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"And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know ... For we know in part and we prophesy in part" (1 Cor. 8:2, 13:9)

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Commentaries on 2 Corinthians

Fragments discussed: 1:21,22 | 2:14-17 | 3:6-11 | 3:12-18 | 4:3,4 | 4:6,7 | 4:16-18 | 5:1-5 | 5:10,11 | 5:11,12 | 5:14,15 | 5:16,17 | 5:18-20 | 5:21 | 6:1,2 | 6:14-18

2 Corinthians 1

2 Cor. 1:21,22

"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, (22) who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (NKJV)

Commentary: according to the original text, God confirms us in Christ by giving us the earnest of the spirit, sealing and anointing. These three terms describe the process of the development of personality, which consists of the conscious and the subconscious. Consciousness is the area of ​​fact analysis, inference, and forecasting for the future. The subconscious encompasses preprogrammed reactions in our body that make up character. Development consists in shaping character by consciously working on oneself based on the knowledge of the truth. The beginning of this process is to prepare the spirit which is the love of truth and as such motivates and guides the elect to a better and better understanding of the Word of God. In the elect who repent (i.e. consciously want change), growing knowledge seals character, i.e. imprints on it the structure of truth. If the sealing covers the entire human personality and leads to a comprehensive change of character to the image of Jesus Christ, we can speak of anointing - just as a priest under the Old Covenant was anointed with oil that ran down to the bottom of his garment, so 'immersing' the entire human personality in the spirit makes us antitypical priests and thus confirms us in Christ, giving us full membership in his body and the hope of glory in his kingdom. Earnesting, sealing, and anointing together constitute baptism in the spirit.

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2 Corinthians 2

2 Cor. 2:14-17

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. (15) For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. (16) To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? (17) For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ" (NKJV)

Commentary: one of the priestly services in the Sanctuary of the Tabernacle was burning incense "for a pleasant smell". The apostle Paul explains that antitypical priests exude "the fragrance of His knowledge." The priests of the New Covenant are the elect who, thanks to the received spirit of truth, experience baptism in the spirit, immersing themselves in the depth of knowledge of the Word of God. Hence, in verses 16 and 17, the apostle emphasizes that not everyone can perform this service in the antitypical Sanctuary, but only those who speak truthfully (Greek eilikrineia [G1505] - purity), and do not falsify the Word of God (Greek kapēleuō [ G2585] - add teachings from the outside which are not true). The teaching from the Sanctuary level is not intended for all listeners, but "belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14 NKJV). In other words, it is addressed to the spirit-born believers (antitypical Levites and priests). For them, this teaching can have two effects: by understanding and practicing it can lead its holders to the reward of vocation, or by rejecting it, it becomes the cause of their irretrievable (second) death (verses 15 and 16: "aroma of death" and "aroma of life").

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2 Corinthians 3

2 Cor. 3:6-11

"Who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (7) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, (8) how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? (9) For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. (10) For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. (11) For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious" (NKJV)

Commentary: under the Old Covenant, Israel received the letter - the law of regulations. However, since the law always refers to a specific circumstance, and the number of possible life circumstances tends to infinity, the Law in its structure neither defined justice nor could it provide it. Those who would like to justify themselves from the Law must therefore fail, "for the letter kills" (verse 6). Under the New Covenant, the Lord's chosen people do not receive regulations but a spirit that is the will to know and practice the truth, i.e. the principles that govern God's order of things. The ability to apply them will allow us to maintain the standards of justice in every situation, and thus allow the holders of the spirit of truth to receive the gift of life ("the Spirit gives life").

"The ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious" (verse 7), but "even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels" (verse 10). Glory is the manifestation of the spirit. The law was literal in its essence, but in its function "the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ" (Gal. 3:24 NKJV). Likewise, of the Tabernacle with its institutions and ceremonies, we read that "It was symbolic for the present time" (Heb. 9:8,9 NKJV). The Law of Moses, therefore, pointed to the spirit, but behind a veil of literal prescriptions and material ceremonial. The ministry of the spirit was something the Jews were unable to accept, just as they could not look at the shining face of Moses (who typified Christ). Therefore he had to put a veil over his face, and therefore a veil of the Law with its literal/ material regulations and ceremonies was placed upon the service of the spirit.

