Sunday, 22 November 2015
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2
The “little folly” that Paul spoke of in the preceding verse begins to be revealed here. He tells his beloved church at Corinth that he is “jealous for you with godly jealousy.” The word “jealous” is zelo. It is derived from the word zeo which means “to boil or be fervent.” The action comes from the sound. When water boils, it makes the sound zeo zeo zeo. Likewise, the boiling water is fervent. This then corresponds to the emotion.
In this case, it is a positive fervency which he feels, even to the point that he stresses it with the words Theo zelo, or literally, “with a jealousy of God.” There was nothing earthy and sensual in his jealousy, rather it was a heavenly, spiritual feeling which surpassed any earthy state. And he says his zeal is because “I have betrothed you to one husband.”
The word for “betrothed” is found only here in the New Testament. It is harmozó. It gives the idea of betrothing a daughter to another. The word, though not found elsewhere in the NT, is found in Greek literature when speaking of the carpenter’s work of joining boards together. It is also used in a musical sense, such as arranging music, tuning instruments, and even fitting together clothes or armor.
There is a harmony being brought together, one thing to another. In this case, it is to be as a bride to her bridegroom. Paul looked at himself as a father in their faith, having told them about Christ Jesus and having been there when they received Him. He is calling to remembrance his words of 1 Corinthians 4:15 –
“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
It is he who will present his daughters in the faith to Christ. But more than just giving away a daughter, he desires her to be one who is pure and undefiled. His words show us this. He wanted their lives to be holy and their doctrine to be pure. As he says, “…so that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Albert Barnes, citing another scholar, explains the concept here –
“The allusion here, according to Doddridge, is, to the custom among the Greeks ‘of having an officer whose business it was to educate and form young women, especially those of rank and figure, designed for marriage, and then to present them to those who were to be their husbands, and if this officer through negligence permitted them to be corrupted between the espousals and the consummation of the marriage, great blame would fall upon him.’ Such a responsibility Paul felt. So anxious was he for the entire purity of that church which was to constitute ‘the bride, the Lamb’s wife;’ so anxious that all who were connected with that church should be presented pure in heaven.”
Paul felt the burden of ensuring that those in Corinth were properly trained in doctrine and that they would carry through with that training so that their lives would be dedicated to Christ and not to the things of the world. He uses similar terminology toward those in Ephesus as well –
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27
Life application: From a biblical perspective, it is not enough to simply get people saved and on the path to heaven, but to mold them into purity as they continue on that path. Doctrine matters and its application matters as well. Let us consider where we will spend our time. Will it be in God’s word or in pulp fiction? Will we go to a church that excludes doctrine in order to please, or to a church that hold’s the word of God in the highest esteem? It all matters and it bears on what our presentation to Christ will be like.
Lord God Almighty, I can see quite plainly in Your word that it isn’t enough to simply get saved and start on a rambling path to Your presence. Instead, I can see that doctrine matters to You and that You would have us pursue Your superior word to the fullest and then apply its precepts to our lives. Help us not to get caught up in catchy-Christianity which has no substance, but instead to revel in pleasing You through the hard work of study and application of this precious gift. With this, I know You will be pleased. Amen.