2 Corinthians 13 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 694)

2 Corinthians 13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 13

This third time I am coming[a] to you. “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a fact shall be established.” I warned those who sinned earlier[b] and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not be lenient, [c]since you are looking for proof of Christ speaking in me. He is not weak toward you but powerful in you. For indeed he was crucified out of weakness, but he lives by the power of God. So also we are weak in him, but toward you we shall live with him by the power of God.

[d]Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, of course, you fail the test. I hope you will discover that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do evil, not that we may appear to have passed the test but that you may do what is right, even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong. What we pray for is your improvement.

10 [e]I am writing this while I am away, so that when I come I may not have to be severe in virtue of the authority that the Lord has given me to build up and not to tear down.

V. Conclusion[f]

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you.

13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you.

Footnotes:

  1. 13:1 This third time I am coming: designation of the forthcoming visit as the “third” (cf. 2 Cor 12:14) may indicate that, in addition to his founding sojourn in Corinth, Paul had already made the first of two visits mentioned as planned in 2 Cor 1:15, and the next visit will be the long-postponed second of these. If so, the materials in 2 Cor 1:12–2:13 plus 2 Cor 7:4–16 and 2 Cor 10–13 may date from the same period of time, presumably of some duration, between Paul’s second and third visit, though it is not clear that they are addressing the same crisis. The chronology is too unsure and the relations between sections of 2 Corinthians too unclear to yield any certainty. The hypothesis that 2 Cor 10–13 are themselves the “tearful letter” mentioned at 2 Cor 2:3–4 creates more problems than it solves.
  2. 13:2 I warned those who sinned earlier: mention of unrepentant sinners (2 Cor 12:21 and here) and of an oral admonition given them on an earlier visit complicates the picture at the very end of Paul’s development. It provides, in fact, a second explanation for the show of power that has been threatened from the beginning (2 Cor 10:1–6), but a different reason for it, quite unsuspected until now. It is not clear whether Paul is merely alluding to a dimension of the situation that he has not previously had occasion to mention, or whether some other community crisis, not directly connected with that behind 2 Cor 10–13, has influenced the final editing. I will not be lenient: contrast Paul’s hesitation and reluctance to inflict pain in 2 Cor 1:23 and 2 Cor 2:1–4. The next visit will bring the showdown.
  3. 13:3–4 Paul now gives another motive for severity when he comes, the charge of weakness leveled against him as an apostle. The motive echoes more closely the opening section (2 Cor 10:1–18) and the intervening development (especially 2 Cor 11:30–12:10). Proof of Christ speaking in me: the threat of 2 Cor 10:1–2 is reworded to recall Paul’s conformity with the pattern of Christ, his insertion into the interplay of death and life, weakness and power (cf. note on 2 Cor 12:10b).
  4. 13:5–9 Paul turns the challenge mentioned in 2 Cor 13:3 on them: they are to put themselves to the test to demonstrate whether Christ is in them. These verses involve a complicated series of plays on the theme of dokimē (testing, proof, passing and failing a test). Behind this stands the familiar distinction between present human judgment and final divine judgment. This is the final appearance of the theme (cf. 2 Cor 10:18; 11:15; 12:19).
  5. 13:10 Authority…to build up and not to tear down: Paul restates the purpose of his letter in language that echoes 2 Cor 10:2, 8, emphasizing the positive purpose of his authority in their regard. This verse forms an inclusion with the topic sentence of the section (2 Cor 12:19), as well as with the opening of this entire portion of the letter (2 Cor 10:1–2).
  6. 13:11–13 These verses may have originally concluded 2 Cor 10–13, but they have nothing specifically to do with the material of that section. It is also possible to consider them a conclusion to the whole of 2 Corinthians in its present edited form. The exhortations are general, including a final appeal for peace in the community. The letter ends calmly, after its many storms, with the prospect of ecclesial unity and divine blessing. The final verse is one of the clearest trinitarian passages in the New Testament.
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2 Corinthians 12 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 693)

2 Corinthians 12 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 12

I[a] must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven. And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter. About this person[b] I will boast, but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,[c] a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times[d] I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, [e]but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,[f] in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 10 Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.[g]

Selfless Concern for the Church.[h] 11 I have been foolish. You compelled me, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I am in no way inferior to these “superapostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 [i]The signs of an apostle were performed among you with all endurance, signs and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13 [j]In what way were you less privileged than the rest of the churches, except that on my part I did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Now I am ready to come to you this third time. And I will not be a burden, for I want not what is yours, but you. Children ought not to save for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be utterly spent for your sakes. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granted that I myself did not burden you, yet I was crafty and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? And in the same steps?

