2 Corinthians 

(2 Corinthians 1:1) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Paul and Timothy both send greetings, and the word "we" is used throughout the letter. But the word "I" is used in ways clearly indicating Paul wrote the letter. I think the idea is that the Church leaders act in harmony and unity in representing the gospel to the Christians at large.

Paul is an apostle. Thus, there are more than 12 apostles. Peter's thinking there had to be only 12 was misguided (but harmless).

Achaia was the southern part of Greece including Corinth. Presumably Paul wanted this letter read to all the churches in Achaia.

Notice the Church is universal but also organizes at the local level having bishops, elders, and deacons. This system seems perfectly fine as long as the church leaders are qualified. Sadly, as church history demonstrates, this was often not the case. Many of the bishops in the early churches were Arians, thinking Christ to be a created creature. Even in the New Testament many churches were seriously troubled, including the church at Corinth. Imaging attending one of these churches and not even knowing your bishop was a heretic.

There is a denomination which thinks they are the true Church because their name is in this verse. Nonsense!

(2 Corinthians 1:2) Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 1:3) Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

(2 Corinthians 1:4) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation [affliction], that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble [affliction], by the comfort wherewith [by which] we ourselves are comforted of God.

Some might think the reason Paul suffered and was then comforted by God was so he could comfort others who suffer. A little far fetched of an idea. Suffering is a shared human experience, and some suffer more so than others. I disagree that God would harm us who he loves because it helps us. That's like saying if you love your child you will express it by breaking their finger. This kind of expression for love is psychotic and God is not psychotic.

Even though Paul is making much of his being comforted by God, I suspect he spends much of his time in agony and misery, especially later in his life when captive and in prison.

Paul lives for the Church. We should wonder whether it is possible for humans to live completely for someone else. Modern psychology teaches that we can't, that we must live for others in the context of satisfying our own goals to do so. Just as you can't eat for someone else, so also, your feeling of being comforted can't be felt by them. You can feed someone else and just so you can attempt to comfort someone else, but your efforts may or may not comfort them. Just as God directly comforts me through his Spirit he must also comfort you through his Spirit — the comfort of God does not pass from me to you, but rather always comes directly from God. Perhaps I'm off on a tangent but it seems to me that sometimes Christians think of prayer as a form of magic in which you impart blessings to others. We can merely ask God to do this.

Some think only ministers can effectively pray for others but of course anyone can. We should be leery of any group claiming special powers for its leaders. They may be more skilled as managers or have more knowledge and experience or be more personable and able to motivate people to follow them in unity.

(2 Corinthians 1:5) For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

(2 Corinthians 1:6) And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

(2 Corinthians 1:7) And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

(2 Corinthians 1:8) For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

(2 Corinthians 1:9) But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

(2 Corinthians 1:10) Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

(2 Corinthians 1:11) Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

(2 Corinthians 1:12) For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

(2 Corinthians 1:13) For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;

(2 Corinthians 1:14) As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Since they are waiting for Christ's coming, this implies that he comes at their death; that everyone encounters Christ at death and they are received into the kingdom of heaven at that time. It doesn't make sense for them to be exhorted to wait for Christ's coming if it occurs thousands (millions?) of years after they have died.

(2 Corinthians 1:15) And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;

(2 Corinthians 1:16) And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.

(2 Corinthians 1:17) When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?

It seems they were trying to discredit Paul by making him seem of weak character. Paul states that these kinds of traits are of the flesh — this is the same verbiage he uses in describing sin.

(2 Corinthians 1:18) But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.

(2 Corinthians 1:19) For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.

(2 Corinthians 1:20) For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

(2 Corinthians 1:21) Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;

(2 Corinthians 1:22) Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest [guarantee] of the Spirit in our hearts.

Christians are sealed by God. This means that he will keep them safe from harm. At baptism, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If this were the only verse about this topic we would have to conclude: once saved, always saved. Unfortunately, there are many verses indicating we can lose our salvation. So what is the answer? I think that here, Paul is giving the "happy-path" teaching, the usual case for those who persevere in the faith. He is not obligated to describe in great detail every pitfall or exceptional situation with every statement, so this verse is incomplete.

(2 Corinthians 1:23) Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

(2 Corinthians 1:24) Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

(2 Corinthians 2:1) But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.

(2 Corinthians 2:2) For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?

(2 Corinthians 2:3) And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

(2 Corinthians 2:4) For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

(2 Corinthians 2:5) But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.

(2 Corinthians 2:6) Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

Some teach this man was excommunicated so that Satan could kill him before he loses his salvation or that he would get saved just before dying because of his pain, suffering, and grief. This verse says otherwise. He was excommunicated so he would stop committing mortal sin because the loneliness would cause him to change his life to be accepted back into fellowship.