2 Cor. 3:12-18

"Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech — (13) unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. (14) But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. (15) But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. (16) Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (17) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (NKJV)

Commentary: the concept of spirit includes three essential meanings: will, understanding, and disposition. These meanings can be considered separately, but it is difficult not to see their connection. For the will is the pursuit of the truth. Submitting to its influence leads to understanding (rebirth of the mind), and practicing it leads to the formation of a new disposition (character). "The Lord is the Spirit" (verse 17), that is, Christ represents the disposition towards which we are striving. Its manifestation (glory) is the fruitage of the spirit (attributes of character). We look to the glory of the Lord (verse 18) as we observe his actions in the mirror of the Gospel. We do this so that we ourselves will be transformed "from glory to glory" - that our character may bear the same fruitage of the spirit as it was in the case of the Lord Jesus. The condition is that we are "transformed into the same image", that is, the character of believers must be formed in the knowledge of the truth, following the example of Jesus Christ. This in turn happens "by the Spirit of the Lord" because the condition for the development of a Christlike disposition is to have the spirit of the Lord in the element of the will to know and serve the truth.

So "we have such hope" (verse 12) to identify our character with that of the Lord and thus receive the spiritual nature. The condition, however, is not only to know, but also to serve this knowledge to others of the Lord's people, therefore the apostle adds in verse 12 that "we use great boldness of speech." Verses 13-15 go back to the topic of the Law of Moses, which I discussed in more detail in the commentary on 2 Cor. 3:6-11 (above). As long as a person adheres to literal regulations, he is a slave to them because he cannot do otherwise than the regulation wants. The essence of liberty in Christ (verse 17) is the ability to make one's own decisions not based on the law, but on the basis of knowledge and the ability to use it (wisdom). The law, although in its essence (figuratively) points to Christ, in its content it constitutes a veil that prevents the exercise of the liberty that results from having the Lord's spirit of truth.

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2 Corinthians 4

2 Cor. 4:3,4

"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, (4) whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (NKJV)

Commentary: showing faith in God and accepting the truth of the Gospel is the duty of every human being. In doing so, we are doing God justice; hence the concept of godliness means obligatory love towards God. Such faith is not the result of grace but of duty. The Gospel is hidden from those whose minds have been blinded by wrong philosophies. The mind naturally strives for a state of cognitive equilibrium. The adoption of an unscriptural ideological system requires that the teaching of the Bible be rejected because, in principle, it is impossible to hold two conflicting views at the same time. On the other hand, to accept the teachings of the Gospel, one must first undergo metanoia - a change of mind, which is also difficult because it requires a revolution in the way of thinking (this, in turn, is contrary to the aforementioned principle of equilibrium). People do not make such changes because they want it, only because they have to, because the current view turns out to be so contradictory to reality that it can no longer be upheld ... As long as it can, the Gospel will not be an alternative to accept.

I interpret the term "god of this age" as referring personally to God's adversary, which may also be indicated by Mt. 4:8-10; Jn. 14:30; Eph. 2:2; 1 Jn. 5:19. Satan is also called the father of lies (John 8:44), while Paul accuses him in the passage under examination that he blinds (lies) the minds so that the truth cannot penetrate. The reference to "those who are perishing" in verse 3 describes the condition of mankind: now, because of sin, man is under sentence of death. Salvation from this judgment is based on the acceptance of the Gospel about Jesus, through which believers experience the new birth of the spirit - their transformed personality seeks obedience to God and as such is not subject to death. Thus we "we have passed from death to life" as the new creation (1 Jn. 3:14).

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2 Cor. 4:6,7

"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us" (NKJV)

Commentary: the symbolic heart is the seat of the will. God lights up in the heart because agape love, which is God's gift to believers, is the will to acquire and apply the truth. Being influenced by it leads man to light because with a better understanding of the divine order, we can clearly see the reality in which we live and are able to consciously move within it. The glory of God is the manifestation of His spirit in the fruit of righteous character. The glory of God is in the image of Jesus Christ, who has been given to man as an example (2 Cor. 3:18). God's love is poured into the heart "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" because, by knowing and applying the truth, the character of believers is transformed, and thus the whole personality (mind and character - spirit and body) becomes illumined with the knowledge of God's glory. The material bodies (earthen vessels) that we possess cannot, by themselves, develop the qualities resulting from the influence of God's spirit of truth. The fact that we develop them is, according to the apostle, an argument for their supernatural origin (verse 8).

