04/22/12 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
COUNTERFEITS NEED MASTERPIECES
2 Corinthians 2:12 – 3:6
In place of a personal visit Paul had sent Titus to Corinth with a letter. Paul had been waiting for a response. But Titus took a while to return. Paul was anxious to see if the Corinth group had orchestrated a Christian intervention effort for a man in that church family with sexual sin issues. It was also clear from what Paul had written previously that the Corinth group had grown apart. They weren’t supportive.
Until Titus returns with “good news” (see 7:6ff), Paul has “no peace of mind” (2:12-13). What does this reveal about Paul’s concern for this group in Corinth?
Victory parades in Rome were big productions. They were such glamour events that people on other continents talked about them. Rome had a special parade route, with memorable landmarks. Qualifying for one of these parades was not easy. Not every victorious, returning Roman general could get a permit. Like any parade, it required a lot of organizing. All the returning troops had to leave their weapons outside the city and dress in civilian clothes during the parade so citizens and politicians would feel safe. The conquering general got to dress like a god. He’d march with his army through the streets, displaying treasures from his trip of every kind. There were captured slaves or foreign rulers, exotic animals, and valuables he’d confiscated.
Why was a “triumphal procession” picturesque of God’s Work (2:14)?
If you were a general with dreams of a triumph parade through the streets of Rome, you had to kill at least 5,000 enemy soldiers during your invasion of a country. One of the perks of the parade for the victorious general was having your sons march behind you and bask in your glory. At its end a triumph parade concluded at the Circus Maximus, the horse racing arena, where the captured enemies faced their executions. Roman priests were parade participants. They carried containers of smoking incense.
How can the incense scent that was part of these processions bring two different reactions depending on whom you are (2:15-16)?
Counterfeits always need masterpieces, or they have no value. Fake “masterpieces” have fooled even art critics. Serious connoisseurs purchase “valuable manuscripts,” only to discover them to be counterfeit. As soon as non-Jewish people started seeing the value of what Jesus had done for mankind, a counterfeit “gospel” appeared. It attracted people because it taught them to team up with Jesus to earn what He had done for them. Paul saw these misleading teachers as religious conmen who took advantage of ignorant people for personal profit.
What are Paul’s worst fears about his people in Corinth (2:17 – 3:1)?
Counterfeit-christian teachers/churches use the same promotional tactics as high-end businesses. They advertise their success rate with statistics and major projects. Positive Christian relationships with God and the people around us are tougher to gauge.
Contrast the motives, methods, and message of a misleading Bible teacher with those of a trustworthy one (2:17).
Religious workers often used letters of recommendation from groups and people they’d worked with in other places to vouch for their credibility. Christ-teaching conmen carried “letters of recommendation” (3:1) from “important people” in Jerusalem. They pointed out that Paul had nothing like that.
Why doesn’t Paul need recommendation letters to verify his qualifications (3:1-4)?
7. Why should people in Corinth pay attention to anything Paul has to say (3:5-6)?
When Paul talks “Old Covenant,” he means “God’s rules for living.” The Old Covenant said, “Obey, and I’ll be your best friend. Disobey, and I’ll be your worst nightmare.” The New Covenant is what Jesus did in our place. It says, “Disobey, and I’ll be Jesus’ worst nightmare.” Paul’s not suggesting the Law was a mistake or that it’s not valuable. Far from it! Paul knew that unless the Law kills off any hope for working our way back into God’s heart, what Jesus did will never be impressive.
8. What is “the letter” (3:6)? What’s with the claim that it kills people?
Regardless of when or where problems arise, we know things aren’t out of control – Jesus’ control. Counterfeit truth is always trying to spin every problem as fixable – by us. The masterpiece of our lives is that, even with its ups and downs, an ever-present, ever-forgiving Jesus has it all covered.
1. How does this section connect to Luke 24:36-49? What’s the connection to Acts 12:1-19?
You may be the only Bible some people ever read. How do you boost your effectiveness?
Explain the value today of God’s rules for living and the consequences for stepping over the line.