Epistles of Paul Audio and Written Bible Commentary

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 1: The Affliction of the Anointed

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 1: The Affliction of the Anointed

According to the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians is attested to in 2 ancient Great Uncial manuscripts dating to the 4th century (א and B), 4 dating to the 5th century (A, C, I 016, and 048), and 7 dating to the 6th century (D, H 015, 0186, 0223, 0225, 0285 and 0296). It is also attested to in the Chester Beatty papyrus labeled P46, which is esteemed to date to circa 200 AD. The 28th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece adds to that list the more recently discovered papyrus P99, which is dated to around 400 AD and in which are preserved considerable fragments of chapters from throughout the epistle, as well as the 5th century papyrus P117 which contains portions of chapters 7 and 8, and the 6th century papyrus P124 in which is preserved fragments of chapter 11. Therefore the contents of the epistle are well attested from ancient sources.

After spending approximately three years in Ephesus, Paul of Tarsus had departed from the city in 56 AD. We can date his departure by reckoning backwards from the time of his detention in Caesareia which is given by Luke in the final chapters of the Book of Acts, in relation to the tenures of office of the Roman procurators Festus and Felix which are known from secular history. For this the primary witness in Luke's writing is at Acts 24:26-27 which states of Antonius Felix that “He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.” While historians are divided over whether it was 58 AD or 59AD, the one year difference in the chronology is close enough for us. We cannot be absolutely certain, but for various historical reasons we are confident that the year was 59, and we can count back through the Book of Acts to this point in 56 AD.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 2: Comfort and Mercy

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 2: Comfort and Mercy

In the opening chapter of his second epistle to the Corinthians, on several occasions Paul had referred to encouragement, or comfort as the word may alternately be rendered. He also spoke about affliction. Ostensibly, the encouragement was being referred to because of the affliction which he had described, as he told his readers that “just as you are partners of the sufferings, in that manner also of the encouragement.” As we had seen from the prophet Isaiah, the Word of Yahweh had mentioned several times that children of Israel were to be afflicted for their apostasy from Yahweh their God, and then at some point in the future they were to be comforted for their affliction. That comfort was to be manifest in the message of the Gospel of Christ. Paul's ministry is the announcement of these things to the “lost” children of Israel, and he described them in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 as they were to be found among the pagan nations of ancient Europe, which he said were “Israel according to the flesh”.

Why is it that what we call Christian Identity is such a fantastic thing to most so-called Christians if Paul of Tarsus, who was chosen by Yahshua Christ to be the minister to the nations, was teaching precisely this very thing in the first century? Paul taught this throughout his epistles, and this was his entire worldview: that his ministry was to reconcile the prophesied nations of the lost children of Israel back to Yahweh their God. The so-called Roman Catholic Church which began to develop three hundred years after Paul may have preserved Paul's epistles, but at the same time it corrupted their interpretation with a universalist and replacement theology that Paul's own words do not support.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 3: The Old Testament is only for Christians

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 3: The Old Testament is only for Christians

In 2 Corinthians chapter 3 we saw Paul of Tarsus change the subject of his epistle away from the grief within the assembly at Corinth. Doing that he turned to discuss the service of the New Covenant in the Spirit of Christ as opposed to the service of the Old Covenant in the letter of the Law. It must be noticed that in the course of that discussion, Paul refutes several of the claims which are commonly made by the modern denominational sects concerning both Jews and Christianity. For instance, we often hear it repeated that the New Testament alone is for Christians, while the Old Testament is for the so-called Jews. Yet in that chapter Paul had explained that there is a veil over the Old Testament, and that it cannot be properly understood unless one turns to Christ. With that statement, Paul is stating unequivocally that the Old Testament is for Christians, and that it is not at all for the so-called Jews. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:15 of those who rejected Christ that “until this day, whenever Moses is read a veil lies upon their hearts”, and then he says of those who accepted Christ in verse 16 “But when perhaps you should turn to the Prince, the veil is taken away.” So the Old Testament is not for the so-called Jews and the Jews are blinded as to its meaning. Rather, the Old Testament is only for Christians! Only those who have turned to Christ have the ability to understand the Old Testament, and without Christ it is left unemployed.

