Ch. 9. Concerning your gift that the brethren will be collecting, I know there is really no need to pressure you to give, I just want to explain why giving is important. I know there is no need to beg you to give because you are a generous people and you said over a year ago of your willingness to contribute. Why then is giving of our money so important? I trust you can see that God doesn’t particularly want your money. He is not down to his last million. Jesus could have followed the disciples into the fishing industry and by now the whole world economy would be Christian. There would be no poor and no financial needs anywhere but Jesus said “Follow me”, and where did he lead them? They went to the cross. So you see that God does things differently than us. We are selfish by nature and think we get rich by storing up but God’ s ways are not our ways and he wants his children to grow up into his ways. He is able to give us back not only what we give but a lot more. The reason God wants us to give is because it glorifies Him. God is glorified in his children, as they reflect his nature. God is Love. Love is giving. God has given to us bountifully. We thank God for his unspeakable gift. It could only be a gift and words could not truly describe the value or the greatness of that gift. When God does something, there is nothing humanly that equates to it. So when God gives, we could never give to that degree. He held nothing back in his giving. Jesus came from the “bosom of the father” (John ch 1)- it was an expression from his heart of love. So also our giving should be, a gift from the heart. We should give willingly. God loves a cheerful giver. Look upon it as an investment. God gives us the seed to sow which provides our daily bread but we know it is foolish to eat all the seed, we must keep some for planting next year. The more hold back to plant the more we will reap next year so you can see that as we give we will become more prosperous in the things of God. Parents are pleased with the growth and prosperity of their children. It reflects on how they have brought them up. So God is glorified as we become rich in eternal things. Such as love, humility and patience. So I trust you will see that it is not really about money. For God has greater rewards than money. When he says that if you give he will give to you, pressed down shaken together and running over, he is not talking about giving you money. God has eternal riches for his children who act as His children. In the gospels Jesus calls money “the mammon of unrighteousness” (Luke 16:9)and is a necessary evil on this earth. But the Lord advises us to use the mammon to build “everlasting habitations”- in other words to lay up treasure in heaven- not on the earth. So let us see the true reasons we should be generous and value money within God’s economy. By your giving you are reflecting not human nature, but the divine nature. Secondly, it is a good testimony to the power of the gospel to change a person from a taking sponge-like personality to an outpouring , giving one . This results in praise to God. People will praise God to see the change in our nature , for it is a proof that the gospel works for good in peoples lives. Furthermore, those in need will praise God for answered prayer when they receive your gifts., and they in turn will become sensitive to those in need and learn to give. So hopefully you can see the bigger picture as to why God wants us to give. It glorifies God in that we look more and more like our Father. “Chips off the old block” so to speak. He wants to see his children reflecting His nature, who gives with unspeakable gifts.. May our giving reflect that love And without doubt you will be praising God also in the future when you see his faithfulness to his promises
Ch. 10. Be assured that I am writing to you in meekness and gentleness. It may appear to the natural mind that we are being bold in our writing but one should not confuse meekness with weakness. When we appear adamant or dogmatic, we ar not just expressing our own ego or our own ideas. We may appear bold but we are ministering in meekness. We are not exalting ourselves over you. Some can appear bold but are in the flesh and they minister in weakness. If you were to reject our teaching and ideas, then we could live with that. But our teaching and ministry is ordained of God. We are answerable to Him. Furthermore, we know that there is an enemy who works even in believers to try to undermine true teaching, because that teaching is light and the devil is the prince of darkness. If he can insert 5% heresy in 95 % truth he will do so. So it may appear that we are contesting with you , but be assured our battle is against the principalities and powers that use human beings to spread their darkness. You are being influenced by people who are not genuinely called of God. They boast of themselves and you seem to be impressed by them They are great orators and you don’t seem to be able to judge if they are actually preaching truth. You are our work in the Lord, there can be no question about that. If you are true children of God then we are true minister of the Gospel. We do not minister after the flesh. We do not put on a show of human strength or authority. Nor do we exceed our limitations, we know them all to well. But thank God even our limitations reached unto you with the gospel. We pioneered the church you are part of. Others have come and muscled in on our work. That is something we would never do. We move and travel around preaching the gospel wherever no work has already been established, but there are plenty who travel around other men’s works and preach the word for ulterior motives. Their service does not bring glory to God. They like to think they are recommended by men and compare themselves with other men, but the only commendation we would want is that of God. Unfortunately you have a problem as new Christians, understanding spiritual things. When you come into the kingdom you should begin to learn how the world that God live in is different from the natural world . Just as education makes life more real and better in the natural so education into the things of the spirit will help you see the amazing riches there is in the Kingdom of heaven. You should learn that God’s way of doing things is far different from the way that men do things. His ways are wiser . His ways are eternity based. So I would want you to understand that we could answer those who say we write boldly but when present we are weak that if we were minsters of the flesh then we could come and be bold and arrogant, But that is not the spirit of Christ. We are God’s servants and he requires that we serve you not enslave you. But the fact remains that we are adamant that you obey our teaching, because it is the truth and if you begin to look to others for your spiritual education you could well be deceived. We have seen that already and much that has happened in your fellowship which is not right is because of the influence of false teachers both in the church and from visitors. My letters are to educate you and build you up, not to destroy you. They are not human criticisms as some of you seem to think. If you follow our teaching you will grow in the Lord and your fellowship will be fruitful. If we were to say nice things that you wan to hear we would not have the Lord’s pleasure. So let me stress again the reason I keep on about you accepting our authority. It is solely because we have been commissioned to edify the churches. We know we have the Lord’ commendation and we glory in Him. He called us and he enable us. We are His servants. We minister for His glory and not for our own. If that is not true and we are preaching falsely, then we could not live with the thought that one day we will stand before God to answer. So we make sure we only do that which God commends. We just hope you recognise that.
