In All Things Approving

2Corinthians 6:1-13 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he said, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. O you Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. You are not straitened in us, but you are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be you also enlarged. 

‘I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’ This is the 1st Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in 2 Corinthians (Isa. 49:8).

‘Offence’ [Greek: proskope] cause of offence. Here it means any scandal that might cause blame on the gospel ministry.

‘Approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses …’ Here are 31 things in which to be approved: Innocence (6:3); patience (6:4); afflictions; necessities; distresses; floggings (6:5); imprisonments; tumults; labours; watchings; fastings; purity (6:6); knowledge; longsuffering; kindness; Holy Spirit; true love; truth (6:7); power; weapons; honour (6:8) and dishonour; evil and good report; honesty; fame (6:9); alertness; preservation; joyfulness (6:10); benevolence; possession of God’s wealth.

‘Armour’ [Greek: hoplon] arms and armour (Eph. 6:11).

‘Our mouth is open’ – a Hebraism for speaking with liberty.

‘Our heart is enlarged’ – our heart is expanded to take you and all your interests into it and keep you in the highest Christian affection.

‘You are not straitened in us, but you are straitened in your own bowels.’ Paul states the following to the believers at Corinth: You do not have a narrow place in my affections. The narrow affections are in your own hearts. I want you to repay me for my affections toward you, as children should a parent. Love me as I love you (6:12-13). ‘Bowels’ [Greek: splangchnon] inward parts. Used figuratively of the seat of affections (6:12; 7:15; Luke 1:78; Php. 1:8; 2:1; Col. 3:12; Phm. 1:7, 12, 20; 1Jn. 3:17). Used literally in Acts 1:18.

Be in Christ… is a New Creature – Part 3

2Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

From 1Thessalonians 4:3-18 we see fourteen requirements of the will of God and of sanctification: [1] Abstain from fornication or all kinds of sexual sins (4:3; Matt. 5:32). [2] Know how to possess the vessel in sanctification and honour (4:4). [3] Not in the lust of concupiscence or strong sexual desire (Col. 3:5). Here it means excessive sexual lust like that of the Gentiles who knew no bounds. [4] That no man defraud his brother by seducing his wife to corrupt her and break up a home (4:6). This still refers to sexual sins and not to cheating, for it is dealing with sexual uncleanness down to 1Thessalonians 4:7. Every type of perversion was practised among the heathen nations (other than Israel). Their gods, their rulers, and their teachers were examples of impurity. They had no system of ethics that forbade these practices. The Christian religion forbade them as worthy of death and hell and this has preserved the world from complete ruin to this day. [5] Walk in holiness, not in the uncleanness of sexual perversion (4:7; Rom. 1:24). [6] Do not despise men (4:8). [7] Love one another (4:9; 1Cor. 13:1-13). [8] Increase in love (4:10; 3:12). [9] Study to be quiet (4:11; 2Tim. 2:15). [10] Be diligent in business (4:11). [11] Work with your hands (4:11; 1Cor. 4:12; Eph. 4:28; 2Thess. 3:10). [12] Walk honestly before men (4:12). [13] Have a bright hope (4:13-17). [14] Comfort one another (4:18).

‘To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.’ I.e., that is to say: God was in Christ, reconciling people to Himself. God does not impute sin to those who have confessed and are reconciled to Him (Rom. 4:7-8). God has committed to the reconciled the word of reconciliation. God has made the reconciled ambassadors for Christ to reconcile others (5:20; Rom. 5:10). God made Christ a sin-offering, that man might become righteous (5:21). ‘Sin for us’ – as a sin-offering; a sacrifice for sin (Matt. 26:28; Eph. 5:2; 1Pet. 2:24).

Be in Christ… is a New Creature – Part 2

2Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

‘Old things are passed away’ – two old things that pass away when one is in Christ:

[1] The spirit, nature, and power of sin the old man, which is nothing more nor less than the spirit, nature, and power of the devil working in men of disobedience (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; 2Cor. 4:4; 1Jn. 3:8; 5:18). This is what the Bible calls: The old man (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9); sin (John 1:29; 8:34; Rom.  6:4-8:2); the body of sin (Rom. 6:6); the power of satan (Acts 26:18); the body of this death (Rom. 7:24); the lusts of the flesh (Eph. 2:3); the lust of the eyes (1Jn. 2:15-17); the pride of life (1Jn. 2:15-17); the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19); the world (1Jn. 2:15-17; Jas. 4:4); vile affections (Rom. 1:26, 29); the lusts of the mind (Eph. 2:3); the lusts of sin (Rom. 6:11-12); the motions of sins (Rom. 7:5); the law of sin and death (Rom. 7:7-8:2); the carnal mind (Rom. 8:1-13); the god of this world (2Cor. 4:4); spiritual wickedness in high places … rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12); the lusts of your father (John 8:44); sin that dwells in me (Rom. 7:17); the course of this world (Eph. 2:2); the body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:11; Gal. 5:24; Rom. 8:1-39).

