2 Corinthians 5-8: Afflictions, unbelievers, charity for Jerusalem

While we are still in our earthly bodies, we groan under our burden.  We would rather be at home with the Lord, but wherever we are, we have confidence and aim to please the Lord–each of us will be judged by him.  Anyone in Christ has experienced a recreation–the world has become new to him, and on behalf on Christ, I entreat you to be reconciled to God.  We are servants of God who have commended ourselves in every way: we endured many hardships, beatings, and imprisonments; we were treated as impostors.  Yet we are true, we are yet not killed, and have made many rich.  We have spoken frankly to you, Corinthians; our hearts are wide open to you.

Do not associate (“be mismatched with”) unbelievers.  What has righteousness to do with lawlessness, or light to do with darkness, or Christ with Beliar?

Make room in your hearts for us; we have hurt and corrupted no one.  I often boast about you; I have great pride in you.  When we came into Macedonia, we were afflicted in every way, but God consoled us by the arrival of Titus (whom I boasted about to you).  I made you sorry with my harsh letter, but it lead you to repentance, for which I now rejoice.

The Macedonians have given generously to help the church in Jerusalem.  We are sending Titus to you, along with two brothers.  Please give generously, to show the other churches the proof of your love.  In your time of need, the Jerusalem church will help you too.

Commentary:  These 4 chapters contain many twists and turns.  For example, 6:14-7:1 (second paragraph of this summary) orders the Corinthians to not associate with unbelievers.  The verse immediately before reads “In return–I speak as to children–open wide your hearts also.”  The verse immediately after reads “Make room in your hearts for us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.”  6:13 flows nicely into 7:2, but the passage about unbelievers interrupts the flow.  Also, chapters 8 and 9 seem like parts of two different letters calling for a collection for the Jerusalem church.

Incidentally, 6:14-7:1 is uncharacteristic of Paul.  He uses words that he doesn’t use anywhere else (ex. “mismatched” and “partnership” in 14).  He also portrays a strong dualism–unbelievers are lawless, darkness, and Satanic, while believers are righteous, light, and Christ-like.  For this reason, believers are not to associate with unbelievers.  This view is very untypical of Paul, who, in 1 Corinthians 10:27, said “If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.”

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