Final Warnings and Appeals.[k] 19 Have you been thinking all along that we are defending[l] ourselves before you? In the sight of God we are speaking in Christ, and all for building you up, beloved. 20 For I fear that[m] when I come I may find you not such as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; that there may be rivalry, jealousy, fury, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again[n] my God may humiliate me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, immorality, and licentiousness they practiced.

Footnotes:

  1. 12:1–4 In the body or out of the body: he seemed no longer confined to bodily conditions, but he does not claim to understand the mechanics of the experience. Caught up: i.e., in ecstasy. The third heaven…Paradise: ancient cosmologies depicted a multitiered universe. Jewish intertestamental literature contains much speculation about the number of heavens. Seven is the number usually mentioned, but the Testament of Levi (2:7–10; 3:1–4) speaks of three; God himself dwelt in the third of these. Without giving us any clear picture of the cosmos, Paul indicates a mental journey to a nonearthly space, set apart by God, in which secrets were revealed to him. Ineffable things: i.e., privileged knowledge, which it was not possible or permitted to divulge.
  2. 12:5–7 This person: the indirect way of referring to himself has the effect of emphasizing the distance between that experience and his everyday life, just as the indirect someone in Christ (2 Cor 12:2) and all the passive verbs emphasize his passivity and receptivity in the experience. The revelations were not a personal achievement, nor were they meant to draw attention to any quality of his own.
  3. 12:7 That I might not become too elated: God assures that there is a negative component to his experience, so that he cannot lose proper perspective; cf. 2 Cor 1:9; 4:7–11. A thorn in the flesh: variously interpreted as a sickness or physical disability, a temptation, or a handicap connected with his apostolic activity. But since Hebrew “thorn in the flesh,” like English “thorn in my side,” refers to persons (cf. Nm 33:55; Ez 28:24), Paul may be referring to some especially persistent and obnoxious opponent. The language of 2 Cor 12:7–8 permits this interpretation. If this is correct, the frequent appearance of singular pronouns in depicting the opposition may not be merely a stylistic variation; the singular may be provoked and accompanied by the image of one individual in whom criticism of Paul’s preaching, way of life, and apostolic consciousness is concentrated, and who embodies all the qualities Paul attributes to the group. An angel of Satan: a personal messenger from Satan; cf. the satanic language already applied to the opponents in 2 Cor 11:3, 13–15, 20.
  4. 12:8 Three times: his prayer was insistent, like that of Jesus in Gethsemane, a sign of how intolerable he felt the thorn to be.
  5. 12:9 But he said to me: Paul’s petition is denied; release and healing are withheld for a higher purpose. The Greek perfect tense indicates that Jesus’ earlier response still holds at the time of writing. My grace is sufficient for you: this is not a statement about the sufficiency of grace in general. Jesus speaks directly to Paul’s situation. Is made perfect: i.e., is given most fully and manifests itself fully.
  6. 12:9b–10a Paul draws the conclusion from the autobiographical anecdote and integrates it into the subject of this part of the boast. Weaknesses: the apostolic hardships he must endure, including active personal hostility, as specified in a final catalogue (2 Cor 12:10a). That the power of Christ may dwell with me: Paul pinpoints the ground for the paradoxical strategy he has adopted in his self-defense.
  7. 12:10 When I am weak, then I am strong: Paul recognizes a twofold pattern in the resolution of the weakness-power (and death-life) dialectic, each of which looks to Jesus as the model and is experienced in him. The first is personal, involving a reversal in oneself (Jesus, 2 Cor 13:4a; Paul, 2 Cor 1:9–10; 4:10–11; 6:9). The second is apostolic, involving an effect on others (Jesus, 2 Cor 5:14–15; Paul, 2 Cor 1:6; 4:12; 13:9). The specific kind of “effectiveness in ministry” that Paul promises to demonstrate on his arrival (2 Cor 13:4b; cf. 2 Cor 10:1–11) involves elements of both; this, too, will be modeled on Jesus’ experience and a participation in that experience (2 Cor 9; 13:3b).
  8. 12:11–18 This brief section forms an epilogue or concluding observation to Paul’s boast, corresponding to the prologue in 2 Cor 11:1–15. A four-step sequence of ideas is common to these two sections: Paul qualifies his boast as folly (2 Cor 11:1; 12:11a), asserts his noninferiority to the “superapostles” (2 Cor 11:5; 12:11b), exemplifies this by allusion to charismatic endowments (2 Cor 11:6; 12:12), and finally denies that he has been a financial burden to the community (2 Cor 11:7–12; 12:13–18).
  9. 12:12 Despite weakness and affliction (suggested by the mention of endurance), his ministry has been accompanied by demonstrations of power (cf. 1 Cor 2:3–4). Signs of an apostle: visible proof of belonging to Christ and of mediating Christ’s power, which the opponents require as touchstones of apostleship (2 Cor 12:11; cf. 2 Cor 13:3).
  10. 12:13–18 Paul insists on his intention to continue refusing support from the community (cf. 2 Cor 11:8–12). In defending his practice and his motivation, he once more protests his love (cf. 2 Cor 11:11) and rejects the suggestion of secret self-enrichment. He has recourse here again to language applied to his opponents earlier: “cunning” (2 Cor 11:3), “deceit” (2 Cor 11:13), “got the better of you” (see note on 2 Cor 11:20), “take advantage” (2 Cor 2:11).
  11. 12:19–13:10 This concludes the development begun in 2 Cor 10. In the chiastic arrangement of the material (see note on 2 Cor 10:1–13:10), this final part corresponds to the opening; there are important similarities of content between the two sections as well.
  12. 12:19 This verse looks back at the previous chapters and calls them by their proper name, a defense, an apologia (cf. 1 Cor 9:3). Yet Paul insists on an important distinction: he has indeed been speaking for their benefit, but the ultimate judgment to which he submits is God’s (cf. 1 Cor 4:3–5). This verse also leads into the final section, announcing two of its themes: judgment and building up.
  13. 12:20 I fear that…: earlier Paul expressed fear that the Corinthians were being victimized, exploited, seduced from right thinking by his opponents (2 Cor 11:3–4, 19–21). Here he alludes unexpectedly to moral disorders among the Corinthians themselves. The catalogue suggests the effects of factions that have grown up around rival apostles.
  14. 12:21 Again: one can also translate, “I fear that when I come my God may again humiliate me.” Paul’s allusion to the humiliation and mourning that may await him recall the mood he described in 2 Cor 2:1–4, but there is no reference here to any individual such as there is in 2 Cor 2:5–11. The crisis of 2 Cor 2 has happily been resolved by integration of the offender and repentance (2 Cor 7:4–16), whereas 2 Cor 12:21 is preoccupied with still unrepentant sinners. The sexual sins recall 1 Cor 5–7.

