Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians and Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

 

May 20, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

 


II. Apology for Paul’s Ministry. (1:12–7:16)

B.     The Calling of Paul. (3:1-6:10)

5. The Goal of His Ministry (4:13-5:10)

                                                                                                                                                  

               Lesson II.B.5.a: Hope of the Resurrection. (4:13-15)

2nd Corinthians 4:13-15 (NKJV)

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak,

14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

 

Note: Psalm 116 is shown complete under Scripture reference and special notes due to the many references to it within the commentary.

 

 

Introduction

 

Paul had just finished mentioning the hardships and sufferings that he had faced in the service of God (2 Co. 4:8-12{20]). It takes great faith to stay steady under such continual sufferings and still boldly preach the Christian gospel. He has such a steady faith, and in verses 13-15 he mentions four factors that sustain him in his hard and perilous work. First, he is reassured when he recalls the psalmist’s courageous declaration in a time of trouble: "I believed and therefore I spoke.” The second support which Paul had was the conviction that no matter what men do to him that “God (He) will raise him” and give him full salvation. The third support for his work was his concern for the salvation of others and seeing them mature in their faith. The final and greatest support which the apostle had was the knowledge that it all works out to the glory of God.

 

 

Commentary

 

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak,

 

In this passage, Paul identified himself with the writer of Psalm 116{1]. Paul, like the psalmist, had experienced the “terrors of the grave,” and God’s deliverance. “Death had its hands around [Paul’s] throat” (Ps. 116:3), and He knew that he could die through one of these experiences (2 Co. 1:9{19]). In the midst of troubles, and in the face of death, Paul, like the psalmist, had cried out to God (Ps. 116:4). The psalmist believed that God would answer his prayers (compare 1:11 to Psalm 116:1).

 

You also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (2 Co. 1:11)

 

I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. (Ps. 116:1).

 

In fact, his prayers were his only defense. For this reason, the psalmist had vowed to pray as long as he has breath (Ps. 116:2). His prayers were not the only expression of his faith in God; he also promised to thank and praise God, telling others of what God had done for him (Ps. 116:14, 17-18).

 

The phrase “Spirit of faith” means “attitude or outlook of faith,” not the Holy Spirit. Paul was not referring to a special gift of faith (1 Co. 12:9{14]), but rather to that attitude of faith that ought to belong to every believer. He saw himself identified with the believer who wrote Psalm 116:10, “I believed, and therefore have I spoken.” True witness for God is based on faith in God, and this faith comes from God’s Word (Rom. 10:17{15]). Nothing closes a believer’s mouth like unbelief (Luke 1:20{16]).

 

Of what was Paul so confident? That he had nothing to fear from life or death! He had just listed some of the trials that were part of his life and ministry (2 Co. 4:8-12), and now he was affirming that his faith gave him victory over all of them. Note the assurances he had because of his faith:

·         He was sure of ultimate victory (v. 14).

·         He was sure God would be glorified (v. 15).

 

The afflictions and persecutions of Paul’s life did not seal his lips. Wherever there is true faith, there must be the expression of it. It cannot be silent.

 

If on Jesus Christ you trust,

Speak for Him you surely must;

Though you humble to the dust,

If you love Him, say so.

 

If on Jesus you believe

And the Savior you receive

Lest you should the Spirit grieve,

Don’t delay, say so.

 

 

14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.

 

Although Paul was experiencing the sufferings and death of Christ on this earth (2 Co. 4:10-12{1]), he placed his hope in the God who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. The fact that God had “raised . . . Jesus” is taken as solid ground for confidence that He will likewise raise those who believe in the Lord Jesus. “With you” does not mean “at the same time,” for Jesus has already been raised; it means that as a result of the resurrection of Jesus and by reason of the union of the believer with the risen Christ. Although Paul was facing suffering, he wasn’t discouraged, because he knew that Jesus would return. At that time, Paul and the Corinthian believers would celebrate their Savior in His presence because God would also raise them with Jesus. Paul had already told the Corinthians that he was looking forward to taking pride in the maturity of their faith, and he hoped that they, in turn, would take pride in him (2 Co. 1:13-14{2]).

 

Because of his faith in Christ, Paul had access to the same great power that raised Jesus from the dead (Phil. 3:10{3]). This truth motivated Paul to endure hardship and persist in preaching the gospel. He was able to speak with such courage and such disregard for personal safety because he believed that if death overtook him, that God could and would also raise him up. He was certain that he could draw on a power which was sufficient for life and greater than death. This was the foundation on which his faith rested: the fact that Christ was raised from the dead by an act of God’s power. He had explained this in his first letter to the Corinthians. The believers in Corinth had been struggling with the doctrine of Resurrection, so Paul had written much to explain why the Resurrection was the central doctrine of the Christian faith. It was important that Christ had been raised from the dead, because without that truth, their faith would be utterly useless. Jesus would not be interceding before God for them, Jesus would only be a human being who had modeled a good life. If that were the case, there would be no reason for evangelists, much less believers to endure hardships for the cause of Christ.

 

Friend, May I ask you this? When was the last time you heard a sermon on the Resurrection? I have to admit that I don’t remember the last time. It is not a sermon topic in our day, and that is a shame. It was Paul’s favorite topic. Souls were saved when he preached about Jesus’ Resurrection. It’s important that it is taught to God’s people for our hope of resurrection rests in His.