(2 Corinthians 2:7) So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

(2 Corinthians 2:8) Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

(2 Corinthians 2:9) For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

(2 Corinthians 2:10) To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

(2 Corinthians 2:11) Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

(2 Corinthians 2:12) Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

(2 Corinthians 2:13) I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

(2 Corinthians 2:14) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth [leads] us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour [aroma] of his knowledge by us in every place.

Paul's response after recounting his activities and internal struggles. Even in failures and defeat, in God's mind it is all glorious triumph and victory. In seeing Paul's hardships and ultimate victory in Christ, people see the beauty and power of God; this, expressed in Paul and, hopefully, also expressed in us as well.

(2 Corinthians 2:15) For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

(2 Corinthians 2:16) To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

(2 Corinthians 2:17) For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Even in the time of the apostles people corrupted the gospel, and it has been happening ever since. Speaking the truth is the same as speaking in the name of Christ.

(2 Corinthians 3:1) Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

(2 Corinthians 3:2) Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

(2 Corinthians 3:3) Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

(2 Corinthians 3:4) And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:

(2 Corinthians 3:5) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

(2 Corinthians 3:6) Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

(2 Corinthians 3:7) But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

(2 Corinthians 3:8) How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

(2 Corinthians 3:9) For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

(2 Corinthians 3:10) For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

(2 Corinthians 3:11) For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

(2 Corinthians 3:12) Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

(2 Corinthians 3:13) And not as Moses, which put a vail [veil] over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

(2 Corinthians 3:14) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail [veil] untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail [veil] is done away in Christ.

(2 Corinthians 3:15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail [veil] is upon their heart.

(2 Corinthians 3:16) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail [veil] shall be taken away.

(2 Corinthians 3:17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

(2 Corinthians 3:18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.

(2 Corinthians 4:1) Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

(2 Corinthians 4:2) But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

(2 Corinthians 4:3) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

(2 Corinthians 4:4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest [so that] the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Satan (formerly Lucifer) is the god of this world. The word used in calling Satan "god" is the same word used for God. I believe Lucifer's role in this physical universe and the corresponding spiritual realm to much more all-encompassing than most Christians consider. He is the source of pain, suffering, death, and sin — not God, and not merely Adam's disobedience. The universe was created as a place of limited resources, danger, pain, and suffering for its created creatures and Lucifer had a hand in fashioning it in this manner. (I should mention to avoid confusion; Lucifer is a created creature.)

Just as Lucifer blinds the minds of the unbelieving, so also God calls the elect. Both spiritual forces are always present; we must choose who to give allegiance to. Notice Lucifer has the power to do his work; he is not harmless.

Lucifer attempts to prevent God's light from shining on us. He does this by exploiting the weaknesses in our souls and our psychological makeup and our human minds in all its frailty. He tries to seduce us to emphasize our passions, similar to the way advertisers and marketing people in this materialistic consumerism culture try to create desires for products and services we don't need — and they succeed in doing this to the great detriment of modern civilization.

Christ is the image of God. In perceiving Christ we see God.

Some have misinterpreted this verse to say that "God has blinded the understandings of this world" rather than "the god of this world has blinded them" because they didn't want to refer to Satan with the word "god". Some think the "god of this world" refers to God. Some have noted that God blinds people's understanding on occasion just as Lucifer does.

(2 Corinthians 4:5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

(2 Corinthians 4:6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 4:7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

(2 Corinthians 4:8) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

(2 Corinthians 4:9) Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

(2 Corinthians 4:10) Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

(2 Corinthians 4:11) For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

Paul is referring to his many trials and difficulties in sharing the gospel as an apostle and he refers to these using the word "flesh" (actually, with the phrase, "mortal flesh"). He also refers to these with the word "death".

(2 Corinthians 4:12) So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

(2 Corinthians 4:13) We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

(2 Corinthians 4:14) Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

(2 Corinthians 4:15) For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

(2 Corinthians 4:16) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

(2 Corinthians 4:17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

(2 Corinthians 4:18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Things which are seen: this current life. Things which are not seen: eternal utopia in the new heavens and new earth.

(2 Corinthians 5:1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [tent] were dissolved [destroyed], we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Speaking of the physical body of this world and the eternal resurrected body of the new heavens and new earth.

Paul was a tentmaker so he refers to tents and tent making. He made tents with his hands just as God, so to speak, made our physical bodies with his hands because everything in this physical world is made by the hands. And Paul seems to think that our bodies in the new heavens and new earth are made by magic, not by the hands. This concept of Paul's is, of course, nonsense. God creates everything in both realms the same way.

It seems to me the apostles didn't have a clear conception of the new heavens and new earth, nor do Christians today. Some think it's a blend of heaven with a sort of super-physical component, like the kind of place superheroes would live. Some think there is no time there, as if that would be fun. Some think there are no plants or animals or children there, as if that would be fun. Some think it's just a metaphorical image of who-knows-what. Part of the confusion for modern fundamentalist evangelical Protestants is because they misapply passages about it thinking, instead, these refer to the 1,000 year millennium.

