v1-7: We can comfort others with the same comfort God gave us from previous experience. We can be thankful when times get tough against us because if we stay open-minded to God, He will show us great things through those experiences not only for us, but also for others who go through similar trials. We can help each other through our journey called life.

v9: We are not to trust in ourselves but in God. This is difficult because we have been trained from our youth up to be self sufficient and to lean upon the understanding that we have been taught in schools. Not that we should throw out our brains or abilities, but we must allow God to work through them and us. We yield our abilities to Him.

v24: Paul has the proper attitude of a church leader – not to “lord it over” others but to serve them. Some leaders build their kingdom on earth while not teaching good spiritual food for their flock to grow on. Others keep their eyes on Jesus and build up the Kingdom of God in the hearts of their flock.

2 Corinthians 2:

v1-9: Paul expresses his sorrow for having to write his first letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians) because he had to deal with a lot of issues, especially their tolerating a man who was very wrong. He then expresses joy that the Corinthians responded well to that letter and did indeed disapprove of that one guy to the point where Paul has to tell them to now forgive him and let him back in their group lest he turn too bitter and not recover.

v11: We are not ignorant of the devil’s schemes against us. Because of this powerful truth, we must “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. [Our] adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). C.S. Lewis wrote “The Screwtape Letters,” which is a book about how the devil fools people. What is the devil’s trump card? Subtlety (Genesis 3:1), and Lewis brings this to light. The devil’s biggest lie (in my opinion)? He does not exist. Second highest trump card? He makes something evil appear to be good (2 Cor. 11:14).

v17: Preachers corrupting the Word of God were already present in Paul’s day. It’s no wonder that they still exist today, sorry to say.

2 Corinthians 3:

v5: Our adequacy does not come from within, as secular humanism teaches our children today. Our adequacy comes from God, and this God is not in everyone.

v6-11: “The letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” This is Deputy Barney Fife compared to Sheriff Andy Taylor (old Andy Griffith Show of the 1960s). The letter of the Law said to stone the woman (and the man, who was NOT brought forth) caught in the act of adultery. But the Spirit had mercy and forgave the sin and changed that woman forever. The letter of the Law could never wrought that kind of change in the human heart. Judgment and condemnation for sin (The Law) does not have the power to change the human heart, but love and mercy do. It’s the change every sinner needs to go through in order to have eternal life. This change that repentant sinners experience produces great glory for God, and for every soul that turns to the Lord, all the angels in heaven rejoice (Luke 15:10)…wow.

A note to parents – Since it’s God’s love rather than His strictness that changes our hearts, then it also will be the parents’ love for their children rather than their strictness that will guide their children’s hearts in the right direction. Love brings about more good change in humans than harshness.

12-17: There is a veil over the eyes of the Jews so they cannot perceive the meaning and purpose of the Old Testament. If they turn to Christ, this veil, or blindness, is removed and they can begin to see God’s plan as the New Testament shows us the more complete picture.

2 Corinthians 4:

v18: Our attitudes toward life’s situations need to be immersed into this context. If so, we will respond in a Godly manner. For example, if a person has trouble with a child, we do not write him/her off as a “no-goodnik.” We trust that God has answered our prayers for them and, in His perfect timing, He will bring that child around to “sanity.” This gives us a better current attitude toward the child knowing that they are a “diamond in the rough” rather than a hopeless case.

v4: Satan has the power to blind minds of the inbelieving.

v5: It’s not about us but about Jesus.

v6-7: God says if we believe in Jesus, we have a “treasure” inside these earthen vessels (bodies). We need to know daily how precious this treasure is…and let it show to others!

v8-12: Describes how lowly and pounded down by this world believers are, and how this works to wake up more people to the Truth about Jesus.

v16: As a “veteran in life,” I relate big time to this one – though our bodies are getting worse, our insides are being renewed each day in Him. Thank God something is getting better!

v17: Encourages us with the real perspective of our suffering on earth. It is but a moment compared to the joy of eternity with Jesus. All of our physical and emotional pain from our earthly lives will seem like a second in time when we cross over to that other side at death.

v18: Since all that we see from this world is merely temporal, let us keep our purposes on the unseen (eternal) things.