2 Corinthians 11 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 692)

2 Corinthians 11 New Living Translation (NLT)

Paul and the False Apostles

11 I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride[a] to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.

Was I wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God’s Good News to you without expecting anything in return? I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost. And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, no one in all of Greece[b] will ever stop me from boasting about this.11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows that I do.

12 But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. 13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

Paul’s Many Trials

16 Again I say, don’t think that I am a fool to talk like this. But even if you do, listen to me, as you would to a foolish person, while I also boast a little. 17 Such boasting is not from the Lord, but I am acting like a fool.18 And since others boast about their human achievements, I will, too.19 After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools! 20 You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that!

But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.[c] 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?

30 If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. 32 When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. 33 I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.

Footnotes:

  1. 11:2 Greek a virgin.
  2. 11:10 Greek Achaia, the southern region of the Greek peninsula.
  3. 11:26 Greek from false brothers.

2 Corinthians 10 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 691)

2 Corinthians 10 New Living Translation (NLT)

Paul Defends His Authority

10 Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away. Well, I am begging you now so that when I come I won’t have to be bold with those who think we act from human motives.

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. [a]We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

Look at the obvious facts.[b] Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do. I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.

I’m not trying to frighten you by my letters. 10 For some say, “Paul’s letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are worthless!” 11 Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.

12 Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!

13 We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. 14 We are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim authority over you, as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ.

15 Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. 16 Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. 17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”[c]

18 When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.

Footnotes:

  1. 10:4 English translations divide verses 4 and 5 in various ways.
  2. 10:7 Or You look at things only on the basis of appearance.
  3. 10:17 Jer 9:24.

2 Corinthians 9 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 690)

2 Corinthians 9 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 9

God’s Indescribable Gift.[a] Now about the service to the holy ones, it is superfluous for me to write to you, for I know your eagerness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia[b] has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them.Nonetheless, I sent the brothers[c] so that our boast about you might not prove empty in this case, so that you might be ready, as I said, for fear that if any Macedonians come with me and find you not ready we might be put to shame (to say nothing of you) in this conviction. So I thought it necessary to encourage the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for your promised gift, so that in this way it might be ready as a bountiful gift and not as an exaction.

Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. [d]Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

10 The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

11 [e]You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God, 12 for the administration of this public service is not only supplying the needs of the holy ones but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. 13 Through the evidence of this service, you are glorifying God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your contribution to them and to all others, 14 while in prayer on your behalf they long for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Footnotes:

  1. 9:1–15 Quite possibly this was originally an independent letter, though it deals with the same subject and continues many of the same themes. In that case, it may have been written a few weeks later than 2 Cor 8, while the delegation there mentioned was still on its way.
  2. 9:2 Achaia: see note on Rom 15:26.
  3. 9:3 I sent the brothers: the Greek aorist tense here could be epistolary, referring to the present; in that case Paul would be sending them now, and 2 Cor 9 would merely conclude the letter of recommendation begun in 2 Cor 8. But the aorist may also refer to a sending that is past as Paul writes; then 2 Cor 9, with its apparently fresh beginning, is a follow-up message entrusted to another carrier.
  4. 9:8–10 The behavior to which he exhorts them is grounded in God’s own pattern of behavior. God is capable of overwhelming generosity, as scripture itself attests (2 Cor 9:9), so that they need not fear being short. He will provide in abundance, both supplying their natural needs and increasing their righteousness. Paul challenges them to godlike generosity and reminds them of the fundamental motive for encouragement: God himself cannot be outdone.
  5. 9:11–15 Paul’s vision broadens to take in all the interested parties in one dynamic picture. His language becomes liturgically colored and conveys a sense of fullness. With a final play on the words charis and eucharistia (see note on 2 Cor 8:1), he describes a circle that closes on itself: the movement of grace overflowing from God to them and handed on from them through Paul to others is completed by the prayer of praise and thanksgiving raised on their behalf to God.

2 Corinthians 8 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 689)

2 Corinthians 8 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

III. The Collection for Jerusalem[a]

Chapter 8

Generosity in Giving. [b]We want you to know, brothers,[c] of the grace of God[d] that has been given to the churches of Macedonia, [e]for in a severe test of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. [f]For according to their means, I can testify, and beyond their means, spontaneously, they begged us insistently for the favor of taking part in the service to the holy ones, and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us[g] through the will of God, so that we urged Titus[h] that, as he had already begun, he should also complete for you this gracious act also. [i]Now as you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others. [j]For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And I am giving counsel in this matter, for it is appropriate for you who began not only to act but to act willingly last year: 11 complete it now, so that your eager[k]willingness may be matched by your completion of it out of what you have. 12 [l]For if the eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have; 13 not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality 14 your surplus at the present time should supply their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written:

“Whoever had much did not have more,
    and whoever had little did not have less.”

Titus and His Collaborators.[m] 16 But thanks be to God who put the same concern for you into the heart of Titus, 17 for he not only welcomed our appeal but, since he is very concerned, he has gone to you of his own accord. 18 With him we have sent the brother[n] who is praised in all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has also been appointed our traveling companion by the churches in this gracious work administered by us for the glory of the Lord [himself] and for the expression of our eagerness. 20 This we desire to avoid, that anyone blame us[o] about this lavish gift administered by us, 21 for we are concerned for what is honorable not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of others. 22 And with them we have sent our brother whom we often tested in many ways and found earnest, but who is now much more earnest because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker for you; as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to them.[p]

Footnotes:

