Jeremiah 33:1-11 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, September 28, 2014, is from  Jeremiah 33:1-11. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Easy print International Bible Lessons Commentary versions are now available in the English Standard Version, King James Version, New American Standard Bible, and the New Revised Standard Version on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Jeremiah 33:1-11

(Jeremiah 33:1) The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard:

Jeremiah received words of consolation and hope for himself and the kingdom even while wicked King Zedekiah had him in the palace prison. Jeremiah had preached repentance to the king, the priests, the prophets, and the people for almost 40 years, and if they had turned back to God they could have avoided suffering the justice of God, death, and exile in Babylon.

(Jeremiah 33:2) Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it–the LORD is his name:

The Israelites had turned from the true God (Yahweh) to Baal and Molech and other idols – even sacrificing their own children by throwing them into a fire and burning incense to false gods from their rooftops. Jeremiah, therefore, had to tell them the name, nature, and character of the true God that he represented and spoke for as a prophet of Yahweh. Yahweh had created, formed, and established the earth: Yahweh was the one and only all-powerful and holy God – that Moses met on the mountain.

(Jeremiah 33:3) Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Yahweh gave this promise primarily to Jeremiah and to those who truly serve God. If the wicked call to God, their first words must express sorrowful repentance and a sincere desire to return to God. God will not reveal great and hidden things to the wicked, but God will reveal great and hidden things to those who love and serve God (Yahweh).

(Jeremiah 33:4) For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege ramps and before the sword:

The Judeans themselves began the destruction of Jerusalem in order to strengthen the defenses of the city’s walls. Of course, their manmade defenses could not stop them from suffering the discipline of God through the army of Nebuchadnezzar (who was unknowingly in the service of God and who was successful militarily because God was using him as a mere tool to bring corrective discipline upon His people).

(Jeremiah 33:5) The Chaldeans are coming in to fight and to fill them with the dead bodies of those whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their wickedness.

“Chaldeans” was another name for “Babylonians.” Because of the wickedness of those in Judah and Jerusalem, God would no longer look upon them with favor. They had been wicked for so long in spite of all God’s peaceful efforts through His prophets to lead them to repent that God expressed His justifiable anger as a holy God in judgment upon them. Through the army of the Chaldeans, God would strike them down and kill them; perhaps as some were dying they returned to God in repentance and true faith, to the God of steadfast love and mercy. Others may have repented and returned to God during their long march into exile in Babylon or while they suffered in Babylon.

(Jeremiah 33:6) I am going to bring it recovery and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.

After God had punished them, He would restore them. His punishment was disciplinary and reveals that God is just and merciful, not desiring that any should perish: “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God would heal the people in exile both physically and spiritually. They would learn to worship God even in Babylon and without their temple. They would find abundance, prosperity, and security in Babylon when they worshiped the true God. They would return to Jerusalem, rebuild it, and prosper once again as God provided for them after the defeat of the Babylonians.

(Jeremiah 33:7) I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first.

Throughout the Book of Jeremiah, God reaffirmed His love for both the northern and the southern kingdoms, for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. For a time they prospered in spite of their rebellion against God and their idolatry until God had to punish them, because if He had not punished them His patience would have ceased to be a virtue and He would have been unjust. Because Yahweh is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness, God promised to rebuild them as a kingdom, and God would make them prosper and they would recognize the fact that all of their blessings came from God and God alone.

(Jeremiah 33:8) I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.

The Israelites and Judeans identified their material prosperity with the blessings of God. As long as they prospered materially, they believed God was blessing them and they ignored Jeremiah’s preaching and the law of God. They sinned as long as they prospered. After God punished them by touching them materially, God promised to heal and cleanse them morally and spiritually as well as forgive them after their rebellion had made it necessary for him to punish them severely.

(Jeremiah 33:9) And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them; they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

After their judgment and their return to obedience, the people would make Jerusalem a joy to themselves and a joy to God once again. All the nations of the earth would see the work of God among His people in the new Kingdom of Israel and they would reverence or fear the true God because of His good work of restoration among His people. This happened in a small measure after their return from exile in Babylon, and will happen fully when the Messiah returns.

(Jeremiah 33:10) Thus says the LORD: In this place of which you say, “It is a waste without human beings or animals,” in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without inhabitants, human or animal, there shall once more be heard

While still a prisoner and even before the Chaldeans breached the walls of the city and destroyed it, Jeremiah described the consequences of the people’s rebellion against God: the city “is a waste.” Yet, after the people were carried far away into exile, they would return and repopulate the city after seventy years of exile. No animals were heard in the city because the people had eaten all of them while under siege, but animals and people would return after God corrected His people with the appropriate discipline.

(Jeremiah 33:11) the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD: “Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD.

When Ezra, Nehemiah, and others rebuilt the city, the city walls, and the temple, mirth and gladness returned to the city. People felt confident to marry and raise children in the city and to sing and give thanks to God. Only God could have restored the fortunes of His people, and the very existence of Israel as a people who worship Yahweh is a good reason to believe in God. Once again, Jeremiah’s words of praise and thanksgiving remind us of the Psalms, and the fact that Jeremiah was very familiar with the Book of Psalms (which must have brought him great comfort when he was persecuted).

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. While Jeremiah remained in prison, how did God continue to encourage him?

2. How does God encourage you when you face troubles and you do not know the future?

3. Why did God hide His face from the people in Jerusalem? Do you think He will do the same thing today in cities around the world for the same reason?

4. In spite of their wickedness, what did God say He would do with the people?

5. Read Jeremiah 33:11 again. The New Testament teaches that the Church is the Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7, Revelation 21:9, and Revelation 22:17). Compare what you have read to Christian worship today. What parts of Jeremiah 33:11 do you enjoy in a service of worship? What parts would you like to do more when you worship God? What does Jeremiah 33:11 teach you about how you can worship God every day even by yourself? What promise did God give Jeremiah for the people and how does it compare to some of the promises of Jesus to you?

Word Search International Bible Lesson Puzzle

Jeremiah 33:1-11
A Fun and Printable Handout using Key Lesson Words

International Bible Lesson

When God Refuses to Hear Prayers

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3—KJV).

“Call upon me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3—NRSV).

Available September 27, 2014


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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Jeremiah 32:2-9, 14-15 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, September 21, 2014, is from  Jeremiah 32:2-9, 14-15. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Easy print International Bible Lessons Commentary versions are now available in the English Standard Version, King James Version, New American Standard Bible, and the New Revised Standard Version on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Jeremiah 32:2-9, 14-15

(Jeremiah 32:2) At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah,

The time was the tenth year of King Zedekiah’s reign as the king of Judah, and the eighteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign as king of Babylon. This word of the LORD or prophecy came to Jeremiah when Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Babylon and King Zedekiah had imprisoned Jeremiah, accusing Jeremiah unjustly of deserting to the enemies of Israel. Jeremiah remained imprisoned until Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar freed him from captivity.

(Jeremiah 32:3) where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. Zedekiah had said, “Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the LORD: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;

King Zedekiah had listened to and believed the false prophets who had predicted that God would save Jerusalem from destruction and those previously sent into exile in 597 BC would soon be released. King Zedekiah asked Jeremiah why he gave a different message from God and was predicting the opposite of what the false prophets predicted; prophets that he did not recognize as false prophets.

(Jeremiah 32:4) King Zedekiah of Judah shall not escape out of the hands of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye;

King Zedekiah displayed some fear for his own life. He had encouraged the Judeans to side with Egypt and rebel with them against the Babylonians, which was a mistake. Egypt had proven an unreliable and weak ally that the Babylonians quickly defeated. Jeremiah had warned King Zedekiah not to trust in Egypt, but to trust in God; however, King Zedekiah had ignored Jeremiah’s warnings. Now, the Babylonians were about to destroy the city of Jerusalem and capture King Zedekiah. Even though Jeremiah spoke God’s words of comfort and hope to God’s people, he had to warn King Zedekiah that this specific judgment would fall upon him as part of God’s punishment for his sins and rebellion against God. King Zedekiah should have eventually come to believe that Jeremiah was a true prophet of God as he suffered exactly the punishment of God that Jeremiah said he would experience.

(Jeremiah 32:5) and he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I attend to him, says the LORD; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed?”

King Zedekiah locked Jeremiah in prison because he did not want the people to hear God’s just judgment against him and his kingdom. He did not want Jeremiah to undermine his kingship or discourage the people from fighting and resisting the Babylonians, for Jeremiah had encouraged the people to surrender to the Babylonians and save their lives. Everything Jeremiah foretold happened exactly as God told him.

(Jeremiah 32:6) Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came to me:

Jeremiah told the king that the word of the LORD came to him directly from the LORD. He also had an example to give the king. What God foretold him about the coming of his cousin happened exactly as God foretold him. Even though God intended to punish King Zedekiah and all the rebellious idolaters in his kingdom, God gave the nation and those who would be sent into exile a message of hope through Jeremiah for the kingdom’s future and the future of the children who would be born to them in exile in Babylon. The word of the LORD was a message that Jeremiah should take a symbolic action to substantiate his message of hope.

(Jeremiah 32:7) Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.”

God told Jeremiah to expect a visit while he was in prison from the son of his uncle, who would say that he did not intend to buy a field after a relative’s death that belonged in the family. So the field could stay in the family, Jeremiah as the next of kin in line had the opportunity to buy the field which was occupied by the Babylonian army that had captured it along with the town of Anathoth. It would take hope in God to buy the field.

(Jeremiah 32:8) Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the LORD, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.

Jeremiah knew and wanted others to know that he was taking this symbolic action because what God said would happen had happened when his nephew came to him. His nephew’s appearance confirmed that God had indeed spoken to him. Jeremiah had the right of redemption and possession as an inheritance because he was next in line after his uncle had refused to buy a field occupied by an enemy of Judah. The Book of Ruth gives a good example of this practice. From a merely human point of view, Jeremiah would have been a fool to buy a field occupied by the enemies of Judah. Jeremiah bought the field only because God told him to buy the field as a way of demonstrating God’s faithfulness to future generations of His people.

(Jeremiah 32:9) And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.

Jeremiah’s symbolic action affirmed that the land would not remain in the possession of the Babylonians forever. God would save His people after He had sufficiently punished them. Someday the people would return to their land and if he bought the family’s property it would remain in the possession of his returning family – even though Jeremiah would die before they returned from exile. Jeremiah put his money behind what the LORD had told him to tell the people.

(Jeremiah 32:14) Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time.

