. The Christians at Corinth were not poor. Paul here encourages them to do what the *Macedonians did.

v6 So we asked *Titus, who began this work, to help you to complete this generous act. v7 Already you are successful in everything. You have belief, speech and knowledge. You very much want to help. You love us. Also, be successful as generous givers. v8 I am not ordering you to do this. I am showing you how eager other people are to help. This will prove that your love is real. v9 You know about the kindness of our *Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, but he became poor. This was because he loved you. He became poor so that you could become rich. v10 This is what I advise you. Last year you started to collect your gifts. You deeply wanted to give. v11 Now finish the work. You wanted to do this. Show that you are equally eager to finish the work. Give what you are able to give. v12 If you want to give, then give what you can. You cannot give what you do not have. v13 You should not help other people so much that you do not have enough yourselves. I want everyone to be equal. v14 You have plenty this time. Therefore, you can assist those who need help. Some time, you will need help and they will have plenty. Then they will be able to help you. In that way, everyone will be equal. v15 The Bible says, ‘He who gathered plenty did not have too much food. He who gathered little did not have too little.’

Paul reminds the Christians at Corinth that God had given many skills to them. Then he makes a list of them. These were called ‘gifts’ in 1 Corinthians 12. The first was trust in God that helped people to do great things. The next was speech. Perhaps this means *tongues. Then there was knowledge. Knowledge helps us to understand what to do in a situation. There was also help and love. Then he suggests that they add to the list their opportunity to give to other people. He does not order them to do this. However, he suggests that they imitate the Christians in Macedonia. This would show the reality of their love.

Paul reminds them of what the *Lord Jesus Christ did. ‘He was rich’ refers to his *glory in heaven. This was before he came to earth. ‘He became poor.’ The great passage in Philippians 2:5-11 tells us that Jesus became like a servant. He obeyed God even in death – that is, his death on a *cross. He became poor when he suffered for us. Therefore we can be rich in the *righteousness that God gives us. If Jesus gave so much for us, we should give to other people.

Paul advises them to finish what they have begun. They should give as much as they were able. God did not care about the amount that they gave. But he did care about how willing they were to give. Paul wanted them to share the problem equally with other people. They would be equal in what they wanted to give. They would not be equal in how much they gave. The Christians at Corinth had plenty of money. They were able to help those who needed money. When the Christians at Corinth were in need, those with plenty of money would be able to help them. Then they would share the problems equally. He refers to Exodus 16:18. This showed two things. Those *Israelites who took more *manna than other people did not have too much. The *Israelites who did not take very much *manna still had enough.

v16 I thank God. He gave *Titus the same care for you as I have. v17 He gladly received my request. And he is so eager that he has freely chosen to come to you. v18 With him, we are sending the friend whom the Christians in all the churches praise. He has worked hard to teach the good news. v19 Moreover, the Christians chose him to travel with us. We will take your gift with us. We are organising this to give *glory to God. It also shows that we want to help. v20 We do not want people to say that we are handling this generous gift badly. v21 We are very careful to do what is right. We want to do what is right by God’s standards. We also want to do what is right by men’s standards. v22 Also, we are sending with them (Titus and the other Christian) another friend. We have often tested him, and he is very eager to help. He is even more eager now, because he has great confidence in you. v23 Titus is my partner and he works with me to help you. Our brothers represent the churches and they give honour to Christ. v24 Show these men the proof of your love. Show them the reason why we are proud of you. Then all the Christians will see it.

Paul now tells them how he would organise the gift. Titus was coming to receive it. He really cared for the Christians at Corinth. He was quite willing to go to them. Paul was also sending a friend whom the *Macedonian Christians had chosen. Paul does not say who this person was. Many people think that it was Luke. We think that Paul wrote this letter from Philippi. We know that Luke was with him there. (In Acts 16:12, ‘we’ includes the author of Acts, who was Luke.)

The Christians praised this friend because he taught the good news. They actually chose him to go with Paul. Paul organised this journey to bring *glory to God. He showed something of God’s *generosity. He also showed how eager they were to help other Christians.

Paul included in his group people whom other Christians had chosen. Then nobody could say that he was not honest with the money. He was careful to do things that were right. Both God and people would see this. He expected the gift to be a large and generous one. Paul also sent another friend whom the Christians recommended. This man also was very eager to help. Paul explained that Titus was acting on his behalf. He encouraged the Christians at Corinth to show these men the proof of their love. They would do this by the gifts that they gave. That would be the reason why he was proud of them. If they did that, then all the Christians would know about it too.