Ch. 11. How I wish that with God’s help I could get you to understand how I feel about you. I first preached the Gospel to you and brought you to Christ. I long with all my heart to see you fall totally in love with Him. To see yourselves as engaged to be married to Him one day. But I can see that your eyes are wandering and your mind is being seduced by false preachers and so called teachers who say things you want to hear, but not those things which are of Jesus Christ. Just because they mention Jesus, or the spirit, they are not necessarily preaching the true pure gospel which I first brought to you. For some reason you seem to prefer to accept their authority but question mine. I point out your failings and the things in which you come short, by tolerating sinfulness in your fellowship, but others tell you how good you are, and in true Greecian spirit, you lap it up. How can I convince you that my preaching is true and my authority comes from God who sent me to you?. Am I going to have to stoop to the same methods as those who deceive you with their fine words and oratory, boasting about themselves and their wonderful so called spiritual experiences. Such as you seem to have no difficulty in respecting and receive, and are happy for them to take your money from you. Yet you know, I never took a penny from you all the years I spent with you. My needs were met by the generosity of other churches. When I was serving you, apart from my own wages as a tent maker, then my wages were paid by those in Macedonia. They recognise my calling and work in the Lord. They had no responsibility to send me money, but I took it to enable me to serve you. You could say, I robbed them to serve you. A man must live, and as I have told you it is indeed God’s will that his servants be supported financially. Apparently you seem to think that because I served you humbly, then I was indeed to be looked down upon. But that is something your natural educated minds are going to have to be enlightened upon, for you may recall that Jesus washed the disciples feet and told them to serve one another in similar humble fashion. This is the mark of a true servant of God, but unfortunately you measure such by your natural Greek wisdom. Just because some come dressed in clerical attire and parade their theological diplomas in Greek and Hebrew, you seem to think that this proves they must be true ministers of God’s truth. You should remember that Satan is Lucifer himself, an angel of light. So his lies are going to appear to be truth. He doesn’t come to you with horns and a long green tail, he comes dressed up like a minister of God and saying all the right words. But heresy is not all lies. The lies are but a percentage of the truth. God’s truth is pure and contains no lies. Satan does not mind you swallowing some truth as long as you swallow a few lies with it. He deceives the educated and they proceed to deceive those with little knowledge of Christ, and unfortunately they learn from them. If that carries on, where is it all going to end? So hey ho, lets go. If it means convincing you and it provokes you to respond to God’s message which I have preached, then I will boast and let you know who I am, and what I have accomplished for Christ. It is not God’s way of doing things but as it seems to be your way I’ll go that way just to convince you. I could give you a testimony you wouldn’t believe. Certainly even the chiefest of the apostles would find it hard to give a greater testimony to prove their calling. I might not be a great orator, who measures up to those who you love to hear, yet my teaching and knowledge of the word of God is bettered by none. And the miracle sof power that accompany the preaching surely endorses its validity. Seeing that some glory in the flesh then I will also If you accept other fools, even though you boast in your wisdom, I will become a fool like them and may be you will accept me. Are these false so-called ministers of Christ Hebrews and children of Abraham then I am also As servants how much have they endured to fulfil their obedience as a servant. None have endured more than me, that’s for sure. I have worked far more than they, I have been whipped more times than I can remember. How many times have they been in prison or threatened with death. Five times I have been scourged, with thirty nine lashes by so called children of Abraham Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once I was stoned and left for dead. I have been shipwrecked three times in my travels to preach the gospel. But that has not put me off. On my journeys, beside being in peril on the sea I have been in peril on the land. I have been robbed by bandits, persecuted by the Jews and false teachers in cities, in towns and in the country Everywhere I have been with the gospel I have suffered persecution. Many times I have been weary and in pain. I have had many nights without sleep, many times been cold hungry and thirsty. And on top of all those outward bodily things I have the inner spiritual burden of pain and weariness of caring for all the churches and yet, am I weary sad and disheartened.? I am not. I have indeed been offended by many but I have no desire for vengeance on any of them.. On the contrary these things are the proof that assure me that I am following Jesus Christ. He suffered in such a fashion and said his disciples would suffer also But God has been my deliverer from all these things I should have been dead a long time ago. One time the Governor of Damascus, under the king Aretus’ orders surrounded the city to capture me but I was let down the wall in a basket and escaped