Since Jeremiah was in prison, he had Baruch handle the deeds to his land. What Jeremiah ordered to be done was a practice common at that time, and such documents and deeds written from that time period and later have been found in earthenware jars; such as, the jars that contained the Dead Sea scrolls. These documents would need to be preserved for at least 70 years, “for a long time.” A person would read the open scroll to know what was inside of the sealed scroll that would only be opened when another business or financial transaction was carried out.

(Jeremiah 32:15) For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.

Jeremiah also told the king, the people, and Baruch the reason he was taking this symbolic action, which Baruch included in the Book of Jeremiah at Jeremiah’s dictation. Jeremiah had acted on the promise of God that financially and materially speaking the land would return to normal commerce and trade and what he bought would remain a part of his family. Those who trusted God would someday return from exile and the city of Jerusalem and the temple would be rebuilt again with help from the LORD. What Jeremiah predicted influenced the prayers of Daniel (see Daniel 9:2).

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. What might you think about a person who claimed to be a prophet of God that the government locked in a prison?
2. How do you think most people would respond to someone if they said that God was going to have their enemies defeat their country in battle and God would not protect them from their enemies?
3. Did King Zedekiah know what Jeremiah was saying about him? What was Jeremiah saying about King Zedekiah?
4. Did King Zedekiah repent of his sins? Did the people repent of their sins after Jeremiah preached to them? Why did they do what they did?
5. What did Jeremiah say and do to give the people hope?

Word Search International Bible Lesson Puzzle

Jeremiah 32:2-9, 14-15
A Fun and Printable Handout using Key Lesson Words

International Bible Lesson

God’s Presence with the Persecuted

“For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house” (Jeremiah 32:2—KJV).

“At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the King of Judah” (Jeremiah 32:2—NRSV).

God can demonstrate His presence, reality, love, and truthfulness to people so no matter what happens to them in this life they remain faithful to God. For example, Jeremiah preached 40 years in Jerusalem and Judah, and the political leaders, priests, prophets, and people never repented or returned to serving the LORD alone. They loved the supposed benefits of their idol worship too much to obey God and worship God only. They continued doing evil while thinking they could go to the temple on the Sabbath, make some sacrifices, and their weekly worship would save them from God’s punishment. The false prophets contradicted Jeremiah, and some of them even physically assaulted him, but in spite of the rejection he suffered from almost everyone, Jeremiah continued to trust God and declare the word of the LORD. Finally, as the time for the fall of Jerusalem neared, Jeremiah’s enemies, who were also the enemies of the LORD they pretended to serve, arrested him, put him in prison, and threw him in a cistern to murder him. Still, Jeremiah kept believing in God and knew that his warnings were consistent with the revealed law of God in the Books of Moses and the earlier prophets, whose warnings of God’s judgment came to pass. Jeremiah demonstrated that true followers of God and His prophets may not always find earthly success, but the presence of God in their lives will inspire their continued faithfulness and following of God without regard to the worldly consequences and the opinions of others.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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Jeremiah 31:29-37 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, September 14, 2014, is from  Jeremiah 31:29-37. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Easy print International Bible Lessons Commentary versions are now available in the English Standard Version, King James Version, New American Standard Bible, and the New Revised Standard Version on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are also available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Jeremiah 31:29-37

(Jeremiah 31:29) In those days they shall no longer say: “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

In his message of comfort and hope, the LORD wanted Jeremiah to emphasize individual accountability and responsibility. The Judeans who went into exile could not blame their parents and the sins of their parents for their punishment from the LORD and their exile in Babylon. In the future, especially in the coming days of the Messiah, if the parents have done wrong they will be held responsible for their actions. Though children often suffer from the neglect and irresponsibility of their parents, their suffering is not the result of God punishing them for their parents’ sins.

(Jeremiah 31:30) But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.

Before and after the Messiah came, God punished individuals for their own sins, but some thought that God punished children for their parents’ sins. For example, the disciples of Jesus wanted to know why a man was born blind (see John 9:2). When the Judeans were sent into exile, their children suffered their same fate, which was God’s discipline on a rebellious people. The wages of sin is death for every individual who sins; therefore, God will not punish a child for their parents’ sins (Romans 6:23). God will not punish a victim that someone has sinned against. God will not punish an innocent person because they have been violated by a sinner. God will only punish the sinner. However, a parent’s sins can bring unjust suffering to a child and God will give the child justice when He disciplines the parents. God will give justice to those who are the victims of the sins of others, but that justice may not be seen in this life on earth.

(Jeremiah 31:31) The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

Because the house of Israel and Judah (all 12 tribes of Israel) had broken the covenant God had made with them, God declared through Jeremiah that He would make a new covenant or agreement with them. God would make the new covenant when He sent the Messiah, who would make the new covenant in his blood.

(Jeremiah 31:32) It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt–a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.

God made the Old Covenant with Israel when He established the Passover feast, saved them from the destroying angel and slavery in Egypt, and when God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and the sacrificial system on the mount of God. God treated them as a father would treat his children, and as a husband would treat his bride when he makes a marriage covenant. However, because of her sins and idolatry, Israel broke the covenant that God had made; Israel became like a rebellious child or a rebellious bride.

(Jeremiah 31:33) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The New Covenant would contain the same moral law, the same law of love, the same 10 Commandments that God revealed in the Old Covenant. However, rather than being written on stone and read and obeyed as an external law, under the New Covenant God would write His law internally upon the heart of His people. He would remain their God, and they would remain His people. Under the New Covenant, God’s people would do the will of God and obey His laws from an inner recognition of their rightness for everyone. True love for God and others would be their motive for obeying God’s law. God would renew a right spirit within them and send the Holy Spirit to live within them to guide them in the right applications of His laws in every situation. The external law written on stone could never achieve these goals, but Jesus the Messiah could achieve them in the lives of His followers after His death and resurrection that created the New Covenant.

(Jeremiah 31:34) No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Jeremiah prophesied that a day would come when the evangelist would no longer be necessary, for everyone would know the LORD; whether they were rich or poor, young or old, educated or uneducated, Jew or Gentile. There would come a time when God would forgive His people for their all of their sins and choose not to remember their sins. Their past sins would never come between Him and His people. They would never sin against God again and He would forget their sinful past.

(Jeremiah 31:35) Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the LORD of hosts is his name:

Through Jeremiah, God promised a New Covenant, and the Messiah Jesus came and established the New Covenant as God promised. Those who follow the Messiah do not break God’s New Covenant, because God’s work of grace within them helps them substantially obey God in a process the Bible calls sanctification. When the Messiah returns, those who have been sanctified will be visibly glorified on earth and in heaven. God promised that this would be as certain as the fixed order of the created universe.

(Jeremiah 31:36) If this fixed order were ever to cease from my presence, says the LORD, then also the offspring of Israel would cease to be a nation before me forever.

The nation of Israel formally ceased to exist in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant, and the city of Jerusalem; however, by that time some of the offspring of Israel and some Gentiles had united under the Lordship of the Messiah in the New Covenant and had formed the kingdom of God on earth, which continues even today as the Church. The nation of Israel was reestablished as a nation in 1948.

(Jeremiah 31:37) Thus says the LORD: If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will reject all the offspring of Israel because of all they have done, says the LORD.

God has never rejected “all the offspring of Israel.” God did not reject them because of “all they have done.” God established a New Covenant through the Messiah and established the Kingdom of God on earth with His followers that will be apparent to all when the Messiah returns as God promised. God intended these words of Jeremiah to encourage His people and give them hope not only right before they went into exile in Babylon but throughout the subsequent generations until the Messiah Jesus came and until He comes again as He promised.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. What kind of an effect can the sins of the parents have on their children?
2. What did God mean when He told Jeremiah “all shall die for their own sins”?
3. Who did God say that He would make His New Covenant with? Why is that important? Where can we learn the most about the New Covenant?
4. What did God say that the Israelites had done with the Old Covenant?
5. What did God say that He would do in the New Covenant?

Word Search International Bible Lesson Puzzle

Jeremiah 31:29-37
A Fun and Printable Handout using Key Lesson Words

International Bible Lesson

God’s Law of Love in Our Hearts

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33—KJV).

“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33—NRSV).

The Old Covenant that the house of Israel broke included the moral law of God, often called “the law of love” as further defined by the 10 Commandments. God gave the moral law to people because He loves and wants us to love God and others as He does. Jesus perfectly demonstrated the law of love on earth. God gave the moral law as the 10 Commandments to the house of Israel partly because after 400 years of slavery they needed to learn how to govern themselves according to just and loving laws. They had been enslaved to the whims of autocratic owners and self-centered rulers who always told them arbitrarily what they could and could not do. Since the house of Israel broke the Old Covenant, God told Jeremiah that He would make a New Covenant with them. In the New Covenant, God would take the same moral law of love and write it on their hearts instead of on stone tablets. When God sent Jesus the Messiah into the world, God made the New Covenant. After Jesus died and rose again, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into His followers to write the law of love on their hearts. The Holy Spirit helps God’s people know how to obey the law of love in situations impossible to include in a law book. Thus, God’s people truly love God instead of “trying” to love God; they obey God because they love God. – L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

Posted in Bible | Comments Off

Jeremiah 30:1-3, 18-24 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, September 7, 2014, is from  Jeremiah 30:1-3, 18-24. Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Jeremiah 30:1-3, 18-24

(Jeremiah 30:1) The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

In Jeremiah chapters 30-33, Jeremiah recorded words of consolation, encouragement, and hope from the LORD. Jeremiah lived through the reigns of five kings of Judah and was a prophet in Judah during 40 years of preaching. He prefaced many of the words he spoke with these words, “Thus says the LORD,” so leaders and people would know he was not just giving his political or religious opinions. Baruch recorded on scrolls the words that Jeremiah dictated, after Jeremiah in some sense took dictation from the LORD when he said, “Thus says the LORD.” The Holy Spirit inspired the words of Jeremiah and protected him and Baruch from error; therefore, we read his book in the Old Testament and learn how Jesus the Messiah would establish the new covenant.

(Jeremiah 30:2) Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.

The “LORD” is “Yahweh” who had led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Because of their idolatry, after King Solomon’s reign, the nation had divided into the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. “The God of Israel” means that even though the Kingdom of Israel (that comprised 10 of the 12 tribes of Jacob) had been destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC as God’s punishment, God the LORD was still the God over all of the tribes of Judah and Israel. God commanded Jeremiah to write everything He said to him. Even though the Kingdom of Judah was destroyed in 587 BC, the Book of Jeremiah was preserved and God’s promises remembered throughout their years of exile.