Chapter 9

v1 I do not really need to write to you about help for other Christians. v2 I know how eager you are to help. I have told the Christians in Macedonia about you in Achaia with some pride. You have been ready to give since last year. Most of them have acted because you are eager. v3 I do not want my pride in you to be in vain. I am sending Titus and our friends so that you may be ready. I said that you would be. v4 Suppose that some Christians from Macedonia came with me. And suppose that you were not ready. We would be ashamed that we were so confident. So would you! v5 So I thought that I should encourage Titus and our friends to visit you first. They would complete the arrangements for the generous gift that you have promised. Then it will be ready. That will show why you give. You give because you want to. You do not give because you have to.

Paul is careful not to offend the Christians at Corinth by what he says. He is slightly afraid that they may not have their gift ready. He does not say so. He says that there was really no need for him to write to them. He knew that they were willing to help. He had told the *Macedonians how eager the Christians at Corinth were to give. This in fact encouraged the *Macedonians to give also. He asked the Christians at Corinth to suppose that he came with the *Macedonians. It would be a pity if the people at *Corinth were not ready with their gift. Therefore, he was sending *Titus and the two other brothers. They would make sure that the gift was ready. They would do this before Paul arrived. This meant that nobody could speak badly about Paul. He did not actually collect the money. He wanted the gift to be generous. He wanted them to give because they wanted to. He did not want them to give because someone told them to. Christians should give because they love God. They should not give because it is a duty. People must use money in an open way. Then everyone can see that they are honest.

v6 Remember this. The person who sows few seeds will have a small harvest. The person who sows many seeds will have a large harvest. v7 Each person should give as he has decided in his mind. He should not give if he does not want to. He should not give as a duty. God loves those who give in a cheerful way. v8 God is able to provide you with every good gift. Therefore, in every situation you will have all that you need. Then you will have more than enough for every good work. v9 The Scripture (*Old Testament) says, ‘The *righteousness of the person who gives *generously to poor people will last for ever.’ v10 He who supplies seed to sow and bread to eat will supply you. He will increase your resources, like seed. He will produce a rich reward, like the harvest, from your *generosity. v11 He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times. Many will thank God for your generous gifts. They will receive the gifts by us. v12 This service of yours supplies the needs of God’s people. Many people will thank God as a result. v13 This service proves how real your belief is. Because of it, people will praise God for your *obedience. That goes with the way that you are witnesses to the good news about Christ. They will also praise him for your *generosity to them and to everyone else. v14 They will pray for you with great love. This will be because God has given you such kindness. v15 Thank God for his gift. His gift is greater than words can describe!

Perhaps some Christians at Corinth were not very willing to share things or to give them to other people. Paul reminds them about a farmer who sows seeds. The more he sows, the greater his harvest will be. Someone who gives to God is like that farmer. God will reward the giver.

God is generous and his people should be generous as well. We do not have to give. If we do give, we should give freely. We should give as we have decided. We should not give because we have to. We should not give because we ought to. God loves people who give with great happiness in their minds. People who give money to other people will also have enough for themselves. God will provide them with all that they need. They will have enough money to give to other people. Paul repeats Psalm 112:9. God will give us all that we need. As a result, we can be generous to other people. Then we will provide the things that they need. Moreover, people will thank God for what we do.

This is not a promise of money or wealth. It is a promise of *spiritual *fruitfulness and the help of Christians who care. The fact that the Christians at Corinth were giving was a proof of their belief. As Martin Luther said, ‘Good works do not save us. But we do not have *salvation if we do not have them.’ The *generosity of Christians caused other people to respect God. Those people whom the Christians at Corinth helped would pray for them.

Paul thanks God for his gift of Jesus Christ. This gift was much greater than any gift that we may give. In fact, it was so great that Paul could not describe it in words.

Chapter 10

v1 I, Paul make an appeal to you by the *gentleness and kindness of Christ. When I am with you, you suppose me to be weak. When I am away, you suppose me to be severe. v2 I *beg you this. When I come, do not force me to be severe. I can be severe towards some people. They think that we live by the standards of the world. v3 It is true that we live in the world. We do not fight in the same way as the world does. v4 The *weapons that we fight with are not the *weapons of the world. In fact our *weapons have God’s power to destroy things that offer security. v5 We destroy wrong arguments. We destroy every proud idea that is against the knowledge of God. We control our thoughts, like *prisoners. We make each thought obey Christ. v6 We are ready to punish every act of *disobedience after you have completely obeyed.