  1. 8:1–9:15 Paul turns to a new topic, the collection for the church in Jerusalem. There is an early precedent for this project in the agreement mentioned in Gal 2:6–10. According to Acts, the church at Antioch had sent Saul and Barnabas to Jerusalem with relief (Acts 11:27–30). Subsequently Paul organized a project of relief for Jerusalem among his own churches. Our earliest evidence for it comes in 1 Cor 16:1–4—after it had already begun (see notes there); by the time Paul wrote Rom 15:25–28 the collection was completed and ready for delivery. 2 Cor 8–9 contain what appear to be two letters on the subject. In them Paul gives us his fullest exposition of the meaning he sees in the enterprise, presenting it as an act of Christian charity and as an expression of the unity of the church, both present and eschatological. These chapters are especially rich in the recurrence of key words, on which Paul plays; it is usually impossible to do justice to these wordplays in the translation.
  2. 8:1–24 This is a letter of recommendation for Titus and two unnamed companions, written from Macedonia probably at least a year later than 1 Cor 16. The recommendation proper is prefaced by remarks about the ideals of sharing and equality within the Christian community (2 Cor 8:1–15). Phil 4:10–20 shows that Paul has reflected on his personal experience of need and relief in his relations with the community at Philippi; he now develops his reflections on the larger scale of relations between his Gentile churches and the mother church in Jerusalem.
  3. 8:1–5 The example of the Macedonians, a model of what ought to be happening at Corinth, provides Paul with the occasion for expounding his theology of “giving.”
  4. 8:1 The grace of God: the fundamental theme is expressed by the Greek noun charis, which will be variously translated throughout these chapters as “grace” (2 Cor 8:1; 9:8, 14), “favor” (2 Cor 8:4), “gracious act” (2 Cor 8:6, 7, 9) or “gracious work” (2 Cor 8:19), to be compared to “gracious gift” (1 Cor 16:3). The related term, eucharistia, “thanksgiving,” also occurs at 2 Cor 9:11, 12. The wordplay is not superficial; various mutations of the same root signal inner connection between aspects of a single reality, and Paul consciously exploits the similarities in vocabulary to highlight that connection.
  5. 8:2 Three more terms are now introduced. Test (dokimē): the same root is translated as “to test” (2 Cor 8:8) and “evidence” (2 Cor 9:13); it means to be tried and found genuine. Abundance: variations on the same root lie behind “overflow” (2 Cor 8:2; 9:12), “excel” (2 Cor 8:7), “surplus” (2 Cor 8:14), “superfluous” (2 Cor 9:1) “make abundant” and “have an abundance” (2 Cor 9:8). These expressions of fullness contrast with references to need (2 Cor 8:14; 9:12). Generosity: the word haplotēs has nuances of both simplicity and sincerity; here and in 2 Cor 9:11, 13 it designates the singleness of purpose that manifests itself in generous giving.
  6. 8:3–4 Paul emphasizes the spontaneity of the Macedonians and the nature of their action. They begged us insistently: the same root is translated as “urge,” “appeal,” “encourage” (2 Cor 8:6, 17; 9:5). Taking part: the same word is translated “contribution” in 2 Cor 9:13 and a related term as “partner” in 2 Cor 8:23. Service (diakonia): this word occurs also in 2 Cor 9:1, 13 as “service”; in 2 Cor 9:12 it is translated “administration,” and in 2 Cor 8:19, 20 the corresponding verb is rendered “administer.”
  7. 8:5 They gave themselves…to the Lord and to us: on its deepest level their attitude is one of self-giving.
  8. 8:6 Titus: 1 Cor 16 seemed to leave the organization up to the Corinthians, but apparently Paul has sent Titus to initiate the collection as well; 2 Cor 8:16–17 will describe Titus’ attitude as one of shared concern and cooperation.
  9. 8:7 The charitable service Paul is promoting is seen briefly and in passing within the perspective of Paul’s theology of the charisms. Earnestness (spoudē): this or related terms occur also in 2 Cor 8:22 (“earnest”) and 2 Cor 8:8, 16, 17 (“concern”).
  10. 8:9 The dialectic of Jesus’ experience, expressed earlier in terms of life and death (2 Cor 5:15), sin and righteousness (2 Cor 5:21), is now rephrased in terms of poverty and wealth. Many scholars think this is a reference to Jesus’ preexistence with God (his “wealth”) and to his incarnation and death (his “poverty”), and they point to the similarity between this verse and Phil 2:6–8. Others interpret the wealth and poverty as succeeding phases of Jesus’ earthly existence, e.g., his sense of intimacy with God and then the desolation and the feeling of abandonment by God in his death (cf. Mk 15:34).
  11. 8:11 Eager: the word prothymia also occurs in 2 Cor 8:12, 19; 9:2.
  12. 8:12–15 Paul introduces the principle of equality into the discussion. The goal is not impoverishment but sharing of resources; balance is achieved at least over the course of time. In 2 Cor 8:15 Paul grounds his argument unexpectedly in the experience of Israel gathering manna in the desert: equality was achieved, independently of personal exertion, by God, who gave with an even hand according to need. Paul touches briefly here on the theme of “living from God.”
  13. 8:16–24 In recommending Titus and his companions, Paul stresses their personal and apostolic qualities, their good dispositions toward the Corinthians, and their authority as messengers of the churches and representatives of Christ.
  14. 8:18 The brother: we do not know the identity of this co-worker of Paul, nor of the third companion mentioned below in 2 Cor 8:22.
  15. 8:20–22 That anyone blame us: 2 Cor 12:16–18 suggests that misunderstandings may indeed have arisen concerning Paul’s management of the collection through the messengers mentioned here, but those same verses seem to imply that the Corinthians by and large would recognize the honesty of Paul’s conduct in this area as in others (cf. 2 Cor 6:3).
  16. 8:24 As Paul began by holding up the Macedonians as examples to be imitated, he closes by exhorting the Corinthians to show their love (by accepting the envoys and by cooperating as the Macedonians do), thus justifying the pride Paul demonstrates because of them before other churches.