(Jeremiah 30:3) For the days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their ancestors and they shall take possession of it.

For 40 years, the LORD through Jeremiah had called the people to repent and turn from their sins, which even included sacrificing their children to their idols. They refused to repent and even persecuted Jeremiah. Now, right before the city of Jerusalem was to be burned and the temple destroyed by the Babylonians, God offered words of comfort and hope to those who would survive death and exile. After their exile, God fulfilled His promises and those who chose to return went back to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple.

(Jeremiah 30:18) Thus says the LORD: I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob, and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound, and the citadel set on its rightful site.

Jacob was the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, and God wanted to declare that He was still the LORD over all Israel, not only the Kingdom of Judah. Some of the Israelites lived in houses in cities. Some of these cities were fortified and some were without walls. In times of danger, those who lived in villages without walls, in tents, or on farms fled to the fortified cities. Some still lived in tents as their father had commanded them (see Jeremiah 35:1-19). After 70 years of captivity, some of the Judeans returned from exile and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem, which had become a mound from previous destructions. [Cities that are repeatedly abandoned and rebuilt after destructions over hundreds or thousands of years become mounds that archaeologists call a “tell.” Archaeologists excavate a “tell” (or “tel”) to learn about the different periods of occupation and destruction and rebuilding.] The citadel or tower was rebuilt on the rebuilt walls at its former site for defense to protect the city of Jerusalem.

(Jeremiah 30:19) Out of them shall come thanksgiving, and the sound of merrymakers. I will make them many, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained.

After about 40 years of dire and gloomy warnings from Jeremiah that if the people did not repent the Babylonians would destroy their city and temple, and take into captivity those who survived, God told Jeremiah that after He disciplined the people a few would return to Him with thanksgiving and joy, and over time would increase to once again become many merrymakers. In exile, the people would multiply greatly, and the few who returned from exile would rejoin those left behind and become an honored multitude. In the days of King Cyrus and King Darius, the people returned and these pagan kings helped them rebuild their city, the city walls, and their temple. Those who disdained them and opposed them (their neighbors) eventually had to help them as these pagan kings commanded them, so they would not be disdained.

(Jeremiah 30:20) Their children shall be as of old, their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all who oppress them.

The children of the Israelites who left Egypt entered the Promised Land under Joshua and these children as adults remained loyal to the LORD, with a few exceptions that were quickly dealt with by God and Joshua (see Joshua, chapter 7). The children of the Israelites who went into exile in Babylon and who returned to Judah and Jerusalem would be faithful to God and be established before Him. The children of both groups had witnessed the discipline of God on their parents, so they chose to obey God.

(Jeremiah 30:21) Their prince shall be one of their own, their ruler shall come from their midst; I will bring him near, and he shall approach me, for who would otherwise dare to approach me? says the LORD.

From Jeremiah 30:24, we learn that the most complete understanding of Jeremiah 30:21-24 would only be given “in the latter days” or in the days of the Messiah who would establish the new covenant that God would make with His people. The Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah and He would be a prince of the house of David. He would be a leader and ruler of God’s people under a new covenant. Because the LORD had sent the Messiah, the Messiah could approach Him whereas no one else would dare to do so because of their sins and fear of punishment. After the Messiah established the new covenant, He invited all of His followers to approach God with a clean conscience.

(Jeremiah 30:22) And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

These words of the LORD remind us of Psalm 100 and other Psalms that must have brought great comfort to Jeremiah as he remembered them, especially during times of great persecution and suffering. In Psalm 100, the psalmist said, “We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Through Jeremiah’s prophecy, in spite of what the people would suffer as God disciplined them, God still considered them His people and their God and they would once again find joy in their God.

(Jeremiah 30:23) Look, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.

On the one hand, the fierce discipline of the LORD would soon fall upon the wicked King Zedekiah and the other idolatrous Judeans in Jerusalem. On the other hand, the wicked Babylonians would also suffer the punishment of the LORD after the Judeans’ years of exile came to an end. Forty years after the crucifixion of the Messiah, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the rebuilt temple, and later the Roman Empire was destroyed, which reminds us of what happened to the Babylonian Empire at the hand of God after they punished His people. When the Messiah returns, the wrath of the LORD will once again burst upon the wicked.

(Jeremiah 30:24) The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his mind. In the latter days you will understand this.

Unlike the wood, stone, and gold-gilded idols of the Israelites and their pagan neighbors, the true God thinks, plans, executes His plans, and accomplishes everything that He intends and promises. God is moral, and God has given people His moral law to bless them with right laws and right living. Because God is moral, God will punish those who persist in unrepentant disobedience and afflict His people. Someday, God will bring the just rule of the Messiah visibly upon the whole earth, and the Messiah will overcome all the wicked and establish justice and peace throughout the whole earth.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Why do you think God told Jeremiah to write what he said in a book?
2. After God punished the kingdom of Judah, what did He promise to do?
3. Why do you think God identified himself as the God of Israel and said He would restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob?
4. Who does God punish?
5. Who did God say shall approach Him? Who would dare to approach Him? Today, who can approach God without fear?

International Bible Lesson

God’s Word Cannot Be Destroyed

“Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book” (Jeremiah 30:2—KJV).

“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you” (Jeremiah 30:2—NRSV).

During forty years of preaching, Jeremiah warned the Judeans that if they would not repent, then God would punish them as He had punished the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. Among many of their horrible deeds, they sacrificed their children to idols by throwing them into a fire in the belly of Molech. King Solomon helped establish this custom in his kingdom: “Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7). After God punished the Kingdom of Judah by destroying Jerusalem, and by the Babylonian army taking many survivors into exile, God promised to restore them to the land that He gave their ancestors. God told Jeremiah to write in a book all the words He spoke to him, and this book became a lasting record of God’s faithfulness to keep the words He spoke, of God’s power to perform what He threatens to do as punishment, of God’s promises to restore those who repent. God’s written word cannot be destroyed. One of Judah’s kings did not like what Jeremiah had written, so he took his knife, cut up the scroll as it was being read to him, and then threw it into the fire. So, God told Jeremiah to write it down again, which he did as he dictated to Baruch (see Jeremiah 36). We can judge from history that God fulfilled what Jeremiah wrote. For more than 2500 years God has protected His Word and has proven that His Word cannot be destroyed (see Isaiah 40:8). – L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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2 Corinthians 8:1-15 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, August 31, 2014, is from  2 Corinthians 8:1-15. NOTE: Some churches will only study 2 Corinthians 8:1-14Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
2 Corinthians 8:1-15

(2 Corinthians 8:1) We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia;

Paul wrote about Christian giving and the collection of money for the church in Jerusalem in 2 Corinthians 8:1 through 9:15; and in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, and a few years later in Romans 15:25-28 (these verses should all be read in their context). Paul wrote that the desire to give and the spirit of giving in the Christian’s life was the result of God’s grace in their life. Christian giving is a vital aspect of Christian living. The churches in Macedonia had the spirit of giving because of the grace of God in their lives.

(2 Corinthians 8:2) for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

The churches in Macedonia had not used their afflictions or their poverty as an excuse not to give to meet the needs of others. Their poverty was “extreme poverty;” therefore, they gave because of God’s grace and not because they had been commanded to give or because someone had told them that they needed to give if they wanted to be saved or go to heaven. Because they gave generously in spite of their poverty, Paul wrote that their offering “overflowed in a wealth of generosity,” not that they gave what those who were wealthy could easily give.

(2 Corinthians 8:3) For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means,

Paul wrote that what he was going to write about them he would be willing to say under oath in a court of law: he could testify to what they did because he saw them give with his own eyes. They gave voluntarily and without compulsion. They not only gave what they could afford to give; they gave sacrificially beyond what they could afford to give.

(2 Corinthians 8:4) begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints–

Because of the grace of God, the Christians in Macedonia had committed their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and they knew the joy of salvation that God had given them as a free gift. They knew that the Church of Jesus Christ had spread from the first church in Jerusalem and those who had sent the gospel to them were suffering. Therefore, they begged Paul to allow them to give: to them giving to help other Christians was a privilege not simply an obligation. They gave joyfully, not with resentment.

(2 Corinthians 8:5) and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us,

Before they begged for the opportunity to serve others, they first gave themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ: they first consecrated themselves to the service of Christ and this included service to the body of Christ wherever those in the body of Christ had need. The grace of God moved them to understand and seek to do the will of God, which included their commitment to follow the example of those who preached the gospel to them in giving to help the needy saints in Jerusalem.

(2 Corinthians 8:6) so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them how the Christian churches in Macedonia had responded when they learned of the believers’ needs in Jerusalem. Titus had been raising money in Macedonia, and with his letter Paul was sending Titus to the Corinthians in order to receive from them the rest of the offering for the church in Jerusalem. Paul encouraged them to be generous and trust Titus and him to take their gift to Jerusalem as they promised they would.

(2 Corinthians 8:7) Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

As Paul turned his attention directly to the Corinthians, he expressed some of the joy he felt because of Titus’ report to him about them. Though they were not perfect, from where they had been to where they had come, Paul could write that they excelled in faith (in right belief that led to right obedience to God) in speech (in their ability to share the gospel rightly) in knowledge (in their ability to know and do what was right as the Holy Spirit led them), in utmost eagerness (in the desire to do what they knew to be right immediately and without hesitation), and in possessing the love of Paul and Titus for them. Therefore, Paul wanted them to also excel in giving generously to the offering for the suffering church in Jerusalem.

(2 Corinthians 8:8) I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.

Though Paul could have commanded them to give because he was an apostle, Paul chose to teach them the principles of Christian giving and he used the Macedonians as an example of how consecrated believers in Jesus Christ give to help others. Genuine love will motivate generous giving. When someone genuinely loves another they will often give sacrificially to bless them, bring them happiness, or meet their perceived needs. When presented with the real needs of others and how others of like faith are giving to meet those needs, those with genuine love and understanding will want to join in the giving to help others. Therefore, no command to give was needed to move them to give.

