Month: March 2020

March 31, 2020

2Cor13- 2020-03-31




vv.1-2 “According to Acts 18:1-17, Paul had an extended mission in Corinth when he founded the church.  The second visit was painful and short.  It was unplanned and undertaken to quell rebellion in Corinth.  Paul’s grievous confrontation with an individual in the church caused him to cut the visit short.  Though he sounds annoyed and disturbed in this section of the letter and paints an alarming picture of a church infested with strife and immorality, he has been successful enough through the severe letter and the personal intervention of Titus, and, he trusts, through this letter, to reestablish his authority over the church.  He therefore warns them that he comes ready to punish every disobedience and to purge all pockets of resistance.”[1]

v.5 “‘To see whether you are in the faith’ may also be translated ‘to see whether you are holding the faith’ (RSV).  ‘Faith’ here does not refer simply to trust in Christ, which is its primary meaning in Paul’s usage, but to the whole Christian way and truth (Titus 1:13; 2:2).  It is not a matter of examining their doctrines, however, but of bringing their conduct and thinking into conformity with their belief in Christ.”[2]

“The test to see if Christ is in the Corinthians will be their response to Paul and his call to repent, since God’s message and the messenger are one (5:18–6:2).”[3]

v.9 “The noun translated ‘perfection’ appears only here in the New Testament.  The verb form is more common and is used for restoring something to its original condition or to make it fit for its purpose.  […] The verb form also appears in the New Testament with the sense of restoring something that is damaged, such as fishing nets (Matt 4:21; Mark 1:19), supplying what is lacking in a church’s faith (1 Thess 3:10) […] and restoring a church member who is caught in a sin (Gal 6:1).  This last usage best fits the context of Corinthians. Paul is not talking about their ‘perfection’ but their ‘reclamation.’  […] The Corinthians need reconditioning, restoring.  They need to reknit their relationship with Paul, their relationship with one another, and their relationship with the crucified and resurrected Christ.  […] The goal of the Corinthians’ restoration is that they will do what is pleasing to God (5:9).”[4]

[1] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 539-40.

[2] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 546.

[3] ESV Study Bible, Notes for 2 Corinthians (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2240.

[4] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 549-50.

Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 13:1-6 (ESV)

1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 I warned those who sinned before 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 spare them— 3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. 5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.

Reflection & Application

2 Corinthians 13:1-6 

  • The Corinthians were seeking “proof that Christ [was] speaking in” Apostle Paul, even while there was flagrant sin in their lives, including “impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality” (2 Corinthians 12:21).  What aspect of human nature does this show?  
  • The call to ”[e]xamine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” seems to indicate that some in the church were probably not Christian at all.  Think of the irony of non-Christians having voice enough to critique Apostle Paul.  What does this show about the ethos of the Corinthian church?


March 30, 2020

2Cor12- 2020-03-30


Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 12:14-21 (ESV)

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom 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 act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Reflection & Application

2 Corinthians 12:14-19

“In 12:14b-15a, Paul supports his affirmation that he is seeking the Corinthians’ welfare, not his own, by returning to imagery of parenthood to describe his relationship with the church. Because he is their spiritual father, Paul is responsible to give to his ‘children,’ not the other way around, even if this means pouring out his life on their behalf.” [1] 

  • Why would Apostle Paul’s successful defense of himself before the Corinthians lead to their “upbuilding”?

[1]  Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series CD (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000).


March 27, 2020

Ps139- 2020-03-27

  • Journal
  • Bible Text:

    Psalm 139 (ESV)


    1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

    2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

        you discern my thoughts from afar.

    3 You search out my path and my lying down

        and are acquainted with all my ways.

    4 Even before a word is on my tongue,

        behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

    5 You hem me in, behind and before,

        and lay your hand upon me.

    6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

        it is high; I cannot attain it.

    7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?

        Or where shall I flee from your presence?

    8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

        If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

    9 If I take the wings of the morning

        and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

    10 even there your hand shall lead me,

        and your right hand shall hold me.