Paul here talks about the way that the false teachers in Corinth had opposed him. They said that they were powerful. They had letters to recommend them (2 Corinthians 3:1). They said that they had great *visions (2 Corinthians 5:13). They had travelled far to get to Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:13-18). Paul, they said, was weak. He did not oppose them when he was present in Corinth. Instead, he seemed only to oppose them by letter when he was away. The false teachers said that he was not a special person. But they said that they had God’s power. They said that Paul did not have it. Paul replied that his ‘weakness’ showed Christ’s *gentleness and kindness. He did not use the world’s methods to fight unbelief. Instead, he used the good news about Jesus to attack strong opinions against God. Such opinions are in every human mind.

v7 You are only looking on the outside of things. Some people are sure that they belong to Christ. They should think again. We belong to Christ quite as much as they do. v8 Perhaps I have been proud about the authority that Christ has given me. This was to encourage you, not to upset you. I am not ashamed. v9 I do not want to frighten you with my letters. v10 Some say this: ‘His letters are severe and strong. When he is with us, he is weak. His words achieve nothing.’ v11 Such people should realise that there is no difference. We write things in our letters when we are away. And when we are present, we shall do the same things.

Paul asks them to look at the facts. Perhaps his *opponents thought that they were better than he was. They should think again. They should look at the church that he had started in Corinth. He was not ashamed. He was proud of his authority. Christ gave it to him on the road to Damascus. Paul had encouraged people. He was not trying to upset them. And he was not trying to frighten them with his letters. His *opponents said that his letters were powerful. His looks and speech were not impressive. People who lived about *AD 200 described Paul in this way. They wrote that Paul was short. He was bald. And his legs were not straight. This may have been why they opposed him. He was not the handsome great speaker that the people expected. Paul warns them that there was no difference between his actions and the words in his letters. Soon he would be with them. Then he would do what he warned them about in his letters.

v12 We do not want to compare ourselves with those who recommend themselves. And we do not want to join them. They are fools. They measure themselves by themselves. And they compare themselves with themselves. v13 We will not be proud beyond proper limits. We will stay inside the limits of the work that God has given to us. This includes our work among you. v14 You are inside those limits. Therefore, we came to you and we brought the good news about Christ. We did not go further than we should. v15 So we are not proud about the work that other people have done. This is beyond the limits that God gave to us. But we hope this: As your trust in God continues to grow, we may be able to do a greater work. v16 Then we can take the good news to countries beyond you. We do not want to be proud about work in another person’s area. v17 The Bible says, ‘Whoever wants to be proud must be proud about the *Lord.’ v18 We can approve a person when the *Lord thinks well about him. We cannot approve someone who thinks well about himself.

Paul now writes about the false teachers who visited them. The false teachers even called themselves ‘*apostles’. And they were comparing themselves with Paul. They said this: They had come a much greater distance than Paul in order to visit the Christians at Corinth. Paul talks about the limits of his work. He is referring back to the discussion at Jerusalem in Acts chapter 15. The people made this agreement. Peter and John should go to the *Jews while Paul and *Barnabas should go to the *Gentiles. Paul had come as far as the *Gentile *Corinthians with the good news about Jesus. He was only proud about his own work for God. But the false teachers were very proud. They even pretended that they were responsible for Paul’s success in Corinth. They were comparing the things that *commended them. They had letters of recommendation from Christians in other churches. They also said that they had special gifts from God. They did not think that Paul had anything to *commend him. Paul notes the things that *commended him. They were the church at Corinth and the fact that other people were becoming Christians.

Paul hopes that the Christians’ trust in God will be firm. Then he would be able to go further to the *Gentiles in other countries. He did not want to work in someone else’s area. It does not matter what a person thinks about himself. It does matter what the *Lord thinks about that person.

Chapter 11

v1 I will now write some words about myself, like those fools who recommend themselves. Be patient, and you will understand my point. v2 I want to take great care of you, as God does. This is like a wedding. I promised you to one husband, that is, to Christ. I wanted you to be like a perfect bride who has never had sex. v3 The snake *deceived *Eve by his *deceitful behaviour. Therefore, I am afraid that the devil may lead you away from your pure and sincere love of Christ. v4 People are coming to you with new messages, and you believe them. You do not protest if someone *preaches about a different Jesus. You accept a different *spirit. And you accept a different piece of good news. You should continue to believe the things that we taught. v5 But I do not think myself less important than those who call themselves ‘superior *apostles’. v6 I may not be a skilled speaker but I do have knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every way.

Paul here uses the picture of marriage. The church at Corinth was like the bride. Jesus was like the bridegroom and Paul was like the bridegroom’s friend. The bridegroom’s friend had to make sure that the bride was ready for the wedding. The devil *deceived *Eve. Therefore, Paul was afraid that these false teachers would make the Christians at Corinth follow a different Jesus. This was not the same Jesus about whom he had taught them. Instead, it was an untrue message.

