* 2 Corinthians: Paul constructed Second Corinthians as a key for understanding all of the Pauline Epistles, especially for the Christians who doubt the unique teaching that Jesus revealed through this Apostle.
To undergird his controversial Gospel of Grace (Rom. 4:5; 11:13; 1 Cor. 3:10; 15:1; Gal. 2:7; Eph. 2:8-9; etc.), the Apostle Paul realized that he must defend his own unique authority against his critics and against negative comparisons to the other apostles. He does this more aggressively when writing to the Galatians, but in greater length when writing to the Corinthians, beginning with his initial letter (1 Cor. 1:1, 17; 3:10; 4:16; 9:1-2, 17; 11:1; 14:37; 15:3, 9). Then the first half of Second Corinthians (chapters 1 – 7) describes the characteristics of an apostle as Paul builds toward the defense of his own ministry to rebut the attacks against his own apostleship.
The greater eloquence of the other apostles, for example, in no way diminishes the revelation that God has given to Paul (11:5-6). And though the Lord performed miracles through all the apostles for the sick, no one should doubt the Apostle to the Gentiles even though God never healed Paul’s own physical infirmity. For through this ordeal God has established that, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (12:9, 11). Also, Paul bluntly recognized that while the Corinthians, “seek a proof of Christ speaking in me”, they should “examine” themselves “as to whether [they] are in the faith”, but regardless, Paul’s own authority is beyond question (13:1-6).
The Ten Commandments, “written… on tablets of stone” are a “ministry of death”. Paul uses this shocking truth to distinguish between the two covenants and therefore, between two covenant peoples, for the “covenant” of the law “kills, but the [new covenant of] the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:3, 6-7). In chapters 8 and 9 Paul urges Paul’s converts to cheerfully raise funds to give to the impoverished Jerusalem believers. For as we learned from The Acts of the Apostles, the converts of the Twelve, i.e., the circumcision believers, sold their homes and lands, unlike Paul’s converts, those of “the gospel of the uncircumcision” (Gal. 2:7, KJV), who did not sell off their property. For Paul instructs us to test “the things that differ” (Rom. 2:18 KJV margin). Bob Enyart’s study of Second Corinthians helps the diligent believer understand such things!
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