2 Corinthians 7 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 688)

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone, nor led anyone astray, nor taken advantage of anyone. I’m not saying this to condemn you. I said before that you are in our hearts, and we live or die together with you. I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles.

Paul’s Joy at the Church’s Repentance

When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. When he told us how much you long to see me, and how sorry you are for what happened, and how loyal you are to me, I was filled with joy!

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.12 My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us. 13 We have been greatly encouraged by this.

In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was about the way all of you welcomed him and set his mind[a] at ease. 14 I had told him how proud I was of you—and you didn’t disappoint me. I have always told you the truth, and now my boasting to Titus has also proved true! 15 Now he cares for you more than ever when he remembers the way all of you obeyed him and welcomed him with such fear and deep respect. 16 I am very happy now because I have complete confidence in you.

Footnotes:

  1. 7:13 Greek his spirit.

2 Corinthians 6 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 687)

2 Corinthians 6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 6

The Experience of the Ministry. [a]Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.[b] For he says:

“In an acceptable time[c] I heard you,
    and on the day of salvation I helped you.”

Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We cause no one to stumble[d] in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; [e]on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance,[f]in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; [g]by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful;[h] as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.

11 [i]We have spoken frankly to you, Corinthians; our heart is open wide. 12 You are not constrained by us; you are constrained by your own affections. 13 As recompense in kind (I speak as to my children), be open yourselves.

Call to Holiness. 14 [j]Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers.[k] For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said:

“I will live with them and move among them,[l]
    and I will be their God
    and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore, come forth from them
    and be separate,” says the Lord,
“and touch nothing unclean;
    then I will receive you
18 and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Footnotes:

  1. 6:1–10 This paragraph is a single long sentence in the Greek, interrupted by the parenthesis of 2 Cor 5:2. The one main verb is “we appeal.” In this paragraph Paul both exercises his ministry of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor 5:20) and describes how his ministry is exercised: the “message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19) is lived existentially in his apostolic experience.
  2. 6:1 Not to receive…in vain: i.e., conform to the gift of justification and new creation. The context indicates how this can be done concretely: become God’s righteousness (2 Cor 5:21), not live for oneself (2 Cor 5:15) be reconciled with Paul (2 Cor 6:11–13; 7:2–3).
  3. 6:2 In an acceptable time: Paul cites the Septuagint text of Is 49:8; the Hebrew reads “in a time of favor”; it is parallel to “on the day of salvation.” Now: God is bestowing favor and salvation at this very moment, as Paul is addressing his letter to them.
  4. 6:3 Cause no one to stumble: the language echoes that of 1 Cor 8–10 as does the expression “no longer live for themselves” in 2 Cor 5:15. That no fault may be found: i.e., at the eschatological judgment (cf. 1 Cor 4:2–5).
  5. 6:4a This is the central assertion, the topic statement for the catalogue that follows. We commend ourselves: Paul’s self-commendation is ironical (with an eye on the charges mentioned in 2 Cor 3:1–3) and paradoxical (pointing mostly to experiences that would not normally be considered points of pride but are perceived as such by faith). Cf. also the self-commendation in 2 Cor 11:23–29. As ministers of God: the same Greek word, diakonos, means “minister” and “servant”; cf. 2 Cor 11:23, the central assertion in a similar context, and 1 Cor 3:5.
  6. 6:4b–5 Through much endurance: this phrase functions as a subtitle; it is followed by an enumeration of nine specific types of trials endured.
  7. 6:6–7a A list of virtuous qualities in two groups of four, the second fuller than the first.
  8. 6:8b–10 A series of seven rhetorically effective antitheses, contrasting negative external impressions with positive inner reality. Paul perceives his existence as a reflection of Jesus’ own and affirms an inner reversal that escapes outward observation. The final two members illustrate two distinct kinds of paradox or apparent contradiction that are characteristic of apostolic experience.
  9. 6:11–13 Paul’s tone becomes quieter, but his appeal for acceptance and affection is emotionally charged. References to the heart and their mutual relations bring the development begun in 2 Cor 2:14–3:3 to an effective conclusion.
  10. 6:14–7:1 Language and thought shift noticeably here. Suddenly we are in a different atmosphere, dealing with a quite different problem. Both the vocabulary and the thought, with their contrast between good and evil, are more characteristic of Qumran documents or the Book of Revelation than they are of Paul. Hence, critics suspect that this section was inserted by another hand.
  11. 6:14–16a The opening injunction to separate from unbelievers is reinforced by five rhetorical questions to make the point that Christianity is not compatible with paganism. Their opposition is emphasized also by the accumulation of five distinct designations for each group. These verses are a powerful statement of God’s holiness and the exclusiveness of his claims.
  12. 6:16c–18 This is a chain of scriptural citations carefully woven together. God’s covenant relation to his people and his presence among them (2 Cor 6:16) is seen as conditioned on cultic separation from the profane and cultically impure (2 Cor 6:17); that relation is translated into the personal language of the parent-child relationship, an extension to the community of the language of 2 Sm 7:14 (2 Cor 6:18). Some remarkable parallels to this chain are found in the final chapters of Revelation. God’s presence among his people (Rev 21:22) is expressed there, too, by applying 2 Sm 7:14 to the community (Rev 21:7). There is a call to separation (Rev 18:4) and exclusion of the unclean from the community and its liturgy (Rev 21:27). The title “Lord Almighty” (Pantokratōr) occurs in the New Testament only here in 2 Cor 6:18 and nine times in Revelation.

