15:1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 15:2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
15:8 Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 15:11 Whether then it was I or they, this is the way we preach and this is the way you believed.
15:12 Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty.
15:15 Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. 15:16 For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised.
15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.
15:18 Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.
15:19 For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.
15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
15:21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.
15:22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
15:23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.
15:24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
15:26 The last enemy to be eliminated is death.
15:27 For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. But when it says “everything” has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him.
15:28 And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.
15:29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are they baptized for them?
15:30 Why too are we in danger every hour? 15:31 Every day I am in danger of death! This is as sure as my boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.
15:32 If from a human point of view I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what did it benefit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 15:34 Sober up as you should, and stop sinning! For some have no knowledge of God—I say this to your shame!
The Resurrection Body
15:35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 15:36 Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. 15:37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed—perhaps of wheat or something else. 15:38 But God gives it a body just as he planned, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.
15:39 All flesh is not the same: People have one flesh, animals have another, birds and fish another.
15:40 And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly body is one sort and the earthly another.
15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory.
15:42 It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
15:43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15:44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
15:45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
15:46 However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual.
15:47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.
15:48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly.
15:49 And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.
15:50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
15:51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—15:52 in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
15:54 Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
15:58 So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Lord, Your gift of salvation is both necessary and unique. May I not question Your means but rather celebrate Your grace.
Paul reminded his readers that they must hold fast to his teaching that Christ not only came as the Biblically-prophesied redeemer but He both died and was resurrected - for without the resurrection He accomplished nothing that could alter their eternal destinies as sinners hopelessly condemned.
Paul continued his argument by using two illustrations; the first is that Jesus will return as the One Who conquered death and will then remove the Enemy and finally turn His “Church” over to the Father, in this Paul wants them to see that the resurrection is critical to the power of Christ to save.
The second illustration is the odd practice of some in Corinth who practiced substitutionary—baptisms for the dead—to publicly affirm their confessions of faith while living.
[Note: One may not be baptized for another as a substitutionary act of obedience nor may one do so to cause the retroactive salvation of another. Such an absurd notion is reportedly part of the Mormon cult practices.]
In this second case Paul again notes that baptism merely symbolizes the death and resurrection of Christ and the saved persons agreement to themselves die to the world and surrender to the Lordship of Christ here and in Heaven.
Paul reminded them that without the resurrection the Christian faith is empty and everything sacrificed due to it is wasted - people may as well have partied until they died as they had not and could not be redeemed from their sins.
Paul addressed a point of confusion about the resurrection as it applied to the physical body; first he noted the fundamental difference between humans and the rest of “fleshy” creation, humans are unique, animals are unique, birds and fish are unique, second he noted that our human form will be replaced with an immortal and imperishable spiritual form.
Death is powerless.
There is an obvious silliness to the practice of “baptism in place on behalf of the dead” —it displays the eccentricities some people impose upon the clear and simple message of Christ.
Would it not be folly to surrendering ones worldly-life for the sacrificial-life of a genuine Christian faith unless one was assured of the saving power of the resurrection?
The bodies of humankind (beginning with Adam and Eve) came first and then the Lord God added a spirit. At the resurrection our spirits will be preserved but our bodies will be replaced.
Describe your baptism and your voluntary surrender, death-like, to everything of this fallen- world in exchange for Christ-alone.
Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of one especially powerful moment where the He touched you and reminded you of His presence.
Today I will share my faith-testimony with one or more other Christians, including my baptism experience and highlights of my early walk with Christ.
A Collection to Aid Jewish Christians
16:1 With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia: 16:2 On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come. 16:3 Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve with letters of explanation to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 16:4 And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me.
Paul’s Plans to Visit
16:5 But I will come to you after I have gone through Macedonia—for I will be going through Macedonia—16:6 and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you can send me on my journey, wherever I go. 16:7 For I do not want to see you now in passing, since I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. 16:8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 16:9 because a door of great opportunity stands wide open for me, but there are many opponents.
16:10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I am too. 16:11 So then, let no one treat him with contempt. But send him on his way in peace so that he may come to me. For I am expecting him with the brothers.
16:12 With regard to our brother Apollos: I strongly encouraged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was simply not his intention to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.