The false teachers said that they were superior *apostles. They said that they were better Christians than Paul. The people in Corinth were very willing to follow the false teachers rather than Paul. He said that he was no less important than they were. He may not have been such a good speaker. However, he knew what he was talking about. The false teachers did not. Good speakers can easily impress us. It is important that a speaker has the right message. It is not important whether he is a skilled speaker.

v7 I *preached the good news about God to you. I did not ask for any money. I do not think that I was wrong to be humble. I was humble so that you could become great. v8 It is as if I robbed other churches. I received money from them so that I could serve you. v9 When I needed anything during my time in Corinth, I did not ask you for help. The Christians from Macedonia brought me what I needed. I made sure that I was not a *burden to you. I will continue to do this. v10 The truth of Christ is certainly in me. I am proud of this fact. Nobody in the regions of *Achaia will stop me. v11 This is not because I do not love you. God knows that I love you.

v12 I will continue to do what I am doing. It will spoil the arguments of some people. They are proud enough to say that they are equal to us. v13 They are false *apostles, *dishonest workmen. They pretend to be *apostles of Christ. v14 This does not surprise us. Even *Satan himself pretends to be an *angel of light. v15 And so his servants pretend to be servants of *righteousness. In the end, they will get the punishment that they deserve for their evil deeds.

The Christians at Corinth did not like the fact that Paul did not accept their money. But the false teachers accepted their money. William Barclay thinks that the false teachers said this: ‘Paul did not take money because his teaching (that is, his message) was not worth anything.’ The *Greeks said that a teacher was better than even a skilled workman. The people in *Corinth were angry that Paul accepted money from other churches. They said that he did not love them. In fact, he loved them very much. He did not want to be like other teachers. He did not make them feel that they had to provide for him. He said that he would continue to refuse their money. The false teachers’ *claims to be equal to or superior to him were not true. Even the devil pretends to be an *angel. These false teachers were the devil’s servants who pretended to be servants of *righteousness. They taught that people had to obey the *Jewish law to become *righteous. Paul taught that people obtained *righteousness by trust. This trust was in what Jesus had done for them on the *cross. He said that the Christians at Corinth should not allow the false teachers to continue to teach. In the end, God would punish these false teachers.

v16 I repeat. Nobody should think that I am a fool. However, if you do, then I will add a few foolish words. Then I too may be proud. v17 I will write some words that are foolish and proud. This is not the way that the *Lord wants us to speak. v18 But the false teachers tell you things that are proud and *worldly. So now, I also shall write some things that are proud. v19 You gladly allow fools to speak as they do. And you think that you are wise! v20 You are allowing people to make you like slaves. They are using you in an unfair way. They take more than you intended to give. They control you. They are like men who slap you in the face! v21 I am sorry to say that we were too weak to do those things! But these men have spoken proud words to you. And, like a fool, I shall now write proud words, like theirs.

His *opponents accused Paul of being *worldly, a fool and weak. He denied the first *charge in chapter 10. But in his letters, Paul was happy to write as if the other *charges were true. God knew the truth. People were usually proud about what they had done. Jesus tells a story in the *Gospel of Luke. It is about a *Pharisee who was proud of his prayers (Luke 18:10-12). Paul’s *opponents were proud of what they had done. Paul would now write proud words as well. He did not want to be proud. He said that God does not want anyone to be proud. But Paul had to write these words. Then people could see that his good news had authority!

Sometimes in these verses, Paul writes the opposite of what he means. In this way, he can make his point more strongly. The Christians at Corinth will allow him to be proud in a foolish way because they are so wise!

He says that they allowed people to make them like slaves. By this, he means that they were willing to obey all the old *Jewish laws again. The false teachers took money from them. They said that, to get a place in heaven, the Christians at Corinth should pay the teachers. They told the Christians at Corinth what to do. Perhaps they used physical force to make them do it. Yes, says Paul, I was too weak to do those kinds of things to you!

v22 If they are *Hebrews, then so am I. If they are *Israelites, then so am I. If they belong to *Abraham’s family, then so do I. v23 If they are servants of Christ then I am superior. (These are very foolish words.) I have worked harder. People have put me in prison more often. People have beaten me more cruelly. Many times I almost died.

v24 The *Jews hit me 39 times with a whip on 5 occasions. v25 People hit me with sticks three times. Once, people tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. I have been in three *shipwrecks. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. v26 I have always been moving from place to place.

I have been:

·    in danger from rivers,

·    in danger from *robbers,

·    in danger from people from my own country,

·    in danger from foreigners.

I have been:

·    in danger in towns,

·    in danger in the country,

·    in danger at sea

·    and in danger from false friends.

v27 I have worked hard for a long time and become very tired. I have often been without sleep. I have been hungry and *thirsty. I have been without food, shelter or clothing.

v28 As well as everything else, I am daily anxious about my care of all the churches. v29 When another Christian is weak, then I feel weak too. When someone causes a Christian to do *sins, I get very angry. v30 If I must be proud, I will be proud of my weakness. v31 The God and Father of our *Lord Jesus Christ knows that I am not lying. (Praise his name for all time!)

v32 King Aretas’s *Governor of *Damascus placed guards at the city gates to arrest me. v33 But my friends let me down in a basket through a window in the city wall. So I escaped from him.

