Bible Query from
Q: In 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; and 2 Thess 1:1, since there was only one church in a city, should there be only one church per city today?
A: There are three scopes of expressions of Christian unity: believers within the same local assembly, believers from different assemblies, and unity among different churches. This answer only addresses the third scope, with four points to consider in the answer.
1. These four verses do not mean that there should be only one meeting place, especially with hundreds of thousands of Christians in one city.
2. Nothing says human administrative divisions have to dictate how churches are organized. They can be in many geographic places, though this does not justify churches due to doctrinal and other divisions.
3. All genuine Christians are already a part of the one, true church of Jesus Christ. If a Christian's loyalty to his own local church or denomination is greater than his loyalty to God, then that Christian has his loyalties wrong.
4. Unfortunately, many Christian leaders have failed to take the teachings and commands on unity among Christians seriously enough. Read Ephesians 4:3-4; Philippians 1:27; 2:1-4; 4:2; Romans 15:5-7; John 17:20-23. See the next questions and questions on 1 Corinthians 1:10-14 and Ephesians 4:4 for more discussion.
Q: In 2 Cor 1:1, since the Bible gives the example of one church per city, and no counter-examples, then should the example become our rule as the local church teaches?
A: No. If you believed that every example, without either a command or counter-example should be followed, then Christians would have to:
a) Never meet in buildings; only meet in homes (1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 2).
b) Never go to court as a plaintiff for any reason.
c) Men never wear pants. All can only wear sandals, not shoes.
d) Never eat potatoes, corn, jalapeno peppers, or other foods from the new world.
e) No ice cream, pizza, popsicles, or foods they could not have known in Bible times.
f) Do not use English in worship as this was unknown to Bible writers.
g) Never ride in cars, bicycles, planes, or farm machinery.
h) Never use farm implements and any machines invented after the time of Christ.
i) Never have refrigerators, electricity, gas, radio, or TV.
j) Other strange rules.
Rather we should follow scripture's example, even without a command if:
1. There is a good reason for following the example,
2. There are no counter-examples, and
3. The reason for no counter-examples is not simply due to time, technology, culture, or circumstances of a non-moral nature.
If something does not meet these three tests, then is it automatically all right to do? -Not necessarily. We should judge what we should do by being filled with the knowledge of scripture and asking, "What would God want us to do?"
Q: In 2 Cor 1:1-11, how can we be comforted, or comfort others?
A: Comforting another is an individual thing, depending on the person and circumstances. 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 shows us six aspects of being comforted or comforting another Christian.
a). God understands our suffering 2 Cor 1:5
b). Shared past experience 2 Cor 1:6,8-9
c). Remember our future hope 2 Cor 1:7; 2 Thess 4:16-18
d). God comforts us directly 2 Cor 1:3-5
e) Rely on God to deliver us 2 Cor 1:9-10
f) Prayer 2 Cor 1:11
Q: In 2 Cor 1:4, should we comfort criminals, practicing homosexuals suffering from AIDS, and others who suffer justly?
A: Yes. 2 Corinthians 1 does not limit the scope of who we are to comfort. When we comfort others who suffer justly, we should keep the following in mind.
1. They need to see Christ's love shine through us, and to know that God loves them and desires that they repent and become His children.
2. We do not need to dwell on their crime, but we should not excuse their crime as trivial or insignificant. We should not pander to them as saying it was unjust that they were caught, or that life or the system is unjust.
3. While we do not minimize their sin, we should emphasize that Christ brings forgiveness and healing for our sins.
See Now That's a Good Question p.479-481,533-535 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 1:6, how do the afflictions of Paul and Timothy give the Corinthians consolation and salvation? People usually are not consoled on hearing that others are suffering.
A: People do receive consolation by hearing that a beloved friend made it through an affliction OK. Paul's suffering for the sake of the gospel brought the salvation of Jesus to the Corinthians and others.
Q: In 2 Cor 1:8-9, why did Paul despair of life itself, since Paul said, "to me to live is Christ and to die is gain" in Php 1:21?
A: Philippians 1:21 shows the attitude Paul had in prison and the attitude we should have. Paul was a human with moments of despair though, and in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul was being candid, and not glossing over how low he felt at that time.
There is a point here that Christians can apply to our own lives. If you teach the right way to feel about something, yet you have felt differently at times, that is OK; be honest with others about admitting when you had been weak in faith. More important than putting on an insincere "always happy" face for one another, is being authentic and not being guarded with other brothers and sisters.
Q: In 2 Cor 1:15-20, did Paul lie by saying he was going to come again and then not coming?
A: Paul did not promise them he would come; he only told them he intended to come. Today, we should distinguish between someone making a promise and simply declaring their intentions. When the situation changes, it is fine for their intention to change.
Q: In 2 Cor 1:17-19, should believers ever go back on a promise?
A: The Bible indicates that believers should not go back on a promise, except for the following conditions.
1. A girl living at home is overruled by her father (Numbers 30:3-5).
2. A wife is overruled by her husband (Numbers 30:6-8,15).
3. Of course, our number one priority is to please God. Thus, you should not keep a promise, if the promise was to sin and disobey God.