Final Challenge and Blessing
16:13 Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong. 16:14 Everything you do should be done in love.
16:15 Now, brothers and sisters, you know about the household of Stephanus, that as the first converts of Achaia, they devoted themselves to ministry for the saints. I urge you 16:16 also to submit to people like this, and to everyone who cooperates in the work and labors hard.
16:17 I was glad about the arrival of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus because they have supplied the fellowship with you that I lacked. 16:18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. So then, recognize people like this.
16:19 The churches in the province of Asia send greetings to you. Aquila and Prisca greet you warmly in the Lord, with the church that meets in their house. 16:20 All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
16:21 I, Paul, send this greeting with my own hand.
16:22 Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come!
16:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
16:24 My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.
Lord, You send Your instruments of the gospel where You choose them to labor, and You bless obedience while You do not bless disobedience. May I be ready to serve, careful to pursue obedience, and receive the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to recognize the difference.
Paul referenced a voluntary collection for the fellowship at Jerusalem. [Note: This is gift-giving, not tithe-related.]
Paul reminded them to do all things in love, as he had previously described in his letter, and to welcome those who come to serve them.
He encouraged them to “Stay alert” to threats to the true teaching [a warning he had previously given in greater detail], to “stand firm in the faith”, to “show courage” [a step beyond having courage is to demonstrate evidence of it], and to be strong.
In verse 16:19 Paul made specific reference to Aquila and Prisca and “the church” [fellowship of believers] “that meets in their house”.
[Note: To this point there has been no positive reference in the NT to fellowship resources such as buildings, staff, or to elaborate local or associational/denominational dogma.]
Paul challenged us to "do all things in love". What would that look like in your life? What might it change?
There are threats to Biblical truth that we have all experienced or observed in fellowships, or in books and media represented as “Christian”, but which are not Biblical-Christian. How does that bad teaching cause confusion and conflict?
There are examples of “standing firm” (e.g. against pressures to go along to get along with the world instead of living as God teaches), showing the courage which we receive from the Holy Spirit (e.g. speaking boldly for Christ, in an appropriate context, even when it may make some people uncomfortable), and being strong (even when others panic).
When have you experienced a small group and/or a home-based fellowship? How did that increased-level of intimacy contribute to your growth as a mature believer and deepen your ability to know and to be known, to care and to be cared for by fellow believers?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you struggle to "do all things in love".
Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me to change. It may be my attitude toward a certain person, the way I approach politics or sports, a tendency to hold people at a distance, a too-shy or too-bold style which keeps me from speaking truth when I should (which is unloving as it allows people to remain in darkness) or prompts me to cross boundaries and bully or displace others inappropriately, or some other unloving characteristic or habit.
1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia. 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Thanksgiving for God’s Comfort
1:3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 1:4 who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you.
1:6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer.
1:7 And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort.
1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. 1:9 Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.
1:10 He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver us yet again, 1:11 as you also join in helping us by prayer, so that many people may give thanks to God on our behalf for the gracious gift given to us through the help of many.
Paul Defends His Changed Plans
1:12 For our reason for confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that with pure motives and sincerity which are from God—not by human wisdom but by the grace of God—we conducted ourselves in the world, and all the more toward you.
1:13 For we do not write you anything other than what you can read and also understand. But I hope that you will understand completely 1:14 just as also you have partly understood us, that we are your source of pride just as you also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1:15 And with this confidence I intended to come to you first so that you would get a second opportunity to see us, 1:16 and through your help to go on into Macedonia and then from Macedonia to come back to you and be helped on our way into Judea by you. 1:17 Therefore when I was planning to do this, I did not do so without thinking about what I was doing, did I? Or do I make my plans according to mere human standards so that I would be saying both “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?
1:18 But as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the one who was proclaimed among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but it has always been “Yes” in him. 1:20 For every one of God’s promises are “Yes” in him; therefore also through him the “Amen” is spoken, to the glory we give to God.
1:21 But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, 1:22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.
Why Paul Postponed His Visit
1:23 Now I appeal to God as my witness, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth. 1:24 I do not mean that we rule over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because by faith you stand firm.
