All of a sudden, this book has become a lot more interesting. Paul has completely lost control of his ego. He tried really hard to hold it together, but by the end of 2 Corinthians 10, Paul had lost control. He started ranting about the authority given only to him, and threatening the Corinthians with punishment for something or other. Knowing Paul, it was probably about sex. As we’ve covered previously, Paul apparently hasn’t been getting any, and he is mad as hell about it! And the poor Corinthians have been bearing the brunt of it.
This letter has completely devolved into Pauls mad grasp for power. And Id love to know exactly who the challenger to Pauls position is. I am pretty sure it is safe to say it is one of the Twelve (the very chiefest apostles.) I assumed that Peter was on Pauls side, as apparently is Timothy. So which of the other Ten is teaching different sermons and pulling people away from Paul?
Paul really truly has lost his sanity in this chapter. He boasts that he will do anything to deny an opportunity to those people who want an opportunity to be recognized as our equals. Paul says straight out that he thinks he is a better follower of Christ: I am insane to talk like this, but I am a far better [servant of Christ]! I have been involved in far greater efforts, far more imprisonments, countless beatings, and have faced death more than once. Paul goes on to list all of the abuse and torture and persecution that he endured in Christs name.
Heres my issue with this, and Ill be that you know what I am about to say, Dear Reader: Pauls logic is flawed. His basic premise is that he is the strongest servant of Christ because he suffered the most for Christ. Which doesnt make any sense at all. I am guessing most of the members of the Corinthian church didnt believe that, either, hence Pauls need to try and convince everyone that he is the person they should listen to.
I am actually starting to feel sorry for Paul. The combination of his persecutions from outside the church and power challenges inside the church have left him totally unbalanced. In a way, he kinda reminds me of John Goodmans character in The Big Lebowski. All he can do is rant and rave and hope that someone will believe him because he is saying everything in a really loud voice.
Paul is reduced to fabrications to try and get some type of attention. He tells of a man that he saw, either in person or in a vision, who was snatched up to the third heaven. The man apparently heard many godly things that he should not have. Paul says he has not shared this information before because a spirit of Satan started tormenting him? Umm… really, it isnt much clearer when I re-read the whole chapter.
Oh, yeah, Paul says he is going to be pissed if he gets there and people are still having sex and stuff. So THERE!
Paul warns that he is coming back soon, so the Corinthians had better be prepared! And they should test their faith daily, by making sure they live as Paul has told them. cuz its all about the Paulianity – er, I mean Christianity!
You know, I found 2 Corinthians oddly entertaining. It is because of the subtext, and the glimpses of the politics in the early church. Paul was definitely feeling challenged by someone, and it seems very probable that the someone was one of the Twelve. I could feel Pauls anger and desperation growing each chapter. I can picture him dictating the letter, getting angrier and angrier with each paragraph, until hes to the point that he is yelling at the person transcribing the letter for him.
I am curious: what was being taught by whoever was threatening Pauls power? Paul hinted that the other church was more permissive, less of a youre a sinner if you do this! message. Less of a youre practicing sexual immorality and should be EXCISED! message. The lesson being taught was something that pleased people when they heard it (hence Pauls exhortation to avoid those with silver tongues). I am wondering if maybe, just maybe, the Apostles message was one that was closer to Christs message and further from Pauls? I dont know, because Paul doesnt say.
Thereve probably been many bible scholars and theologians who have examined this and have come up with an answer, or at least a pretty good idea of who presented the alternate message, and what that message was. Perhaps Ill look it up some day. Until then, all I have to say is:
Up next: Galatians. Not to be confused with Galaxians.
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Monday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.
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