Saturday, 30 August 2015
…as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;
2 Corinthians 6:9
Paul’s list of the things the apostles went through for the sake of the gospel is expanded to include “as unknown, and yet well known.” The apostles were ignored as if they were nobody’s. People looked over them as if they were just one of many faces in a crowd, or someone passing by on the street without a nod of the head to say hello. Dignitaries looked down on them and others thought they were troublemakers.
And yet, they were fully known to God. They were selected by Him for His special work of beginning a (so far) 2000-year proclamation by the church of the message of Christ. They were well known by those who had received their words of peace with God and they were treated with respect by them for the important work they were doing. Even if the world at large cared nothing for them, those who truly mattered knew them well.
Next he says “…as dying, and behold we live.” In 2 Corinthians 1:9, Paul noted that “we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” He also noted in his first epistle to them that he “died daily” for the sake of Christ. But despite these types of things, they lived on. He uses the word “behold” for emphasis here. It is as if their dying itself died each day, turning into life by the power of God who sustained them. There is in this a hint of the great victory of Christ over death which allowed them to face death, knowing that it had no true hold over them.
Finally in this verse are the words “…as chastened, and yet not killed.” This is probably not speaking of the chastenings of man (such as scourges and whips), but rather that of God. Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 12:7 that “lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”
God allowed this chastening influence in his life in order to keep him humble and dependant on the grace of Christ in all things. Such a chastening may have been severe, but it was not enough to take his life. Instead it was there to lead others to life! Such is the manifold wisdom of God. What we often think of as evil may actually have a good purpose in God’s plans.
Life application: Reading and thinking on the story of Joseph will provide a real-life recorded example of what Paul is speaking of in this verse. Take time to read his account, from Genesis 37-50 and compare it to the words of Paul here. You will see exactly what Paul is speaking of. And while doing so, think on the same type of situations you have faced. In doing so, you can be more reassured that your own trials are not unknown to God. Instead, they are fully known and have been, and are being, used for His good purposes.
Heavenly Father, as difficult as many of the trials we face are, not one is unknown to You. What we often perceive of as “evil” is actually being used as a part of Your greater plan. Grant us the wisdom to see that nothing happens apart from Your sovereign will and that You have it all under control. Help us to see the darkened valleys for what they truly are. And we will give You thanks and glory for them from the shining mountain tops! Hallelujah and Amen.