Lord, You are the one true God and You give us comfort, deliverance from danger, and purpose in Your service. May I rest in Your comfort, be bold knowing that You are with me, and encouraged that You choose to use me—in my obedience—for Your good purposes.
Paul celebrated the blessedness of the Lord Who comforts those who suffer - for His name - so that they may in turn comfort others who suffer.
He illustrated with his own experience —reaching the point where he “despaired even of living” but that God comforted and delivered him -- he then solicited their prayers that God would again deliver him.
Paul emphasized that it was he-alone (not the Lord God) who had communicated an intention to come to them but that he found his course altered by God. [He wanted to leave no opportunity for the Enemy to misrepresent the facts and thereby create doubt as to the perfect record of God’s promise-keeping.]
Paul appealed to God to assure them in the Spirit that he was being fully honest with them about his desire to visit and his valid reason to postpone that visit.
The pure heart of Paul. He was intentionally-careful to assure that nothing imperfect in him could be imposed upon the perfection of God in the minds of those over whom God had given him spiritual authority.
How many times can you recall, in the Bible and reported by people whom you know, that the Lord God has comforted His children in times of trouble?
Paul’s certainty was remarkable - that the Lord God Who had comforted and delivered Him in the past would do so again and his intentional-request for the believers in Corinth to pray in-agreement - so they might share in God’s miracle for Paul.
When have you, or someone you know well, experienced God’s comfort and delivery from a time of trouble?
Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of His provision of comfort and deliverance in your life.
Today I will share the story of God’s comfort and delivery in my life with a fellow believer as a means of celebration and encouragement.
2:1 So I made up my own mind not to pay you another painful visit. 2:2 For if I make you sad, who would be left to make me glad but the one I caused to be sad?
2:3 And I wrote this very thing to you, so that when I came I would not have sadness from those who ought to make me rejoice, since I am confident in you all that my joy would be yours.
2:4 For out of great distress and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not to make you sad, but to let you know the love that I have especially for you.
2:5 But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well.
2:6 This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, 2:7 so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him. This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.
2:8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.
2:9 For this reason also I wrote you: to test you to see if you are obedient in everything.
2:10 If you forgive anyone for anything, I also forgive him—for indeed what I have forgiven (if I have forgiven anything) I did so for you in the presence of Christ, 2:11 so that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes).
2:12 Now when I arrived in Troas to proclaim the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord had opened a door of opportunity for me,
2:13 I had no relief in my spirit, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-bye to them and set out for Macedonia.
2:14 But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place.
2:15 For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing—2:16 to the latter an odor from death to death, but to the former a fragrance from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?
2:17 For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit, but we are speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God.
Lord, You walked with Adam and Eve, spoke to Noah and Jacob, gave the Law to Israel via Moses, proclaimed the coming of the Messiah via Isaiah and John the Baptist, came in human form as Jesus the Christ, and when He returned Home You indwelt believes as the Holy Spirit. It has always been You showing us the way Home from the Fall, You empowering human leaders to exhort and to teach, and You Who transforms us from death to life. May I gift You all of the glory and all of myself.
Paul further explained that he wanted to avoid a second visit where his need to challenge them to deal with extreme sin in their fellowship might harm their sense of joy in the Lord and damage his relationship with them.
Paul reminded them that their obedience “in everything” required them to offer forgiveness to the member who had sinned so blatantly so as to not cause him grief which could lead to “despair”.
Paul added an odd and incompletely explained parenthetical in 2:12-13 where he acknowledges a provision from the Lord of “a door of opportunity” in Troas “to proclaim the gospel of Christ” yet due to the absence of Titus he “had no relief in his spirit” and thus moved on to Macedonia. [It is reasonable to speculate that he may have been paralleling his experience of longing for the positive encouragement of a brother (for affirmation) to that of the fellowship in Corinth struggling due to the failed visit of Paul. It may also be that there was some cultural affirmation of his call to minister in Troas that could come through Titus and not directly to Paul alone. Recall Jesus’ instruction to the disciples that should they not be welcomed in a town they should move on as the Holy Spirit had not yet prepared it.]
Paul concluded with a celebration that those who are “speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God” are a “sweet aroma of Christ to God” in the midst of the saved and the unsaved alike.
