2 Corinthians 1 – 7
2 Corinthians 1 – 2
- Salutation (1:1-2)
- Suffering and Encouragement in Service (1:3-14)
- Consistency in Service (1:12-22)
- Consideration for Others in Service (1:23 – 2:11)
- The Lord’s Leading in Service (2:12-17)
Suffering and Encouragement in Service (1:3-14)
Suffering and Encouragement (vv.3-7)
The Severity of Paul’s Suffering in Asia (v.8)
How to Endure Severe Trials (vv.9-11)
Consistency in Service (1:12-22)
Simplicity and Sincerity before God (vv.12-14)
Consistency and Dependability before Man (vv.15-22)
The Anointing (Unction) of the Spirit (1 John 2:20; 27; 2 Cor. 1:21). The anointing or unction of the Spirit is the ability of the Spirit of God in the believer to give power and intelligence. This is necessary for service, for worship, for direction, and for discernment. When the Spirit of God comes to indwell a person, no matter how young or inexperienced they are, they receive Divine help to discern between truth and error; "ye have not need that any one should teach you; but as the same unction teaches you as to all things" (1 John 2:27). This follows what Jesus taught about "the Comforter, the Holy Spirit... he shall teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all the things which I have said to you" (John 14:26). It is by one Spirit that we have access to the Father in prayer (Eph. 2:18). Furthermore, the Spirit is like a "fountain of living water" inside a believer, "springing up" in the enjoyment of eternal life (John 4:14), enabling us to worship the Father (Phil. 3:3). The Spirit is also like "rivers of living water" flowing out to this world with the refreshing testimony of Christ (John 7:38). In Romans we read that the believer has deliverance from sin through the power of the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:2). We also find that the sons of God "are led by the Spirit of God", who guides and direct our steps (Rom. 8:14). In 1 Corinthians we read that the indwelling Spirit is the power for ministry in every member of the body of Christ, enabling each one to do his or her service for the Lord (1 Cor. 12:7-11). It is the Spirit of God that strengthens us daily in the inner man (Eph. 3:16). We could summarize the anointing of the Spirit as that which enables the believer to live for God.
- The Seal of the Spirit (Eph 1:13; Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22). The seal of the Spirit is the assurance and witness that we belong to Christ. The idea of a 'seal' is that of a mark or a brand. Often a person will put a mark on tools or animals that belong to them, to show everyone else whose property they are. That is what the seal is, except it is more for us than for others. The seal of the Spirit is given to the believer so that he or she can have the assurance of their salvation. "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God" (Rom 8:16). This is one of the first things the Spirit does upon indwelling a believer. In fact, the moment you believe "the glad tidings of your salvation", you are "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:13). It is as if the Lord is anxious to assure you that you belong to Him! From the moment of salvation onward, the Holy Spirit begins to "shed abroad" the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). A believer will never lose this seal, and it is in view of the final salvation of our bodies; for we "have been sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). The seal of the Spirit is not given before salvation; i.e. a quickened soul is not immediately indwelt with the Spirit. The seal is the witness of a completed work of God in the soul. New birth is not the same as salvation. We could summarize the seal of the Spirit as that which: (1) signifies a completed work in the soul, and (2) assures and identifies us as belonging to Christ.
The Earnest of the Spirit (Eph 1:14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5; Rom. 8:11). The earnest of the Spirit is the guarantee and foretaste in advance of our full portion in Christ. This is evident from the very word "earnest", which refers to the down payment money a person might pay for something they intend to take possession of. For example, if you intend to buy a $300,000 home in a few months, you would pay a certain percentage down, perhaps 10% or $30,000, on the home, up front, to show the seller you are serious about your intention. Why is this necessary? The believer in Christ has two inheritances. First, we have a spiritual inheritance "reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4). Paul teaches in Ephesians that we are actually already "seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6), and therefore we already have access by faith to this heavenly, spiritual inheritance. It is the Spirit who allows us to enjoy those heavenly things right now, "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3). Secondly, we have a future, material inheritance that we will possess when Christ appears to possess what belongs to Him; "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance" (Eph. 1:11). There is coming a glorious day when the Spirit of God will be poured out on this world for blessing, when the redeeming or “setting free” will take place (Eph. 1:14), and the curse be lifted. That day is not here yet, but we have the very same Spirit within us, allowing us to share in the joy beforehand! The earnest works to keep us from settling for the things of this earth; we have something far better! The Spirit of God is the earnest in two ways: (1) to give us a foretaste of heaven before we get there, and (2) to guarantee that we will get there, then go on to reign with Christ and share all that He possesses! We could summarize the earnest of the Spirit as that which gives the believer the enjoyment of present blessings in Christ, and the guarantee of future blessings with Christ.