4. Consistent with 3, many Christians see that if keeping a promise or telling the truth would contribute to the murder of a person, then we should seek to preserve their life. This is why some Christians lied to Nazis when the Nazis asked if they were hiding any Jews.
See also the previous question.
Q: In 2 Cor 2:5, was Paul angry at "some individual who had offended Paul", as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.1113 says?
A: There is no evidence of this speculation. The person did something wrong, and 2 Corinthians does not say what it was. However, many think it was the same person who was immoral in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.
Furthermore, anger is not an accurate description of Paul's feelings here. Paul had just said in 2 Corinthians 2:4 that what he wrote was "with tears", so sadness and disappointment were what Paul felt, rather than anger at the individual here.
Q: In 2 Cor 2:5 (KJV), what does it mean that Paul would not "overcharge" the Corinthians?
A: This King James Version expression is better translated "not to put it too severely."
Q: In 2 Cor 2:12-13, since Paul had an open door to preach in Troas, should he have left there and gone to Macedonia like he did?
A: While we do not know all the details about Paul's specific situation, one can say two things in general.
1. The most important thing is to obey God, not to go through every open door.
2. When we greatly long to see someone, God graciously understands our feelings, too.
Q: In 2 Cor 2:14, since Christians always triumph in Christ, then why do Christians fall sometimes?
A: 2 Corinthians 2:14 does not imply that Christians always triumph sinlessly over everything, for Christians still sin. Rather, we are a part of Christ's triumph at the cross, and we will be triumphant over life in general, as we enter the hall of victorious heroes: that is, Heaven.
Q: In 2 Cor 2:17, since many corrupted the word of God, do we have only the corrupted words of God, and the true word of God has perished from the earth?
A: No. Deceitful teachers can still teach a corrupted word of God. However, the true word of God will never be absent, and God's word will never be lost, as Isaiah 59:21 promises.
Q: Does 2 Cor 3:13-15 mean that Moses' choosing to put a veil over his face was the reason Jews were blinded to Christ?
A: No. Paul brought this up as an analogy based on Exodus 34:33-35 to illustrate how people so close to God's glory could still be so blind. Paul also shows how essential it was to first turn to the Lord to not be blinded. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.619-621 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1830-1831 for more info.
Q: Does 2 Cor 3:17 saying the Lord is Spirit prove Jesus is the Holy Spirit as Oneness Pentecostals believe?
A: The Triune God is Spirit, but that does not mean it was impossible for Jesus not to also have a physical body, both before and after the resurrection. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.150 and When Cultists Ask p.243 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 4:3-4, why would God allow the Gospel to be hidden for those who are perishing?
A: For those who suppress the truth about God they have already been given (Romans 1:18-32), God is under no obligation to give them more truth. Indeed, if someone is going to reject God, 2 Peter 2:20-22 shows that the less they know, the better it will be for them.
Q: In 2 Cor 4:4, who is the god of this age?
A: This is Satan, who has been given a degree of control over this world according to 1 John 5:19. He is called the prince of this world in John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11. Satan is also called the ruler of the kingdom of the air in Ephesians 2:2. See also Ephesians 6:12 and Colossians 1:13. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1833 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.621 for more info.
As a side note, Irenaeus bishop of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) in discussing this verse by Paul, had a different interpretation of this verse. He thought "the God of this world" was the true God, and that the true God blinded the unbelievers in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.7.1 p.420. The early church writers were godly men, but they made mistakes too. However, in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.6.2 he mentions that scripture addresses false gods as gods though adding signification that they are in truth no gods at all. In Fragment 46 p.575 Irenaeus also says the god of this world is Satan.
Q: In 2 Cor 4:7 what are the "jars of clay" that contain treasure?
A: To answer this question, we have to know first what the treasure is, and look at the verses before and after. "This treasure" is specifically "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" according to 2 Corinthians 4:6.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 shows that we are
Hard-pressed but not crushed (4:8)
Perplexed but not in despair (4:8)
Persecuted but not abandoned (4:9)
Struck down but not destroyed. (4:9)
We carry around the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body (4:10)
We who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that life may be revealed in our mortal body (4:11).
Death [martyrdom] is at work in us [Paul and his companions], and [so that] life [eternal] is at work in you [Corinthians] (4:12).
In addition, jars of clay can be used for whatever purpose the owner wants (Jeremiah 18:1-10), some vessels for noble purposes and some for ignoble (1 Timothy 2:20-21).
It is interesting that 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 would make no sense at all to be put after 2 Corinthians 4:6 unless 2 Corinthians 4:7 was in between, crucially linking the two.
The jars of clay are "us" (4:8-9), our body (4:10), and our "mortal body" (4:11).
God has chosen to put this great treasure in us, who are unflatteringly called jars of clay. Jars of clay are very plain looking, and a jar does not last long; it is easy for someone to smash it. Nevertheless, a jar of clay can be useful, and it can faithfully hold the liquid contents inside it without leaking.