(2 Corinthians 8:9) For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

After Paul wrote about the Macedonians who gave by the grace of God for the right reasons, he described the primary reason for genuine, loving, generous giving. Believers give primarily because the Lord Jesus Christ has given generously when, as the owner of everything, He came from heaven to earth. Because Christ has created all things and everything was created through Him, Christ possesses all of creation. Though possessing all things, Christ became poor when He came to earth (He was born in a stable and buried in a borrowed tomb) in order to give forgiveness and eternal life to all who would believe in Him. He rose from the dead so He could share His riches (all of creation) as an inheritance with all those He came to save from spiritual poverty, sin, and death. Because Christ has made believers spiritually rich and someday they will receive the inheritance Christ has prepared for them, believers give generously from all they possess on earth in order to bless others in need.

(2 Corinthians 8:10) And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something–

With Jesus as the primary example and others in the church as examples of what it means to show appreciation to Jesus by giving to help the body of Jesus Christ on earth, Paul gave advice and not a command to the Corinthians. He reviewed where they were: last year they had begun to do something; last year they had desired to do something, but Titus had reported that they had not yet completed what they had desired and begun to do. It was time for them to complete what they had begun so well.

(2 Corinthians 8:11) now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.

Based on Titus’ report, Paul advised them to finish what they had begun. Paul wanted them to do what they had eagerly desired to do a year earlier. Paul did not try to manipulate them to give a specific amount of money or give what they could not afford or give what would lead them into poverty. Paul advised them to consider their means or their ability to give and give accordingly. The Macedonians moved by love and the grace of God gave in spite of their poverty. The love of Jesus Christ often moves the impoverished to give what they can when they see the real needs of others.

(2 Corinthians 8:12) For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have.

Paul really wanted the Corinthians to be eager to give when they learned about the needs of others in the church. If a person is eager to give what he has to give that is acceptable, even though the amount may not be very much. Paul did not require, and the New Testament teaching does not require, that believers give what they do not have to give or that believers should feel guilty or inadequate because they do not have more to give.

(2 Corinthians 8:13) I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between

Paul wrote carefully not to put human pressure on the Corinthians to give; he wanted them to give as the grace of God and genuine love and the spirit of giving moved them to give. He did not want to pressure them to give and impoverish themselves so others would not be in poverty. He wanted them to reasonably consider what the church in Jerusalem lacked and compare their lack to what they themselves had to share.

(2 Corinthians 8:14) your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.

Paul knew that wealth and human life on earth can be fleeting. At the present time, the Corinthians had a measure of abundance so they could give out of their abundance to help others in need. They could give reasonably and generously and not impoverish themselves. Someday, the Corinthians might be in need, and if so, the church in Jerusalem or other churches may be able to give to help them. Paul did not write that every church should have the same amount of money; he did not write that what they all had should be divided among them equally; rather, Christians and churches should love one another and help one another so there is a balance in giving and receiving according to the grace of God and the example and gift of Jesus Christ himself.

(2 Corinthians 8:15) As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Once again, Paul referred his readers back to the Old Testament (see Exodus 16:18). All of the Israelites who went out to collect the manna in the wilderness had what they needed when they returned to their homes. Likewise, Paul indicated that those who followed Jesus Christ should have their real needs met by the grace of God. The Israelites went out to collect the manna that God had provided, so they worked to eat when they harvested the manna in the wilderness. Likewise, Paul wrote that those who would not work should not eat: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The Bible does not urge Christians to give so others can avoid work, or responsibility, or think they do not need to serve Christ and others with the abilities and gifts that God has given them.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Why did Paul write about the Macedonians in his letter to the Corinthians?
2. Why did the Macedonians give?
3. What did the Macedonians give?
4. What did Paul want Titus to do when he visited the church in Corinth?
5. What did Paul say Jesus Christ had done for them? Why did he remind them of what Jesus Christ had done for them?

International Bible Lesson

How Jesus Was Rich

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9—KJV).

“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9—NRSV).

Why do Christians give generously to the needy? They give because the grace of God has been granted to them (2 Corinthians 8:1). But how did God grant grace to them? God granted grace through the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, since the Bible teaches that Jesus was a carpenter’s son, how could Jesus have once been rich? From where did Jesus come? Was He only from Bethlehem and Nazareth? Nathaniel wondered if anything good could come from Nazareth, and His hometown of Nazareth rejected Him (John 1:46; Mark 6:1-6). The Bible answers these questions: before Jesus was born, “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (John 1:3). “It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus was rich in heaven, but for our sakes He became a poor shepherd on Earth. Jesus did not die sacrificially in poverty in order to make believers on Earth financially rich; however, He did go back to heaven to prepare a place for all who follow Him. Knowing these facts, the grace of God moves Christians to give generously to help those with real needs, even when they themselves may be living in poverty. For example, though in poverty themselves, the Macedonian Christians begged Paul for the opportunity to help the impoverished church in Jerusalem. – L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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2 Corinthians 6:1-18 & 7:1-4 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, August 24, 2014, is from  2 Corinthians 6:1-18 & 7:1-4. NOTE: Some churches will only study 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 & 7:2-4Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
2 Corinthians 6:1-18 & 7:1-4

(2 Corinthians 6:1) As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.

The Lord Jesus Christ, along with Paul, Timothy, Titus, and those Christians who faithfully followed Him as Lord and Savior worked together to achieve the goals of God in Christ; including the salvation of all who would accept the good news of Jesus. Salvation includes everlasting fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ rather than simply hearing the good news and not following Christ or not using God’s gifts, which would be accepting the grace of God in vain or to no effect or uselessly.

(2 Corinthians 6:2) For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

At various times in the past, the Israelites had called out to God to save them from their oppressors. In the books of Exodus, Joshua, and Judges, the Bible records many of God’s saving acts through His leaders. At the acceptable time, God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save His people from their sins and free them from slavery to Satan, sin, sinful habits, and the fear of death. As Paul preached and wrote his letters, the acceptable time came for his listeners and readers to accept and act upon the good news they received; their day of salvation had come if they would rightly respond to the good news they heard.

(2 Corinthians 6:3) We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,

False apostles and prophets accused Paul of falsely presenting a false gospel, but these false apostles and prophets were the ones putting obstacles in the way of Jews and Gentiles coming to faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. They were the ones who insisted that to be saved believers also had to conform to the Jewish ceremonial laws, such as some of their food laws, and do other works to earn salvation. Paul preached repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as the conditions of salvation; he did not add anything to what he had received or preach that salvation was earned by doing works.

(2 Corinthians 6:4) but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,

Paul did not put any obstacle in anyone’s way to saving faith. Someone who would not believe could not justifiably blame his refusal to believe on something Paul had done or said. Rather, because of his moral and spiritual values and loving way of life, Paul lived and taught in a way that encouraged people to believe in Jesus Christ and His saving power no matter what the situation or trouble. They had the ability to see the power and presence of Jesus Christ in Paul’s life as he faced many challenges and great suffering; therefore, many began to trust in Jesus too.

(2 Corinthians 6:5) beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;

Paul listed some of the physical ordeals that Jesus Christ had helped him through. Few believers could create a list as detailed and varied as Paul’s, but those who have faced some of these challenges can testify that the grace of Jesus Christ was more than sufficient for them. The Book of Acts recounts in more detail some of the hardships and persecutions that Paul merely lists here. Jesus said that if believers followed Him they would need to endure persecutions, and history shows how Jesus spoke the truth. Today, many believers receive encouragement and take heart from Jesus’ promise: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

(2 Corinthians 6:6) by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love,

Rather than give up his faith or turn from following Jesus Christ as Lord after he suffered so much, Paul maintained his moral and spiritual purity. He increased his knowledge of the sufficiency of Jesus Christ in all situations and learned more about Jesus Christ personally so he could share his knowledge to encourage others. Paul’s patience was not only tried by imprisonments but also by false apostles and those in the church who turned from him and the gospel he preached when they followed false apostles. Paul’s letters and the Book of Acts show his continued kindness and expressions of genuine love when misunderstood or persecuted. He maintained an observable spirit of holiness that proved he was determined to serve God no matter what others said or did to him.

(2 Corinthians 6:7) truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;

God is genuine love. The love of God in Paul motivated him to speak the truth to others as he engaged the world and the worldly. God’s Spirit developed the moral and spiritual qualities in Paul that he listed previously. Now, with humility and boldness Paul spoke and wrote the truth in the power of God, and the power of the gospel led many to saving faith in Jesus. Paul used the sword of the Spirit and the sword of the Word of God in his right and left hands (or the shield of faith in his left hand) to fight for the truth of God, for living God’s way, the right way, so believers would believe and follow Christ for the sake of righteousness: “he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

(2 Corinthians 6:8) in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;

Paul used the weapons God gave him to keep doing righteousness and to take the right actions no matter what his situation or the consequences that would follow his obedience. Sometimes, though it seems rarely, Paul was honored as an effective evangelist and pastor, apostle and prophet. At other times, Paul was dishonored by those who were liars and false apostles and by those in Corinth who believed the lies these false apostles spread about him. Paul’s opponents in Corinth and those enemies of his that followed him from place to place accused Paul of being an imposter and preaching a false gospel. Sometimes he had a good reputation; at other times his enemies spread lies that ruined his reputation. In actual fact, the false apostles were the impostors who preached a false gospel.

(2 Corinthians 6:9) as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed;

Paul was a true apostle who was called and set apart by Jesus Christ personally. He was an apostle that the church leaders in Jerusalem commended. Paul was an apostle the church leaders in Jerusalem sent to be an apostle primarily to the Gentiles, while they sent Peter to the Jews. Paul was well known by many, some of whom were helping him collect an offering for the poor in Jerusalem. When he went to a city to be the first to preach the gospel, he was unknown, but the power of the gospel quickly made him known throughout the city. Though imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and left for dead, God raised Paul to life and continued to empower his ministry and his outreach so many came to believe.

(2 Corinthians 6:10) as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

In the most discouraging circumstances, Paul demonstrated by his life and words the power of the truth of the Scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within the hearts of true Christians. Though sorrowful in his situation and when he considered the sad situations of some others, Paul had good reasons for always rejoicing in the Lord. He wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Paul was poor financially, as were the believers in Jerusalem who needed financial aid and others, but the gospel made many spiritually rich and so transformed some that they had the wisdom to achieve financial stability and even wealth. Paul owned nothing when he worked as a missionary, but he knew that God had planned an eternal inheritance for him and would meet all of his needs as he did the work of God on earth. Missionaries such as Hudson Taylor learned this lesson well, and Hudson Taylor inspired many of God’s servants with these words: “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”

(2 Corinthians 6:11) We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you.

