Reading the Bible Day 210

Hello friends! Today we continue our march through 2 Corinthians. As we noted yesterday, 2 Corinthians is a Paul that is less than happy with the church in Corinth. Like any good scolding from a parent, Paul isn't as much angry at them as he is disappointed in their behavior. While he reprimands them he offers sprinkles of grace and love throughout the text. Today's reading also features that condemnation / grace dance but in regards to Paul's people (the jews) in relation to the original covenant made with the Israelites through Moses and how they failed to uphold it. As a Christian, I don't feel comfortable weighing in on whether or not my Jewish sisters and brothers have "failed" the covenant, but I am left wondering about the "why" we failed. In other words, is the very nature of humanity so flawed that we would fail regardless in which case can God really be loving for setting us up to fail? Or, is the power and forces of sin to be blamed for its hold on us in which case did we really fail God or are we victims to sins hostage situation? If so, what can we really do to ever live up to God's standards until Christ comes again final victory and defeats sin? This just feels like a vicious cycle. I don't intend for this to sound so condemning of God but I do think there is a strong ethical question to be answered here. What thoughts will you have as you work through the reading today?


 

Scripture to Consider


2 Corinthians 3 - 4

Psalm 150


 

Audio Bible



 

Questions to Consider

  1. Paul's argument is that only through faith in Christ can we be set free and saved. This is ultimately the crux of any inter religious dialogue....how do you reconcile that belief with the beliefs of others?

  2. Paul makes the claim that Satan is "the god of this world" - do you agree or disagree?

  3. Paul quotes the psalmist who says "I believe in God, so I spoke." How do you speak your faith? Is it uncomfortable to do so? Why?

- Commentary -


As is often the case commentary's prove helpful when a first reading comes across with more questions than answers. The following is a paraphrase from the New Interpreters Bible Commentary on the two covenants that Paul spends much of chapter 3 talking about.


Here, and two others times in undisputed letters from Paul, does he mention two covenants when speaking about the historical one with Abraham, David, and the prophets and the new one established by Jesus. One of the earliest heresies to be ruled out was from a church leader named Marcellion who believed that there were two gods, one of the Old Testament covenant and one with the new. In other words, the belief that God is somehow different between the two sections of the canonical Bible. Paul's writings are extreme - on purpose - to rouse the emotion of the reader but it is not advocating what Marcellion would. In other words, the new has not replaced the old.


According to Paul, and other thinkers of the time, there were two covenants that Jews made with God. The first is considered a "perpetual" covenant that is purely dependent on God and does not waver as a result of failure or consequence. God's faithfulness to the covenant to make Israel a great nation did not change between or after Abraham when it was first established and David when it was reaffirmed. We all know that plenty of human error occurred between those two as well! Therefore, this covenant is perpetual and continues even to the church in Corinth, according to Paul.


The second covenant is the "suzerainty" type of covenant and is the common example of what we think about when we think of covenant or "legal agreement." These are the statues and ordinances you must obey and if you do not the covenant is void. etc. etc. A number of these covenants were broken throughout the Old Testament and as a result we read about the curses that fell upon God's people and not the blessings. The same is true for the church in Corinth as Paul writes such an intense letter to them before this one shaming them for their failures.


When Paul writes that "the jews" could all be unfaithful he isn't being anti-Semitic but rather is using extreme language to prove a point. Whether one person or the whole world fails God and breaks the one covenant....you can never break the perpetual one. God's love endures through all of our own heartbreak and deceit.


So, when Paul writes that Christ sets us free it isn't some selfish and personal victory....we are set free from the worry that we can break that perpetual covenant so that we can be in service to others to atone for all the secondary covenants we have broken by going against our neighbor and not serving those in need. Paul encourages us to remember that although we make mistakes, God is not done with us, and is constantly "making all things new." Each day that we get better and stick to our healthy habits and don't fall into our bad ones we have another reason to praise a God whose cheering us on and leading us forward.


 

Praying the Hymns


Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 310 - He Lives! A dear friend of mine who passed away a few years ago always loved this hymn. I think of her fondly as I join with you in praying its powerful words.


I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today I know that He is living, whatever men may say I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer And just the time I need Him He's always near


He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today He walks with me and talks with me Along life's narrow way He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart


In all the world around me I see His loving care And though my heart grows weary I never will despair I know that He is leading, through all the stormy blast The day of His appearing will come at last


He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today He walks with me and talks with me Along life's narrow way He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart


Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian Lift up your voice and sing Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find None other is so loving, so good and kind


He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today He walks with me and talks with me Along life's narrow way He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart

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