Consideration for Others in Service (1:23 – 2:11)
A Deeper Reason for Staying Away (1:23 – 2:3)
- To avoid unnecessary judgment (v.23). Paul withheld from going “to spare” the saints in Corinth, because his apostolic commission would have demanded judgment if he were present, which might be avoided if repentance was worked in their hearts.
- To allow spiritual growth (v.24). He did not want to have dominion over their faith by acting for them. He wanted their consciences to be engaged, so that there would be spiritual growth. We have all seen over-protective parents who hover over their children and do everything for them. Such parenting is quite damaging to a child’s development. So in spiritual things. Paul did not want them to be pressured by his authority or influence. They would be much better off if they handled the situation on their own. Given the choice between ruling over their faith or being helpers of their joy, Paul would rather choose the latter.
Restoration of the Fallen Brother (2:4-11)
- The assembly ought to be grieved about the sin (v.5; 2 Cor. 7:7-11). The awfulness of the sin should be felt by the whole assembly, although the assembly does not need unanimity to act. This corresponds to “eating the sin offering” (Lev. 10:17).
- The assembly must put out the wicked person (v.6; 1 Cor. 5:13). The assembly is responsible to act for the Lord’s glory, and excommunicate the wicked person. This is done by “binding” the sin, and then removing the wicked person from the assembly.
- The body at large should accept the action taken (v.6). Since the local assembly is an expression of the one body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), the body at large (“the many”) is responsible to recognize and submit to that action. For certain individuals or another local assembly to have fellowship with the excommunicated person is to deny the unity of the Body of Christ, and to bring dishonor to the Name of Christ.
- The action taken will be used by God to produce repentance in the wicked person (v.6). The excommunication serves as a rebuke to the wicked person, making them feel the seriousness of their own sin. God may use that to aid in the work of repentance in the person’s heart, provided they are truly a child of God, which is manifested outwardly in sorrow. Repentance is the desired outcome of excommunication.
- There ought to be priestly activity to discern the state of the excommunicated person (v.6). Paul was aware that the assembly action and the duration of the excommunication was “sufficient”; i.e. the person was truly repentant. There must have been some contact with the person to discern the state of soul, although any contact would NOT include socializing. This is pictured in Lev. 13 by the priests inspecting the leper to see if the leprosy was cleansed.
- If God has granted repentance, the assembly may lift the social restraint (vv.7-8). Once the excommunicated person has passed judgment on their sin, the assembly should “shew grace and encourage” the brother, which means he would be welcomed back into the assembly. This is pictured by the cleansed leper being allowed in the camp but not his tent for seven days (Lev. 14:8). This would not precede the “loosing” (v.10).
- If repentance is evident, the assembly must administratively forgive the person (vv.9-10). The assembly is required (v.9) to forgive the excommunicated person once repentance is evident. This is administrative forgiveness, which is different from brotherly or personal forgiveness. The individuals should have forgiven the offender immediately in their hearts. But an official action is required to officially loose the sin that was bound on the person. This action would restore such a one to full fellowship in the assembly, although ongoing shepherding is needed. Normally, a forgiven individual would resume assembly functions, such as breaking bread, however it may not always take place that way.
- The body at large should accept the administrative forgiveness (vv.10-11). Finally, the body at large should recognize the action taken in the local assembly, and they likewise should forgive the person. Paul himself would submit to the action taken. This is important because there is one body, and Satan would like to get an advantage by dividing us over issues.
The local assembly has been invested with authority to "bind" or "loose" a person's sin (Matt. 18:18); which means to "retain" or "remit" their sin (John 20:23). Binding and loosing are two administrative actions that are done "in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ" and are backed by His authority (1 Cor. 5:4). The authority to "bind" and "loose" with heaven's ratification was given first to Peter (Matt. 16:19), then extended to the local assembly (Matt. 18:18).
