Father, teach us to root ourselves in Your kingdom reality, not this world’s. We want to grow in our confidence of the gospel’s greatness, so that we’re untouched by our circumstances as we walk with your Spirit doing your work. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 2 Corinthians 1-3
2 Corinthians 1:1–11 Paul and Timothy praised God for His mercy and comfort. The more we suffer in God’s kingdom, the more we learn about His comfort and strength—and the better we can encourage others. When Paul and Timothy accepted that they would likely be killed by the persecution they were experiencing, God showed them how He loves to resurrect. As a result, they had a stronger confidence in risking everything for God’s kingdom.
Notice that Paul and Timothy deepened their faith in God’s goodness when things were hard. By obeying and accepting that they were facing death, they rejected all self-reliance and trusted God. Because of this, they intimately experienced God’s grace and found a new level of boldness to do God’s work.
2 Corinthians 1:12–2:13 Paul changed his visitation plans to protect himself and spare the Corinthians pain because they were reeling from inside attacks. Paul’s own character was also being questioned. Paul defended himself and challenged believers to understand the bigger kingdom picture. Paul’s heart was broken over the Corinthians’ tensions, but he urged them to forgive one another and stay unified so Satan couldn’t compromise them further.
Notice that Paul had moved on to teach in other cities but remained invested both emotionally and practically in the Corinthians’ lives. He took responsibility for their continued discipleship.
2 Corinthians 2:14–3:18 Despite the world’s mixed reception of the good news, Paul was rooted in the belief that God’s kingdom was progressing and spreading. He rejected any personal benefits of doing God’s work and operated with spiritual values—pleasing God, seeing the Spirit change people, mediating God’s Word to people, and bringing life by sharing the Spirit.
God’s new covenant is amazingly good; it gives everyone a permanent way to be at peace with God! And being in this new family should make believers bold. They have no reason to be over-protective of what God gives because the Spirit opens eyes to see God’s glory and even changes their lives to look like Jesus.
Notice that before Jesus, contact with God was limited and protected, and the experience of His presence always faded (e.g., Moses’ veil as described in 3:13–18). But now, because of God’s gift of Holy Spirit, constant and intimate contact with God is possible, especially as His character grows in the lives of His people.
2 Corinthians 3:6
6 He has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
- Believers have no reason to hide, protect, or limit what they share or risk for the kingdom. Because we’re permanently fixed in the kingdom, no amount of serving, sharing, or risking will result in spiritual loss. In fact, the more we share, the more the Spirit adds.
- How well do you understand the differences between the old and new covenant? Paul’s joy and confidence are rooted in God’s historic narrative. Avoid religious generalizations or fluffy phrases when discussing God’s goodness; instead, identify new ways you can talk about the greatness of God’s plan based on these chapters. (See the bolded sentence in section 2:14–3:18 for an example.)
Choose one of the following:
- Learn to articulate the reality of God’s mercy and grace by writing or sharing a three-sentence summary from these chapters. Then, identify a time in your or another disciple’s life where you experienced deeper grace or comfort after following God through difficulty. Work with a friend to develop a concise personal example you could share with a new believer while studying these chapters.
- Do a brief study of the old and new covenant differences by referring to Hebrews 8, Matthew 5, and Romans 7. Identify four or five key changes when Jesus came, and share these with someone this week. How might these changes be relevant to other religions?
- Reflect on your current relationships. Is there any unresolved conflict? Did you seek counsel two weeks ago about any next steps? (Week 4, Day 4) Discuss particular growth areas with your accountability partner, and with your spouse if you’re married. [Healthy Relationships]