Paul loved the Corinthians. In spite of their sins and disrespect for him personally, Paul spoke and wrote openly and honestly to them without compromise or holding back from them the personally sensitive conflicts and sufferings he faced daily. He opened his heart to them and poured out his love for them with the hope and prayer that they would respond rightly to him and express their love for him in return.

(2 Corinthians 6:12) There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours.

Even though the Corinthians had mistreated Paul by believing the lies of the false apostles and by turning from him and many of the truths he taught, Paul remained affectionate toward them and extended genuine love toward them as he spoke the truth to them. One problem he faced with them was the knowledge that they had lost their love and affection for him, and instead they trusted imposters they barely knew who claimed to be somebody important in the church.

(2 Corinthians 6:13) In return–I speak as to children–open wide your hearts also.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians as their spiritual father and mentor. He opened his heart to them as a loving father would open his heart to his children – wanting what was right and best for their total well-being and joy in the Lord. Paul had previously written them as infants in Christ, and he wanted to draw their attention to the fact that as loving children they should open wide their hearts to him also.

(2 Corinthians 6:14) Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?

As their spiritual father, Paul showed his loving concern for the Corinthians by giving them the advice a Christian father would give to his children in the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ enables believers to obey the moral law of God and live righteously as the work of the Holy Spirit (the work that the Bible calls “sanctification”) develops them spiritually. Unbelievers do not believe in God or obey the law of God: lawlessness or disregard for law and order characterizes their behavior. Believers walk in the light, but unbelievers prefer darkness which clouds their vision, but they think hides their deeds. Paul warned believers against uniting with unbelievers to form a family or business or to work together for agreed upon goals, because believers and unbelievers are building their lives on opposite foundations; an unbeliever will not be guided by the commands of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do what is right and best for all concerned.

(2 Corinthians 6:15) What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever?

Beliar is another name for Satan. During Jesus’ temptation by Satan, Jesus made it clear that He would not come into agreement with Satan or work with Satan to do anything. Jesus cast out demons and defeated the power of Satan in many ways during His ministry. Paul made it clear in his writings that unbelievers are slaves of Satan whether they know it or not. Believers are slaves of Jesus Christ, willing slaves of their Lord and Savior to do God’s will. The slaves of masters who are at war with one another (especially when one master is God and the other master is Satan) cannot share the same life purposes or reach the same goals. At some point, the slave of Satan will turn on and try to destroy the slave of Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 6:16) What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

In the days of Moses and later, God chose to dwell in the tabernacle to be present with His people. In the days of King Solomon, God descended into the temple in Jerusalem to be present with His people, but King Solomon set up high places for idols in the surrounding hills, which eventually led to the dilution and destruction of the people’s faith and the destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. As believers in Jesus Christ, our bodies are now the temple of God; God now lives and walks among believers all around the world rather than reside in a man-made temple. Believers must not follow the evil example of King Solomon and have any relationship with Satan or idols that bring people into fellowship with demons.

(2 Corinthians 6:17) Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you,

As usual, Paul referred believers back to the Scriptures that he sometimes paraphrased, combining prophets and interpreting them, as he quoted them for people to understand. Paul wrote that the Corinthians, and anyone who read his letters, should not worship in the temples of idols or eat in temples that honored idols or do anything unclean or contrary to the law of God, especially those things that might mislead their families and others. Paul upheld the moral law of God, the law of love, as the way the believer should obey God with the guidance, help, and power of the Holy Spirit within them, Who would help them do God’s will.

(2 Corinthians 6:18) and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

God sent Jesus Christ into the world so He could adopt into the family of God all who would believe in Him and receive the free gift of eternal life though faith in Him. Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives welcome Jesus into their hearts, and God welcomes them into His family knowing the love and joy He can bring His children and they can bring Him and one another. God made this promise in the Old Testament, and Jesus Christ has made this promise possible for Jews and Gentiles, men and women, and those who are slaves or free so all can be members of the family of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1-4

(2 Corinthians 7:1) Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.

According to the promises of God, the children of God and their heavenly Father can rejoice together for eternity because His children will live rightly with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Even now, His children will prepare themselves to meet Jesus face-to-face by cleansing themselves from every defilement by the choices they make and by trusting that the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse them from all sin. They will seek daily to live for God because God has set them apart for His service. There can be no real or lasting agreement between those who live primarily for God and His glory and those who live primarily to fulfill their selfish needs. Someday, everyone will stand before Jesus as Lord of the universe: the believer will not want to feel ashamed of his behavior before Jesus. The unbeliever prefers darkness and does not want to live like Christians live, so he will go into the outer darkness (See John 3:19-21; Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30). A healthy fear of God may move believers to seek holiness of life and unbelievers to seek salvation in Christ alone, He Who is the light of the world.

(2 Corinthians 7:2) Make room in your hearts for us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.

The Corinthians had shut Paul out of their hearts probably because they believed the lies told about him by the false apostles who had quickly won their hearts and veiled their minds. They accused Paul of hurting people and turning people away from the true faith of Jesus Christ. They also accused Paul of taking money from them for the poor in Jerusalem while planning to keep the money for himself. In other words, they accused Paul of doing the very things that they were doing as false apostles.

(2 Corinthians 7:3) I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.

Because he loved them, Paul graciously wrote that he did not condemn them for believing the lies told about him. Eventually the Corinthians did return to him and express their love for him. Paul encouraged them and wrote that because they were all united to Jesus Christ that they would die and live again together with Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 7:4) I often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction.

In spite of their sins and the way they had treated him, Paul encouraged them as a father might encourage his children. Rather than focus on their missteps and sins, Paul wrote that he was proud of them and boasted about how far they had come as followers of Jesus Christ. When he thought about his afflictions, suffered for the sake of sharing the good news, Paul found comfort and reason to rejoice when he thought about believers coming to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as a result of his labors.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. When should a person repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?

2. List some of the afflictions, hardships, and calamities that Paul suffered as an apostle.

3. What character traits did Paul develop through his sufferings or in spite of his sufferings? How did he develop them?

4. As an apostle, how was Paul sometimes misrepresented or mistreated?

5. Because Christians have the promises of God in Christ and the Bible, what does Paul say they should do?

International Bible Lesson

When Should You Fear God?

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1—KJV).

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1—NRSV).

God made promises that are always “yes” in Christ Jesus, because Jesus made them possible (2 Corinthians 1:19-20). God’s promises to believers include: the Lord God will be their God and they will be His people; God will be their Father and they will be His sons and daughters; God will live within and among them. In a mysterious way, because Jesus Christ died and rose again, He prepares believers for the indwelling presence of God by cleansing them from sin. Because the Spirit of God lives within them, Paul wrote that Christians must cleanse themselves morally and spiritually and not misuse their bodies. When Christians live worthy of Jesus Christ, God and His people can rejoice in each other’s presence. In addition, Christians need to stay clean by loving Jesus and expressing their love for Jesus by obeying His commands. Since God set Christians apart from the ways of this world to serve Him and others, they need to do His will completely and fully as the Holy Spirit helps them live according to His Word. Paul wrote that “the fear of God” can serve as a motive for Christians to obey God if their love and devotion to God fails them. Christians will stand before Christ face to face someday, and they will not want to feel ashamed before Him. When the Bible teaches about “the fear of God,” believers can remind themselves that if they persist in disobeying God then God as their Father will use appropriate discipline to inspire them to repent and return to faithful obedience to God.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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2 Corinthians 4:1-18 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, August 17, 2014, is from  2 Corinthians 4:1-18. NOTE: Some churches will only study 2 Corinthians 4:2-15Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
2 Corinthians 4:1-18

(2 Corinthians 4:1) Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul listed some of the afflictions he had suffered. Almost all of his afflictions were caused by people who opposed the gospel of Jesus Christ that he preached. In addition, Paul knew how much he too had persecuted the church before he became a Christian, and how much he deserved eternal punishment; therefore, he knew that God’s mercy was the only reason he was a minister, called to be an apostle, and was enabled by God to keep serving Jesus Christ. Because God’s mercy, the truth of the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit encouraged him every day, Paul did not lose heart but kept trusting in God.

(2 Corinthians 4:2) We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Paul did not write that he had hidden from others shameful things he had done. Rather, he refused to do shameful things. Unlike the false apostles who misrepresented him and misled the Corinthians, Paul refused to use lies or trickery as a minister to draw people into his sphere of influence. Paul preached and taught only the true Word of God, and he relied on the power of God’s word to work upon the conscience of his hearers. Paul ministered with the conscious understanding that God saw and heard everything he did and said, so he refused to do shameful things or falsify God’s word.

(2 Corinthians 4:3) And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

If a room is hidden behind a curtain or a face is hidden behind a veil, an observer cannot really know or understand what is hidden. The gospel is the power of God, so it is hidden only from those who are perishing. The apostle Paul taught the gospel truth openly. If someone did not understand, the cause was not the truth of the gospel but the fact that they belonged in the group of those who were perishing because they would not believe God.

(2 Corinthians 4:4) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Those who are perishing are those who have turned away from the true God (see Romans 1:18-32). When they turned away from God, they perhaps unknowingly turned to the god of this world, to Satan. Because they have refused to believe the true God and His Word, Satan has kept their minds blinded to the truth. A blind man cannot see the blazing sun, and a person who is spiritually blind cannot see or understand the glory of Christ and the good news that Christ came, died, and rose again for their sake. The problem of not seeing the sun is not that the sun is not bright: the problem is with the person who is physically blind. The problem of not seeing the glory of Christ is not the glory of Christ: the problem is with the person who is spiritually blind. Those who are not spiritually blind see the image of God in Jesus Christ. To see Christ is to see the glory of God, but unbelievers prefer darkness because of their unbelief and the fact that they prefer their evil deeds to right living.

(2 Corinthians 4:5) For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

The false apostles that troubled the Corinthians proclaimed themselves as somebody to be listened to and obeyed, instead of proclaiming Christ. Paul and the other true apostles, along with all those who truly preached the gospel, did not proclaim themselves as being more important than mere slaves of Jesus Christ. They proclaimed that Jesus Christ is Lord, and they did whatever Christ wanted as slaves of Christ and for the sake of Christ – not for their own sake or well-being.

(2 Corinthians 4:6) For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

When God created the universe, God created light to reveal the universe and the manifestation of His glory. God’s light reveals the truth of what is, of reality that He created; likewise, God’s light, God’s truth, comes into our innermost being, the center of our spiritual and mental life, so we can understand the truth of God and Jesus Christ. When a believer learns about Jesus Christ, he learns about the glory (the nature and character) of God.