Ch.12. I know I should not stoop to boasting about myself, in order for you to accept my apostolic authority but I can tell you of spiritual experiences which you would not believe were possible for a human being. I have seen and heard things which have never been seen or heard on earth.. I saw things 14 years ago which could have made me think I was privileged and chosen well above others. But I don’t boast of such revelations because the power of God revealed through me doesn’t come because of such things, not do I use those things to prove my calling of God. For though in the spirit I could boast there was given me a weakness in my flesh, which gives Satan opportunity to annoy me. I prayed earnestly three times for God to change me but instead he said to me. “My grace is sufficient for you, for your weakness gives me room and opportunity to reveal my strength” So I know now that the power that comes from me is not something I can boast about for it is not of me. That is the reason I would rather glory in the things that debase me before your eyes for I know that is the secret of my being a channel of God’s power. When I was with you, did you see anything lacking in me that you saw in the other apostles . No other apostle displayed more of God’s power among you. You were blessed as much if not more than any other church-. You should be commending me rather than me having to try to convince you of my apostleship. The only thing that made me different was that I didn’t take any wages from you. May be I should have charged you for my ministry- maybe you be don’t value anything unless you pay for it. If so then I am sorry. But you know I have not taken a penny from you nor have Titus and his fellow labourer who I sent to minister to you. We have no interest in making a living out of you, we desire only your growth in Christ, which glorifies God. We would rather give you money than you give to us. And in ministering we give more than money for we ourselves are spent on your behalf. We consider you to be our children, and children don’t pay to look after their parents., rather vice versa. So brethren take heed to what I have been saying in my letters to you. So that when I come there wont be any disunity or disputing among us. Sort out those who have been immoral yourselves. You know such things are wrong, so stop taking the huff when I point them out- just deal with those who you know are continuing in immorality and fleshly practices. Because if you don’t then you know that when I come, I will.
Ch. 13. When I make my third visit, all things must be established before two or three witnesses. Last time I came I did not soft soap you, and nor will I do it when I come again. Not just those who I have previously rebuked because of sin, but all of you. Since it seems all of you doubt my authority as an apostle of Christ. We may not appear outwardly to be men of any great authority but our ministry has abounded to Christ working in you. Christ was crucified in apparent weakness but his resurrection power in us makes us alive to God So we may appear weak, but our ministry has been powerful in you, otherwise you would not be of Christ yourselves Test yourselves, are you of Christ? If you are real surely you must know that we are real also. So we pray you will not add to your sins by disapproving of us, not that it matters to us in terms of approval by men, but that you should not come to conclusions which are untrue What is true will remain the truth whether you agree or not. So it is not our reputation we are fighting for, but it is that your growth in Christ will continue. So a refusal to accept our authority is not going to assist that end. We don’t mind how weak and unimportant we may appear as long as Christ is strong in you and important. That is why I write so strongly to you about what is wrong, for we are speaking the truth and no doubt you know it. So our ministry is not to pull you down but build you up. Our condemnation of the things which have gone wrong in your church has been just for that reason. When we come again to you in the future we will not refrain from repeating what we have said before about the things that are wrong in your fellowship. You might dispute our authority but we trust you don’t dispute the truth about what is right or wrong- that would be an added wrong- even evil. You judge us because outwardly we have never lauded our authority over you, while we were with you, Indeed no doubt as you judge people we have appeared to be among the weak. But whether we are weak or not in your eyes, somehow you are strong in Christ are you not?, so where did that power in you come from, because we brought Christ to you. So judge yourselves- are you truly of Christ? Then surely we must be also. You are judging as you did before you became Christians. Don’t be deceived by outward human weakness, for was not Christ himself crucified in weakness but his resurrection life in us is powerful, is it not?. We are not arguing over our reputations but about the truth that is in Christ Jesus. (We don’t mind dying as long as we see you live) That is why I am and will continue to be unsparing in my teaching you the right way. Did I not start you off? so surely I am able to help you to continue. I am not trying to destroy you as my work in Christ but to build you up. So go on to perfection, sort out the wrongs. Love one another and may God's grace be among you