It is a fundamentally new experience in the Bible that the treasure God gave to us is stored, not inside an incense box or an ark, but inside our very selves. The Old Testament foreshadowed this when it said, "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying 'Know the LORD.' because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest,' declares the LORD." Jeremiah 31:33-34a NIV)
Q: In 2 Cor 5:2, why was Paul so dissatisfied with living here on earth?
A: For similar reasons as someone who has been on the road for months can be eager when they are about to return home and see their family. We Christians long to see Christ face-to-face, and to meet all the believers who have gone on before us.
The Believer's Bible Commentary p.1838 has a fascinating comment here. Paul's deliberate, but abrupt change of metaphors from tents to clothing might be because, as a tentmaker, Paul realized that the same cloth was sometimes used to make both clothes and tents.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:2, how did Jesus become sin? Did Satan invade Jesus' body, as many false teachers, taught including Rev. Moon in the Divine Principle (fifth ed. 1977) p.147-148, 330?
A: No. Jesus took the punishment of sin upon us, and felt the separation from God the Father that all of us deserved.
It should be mentioned that a member of the Unification church in a televised debate denied believing that Jesus' body was invaded by Satan. However, here is what Rev. Moon taught in his Divine Principle (fifth ed. 1977).
Divine Principle p.148 "Jesus could not accomplish the purpose of the providence of physical salvation because his body was invaded by Satan. However, he could establish the basis for spiritual salvation ... through ... the blood of the cross."
Divine Principle p.330 "This [Moses twice striking the rock] foreshadowed the possibility that when Jesus, the substantial Rock, would come, his flesh might be invaded by Satan by the crucifixion, because of the people's disbelief,..."
Divine Principle p.147-148 "Because the Jewish people disbelieved Jesus and delivered him up for crucifixion, his body was invaded by Satan, and he was killed. Therefore, even when Christians believe in and become one body with Jesus, whose body was invaded by Satan, their bodies still remain subject to Satan's invasion."
Divine Principle p.510 "Nevertheless... the physical body of Jesus was delivered into the hands of Satan as the condition of ransom for the restoration of the Jews and the whole of mankind back to God's bosom; his body was invaded by Satan. Naturally, the physical salvation of mankind was left unfulfilled, and Jesus died, promising it would be realized when the Lord would come again." (Notice it says 'Lord' and not 'He' or 'Jesus'.)
In the Bible, this is refuted by Acts 2:31-32, quoting Psalm 16:10, saying Jesus' body would not see corruption or decay. When Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other disciples in John 20:24-28, Jesus demonstrated by the nail prints and the hole in his side that it was the same body, raised to life. In John 2:19-21, Jesus also mentioned that His body would be raised.
As The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.351 put it, Jesus was made sin for us substitutionally, but He was never sinful personally.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:7, does "For we walk by faith, not by sight:" (KJV) relate to instrumental music?
A: Not at all, despite what a Church of Christ author teaches. This does not relate to instrumental music any more than this verse relates to singing or clapping. The Church of Christ booklet Instrumental Music in Worship p.28 says that Instrumental Music in Worship "1. Violates the law of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17)." Likewise the other two verses given as to support instrumental music violating the law of faith do not have anything to do with music either."
On pages 3-5 the author, James M. Tolle, tries to say that any worship that is not revealed in the divine word is not by faith, and a meticulous investigation of Christ's revelation will not produce a single word in favor of instrumental music in worship. However, the Old Testament is God's word, and the book of Revelation is actually the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The New Testament does not mention pulpits either. If we "meticulously" ignore the Old Testament such as Nehemiah 8:4, one could make a stronger case that we should not have pulpits in the church than that we should never have instrumental music. It is sad to see to see how people can try to use totally irrelevant verses to support their sectarian doctrines.
Now evangelical Christians do not say that churches must have musical instruments, or that a person cannot be a genuine Christian if they are wrong on this point. However, this issue can be more serious than just music, as legalism can keep people from experiencing the grace and freedom that are in Christ.
Q: Ignoring 2 Cor 5:8, the skeptic Ehrman sees inconsistencies with a view of the afterlife (Jesus, Interrupted p.261). "This view of the eternal and bodiless existence of the soul is not found in the earliest Christian writings, but only in writings that appeared later" (Jesus, Interrupted p.266).
A: Actually we don't believe in an eternal and bodiless existence of the soul forever. We believe in a bodiless existence of the soul, for a while, until Jesus returns and then an eternal existence with a new, glorified body after that. Regardless, both Christians and Bible critics believe the earliest Christian writings were letters of Paul.
Here are verses Ehrman agrees are by Paul that show an existence of the soul after death apart from the body.
2 Cor 5:8 "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."
Php 1:23b-24 "I desire to depart [die] and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body."
Rom 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Q: In 2 Cor 5:10, do even unbelievers come before the judgment seat of Christ?
A: No. There are two judgments.
1. The first judgment is the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, where believers are pronounced righteous through Jesus. Though some Christians think believers are not even present at the Great White Throne Judgment, all Christians agree that believers have nothing to fear from the Great White Throne Judgment.
2. 2 Corinthians 5:10 is speaking of a second judgment, called a "Bema-seat judgment" just for believers to judge what they did for Christ and reward them appropriately. See the discussion on 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:11, do Christians need to know of "the terror of the Lord?"
