Wednesday, 12 August 2015
For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 2 Corinthians 5:12
Based on his words of the previous verse, his detractors could say, “There he goes again, boasting about himself as one of the apostles!” But this isn’t the case. It is a continuation of the defense he made all the way back in Chapter 3 –
“Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
There was no need for self commendation because those in Corinth who came to Christ and who were then schooled in Christ testified to their apostolic ministry. Now he takes that thought and offers it to them to “give you opportunity to boast on our behalf.” If the Corinthians are their “epistle” then they should feel free to make a boasting of them. Thus, there was no need for Paul and the others to commend themselves. Again, this is something he already addressed to them at the beginning of the letter –
“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 1:12-14
To complete the thought of this verse, he says that their boasting is so “that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart.” The term “in appearance” is literally “in face.” The work of Paul and the other apostles was written on the heart, whereas the work of the others was external. They boasted of their eloquence, superior knowledge, the names of their schools, or whatever other external signs of their greatness. Paul will speak of these people directly later in the epistle. They were superficial and they were false teachers.
Life application: Paul had personal defects, he wasn’t known as an eloquent speaker, and he certainly wasn’t flashy. Instead he made tents to support himself and shared the gospel freely to all. Those who opposed him may have been visually appealing and very well-spoken, but they missed what was important – holding fast to God’s word. Now think of those in the world today – whom would you rather trust with the message of your eternal destiny? Does a flashy presentation really matter all that much when put in this perspective?
Heavenly Father, please help those who are seeking You to look past the externals of eloquence, physical ability, and flashy presentations. Instead, I would pray that they would seek out those who hold fast to Your word regardless of their physical appeal or exceptional speaking abilities. Trading sound doctrine for ear-appeal is not a very good deal when one considers that eternal rewards and even salvation itself are at stake. Open hearts to Your word alone! Amen.