Two More Letters to the Corinthians
NOVEMBER 13 - Nº 317 Acts 19:21; Acts 20:1; 2 Corinthians 1 – 13
When everything in Ephesus had calmed down, Paul gathered the believers together to encourage them and to say goodbye. It was time for him to move on. His plan was to visit the churches in Macedonia and Achaia before returning to Jerusalem. Eventually, he hoped to go to Rome to encourage the believers there. While he was traveling, Paul heard that the church in Corinth was still struggling. False teachers were now claiming that Paul was not qualified to be an apostle. These imposters were undermining everything that Paul had taught. So, he wrote a stern letter to confront this issue and defend his authority as an apostle. Titus left at once to deliver it. Although we do not have a copy of that “lost letter,” Paul mentioned it twice in his next letter which we call Second Corinthians. Paul stopped in Troas and waited anxiously for Titus to return with news from Corinth. But the trip took longer than expected. So, Paul left for Macedonia hoping to meet up with Titus in Philippi or Thessalonica. When they finally got together, Titus had great news. Most of the believers in Corinth were genuinely sorry that they had listened to the false teachers. After reading the letter from Paul and hearing what Titus had to say, they repented and devoted themselves once again to the things Paul had taught. Paul was overwhelmed with joy when he heard this. He wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia to express his thanks for the way the believers had responded. In it he asked the Corinthians to treat the ones who had misled them with forgiveness and love. He explained that the joy of the Gospel message was reconciliation. Christ died so that everyone could be made right with God. Their role as believers was to share this message of forgiveness and righteousness with others and to demonstrate it with their own lives. Then he encouraged the church members to be generous and to continue collecting money for the Christians in Judea who were suffering severely from the famine (see #298 - October 25 and #315 - November 11). He explained that sharing what they had with others was like planting seeds. The more they planted, the more they would harvest. “God loves it when people give cheerfully,” Paul wrote, “and He blesses them abundantly.” Because there were still members of the Corinthian church who questioned Paul’s authority, he spent the rest of the letter defending his role as an apostle. He wrote in great length about his ancestry and his credentials as a Jewish leader. He chronicled many of the hardships he had endured as he shared the Gospel message all over the world. These included imprisonments, floggings, stoning, shipwrecks, and many other terrible ordeals. Yet God had always rescued him so that he could continue the work he had been assigned. Paul explained that God had also given him the power to perform miraculous signs and wonders. He had even taken Paul to heaven and brought him back! Even though some church members continued to question his authority, Paul certainly fulfilled the role of “an apostle.” Before he closed the letter with a prayer for them, Paul shared that he planned to visit the Corinthian believers again very soon.
Paul made it clear to the Christians in Corinth that they were to be generous—both in their willingness to forgive and their willingness to give—based on what God had done for them. Do you forgive others generously—the way God has forgiven you? Do you give to others lavishly—the way God has given to you?