    11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

        and the light about me be night,”

    12 even the darkness is not dark to you;

        the night is bright as the day,

        for darkness is as light with you.

    13 For you formed my inward parts;

        you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

    14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

    Wonderful are your works;

        my soul knows it very well.

    15 My frame was not hidden from you,

    when I was being made in secret,

        intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

    16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

    in your book were written, every one of them,

        the days that were formed for me,

        when as yet there was none of them.

    17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

        How vast is the sum of them!

    18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

        I awake, and I am still with you.

    19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!

        O men of blood, depart from me!

    20 They speak against you with malicious intent;

        your enemies take your name in vain.

    21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?

        And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

    22 I hate them with complete hatred;

        I count them my enemies.

    23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!

        Try me and know my thoughts!

    24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,

        and lead me in the way everlasting!


  • [What truths about God’s person, activity or character does the text reveal?]

  • Lessons/ Insights

  • Apply and Obey

    [How does today’s text apply to me? How will I obey or respond to the truths from today’s text?]

  • Prayer 

March 26, 2020

2Cor12- 2020-03-26

Bible Text:

2 Corinthians 12:7-13 (ESV)

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

Reflection & Application

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

  • What two purposes did Apostle Paul’s “thorn” serve in his life?
  • What are the “thorns” in my life and what is my view toward them?  Have they led me to experience the truth of v. 9? 
  • Reflect on the words: “My grace is sufficient for you.”  How deeply has this truth taken root in my life?  How will this gospel truth give me strength in the midst of experiencing “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities”? 
  • Reflect on the statement, “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” and why this is a uniquely Christian view of power.


March 25, 2020

2Cor12- 2020-03-25

  • Journal

    v.1 “Paul is reticent to speak about such things (visions and revelations) because he does not believe that recounting one’s extraordinary mystical visions will do anything to build up the community.  It only serves to build up the teller’s ego and therefore is perilous.  It certainly offers no proof of apostleship.  History is littered with the tales of frauds who have seduced and deluded followers by claiming to have some divine mission from some divine vision.  Consequently, Paul’s rehearses this extraordinary episode in a way that only stresses how useless it is to prove anything about him.  True apostleship is established by the building up of the community (1 Cor 14:3-5,26; 2 Cor 5:13), not by how many ecstatic experiences one can claim.”[1]

    vv.2-3I know a man . . . this man. Paul’s hesitancy to boast of his visions is reflected in his use of the third person (as if it had happened to someone else). the third heaven (i.e., the highest; see 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chron. 2:6; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 148:4). This phrase does not imply belief in a simplistic “three-story universe” but reflects a commonsense distinction between (1) the atmosphere where birds can be seen to fly, (2) the higher area where the sun, moon, and stars can be seen, and (3) the unseen realm where God dwells. This third area is equated with paradise (Gk. paradeisos, a Persian loan-word used in the Septuagint to refer to the garden of Eden [see Gen. 2:8–10; 13:10; Isa. 51:3; Ezek. 28:13; 31:8–9] but in the NT to refer to a place of blessedness where God dwells [Luke 23:43; Rev. 2:7]). Both terms would be recognized by Jewish readers as references to the realm of God’s direct presence.”[2]

    “Private mystical experiences have no value for the church because they cannot be adequately communicated to others.  They are useless in trying to make arguments in a public forum that requires logical argument.  The danger of basing teaching on private heavenly revelations is that it will create a division between those blessed with such visions and the rank and file who are not.  Matthew 28:19-20 makes clear that the teaching of the church is based on what Jesus had already commanded on earth, not on the latest visions from paradise.”[3]

    v.6 “Validation as God’s minister does not come from one’s own self-endorsement or from otherworldly experiences.  […]  What is important are not the transcendent moments when he has become spiritually airborne, but his obedience in the daily chore of preaching the gospel faithfully despite ‘weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties’ (12:10).”[4]

    v.7a thorn was given me (by God, who is sovereign over all things) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan. The nature of this ‘thorn’ or ‘messenger’ is much disputed. The most frequently proposed possibilities include: (1) Paul’s inner psychological struggles (such as grief over his earlier persecution of the church, or sorrow over Israel’s unbelief, or continuing temptations); (2) Paul’s opponents, who continued to persecute him (cf. Num. 33:55 and Ezek. 28:24, where thorns refer to Israel’s enemies); (3) some kind of physical affliction (possibly poor eyesight, malaria fever, or severe migraine headaches); or (4) some kind of demonic harassment (‘a messenger of Satan’). Most commentators cautiously prefer some form of the third view, since ‘thorn in the flesh’ would seem to suggest a physical condition.”[5]