2 Corinthians 5 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 686)

2 Corinthians 5 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 5

Our Future Destiny. For we know that if our earthly dwelling,[a] a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. [b]For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation if indeed, when we have taken it off,[c] we shall not be found naked. For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed[d] but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.[e]

[f]So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. 10 For we must all appear[g] before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

The Ministry of Reconciliation. 11 [h]Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we are clearly apparent to God, and I hope we are also apparent to your consciousness. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you an opportunity to boast of us, so that you may have something to say to those who boast of external appearance rather than of the heart. 13 For if we are out of our minds,[i] it is for God; if we are rational, it is for you. 14 [j]For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. 15 He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 Consequently,[k] from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. 17 So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 [l]And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 [m]For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Footnotes:

  1. 5:1 Our earthly dwelling: the same contrast is restated in the imagery of a dwelling. The language recalls Jesus’ saying about the destruction of the temple and the construction of another building not made with hands (Mk 14:58), a prediction later applied to Jesus’ own body (Jn 2:20).
  2. 5:2–5 2 Cor 5:2–3 and 4 are largely parallel in structure. We groan, longing: see note on 2 Cor 5:5. Clothed with our heavenly habitation: Paul mixes his metaphors, adding the image of the garment to that of the building. Further clothed: the verb means strictly “to put one garment on over another.” Paul may desire to put the resurrection body on over his mortal body, without dying; 2 Cor 5:2, 4 permit this meaning but do not impose it. Or perhaps he imagines the resurrection body as a garment put on over the Christ-garment first received in baptism (Gal 3:27) and preserved by moral behavior (Rom 13:12–14; Col 3:12; cf. Mt 22:11–13). Some support for this interpretation may be found in the context; cf. the references to baptism (2 Cor 5:5), to judgment according to works (2 Cor 5:10), and to present renewal (2 Cor 4:16), an idea elsewhere combined with the image of “putting on” a new nature (Eph 4:22–24; Col 3:1–5, 9–10).
  3. 5:3 When we have taken it off: the majority of witnesses read “when we have put it on,” i.e., when we have been clothed (in the resurrection body), then we shall not be without a body (naked). This seems mere tautology, though some understand it to mean: whether we are “found” (by God at the judgment) clothed or naked depends upon whether we have preserved or lost our original investiture in Christ (cf. the previous note). In this case to “put it on” does not refer to the resurrection body, but to keeping intact the Christ-garment of baptism. The translation follows the western reading (Codex Bezae, Tertullian), the sense of which is clear: to “take it off” is to shed our mortal body in death, after which we shall be clothed in the resurrection body and hence not “naked” (cf. 1 Cor 15:51–53).
  4. 5:4 We do not wish to be unclothed: a clear allusion to physical death (2 Cor 4:16; 5:1). Unlike the Greeks, who found dissolution of the body desirable (cf. Socrates), Paul has a Jewish horror of it. He seems to be thinking of the “intermediate period,” an interval between death and resurrection. Swallowed up by life: cf. 1 Cor 15:54.