(2 Corinthians 4:7) But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

The knowledge and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit can dwell in the bodies of believers; which are the temple of God. God made human bodies from the dust of the earth, as clay jars to contain His Spirit. When a person truly believes in Jesus Christ as his Lord, he receives this treasure immediately – the actual, objective presence of God in his life through the Holy Spirit. Whenever a believer does work for Jesus’ sake, the extraordinary power to do that work comes from the power and presence of God within them, which is far beyond mere human strength – mentally and spiritually.

(2 Corinthians 4:8) We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

Paul knew the ways of suffering he described from his personal experience. Jesus said that those who followed him would suffer, and those who follow Jesus will suffer in a variety of ways – some apparently more or less than other followers of Jesus. Paul’s letter shows that Christians can be afflicted and perplexed and not truly understand what and why something is happening to them. Some afflictions, especially the suffering brought upon them by others, are beyond human understanding; however, the presence of Christ within them and the truth of the gospel keeps them from being crushed or driven to despair and hopelessness.

(2 Corinthians 4:9) persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

Many times Christians will be perplexed about why they are persecuted, especially when other religious leaders are persecuting them, but Jesus said this would happen even though we might not understand why. Both Jesus and Paul were persecuted by religious leaders who claimed to be godlier than they were. Yet, God did not forsake them, and God empowered them to complete their missions before they died for God and for the sake of those they came to serve. Christians can be struck down, but not destroyed or their testimony destroyed: neither Jesus nor Paul’s testimony were destroyed.

(2 Corinthians 4:10) always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.

Jesus died on a cross after suffering in every way the religious leaders and Roman soldiers could think of at that time, but God raised Jesus from the dead. When believers suffer persecution for their faith and for the sake of Jesus Christ they carry in their body outwardly and inwardly the death of Christ, because they are the body of Christ. However, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead and His Spirit lives in the bodies of believers, His life, presence, and power are also visible to those with eyes to see as Christ shines forth in the life and the body of believers.

(2 Corinthians 4:11) For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.

As long as Paul and the apostles lived, these things could be said of them. In some way, all Christians who live for the sake of Jesus Christ and His kingdom are persecuted or given over to death. It may be someone telling lies about them or their losing a job or promotion, but in many places it may be imprisonments, beatings, with the killing of the body (because they cannot kill the spirit). However, the life of Jesus may be made visible in the life of the believer who is living for Jesus in spite of rejection and suffering from the worldly minded, from those enslaved by Satan.

(2 Corinthians 4:12) So death is at work in us, but life in you.

When Paul spoke of his ministry personally, which was actually seldom in his letters because he sought to keep the focus of attention on Jesus Christ, he wrote of his suffering for Christ. Just as Jesus Christ came and suffered to give God’s people eternal life, so Paul traveled and suffered to teach people about Jesus so they could receive eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

(2 Corinthians 4:13) But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture–“I believed, and so I spoke”–we also believe, and so we speak,

Paul quoted Psalm 116:10, and the entire context of Psalm 116 fits what Paul wrote to the Corinthians in this passage. [Note: the words “I believed” are translated “I kept my faith” in the NRSV, so you may want to compare this verse with other translations.] Paul believed in and taught the Scriptures. The gospel he preached about Jesus Christ was according to the Scriptures (see especially 1 Corinthians 15:1-11). The Corinthians and Paul had the same biblical faith, bestowed on them by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit using the truth of the Scriptures. Paul taught according to the truth and the true faith of those who truly follow Jesus Christ. He wanted his readers to remain true to the gospel and not be misled by the false teachings of those who claimed to be Christians but were not.

(2 Corinthians 4:14) because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.

Paul wrote in detail about the resurrection of Jesus Christ when he wrote his first letter to them (see 1 Corinthians 15). God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. In ways that we cannot understand, but in a real objective way, we are united with Christ spiritually, so when we die our spirits will go to be with Jesus and someday in the future Jesus will raise our new bodies from the grave. All Christians will rejoice when they stand in the presence of Jesus in heaven and later stand with Him on the earth.

(2 Corinthians 4:15) Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

For the sake of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to save His people from their sins, Paul did what Jesus wanted and he preached the good news for Jesus’ sake and the sake of those who came to faith. Paul also wanted the Corinthians to conform their lives to the way of Jesus who lived in them and led them according to the Scriptures. Through Paul’s efforts, more would come to faith in Jesus, and more thanksgiving would be given to God, and God would receive more glory, honor, and praise from His people. For almost two thousand years, through Paul’s letters in the Bible, thanksgiving to God has increased to the glory of God as millions have been led to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 4:16) So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

Because Paul saw the gospel he preached changing people’s lives and leading them to trust in Jesus, he did not become discouraged to the point of giving up or quitting his apostolic office. He kept serving Christ and others for the sake of Christ and others. Even though his outer body was suffering and dying because of his many tortures and his thorn in the flesh, his spirit was being renewed every day by the Holy Spirit within him and his trust in Jesus Christ. The same is true for all who trust in Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 4:17) For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure,

If Paul looked up and out upon the universe and the vastness that he could see with his unaided human eyes, the weight of God’s created universe seen and unseen would “weigh” less than the “eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.” “Beyond all measure” might be considered as “infinite” in modern terms. When Paul compared an eternity of exploring the infinite along with knowing more personally the infinite and personal God in Jesus Christ to what he was suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ, he knew that his suffering was a “slight momentary affliction” that was preparing him for infinity and eternity with God and His vast creation.

(2 Corinthians 4:18) because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

When we see all around us what people have created, we know it is temporary and we in our physical bodies are physically even more temporary than many things created by human beings. So, consider where Paul kept his focus; where should people keep their focus? Obviously, we need to center our attention on Jesus Christ, whom God sent as the only way to eternal life. We cannot see what Jesus Christ has prepared for us until we first see Him.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Why has the god of this world blinded the minds of unbelievers?
2. What can unbelievers do in order to see the glory of Christ with their minds?
3. Since Paul did not teach about himself to draw people to himself, who did he teach about and why did he teach about someone other than himself?
4. How can someone learn more about God?
5. Paul suffered in many ways; how did his afflictions have an effect on his faith in Jesus and his daily life?

International Bible Lesson

The Weight of Our Afflictions

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18—KJV).

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18—NRSV).

Some scientists at Caltech have reported that Earth weighs about 13,170,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds. Perhaps astronomers have also tried to measure the weight of the universe, even though we have not reached its outer limits. Even if the universe could be weighed, mathematicians might not have a large enough number to record its weight. God is not a physical being who can be weighed in terms of pounds. God’s weight is His infinite value to the universe and every created being, which has little to do with physical dimensions. Whereas things in the created universe are temporary, God, who cannot be seen because He is Spirit, is not temporary. The eternal God created and keeps the whole universe in being moment-by-moment, so God is greater than all He has created. However, even though God created everything, everyone has rebelled against God in unbelief; so, God sent His only begotten Son to Earth to prepare an eternal future and inheritance for everyone who would trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Someday, everyone who follows Jesus Christ will have the opportunity to explore and value their inheritance throughout God’s vast created universe. Of even greater value, they will be able to see the unseen God and praise Him for His loving character and infinite value. As Paul did, Christians thank God for the afflictions and persecutions that prepare them for the future, and when compared to God’s weight are slight, momentary, and weigh very little. – L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

Posted in Bible | Comments Off

2 Corinthians 1:21-2:11 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, August 10, 2014, is from  2 Corinthians 1:21-2:11. NOTE: Some churches will only study 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
2 Corinthians 1:21-2:11

(2 Corinthians 1:21) But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us,

Paul wrote about and for all Christians, and he identified Timothy and himself with the Christians in the church in Corinth. God had established them in Christ. God had placed them on the same foundation, and the Church that God had established He would continue to build until it was built according to His plan. The Church includes all Christians everywhere, and God has anointed Christians with the Holy Spirit, as He anointed Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit when John baptized Jesus.

(2 Corinthians 1:22) by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

God has anointed Christians to empower them to serve Him in the name of Jesus Christ. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is a seal or guarantee that God the Father and Christ the King have set apart the Christian for their service. The seal of the Holy Spirit can be seen as others see the character of Christ shining forth from the life of the Christian in their daily service of God (though some may never recognize the Spirit of Christ in a sincere believer). The Holy Spirit can be known, or He makes himself known, in the heart or in the commitment and experience of the believer in Jesus Christ. Paul compared the giving of the Holy Spirit by God to an earnest payment, or the first blessing with more blessings to follow, or the first fruit of many fruits that He will give to the believer, or the “down payment” that assures every Christian that God will pay the balance in full throughout all eternity. The first installment is given so a Christian can know with certainty that the good work God has begun within them He will bring to completion now and forever. The first installment assures the Christian that he is a child of God and he will receive the inheritance God has planned for him.

(2 Corinthians 1:23) But I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth.

False apostles or others had accused Paul of dishonesty and lying for saying he would return again to Corinth when he had not returned as he said. After being delayed by an unnamed affliction and for other good reasons, Paul decided it would not be best to return at the time he had planned. His primary reason was to spare the church the harsh discipline and strong reprimands they deserved for disobeying the law of God. His love for them inspired him to withhold a little longer the discipline they needed so he would have extra time to pray that what he had already written them would be heeded and no further discipline would be needed. He had delayed his coming for their benefit, not because he made plans in ordinary human ways.

(2 Corinthians 1:24) I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.

Jesus Christ is the only Lord, and the Christian recognizes Jesus Christ as his only Lord. No human being, not even an apostle or other church leader, can stand in the place of Jesus Christ over someone’s faith in Jesus Christ. The Corinthian Christians had been disobedient to Christ, but they stood firm in the faith with respect to believing the basic facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their problem was their disobeying Christ, not their disbelieving the “true facts” about Christ. As a church leader, Paul could bring discipline to the church according to the Word of God and according to the moral law of God as revealed in the Scriptures. But as a church leader, he would not do so as “the lord” over their lives and faith. He would not take the rightful place of Jesus Christ over them. As a church leader, Christ had appointed him to bring the joy of knowing Christ to those who placed their faith in Christ. His purpose was to help the Corinthian Christians find and maintain the joy that an obedient faith and the Holy Spirit should give them.

(2 Corinthians 2:1) So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit.

