Countdown: 30 days!
Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
2 Corinthians 11-13:14
Questions & Observations
Q. For most of this whole reading Paul is on the church in Corinth with some corruption of some kind. But, we don’t know what it is, or why is it important to include their scuffles in the Bible? Paul also defends his character of not being a burden to the church. It sounds like maybe some false apostles were influencing the church and bad-mouthing Paul?
A. The major thrust of Paul’s argument is that the people were not being faithful to their call, which is certainly something we can understand today — allowing sin to creep into our lives, even as believers. Yes, it sounds like Paul’s enemies were slandering him in his absence.
Q. (2 Corinthians 11:13): How can false apostles be differentiated from true ones?
A. By their fruit (Matthew 7:16). Are your teachers sewing unity, love, compassion, etc? If so, then most likely they are a genuine follower of Christ (though deceit is surely possible, it can and does happen to the best). But if the major “fruit” of a teacher is false doctrine, compromises in orthodoxy, disunity, division, then your church might be in danger, though I freely admit that the power of grace can change hearts if there is a genuine desire for a false teacher to repent.
Q. (2 Corinthians 11:30): I understand what Paul is saying in that he becomes strong when he thinks about his human person being weak, because then he relies on God’s strength which makes him a stronger person. But, I don’t understand what Paul is saying his weaknesses are.
A. Paul does not explicitly tell us, even the one he mentions — the thorn — is a bit of an unknown. Speaking of…
Q. (12:7): The thorn in his flesh is Satan’s torment? Or, is he talking about an actual physical pain here? We know that Paul has his share of ailments from the amount of physical persecution he has endured.
A. The best guess we have is it is some sort of physical aliment. It is not a literal torment of Satan, but a metaphorical torment. Other people think it is some sort of “pet” sin that Paul had, or a regular temptation that he faced, though these seem like a bit more of a stretch to me.
Q. (12:11): Why would Paul need to apologize to the church for not becoming a financial burden on them? Is he saying that if they had financially supported him more that they would feel a stronger connection to him — and feel more responsible for his well being?
A. He’s being sarcastic by saying that he’s “apologizing” for not being a burden to them. That’s all.
Q. (13:7): What is this “demonstrating authority” that Paul is threatening the church with?
A. It appears he is saying that he will discern between those who are right and those who are in sin, and he does not want to have to use his God-given authority this way. He would rather that the people repent of their sin and turn back to God, that he visit can be joyful.