A: Modern translations say "the fear of the Lord". We Christians are to know the fear of the Lord, in the proper way of reverence and respect for God, and also fear for those who do not know God. Other verses that speak of our proper fear of the Lord are Genesis 22:12; Proverbs 1:7; 1 Samuel 12:14; 2 Chronicles 6:33; 19:7; Nehemiah 5:9; Psalm 19:9; 22:25; 33:8; 119:74; 128:1; Ecclesiastes 8:13; 12:13; Isaiah 11:3; Jeremiah 5:22; Micah 6:9; Malachi 3:5.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:13 (KJV), was Paul ever "besides himself" or not "sober"?
A: There is no evidence that Paul was. This phrase in the King James Version can mean "out of his mind". See also the next question for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:13, was Paul ever mentally insane?
A: This does not say that Paul was every crazy. Paul is saying here that if he ever had the appearance of being "beside himself" or "out of his mind" it was for their sake.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:16 (KJV), did Paul know Jesus before Jesus' death, since Paul "knew Christ according to the flesh"?
A: No, the verse does not mean that. The King James Version translated this phrase precisely word for word. The meaning here, is that Paul is merely saying he once regarded Christ as a non-believer knows him, from merely a human point of view. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.45 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:17, when someone becomes a new creature in Christ, can they lose their salvation and "unbecome" a new creature?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on the possibility of losing your salvation. See the discussion on Ephesians 1:14 and Hebrews 6:4-10 for more info.
However, since God knew before the creation of the world who would go to Heaven, nobody can surprise God and become one of the unelect.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:17, how are Christians new creations in Christ?
A: We are new creations in the following ways:
1. Positionally: We are given the certain promise of eternal life.
2. Experientially: We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, and we are in the process of being made holy.
We are still the same in the following ways:
1. Physically, we still have the same bodies, which are subject to disease, injury, and death.
2. Our sinful nature is still there.
3. We still commit sins.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.621-624 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1841 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 5:21, how could Jesus "be made sin" since Jesus was without sin in Heb 4:15?
A: The answer lies within 2 Corinthians 5:21 itself. God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us. The guilty weight of all our sin was laid upon the sinless one. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.351, When Cultists Ask p.244-245, When Critics Ask p.471-472, and the discussion on Hebrews 4:15 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 6:1, how can people receive God's grace in vain, or resist the Holy Spirit in Acts 7:51?
A: Three key points to consider in the answer.
1. God can do anything and everything He wants.
2. If He chooses, God's hands can do things in vain. As an example, Romans 10:21, quoting Isaiah 65:2 says, "all day long I [God] held out my hands to this disobedient and stubborn people." (NET Bible)
3. Notwithstanding, God's mouth never decrees in vain, but God's words always accomplish what He desires (Isaiah 55:10-11).
In summary, God's decrees are never in vain, but God sometimes chooses to allow things that are in vain and break God's heart.
Q: In 2 Cor 6:8-10, does this seem like a mass of contradictions?
A: Yes and no. Paul's deliberate use of opposites is literary technique called the oxymoron. He is emphasizing the contrast between temporary, earthly circumstances with eternal and spiritual reality.
Q: In 2 Cor 6:14-18 and Eph 5:7, what does this mean about being yoked with unbelievers?
A: This is a very fitting analogy. For best results, two oxen yoked together need to have similar strength and both pull in exactly the same direction.
Christians also apply this verse to marriage, dating in one-on-one dates, and business partnerships. They generally do not believe this applies to employment in a company, public stock ownership, and membership in secular social clubs, and organizations, and charities.
Imagine if a Christian and non-Christian are married, and the Christian wants to sacrificially give a large amount of money to a Christian mission or church. How would that go over with a non-Christian? Often (though not always) unbelieving spouses draw a believer away from the Lord.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.457 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.624-626 for more info, and Now That's a Good Question p.421-422 for applying this to business.
Q: In 2 Cor 7:1, how can we cleanse ourselves, since only God can cleanse us?
A: On our own, we can neither cleanse ourselves or even 100% sincerely desire cleansing.
With the Holy Spirit, we can submit to God, turn our life over to Jesus, and have God's life touch and fill each and every dark corner of our lives. To allude to Philippians 2:12-13, all true believers have the responsibility to work out the salvation that is within them.
Q: In 2 Cor 7:1 what is the difference between : "cleansing" (2 Cor 7:1), "washing of regeneration" (Tt 3: 5), "renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tt 3:5), "be born again" (John 3:7), and "newness of life" (Rom 6:4)?
A: They all refer to the Christian life, but they refer to different aspects. Christ provided justification for us on the cross 2,000 years ago. Yet today we still are being regenerated as we have saving faith in God. Furthermore, as a Christian, God is in the process of cleaning up our lives. God not only provides forgiveness for sins (i.e. sinful acts), but God is transforming our sinful nature. Now we will not become sinlessly perfect until we die, but as we follow Christ we become more and more Christlike here on earth. A symbol of us choosing to publicly identify with Christ's death and cleansing, is water baptism, which is a pledge of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21).
