Wednesday, 17 June 2015
For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
2 Corinthians 2:9
Greek scholars debate whether Paul is writing here about his first letter or this letter. The verb is in the aorist tense and so either is possible. If he is writing about his first letter, he indicates that the instructions for disciplining the man were included in that letter rather than him coming to the church personally to test the obedience of the Corinthians “in all things.”
He had given them a directive to “put away from yourselves the evil person.” By writing, he would then have been testing their obedience to his authority as an apostle, even when he was separate from them. In essence, it was a test of compliance to his directive. It is easy to be obedient when one in authority is present, but it is less so when that same authority is absent.
The second opinion is that he is using the tool known as an “epistolary aorist” in this verse which concerns this same letter. In essence, “For to this end I also write (this letter), that I might put you to the test (concerning forgiving the man who has been disciplined), whether you are obedient in all things (both in punishment and in restoration).”
In the end, the challenge is the same for the Corinthians: Will they be obedient to Paul’s directive concerning a very sensitive issue even though Paul is not personally present. Whichever is the case, Paul was trusting in their faithfulness to his directives as an apostle of Christ. As this letter has become a part of the Bible, the exact same premise carries over to each one of us.
His words are written under apostolic authority and thus carry the weight of having come directly from the Lord. Are we willing to accept his (and thus the Lord’s) authority and be obedient to his prescriptive writings, or will we be disobedient to them? How easy it is to go to verses outside of Paul’s writings in order to justify disobedience! But it is Paul who is the apostle to the Gentiles during this dispensation. Thus it is his letters which set the standard for the church age. Let us be willing to accept them and be obedient to them.
Life application: The book of Acts is a descriptive account of the establishment of the church. It is not intended as a tool of instruction for the establishment of doctrine. Rather, Paul’s words are given for that purpose. If something occurs in Acts which seems contrary to one of Paul’s directives, there is a reason for it. The variation then is not for doctrinal use, but to show how the church was established. Once it was, we are to prefer Paul’s commands over the narrative found in Acts. Taking everything in its intended context will keep the congregation from confusion and faulty doctrine.
Heavenly Father, I have come to realize that the world speaks about “God” in such general terms as relationships, expectations, and hopes. And yet they are just individual preferences without anything to back them up. They have created a “god” in their image rather than searching You out as You have revealed Yourself to us in Your word. Help me to be wise and discerning and never to make up my own “god” in Your place. Reveal Yourself to me through Your word and only when ideas about You match it will I accept them as valid. Let me be obedient only to the truth of who You are. Amen.