Paul’s *opponents said that they were real *Jews. Paul says that he is also a real *Jew. He spoke *Hebrew and he belonged to the families of *Abraham. He was a real servant of Christ, much more so than those who opposed him. Unlike his *opponents, his many troubles showed that he was a servant of Christ. We can see the *glory of Christ in his service for other people. He suffered much more than we read about in the Acts of the *Apostles. The list of his troubles here shows this. He says that he suffered terrible pain. The *Jews hit him 39 times with a whip on 5 occasions. Sometimes people died when this happened. The punishment in Deuteronomy 25:1-3 was 40 strokes of the whip. But they only beat criminals 39 times. If someone beat a criminal more than 40 times, then he would have received the same punishment. The *Romans hit Paul with sticks. They should not have done this because he was a *Roman citizen. Once, people tried to kill him by throwing stones at him. This was what happened to *Stephen while Paul watched. (See Acts 7:54–8:1.)

Paul had travelled from place to place. He often went by sea. *Jewish people were afraid of the sea. Their idea of heaven was that ‘there was no longer any sea’. (See Revelation 21:1.) Paul had been in great danger three times when a ship had sunk. He had spent a day and a night on the sea. On his journeys, he suffered danger from *robbers. He was in danger when he crossed rivers. There were not many bridges in those days. People from his own country and from other countries had attacked him. Even some men, who had pretended to be his friends, had opposed him. He had worked hard and been without food and sleep. He suffered from cold and illness as a result of bad weather.

Moreover, there was the worry about the churches that he had started. He was angry when people tried to turn a weak, new Christian away from Christ. These false teachers had tried to do this. They said that they had travelled a long way to get to Corinth. They did not have the same travelling experiences that Paul did.

Finally, he talks about his escape from *Damascus. This experience made Paul very humble. He says that he will be proud about that. He will not be proud about great things as his *opponents are. They spoke about their successes. But Paul writes about how he had to be humble.

Chapter 12

v1 It is not good to be proud. But I need to tell you about *visions and *revelations of the *Lord. v2 I know a man in Christ who, 14 years ago, went up to the highest heaven. I do not know whether it was an actual physical experience or not. Only God knows. v3 And I know that this man v4 went up to *Paradise. (Whether it was an actual physical experience or not, I do not know. Only God knows.) There, he heard things that human words cannot express. These were things that a man must not speak. v5 I will be proud about a man like that. I will not be proud about myself. I will only be proud about the things that show my weakness. v6 Even if I chose to be proud, I would not be a fool. Unlike a fool, I would be speaking the truth. But I shall stop. I do not want anyone to have a higher opinion of me than he has already. My words and actions are enough to inform you about me.

v7 God allowed me to suffer very bad physical pain. This stopped me from becoming too proud because of the wonderful things that I saw. This was a *messenger from *Satan to cause me trouble. v8 I asked the *Lord 3 times to take the pain away from me. v9 But he said to me ‘My free goodness is all that you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.’ Therefore, I am happy to *boast about my weakness so that Christ’s power may protect me. v10 So, because I love Christ, I *rejoice in weaknesses. I rejoice in hurtful things that people say. I *rejoice when I suffer. I *rejoice in cruel *treatment for what I believe. I *rejoice in difficulties. Because when I am weak, then I am strong.

v11 My words were foolish because you forced me to write such things. You should have recommended me. I am not at all *inferior to these men although I am nothing. They call themselves ‘superior *apostles’. v12 But God patiently performed the *signs, *wonders and *miracles that mark out a real *apostle among you. v13 Perhaps you think that I *treated you in an *inferior way to the other churches. The only thing that I did not do was to ask you for money. Forgive me if this was wrong!

Paul’s *opponents said that they had a lot of *visions and other *spiritual experiences. They wanted to know if Paul had any such experiences. These would prove that he was an *apostle.

Paul describes an experience that he had 14 years earlier (about the year *AD 41.) He does not want to say that he himself had this experience. He did not remember how this experience happened. He does not tell us about what happened. It was something that he could not explain. Perhaps it was an event that he could not explain in human language. Paul does not want to be proud about this experience. It was not the proof that God had sent him. That is what his *opponents would have said. They wanted people to consider them by their experiences. The proof that Christ has sent Paul was not his experience 14 years earlier. It was in Paul’s words and actions while he was with them.