The challenge of Paul was to be obedient to God in all things, not just the comfortable or convenient, but in all things.
Isn’t it an amazing presence of the Lord God through His Holy Spirit that when a person speaks so purely from the Word of God, not in style but in integrity of content and life-example, that they are a "sweet aroma of Christ to God"?
How would you decide when discipline and "putting-out" an unrepentant sinner had been concluded and you would deliver forgiveness without any confusion that about the intent of the fellowship; that it was in no way downplaying or endorsing the seriousness of unrepentant sin?
When have you had an experience where you’d planned a challenging ministry outreach, and believed that God had prepared it, but the absence of a partner in that ministry caused you to hesitate and/or postpone?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one area where you have chosen comfort or convenience over obedience to God
Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for the strength and persistence to take a new step toward maturity in my walk.
A Living Letter
3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we?
3:2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, 3:3 revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.
3:4 Now we have such confidence in God through Christ.
3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 3:6 who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Greater Glory of the Spirit’s Ministry
3:7 But if the ministry that produced death—carved in letters on stone tablets—came with glory, so that the Israelites could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (a glory which was made ineffective), 3:8 how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be?
3:9 For if there was glory in the ministry that produced condemnation, how much more does the ministry that produces righteousness excel in glory!
3:10 For indeed, what had been glorious now has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it.
3:11 For if what was made ineffective came with glory, how much more has what remains come in glory!
3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, 3:13 and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from staring at the result of the glory that was made ineffective.
3:14 But their minds were closed. For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away.
3:15 But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, 3:16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom.
3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Lord, You replace he Law with Grace. May I praise You with my life for that freedom.
Paul observed that he no longer required a letter of reference since the very existence of a fellowship of believers in Corinth, the fruits of his faithful service to God, was his living reference. [The Net translator’s Notes speculate that this was in response to some apparent challenge to his credentials.]
The “new covenant” was not, Paul reminded them, a new law (“for the letter kills”) it was of “the Spirit [Who] brings life”.
Paul reminded them that Moses bore a shadow of the glory of God when he returned from the mountain and his ministry, the bringing of the Law, also possessed Glory. He elaborated that such glory faded as it was associated with the conviction of the Law—which none but Jesus could ever have kept perfectly. Paul then compared it to the “ministry of the Spirit” —which replaced the ineffectiveness of the Law with “the ministry that produces righteousness”.
He observed that the same veil that Moses bore to keep the Israelites from staring at his shining face, rather to focus them on the Law, is like the veil on the hearts of those who hear the words of Moses yet fail to see Christ in them.
Paul concluded, noting that the presence of the Spirit [in every true believer] transformed one from the glory of the promise given to Moses into the fulfillment of that promise in Christ.
The credentials of Paul are found in the testimony of those whom God had drawn near in salvation and discipleship as a result of his faithful service.
How do you explain to someone considering-Christ, or a new (or stuck at new) believer the amazing transition from pre-resurrection to post-resurrection where God delivered His new covenant of grace - displacing the old covenant of law?
Freedom from the convicting and impossible-to-achieve challenge of the Law into the completing and freedom-bringing blessing of grace is an incredible gift of the Lord God.
Your experience of being "veiled" from a full appreciation of, and empowerment by, the Lord God—which comes only from salvation and the indwelling Holy Spirit. What happened when you finally surrendered and received the gift of salvation?
Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of your experience of transition from “veiled” to “seeing clearly” as a result of your salvation.
Today I will share with a potential believer, via E-mail (or other electronic communication), letter, phone call, or face-to-face conversation, my experience of transition from "veiled" to "seeing clearly" as a result of my salvation.
Paul’s Perseverance in Ministry
4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, we do not become discouraged.
4:2 But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God.
4:3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, 4:4 among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.
4:5 For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.
4:6 For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.
An Eternal Weight of Glory
4:7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
4:8 We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; 4:9 we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, 4:10 always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.
4:11 For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body.
4:12 As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
4:13 But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak.
4:14 We do so because we know that the one who raised up Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence.
4:15 For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.
4:16 Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.