2 Corinthians 5:

v1-4: Even though this fallen world will cause us many a trial and tribulation, the house that God is building for us will be much better…definitely worth going through physical life in order to get eternal life.

v5-7: We can always be of good courage because God has given us the Holy Spirit as a sort of down payment concerning the  life to come. He will guide and keep us in Truth. We need to walk out our lives by FAITH not by sight (or appearance).

v10: The Judgment Seat of Christ – this is something we rarely hear about. We tend to think that unsaved souls will be thrown into the Lake of Fire while saved souls enter heaven and live happily ever after. But wait, there is a judgment for the saved when we stand in front of Jesus. Our whole lives will be played in front of us quick as a wink (based on what people have said who died and came back). Here it says we will be rewarded for the good we did and “recompensed” (something taken away?) for the bad things we’ve done. Jesus said every idle word we speak we will be held accountable on this Day.

v15-19: this is key to walking in the Spirit – Jesus is more important to us than we are to us. If people are doing this, we are not to have preconceived biases against them since we “know” them because God makes all things new…old (bad) things have passed away. The Old Testament people liked king candidate Saul at first because he was tall, strong and handsome, but over time he turned bad (as God predicted). David, on the other hand, wasn’t even included by his dad when the prophet Samuel wanted to view all of Jesse’s sons in order to select God’s choice for the next king. God warned Samuel not to judge a man by his appearance or stature. God sees the heart of a person. Therefore, we are not to label people to their detriment. In Christ, as v17 states, we are all NEW creatures, and He is changing us daily. Therefore, we should esteem all believers and treat them with love and respect. After all, aren’t we ALL diamonds in the rough?

v20: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.” We are Ambassadors (representatives) of Jesus Christ and our church, and Satan is waiting for us to fall. People are watching AND waiting for us to fall.

v21: Jesus not only died for our sin, He became sin. There are a couple of important reasons why Jesus yelled out on the cross, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” He literally became sin on the cross so God had to withdraw from Jesus’ mind, body, and soul. An Old Testament Prophet named Habakkuk stated that God cannot tolerate sin in His presence (Hab.1:13). It had to be a terribly haunting feeling for Jesus to suddenly be left empty of God. Fortunately, this did not last long.

Also Psalm 22 begins with, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” So Jesus was alerting everyone to the fact that He was fulfilling the prophecy contained in that Psalm. It describes the crucifixion 800 years before that method of killing was invented, then years later it was “perfected” (more gruesome) by the Romans. It’s quite an amazing piece of Scripture.

2 Corinthians 6:

v1-2: NOW IS THE TIME TO GET SAVED! If you are reading this commentary but have not yet asked Jesus to forgive all your sin and accept His Lordship over your life, these verses are telling you to DO THAT NOW. Today may be the last time your heart is soft enough to receive Him or you may die tomorrow. You may have been raised in the Christian faith (church) but still have not yielded your life to Him. No church ritual has the power to save a soul. It’s between you and Him. It’s a simple, personal, and sincere prayer.

v3: For the sake of helping people staying open to the Gospel, let us not go out of our way to offend. Stand for Truth, however, but always speak it in love

v4-10: Details about Paul’s persecutions – I wonder if any of the “prosperity preachers” have seen these verses?

v11-13: Paul’s love for the believers in Corinth is high, but he’s urging them to have as much love for him as he has for them. He’s still probably thinking of that first letter he wrote in which he described several faults in their group.

v14: The best paraphrase I found is: “Do not form any relationship, whether temporary or permanent, with unbelievers that would lead to a compromise of Christian standards or jeopardize consistency of Christian witness.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 359). For an excellent in-depth look as to whether or not this refers to marriage, go to: http://www.gracecentered.com/unequally_yoked.htm (note the underscore before “yoked”).

Generally, good advice says not to marry unbelievers. I know that Scripture encourages “mixed” marriages to stay together (1 Cor.7:12-13), but it may be referring to individuals who were saved after marrying an unbeliever. Is it a sin for a believer to marry an unbeliever? I find it hard to say that, but certainly the person will most likely reap some tough stuff. I would question the believer’s level of commitment to the Lord in this case. His or her desire to marry an unsaved person may reflect a shallow walk the Lord. People who are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking tightly with Christ usually do not gravitate toward an unsaved person when it comes to dating or courting, or marriage.