Notice this verse does not support the notion that when we die, if we are Christians we go to heaven. Rather, it emphasizes a resurrected body as the goal. What good is it to have a resurrected body that merely floats around in heaven? The body is meant to reside in a physical universe.

(2 Corinthians 5:2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

Life in this world is one of suffering and pain, so we groan. Paul looks with great anticipation and hope to the new heavens and new earth and so should we. We should seek to improve conditions in this world but it will never be a utopia.

Paul likens our current predicament with the awkwardness and embarrassment we would feel if publicly naked. This is very silly and requires no comment except to say that the apostles often made errors. We should ignore these.

Notice this verse does not support the notion that when we die, if we are Christians we go to heaven. Rather, it emphasizes a resurrected body as the goal. What good is it to have a resurrected body that merely floats around in heaven? The body is meant to reside in a physical universe.

(2 Corinthians 5:3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

Our soul is naked as it were without a corresponding body.

(2 Corinthians 5:4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

Paul compares the shortness and imperfection of this life, which he calls mortality, with the eternal utopian conditions in the new heavens and new earth, which he calls life. But of course, life in this world really is life, so using the word "life" as he does confuses things. I think the apostles had adopted the false philosophical idea that the body is bad.

(2 Corinthians 5:5) Now he that hath wrought [worked] us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest [pledge] of the Spirit.

God is the one who does all this, who will give us resurrected bodies and create for us the new heavens and new earth. God sent the Holy Spirit into our soul as a preview, or to seal or mark us as redeemed. A certain aspect of our soul formerly tangled up in Satan's kingdom of darkness is freed, brought into God's kingdom of light. God's light and holiness repels away evil and wickedness.

I find it comical and tragically sad that preachers who teach we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit then proceed to exhort us to be good, pounding their fists and hollering so the message will sink into our thick skulls. The problem is their wrong view of mortal sin and the necessity of good works for salvation.

(2 Corinthians 5:6) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

This is very poorly worded. It implies we can't be with God in this current world, only in the new heavens and new earth. Certainly our relationship with God at this time is incomplete and imperfect, but it is wrong to say God is absent.

(2 Corinthians 5:7) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

(2 Corinthians 5:8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

It sounds like Paul is trying to talk himself into believing dying would be a good thing. He tries to sound upbeat and cheerful in his letters, but we should remember the extreme hardships he endured.

(2 Corinthians 5:9) Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Notice how we please God: through works. Some translations try to disguise this but they can't. The NASB, "we also have as our ambition . . . to be pleasing to Him" implies works. The NIV, "we make it our goal to please him" implies works. The NKJV, "we make it our aim . . . to be well pleasing to Him" implies works. And the next verse refers to judgment, so clearly Paul is discussing the ingredients to salvation.

(2 Corinthians 5:10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Each person is judged for their life choices, for their works. When does this judgment occur, this judgment seat? Three possibilities...

  1. While in this life, daily, moment by moment
  2. At death (this is my view) — our fate is sealed once we die. We are not in limbo after death, awaiting news of our eternal destiny
  3. The second coming

(2 Corinthians 5:11) Knowing therefore the terror [fear] of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest [clear] unto God; and I trust also are made manifest [clear] in your consciences.

The "fear of the Lord" is an awkward phrase implying fear is our primary motivation. Perhaps it is better to say "fear of missing the eternal blessings", or "fear we will not have a relationship with the God we love".

Paul's motive for evangelizing is that everyone can enjoy eternity with God in the new heavens and new earth.

The purity and honesty of Paul's motives are known by God. Paul wishes the recipients of the letter would also understand it. He spends much time in this letter proving his credentials to those seeking his downfall.

The conscience is that part of the soul seeking to discern moral truth, to do the right thing. It's about works.

(2 Corinthians 5:12) For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

Paul contrasts the integrity of his motives with those influencing the Church at Corinth. They should be acknowledging his apostolic authority but have rejected it.

(2 Corinthians 5:13) For whether we be beside ourselves [out of our mind], it is to God: or whether we be sober [of sound mind], it is for your cause.

Paul's critics accuse him of being wrong, and he hands that criticism off to God rather than internalizing it; he doesn't want to be influenced or demoralized by their negativity. But in spite of their wrong claims about the truthfulness of Paul's message, he insists he speaks the truth.

(2 Corinthians 5:14) For the love of Christ constraineth [compels] us; because we thus judge [conclude], that if one died for all, then were all dead:

The love of Christ is Paul's energizing motivation for his work of evangelization.

Jesus died to redeem humans because they were spiritually dead. There was no need for his doing this otherwise.

(2 Corinthians 5:15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth [from now on] live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

In needing redemption, they lived for their own sinful passions rather than honoring God's holiness. Christ's sacrificial death followed by his resurrection provided the grace to bring about the profound change in the human heart.

(2 Corinthians 5:16) Wherefore [therefore] henceforth [from now on] know [regard] we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth [from now on] know [regard] we him no more.