 

With his sights always set on the glories of God’s kingdom, Paul didn’t have any reason to be ashamed (Rom. 1:16{4]; Heb. 2:12{5]). Instead, he boldly and confidently could preach the gospel and tell others what Christ had done for them (2 Co. 4:1{6]). If Jesus Christ has conquered death, the last enemy, then why fear anything else? Men do everything they can to penetrate the meaning of death. Until a person is prepared to die, he is not really prepared to live. The joyful message of the early church was the victory of Christ over death, and we need to return to that victorious emphasis. Note too that Paul saw a future reunion of God’s people when he wrote, “And will present us with you.” Death is the great divider, but in Jesus Christ there is the assurance that His people shall be reunited in His presence (See 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

 

 

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

 

In the opening clause Paul explains why he added “with you” at the end of the preceding verse: “for all things,” Paul’s suffering and service, and indeed all the saving work God is now doing through the apostle and will complete at the last day, “are for your sakes.” The hard blows and wearying labor are neither puzzling nor nonsense; through Paul’s suffering God is working out His purposes, and Paul gladly endures it all for the benefit of his churches. This letter continues to remind the Corinthians of Paul’s servant role. He had been sent by Jesus to serve them (2 Co. 4:1{6], 5{7]; 1 Co. 3:5{8]). All of the trials and difficulties he had endured were for their benefit—for their sake (2 Co. 1:6{9]). He bore everything in the conviction that through his sufferings they were being led into the light and love of God. When a man has the conviction that what is happening to him is happening literally for Christ’s sake he can do anything. He had planned on visiting them twice because he wanted to serve them on two occasions. He had refused monetary support when he had ministered among them in order to serve them free of charge (2 Co. 11:8{10]). As a servant, he was careful not to control the Corinthian’s faith but instead to assist them in maturing in the Christian faith. Although Paul was obviously insulted on his last trip to Corinth, he had ignored the insult and had forgiven the offender for the Corinthians sake (2 Co. 2:10{11]). At the beginning of 2 Corinthians, Paul had even insisted that his recent troubles in Asia Minor had been for the sake of the Corinthians (2 Co. 1:5-7{12]).

 

This passage explains that all he endured, all he said, all he did, benefitted the Corinthians. As more people heard of and accepted the grace of God—that is, God’s gift of salvation—more people would join the grand celebration before God, praising and thanking Him (v. 14). Thanksgiving would begin to overflow toward God. This would benefit the Corinthian Christians, for, through their prayers—they also had participated in Paul’s work in spreading the gospel (2 Co. 1:11{13]). The “many” who are being saved and added to the church “may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God;” the ultimate goal of all that the believer does. The increase of converts will cause ever-increasing thanksgiving. Thanksgiving may not seem to be a very profound result of making God known. But, when you think about it, it means that the truth has come home. It has rung a bell in the heart. The experience of redemption by the sheer love and pity of God has become real. Ultimately, God would be glorified through all of this. All Praise and glory would ultimately be His, for He is the One who sacrificed His own Son for the benefit of all who believe.

 

This verse parallels Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose;” and it gives us the assurance that our sufferings are not wasted, for God uses them to minister to others and also to bring glory to His name. How is God glorified in our trials? By giving us the “abundant grace” we need to maintain joy and strength when the going gets difficult. Whatever begins with grace, leads to glory (Ps. 84:11{17]; 1 Pe. 5:10{18]).

 

The Living Bible seems to capture the spirit of the verse in this paraphrase: “These sufferings of ours are for your benefit. And the more of you who are won to Christ, the more there are to thank him for his great kindness, and the more the Lord is glorified.”

 

There is a saying we have all heard: “Great minds think alike.” Paul and David were great minds, and Paul must have been thinking of Psalm 116 when he wrote this short passage. It’s good for us to listen to God’s Word, for Faith comes from hearing God’s Word, and faith grows by hearing God’s Word. And let’s tell it to others, because the Holy Spirit can take the Word and apply it to a sinner’s heart and wipe it clean and cause it to love Jesus.

 

 

Scripture reference and special notes

 

Psalm 116 (NKJV)

 

1 I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.

2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

3 The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.

4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!"

5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.

6 The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.

7 Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.

9 I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living.

10 I believed, therefore I spoke, "I am greatly afflicted."

11 I said in my haste, "All men are liars."

12 What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?

13 I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord.

14 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints.

16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.

17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people,

19 In the courts of the Lord's house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

 

{1] (2 Co. 4:10-12) always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.

 

{2] (2 Co. 1:13-14) For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 

{3] (Phil. 3:10) that I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

 

{4](Rom. 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

 

{5] (Heb. 12:2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

{6] (2 Co. 4:1) Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

 

{7] (2 Co. 4:5) For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.

 

{8] (1 Co. 3:5) Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

 

{9] (2 Co. 1:6) Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

 

{10] (2 Co. 11:8) I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.

 

{11] (2 Co. 2:10) Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,

 

{12] (2 Co. 1:5-7) For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

 

{13] (2 Co. 1:11) you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

 

{14] (1 Co. 12:9) to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

 

{15] (Rom. 10:17) So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

{16] (Luke 1:20) But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time."

 

{17] (Ps. 84:11) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

 

{18] (1 Pe. 5:10) But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

 

{19] (2 Co. 1:9) In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.

 

{20] (2 Co. 4:8-12) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 

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