We also should be closer to Christian friends than unsaved relatives (Luke 14:26). Second, it is common for old friends to ignore or treat us rudely after we get saved, but a great reward awaits us in heaven for that junk (Matthew 5:11). Often family and friends are of the world, therefore they think like the world and we should have a degree of discomfort around them. This does NOT mean we shun them or treat them short of the love that God has in us for them.

2 Corinthians 7:

Paul is telling the Corinthians he is full of joy because they are now living with the Holy Spirit. He then concludes that he was worried at first but now has confidence in them in all things.

v9-11: God uses sorrow to draw people to repentance. There are two kinds of sorrow: 1) sorrow from God helps us repent and gain forgiveness, and does not fill us with regret, 2) sorrow from this world  produces death.

v16: Applies to me in may ways. Telling a person, employee, friend, vendor or any other person you come into contact with that “I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.” This is the way to treat people. Build them up, not tear them down.

2 Corinthians 8 – Beware of the “Religious Left”

v1-6: Paul is enraptured with the churches in Macedonia because they gave money to help needy folks when they didn’t have much to give, but they somehow gave more than they could afford!

v7-8: This reveals good motivation for giving and giving beyond our surplus. Most people, including me, give from only their abundance (extra), not beyond this. Remember the widow who had only a “penny” and she gave that to the poor? Jesus said she gave all that she had. Her giving has been noticed and rewarded in heaven while much of other type giving is not. Ouch! I’m not trying to say that surplus giving is useless or wrong, it is better than no giving for sure. But there does exist a type of giving that outshines all others.

v9: Keeping in perspective ALL Jesus did for us. It’s mind boggling for me. In our daily life can you think of anyone in your time on Earth that did anything for you even CLOSE to what Jesus did?

v14: Paul says that if we give to others, it will come back and help us if we have future needs. This verse (along with Acts 2:44-45) undoubtedly has been quoted by “social justice gospel” preachers from the “religious left” who assert that it is the Christian thing to make a government take from the rich and give to the poor. But I only see what Christians should be doing among themselves to others, not some big government lording it over many non-believers and taking money from many unbelievers and giving it to the poor. This “inter-Christian giving” only works if all groups and individuals have righteous attitudes that are outlined in this chapter. The Bible also states that if a man does not work, neither can he eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The political “left” never mentions these verses, of course. To be clear, Jesus wants us to remember the poor, but He never ordered a secular government to do this.

2 Corinthians 9 – From His Mouth…

v6-9:The more we give cheerfully in the Spirit of God, the richer we grow and will see fruit in our lives – not necessarily money, as “prosperity preachers” chirp. I’ve always wondered, do they really believe that the more money you give, the more money God will repay you? I’d say if they believe that, then they should be mailing their money to us.

v10: If we dedicated our lives and time to Him, He will supply “seed,” which could be His anointed Word from His mouth, and food to sustain us while on earth. This will increase our “harvest” or reward in heaven. There’s a great promise in Isaiah 55:11: “So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” It seems to say it’s not just His word, but the word needs to come from His mouth. Therefore we need to be devoted to Him and stay close to Him in order to hear His voice prompting us to speak His word to others.

2 Corinthians 10:

v1-2, 8-15 – Apparently someone in Corinth criticized Paul for being bold in his letters but was afraid to be bold in person. He says, “No way” here and in v8-15.

v3-4: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” Translation in modern English (coupled w/Ephesians 6:12) = Although we live in a physical body, we cannot fight supernatural powers with guns and bombs. Sometimes these demonic forces accumulate so strong together that they form an invisible fortress that only God’s Spirit (through us) can bring down. So, what supernatural weapons does God give us that will do the job? Faith is a “shield” for us, truth, righteousness, the Gospel, personal salvation is a “helmet” for us, and knowing the Word of God which is a “sword” for us (Ephesians 6:11-7). Consistent prayer and fasting can take down the stronger fortresses. These components are involved with God’s way of accomplishing good changes for people, situations, governments, and nations. This world is blind to them, but through Jesus, the necessary things are revealed.