Therefore Paul of Tarsus refutes the idea of the “New Testament Christian”. That idea is a poor excuse for the so-called Jews and it is a false theology which was long ago refuted by those who withstood the Marcionites. Instead, as Paul told the Romans in chapter 15 of his epistle to them: “Now whatever things have been written before, have been written for our instruction, so that through patient endurance and the calling of the writings we may have expectation”. Making such a statement, Paul was referring to the Scriptures of the Old Testament. It is the Christian obligation to examine the Old Testament as well as the New, and to accept both Old and New as one faith. That was also the original meaning of the term catholic, before it was corrupted into its medieval definition.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 4: Treasure in Earthen Vessels

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 4: Treasure in Earthen Vessels

In 1 Corinthians chapters 3 and 4 Paul had made an analogy of the Old Testament “service of death in letters” in comparison to the New Testament “service of the Spirit” which he called the “service of righteousness in honor”. Doing so, he explained that the judgments of the Mosaic Law were left unemployed in Christ, and for that reason Christians should seek to keep the spirit of the Law written on their hearts. Paul then spoke of the “treasure in earthen vessels” and the unseen hope of eternal life in the face of physical death which Christians have in Christ. Paul then explained that “having the same Spirit of the faith” Christians should live to serve Yahweh their God in the knowledge of hope in that eternal life because “if our outer man is being destroyed, then our inner is being restored day by day”, ostensibly referring to that same “treasure in earthen vessels” as he had called it, which is the Adamic Spirit that exists within the children of Yahweh.

Paul of Tarsus had clearly taught that there is an eternal spirit within the Adamic man, and that through that spirit there would eventually be a resurrection to life in the physical world, which he had illustrated in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. But this possibility was a topic of literature for two thousand years before the Christian era. In the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice or Heracles and Alcestis or in the much older Sumerian legends of Inanna or Gilgamesh we see exhibited the belief in a continued existence of the spirit after the death of the body. Many other ancient legends of those same cultures reflected the belief of the continuation of the spirit after death, such as in the Iliad where Odysseus visits the netherworld and converses with the spirits of the departed, or in Virgil's Aeneid where Aeneas converses with his own deceased father.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 5: The Ministry of Reconciliation

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 5: The Ministry of Reconciliation

In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul had started the epistle off by writing about the sufferings and the consolation, or encouragement, which the children of Yahweh should expect to have for as long as they are in the flesh. Then while explaining the changes he had made in his own travel plans, since he was indeed on his way to visit the Corinthians, he talked about all the grief which had been caused within their assembly on account of a certain individual, who was with certainty that fornicator of his earlier epistle to the Corinthians, and whom he had addressed explicitly at 1 Corinthians chapter 5. During that discussion Paul had encouraged the Corinthians, since they chose to be forgiving of that individual, that their forgiveness be complete and that they should confirm their love for him, and also put an end to the grief which they had regarding his sin. Paul then continued to further discuss his travels, and the sufferings that Christians should expect to face in the flesh.

In chapter 3 of this epistle, Paul had asked quite rhetorically whether he should be reintroduced to the assembly at Corinth, an assembly which he himself had initiated and where he had spent over 18 months of his life. With that, in a rather esoteric manner he began to explain the differences between the Old and New Covenants, and that the Old Covenant was rendered idle in the New Covenant service of the spirit in Christ. From there he discussed the “treasure in earthen vessels” which is the spirit of the Adamic man, and the restoration of that spirit in the reconciliation to God which it has in Christ. With this Paul explained that it is the unseen rewards for which men should strive in their fleshly walk, or sojourn as he called it. Now Paul will come back around in a circle to allude to the fornicator once again, here in this latter half of 2 Corinthians chapter 5. Doing all of this, he is actually giving a quite lengthy lesson on why Christians should have forgiveness for their kindred Christians.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 6: Come Out from Among Them and be Separate!