Q: In 2 Cor 7:2, how could Paul say he "wronged no one", because before he became a Christian, Paul had many killed?
A: 2 Corinthians 5:17 answers this: "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV) Once the press discovered that an evangelist had an affair many years ago. The evangelist admitted to this wickedness, but said that Christians would not hold this sin against him and his ministry, as it was done before he became a Christian. The evangelist was right, -as he should have been.
Q: In 2 Cor 7:10, what is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?
A: Worldly sorrow includes regret at getting caught, and sadness at the consequences to yourself and others.
Godly sorrow may or may not include the previous, but includes
1) Understanding sin's seriousness and that God was the primary one you sinned against (Psalm 51:4).
2) Broken heart toward God (Psalm 51:17), including recognizing our need to cry for God's merciful forgiveness and cleansing (Psalm 51:1-2).
3) Commitment to never do that again (Psalm 51:10-12).
4) Continuing in relationship with God on the right way, and never go that sinful way again. (Psalm 51:13-15,18), yet realizing that our service is not desired as much as our obedient heart (Psalm 51:16-17).
Q: In 2 Cor 7:11 (KJV), why was it good that the Corinthians had "revenge"?
A: This Greek word, ekgikusin, can be translated as "revenge" or "vengeance", but it can also be translated as "readiness to see justice done", as NIV does, or "vindication" as the NKJV does.
Q: In 2 Cor 8:9, does the atonement give us financial prosperity, as some word-faith teachers say?
A: No. Paul says that though Jesus was rich [in Heaven], for our sake He became poor that we might become rich. How someone could confuse the true riches of eternal life with paltry material riches on this earth is surprising.
If someone insisted on claiming this as guaranteeing earthly riches too, I suppose one could make a case that Christians can be as financially wealthy as Paul. (Paul was not very rich at all, as regard to earthly riches.) See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.348 and When Cultists Ask p.135-136, p.245 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 9:6, does this principle of sowing mean that if we give money to God, we will be financially prosperous?
A: No. Sowing and reaping does not necessarily have to be the same. It would be unfortunate if giving to God in this life only gave us rewards in this life and not in Heaven. The rewards Christians will receive in Heaven make any rewards in this life on earth look very small.
It is sad that many only see a relationship with God in terms of what they see in this life on earth.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.107-108 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 9:8, how does God make all good/grace abound to the Corinthians and to us?
A: There is no bottleneck on God's part of God giving everything we need in this life. God may not always give us all we desire, but if we lack what we need, the fault is not God's but man's. We should make sure we are living up to our responsibility God gave us to help others have what they need.
Q: In 2 Cor 9:13 (KJV), what does "whiles by the experiment of this ministration", mean?
A: The King James Version expression is better translated "By the ministry of this [your] service", "While through the proof of this [your] ministry" (NKJV), or "Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves" (NIV), or "Through the evidence of this service" (NET Bible). (Square brackets not in the translations.)
Q: In 2 Cor 9:15, how this gift is unspeakable or indescribable, since could Paul talk about it so much?
A: A lifetime on earth is not long enough for Paul, or anybody else, to fully and exhaustively describe the magnitude of what God did for us when Jesus died on the cross. But we can try. As Christians, we want to spend our lifetimes "thanking God for His indescribable gift".
Q: In 2 Cor 10:12, how are we not to compare ourself with ourself, since we are to do so in Gal 6:4-5?
A: 2 Corinthians 10:12 criticizes one who compares himself with himself. If you just compare yourself with yourself, then I suppose you will always be in first place! Galatians 6:4-5 says we are not to compare ourselves with others, and we are to test our own actions, but it does not say to compare yourself with yourself.
Q: In 2 Cor 10:13-15, since Paul never boasted except in the cross in Gal 6:14, what was Paul doing here and in 2 Cor 11:18-12:6?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. 2 Corinthians 10:13-15 says Paul would not boast beyond his proper sphere.
2. While it was in Paul's proper sphere (not ours) to establish his own credentials as an apostle, Paul was reluctant to do so, as 2 Corinthians 12:11 shows.
3. In 2 Corinthians 11:18-12:6, Paul was objectively telling the Corinthians about a particular man. If you read carefully, you can tell that the man is Paul himself.
4. Paul was probably reluctant to do so, because by establishing his credentials by this way, some could see in that an example for them to boast, if Paul had not also written 2 Corinthians 10:17-18.
Q: In 2 Cor 10:13-15, was the cross Satan's victory and not God's, as Rev. Moon's Unification "Church" claims? (Home Study Course for the Divine Principle 5th edition (1977) p.30 Divine Principle p.143. Dialogue p.161)
A: This is directly contradicted not only by Paul's attitude in 2 Corinthians 10:13-15, but by Colossians 1:20 and Colossians 2:13-15. Galatians 6:14 says, "But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (NET Bible)
Paul in Philippians 3:18-19 laments that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul and the early Christians did not consider themselves enemies of the cross of Christ, as one would expect if they thought it was Satan's victory.
Q: In 2 Cor 11:4, who are the many Jesuses?
