"Paul's Apostolic Authority Described and Defended"
NOW I myself, Paul, beseech you, by the gentleness and consideration of Christ [Himself; I] who [am] lowly enough [so they say] when among you face to face, but bold (fearless and outspoken) to you when [I am] absent from you! I entreat you when I do come [to you] that I may not [be driven to such] boldness as I intend to show toward those few who suspect us of acting according to the flesh [on the low level of worldly motives and as if invested with only human powers]. For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasoning and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One),
Being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete..Look at [this obvious fact] which is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him reflect and remind himself that even as he is Christ's, so too are we. For even though I boast rather freely about our power and authority, which the Lord gave for your up-building and not for demolishing you, yet I shall not be put to shame [for exceeding the truth],
Neither would I seem to be overawing or frightening you with my letters; For they say, His letters are weighty and impressive and forceful and telling, but his personality and bodily presence are weak, and his speech and delivery are utterly contemptible (of no account). Let such people realize that what we say by letters when we are absent, [we put] also into deeds when we are present — Not that we [have the audacity to] venture to class or [even to] compare ourselves with some who exalt and furnish testimonials for themselves! However, when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely. We, on the other hand, will not boast beyond our legitimate province and proper limit, but will keep within the limits [of our commission which] God has allotted us as our measuring line and which reaches and includes even you.
For we are not overstepping the limits of our province and stretching beyond our ability to reach, as though we reached not (had no legitimate mission) to you, for we were [the very first] to come even as far as to you with the good news (the Gospel) of Christ. We do not boast therefore, beyond our proper limit, over other men's labors, but we have the hope and confident expectation that as your faith continues to grow, our field among you may be greatly enlarged, still within the limits of our commission, So that [we may even] preach the Gospel in lands [lying] beyond you, without making a boast of work already done in another [man's] sphere of activity [before we came on the scene]. However, let him who boasts and glories boast and glory in the Lord. [Jeremiah 9:24.] For [it is] not [the man] who praises and commends himself who is approved and accepted, but [it is the person] whom the Lord accredits and commends. AMPLIFIED
Paul’s Apostolic Authority Described and Defended
Some in this congregation had previously accused Paul of being "wishy-washy" sort of speak. They based their accusation on the premise that Paul would project a no nonsense, tough acting disciplinarian image when he wrote his letters to the Corinthian church , but when he fellowship with them in person, they claimed he appeared to be more pliable and meek, and even tended to mumble in speaking and show some fear to actually discipline the wayward members, even though he talked the tough talk. His Corinthian detractors judged him by themselves, as if he were influenced by fleshly motives, desire of favor, or fear of offending, so as not to fully exercise his authority. Paul response to these accusations was that he desired to take a more gentle approach, similar to the way Jesus did while ministering on earth. Paul desired to imitate Christ's gentleness and kindness, as opposed to being hard and forceful exhibit the gentle feelings of the Savior. He didn’t desire to arouse tension and appealed to the accusers not to create the kind of drama that would force him to back of the tough talk with tougher action.
I. Paul Defends His Ministry Authority (Verses 1-2)
A. Paul’s response to being called “two-faced” or “wishy-washy”
1. I write in a gentle but firm Spirit of Christ: Because…
I hear that I'm being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I'm with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters.
2. Please don't force me to take a hard line when I'm present with you. Don't think that I'll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I'm an unprincipled opportunist. Then they'll have to eat their words.
B. Walking in the Flesh (mortality) Warring in Spiritual Matters (vs. 3)
1. We are human just like everyone else. We are prone to error. We have the same human needs just like everybody else…..but
2. We do not “war” in the flesh…Paul wasn’t “warring” based on worldly principles- Neither do we All of us (not just ministers) go forth daily as a soldiers with “evangelism” marching orders from Jesus and fight his battles against in and Satan to win souls for the Kingdom .
The warfare of the Christian is a fight against:
1. The corrupt desires and sensual propensities of the heart, moral corruption and depravity, that epitomizes the “old man” (man operating in his fallen nature).
2. The powers, principalities, rulers of the darkness of this world and wicked spirits in the “heavenlies” (first heaven- atmosphere)the powers of darkness; the mighty spirits of evil that seek to destroy us; see Ephesians 6:11-17.
3. With sin in all forms; with idolatry, sensuality, corruption, intemperance, profaneness, wherever they may exist. The Christian is supposed to be opposed to all this and it should be the “aim” and “purpose” of each of us to both resist sin and subdue sin. Weapons and missles will not win this war The Christian looks for his conquests only by the force and the power of truth, and by the agency of the Spirit of God.
II. Our Weapons of Warfare (Ephesians 6:11-18) (Verses 4-6)
A. Not Carnal… (vs. 4)
The Christian cannot win a “spiritual” war with “carnal” weapons like :
eloquence, chrisma, wealth, beauty, guns, missles, politics, or anything else the world deems as weapons.
B. Mighty Through God….for the pulling down of strongholds
Our weapons are empowered by God..Faith – Shield, WORD of GOD- sword, Prayer- are weapons fortified by the righteousness of Gold and the truth contained in every bit of HIS WORD In Christ, we are assured the VICTORY!
What are strongholds?