We do not know how many visits Paul made or how many letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He did write that in addition to his first visit (when he led many to faith in Jesus Christ) that he had later paid them a painful visit. Some teach that his painful visit was between his writing of 1 and 2 Corinthians. Others teach that his painful visit occurred before he wrote either letter. Paul did not receive the leading of the Holy Spirit or see the benefit of making another painful visit to them. At that time, he believed his prayers and letters would need to suffice instead of another painful visit in person.

(2 Corinthians 2:2) For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?

Paul gave another reason for not wanting to make another painful visit: he did not want to cause them pain. If Paul visited them again, he would need to correct, reprimand, or discipline them for serious sins to move them to repent and return to obeying Jesus Christ as Lord. He prayed they would return to the Lord without needing further punishment or strong words of warning from him in person. Since they were Paul’s spiritual children, he wanted to be glad about them and not cause them pain as a disciplinarian, so he prayed they would begin doing right before he visited them again. In his letter, Paul did not say what type of discipline he would give them or how he would punish them. If he did need to punish them, he would not punish them as their lord; rather, he would punish them because Christ was their Lord to be obeyed.

(2 Corinthians 2:3) And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you.

Some commentators have taught that Paul referred to 1 Corinthians as the letter he wrote that he described here. He wrote them using a proper method of church discipline: his letter would allow them time for prayerful reflection on what he wrote and discussion on what to do in obedience to Christ. If they repented and reformed after reading his letter, he could rejoice with them when he visited again. He encouraged them by writing that he felt confident they would repent, do what was right, and he and they would find joy in their fellowship when they met again.

(2 Corinthians 2:4) For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

Paul wrote them because he had an abundant love for them. He did not write as he did with the ultimate intention of causing them pain. Paul loved them so much that he wept as he wrote. He hoped they would see his tearful concern and love for them as they read his letter—the tearful concern of a parent for a prodigal child when they know how much their child is hurting themselves and others by their behavior.

(2 Corinthians 2:5) But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent–not to exaggerate it–to all of you.

Paul showed great concern and respect for others by not gossiping; therefore, we do not know the person Paul referred to in these verses. Most early commentators suppose Paul referred to the person he described in 1 Corinthians 5. As a general principle, when someone sins in the church, they cause pain to some extent to everyone in the church. It pained Paul to tell the church that they must discipline a member of the church. He knew it would pain the church to exercise discipline, but he also knew it would pain the church even more if they refused to exercise the proper discipline. Without discipline in the church, the church would eventually cease to be a church of Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 2:6) This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person;

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians revealed how divided the church had become since he had founded the church. The majority, however, had agreed to discipline the offender, and without any discipline many church members might have followed the offender into even worse immoral behavior. It may be that a minority of the church members saw nothing wrong in the immoral behavior of their fellow church member or they saw no need to discipline the church member. Because the offender had responded rightly to church discipline and repented, he reformed his life with the help of the Holy Spirit. Paul then wrote that he had been disciplined enough and it was time for the church to restore him to fellowship in the church.

(2 Corinthians 2:7) so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

Because the offender had repented sorrowfully, the proper response of the church should now be to help the offender lead a reformed life, to forgive him as Christ had forgiven him (and them) and to comfort him as the Holy Spirit comforted him (and them). The church needed to assure him that because he had come back to Jesus and had returned to obeying Jesus as his Lord and Savior that God had truly forgiven him and he could once again have loving fellowship with Jesus Christ and others in the church. Paul knew that if the church did not restore the repentant sinner after he had returned to obedience to Christ that it would bring great spiritual damage to the repentant sinner and to the church.

(2 Corinthians 2:8) So I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

Paul did not command them to restore the repentant offender, but he urged them to do so. He told them what they should do as a Christian church, and he urged and encouraged them to do the right thing. The word Paul used for love (agape) is the same word for love that the Bible uses to express the love God the Father and Jesus Christ have for us, the type of love that motivates all they have done for and continue to do for us, the type of sacrificial love that led Jesus Christ to die on the cross so our loving God could with justice and mercy restore our relationship with God and grant us eternal life, the selfless love that sometimes makes it necessary for God to discipline His children. Paul urged the church to show the repentant sinner the love of Christ in the way they treated him and welcomed him back into church fellowship. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” and “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9).

(2 Corinthians 2:9) I wrote for this reason: to test you and to know whether you are obedient in everything.

Paul gave yet another reason for writing a previous letter to them. He wanted to learn if they would obey the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord or not. Would they obey Jesus Christ as Lord and bring discipline to someone in the church who was breaking the moral law of God? Would they obey Jesus Christ and restore to fellowship someone in the church who had repented and returned to obedience to Jesus Christ?

(2 Corinthians 2:10) Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ.

The Corinthian church and the one who had sinned passed the test. Paul did not need to forgive the man for a sin that he had committed against him personally, but he wanted to forgive the man who had repented for his sins against the church, other Christians, his own family and himself. Through his prayers to Christ, Paul stood spiritually before Christ and forgave the man. Paul indicated tactfully that they had already forgiven the man first, and for their sake he also forgave the man. Paul’s letter would encourage them to forgive the man again if any spirit of unforgiveness remained in their hearts.

(2 Corinthians 2:11) And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

Satan tempts people to disobey God and remain disobedient. He tempts people to distrust God and trust in him. He tempts people to trust in mere human ideas and plans instead of God’s revealed Word, the Word made flesh and the Word written. Paul wrote that if anyone in the church failed to forgive the repentant sinner and restore fellowship that would open the door to Satan, who might try to convince someone that they did not need to obey Christ and forgive others when they repented and returned to faith. The spirit of unforgiveness can open the door for Satan to destroy a believer’s relationship with God, his loving spirit, his inner peace, and his mental and physical health. Likewise, if the truly sorrowful repentant sinner seeks forgiveness and restoration in the church, and if he is not forgiven and restored, then Satan can find an open door in his heart and mind and perhaps lead him back into sin.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. What are some of the reasons that Paul gave the Corinthian Christians for not going again to Corinth as he had planned?
2. What are some of the reasons that Paul gave for having written to them?
3. Why do you think Paul wrote to them and gave them reasons for the choices he had made?
4. What are some of the dangers of allowing a person to “lord it over your faith”?
5. What should a Christian church or a Christian do when someone tearfully or sorrowfully repents and returns to obeying Jesus Christ as Lord of their life?

International Bible Lesson

The Lords to Avoid

“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand” (2 Corinthians 1:24—KJV).

“I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith” (2 Corinthians 1:24—NRSV).

From Paul’s letters we learn that the church in Corinth had many problems, including open immorality among some in the church and the unwillingness of the church to bring corrective discipline. Therefore, Paul had to write them a strong letter of rebuke that caused him much anguish of heart. He told them how they should discipline the one who was breaking God’s moral law in ways that even pagans avoid. After Paul wrote the letter than caused both the church and him much pain, he wrote again to explain that he was not trying to be the lord over their faith. Paul wanted them to remember that Jesus Christ was and should be recognized as the only Lord over their faith. If any person or spirit other than Jesus Christ became the Lord over their faith, they could be easily misled into a false religion or by a false apostle. If Jesus Christ were not their only Lord, then over time they could be misled by false lords and christs. Jesus warned: “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). In spite of their failures, Paul affirmed their faith and the fact that they stood firm in believing the basic facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. Later in his letter, Paul commended them for obeying Jesus Christ and exercising the discipline that led the offender to repent; thus, they all began working together again for the joy of the church. – L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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2 Corinthians 1:1-12 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, August 3, 2014, is from  2 Corinthians 1:1-12. NOTE: Some churches will only study 2 Corinthians 1:3-11Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
2 Corinthians 1:1-12

 (2 Corinthians 1:1) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia:

As an apostle, Paul spoke for and represented Jesus Christ personally; therefore, his writings are included in the Bible as the Word of God. God chose and appointed Paul as an apostle when Jesus Christ appeared to him. He did not simply decide one day to become an apostle; nor was he selected by a church or church council to be an apostle. Paul had led Timothy to faith in Jesus Christ, and Timothy ministered with Paul, but he was not an apostle. Paul wrote letters, many of which he intended for all Christians, and all of his letters in the Bible will help all Christians. Notice that Paul addressed his letter to the “church of God” (not the church of Paul, or the church of Apollos, or the church of Peter), and he addressed some issues that particularly related to the church of God in Corinth that might apply to others. Most particularly, we can learn more about God the Father and the work of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit from his letters.

(2 Corinthians 1:2) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his greeting, Paul asked God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to bestow grace (undeserved favor, power, and other gifts) to the church. Particularly, he wanted Christians to continue to know by experience the forgiveness, the cleansing from sin, and the peace with God that believers in Jesus Christ can enjoy and also share with others as they represent Jesus Christ in the world. The Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are Persons in the being of God (along with the Holy Spirit, Who is also a gift of God’s grace to His people).

(2 Corinthians 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation,

Believers bless God the Father and God the Son by their obedience to and worship of them. When God the Son came to earth, sent by His Father, He humbly submitted himself to God the Father and obeyed His Father in all things, just as all people should obey God. When Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene, He said, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). With Jesus’ approval, Thomas called Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Mercy, consolation, comfort, encouragement, and deliverance come from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins because God is the Father of mercies, and Jesus brought (and the Holy Spirit now brings) consolation directly to all believers. In his Letter to the Colossians, Paul revealed “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). And he wrote to Titus that “we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

(2 Corinthians 1:4) who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

Following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not an insurance policy against suffering or a guarantee that the believer will live a trouble-free life, quite the contrary. Sometimes, the followers of Christ will suffer “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:10). God will comfort Christians no matter what they suffer for Jesus Christ, and God will do this constantly. Paul did not write that God would continually comfort those who are suffering the consequences of continuing to live in sin; however, when they repent and turn to faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, they will receive the comfort of God in Christ. Christians can turn their suffering and the comfort God gives them into a learning experience that will prepare them to comfort others “who are in any affliction.” To comfort someone includes standing beside them and helping them when possible. From His throne in heaven, Jesus prays for and comforts believers. The Holy Spirit prays from within believers; and from within them He gives them comfort, empowerment and counsel. Christians can extend the comfort of God to others in a variety of ways as they pray for those in afflictions and for God’s guidance in how to console and help them in practical ways.

(2 Corinthians 1:5) For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.

Jesus Christ suffered abundantly for us when He died on the cross in our behalf to make God’s forgiveness of us just and merciful. As we suffer afflictions or persecutions, our abundant consolation also comes to us through Christ. Those who repent of their sins and receive Christ as Savior receive these abundant blessings. His abundant grace, mercy, and comfort will always exceed our sufferings, and knowing this by experience will help us comfort others as the consolation of Christ flows through us to them.

