We are beginning to look at Paul’s previous letter to the one we just finished. Yes, we are still in 2 Corinthians but my bible helps tell me that this was letter number three and chapters 1-9 were letter number four. So this letter will be addressing some of the issues that Paul counted as resolved in the letter we just finished.
Paul starts this letter, not like his previous ones with long greetings but gets right to the point. I wonder if his customary greeting was removed when combining the two letters into one or if he purposefully left it out. He does plainly introduce himself as the author of the letter right off. Maybe that alone was his greeting.
He appears to be addressing a perceived discrepancy between his writings and his face to face interactions. His letters are hard hitting and get to the root of the sin that needs addressing. But his face to face encounters with these believers were gentler.
I don’t know about you but I have a hard time saying the stronger things when I’m face to face too. It is easier for me to address difficult subjects through writing. This was apparently how Paul functioned. But this difference was in NO way meant to represent his feelings on the subjects. His beliefs, whether present or absent, did not change. How he conveyed them was the only difference. He was not ashamed of his harsher words but preferred them to be in writing instead of in person. He never took back or changed anything he wrote to any of the churches.
This makes sense to me too because it is a lot easier to decrease the amount of miscommunications by using the written word. Reading between the lines still happens but no one can doubt the words that are actually written. Whereas when speaking to people, many times there is a difference of opinion on what was actually said. That difference happens whether the conversation happens one-to-one or one-to-many. Also with written instructions there isn’t any opportunity for the message to change from one reading to the next.
History has uncovered some minor inconsistencies when letters were copied multiple times by multiple individuals. They didn’t have Xerox copiers in Paul’s day and each scribe brought with them their own understanding of what was being conveyed. God preserved the content though as He was the real Author.
Paul also addresses the fact that he is not trying to gain glory for another person’s work or usurp their authority. He is fine with the scope of people God has brought under his care. And care for them he will! Their growth in Christ is how the gospel spreads even more. He is honored to be a part of that and will take his due credit for that work. He is interested in God’s approval above all else. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (verse 18).
Father God, thank You for protecting Your word through all of the copying and translations over the centuries. No other book is so well preserved over time. That alone is a miracle! Thank You for having these stories and instructions written down as oral traditions tend to be more mutable. Who knows how many of Your lessons, instructions, blessings, and exhortations would have been missed otherwise. You knew from the beginning what was needed and started it early on. I wonder what Moses used when he compiled Genesis. Did You provide all the information, did he compile it from other written documents, or did he receive it from oral traditions? Did Noah take the first people’s information in written form with him on the ark? I guess I just added another area to our bench question session. Thank You for the ability to read Your word and for permission to ask questions about it.