I. Paul’s Appeal To The Corinthians
A. Paul Desired To Be Gentle With Them Vs. 1, 2
1. V. 1 Paul compared his involvement with the Corinthians to how Jesus treated people.
a. Paul desired to have the same meekness and gentleness that Jesus had. He pleaded.
b. Jesus didn’t demand that people do things. Instead, he tried to reason with them.
c. In person, Paul was meek. In his letters, he presented a stronger personality.
2. V. 2 Paul did not desire to be harsh and heavy handed with the Corinthians.
a. Paul understood that some people will only respond to harshness.
b. Paul knew that he had to be strong against some who wouldn’t respond to meekness.
c. Paul understood that some people misjudged his methods of ministry and accused him of being a man who used carnal methods to accomplish things.
d. With some of them, Paul was going to need to be bold and confrontational.
B. Paul Battled In The Spirit Vs. 3-6
1. V. 3 Paul lived in a fleshly body, but he did not fight spiritual battles according to human wisdom or in his own strength.
2. Vs. 4, 5 Paul’s methods for spiritual battle were not carnal, but spiritual.
a. They were mighty in God, as compared to the weak and carnal methods of others.
b. Paul’s opponents used i such as self-promotion, flattery, deceitfulness, comparing themselves to others, exaggeration, manipulation, smooth words, heavy handedness, dominating authority, etc.
c. Strongholds- Wrong thoughts or customs that have been embraced for a long time.
d. Arguments- Imaginations; logical thoughts. Human based theology or practices.
e. High things- elevated things, perhaps considered untouchable, sacred, unchanging.
f. They opposed false ideas that exalted themselves against the knowledge of God-
g. They brought people’s thoughts into the captivity of obedience to Jesus-
3. V. 6 Paul’s spiritual warfare also included punishing disobedience-
a. He looked for obedience from the Corinthians.
II. Paul’s Authority Vs. 7-18
A. Paul Used His Authority In A Godly Way Vs. 7-11
1. V. 7 It doesn’t take any spiritual maturity to judge someone according to the flesh.
a. Churches sometimes choose their leaders according to their personality or appearance.
b. They sometimes choose their leaders according to how much education they have, or how popular they are academic settings.
c. Israel wrongly chose Saul to be their king because of his appearance and height.
d. God said that he doesn’t choose men according to their outward appearance, but according to their heart.
e. Paul was being judged wrongly because of his outward appearance and meekness when he was with them. Paul was just as much a Christian as they were.
2. Vs. 8-10 If necessary, Paul would speak about the fact that his authority was from God. he would not be apologetic about that.
a. His authority was given to him to build people up, not tear them down.
b. He used a gentle approach in person. If that didn’t work, he used a stronger approach through his letters. Both approaches were used to build people up, not destroy them.
3. V. 11 Paul reminded them that he could be strong in person if he needed to be. He was not a coward. He was the same man whether present or absent.
B. How Paul Viewed His Godly Authority Vs. 12-18
1. V. 12 There were other so called “super apostles” that commended themselves. They must have been outwardly impressive, because these carnal Corinthians were impressed by them and giving them more credit than they deserved.
a. They compared themselves to one another. That is carnal and is not wise.
b. Paul would never try to gain influence through carnal methods.
c. “The end doesn’t justify the means”. You may have a true message, but you should not use carnal methods to communicate it, or to gain listeners. That is worldly.
d. It is easy for the church to feel that they need to compete with the world in this way.
2. V. 13 Paul would not exaggerate about who God had made him to be, but he also would not minimize who God had made him to be. He was an apostle, and a minister to Corinth. He had authority from God that the “super apostles” did not have.
a. God set the limits and the reach of Paul’s ministry. It included the Corinthians.
3. V. 14 Paul was not reaching further than what God had called him to. God had called Paul to minister to the Corinthians. His presence there was ordained by God.
a. Paul had founded the church. He was their spiritual father. God had ordained that.
b. We sometimes see ministries that call themselves “international” or “worldwide”.
c. It is God’s determination about how far a ministry will reach. Not man’s decision.
d. A man might even have good intentions to reach many, but that is God’s decision.
e. Our responsibility is to follow God’s leading, and to go deep where he leads us.
f. Paul was “running in his lane” and not in another man’s lane.
4. Vs. 15, 16 Paul did not to enhance his reputation by boasting in another man’s ministry and attaching himself to that ministry. He didn’t try to say, “Look what we have done”, when in reality he wasn’t a part of what others were doing.
a. Someone might say, “Our denomination has planted so many churches” as a way of making themselves look better than they are, when in reality, that one person hasn’t planted any churches and has never served in a church.
b. It may have been that the “super apostles” were mentioning Paul’s name, and implying that they had contributed to his ministry, thereby giving themselves more credit than they deserved. Maybe they were from Tarsus, Paul’s hometown, and using that to boost their credibility.
c. If the Corinthians matured spiritually, and planted churches, that would be an extension of Paul’s sphere of ministry through them.
d. Paul’s ministry might also expand if the Corinthians could see him as the Apostle that he was, and if they supported him financially so that he could reach other regions.
5. Vs. 17, 18 Whatever success a minister might have, we all must realize that ultimately, God should get the glory. Without Him, we can do nothing of eternal value. (John 15:5)
a. We should glory, but it is in God that we glory.
b. Our true approval doesn’t come from man, but from God.
c. We shouldn’t glory in ourselves, or against others.
d. It is true that perhaps God has given us more insight into truth, or in how to serve.
e. It may be true that we are more accurately representing the Gospel message.
f. But that is never an excuse for self-glory.
g. Guzik- Paul wanted the respect of the Corinthian Christians, but he wanted it for their sake, not his own. He knew they were hurting their own spiritual growth and maturity by rejecting him. But as for himself, Paul was satisfied with the approval that came from the Lord. This is the place where every Christian, and especially every person in ministry, must come to. It is a dangerous thing to commend oneself or to approve oneself.