4:17 For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison
4:18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Lord, You give so much to use and ask that we be careful to tell Your story truthfully, and that we be humble at all times. May I be found faithful in both.
Paul contrasted the positive virtue of faithfulness to the Word against the sin of those who engage in “shameful hidden deeds … behaving with deceptiveness … distorting the Word of God”.
He reminded them that those who are unable to perceive “the light of the glorious gospel” are those “who do not believe”, that it is God Who said “Let light shine out of darkness” Who “shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.”
Paul re-emphasized the need for humility, using the illustration of “clay jars” to describe believers [especially those who dedicate themselves to preaching and teaching Christ], and noted that “the extraordinary power belongs to God”.
Paul provided a checklist of struggles and of the Lord God’s power:
Paul observed two final things; that many more are joining in “thanksgiving … to the glory of God”, and that “our momentary, light suffering, is producing for us an eternal weight of glory”
It is an amazing truth that, despite our humble standing as like the simple clay jar of Paul’s time, God chooses to pour Himself out through us. We have a responsibility to remain humble as none of it is from us.
How should believers respond to the problem of people claiming the name of Christ and then engaging in “shameful hidden deeds … behaving with deceptiveness … distorting the Word of God”?
It is humbling to read the list Paul provided of struggles faced by serious Christians and of the provision of God.
When have you experienced the Lord God causing "light [to] shine out of darkness" through you for the benefit of another?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an example in your life from the list Paul provided of struggles faced by Christians
Today I will celebrate together with a fellow believer the awesome God who makes provision for me.
Living by Faith, Not by Sight
5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens.
5:2 For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire to put on our heavenly dwelling, 5:3 if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked.
5:4 For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5:5 Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.
5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord—5:7 for we live by faith, not by sight.
5:8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
5:9 So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him.
5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.
The Message of Reconciliation
5:11 Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people, but we are well known to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too. 5:12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who take pride in outward appearance and not in what is in the heart.
5:13 For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died.
5:15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised.
5:16 So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer.
5:17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!
5:18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
5:19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.
5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!”
5:21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.
Lord, You created us to dwell in the Garden of Eden, and after the Fall destroyed that in the new Heaven and the new Earth where there is no sin and there is no temptation. May I remember that I was not made for the imperfect place and that it is right that I never feel quite at home here.
Paul challenges his readers to acknowledge their temporary physical condition in fallen bodies in a fallen world and our natural groaning for Heaven.
He reminds them that the indwelling Holy Spirit of God is a “down payment” from God upon our guaranteed place in Heaven.
He notes that once we are saved we are eternal citizens of Heaven and while here we are “absent from the Lord”, therefore we live “by faith” [in the Lord Who awaits our arrival] “not by sight” [because we cannot see Him].
He challenges his readers to “make it our ambition to please Him”, whether on earth or in Heaven, and to chose carefully what we do “while in the body”.
[Note: Paul used himself as an example in these verses and stood as a role model for those who would follow. He said as much in his instructions to the Corinthians about singleness and also when writing to Timothy and Titus.]
Paul notes that the world judges by human appearance and that he had seen Christ on the road to Damascus, but that now all believers must join him in seeing Christ and fellow believers through the eternal perspective of Heaven.
Paul wrote the following series of steps to understanding:
Paul challenged us to "make it our ambition to please Him", whether on earth or in Heaven, and to chose carefully what we do "while in the body".
How do Paul’s steps to understanding help you?
Paul’s words are encouraging—it is appropriate that we “groan” for Heaven as the new person-in-Christ that we are no longer belongs to this world, that we live by faith having not seen Christ but knowing Him through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and that we be intentional about seeing everything through the lens of Heaven and not earth.
When have you had an experience where viewing things here on earth through the lens of Heaven brought comfort and understanding where before there was fear and confusion?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a particularly challenging relationship in your life to which He wants me to apply this subset of Paul’s steps to understanding; “… the ministry of reconciliation … not counting people’s trespasses against them … the message of reconciliation”.
Today I will submit to the Holy Spirit as He walks with me through the process of reconciliation. I will share the result with a fellow believer, whom I will also ask (in advance), to pray for courage and wisdom as I do this.
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “1-2 Corinthians” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.