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By: Larry Shaffer
We are going to dig into 2 Corinthians and ask God how we should live out these scriptures daily. But before we do, we should understand a little about its background and about the first letter by Paul to the Corinthian church found in 1 Corinthians. Historically, I Corinthians is my least favorite book in the New Testament. The young church in Corinth had a lot of issues. They struggled immensely with sin even though Paul spent more time there than any of the other cities on his missionary journeys. Thus, the first letter by Paul to the Corinthian church was instructive and even scolding at times.
The city of Corinth was uniquely located in southern Greece in the middle of a 4-mile isthmus which connected the Gulf of Corinth and the Sarnoff Gulf. This had several strategic implications if one, such as Paul, was called to be the apostle to reach the Gentiles. All N-S travel went through or near Corinth. A lot of people passed through this city, so there was great potential for Paul to reach a lot of people with the gospel.
Trade ships would roll their ships on skids or rollers over the isthmus and through Corinth rather than sail the treacherous route around the isthmus. Therefore, for Paul to “set up shop” in Corinth and preach the gospel meant new prospects every day. Travelers from all over the Greek and Roman Empire made their way through Corinth. Pretty smart place to spend almost three years preaching the gospel. But on the other hand, these travelers brought with them the sins of the world and unofficially, such as the millions who visit Vegas every year, they adopted the saying of “what happens in Corinth stays in Corinth.”
You’re acting like a Corinthian!
Corinth was known as “sin city”. It’s not surprising that a city filled with sailors and travelers also became a center of prostitution, debauchery and drunkenness. Therefore, to “Corinthianize” or to act like a Corninthian became synonymous with gross immorality and drunken debauchery. Consequently, the church in Corinth struggled with worldliness and immorality. The Saints of Corinth were often anything but saints… Thus, in I Corinthians, Paul finds himself dealing harshly with the church and is forced to deal with unpleasant things happening in the church. Perhaps now you can understand why 1 Corinthians is not one of my favorite books in the New Testament. It is filled with instructive scolding.
There’s change in the air
I’ve been reading 2 Corinthians the last couple of days and this second book has quite a different feel and I’m looking forward to considering what has changed between the time of the two letters. One theme that emerged as I read was affliction and trials. Paul wrote about his own grueling trials and that of the Corinthians as well. More tomorrow!
Lord, please guide us and teach us from this rich book in the New Testament. Amen!