The word "flesh" has many meanings. In this case it refers to seeing a person without consideration of God. Atheists do this when mocking the Christian gospel. They don't see the need for redemption from the powers of darkness that has invaded our soul. They see Christ as a mere human (or a myth) — in other words, they see him from the flesh. Paul admits this was his view before his conversion.

Paul says four things, two things about people in general, and the same two things about Christ...

  1. We (Paul and Christians) used to regard people after the flesh. But now (after becoming redeemed) we don't regard people after the flesh.
  2. We (Paul and Christians) used to regard Christ after the flesh. But now (after becoming redeemed) we don't regard Christ after the flesh

Thus, becoming redeemed changes how we look at things, our perspective.

(2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Christians become a new kind of creature. Ultimately, in the new heavens and new earth, they will become deified.

I wonder how it is possible to teach that we are totally depraved and that our sins are merely covered, and yet at the same time that we become a new creature? Oh well, I don't have to try to understand such madness!

Being in Christ means, among other things, we are members of the body of Christ. The old things that pass away are the sin. We are to live lives pleasing to God. Sin displeases God; in fact, God simply cannot look upon sin at all. Sin drives God away from us as he turns his face from us.

Paul uses the word "we" to refer to himself and anyone else who has accepted to gospel message about who Jesus is and of his mission on earth.

(2 Corinthians 5:18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

(2 Corinthians 5:19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

(2 Corinthians 5:20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

(2 Corinthians 5:21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus didn't literally become sin; rather, he paid the penalty for all the sins of humankind. In taking on human nature, Jesus deified it; meaning, he provided a way for the souls of humans to become disentangled from the spirits of wickedness in the spiritual realm. Once sin and death are destroyed, human nature will be part of God's nature — this, because Jesus, who is deity, took on human nature as part of this nature. He did not discard this nature upon his death but, rather; he resurrected it.

I prefer strictly literal interpretation but the phrase "to be sin for us" is clearly a figure of speech. Jesus Christ solved the sin problem by interceding on our behalf. Sin spiritually kills us; he took it over and provided life for us.

(2 Corinthians 6:1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

(2 Corinthians 6:2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Since they are waiting for Christ's coming, this implies that he comes at their death; that everyone encounters Christ at death and they are received into the kingdom of heaven at that time. It doesn't make sense for them to be exhorted to wait for Christ's coming if it occurs thousands (millions?) of years after they have died.

(2 Corinthians 6:3) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed [discredited]:

Notice we are to preserve the reputation of the gospel and of Christianity by not doing or saying things that will harm it. Sadly, the Church ignored this verse throughout history and Christians continue to ignore it today. As a result, Christianity is ridiculed in our modern culture.

(2 Corinthians 6:4) But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

(2 Corinthians 6:5) In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

(2 Corinthians 6:6) By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

(2 Corinthians 6:7) By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

(2 Corinthians 6:8) By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

(2 Corinthians 6:9) As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

(2 Corinthians 6:10) As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

(2 Corinthians 6:11) O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.

(2 Corinthians 6:12) Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.

(2 Corinthians 6:13) Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

(2 Corinthians 6:14) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

This verse is about as close as you can get to the idea of sacramental marriage but it doesn't actually teach that marriage is a sacrament. It says that Christians should avoid marrying non-Christians because the relationship will not include the presence of Christ. In fact, the non-Christian will be controlled by the powers of darkness while the Christian will be controlled by the Holy Spirit. The focus of the marriage will forever be superficial. There can be no deep communion about God. Of course, this is no different than the relationship between two non-Christians, even if they have the same religion. Without the truth of the gospel message permeating the relationship, even people with similar religious loyalties be missing the benefits of faith in Christ, of true religion based on the true God.

What's missing from this that makes it not a sacrament is that the marriage vow itself between the two parties does not result in the transfer of grace from the Holy Spirit to the two people. All this passage says is that if a Christian marries a non-Christian, their marriage will be deficient. The important point is that it is not the marriage vow between two Christians that imparts the grace of the Holy Spirit into the relationship, it is the fact that both already possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit via their baptism in faith. Getting married after that does not release additional grace; they already have the maximum grace. There are not different degrees of indwelling of the Holy Spirit depending on whether or not you are married.

The word "spirit" refers to a person's individual walk with God, with their faith. Paul is not saying that we have two natures, one physical and one spiritual, but he is noting that our spiritual nature, our soul, has various aspects and relationships.

(2 Corinthians 6:15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

(2 Corinthians 6:16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

(2 Corinthians 6:17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

Christians are not to have any close, intimate relationships with non-believers. The Church is to be a society that separates itself from others, in a similar manner as Old Testament Israel. Yet we find the opposite today in many churches that seem to be trying to bring every aspect of the world into their fold to be relevant and to attract newcomers. Notice that being separate from the world is a condition for God to receive them. This implies that God doesn't receive those who remain tainted by the world.