2 Corinthians 11:

v3: What is the antidote for Satan’s powers of deception? Purity and devotion to Jesus. Do we love Him first of all? Do we think about Him a lot during our daily routines? Do we pray in His name? Do we want others to know Him? Do we love others because of Him? Do we praise His name? The more we answer “Yes” to these revealing questions, the more devoted we are to Him.

v4: “If you receive a different spirit…” It has been said that a true Christian cannot receive a wrong spirit. This verse says we can. All the more reason to cling to Jesus and to be filled with the Holy Spirit, always asking for God’s protection against such deception. Although we have authority over evil entities in Christ, we need to have a healthy respect for the power of wrong spirits.

“Oppression vs. Possession.” I do not believe this verse indicates that believers can be possessed by a demon. It does, however, make clear that we can “receive” a wrong spirit. That word “receive” says to me that a demon can be in our minds influencing what we believe or do. To me, this speaks of two possible things: 1) the Spirit of Error (which leads to cults), or demonic oppression (where we can be plagued with wrong thoughts or actions we know to be immoral). “Possession” to me indicates a total loss of self awareness and control of actions or speech. In scientific terms, I think “psychotic” would define it well. The term “neurotic” may describe demonic oppression well.

v3 and 14-15: Satan’s strength is underscored in this chapter – craftiness, and making something evil appear to be good stemming back to his Garden of Eden deception of Eve. There are many people today who seem good on the outside and may be involved with “good causes” but are not necessarily born of God. It can get tricky. There are phony preachers and clergymen as well.

Can Satan literally disguise himself as an angel? I believe he can and has. There is a well-known cult that started from an “angel” revealing things to a certain man. So there’s a good chance that he was not lying about this experience. Verse 15 seems to be saying that Satan’s demons can be inside people who claim to be Christians.

v5-12 & 16-33: Paul was not really boasting. His motive was made clear. He was explaining the difference between someone who is genuine in Christ as opposed to those who are not. Apparently, Satan was raising up false teachers and false apostles to deceive the new church, and Paul was responding with “tender jealousy.” It tormented him to think about his “flock” being led astray by Satan and his “righteous” servants. He shares tremendous details about his hardships which tend to confirm his anointing, his motivation in preaching, his sincerity, and credibility. Jesus did say that Paul was to suffer great for Jesus’ name’s sake (Acts 9:16).

2 Corinthians 12:

v2-4: Seems like Paul is referring to himself and revealing an “out-of-body experience.” Whoever or whatever happened, this person saw Heaven and he could not express in earthly language how great it was, and was not permitted to do so anyway. We do not know why the experience occurred, but it’s exciting! Especially in light of so many testimonies of people dying and coming back to tell of similar experiences.

v7-8: Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Christians have speculated for years as to what this was. Some suggest that it was a speech impediment since he had said he is not blessed with the speech of an orator. Some suggest it was incessant temptation, Jewish opponents, chronic maladies (eyes maybe), or speech disability. Whatever it was, its purpose was to keep the man humble. After all, it would be too tempting for most men to brag about all that Jesus had revealed to him. We know “the thorn” was delivered by a “messenger from Satan.” The word “buffet” means to “contend against.” So I’d guess it was those Jewish enemies that would follow him from town to town or possibly a tormenting spirit speaking junk to him in his thought-life. In any case, Paul asked 3 times for God to remove it but He did not because it was working well for Paul in the long run (probably keeping him humble and dependent on God).

v9-10: Another version reads, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” It’s basically saying that God will use us when we empty ourselves of ourselves and allow Him to move through us in a way that others can see that it wasn’t by our cunning, intelligence, or strength that causes our actions or words. Power becomes extra strong when human pride is not involved but rather God’s will and authority.

2 Corinthians 13:

After writing 1 Corinthians, Paul sees that the young church at Corinth made the necessary corrections with the proper attitude. Now, in this last chapter, he encourages the church to keep gaining strength as they continue to move in the right direction. It shows how deeply he cared about the people there.

When we combine “examine yourselves” and “consider thy ways” from Scripture, I think it’s a good idea to have an accountability partner to meet with once a week. Many Bible-believing churches advocate this arrangement as it can serve as an extra incentive to think and do right. It helped me with a temper problem.