To "bind" a person's sin upon them is to associate them with that sin in an official sense. Morally, they were associated with it the moment the sin was committed, but this is a special association of an official character. Paul does this in 1 Cor. 5:4 with the words "being such"; that is, he formally connected that man with his sin. Excommunication of the wicked person follows binding of the sin (v.5). In 1 Cor. 5 we have an example of "binding", and in 2 Cor. 2 we have the "loosing". Once a person has turned from their sin, and their repentance is manifest, the assembly ought to "loose" the sin, or formally disassociate the person from it. The whole assembly, wherever it may be found "on earth" is required to acknowledge an administrative action once taken, because it is bound or loosed in heaven. To continue fellowship with a person that is put away is to ignore the action taken, and to rebel against the authority of heaven. The binding or loosing would occur in a solemn meeting for judicial action; "when ye are gathered together" (v.4). It is only when the assembly is formally gathered together that the presence and "power of our Lord Jesus Christ" is there to give weight to the action.Read more…
The whole assembly is to be involved in the action, and the whole assembly is to recognize the action once taken; "put away from among yourselves (plural) that wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13). In reference to the fornicator, Paul says that when repentance was worked in the man's heart, the whole assembly ("ye" and "you" are plural) was to act together to lift social restrictions; "ye should rather shew grace and encourage" (2 Cor. 2:7) and administratively forgive; "to whom ye forgive anything, I also" (2 Cor. 2:10). To act independently of the local assembly in these matters of putting away and restoring is really to undermine the authority of the Lord. Furthermore, socializing with the wicked person may be well intended, but it doesn't really help that person. That is acting in human love rather than divine love, and it will only hinder the work of restoration. And this is not just locally. The responsibility to judge evil lies with the local assembly, but all who are gathered on the ground of the assembly will recognize their action. "Sufficient to such a one is this rebuke which has been inflicted by the many" (2 Cor. 2:6). "The many" is an expression which refers to the body of Christ at large (2 Cor. 9:2). Even if the action is unrighteous, all believers in all local assemblies must submit to it as "bound in heaven". This does not mean there is no recourse when an unrighteous action is taken. If a wrong decision has been made, we should bring it up to the assembly and they will be made responsible to correct the action. God may raise up prophets to speak to the assembly about wrong judgments, or send individuals from nearby assemblies to remonstrate with them. Ultimately, if the local gathering refuses to judge the evil, it will cease to be an assembly. To fellowship with a person who has been excommunicated is to ignore the action which has been bound in heaven. Often times this is done out of ignorance, and other times in self-will. In any case, independency is (1) a rebellion against the authority of Christ in the local assembly, and (2) a denial of the truth that there is one body of Christ. You cannot practice independency and "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3). The result is confusion; "every man did that which was right in his own eyes".
The Lord’s Leading in Service (2:12-17)
- Pure in our Motives. Why are we doing what we are doing? Are we seeking glory or profit for self? Our service must be “as of sincerity”.
- Directed by God. Do we really have God’s will in our actions. We must speak as the oracles of God, and serve as His representatives; “as of God”.
- Accountable to God. Do we serve for God’s approval, or man’s? Are we conscious of His eye? We must live “before God”.
- Christlike in our Character. Is our service in keeping with the mind and heart of Christ? Would the Perfect Servant approve of our conduct and attitude? This is what it means to serve “in Christ”.
|Chapter||Our service is like:||The outflow can be hindered by:|
|Ch.2||“A sweet odor of Christ” to God and the world (v.15).||Impurity on our motives, making “a trade of the word of God” (v.17).|
|Ch.3||“An epistle of Christ” written on our hearts (v.3).||Bringing in legality; the “ministry of death” (v.7).|
|Ch.4||“The light of the knowledge of God” shining out from earthen vessels (v.6).||Preaching “ourselves” or putting ourselves forward (v.5).|
|Ch.5||“Ambassadors for Christ” with a ministry of reconciliation (v.20).||Living “unto ourselves” and for earthly interests (v.15).|
|Ch.6||“As fellow-workmen” with the apostles (v.1).||Being “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (v.14).|