SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Unlike I Corinthians, which was about the problems in the Corinthian church, II Corinthians is about Paul's problems and struggles, written to the church in Corinth. This book reads more like a diary or letter. It is very personal in nature.
- Paul begins by reminding us that suffering is inevitable. But, God is comfort and He comforts us so that we can comfort others. Suffering is an opportunity to allow God to meet our needs.
- Paul then goes on to share about his near-death experience in the province of Asia. This story was not intended for merely information, but as a way to express to the Corinthians how critical their prayers were to his ministry. In a sense, the story was incentive for them to keep praying for him.
- Paul then gives a defense of his leadership. The Corinthian church was complaining about his leadership. They felt his letters were hard to understand (vs. 13), and they were upset that he couldn't come and visit as he had planned (vs. 15-18). Paul explains in detail what stood in his way, and he stands firms that he loves them like a father loves his children.
- At the end of the chapter, Paul talks about God's faithfulness to us. He explains that God always keeps His promises to us, and that God has put His Holy Spirit (God's presence) in us as a "deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- When we hurt, we need to turn to God and other believers for compassion and strength. This will then strengthen us to help others in their time of need.
- Never underestimate the power of prayer. Paul makes it very clear that although he was close to death, it was prayer that kept him alive. Remember, a prayer can never be answered if it isn't prayed!
- When you give a "deposit" it means you've given something that insures you'll be back. If you leave your credit card while taking a car for a test drive, you'll be back to get your credit card. God has given us His Holy Spirit, and so He is going to bring us to Heaven. It's a deposit He wants back. But it also should serve as an assurance to us. When we have doubts about our faith or our standing with God, having the Holy Spirit (feeling the presence of God in our lives, having the power of God in our lives) should help us to feel assured.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Paul says that the things that happened to him taught him to rely not on himself, but on God. Have you learned this lesson? When you struggle, do you rely on God's compassion and strength, or on something else? When you need to help others, do you turn to God first, or do it in your own strength? When you're not sure about things, do you seek to connect with God's Spirit inside you? If all that is not how you're currently living your life, what might help you to take steps in that direction?