Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Suffering And Weakness Promotes God's Glory 1 Corinthians 1:1-31

Text: 2 Corinthians 1:1-31

Theme: Glory in Christ, not the flesh.

Outline:

1. By enduring weakness (1-5)
     A. Suffering teaches us to comfort others (1:1-7)
     B. Suffering trains us to trust in God (1:8-10)
     C. Suffering results in praise to God (1:11)
     D. Suffering makes us meek toward others (1:12-24)

Chapter one begins to encourage those who suffer for Christ's glory. Apparently, false teachers had discredited Paul's conduct, ministry, and authority as "weak" (cf. 10:10; 11:17-21), since he was often afflicted in various ways, and seemed to waver in his commitment to visit the Corinthians. This chapter explains how "weakness" promotes God's glory, rather than the "flesh"--something the false teachers took pride in.

Suffering teaches us to comfort others (1-7). As Paul came under pressures, God comforted him. This, in turn, taught Paul how to comfort others who are afflicted. Weakness prepares a person to minister for Christ's glory, rather than the glory of the flesh.

Suffering trains us to trust in God (8-10). Sometimes, Paul was afflicted to the point where he thought he would die (cf. 11:23-33). God used this, however, to focus Paul's hope on Him who raises the dead. Weakness trains God's ministers to trust Him, and His ability to raise the dead. 

Suffering results in praise to God (11). When God responds to believer's prayers by delivering a minister who is under extreme pressure, the result is thanks and praise to God. This seems evident in Acts 12:1-17, where the church met in prayer for Peter's deliverance from prison. Suffering persuades people to thank and praise God when He delivers them.

Suffering makes us meek toward others (12-24). Paul originally planned to spend the winter with the Corinthians after going through Macedonia (1 Cor. 16:5-7). Later, he proposed a double stop while going to and from Macedonia (2 Cor. 1:16). False teachers apparently seized this change of plans to imply Paul was unreliable, or double tongued (17).  The real reason for the change of plans, however, was to "spare" the Corinthians further sorrow. In the process of correcting moral problems in the church, he had already sent Timothy (4:17), written 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:11), made a "sorrowful" visit to confront the offenders (cf. 2 Cor. 2:1ff), and delivered a "sever letter" by Titus (2:4-9; 7:8-12). He wanted to "spare" the Corinthians any further rods of discipline. Suffering makes us meek toward others.

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