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2 Cor. 4:16-18

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, (18) while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (NKJV)

Commentary: the outward man is the material body which deteriorates with time. The inward man is the metaphysical body - the character that, according to the words of the apostle, is renewed daily (verse 16). The tool of character renewal is the spirit (mind) that looks at things invisible (God's laws governing the world), and by observing them from day to day, imprints a seal (pattern of truth) on the body of character (verse 18). The victorious experience of affliction crystallizes the character of believers, making them eligible for the glory of God's nature in the kingdom of Christ (verse 17).

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2 Corinthians 5

2 Cor. 5:1-5

"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, (3) if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. (4) For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. (5) Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee" (NKJV)

Commentary: 2 Cor. 5:1-5 clearly refers to the dualism of the concept of the body, which in the Bible means both the material body (Greek sarks) and the metaphysical body - character (Greek soma). In the last verses of chapter 4, the apostle Paul wrote about this by using the terms outward man (material body) and inward man (body of character). Here, Paul writes about a tent that is to be destroyed so that we may receive a permanent abode in spiritual glory - so it is evidently the death of the material body and resurrection of the spiritual body. The prerequisite for receiving such a reward is clothing (verse 3), which is the same as the inward man and the same as the body of character. God has prepared us for this by giving us the earnest of the spirit ('guarantee', verse 5) of the love of truth (agape). Development in the knowledge and application of the truth shapes character, thus dressing us in the garment necessary to participate in the feast of the Word of God (cf. the parable of the wedding feast), and consequently giving us hope for a resurrection to heavenly glory.

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2 Cor. 5:10,11

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (11) Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences" (NKJV)

Commentary: verse 10 in the interlinear translation reads as follows: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad." The Biblical judgment involves four activities: teaching, testing, chastening, and sentence. It is therefore a complete process of character repair and this is what the above mentioned verse 10 is about. The body in the Bible means not only material but also metaphysical body - character. "The things in the body" are character traits that show outwardly and make us do good or bad. We are to appear (to show what we are) before Christ so that everyone gets (can develop in the process of judgement) qualities in accordance with the Lord's spirit (fruit of the spirit). "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord," that is, understanding the real sense of God's judgment, "we persuade men" to undergo this process of repair.

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2 Cor. 5:11,12

"Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (12) 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" (NKJV)

Commentary: we reveal ourselves to others when our character traits are manifested in our mutual contacts. For Paul, this is an argument in favor of his ministry in a dispute with his opponents. In line with the principle that a bad tree does not bear good fruit (Mt. 7:18), the apostle does not recommend himself (verse 12), but rather draws attention to the character traits of the Lord Jesus that are present in him - in Paul - and through him bear the fine fruit of works.

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2 Cor. 5:14,15

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; (15) and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (NKJV)

Commentary: the death mentioned in this passage is the death of the body of character, which we perform through repentance. The elect who undertake it become the recipients of the divine agape love, which initiates in them a new life, first by rebirth of the mind in the knowledge of the truth (begottal of the spirit), and then by sealing the body of character with the possessed understanding by consciously practicing God's principles (birth of the spirit). So, referring now directly to 2 Cor. 5:14-15, all those who judge that Jesus died for all die - because they believe in the value of his sacrifice, they repent and undertake a personality change on the pattern of the Lord. On the other hand, the purpose of Jesus' sacrifice was that those who live (who have been endowed with God's love of truth) no longer live for themselves, but for the purpose to which Christ has devoted himself - to put themselves at the service of the Gospel in knowing, proclaiming and teaching it.

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2 Cor. 5:16,17

"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (NKJV)

Commentary: soul (personality) consists of spirit (mind) and body (character). The concept of the new creation clearly does not refer to the body, as indicated in verse 16. Paul thus draws attention to the element of spirit in which we become a new creation through the action of the divine love agape. Agape, which is the love of truth, is the will to know and serve the Word of God (this is mentioned in the preceding verses 14 and 15). Therefore, it completely changes the direction of thinking of the believer who has been endowed with it, and thus transforms the operation of the mind, making it new (creation). The new creation is initiated as a result of begettal of the spirit (of agape love), and its development leads to the formation of a new body of character and thus the birth of a complete personality from the spirit in the image of Jesus Christ.

