When Paul first arrived in Corinth, he reasoned in the synagogue on the Sabbath, trying to persuade the Jews, and also the Greeks, that the Christ was Jesus. Many Jews opposed and reviled him, but many of the Corinthians…believed and were baptized. Acts 18 tells us that, when Paul became frustrated with the Jews’ rejection: the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are My people. And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”
Remember these details: the rejection of the Jews and acceptance of the Gentiles; the Lord’s promise of protection and assurance that He has many in this city who are My people; and the year-and-a-half he devoted there, making tents and preaching. All of this is in the background of the section of 2 Corinthians we’ll read today. Paul has spent a lot of time talking about generosity and the collection for Jerusalem already, and he overtly expresses his hopes for their financial contributions to the greater church.
But his comments today will also request generosity, at least in spirit, toward himself. In chapter 11 especially Paul is raw and personal, addressing some slander or ridicule that has made it to his ears. Listen closely and consider his response, as well as the Corinthians’ offense, as he forcefully challenges ill treatment from fellow believers for whom he has sacrificed so much.
Consider also the placement of this personal complaint here, after Paul has made the following argument in general terms: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel. The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
2 Corinthians 9 through 11. Now let’s read it!
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.