Paul was not proud because God gave him a very bad physical pain. But Paul may not actually mean a pain in his body. ‘The word means something sharp and painful that sticks deeply in the *flesh. You cannot get it out. We do not know what this was. It was like every Christian’s experience of some physical or *psychological problem. God gave him this to keep him humble and therefore *fruitful in his service.’ (Hughes) It was a *messenger from *Satan. God allowed *Satan to attack Paul in this way. God had allowed him to attack Job in a similar way. Paul prayed three times for God to remove this pain. God told him that his free goodness was all that Paul needed. We may pray that God will set us free from such troubles. Sometimes he does not because they can keep us closer to Christ. We can know his power working by our weakness. It protects us like a shelter.

Paul reminds them that God did *signs and *wonders and *miracles. These showed he was an *apostle. He was not *inferior to the men who called themselves ‘superior *apostles’ at Corinth. The only way that he *treated Corinth differently from other churches was this. He did not ask them for money. He was sorry if he was unfair about this!

v14 Now I am preparing to visit you for the third time. I am still not intending to ask you for any help. I want you, not your money. After all, children should not have to provide for their parents. Parents should provide for their children. v15 I will be glad to spend all that I have. In fact, I will even give myself for you. Do not love me less when I love you so much! v16 But you say that I was *deceitful. I did not accept your money. You say that I had a clever scheme to cheat you. v17 I sent several people to you. v18 But they did not cheat you. I sent *Titus to visit you and I sent our friend with him. Titus did not use you for his own profit. And you know this. We both have the same reasons for our actions. And we both behave in the same way.

v19 You already think that we are defending ourselves to you. But we are speaking in God’s sight as Christ’s people. We do everything, dear friends, so that you may become strong. v20 Soon, I shall come to you. But I worry that you may disappoint me. Or, that I may disappoint you. I am afraid there may be quarrels, *jealousy, and anger. Or there may be groups that oppose each other. There may be people who speak lies or gossip about other people. You might be proud. There may be a lack of control. v21 Then God would cause me again to be humble because of you. I weep about those who have still not *repented. They did *sins in the past. But they have not *repented of their evil lives, their *sexual *sin and their *immoral behaviour.

Paul tells them that he was preparing for a third visit. He tells them why he did not want to accept help from them. They thought that he wanted their money. They thought that he was cheating them in order to make a profit. *Titus had collected money. But they thought that Paul had taken some of this money. Paul denied this. Parents should help their children. Children should not help their parents, he says. He is like their father in Christ. He would spend all his money and his strength to help them. He reminds them that neither he nor *Titus had used them to make a profit. Both had wanted to help them.

Paul was not defending himself as he would in a court with the Christians at Corinth as judges. They were his dear friends, and his aim was to encourage them. But he was afraid that they might disappoint him. He makes a list of the *sins that they had practised in the past. Perhaps these *sins would still be there when he came. If so, he warns them that he would be very severe towards them. He would also be very sad if they were like that. And he would be ashamed.

Chapter 13

v1 This will be my third visit to you. If you accuse anyone, two or three witnesses must speak in evidence. v2 I said this to you when I was with you the second time. I repeat it now that I am away. ‘I warn those who have *sinned in the past. And I warn everyone else. If I return, I shall punish them.’ v3 Then you will know that Christ speaks by me. He is not weak when he directs you. He shows his power among you. v4 Yes, he died on the *cross in weakness, but now he lives by the power of God. We who share his weakness will, by the power of God, live with him to serve you.

Paul warns them that he is coming to them. Two or three witnesses must prove that someone has done wrong things. During the ‘painful’ visit, he said this: He would punish those who had done wrong things. Now he says that he will do this. This will happen when he comes for the third time. His purpose was to make them better people. This would prove to them that he comes in the power of the *risen Jesus. Christ appeared to be weak while he was on earth and especially on the *cross. His followers share that weakness. Now he is alive in the power of God. The Christians at Corinth will see that power in Paul’s life.

v5 Test yourselves. Make sure that you still believe. Check yourselves. Know that Jesus Christ lives in you. That is, unless you fail the test. v6 I hope that you do not think that we have failed. v7 We pray to God that you will not do any wrong thing. This is not to show that we have passed the test. We want you to do what is right. This is even if we may seem to have failed. v8 We cannot do anything against the truth but only for it. v9 We are happy to be weak if you are strong. Therefore, we pray that you will become perfect. v10 That is why I write this when I am away from you. When I come, I shall not have to use my authority in a severe way. The *Lord gave me this authority to encourage you, not to punish you. v11 Finally, brothers, goodbye. Work hard to become perfect. Listen to my appeals. Agree with one another. Live in peace. Then, the God of love and peace will be with you. v12 Greet each other with a *holy kiss. v13 All God’s people send you greetings.

v14 I pray that the kindness of the *Lord Jesus Christ will be with you all. And I pray that the love of God and the *fellowship of the *Holy Spirit will be with you all.

He ends with a final warning. They have been testing him. Now they should test themselves. They should see that Christ is in them. That is unless they fail the test. But no real Christian would fail this test.

