John 21 to 2 Corinthians 4

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Monday, July 28, John Chapter 21

A number of the disciples returned to Galilee.  Peter decided to go fishing and others joined him on the lake at night.  The next morning, having caught nothing, a man on shore told them to throw their net on the right side.

When the net proved to be so full of fish they could not get it in the boat, John realized it was really Jesus and they came in quickly.  Jesus had breakfast ready for them, the same meal as the 5,000 shared, bread and fish.

For them, the catch was a miracle, especially since it did not break the net, but Jesus was no longer of this world.  For him it was a simple matter to have fresh baked bread and fish ready to eat.

Jesus three times asked Peter if he loved him.  It was a way to tell him that he was forgiven for denying Jesus three times.

Of John, Jesus said, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.  Personally, I believe that John wrote this Gospel rather late in his life after most if not all the other Twelve had died, his own brother James being the first.  This statement seems to me to be an explanation for why he was the only one to die a natural death.

William Barclay writes:  People in the early Church…may have wondered what was the function of John who had lived on in Ephesus until he was so old that he was past all activity.  Here is the answer:  Paul might be the pioneer of Christ, Peter might be the shepherd of Christ, but John was the witness of Christ.  He was the man who was able to say:  “I saw these things, and I know that they are true.”

Isthmus of Corinth
Isthmus of Corinth, the white line is a modern canal

Tuesday, July 29, 2 Corinthians Chapter 1

Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth dealt with a long list of problems.  That letter was written in the spring of 55 AD from Ephesus.  This second letter was likely written in the fall of the same year, this time from Macedonia.   But it may have been written in the fall of 56.

There is historical evidence that Paul wrote as many as four letters to Corinth, but the other two are lost.  There is further evidence of Paul writing to other churches with those letters also being lost.  Paul had a large mission field to deal with and many assistants like Timothy, so it is reasonable to assume he wrote numerous letters.  I believe God helped preserve the most important letters for our use.  And on that point, I am sure other Apostles wrote letters that have also been lost.

Paul opens with his usual praise of the church.  The idea of comforting the church was on his mind.

He described some of the trouble he faced in Ephesus and the churches around that city, even to the point of facing death.  But God carried him through as he will for you.

Paul changes his plans, now intending to spend more time in Corinth than originally set up.  In the words of Paul Tillich:  A change in his traveling plans and the angry reaction of the Corinthian Christians to this change is used by Paul for profound and far-reaching assertions about Jesus “the Christ”:  “In him it is always Yes, he is not Yes and No.”

Paul was facing a determined group of opponents in Corinth who chose to twist his every word.  They no doubt were telling the others that you cannot trust Paul.  “Look, he said he would make two visits, now he will make one long one.”

Paul Tillich goes on:  There is only one reality where there is not Yes and No but only Yes:  Jesus as the Christ.  First He also stands under the No, as completely as a being can stand; this is the meaning of the Cross….But we are told that in Him all promises of God have become real, and that in Him a life and a truth which is beyond Yes and No has become manifest.  This is the meaning of “Resurrection.”  The No of death is conquered and the Yes of life is transcended by that which has appeared in Him…. He shows the final Yes without another No.  This is the Easter message.

Wednesday, July 30, Chapter 2

In verse 3, Paul writes, I wrote as I did… which has been taken by many recent scholars to refer to a letter sent just before 2 Corinthians.  This is the most direct Biblical evidence of another letter.  However, none of the early histories (which go back to 90 AD when John was still alive) make any mention of this possibility.  The lack of a statement is not proof, but it supports all the early copies of 2 Corinthians and early references to it as being the second letter.  As I have already indicated, it is likely that Paul did write at least two other letters to Corinth, but we do not have what a historian would call solid proof.

We will take it that Paul referred to 1 Corinthians.  I wrote as I did… certainly fits the blistering nature of the first letter.

In verse 5 Paul says that the person has been punished and needs to be forgiven.  We do not know who the person was or what happened, but enough was enough.  We cannot overdue forgiveness.  Jesus had something to say about that (Matthew 18:21-22):  At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”  Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

Paul traveled to Troas, still in Asia Minor, hoping it seems to meet Titus there.  When that meeting did not happen, Paul moved on to Macedonia.  Even with the disappointment of failing to meet Titus, Paul was able to do some good work in Troas.  Work where you are.

Thursday, July 31, Chapter 3

Corinth was having an influx of people who claimed to preach the true gospel, but they had no one to recommend them and they generally did not know the gospel.  Paul opens with a small joke, do I need to send my credentials again?

Of course not.  I know you and you know me.  You know I preach only the True Gospel.

With verse 7 Paul compares the glory of the Law and of the Messiah.  Exodus 34:29:  When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.  At first the people and even Aaron ran away from Moses.  Paul says if the glory of God can have that impact on Moses, imagine the power of the Messiah.

By putting our faith and trust in our Messiah, we can achieve great things.  Only the Messiah can remove the veil that came with Moses.  The Law shows us that we sin, but the Law separates us from God just as the veil inside the Temple kept us from the presence of God.  Under the Law we cannot approach God.  Under the Messiah we can live in the presence of God in a way that even Moses could not imagine.

Because Jesus has torn that veil away, we are filled with the new Spirit and shine in the world with the Light of the Messiah.  Our radiance is an arc lamp compared to the 5 watt bulb of Moses.

Friday, August 1, Chapter 4

Paul refers to the false teachers in Corinth and contrasts himself with them.  He continues the image of shining in the world with the Light of the Messiah.  Only the Truth can be a beacon to people surrounded with the Lie.

In verse 7 Paul reminds the Corinthians that we are mere clay pots in which the power of the Son of God has come to live.  With that we take in the death of Jesus, for without his death there is no life.  With his death, we must also die to our current lives and take up his life which is the only Life.  John 14:6:  I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Paul is writing about the great paradox that we must die to live.  And we must die for others so that they can live in Christ the Messiah.

Even as our bodies waste away, we are gaining greater life in Heaven.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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