A: There are many false Jesuses, but only one real Jesus. If a person claims to believe and obey Jesus, that is not good enough. You have to believe and obey the real Jesus of the Bible.
Q: In 2 Cor 11:5 (KJV), what does "not a whit" mean?
A: This King James Version expression means "not in the least".
Q: In 2 Cor 11:5, was Paul "not in the least inferior", or was he the "least of the apostles" as 1 Cor 15:9 says?
A: The context of 2 Corinthians 11:3 was comparison with false apostles who taught a false Gospel. The NIV translates, "But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those 'super-apostles.'
The context of 1 Corinthians 15:9 was comparison of timing and pre-Christian life with the other true apostles. Paul still was the hardest-working of the true apostles according to 1 Corinthians 15:10.
See When Critics Ask p.472 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.247-248 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 11:24, was Paul beaten 5 X 39 stripes, our 4 X 40 + 39 stripes?
A: Deuteronomy 25:3 does not say they had to give 40 stripes, but rather a maximum of 40 stripes. These were five separate occasions, and it was apparently the Jewish custom to always give one less than 40 just to be certain they did not go over by miscounting, so it probably is 5 X 39 stripes.
See 1001 Bible Question Answered p.342 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 11:32, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for Aratus, governor of Syria?
A: No. We do not know who the governors of Syria were at that time this happened in Acts 9:24,25. While Paul quotes from an Aratus in Acts 17:28, this was a different Aratus, who died in 240 B.C.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:2, when did this happen 14 years ago?
A: This probably happened when Paul was in Arabia, between his conversion around 34-36 A.D. and his first missionary journey, which started 46-47 A.D.
Q: Does 2 Cor 12:2 show three Heavens, identical with Mormon teaching?
A: No. That Paul was caught up in the third Heaven does not validate the Mormon concept, which was totally unknown prior to the Nineteenth century. In particular, the Mormon "Telestial Heaven", which is said to be slightly worse than earth and where many people go, would not sound like Heaven at all to a Christian or Jew. See When Cultists Ask p.246 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:7, why was Paul given a thorn?
A: One reason Paul knew of in 2 Corinthians 12:7 is so that he would not be conceited. If God had additional reasons, He did not say.
Sometimes Christians have just one thing, be it circumstance, personal appearance, or personality trait in themselves, their spouse, or others, that they want God to change, and God does not do it. When God turns down our requests in prayer, He does not always tell us why. Whatever the reason, God does not want us to be so satisfied in this life that we lose our anxious longing for the next. Remember, some people can be too big (in their own eyes) for God to use, but nobody can be too small. See also the answer to the next two questions.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:7, what was the thorn? - physical affliction, appearance, homosexuality, another evil temptation, or depression?
A: Scripture does not say, probably because we do not need to know. When people dogmatically say it was a certain thing, it can tell more about those people than it does about Paul.
Many Christians have a thorn, a #1 thing they are struggling with or trying to accept. If you have a thorn, remember that Paul had one too, and God could still use Paul in a mighty way, as long as Paul relied upon God's strength, and not his own.
Finally, if Jesus can accept other Christians with thorns, then so can I (See Romans 15:7). See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.627-629 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1865-1866 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:8, since Paul understood the importance of not being proud, why did God not take the thorn from Paul after Paul prayed about it?
A: There is a big difference between hearing the message not to be proud and having something that guarantees you will not have to fight that battle. See also the answer to the previous two questions.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:9-10, what does "when I am weak, then I am strong" mean?
A: When you are flat on your back, it is very easy to look up. When we are made very conscious of our own inadequacy, it is often then we are strongest in relying on the Lord. Our best efforts, in our own strength, are nothing compared to what God can do through us. To loosely paraphrase Hudson Taylor, when we can fulfill all our plans without God's working in us, then our plans are not big enough.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:10, was Paul strange here?
A: Not at all. Rather, Paul wisely realized that the things that caused him distress from a worldly point of view were some of the tools God used to maintain Paul being strong in Christ.
As Christians, it is only natural to want to shelter our children and other loved ones from all life's trials and storms. We would never want to restrict how God can work in their life, but if everything we do effectively limits their opportunity to have growing experiences, then we are doing our children no favor.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:12, what were the signs of an apostle?
A: While others could prophecy and do miracles also, the apostles had these gifts in a tremendous degree, as Acts 2:42; 3:3-9, 5:4-12,14-16 show.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:15, does Paul expending himself for the Corinthians demonstrate the Catholic doctrine of indulgences?
A: No. Paul is simply saying he is willing to "spend everything he has" (monetarily and materially), and "expend myself" (time and physical life) as well for the Corinthians.
If it did prove the doctrine of indulgences, then since Paul was not dead yet, a person living on earth could provide indulgences for other people living on earth.
See When Cultists Ask p.246-247 for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:16, how was Paul being crafty?
A: Paul was being sarcastic here and in 2 Corinthians 12:13. Paul was apparently accused of being crafty and taking advantage of them, when the truth of the matter was that he could have rightfully asked them for monetary support, but he chose not to ask.
As Christians, sometimes we can make an extra effort for others, only to have it thrown back in our face by suspicious people. We are to keep on loving them though.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:20, what are gossip and slander, and why are they wrong?