[2] Outward sin or transgression of the law (1Jn. 3:4; Rom. 4:15; Jas. 1:13-15). The outward acts are listed in Mark 7:19-21; Romans 1:18-32; 2Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21 and Colossians 3:5-10).

Both outward and inward sin must pass away or one cannot claim to be in Christ. The theory that only outward transgressions are forgiven and one is still under the control of the old man (the devil) is one of the most erroneous doctrines in Christendom (2Cor. 5:17-18; Eph. 4:24; 1Jn. 5:18; Rom. 6:6-23; 8:1-13).

To be continued…

Be in Christ… is a New Creature – Part 1

2Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.’ Therefore, in view of the fact that we do not know any man after the flesh, not even Christ, it is vain for any man to profess a relationship with Christ according to the flesh, while he is unchanged in heart and life and dead in trespasses and sins.

‘In Christ’ – the so-called doctrine of interpenetration, that is, persons entering physical into each other, is false. The Bible does speak of the Corinthians and Philippians being in Paul’s heart (2Cor. 7:3; Php. 1:7); God being in Christ (2Cor. 5:19); Christ being in God (John 14:20); God and Christ being in each other (John 14:10-11); men being in both the Father and the Son (1Jn. 2:24); men being in Christ (2Cor. 5:17); men and the Spirit being in each other (Rom. 8:9); Christ being in men (Col. 1:27; Rom. 8:10); man and Christ being in each other (John 14:20); all creation being in God (Acts 17:28); and satan entering into men (Luke 22:3; John 13:27). However, these passages refer to being in union with, being consecrated to the same end – one in mind, purpose, and life. They do not teach the physical entrance of one being into another.

‘In Christ, he is a new creature’ – ten personal gospel blessings are noted: It brings one into Christ (5:17). One is a new creature (5:17). Old things are passed away (5:17). [Greek: archaios, old, ancient, original]. Such things are no more in one. All things are new (5:17). Life is just the opposite of the old life. All things are of God (5:18). The true Christian does not permit anything in his life which is ungodly and unChristlike (Rom. 6:14-23; 8:1-13; Gal. 5:16-26). One is reconciled to God (5:18; Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:14-18; Col. 1:20-21). He has a part in the ministry of reconciliation (5:18-20; 1:18-24). He has been trusted with the Word of reconciliation (5:19; Mark 16:15-20). He is an ambassador of God in Christ’s stead (5:20; Pro. 13:17). He is the righteousness of God in Christ (5:21; Rom. 3:21-31; 8:4). To be continued…

Be Sober

2Corinthians 5:11-16 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that you may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 

‘Terror’ [Greek: phobos] translated fear 39 times and terror (Rom. 13:3; 1Pet. 3:14). In view of this Paul persuade people to turn to God. They did not preach themselves neither were they “beside themselves” as some said. He said that if they were beside themselves for God and sober, it was for their [the saints of Corinth) good.

‘Sober’ [Greek: sophroneo] be of sound mind (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35; Rom. 12:3; Tit. 2:6; 1Pet. 4:7) as to not fall to sudden destruction. Four conditions are given to escape the sudden destruction of 1Thessalonians 5:6-11: [1] Not sleep [Greek: katheudo] to repose one’s self in sleep. Used of the sleeping, indifferent, careless, and unfaithful virgins (Mt. 25:5); of the sleeping disciples who could not watch with Christ one hour (Mt. 26:45); and of indifferent and backsliding men (Eph. 5:14; 1Th. 5:6,7,8). The warning here is that we do not go back into sin.  [2] Watch. Be always alert and live godly in Christ; do not permit yourself to be overthrown by temptation (Mt. 24:42-51). [3] Be sober [Greek: nepho] to drink no intoxicants; live soberly and righteously (Tit. 2:11-12). Translated be sober (1Th. 5:6, 8; 1Pet. 1:13; 5:8) and watch (2Tim. 4:5; 1Pet. 4:7). It was counted a disgrace even among the heathen to be drunk in the day, hence the admonition to live as children of light and of the day (1Th. 5:5-8). [4] Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet — the hope of salvation (1Th. 5:8; Eph. 6:10-18). We are not only to be sober and watch but we are called to fight the fight of faith and lay hold of eternal life (1Tim. 6:12; 1Cor. 9:24-27).

