Lesson 13 -- second quarter 2000
May 28, 2000
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications
Remember that some folks class the Corinthians as the problem church of the New Testament? Makes me wonder how I would conclude a couple of letters to such a group of people! I don't believe Paul struggled with this dilemma, though. God knew how this epistle should end, so He inspired Paul to pen that precise ending. Marvelous, isn't it? So let's see how it ends, for in that ending we shall find messages for ourselves as well.
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (verse 5). God calls on His people to take a careful measure of themselves. They must not use for a unit of measure the opinion or practice of others. God gave His Son and His Word as that unit of measure. The Apostle Paul wrote and wrote (at least two letters' worth) and then called his Corinthian readers to self-examination in light of what he wrote. God's Word always contains a call to action. God forbid we should somehow satisfy ourselves with knowing the Word, as sublime a privilege as that is!
For the rest of this page, we shall limit ourselves to just one more of the closing verses: the eleventh one. Though I have no credentials as a Greek scholar, I would like to use Strong's Concordance in an effort to dip a little below the surface of this verse. Grab your own dipper and join me!
"Farewell." I made a stunning discovery (though I am not the first to learn this): the Greek word behind this means "to rejoice." Instead of telling them "good bye," Paul is commanding his readers to do something.
"Be perfect." What an intimidating command! (Maybe even disheartening?) Then I learned it means a restoring, an equipping, a mending, a completing. But it doesn't mean God is using this verse to call us to do these things. You see, the Greek verb here is not active like farewell but passive. That means God calls us to yield ourselves to His work in our lives. This perfecting is something He would like to do in us. Praise the Lord, this is no self-help project!
"Be of good comfort." This does not at all mean, "Do what you can to be happy." God chose to express this command passively as well. So that makes this another call to surrender to God's work in our lives. The Greek expression has the idea of being called to someone's side, in this case, God's Himself!
"Be of one mind." Now we get back to an active verb. And what are we to do? Impossible! How could I possibly be of one mind with just one other person in our congregation, let alone all of them?! Especially when you consider the broad range covered by this Greek word. I challenge you to invest the time in really studying this concept through the New Testament. (Perhaps you could begin with Philippians 2:5-8.) I truly believe that if we set our hearts to strive for oneness of mind, God will grant us this impossibility within the context of the highest denominators: the Spirit and the Word.
"Live in peace." Another active command. And it means precisely that. So go do it!
"And the God of love and peace shall be with you." Do you like this ending? So do I!
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