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 6: Come Out from Among Them and be Separate

In these first 5 chapters of Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians we have seen a rather expansive explanation of Yahweh God's plan for mercy and reconciliation for the children of Israel. Among Paul's first topics were affliction and comfort, and we had seen the Old Testament prophecies of Israel's affliction and comfort in their punishment and chastisement as they were alienated from God. Paul then contrasted the Old Covenant service of death in letters to the New Covenant service of the spirit in Christ. The Old Covenant letter of the law demanded of men a punishment of death for sin, whether it was the death of a sacrificial victim or of the sinner himself, depending on the nature of the sin. But the New Covenant service of the spirit is one of mercy and forgiveness for sin, which also demand the recognition of sin and repentance. We then illustrated from the Old Testament those prophecies relating to the New Covenant, and in that manner we had seen how Paul was teaching the fulfillment of those prophecies in those same children of Israel. Paul had explained that rather than the death which they had merited in the flesh under the law, that by the mercy of God in Christ men have eternal life in the spirit in spite of their sin, and all men are urged to repent on account of the revelation of the greater purpose of God which was revealed in Christ.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 Paul had made the assertion that since Yahweh had not excluded any of the children of Israel from His plan for mercy, men should in turn have that same mercy upon their brethren, so long as they too are repentant and willing to abide in Christ. With this we examined many of the prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel which all foretold of the cleansing of the sins of the children of Israel, and the completeness of that cleansing as Paul had explained it here. Because Yahweh has forgiven all of the children of Israel of all of their sins, then Christians - who are properly the children of Israel reconciled to God in Christ - should forgive one another in like manner. Doing this, Paul had also asserted that in Christ new things have come, and he cited Isaiah 43:19 where Yahweh through the prophet had said in part, according to the King James Version: “Behold, I will do a new thing”. With this we examined at length that same section of Isaiah, which concerns the alienation and eventual reconciliation of the ancient children of Israel, and, in conjunction with other prophecies, what would happen to them during their period of alienation - how Yahweh God had prophesied that they would grow into an innumerable people and become many nations and how both the prophet and Paul himself also reveal that these were the European nations of later history to whom Paul had brought the Gospel. For that very reason, towards the end of 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and his explanation of these things concerning the covenants, sin and mercy, Paul called his ministry the ministry of reconciliation, and referred to the Gospel as the word of reconciliation.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 7: Touch Not the Unclean

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 7: Touch Not the Unclean

In the latter portion of 2 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul of Tarsus had warned his readers, as it is translated in the Christogenea New Testament “14 Do not become yoked together with untrustworthy aliens; for what participation has justice and lawlessness? And what fellowship has light towards darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what share the faithful with the faithless? 16 And what agreement has a temple of Yahweh with idols? For you are a temple of the living Yahweh; just as Yahweh has said, 'I will dwell among them, and I will walk about; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' 17 On which account 'Come out from the midst of them and be separated,' says the Prince, and 'do not be joined to the impure, and I will admit you'. 18 'And I will be to you for a father, and you will be mine for sons and daughters, says the almighty Prince.'” With all certainty all of these statements are inter-connected and were intended to be a single admonition. Sadly, the meaning of this admonition is lost on nearly all Christians of modern times. Here Paul had quoted from Isaiah chapter 52, and he is warning his readers to come out from among certain unclean people. Not things, as the King James and other versions insist, but people. The impure, or unclean, of verse 17 are the “them” from whom Christians are to come out from among in verse 16, among whom are also the untrustworthy aliens Christians should not be joined to in verse 14! The apostle John was teaching very similarly where he in turn had warned his readers, in his second epistle, that “9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” John was not merely talking of those who profess Jesus or of those who do not profess Jesus, but more specifically of those who abide in His doctrine, or those who do not abide in His doctrine, and Yahshua Christ had constantly admonished His followers to keep His law.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 8: Communion, Not Tithes

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Comments on our experience in Naples are found in the Christogenea Forum:
Here concerning T-shirts:
http://forum.christogenea.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7547&p=22162#p22162
And here concerning the Bible Study at the First Baptist Church of Naples:
http://forum.christogenea.org/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=7783&p=22187#p22187

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 8: Communion, Not Tithes

After expounding at great length upon the affliction and the encouragement which the children of Israel have in the Gospel of Reconciliation to Yahweh their God, as well as Yahweh's plan of mercy for Israel in that reconciliation, in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul illustrated the responsibility that the children of Israel have as recipients of that Gospel and that mercy. That responsibility requires the children of Israel to separate themselves from all of the sinners and from all of the unclean of the other races, and then Yahweh their God shall receive them and dwell with them. Then in 2 Corinthians chapter 7 Paul had turned to express his gratitude that the Corinthians, being grieved, had chosen to repent from the problems which Paul had addressed in his first epistle to them, and the joy which Titus had transmitted to him on account of their repentance and their abiding in Christ. Here in this eighth chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul turns to the more worldly tasks related to the fulfillment of his ministry, which in this case include the collections he had been taking on behalf of the poor of the saints in Jerusalem.