(2 Corinthians 6:18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

The Church is composed of the children of God. Notice that there is no allowance for corrupt, unholy leaders; these are not children of God and are, therefore, outside of the Church. Christians are to reject these as leaders and find other leaders.

(2 Corinthians 7:1) Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Christians have amazing promises from God, but their part is to become holy. Both the flesh and the spirit of humans can be filthy and require cleansing through holiness. Some think that the word "flesh" refers to the physical body, but the flesh and soul and spirit all reside in the spiritual realm. Because of wrong ideas about the flesh, there is an unspoken belief that the physical world is bad and the spiritual world is good (except the part having the wicked spirits). This has led to all kinds of bad results such as thinking that sex is bad and should only be used for procreating children, and that ascetics are more holy.

This verse warns about filthiness of spirit, referring to dabbling in unwholesome spiritual practices. Filthiness of flesh refers to improper behavior, of sinning through word and deed. Both flesh and spirit reside in the spiritual realm.

Paul distinguished between the flesh and the spirit. But notice that the word "flesh" does not mean "the body" but, rather, it refers to physical conditions, to physical relationships with others. The context of the preceding verses makes this clear.

(2 Corinthians 7:2) Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.

(2 Corinthians 7:3) I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.

(2 Corinthians 7:4) Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

(2 Corinthians 7:5) For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.

The phrase "our flesh" could be replaced by the word "we". Notice that their troubles were not physical but were, rather, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Therefore, the word "flesh" does not necessarily refer to the physical body (and, in fact, it often doesn't).

(2 Corinthians 7:6) Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

(2 Corinthians 7:7) And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.

(2 Corinthians 7:8) For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

(2 Corinthians 7:9) Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

(2 Corinthians 7:10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of [leaving no regret]: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Both kinds of sorrow result in change.

Godly sorrow causes the person to wish the best for the people they have hurt and to stop doing this in the future and, perhaps, if possible, to make amends to the people harmed. For some, it leads them to accepting Christ's gift of forgiveness for sins, and to true repentance for sins, including not doing it anymore. This kind of sorrow produces death because it leads to more sin, and sin leads to death.

Worldy sorrow causes the person to change what they do so they don't get caught sinning in the future, or so that the sins committed don't have such bad effects, or to switch from one kind of sin to another. It doesn't have repentance mixed in at all nor a desire to do what it right and just.

Once a person has repented of their sins and become redeemed, they will not regret their choice.

(2 Corinthians 7:11) For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

(2 Corinthians 7:12) Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.

(2 Corinthians 7:13) Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.

(2 Corinthians 7:14) For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.

(2 Corinthians 7:15) And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.

(2 Corinthians 7:16) I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.

(2 Corinthians 8:1) Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit [know] of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

(2 Corinthians 8:2) How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

(2 Corinthians 8:3) For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

(2 Corinthians 8:4) Praying [begging] us with much intreaty [urgent request] that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

Notice that Paul's concern is for the material well-being of Christians, not of everyone else too. The apostolic and early church was very inward-focused. This kind of thinking led, I think, to the development of strong hierarchical bishops with its resulting division of clergy and laity. Jesus made no such distinction when recommending loving neighbor.

(2 Corinthians 8:5) And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

(2 Corinthians 8:6) Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

(2 Corinthians 8:7) Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

(2 Corinthians 8:8) I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness [earnestness] of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

Perhaps this is a bit disingenuous of Paul; I can imagine that due to the social pressure many felt it was obligatory. Whenever you set up a comparison between people in your efforts to raise money you invariably begin exploiting them.

(2 Corinthians 8:9) For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Jesus was rich because he could do miracles. Poor people don't have the same ability to raise money. It is unfair to compare people's behavior to Jesus.

(2 Corinthians 8:10) And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward [to desire to do it] a year ago.

Manipulation at work. Paul commands them to desire to want to help. It's not enough that they help because they are pressured to do so; they have to pretend like they wanted it all along. The company I work for does this all the time; they set goals for how much us employees give to charity in company sponsored activities. They send insulting emails telling us how we didn't participate enough and they didn't meet the goals. So sad. The difference is it's anonymous. But in the church of Corinth everybody knew who gave what. There was a church I went to once in which during the collection the elders came up to the front with the pastor looking on while people came up single file and dropped money in an open box. Sometimes the pastor would send them around again or chide someone for not giving enough.

(2 Corinthians 8:11) Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

(2 Corinthians 8:12) For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

How much a person has is very subjective.

(2 Corinthians 8:13) For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

How much giving is burdensome is very subjective.

(2 Corinthians 8:14) But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

This is a terrible economic system. It sounds like communism ("from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".)

(2 Corinthians 8:15) As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

This is a terrible economic system. It sounds like communism ("from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".)

(2 Corinthians 8:16) But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

(2 Corinthians 8:17) For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

(2 Corinthians 8:18) And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

(2 Corinthians 8:19) And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

(2 Corinthians 8:20) Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:

(2 Corinthians 8:21) Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

(2 Corinthians 8:22) And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.