Paul had not failed the test. The proof of that was that they had become Christians. They must do what was right. Then Paul would not need to show his authority or to punish them. He did not need to do anything against what was true (right and proper). He wanted the Christians at Corinth to do the right things. Then he would be glad to be weak (not to have to show his power). He would be glad that they were strong. He prays that they may be perfect. The word ‘perfect’ here has a special meaning. It describes how people repair an object. Then they can use it again. The word often referred to *fishermen who mended their nets. He hoped that by warning them he would not need to be severe with them. He wanted to encourage them, not to punish them.

So he says goodbye to them. He encourages them to change their ways. They should listen to his appeal. They should live in peace (that is, calm) and greet one another in a friendly way.

His final prayer is that they may know the power of the Trinity. (The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the *Holy Spirit. God describes himself in this way. But there is only one God.) He refers to it in the order that we know about it. We first know the kindness of Jesus by the *cross. This leads us to the love of God. This results in the *fellowship of the *Holy Spirit. So we can have *fellowship with God and with each other.

Word List

Abraham ~ the father of the families that make up the *Hebrew nation.

Achaia ~ the southern area of Greece which Corinth governed.

AD ~ AD 50 means the year that was 50 years after Jesus came, and so on.

Amen ~ a word at the end of a prayer to show that you agree with the prayer.

angel ~ a *messenger or servant of God, from heaven.

apostle ~ a person whom someone sends to do a special task. In the *New Testament, an apostle was someone who had met the *risen Jesus.

Asia ~ the area of Asia Minor similar to modern Turkey.

assure ~ tell someone definitely about something so that they do not doubt.

Barnabas ~ a *Jewish Christian from Cyprus. He welcomed Paul into the Christian church and he travelled with him. He encouraged people.

beg ~ ask for a gift.

believer ~ someone who believes. That is, a genuine Christian.

boast ~ talk proudly about the things that you have achieved.

burden ~ a duty that people do not want.

charge ~ a *claim that someone has done wrong things.

claim ~ a statement that something is true, which other people may not agree with.

clay ~ a type of earth or soil.

commend ~ to praise or to recommend.

condemn ~ to say that someone is guilty.

Corinth, Corinthian ~ Corinth is a city in the country called Greece. The people from Corinth are called Corinthians.

cross ~ two pieces of wood that someone has fixed together. The *Romans killed people by fixing them to a cross to die. Jesus died on a cross.

cultural ~ something that belongs to the customs, arts, or social habits of a particular society or time.

Damascus ~ the capital of Syria. Paul was on his way there when he met the *risen Jesus. Later he escaped from the city in a basket.

deceitful ~ something that is never true or honest.

deceive ~ to make someone believe something that is not true.

disciples ~ the students of Jesus. Especially, the 12 men who became *apostles.

dishonest ~ not honest.

disobedience ~ when someone does not obey.

earthly ~ about this world, not *spiritual.

eternal ~ without beginning or end.

Eve ~ the first woman that God created.

exchange ~ to take one thing and give something else instead.

fading ~ becoming less clear or strong.

famine ~ a time when there is little or no food in a region.

favour ~ kindness that is very generous.

fellowship ~ when people share friendship and help. The fellowship of the *Holy Spirit means that the *Holy Spirit comes with us all to help us.

fishermen ~ people whose work is to catch fish.

flesh ~ the skin or the body.

fruitful, fruitfulness ~ when someone or something produces good results.

generosity ~ when someone gives freely.

generous ~ a generous person gives freely.

Gentiles ~ a name for all groups of people that are not *Jewish.

gentleness ~ kind, careful.

glorious ~ to be beautiful; to have great *glory.

glory ~ honour or greatness. Especially, God’s greatness. Or, a special cause for pride in something or someone.

God’s Word ~ the Bible.

goddess ~ a female false god.

Gospel ~ good news, an account of the life of Jesus by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

governor ~ a person who rules an area.

Greek ~ a thing or a person from Greece; or the language that Greek people speak; or a person who is not a *Jew.

Hebrew ~ a member of a group of families originally from Israel; or, the language of the Hebrew people.

holiness ~ the way that God wants us to live.

holy ~ all good with no bad in it; separate from *sin; suitable for God.

Holy Spirit ~ one person of the three persons who are God. He comes to help Christians to become more like God. We cannot see him. He comes to give people the power to do what God wants.

idols ~ stone or wooden images of false gods.

immoral ~ bad or wicked.

incense ~ a substance that people burn to make a sweet smell.

inferior ~ low in rank, position or quality.

inward ~ inner. Paul means here something that exists in the spirit.

Israelites ~ the people of Israel (*Jews).

jealousy ~ a jealous attitude.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to a *Jew.