    “The word translated ‘thorn’ occurs only here in the New Testament.  It refers to something pointed such as a stake for impaling, a medical instrument, or a thorn.  ‘Stake’ would be a better translation, though ‘thorn’ has dominated English renderings of the word.  The metaphor carries ‘the notion of something sharp and painful which sticks deeply in the flesh and in the will of God defies extracting.’”[6] 

    “The ambiguity about what Paul’s stake in the flesh might be allows others to identify their own personal ‘thorns’ with Paul’s and to appropriate the theological lesson.  Stakes in the flesh are not good, but they also are not bad because they may convey a word from God if we are attuned to hear it.  What is important to Paul is the theological word-to-the-wise that his stake in the flesh provided him.  It was a constant reminder of God’s grace and God’s power working through him.”[7]

    v.9 “We learn from the message given to Paul that God’s grace is not just the unmerited favor that saves us but a force that also sustains us throughout our lives.  The modifier ‘my’ in ‘my power,’ is important.  Paul is not speaking about power in general, but ‘the power of Christ’ revealed in the crucifixion and resurrection: ‘For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power.  Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you (13:4).”[8]

    “Illusions of our own strength cause us to overlook divine power and results in our rebelliousness against God.  For this reason God brings low the proud who lift themselves up and believe their own hype that they are special in and of themselves.  God requires total, unconditional surrender of our pride.  In Paul’s situation God’s grace did not come to him as a prop for his failing strength, but as the decisive question: ‘Will you surrender, utterly surrender, to God’s dealing—will you know yourself to be a sinner before God?’ When we accept our own weakness, we then also learn that we must totally rely upon God.”[9]

    v.11super-apostles. Paul was probably using a sarcastic title to describe the false apostles who were troubling the Corinthian church, by preaching ‘another Jesus’ and ‘a different gospel’ (see vv. 4, 13–15; see also 12:11). Although Paul may have been unskilled in speaking (lacking formal training in rhetoric), his knowledge of the gospel greatly surpassed that of his opponents.”[10]

    vv.14-15 “Paul continues the theme of being a loving parent (11:11) with emphatic expressions: but I will gladly spend everything I have and will be spent for your souls.  Here is the best litmus test for the sign of an apostle.  A true apostle of the crucified Christ is one who is willing to spend and be spent on behalf of a congregation.  He serves at great cost to himself for the great benefit of others.  They should recognize the depth of his love for them from the magnitude of his sacrifices enumerated in 11:23-29.”[11]

    [1] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 509.

    [2] ESV Study Bible, Notes for 2 Corinthians (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2238.

    [3] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 516-17.

    [4] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 518.

    [5] ESV Study Bible, Notes for 2 Corinthians (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2238.

    [6] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 519.

    [7] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 521.

    [8] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 524.

    [9] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 525.

    [10] ESV Study Bible, Notes for 2 Corinthians (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2236.

    [11] David Garland, “2 Corinthians,” The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999) 533-34.

Bible Text:

2 Corinthians 12:1-6 (ESV)

1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.

Reflection & Application

2 Corinthians 12:1-5; 11

“The striking absence of references to visions and revelations in Paul’s letters demonstrates his own lack of interest in sharing such private, spiritual experiences. He viewed them as without benefit … for building up the church.” [1] 

  • Even though Apostle Paul did not want to “go on boasting,” he says the Corinthians “forced [him] to it” (v. 11) because they thought he was “inferior” to the false teachers, whom he refers to sarcastically as “super-apostles.” What does this reveal about the nature of the boastful claims made by the false teachers?  
  • In recalling his own experiences, why would Paul choose to refer to himself in the third person? 