A: Gossip is telling something about someone else that does not need to be said, even if it is true. Gossiping betrays a confidence, as Proverbs 11:13; 16:28 and 20:19 say.
Quarrels are sustained through gossip, as Proverbs 20:20 says.
Gossiping is a temptation, just like eating choice morsels of food, according to Proverbs 18:8; 26:22.
Gossipy people are specifically rebuked in Romans 1:29; 1 Timothy 5:13.
However, do not be crushed when people maliciously gossip about you; they did the same to John the Apostle in 3 John 10.
Slander is closely related, it is saying negative things about others that are either knowingly false, or else the speaker has not bothered to check if they were true or false. Slander differs from someone believing they are saying the truth and being mistaken. Flattery includes saying false positive things about others.
The Bible never tells us merely to reduce the slanderous things we say; rather we are to have no slander at all on our tongue as Psalm 15:3, Titus 3:2, and James 4:11 show.
Slander is a favorite tool of the beast in Revelation 13:6.
Do not be surprised when people slander you; Jesus and believers were slandered in Psalm 38:20; 54:5,10; 119:23; 1 Peter 3:16. However, while others will slander Christians, Christian widows and other Christians do not need to give an opportunity for slander, as Timothy 5:14 shows.
Q: In 2 Cor 12:21, how could Paul be humbled before the Corinthians?
A: This does not mean Paul was proud before them. Rather, Paul could be humbled in their esteem by being sick, as Paul got sick in Galatia (Galatians 4:13). It might seem strange to them that the man they heard healed others was sick himself. Actually, Paul's sickness showed that the healing was not from the power of Paul, but the power of God.
Q: In 2 Cor 13:2 and 1 Cor 4:21, should we ever threaten people, including fellow Christians, like Paul did?
A: There is a proper time and place for warning people in three ways.
1. We should not fail in our responsibility to warn others of what God has said of people's impending doom if they refuse to turn their life over to Christ.
2. As wise parents set up rules and consequences for their children, and a corporate managers sets up goals, incentives (and disincentives) for their employees, those who lead the church should make it clear what they expect of the people they work with.
3. Even more so, as an apostle, Paul had a special authority to command, warn, and rebuke other Christians.
Unfortunately, some Christian churches can have leaders who do not lead people to God, and members who would not follow them even if they did.
Q: In 2 Cor 13:6, can we know if anyone else is a reprobate?
A: The word "reprobate" in the King James version is better translated "disqualified" or "unapproved [by God]". See also the next question for more info.
Q: In 2 Cor 13:6, why did Paul say "But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified", since we never truly know if others are saved?
A: Paul is talking about testing our lives in the light of scripture. While no Christian will be sinless on earth, genuine Christians will be gradually coming closer and closer to the absolute goal of Christlikeness. That is the test Paul means.
Q: Does 2 Cor 13:14 prove the Trinity true?
A: It implies the Trinity is true, but it admittedly does not prove it. A "threeness" of the Father, Son, and Spirit is proved by this verse plus Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; John 15:26; Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:14-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:3-5; Hebrews 9:14; Jude 20,21; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2; and Revelation 4:8.
Threeness is a part of the doctrine of the Trinity, but even Mormons believe in threeness without believing in the Trinity. (Note that while the LDS church officially denies the Trinity, I have met many Mormons who make the honest mistake of saying they believe the Trinity. They say this because they do not understand the doctrine of the Trinity, and they simply believe it means the Three are united in love, spirit, and purpose.) For a description of the doctrine of the Trinity, see the discussion on Matthew 28:19.
Q: In 2 Cor, how do we know that Scripture today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: We have at least three good reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are writers who referred to verses in 2 Corinthians.
Letter To Diognetus c.130 A.D. ch.5 p.27 alludes to 2 Corinthians 10:3; 6:9; 6:10; and 4:12
Epistle of Barnabas ch.18 p.148 alludes to 2 Corinthians
Letter To Diognetus (c.130 A.D.) ch.5 p.27 (3/4 quote) quotes 11 out of 16 words of 2 Corinthians 6:10.
Letter To Diognetus (c.130 A.D.) ch.5 p.27 alludes to 2 Corinthians 6:9.
Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians ch.2 p.33 alludes to 2 Corinthians 4:14a (also Rom 8:11a ¼ )
2 Corinthians 8:21b 1/2 quote Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians ch.6 p.34 (also Romans 12:17)
Irenaeus 182-188 A.D. on 2 Corinthians in Against Heresies book 2 22:7 says "For that there are spiritual creatures in the heavens, all Scriptures loudly proclaim; and Paul expressly testifies that there are spiritual things when he declares that he was caught up into the third heaven, ..." He also quotes 2 Corinthians 7:7-9 as by Paul in the Second to the Corinthians in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 5 p.3.1 p.529
The Muratorian Canon (c.190-217 A.D.) mentions Paul's two letters to the Corinthians, as well as Paul's other 11 letters.