Jews ~ people of the *Hebrew people or religion.

Judea ~ the southern part of the land of Israel.

justice ~ the quality of being fair and reasonable.

likeness ~ that which is like someone or something.

Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus; we call God or Jesus Lord when we obey them.

Macedonia ~ the northern part of modern Greece.

manna ~ means ‘What is it?’ The substance that the *Israelites used for food in the desert.

mercy ~ when someone shows kindness; or, when someone forgives someone who does not deserve it.

messenger ~ someone who takes a message to someone else.

ministry ~ what we do when we serve.

miracle ~ a wonderful act that God does by his power; a wonderful thing which shows that a person’s message is from God.

Moses ~ the leader of Israel who brought them out of Egypt and gave them their laws.

New Testament ~ the second part of the Bible with 27 books about the life of Jesus and the Christian message.

obedience, obedient ~ when you obey.

Old Testament ~ the 39 books in the first part of the Bible.

opponent ~ someone who opposes you.

outward ~ on the outside.

overwork ~ to work too hard or for too long.

Paradise ~ a perfect place; heaven.

Pharisees ~ a *Jewish group. They believed that it was important to obey completely all the *Jewish rules. Jesus spoke badly about many Pharisees because they were proud about their behaviour.

preach ~ speak in public, especially about religion.

prisoner ~ a person who is in prison.

prophesy ~ to tell people God’s messages, especially about the future.

prophet ~ someone who tells people God’s messages, especially about the future.

psychological ~ something that affects the mind.

reject ~ to refuse to believe.

rejoice ~ feel or show great joy.

relationship ~ a link between people; or, between God and people.

repent ~ to change your mind and behaviour.

revelation ~ a *spiritual experience when a person sees something that was secret.

righteous, righteousness ~ behaviour that is morally right.

risen Jesus ~ Jesus, after he died and became alive again.

robber ~ someone who steals.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the rulers at that time. That which belonged to Rome was Roman.

saints ~ people who belong to God. The Bible says that all Christians are saints.

salvation ~ when God frees a person’s spirit from *sin.

Satan ~ the devil.

save ~ when God frees a person from *sin.

sexual ~ about sex.

shipwreck ~ loss of a ship at sea because of a storm or accident.

sign ~ a sign shows that something is present or exists.

sin ~ an evil deed; or what is in us that causes us to do sins; to sin means to do evil deeds.

sincerity ~ a sincere attitude.

sorrow ~ when a person feels sad, they have sorrow.

soul ~ the *spiritual part of a person.

spirit ~ spirits are alive, but we cannot see them. There are good spirits usually called *angels. Jesus promised to send God’s *Holy Spirit to all who know him as the Son of God. Bad spirits (also called evil spirits, or demons) live in the air round us. The devil (God’s enemy) is their leader.

spiritual ~ about the spirit, not physical things.

Stephen ~ the first Christian to die because of his beliefs.

temple ~ a building where people praise God; or, a building where they praise false gods.

Ten Commandments ~ ten laws that God gave in Exodus chapter 20.

thanksgiving ~ words of thanks, especially to God.

thirsty ~ when someone needs a drink.

Titus ~ one of Paul’s companions to whom he later wrote a letter. He tried to help the Christians at Corinth and he took some of Paul’s letters to them.

tongues, to speak in ~ to talk in other languages that the speaker does not know.

treasure ~ an expensive object, for example gold.

treat ~ to act in a certain way towards someone.

treatment ~ a way to behave towards or to deal with a person or thing.

Troas ~ the main port for travellers from *Asia to *Macedonia, near the old city called Troy.

trustworthy ~ someone whom you can trust to be honest.

unbelievers ~ people who do not believe in Jesus.

uncertainty ~ a feeling of worry when someone is not sure about something.

unseen ~ not seen.

victor, victory ~ victory means success, for example in a war. The winner is called the victor.

violent ~ when a person uses physical force to hurt or kill someone.

visions ~ a *spiritual dream or experience.

wax ~ a sticky substance that easily melts. People used wax to close envelopes and to complete letters.

weapon ~ a weapon usually means something like a sword, that causes physical injury. But Paul’s battle was not a physical battle. It was a *spiritual battle. And Paul needed *spiritual weapons in order to oppose wrong ideas and to defeat the devil.

wonders ~ events that cause surprise and delight.

worldly ~ about the physical rather than the *spiritual.

worship ~ to give honour or to praise someone, usually God or a false god.

Book List

The Message of 2 Corinthians ~ Paul Barnett ~ IVP

2 Corinthians ~ New Bible Commentary Revised

2 Corinthians ~ William Barclay

Letters to Young Churches ~ J. B. Phillips

Bibles ~ New International Version, Revised Standard Version, Good News Bible

 

© 1997-2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

June 2005

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