“Keep Testing Whether You Are in the Faith”
Highlights From Second Corinthians
THE apostle Paul was concerned about the Christians in Corinth. How would they view the counsel given in his first letter to them? He was in Macedonia when Titus arrived with the favorable report that the letter had saddened the Corinthians into repenting. How that made Paul rejoice!—2 Corinthians 7:8-13.
Paul wrote Second Corinthians from Macedonia, probably after midyear in 55 C.E. In this letter, he discussed steps taken to keep the congregation clean, built desire to contribute to needy believers in Judea, and defended his apostleship. Much of what Paul said can help us to ‘keep testing whether we are in the faith.’ (13:5) So, what can we glean from this letter?
Minister for the God of Comfort
The apostle showed that as God comforts us in all our tribulation, we should comfort others and pray for them. (1:1–2:11) Though Paul and his associates were under extreme pressure, God rescued them. Yet, the Corinthians could help with prayers in their behalf, even as we should pray for others who embrace the true faith. But what about the immoral man mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapter 5? Apparently he had been disfellowshipped but had repented. How he must have been comforted when the Corinthians extended forgiveness and lovingly reinstated him in their midst.
Paul’s words can increase our appreciation for the Christian ministry, strengthening our stand for the true faith. (2:12–6:10) Why, ministers of the new covenant are privileged to be in “a triumphal procession” with God in the lead! Paul and his fellow workers had the treasured ministry because of the mercy shown them. Like them, present-day anointed ones have a ministry of reconciliation. Yet, all Witnesses of Jehovah make others rich through their ministry.
Perfect Holiness and Be Generous
Paul shows us that Christian ministers must perfect holiness in the fear of Jehovah. (6:11–7:16) If we are to stand firm in the faith, we must avoid becoming yoked with unbelievers, and we need to be cleansed of fleshly and spiritual defilement. The Corinthians took cleansing action by disfellowshipping the immoral wrongdoer, and Paul rejoiced that his first letter had saddened them to repentance for salvation.
We also learn that God-fearing ministers are rewarded for their generosity. (8:1–9:15) Regarding contributions for needy “holy ones,” Paul cited the fine example of the Macedonians. They had been generous beyond their ability, and he hoped to see the same kind of generosity on the part of the Corinthians. Their giving—and ours—should be from the heart, for “God loves a cheerful giver” and enriches his people for every sort of generosity.
Paul—A Caring Apostle
When we accomplish anything in Jehovah’s service as ministers, let us boast in him, not in ourselves. (10:1–12:13) After all, only with spiritual weapons “powerful by God” can we overturn false reasonings. The boastful “superfine apostles” among the Corinthians could never match Paul’s record of endurance as a minister of Christ. Yet, that he might not be overly exalted, God did not remove his “thorn in the flesh”—perhaps poor eyesight or those false apostles. Paul would rather boast in his weaknesses anyway so that “the power of the Christ” might remain over him like a tent. As a man who stood firm in the faith, he had not proved inferior to the superfine apostles. The Corinthians had seen the proofs of apostleship Paul had produced among them “by all endurance, and by signs and portents and powerful works.”
As a minister and as an apostle, Paul had the spiritual interests of fellow believers at heart, even as we should have. (12:14–13:14) He ‘would most gladly be completely spent for their souls.’ But Paul feared that upon arrival in Corinth, he would find some who had not repented of works of the flesh. Hence, he advised all to keep testing whether they were in the faith and prayed that they “do nothing wrong.” In conclusion, he urged them to rejoice, be readjusted and comforted, to think in agreement, and to live peaceably. What fine counsel for us too!
Keep On Testing!
Paul’s second letter to Corinthian Christians thus suggests various ways to keep testing whether we are in the faith. His words certainly should move us to comfort others, even as God comforts us in all our tribulation. What the apostle said about the Christian ministry should motivate us to carry it out faithfully while we perfect holiness in the fear of Jehovah.
Applying Paul’s counsel may well make us more generous and helpful. Yet, his words should prompt us to boast in Jehovah, not ourselves. They should heighten our loving concern for fellow believers. And surely these and other points in Second Corinthians can help us to ‘keep testing whether we are in the faith.’
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REFLECT JEHOVAH’S GLORY: When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the tablets of the Testimony, his face emitted rays because God had spoken with him. (Exodus 34:29, 30) Paul mentioned this and said: “All of us, while we with unveiled faces reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, exactly as done by Jehovah the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:7-18) Ancient hand mirrors were made of such metals as bronze or copper and were highly polished so as to have good reflecting surfaces. Like mirrors, anointed ones reflect God’s glory that shines to them from Jesus Christ, progressively ‘transforming them into the image’ conveyed by Jehovah’s glory-reflecting Son. (2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 5:1) Through holy spirit and the Scriptures, God creates in them “the new personality,” a reflection of his own qualities. (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10) Whether our hope is heavenly or it is earthly, let us display that personality and cherish the privilege of reflecting God’s glory in our ministry.
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“WEAPONS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”: One way that Paul and his associates recommended themselves as God’s ministers was “through the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-7) The right hand was used to wield the sword, and the left to hold the shield. Though assaulted from all sides, Paul and his fellow workers were armed to wage spiritual warfare. It was waged against false teachers and “superfine apostles” so that the Corinth congregation would not be led away from devotion to Christ. Paul did not resort to weapons of the sinful flesh—cunning, deceit, or trickery. (2 Corinthians 10:8-10; 11:3, 12-14; 12:11, 16) Rather, “the weapons” used were righteous, or just, means for furthering the cause of true worship against all assaults. Jehovah’s Witnesses now use such “weapons of righteousness” for the same purpose.