(2 Corinthians 8:23) Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

(2 Corinthians 8:24) Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

(2 Corinthians 9:1) For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

(2 Corinthians 9:2) For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

(2 Corinthians 9:3) Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

(2 Corinthians 9:4) Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

(2 Corinthians 9:5) Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

(2 Corinthians 9:6) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

(2 Corinthians 9:7) Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

I'm sure many did give grudgingly, feeling exploited by the social pressure to give beyond their means.

(2 Corinthians 9:8) And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

(2 Corinthians 9:9) (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

(2 Corinthians 9:10) Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

(2 Corinthians 9:11) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

(2 Corinthians 9:12) For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

(2 Corinthians 9:13) Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

(2 Corinthians 9:14) And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

(2 Corinthians 9:15) Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

(2 Corinthians 10:1) Now I Paul myself beseech [request] you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, [I] who in presence am base [timid] among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

Up until now, Paul has been overly nice to them when in person but bold with them when writing (probably referring to his first letter).

Paul doesn't ask them until the next verse.

(2 Corinthians 10:2) But I beseech [request] you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

Paul requests that he doesn't have to be bold when he finally sees them again; that they would shape up. It takes him several chapters to finally mention what he might need to be bold about.

Paul is referring to weakness of character, to being a weak leader. They think Paul is timid but he is claiming that he will be strong and exert his full authority as an apostle to correct them. Thus, the word "flesh" refers to an aspect of character, to a spiritual quality of Paul's soul, not to his physical presence or condition.

(2 Corinthians 10:3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

Both uses of the word "flesh" must mean the same thing because Paul uses the words together in the same sentence. He provides a clear meaning of these words in the context. The verses before refer to the phrase "walk in the flesh".

The verses following refer to the phrase "war after the flesh".

(2 Corinthians 10:4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [physical], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

The spiritual war is in the realm of ideas and beliefs as well the realm of faith. Those who walk in faith engage their soul in this battle against those spiritual influences which seek to drag them down and destroy them.

(2 Corinthians 10:5) Casting down imaginations [speculations], and every high [lofty] thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The warfare occurs in the spiritual realm, the realm of ideas and spirit beings. Our enemies there seek to destroy us by luring us with a false view of God and of life. But we should resist by thinking continually of our loyalty to Christ, to loving and serving and obeying him.

(2 Corinthians 10:6) And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

(2 Corinthians 10:7) Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.

Paul was using the term "flesh" above to mean "outward appearance".

(2 Corinthians 10:8) For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

(2 Corinthians 10:9) That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.

(2 Corinthians 10:10) For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

Apparently, Paul was not a great speaker nor a strong, charismatic leader. He was a better writer than speaker. His critics used this weakness to attack his authority. But he was driven by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel and correct heresy and wrong views. Paul had apostolic authority which was to be obeyed by all Christians. But as we learn in the letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, the leaders of the Church at Corinth considered themselves above the rule of apostles and bishops.

(2 Corinthians 10:11) Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

Paul will be as forceful and assertive in presenting his views in person as he has been in writing. Certainly he was very bold when persecuting Christians before he was converted. I think he has always been bold, but the leaders of the Corinthian church are so full of themselves and so arrogant that they ignore Paul's apostolic credentials and even mock him publicly. People like that have ruined the Church. Perhaps Paul's exhortations had some temporary effect, but I'll bet that once he left, the leaders went back to their former ways of dominating everyone. I wonder if it would have been better for the humble followers of Christ to not go to this Church at all, to just stay home?

(2 Corinthians 10:12) For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

(2 Corinthians 10:13) But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

(2 Corinthians 10:14) For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:

(2 Corinthians 10:15) Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

Notice there are degrees of faith. Therefore the statement "you are saved by faith" is wrong. How much faith? What kind of faith? What is the minimum faith required for salvation? What if a person's faith drops below this?

What is the purpose of having extra faith not needed for salvation? Are the word-faith health-wealth preachers correct that we can use our faith to influence our world, even performing miracles?

All these difficulties are caused by having the wrong view of faith and salvation.

(2 Corinthians 10:16) To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.

(2 Corinthians 10:17) But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

(2 Corinthians 10:18) For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

(2 Corinthians 11:1) Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

(2 Corinthians 11:2) For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

(2 Corinthians 11:3) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled [deceived] Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Paul's claim: because Satan singled-out Eve to deceive, therefore, women are to have a subservient role throughout human history. This is nonsense. Likely Adam was standing dumbly by, watching the whole thing. And he probably added to God's word that you shouldn't even touch the fruit on the tree.

(2 Corinthians 11:4) For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

Of course, there is really only one Jesus, but there are many false views of Jesus and of his mission and message.

Various false gospels had infiltrated the Church even in the apostolic era and it continues to do so even today. What were the poor hapless Christians to do? Were they to continue going to these Churches which perhaps were led by bishops teaching heresy? And how were they to even know what was true and false? They didn't have the internet for researching church history and analysis of the various messages. I suppose that unholy bishops and false teachers are doubly judged for corrupting these innocents.