‘Constrains’ [Greek: sunecho] also translated “press” (Acts 18:5) and “throng” (Luke 8:45). Here it means to urge people to accept the gospel.

‘That if one died for all, then were all dead.’ Paul concludes that since Christ died for all, then all were dead and all should live unto Him who died and rose again for them (5:14-15). ‘Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.’ We trust no man’s flesh. We do not even recognize Christ after the flesh.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

2Corinthians 5:9-10 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 

‘Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.’ In view of the fact we leave the body at physical death and go with the Lord, let us labour to be accepted by Him whether we live in the body or die and be absent from the body to be with the Lord (5:8-9). ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.’ The 4th and last New Testament prophecy in 2 Corinthians. This refers to the judgment seat of Christ where, after the resurrection of the saints, we shall be judged for the things done in the body whether they are good or bad (Rom. 2:12-16; 14:10-12; 1Cor. 3:11-15; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:24; Luke 14:14; 2Tim. 4:14; Rev. 2:23; 22:12). Believers will be judged concerning: Doctrines (Rom. 2:14-16; 14:1-23); Conduct to others (Matt. 18:1-35; Rom. 14:1-23). Carnal traits (Col. 3:1-25; Rom. 1-2; 8:1-13; 14:1-23). Words (Matt. 12:32-37; Rom. 14:1-23). Things that affect others: slander, quarrels, idle words, foolishness (folly), dishonesty, broken promises, wrong dealings, etc. (Rom. 1:29-32; 1Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:1-25; Eph. 4:1-32; 5:1-33; Rom. 12:1-21; 14:1-23). Things that affect themselves: neglected opportunities, talents wasted, loose living, lack of spirituality, etc. (Rom. 2:14-16; Heb. 2:1-4; Gal. 5:1-26; 6:1-10; Col. 3:1-25). Things that affect God: refusal to walk in the light, disobedience, rejection, failure to cooperate and yield to the Spirit, etc. (1Cor. 12:1-31; Rom. 12:1-21; Eph. 4:1-32; 5:1-33).

A Building of God

2Corinthians 5:1-8 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that has wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 

‘Tabernacle’ [Greek: skenos] tent (5:4). This refers to our body which is compared to a tent in which we dwell.

‘Dissolved’ [Greek: kataluo] dissolve; throw down (Matt. 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6); overthrow (Acts 5:39); destroy (Matt. 5:17; 26:61; 27:40; Mark 14:58; 15:29; Acts 6:14; Rom. 14:20; Gal. 2:18); come to nought (Acts 5:38); lodge (Luke 9:12); and be guest (Luke 19:7). When the body dies and goes back to dust again (Gen. 3:19), we have a resurrected house to live in forever. This body must be dissolved before we can get the other body. It is mortal and we, in our present house (5:5) in which we groan, are burdened, greatly desiring the immortal body (5:2-5).

‘Building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’ This building is our future and eternal immortal house which we get after this body is dissolved (5:1-5; 15:35-54).

‘But clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.’ This refers to putting on immortality, as explained in 1Corinthians 15:35-54. It will take place at the rapture (1Thess. 4:13-16; Php. 3:21).

‘Earnest of the Spirit’ God has given us the earnest or the firstfruit of the Spirit as a guarantee that we will be resurrected and put on immortality.

‘While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. While we live in the body we are in our temporary home and absent from the eternal home with the Lord.

‘To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.’ To die and be absent from the body means we go to heaven to be with the Lord (Php. 1:21-24; Heb. 12:23; Jas. 2:26; Rev. 6:9-11). This is proof that the inner man does not go to the grave at death, but to heaven, if one is righteous. If one is wicked he goes to hell awaiting the resurrection of his body (Luke 16:19-31, Rev. 20:11-15).

Look Not

2Corinthians 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

‘Cause we faint not’ – for the sake of winning souls to glorify God (4:15), we suffer all things without fainting. The outward man is slowly dying through trials and sufferings, but the inward man is being renewed daily.

‘Outward man’ – found only here and refers to the body.

‘Perish’ [Greek: diaphtheiro] corrupted; destroyed (Luke 12:33; 1Tim. 6:5; Rev. 8:9; 11:18).

‘Inward man’ refers to the soul and spirit – the real person in the body (5:8; Jas. 2:26; Heb. 4:12; 12:23; 1Thess. 5:23; Rev. 6:9).

