Read - 2 Corinthians 12v11-21
Message - Scott Woodburn
Paul's "boasting" should have been utterly unnecessary and yet, because the Corinthians had tolerated the false apostles, his boasting was necessary. They had, in effect, forced Paul's hand (v11a). They should have commended Paul who ministered in much weakness but was in no way inferior to the so called "super apostles (v11b). Paul was no fraud. He had performed the "signs of a true apostle" in their midst (v12a). These signs showed that the man and his message were true. They accompanied the apostolic office and as it closed, so the signs ceased.
Paul held nothing back from the Corinthians except that he didn't take any financial help from them (v13). Indeed he was ready for another visit, again not to burden them but to serve them and care for them like a parent would care for their child (v14). Paul was prepared to give everything to the Corinthians, his time, his money and his very life (v15a) expecting only to receive their love (v15b). He was not a burden (v16a), he was not crafty (v16b), he had not taken advantage of them (v17) and neither had Titus (v18).
As we near the end of this letter you might be tempted to wonder why Paul bothered with the Corinthians? He was constantly defending himself to them despite acting with integrity. Some might say he should just wash his hands of the whole lot of them. Yet Paul's motive in "defending" himself is actually to speak in Christ for the upbuilding for the Corinthian church (v19). The Corinthians weren't Paul's board of directors. They had no authority over him. He wasn't on trial. Instead he speaks for their spiritual good.
Paul longs for the sanctification of the Corinthian church, for a growth in their Christlikeness and maturity but he fears that when he comes he might find the opposite (v20a). He worries that evidence of the flesh might be rampant in the church. What does that look like? Quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder (v20b). Paul dreaded a return to Corinth where he would mourn over unrepentant sinners and be forced again to exercise church discipline (v21).
The local church wasn't an irrelevance for Paul. He was instrumental in the founding of the church in Corinth and despite several bruising encounters he still wanted nothing but the best for his spiritual children. It might be painful but it was certainly going to be worthwhile and so Paul wouldn't shake the dust off his feet and leave the Corinthians in his rearview mirror. How can we respond to this? I'm reminded of Paul's prayer for the church in Colassae in Colossians 1v9-14. Perhaps you'll pray it for your own fellowship today?
Father, I pray for my church today asking that we may be filled with the knowledge of your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to you: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to your glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to You, for You have qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. You have delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of your beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. I pray for my church, for Christ's sake. Amen.
Q32 What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life? They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, sanctification, and the several benefits which, in this life, do either accompany or flow from them.