Clement of Alexandria quotes 2 Corinthians 7:1 as by Paul. Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 3 ch.11 p.394
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) said 2 Corinthians was by Paul the apostle in On the Resurrection of the Flesh ch.40. He also says Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 in On Modesty ch.14 p.89
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) quotes 2 Corinthians 12:2 as by Paul in The Refutation of All Heresies book 5 ch.3 p.54
Hippolytus quotes part of 2 Corinthians 12:4. The Refutation of All Heresies book 7 ch.14 p.107-108
Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) quotes 2 Corinthians 4:17,18 as by Paul, in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians in Origen Against Celsus book 6 ch.19 p.582
Origen's Commentary on John mentions the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He mentions Paul writing in 2 Corinthians and John in the Apocalypse.
Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage from 248 to his martyrdom in 258 A.D.. He quotes from "the second epistle to the Corinthians" in Treatise 12 the third book ch.2.
Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) quotes 2 Corinthians 13:3 as by Paul and calls him an apostle. Disputation with Manes ch.42 p.218
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) says the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians and quotes 2 Corinthians 4:6. He also refers to 2 Corinthians 1:20 as by the Apostle.
Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (323-326 A.D.)
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Hegemonius (4th century) refers to 2 Corinthians 2:9
Optatus (4th century) refers to 2 Corinthians 3:3
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) quotes 2 Corinthians 13:4 as "to the Corinthians he [the blessed Apostle] writes" On the Trinity book 9 ch.13 p.159
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions Paul's two letters to the Corinthians as part of the New Testament. It quotes three-fourths of 2 Corinthians 1:1.
The schismatic Lucifer of Cagliari (370/371 A.D.)
Marcellus of Ancrya (about 374 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.) quotes 2 Corinthians 10:4 as "Paul writes to the Corinthians". On the Spirit ch.16.37 p.23
Ambrosiaster (after 384 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) quotes 2 Corinthians 13;3 as by Paul in Lecture 10.17 p.62
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.)
Amphilochius (after 394 A.D.)
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) alludes to 2 Corinthians 5:16 as by Paul in Against Eunomius book 6 ch.2 p.184. Also Paul to the Corinthians for 2 Corinthians 5:20 in Against Eunomius book 2 ch.14 p.128-129
Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.)
Macarius/Symeon (4th or 5th century)
Optatus (4th century)
The schismatic Lucifer of Cagliari, Sardinia (361-c.399 A.D.) Eph 5:9,15
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.)
Gaudentius (after 406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.) wrote down 30 sermons on 2 Corinthians. He says 2 Corinthians was by Paul.
Chromatius (407 A.D.)
Severian (after 408 A.D.)
Niceta of Remesianus (366-c.415 A.D.)
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) refers to 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 as by the Apostle Paul. Defense Against the Pelagians ch.18 p.140
Jerome (373-420 A.D.)
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) quotes 2 Corinthians 2:15 in On Baptism, Against the Donatists ch.39 p.508
Marcus of Eremita (after 430 A.D.)
Acacius of Melitene (c.438 A.D.)
Cyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.)
Alexandrinus manuscript [A] (c.450 A.D.)
Hesychius of Jerusalem (after 450 A.D.)
Quodvultdeus (c.453 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (bishop and historian) (423-458 A.D.)
Prosper of Aquitaine (foe of Cassian) (426-465 A.D.)
Varimadum (445/480 A.D.)
Hegemonius (4th century)
Macarius/Symeon (4th or 5th century)
Maximinus (4th or 5th century)
Speculum (5th century)
Theodotus of Ancyra (5th century A.D.)
We still have all of these today.
Evidence of heretics and spurious books
Apostolic Constitutions (uncertain date, about 380 A.D.)
Marcion refers to Romans according to Tertullian.
The heretic Priscillian (c.385 A.D.)
The heretic Pelagius (416-418 A.D.)
Manichaean heretic Faustus-Milevis (after 383 A.D.)
3. Earliest manuscripts we have of 2 Corinthians show there are small manuscript variations, but zero theologically significant errors.
p46 Chester Beatty II 100-150 A.D. 2 Cor 1:1-11:10; 11:12-21; 11:23-13:13 (95% or 254 out of 257 verses) and other parts of Paul's letters and Hebrews. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of part of p46 on p.192. It also says on p.197-198 that the quality and the stichiometric marks show that a professional scribe wrote this.
First half of 3rd century - 1936 - Frederic G. Kenyon according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
2nd century, 200 A.D. - 1935 - Ulrich Wilken according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
200 A.D. - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
81-96 A.D. - 1988 - Young Kyu Kim according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
About 200 A.D. - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition.
About 200 A.D. - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition.
Early to middle 2nd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts. This is based in part on the handwriting being very similar to Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 8 (late first or early second century) and Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2337 (late first century).
p34 - 1 Cor 16:4-7; 10; 2 Cor 5:18-21; 10:13-14; 11:2,4,6-7 (7th century) Alexandrian text.
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
Vaticanus [B] 325-350 A.D.
Sinaiticus [Si] 340-350 A.D.
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Gothic [Goth] 493-555 A.D.
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
See www.BibleQuery.org/2corMss.html for more on early manuscripts of 2 Corinthians.
For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714. www.BibleQuery.org