“Accordingly, Paul restrains himself from such boasting so that no one will brag about him beyond what can be evaluated objectively (cf. 5:12–13; 10:7, 11–14, 17–18)…what counts is what others can observe concerning his words and deeds (12:6).” [2] 

  • According to v. 6, on what basis did Paul want to be thought of or judged?  Why is this the appropriate gauge to evaluate the authenticity of a Christian, rather than claims of supernatural experiences?
  • In what ways do I seek others’ approval through image-maintenance of some sort?

[1]  Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series CD (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000).

[2]  Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series CD (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000).


March 24, 2020

2Cor11- 2020-03-24

Bible Text:

2 Corinthians 11:21b-33 (ESV)

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 

26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

Reflection & Application

2 Corinthians 11:23-30

  • Reflect on all the ways in which Apostle Paul suffered in carrying out his ministry.
  • What might be the relationship between Apostle Paul’s amazing ability to endure hardships and what he says in vv. 28-29?
  • How does Apostle Paul’s description of his “daily pressure” and “anxiety for all the churches” challenge today’s view of “balance” and “health”? 
  • What does Apostle Paul’s identification with the members of his churches tell me about the nature of love?  


March 23, 2020

2Cor11- 2020-03-23

Bible Text:

2 Corinthians 11:16-21a (ESV)

16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

Reflection & Application

2 Corinthians 11:19-21

“In yet another statement of biting irony, even sarcasm, Paul therefore admits to the ‘shame’ he feels over being too ‘weak’ to act like his opponents (11:21a; cf. the earlier reference to his physical weakness in 10:10). His ‘weakness’ is the strength of his apostolic calling and character; his opponents’ supposed ‘strength’ reveals the weakness of their claims and the sinfulness of their attitudes and actions.” [1]

  • Why would the Corinthians have responded favorably to these false apostles who were boastful, oppressive, “[put] on airs,” and “[struck them] in the face”?  
  • Think about the notions of “strength” and “weakness” as they played out between the Corinthians and Apostle Paul.  What is the biblical view of strength?
  • Which of the two differing approaches characterizes my typical view toward others or the way I conduct my relationships?  

[1]  Scott J. Hafemann, “2 Corinthians 11:1-33,” in NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: 2 Corinthians. 421-456. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, ©2000.


March 20, 2020

Ps130- 2020-03-20

  • Journal
  • Bible Text: Psalm 130 (ESV)

    1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!

    2     O Lord, hear my voice!

    Let your ears be attentive

        to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

    3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,

        O Lord, who could stand?

    4 But with you there is forgiveness,

        that you may be feared.

    5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

        and in his word I hope;

    6 my soul waits for the Lord

        more than watchmen for the morning,

        more than watchmen for the morning.

    7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!

        For with the Lord there is steadfast love,

        and with him is plentiful redemption.

    8 And he will redeem Israel

        from all his iniquities.


  • [What truths about God’s person, activity or character does the text reveal?]

  • Lessons/ Insights

  • Apply and Obey

    [How does today’s text apply to me? How will I obey or respond to the truths from today’s text?]

  • Prayer 

March 19, 2020

2Cor11- 2020-03-19

Bible Text:

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (ESV)

12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Reflection & Application 

2 Corinthians 11:12-15

  • Given that “false apostles” disguise themselves as “apostles of Christ,” how can I discern true servants of God based on this passage?  


March 18, 2020

2Cor11- 2020-03-18

Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 11:5-11 (ESV)

5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.

6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. 7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?  8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

Reflection & Application 

2 Corinthians 11:5-11

  • What was the reason the Corinthians considered Apostle Paul inferior?
  • What is shown about human nature from the fact that Apostle Paul’s humility (“humbling myself”) was regarded as weakness, and his preaching “free of charge” caused them to regard him and his gospel as somehow lesser?
  • Are there people in my life whose humility and love I am failing to understand or value?


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