Upon the completion of the initial year and a half which he had spent in Corinth, Paul had a brief sojourn in Ephesus. Then upon his departure from there, after promising the Ephesians that he would soon return to them, if indeed Yahweh desired it, we then see Luke record in Acts chapter 18: “22 And coming back into Caesareia, going up and greeting the assembly he went down into Antiocheia. 23 And spending some time he departed, passing through successively the land of Galatia and Phrugia, confirming all of the students.” Paul of Tarsus had written his epistle to the Galatians shortly before his actual visit there, and after he had seen the apostles in Antioch during the travels which Luke records in that passage of Acts 18. After those travels he did return to Ephesus, where he remained for three years.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 9: Fulfilling Obedience

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The opening remarks are found here at the Christogenea Forum: http://forum.christogenea.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7825

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 9: Fulfilling Obedience

In 2 Corinthians chapter 8 Paul turned his conversation from a rather expansive explanation of the Gospel of Reconciliation to discuss the collection which he had undertaken for the poor in Jerusalem, in which he had assurances that the Corinthians would participate. The apparent need for such a collection was never discussed, however that such a need indeed existed can indeed be determined from history in the records of Josephus and from the Book of Acts. We see in Acts chapters 4 and 5 that the apostles had founded an independent and self-sufficient Christian community. However we see in Acts chapters 6 and 7 that their community was persecuted and scattered, and that the apostles were being oppressed. When Paul had made his first trip to Antioch as it is recorded in Acts chapter 15, as he had explained in his epistle to the Galatians, that was 14 years after his conversion to Christ on the road to Damascus, and we had established in our commentary on Acts chapter 9, that the year was either 48 or 49 AD. As Paul seems to explain in Galatians chapter 2, this is where his promise to “remember the poor” had originally been made. Since the records in Acts and in what remains of Paul's epistles are quite incomplete, we can only piece together parts of some of these things, as there is no complete record of any of them.

The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 10: Judging by Appearances

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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 10: Judging by Appearances

We have already summarized the theme of the earlier chapters of Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians, but we shall do so once more here. Over the first five chapters of this epistle, Paul had expounded at length upon the affliction and the encouragement which the children of Israel have in the Gospel of Reconciliation to Yahweh their God, and Yahweh's plan of mercy for Israel in that reconciliation. Then in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul illustrated the responsibility which the children of Israel have as recipients of that Gospel and of that mercy, which requires those who are turning to Christ to separate themselves from all of the sinners and from all of the unclean of the other races, and then Yahweh their God shall receive them and dwell with them. Then in 2 Corinthians chapter 7 Paul had turned to express his gratitude that the Corinthians, being grieved, had chosen to repent from the problems which Paul had addressed in his first epistle to them, and the joy which Titus had transmitted to him on account of their repentance and their abiding in Christ. In the eighth and ninth chapters of this epistle, Paul had turned to discuss the collections he had been taking on behalf of the poor of the saints in Jerusalem. However this is also a part of the Christian obligation which Paul had begun to discuss in chapter 6 of this epistle.

Therefore we can determine that outside of a few short digressions, Paul's purpose so far in this epistle has been to present two great themes in a series of smaller discussions. While sometimes the themes are interwoven one with the other, the first theme dominates the context of the first part of the epistle, and likewise for the second theme. The first theme is the Gospel of Reconciliation and the mercy of God for the children of Israel. The second theme is the obligation of the children of Israel upon accepting that offer of reconciliation to God, which is through Yahshua Christ. The first theme dominated the first five chapters, and the second through verse 6 of this tenth chapter, where Paul had attested that the children of Israel would have a part in avenging all disobedience once their own obedience had been fulfilled.

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