  5. 5:5 God has created us for resurrected bodily life and already prepares us for it by the gift of the Spirit in baptism. The Spirit as a first installment: the striking parallel to 2 Cor 5:1–5 in Rom 8:17–30 describes Christians who have received the “firstfruits” (cf. “first installment” here) of the Spirit as “groaning” (cf. 2 Cor 5:2, 4 here) for the resurrection, the complete redemption of their bodies. In place of clothing and building, Rom 8 uses other images for the resurrection: adoption and conformity to the image of the Son.
  6. 5:6–9 Tension between present and future is expressed by another spatial image, the metaphor of the country and its citizens. At present we are like citizens in exile or far away from home. The Lord is the distant homeland, believed in but unseen (2 Cor 5:7).
  7. 5:10 We must all appear: the verb is ambiguous: we are scheduled to “appear” for judgment, at which we will be “revealed” as we are (cf. 2 Cor 11; 2:14; 4:10–11).
  8. 5:11–15 This paragraph is transitional. Paul sums up much that has gone before. Still playing on the term “appearance,” he reasserts his transparency before God and the Corinthians, in contrast to the self-commendation, boasting, and preoccupation with externals that characterize some others (cf. 2 Cor 1:12–14; 2:14; 3:1; 3:7–4:6). 2 Cor 5:14 recalls 2 Cor 3:7–4:6, and sums up 2 Cor 4:7–5:10.
  9. 5:13 Out of our minds: this verse confirms that a concern for ecstasy and charismatic experience may lie behind the discussion about “glory” in 2 Cor 3:7–4:6. Paul also enjoys such experiences but, unlike others, does not make a public display of them or consider them ends in themselves. Rational: the Greek virtue sōphrosynē, to which Paul alludes, implies reasonableness, moderation, good judgment, self-control.
  10. 5:14–15 These verses echo 2 Cor 4:14 and resume the treatment of “life despite death” from 2 Cor 4:7–5:10.
  11. 5:16–17 Consequently: the death of Christ described in 2 Cor 5:14–15 produces a whole new order (2 Cor 5:17) and a new mode of perception (2 Cor 5:16). According to the flesh: the natural mode of perception, characterized as “fleshly,” is replaced by a mode of perception proper to the Spirit. Elsewhere Paul contrasts what Christ looks like according to the old criteria (weakness, powerlessness, folly, death) and according to the new (wisdom, power, life); cf. 2 Cor 5:15, 21; 1 Cor 1:17–3:3. Similarly, he describes the paradoxical nature of Christian existence, e.g., in 2 Cor 4:10–11, 14. A new creation: rabbis used this expression to describe the effect of the entrance of a proselyte or convert into Judaism or of the remission of sins on the Day of Atonement. The new order created in Christ is the new covenant (2 Cor 3:6).
  12. 5:18–21 Paul attempts to explain the meaning of God’s action by a variety of different categories; his attention keeps moving rapidly back and forth from God’s act to his own ministry as well. Who has reconciled us to himself: i.e., he has brought all into oneness. Not counting their trespasses: the reconciliation is described as an act of justification (cf. “righteousness,” 2 Cor 5:21); this contrasts with the covenant that condemned (2 Cor 3:8). The ministry of reconciliation: Paul’s role in the wider picture is described: entrusted with the message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19), he is Christ’s ambassador, through whom God appeals (2 Cor 5:20a). In v 20b Paul acts in the capacity just described.
  13. 5:21 This is a statement of God’s purpose, expressed paradoxically in terms of sharing and exchange of attributes. As Christ became our righteousness (1 Cor 1:30), we become God’s righteousness (cf. 2 Cor 5:14–15).

2 Corinthians 4 (Taipo Bible Reading Marathon Day 685)

2 Corinthians 4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Treasure in Fragile Clay Jars

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way,[a] we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.[b] This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”[c] 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,[d] will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[e]being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Footnotes:

  1. 4:1 Or ministry.
  2. 4:7 Greek We now have this treasure in clay jars.
  3. 4:13 Ps 116:10.
  4. 4:14 Some manuscripts read who raised Jesus.
  5. 4:16 Greek our inner being is.