Paul rebukes them for bearing with these false teachers. I wonder what he expects them to do? Perhaps he is addressing the elders who should run them out of their church but, instead, they allow them to preach in their church. I doubt if the average Christian at large was able to do much; but the leaders — that was another story. If some elders tried to run-out these heretics but were opposed by other elders, what were they to do? Would they have to stop going to Church like those early disciples of Jesus who were expelled from the synagogue and had nowhere else to go? Anyway, answers to these questions are simply not provided in the New Testament nor in the writings of the early church fathers, so we have to figure it out for ourselves. I say we should all boycott all the churches and withhold our money until they shape up. (We should do this with all aspects of society: entertainment, shopping, politics, economics.)

(2 Corinthians 11:5) For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

(2 Corinthians 11:6) But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.

(2 Corinthians 11:7) Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

(2 Corinthians 11:8) I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

(2 Corinthians 11:9) And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

(2 Corinthians 11:10) As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

(2 Corinthians 11:11) Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

(2 Corinthians 11:12) But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

(2 Corinthians 11:13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

Paul is not shy about identifying heretics, false teachers, and deceivers as what they are — false apostles. I wonder if any of these were bishops who had gone astray after being ordained? We should reject anyone who teaches a false gospel even if they are a bishop or even a pope.

Apostolic teaching is the cornerstone of true Christianity. Throughout church history and into our present day, many have changed this and corrupted this. We should reject anything except true apostolic (infallible) teaching.

(2 Corinthians 11:14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Even Satan has disguised himself as one of God's true holy angels and people are fooled by this (but the angels aren't fooled — they know the good angels from the bad angels). The wicked spirits in the spiritual realm influence the weak, undiscerning souls of the false teachers and false apostles. Humans are spiritually weak; this is why we need clear authoritative infallible teaching. Sadly, all Christian churches and denominations have let us down. All have added to or significantly changed apostolic teaching and changed the Church into something radically different than what it was intended to be. This being said, the gospel message of salvation is still present in many churches and as a result, many are redeemed and will spend eternity in the new heavens and new earth. So all is not lost; but there is a lot of weirdness out there.

(2 Corinthians 11:15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

(2 Corinthians 11:16) I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.

(2 Corinthians 11:17) That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.

(2 Corinthians 11:18) Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.

(2 Corinthians 11:19) For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

(2 Corinthians 11:20) For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.

(2 Corinthians 11:21) I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

(2 Corinthians 11:22) Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

(2 Corinthians 11:23) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

(2 Corinthians 11:24) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

(2 Corinthians 11:25) Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

(2 Corinthians 11:26) In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

(2 Corinthians 11:27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

(2 Corinthians 11:28) Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

(2 Corinthians 11:29) Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

(2 Corinthians 11:30) If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

(2 Corinthians 11:31) The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

(2 Corinthians 11:32) In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

(2 Corinthians 11:33) And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

Paul's Visions

(2 Corinthians 12:1) It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

Paul is bragging about his visions not because he is proud of them but, rather, because it is necessary to establish his apostolic credentials.

(2 Corinthians 12:2) I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

The first heaven is the sky and clouds. The second heaven is outer space, where the planets, stars, and galaxies are. The third heaven is the spiritual realm.

Fourteen years before, Paul's soul was taken to a spiritual realm higher than the one usually inhabited by humans, and it was given visions and teaching. I suspect this did not occur during his period of blindness for two reasons: (1) he would not have needed Ananias to deliver God's message of what he was to do, nor to mention that he would hear the voice of Jesus; and (2) there would be no question in his mind whether he was in the body or out of the body; the people with him would have noticed if his body disappeared.

It's odd Paul would refer to the third heaven this way. He seems to not know that the soul as well as angels and other spiritual creatures reside in the spiritual realm, which is the third heaven.

(2 Corinthians 12:3) And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

It appears that when Paul was having these visions, he lost awareness of his body. This is a common experience for some mystics and visionaries.

An odd verse. Paul seems to believe his body can be transported into the third heaven, into the spiritual realm. Some Christians think something similar regarding the resurrected body; that it can reside in the spiritual realm, and that the resurrected body of Jesus now exists in the spiritual realm also. So I would say, Paul did not have a clear concept of the distinction between the physical realm (containing the body) and the spiritual realm (containing the soul).

(2 Corinthians 12:4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable [inexpressible] words, which it is not lawful [I was not permitted] for a man to utter [speak / tell].

It is unlawful to speak of these things in the same way it is unlawful for large boulders to suddenly float away into the clouds. Certain aspects of the spiritual realm simply cannot be communicated by words; they can only be communicated from soul to soul. Since our souls are not fully aware of the spiritual realm at the present time (to protect them from demonic influence) such things are hidden, just as a dog simply can't understand English.