A stronghold is any fortress that exist, and designed and adapted to oppose the truth and the triumph of the Christian's cause. These are some of the “effects” of “strongholds” the presence and power of sin in the life of man)
The “power” of SIN fortifies the heart of the “fallen” man through the long indulgence (disobedience) and by the hold which they have on his soul. (Man’s way of thinking) Genesis 6:5-6: God saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was on evil continually..God was so grieved that he regretted making man and sought to destroy man…but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
God strongly opposes the “wickedness” of the world because this world because of SIN entering into the world. (and along with “SIN” came DEATH as well (Romans 5:12)) The wickedness of this world is strongly fortified by SIN having seized on strong human passions. This causes man to become enslaved by his sinful passions because of sensual gratification of the human flesh (physical body) as well as man’s emotions.
The “stronghold” of “idolatry” in this world is strongly fortified by prejudice, and long establishment, (religious traditions (pagan) and the traditions of men (religious and secular)) and the protection of laws. The opinions and philosophies of the world are entrenched behind false philosophy and the power of subtle argumentation.
Strongholds causes the whole world and worldly people (carnal minded) to be fortified against Christianity. The nations of the earth have been engaged in raising and strengthening such spiritual, anti-Christian, judicial, political , and social strongholds for the last 6,000 years. This is why, the Christian religion goes forth against all the combined and concentrated powers of resistance of the whole world; and the warfare is to be waged against every strongly fortified place of error and of sin. These strong fortifications of error and sin are to be battered down and laid in ruins by our spiritual weapons.
III. The Power of Our weapons: Our Spiritual Weapons have to power to: (vs. 5)
A. Casting down imaginations: Human logic, and reason which shape the plans of a wicked society: false philosophy and doctrinal heresies that are so entrenched, they might be called the “stronghold of the enemies of God”. The foes of Christianity pretend to a great deal of reason, and rely on that in resisting the gospel.
B. And every high thing; Every exalted opinion that promotes the respect of the dignity and pride of human heart. Man seeks to glorify himself, thus he opposes everything that promotes the worship, the knowledge and glorifying of God .(Jehovah) This is why man entertains vain and unfounded opinions that exalt man in his “excellence” and they feel that they don’t need any of the provisions of the gospel and refuses to submit to God.
C. Bringing into Captivity Every power of thought in the pagan world This would include all the systems of philosophy, every secular, pagan and “religious” opinion, doctrines, emotional expressions among people; any purposes of the soul; alas well as all the powers of reason, imagination, memory, judgment, fancy in an individual, that are to come under the laws of Christ, The strongholds of philosophy, paganism, and sin should be demolished, and all the opinions, plans, and purposes of the world should become subject to the all-conquering Redeemer.
IV. Having a : Readiness Toward Obedience: “Fulfilling Your Obedience (vs. 6) (vs.6)
What it meant to Paul: Paul declared that he now ready to punish and dismantle all acts of disobedience that violate the laws of Christ and use his office to the Apostleship to do so…
What it means to us. It means, we must lay aside every weight and the sin(s) that so easily beset us and run with patience…the race that has been set before us…Looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith. Then we must let this mind be in us that was also in Christ Jesus.
V. Appearance: How Do We Look at Things? (Life)(Paul)(Ourselves) (Verses 7-11)
A. Accusation #1: My “bragging about my relationship (and yours) in Christ”- You stare at the Obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees. You’re looking for a clear example of Christ in a person. I’m right here and you in your accusation discount (cut-off, ignore, refute) my Apostleship. Paul said regardless of how you see me…I’m in right standing with Christ. You think I brag too much…but I’m not backing down on my state and status with Christ. That’s why every bit of my ministerial commitment is to build you up and not tear you down. (vs. 7-8)
Remember: In life, we see through a glass darkly…We must see with the discerning eyes of the Holy Spirit and in faith. We don’t see the whole picture all at once.
B. Accusation #2: Me- A bully in my letters, but weak and mumbles in person. Paul said: “We are the same people (and personalities) wherever we are and however we write. Your argument won’t hold water. (vs. 9-11) In fact, we (Paul said) aren’t “strong enough(like you think you are) to put ourselves in a league of our own (iconic) You might think that by comparing yourselves and some of you have, but we ain’t got it like that! And we’re not in competition with each other either! (vs.12)
Remember: In God’s ministry, you must be consistent in conduct and character and mannerism of ministry
C. Accusation # 3: “Making outrageous claims” More Bragging (vs. 13-14)
Paul said: We aren't making outrageous claims here. We're simply sticking to the limits of what God has set for us and those “limits” reach all the way to Corinth and include you. We're not moving into someone else's "territory." We were already there with you. We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ My writing or visiting you does not overstep bounds.
Remember: Stay in our lane and run your race> Let the tongues wag..don’t let your work in God’s ministry lag.
D. Accusation #4: “Interfering With Other Ministries” (vs. 15-18)
Paul said: We're not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. What we're hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you'll play a part within our expanding work. And we'll all still be within the limits God sets as we proclaim the Message in countries beyond Corinth. But we have no intention of moving in on what others have done and taking credit for it. "If you want to claim credit, claim it for God."
Remember: Ministries are intertwined- We all are the body of Christ. You’re not the only one who will witness to a person….Paul planted…Apollos watered…but God gives the increase! (We either plant or water) God gives the increase.(harvest)
VI. Conclusion: What you Say About Yourself Versus. What God says about you.“ (vs. 18)
What you say about yourself means nothing in God's work. It's what God says about you that makes the difference. And there is a Big difference:
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold of hot ...I will spew you out of my mouth…
For you say…I am rich…I am increased with good …and have need of nothing…
But God says: Know you not that you are wretched…miserable…and poor…and blind…and naked…
Revelation 3:18-22; God’s Counsel:
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'"
Dr. William Edward Boddie