‘Renewed’ [Greek: anakainoo] meaning the whole course of life now flows in a different direction (5:17-18). Be renewed in the attitude of your mind by renouncing its vanity (Eph. 4:17), its darkness and blindness (Eph. 4:18) and learning of Christ (Eph. 4:20-21).

‘Light affliction’ [Greek: elaphros] – from Matthew 11:30 we see it described as a light burden (Ps. 55:22).

‘For a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ Such is considered momentary lightness compared with the eternal weight of glory one receives for suffering (Rom. 8:17-18).

‘Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ We do not strive for things we see, for they are not worthy of the pursuit of an immortal soul. The things not seen are the eternal and important things of life. This current world system will pass away, but the man who does not conform to it will abide forever. This is all summarized in the pride of life as described in James 4:16 and 1John 2:15-17 and the following characteristics: Self-righteousness (Job 32:1); one’s positions in life (Gen. 3:5; Ezek. 28:11-17; 1Tim. 3:6; 3Jn. 1:9); power (Lev. 26:19); riches (Ps. 39:6; Ezek. 28:5); beauty (Ezek. 28:11,17); strength to war (2Chr. 26:16), and constant boasting of one’s self; glorying in sexual activity; pleasures; and all the vanity of life (1Jn. 2:15; Ps. 24:4; 36:2; Isa. 3:16).

Abundant Grace

2Corinthians 4:11-15 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 works in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 

‘Mortal flesh’ [Greek: thnetos] mortal, human (4:11; 5:4; 1Cor. 15:53-54; Rom. 6:12; 8:11).

‘Death work in us, but life in you’ – we live a dying life that you might live. Our readiness to die for Christ makes you want to live for Him.

‘I believed, and therefore have I spoken’ – quoted from Psalm 116:10 where David made this statement in his sufferings that was great, but he was delivered by God (Ps. 116:1-8).

‘Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.’ This is the 3rd New Testament prophecy in 2 Corinthians. This happens at the rapture also called the first resurrection (1Cor. 15; 1Thess. 4:13-18).

‘For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.’ All our sufferings we count as nothing if we [Paul and the other apostles] can win you and others to Christ, see the abounding grace save many souls and cause them to give more praise to the glory of God. ‘Abundant grace’ Four secrets of continued grace: Live and walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:516-26; Rom. 8:1-13; Col. 3:5-10). Be patient in hope (Gal. 5:5; Rom. 8:24; Heb. 3:6, 12-14; 6:19). Continue in Christ (Gal. 5:6; John 15:1-8; Col. 2:6-7; Heb. 3:14). Continue in faith (Gal. 5:6; Col. 1:23). This is part of being a true Christian – continued obedience while taking God at His Word in all Scripture; not cherry-picking only on teachings of His greatness, grace and goodness, to justify living in continuous sin – faith without works [obedience] are dead (Jas. 1:23, 25; Rom. 2:13). Man is commanded to do one thing; then God will do two things (Ps. 55:22; 1Pet. 5:7-8). All promises are conditional. Christians tend to emphasize the promises and ignore their conditions. Then they murmur and complain when the promises aren’t fulfilled. There is more to Christianity than its benefits.

This Treasure

2Corinthians 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 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. 

‘This treasure’ is the light of the knowledge (4:6) of the gospel that God has shined into our hearts to give us life.

‘Earthen vessels’ [Greek: ostrakinos] here and in 2Timothy 2:20. Often in the East treasures are hidden in earthen vessels to protect them from moisture (cp. Jer. 32:14). Here it refers to the power of the Holy Spirit through the light of the gospel in our bodies. The emphasis is on the contrast between a frail vessel of earth and the priceless treasure of power that dwells in it.

‘We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.’ Four pairs of expressions of sufferings: Hard pressed, but not suffocated. Puzzled, but not utterly baffled. Pursued, but not caught or outrun. Struck down, but not out of the fight.

The first two refer to wrestling; the third to a race; and the fourth to a boxing match (4:8-9).

‘Bearing about in the body’ [Greek: periphero] to carry about with one; to whirl (4:10; Mark 6:55; Eph. 4:14; Heb. 13:9; Jude 1:12). I am under a sentence of death for Jesus and am likely to die at any time for His cause (4:11). There is also an allusion to the marks of battle already fought for Christ (Gal. 6:17).

‘Dying’ [Greek: nekrosis] making dead; a dead condition (4:10; Rom. 4:19). The idea is that of being in a state of crucifixion for Jesus (Gal. 2:20) so that the resurrection life of Jesus might be made manifest or visible in our body and so that the miracles we do might prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ (4:10-12).