There is a high spiritual realm called paradise which can be experienced by humans. In the new heavens and new earth we will have continuous experience of this realm. The criminal on the cross who accepted Jesus as savior would enter into this place when he died. This implies that Jesus opened up this realm at his death; perhaps this man was the very first inhabitant of paradise.

An important clue to what Paul means by law. Just as we forget our dreams upon awakening because they don't fit in with wakeful reality, so also Paul's visions. But he thinks there is a law that makes him forget.

(2 Corinthians 12:5) Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

Paul is fake pretending that he is not that man who had visions and revelations; but of course everyone knows he is really speaking about himself. Apparently, these Corinthians were so disrespectful of Paul's apostleship he felt it necessary to resort to such shenanigans. Apparently, their emphasis on Charismatic practices didn't result in them having a very high degree of true spirituality.

It is good for us to know the source of Paul's knowledge. This raises the topic of whether the Bible contains everything; in this case Paul revealed this important information of his visions only because the Corinthians were so thick-headed. Imagine the many things he could have said and didn't because the right circumstances didn't present themselves. The writings of the early church fathers fill in some of these gaps of knowledge about the practice and belief of the early apostolic Church. But there is a limit to this. The further removed we are from the apostolic era, the less dependable are whatever writings we encounter. For example, the early Church quickly developed strong hierarchical bishops, but there is no indication that this was based on apostolic teaching; likely they mimicked the political rulership of the Romans.

(2 Corinthians 12:6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

(2 Corinthians 12:7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

My conclusion: Paul's thorn in the flesh was the persecution of the Judaizers who opposed Paul in every city.

Paul was unique in the history of the world in that he was taught the gospel supernaturally by Jesus after his assumption. The other apostles were instructed by Jesus before the ascension. I suppose it is true that all the apostles had regular supernatural teachings and guidance from the Holy Spirit; they could not have written the New Testament to be infallible otherwise.

Paul uses the phrase "exalted above measure" twice. From the wording it sounds like Paul believed God gave him these trials and tribulations on purpose to help keep his mind fixed on him, to keep him humble. I don't believe God does this, but Paul may have mistakenly believed it.

The trials and tribulations from the Judaizers had the effect of keeping Paul humble, but these were not doled-out to him by God; rather, they were the natural consequence of preaching truth in a world influenced by spiritual powers of darkness.

God uses everything for good. He guides every situation as best he can toward goodness, beauty, and holiness. He is thwarted in this by the powers of darkness which are still on the loose. For example, I suppose you could say God uses persecution to train us to not be arrogant; but he is not the author of anything evil, or of pain, sickness, suffering, and death. Because of the confusion caused by the terminology, I think it's better to not say God uses evil so that good comes from it. (Joseph did say this, but was simply mistaken — God had nothing whatsoever to do with the misdeeds and mortal sin of Joseph's brothers.)

(2 Corinthians 12:8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

(2 Corinthians 12:9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

(2 Corinthians 12:10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:11) I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

(2 Corinthians 12:12) Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

The signs of an apostle were miracles. Once bishops stopped performing miracles they were no longer apostles. The Catholic Church claims the bishops are still apostles because of the sacrament of Holy Orders.

(2 Corinthians 12:13) For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

(2 Corinthians 12:14) Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

(2 Corinthians 12:15) And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

(2 Corinthians 12:16) But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

(2 Corinthians 12:17) Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?

(2 Corinthians 12:18) I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?

(2 Corinthians 12:19) Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.

(2 Corinthians 12:20) For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates [strife], envyings [jealousy], wraths [fits of rage], strifes [factions], backbitings [slandering], whisperings [gossiping], swellings [arrogance], tumults [disorder]:

A list of mortal sins. Notice how horrible these are and, what is weird, apparently these were very common of the Christians of the day. I suppose that's why the Churches of Revelation got such bad reviews.

Paul hopes when he visits them they have amended their ways and are living holy lives in love for one anther. He informs them he will not tolerate the unwholesome actions and attitudes of these in their community. Apparently he can make it unpleasant for them. But as we learn from the letter of Clement of Rome to the Church of the Corinthians written about 96 A.D., they did not mend their ways. I feel sorrow for devout Christians living in places such as this who have to endure corruption such as this in their Church.

(2 Corinthians 12:21) And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.

(2 Corinthians 13:1) This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

(2 Corinthians 13:2) I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:

(2 Corinthians 13:3) Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.

(2 Corinthians 13:4) For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

(2 Corinthians 13:5) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Faith is not enough for salvation.

(2 Corinthians 13:6) But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

(2 Corinthians 13:7) Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

(2 Corinthians 13:8) For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

(2 Corinthians 13:9) For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

(2 Corinthians 13:10) Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

(2 Corinthians 13:11) Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

(2 Corinthians 13:12) Greet one another with an holy kiss.

(2 Corinthians 13:13) All the saints salute you.

(2 Corinthians 13:14) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

King James Version