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2 Cor. 5:18-20

"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, (19) that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God" (NKJV)

Commentary: the Greek paraptoma used by Paul in verse 19 means a sin committed in ignorance, unintentional. God does not count such sins on man, which does not mean that he is satisfied with them. The cure for the sin of ignorance is consciousness, hence the ministry of reconciliation exercised by the Lord Jesus and then by his followers 'imploring you on Christ’s behalf' (verse 20). The essence of this message is to impart the spirit of obedience and knowledge of the truth, and the condition for the hearers to benefit from it is to repent. That is why Paul writes that it is God who reconciles us to him, rather than we reconcile ourselves with God (verse 18 and 19). Also the exhortation from verse 20 in the original is in the passive: let yourself be reconciled. In other words, repent of your sins so that you can accept God's gift of truth and, by following it, have peace with God.

The Greek katallasso translated as 'reconcile' means in the original currency exchange for another of the same value. On the one hand, therefore, God gives us his value in the form of truth, and on the other hand, he expects to receive an equivalent value: acting in accordance with this truth. Verse 18 begins with a reference to the previous verses: "all things are of God" - "all things", that is, reconciliation ("who has reconciled us") and the service of reconciliation ("has given us the ministry of reconciliation"). Paul wrote about the method of reconciliation in verses 16 and 17, which spoke of the new creation shaped by the spirit of truth. The apostle wrote about the ministry of reconciliation in verses 14 and 15 as the love of Christ that presses us to live not for ourselves but for him (in the service he performed).

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2 Cor. 5:21

"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (NKJV)

Commentary: having received the fullness of the spirit in the Jordan, Jesus was born as the Son of God, and he addressed the Jews with this message. However, in what he "knew no sin", he was made a sin because it was in this matter that the Jews accused him of blasphemy, for which he was also martyred and suffered a death on the cross. However, the related experiences made the Lord perfect as our sacrifice and provided the full price of bearing witness to the truth for our redemption (Rom. 5:18,19; Heb. 5:8,9).

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2 Corinthians 6

2 Cor. 6:1,2

"We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2) For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (NKJV)

Commentary: the Gospel Age which is now in progress is a special time of grace. As far as can be deduced from the Word of God, it is the only such time in history when God provides man with the possibility of achieving spiritual glory and immortality in God's nature. However, not everyone can apply for this reward, but only those who were selected and destined for this purpose. Therefore, verse 1 speaks of a grace that we receive (through repenting faith in the name of the Lord Jesus), but which we can also neglect. Indeed, the elect receive the gift of God's love of truth (agape), which leads to the sacrifice of life for Christ through the study and propagation of the truth of God's Word (2 Cor. 5:14,15). Only faithful execution of our sacrifice will ensure the expected reward.

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2 Cor. 6:14-18

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (15) And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? (16) And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.' (17) Therefore 'Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.' (18) 'I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty'" (NKJV)

Commentary: the subject of verses 14-18 is the formation of the character of believers, which takes place in the two ways presented in the yoke and the temple. Under the Law Covenant, God manifested His presence in the literal temple with a supernatural light shining above the Ark. Under the New Covenant, the light of truth is put by the spirit into the hearts of believers, leading them to know and practice the Word of God. In this way, the spirit imprints the seal of truth on the body of character so that its developed patterns of behavior are pleasing to God. This is one way of shaping character - from within, through the spirit of truth. However, the apostle Paul also mentions a second way that works from the outside: companionship.

The essence of shaping the character is the repeatability of reactions. In the case of the spirit, this is a demanding method because it involves constant observation of oneself. On the other hand, it is easier to absorb patterns in company. The double yoke Paul describes in verse 14 was a harness in which a pair of animals walked side by side. Due to the nature of the harness, the animals had to coordinate their movements closely; they had to move in the same rhythm, especially if the yoke was attached to the forehead. But they didn't have to search for the truth or analyze their behavior. Paul warns against this. Society influences us more easily than the spirit because it does not require thinking, but imitation. At the same time, too close relations with unbelievers will force believers (like a yoke) to adapt to behavior alien to God's principles, and thus will constitute a competitive influence for God's spirit.

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Keywords: 2 letter to the Corinthians commentary interpretation
 
Bible translations used in the commentary:
NKJV - New King James Version


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