(2 Corinthians 1:6) If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering.

As Paul preached the gospel, he was often persecuted and afflicted, but his preaching the gospel had the power to lead many to saving faith in Jesus Christ. When they listened to Paul and received Christ as their Savior and Lord, they also received the abundant consolation of Christ. Those who follow Jesus Christ must “patiently endure” when they suffer affliction and persecution just as Jesus said they would suffer: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12). When Christians suffer, they have the comfort of God and the truth of the Bible to help them; therefore, they have many good reasons to patiently endure until God delivers them.

(2 Corinthians 1:7) Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

The church in Corinth had believed the gospel of Jesus Christ because the gospel is the power of God for those who believe: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Therefore, Paul’s hope for them rested on God and his hope for them had not been shaken by any of their experiences, good and bad, or by the disrespect they had shown for him or by their temporarily being misled by false apostles. Because they were all united to Christ, they all suffered; however, because they were all united to Christ they also shared in the comfort God gave them and in the comfort they could give each other as Christ worked within them and through them.

(2 Corinthians 1:8) We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.

The Bible does not tell us the specific affliction that Paul suffered. We can only speculate; perhaps it was a severe persecution or illness that so crushed Paul that he felt he was going to die. The fact that Paul wrote “we” may mean that he along with Timothy and others were close to being killed for being Christians, we do not know. Paul sometimes used “I” and “we” interchangeably in his letters; perhaps sometimes to better identify himself with his fellow Christians. Perhaps Paul was in prison at the very time he had planned to visit the church in Corinth, and knew he would need to delay his trip, before deciding not to go and bring them another painful visit. Even though he was an apostle, or perhaps because he was an apostle, Paul felt so crushed that he knew he could not do anything in his own strength to live. In spite of being crushed, Paul did experience the comfort of Christ and he entrusted his life, his ministry, and his future to Christ alone.

(2 Corinthians 1:9) Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Paul did not say that he had received a sentence of death, but that his afflictions were so severe that he felt as though he had received a death sentence. He was so helpless that he could not rely upon himself for a moment. He rested on the truths he knew: he knew he could rely on Jesus Christ day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment. Furthermore, he knew that if he did die that God would raise him from the dead; Paul wrote them: “Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:8-9).

(2 Corinthians 1:10) He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again,

Paul thought they would die unless God intervened; God did intervene and saved them. Paul also affirmed that God would continue to rescue them; and he placed his hope fully and only on God. Paul knew that when his apostolic ministry was completed that Jesus would come and take him to the place that He had prepared for him. Jesus promised all who follow him: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

(2 Corinthians 1:11) as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Paul always stressed the importance of prayer! Paul thanked the Corinthian Christians for their prayers and acknowledged to them that their prayers had made a difference. When many pray, many will give thanks when they see how God answered their prayers. Prayer bound the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth and prayer bound them to Paul as members of the body of Christ. Prayer binds people to God and each other.

(2 Corinthians 1:12) Indeed, this is our boast, the testimony of our conscience: we have behaved in the world with frankness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God–and all the more toward you.

This verse provides a meaningful transition between the verses that precede and follow it. Paul had revealed that they had suffered severe afflictions and thought they would die. This verse shows that their afflictions were because they were faithfully following Christ and preaching the gospel openly and honestly about the need for sinners to repent and place their faith in Jesus Christ (the crucified One that God had raised from the dead). They had not suffered because they had disobeyed God or had done something foolish; rather, their conscience (their ability to examine themselves according to the law of God) testified (as in a court of law and under oath) that they had done right and had demonstrated the grace of God to everyone. They had not preached worldly wisdom or philosophy but they had demonstrated the power of the gospel to save those who were lost in sin and wandering apart from God. They had also done everything in the midst of the Corinthians with “frankness and godly sincerity”—that also characterized Paul’s letters to them. Paul “boasted” that as an apostle of God he could be trusted.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. How can you bless God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you want to?
2. In 2 Corinthians 1:1-12, what does Paul say God does?
3. How did Paul describe his affliction?
4. What might you say to someone who was wondering why they were suffering after they had come to believe in Jesus Christ instead of having life easier?
5. When, how often, and why should we rely on God and not on ourselves?

International Bible Lesson

How You May Rely on God

“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9—KJV).

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9—NRSV).

People can experience a sentence of death in many different ways: during the first few moments in an accident, learning you have an incurable disease, hearing a judge pronounce your death sentence in a courtroom. Though Paul did not describe his sentence of death, there were times he felt as though he had been sentenced to death. Yet Paul knew the good news that Jesus Christ can help anyone who has received the sentence of death. He knew the answer was to turn from relying on one’s own self and turn to relying on God who raises the dead.

Someday everyone will receive the sentence of death, but God is the Father of mercies, and God gave the ultimate expression of His mercy when He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save from death those who believe in Him. Jesus died on the cross so God could save His people from practicing sin and from the eternal consequences people deserve for having sinned. Jesus Christ came to free people from their slavery to destructive habits, from Satan’s power, and from the fear of death. By His words and works, Jesus demonstrated that God is the God of abundant comfort and consolation, and God rescues people from many perils. After Jesus rose from the dead, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within every Christian so the Holy Spirit could comfort, counsel, empower, guide, and pray for every person He indwells. With these truths in mind, surely Paul was right to rely on God who raises the dead and not on himself. – L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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1 Corinthians 14:12-26 International Bible Lessons Commentary and Lesson

The International Bible Lesson (Uniform Sunday School Lessons Series) for Sunday, July 27, 2014, is from 1 Corinthians 14:12-26Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further follow the verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary below. Study Hints for Thinking Further, a study guide for teachers, discusses the five questions below to help with class preparation and in conducting class discussion; these hints are available on the International Bible Lessons Commentary website. The weekly International Bible Lesson is usually posted below each Saturday before the lesson is scheduled to be taught. Additional publications and resources by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

International Bible Lesson Commentary
1 Corinthians 14:12-26

(1 Corinthians 14:12) So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.

Our Creator has given people many natural gifts and many good desires; for example, a mind and a desire to learn. Christians may desire spiritual gifts from Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and some may pray for and seek specific spiritual gifts. Some may desire spiritual gifts for the power they give or for the excitement some gifts seem to offer. Some may want spiritual gifts to make them feel good or meaningful or equal to others who have them. Paul wrote that our motive for seeking spiritual gifts needs to be “for building up the church” (not just numerically, as Paul will indicate in his letter).

(1 Corinthians 14:13) Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.

After Paul wrote that God gives Christians different spiritual gifts, he wrote that if a person had the gift of speaking in tongues that he should also pray for God to give him the gift of interpreting what he prayed in tongues. He should pray for this additional gift and give God the reason that he wants this additional gift “for building up the church.” Otherwise, no one (including the person speaking in tongues) will know what was said or meant except God alone. No one may know the source of the tongues either because they may be uttered by demons who can talk through people (see Mark 5).

(1 Corinthians 14:14) For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive.

Paul revealed in his letter that if someone prays in a tongue his mind (or his reason and understanding) is unproductive (perhaps bypassed or not involved in the speaking). The spirit of the person moves their mouths rather than their minds moving their mouths. If they prayed with their minds, they would speak words and sentences that could be understood by them and those who speak the same language. Paul did not write that in praying in a tongue that the Holy Spirit always spoke or prayed through someone, which the Holy Spirit can do. Demons can also bypass a person’s mind and speak through someone, as in some of the cases when Jesus and Paul cast out demons that spoke words of understanding (see Mark 5 and Acts 16). Paul wrote that the person’s spirit (a part of their psychological being as a person?) can pray using their tongue separate from the involvement of their reason and thinking processes. Those who speak in tongues should pray for the power to interpret so they and others can know if they are speaking words consistent with the teachings of the Bible or words that a demon has placed in their mouths. Words given by demons will not build up anyone, least of all the church.

(1 Corinthians 14:15) What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also.

God had given Paul the gift of speaking in tongues. Others had received that gift and other gifts too. Some of those in the Corinthian church may have been tempted to pray only with their spirit in tongues without also engaging their minds and without any understanding of what they were actually praying to God. Therefore, Paul wanted those who prayed and praised God only with their spirit to pray and praise God with their mind as well, which would build up the church and also give meaning and purpose to them in their praying.

(1 Corinthians 14:16) Otherwise, if you say a blessing with the spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since the outsider does not know what you are saying?

An outsider might be someone who is not a Christian or a Christian without the gift of tongues and without the gift of interpreting tongues. The Holy Spirit gives His gifts as He wills and He gives a variety of gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12). When any person cannot know or understand what another is saying, and especially when praying, they should not say, “Amen;” which means, “May it be so,” because they may be saying “May it be so” about something that would do harm or destroy someone or the church or be contrary to the Bible rather than build up someone or the church. Paul never wrote that everyone should have the gift of speaking in tongues or the gift of interpreting tongues.

(1 Corinthians 14:17) For you may give thanks well enough, but the other person is not built up.

With tongues that no one can interpret, a person might thank God for something wonderful that God has done or he might praise God for Who He is, and God would appreciate their thanks and praises. But, Christians can also thank God and praise God in ways that will also build up someone or build up the church. Christians can pray for God to help everyone understand and give thanks to God for what God has done and for Who He is. A person and the church are best built up by engaging our minds as well as our spirits according to the Scriptures.

(1 Corinthians 14:18) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you;

Paul had reason to thank God because his gift of speaking in tongues was a gift from God. He did not write this because he was arrogant or felt superior to others. He sincerely wanted to thank God. Some people are not better than other people or more favored by God than others because of the gifts God has given them. God gives gifts to benefit many people and for purposes that God alone may know until He reveals them.

(1 Corinthians 14:19) nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Paul wanted Christians to use their gifts properly. It would do little good in a church worship service for Christians to pray and praise God in words that no one could interpret or understand but God alone. True prayer and praise in tongues could be made by believers at home. Paul emphasized that in church a few understandable words of instruction given with a mind actively committed to God for building up people in the church would be better than thousands of words that no one could understand.

(1 Corinthians 14:20) Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.

Paul continued to encourage and teach believers how to mature as Christians. They had divided into groups and argued among themselves. Perhaps some felt superior to others because they spoke in tongues and others did not. Perhaps some thought that true Christians spoke in tongues or tongue speaking was the sign that someone was saved. Paul wanted them to grow up and be adults, but that did not include learning more about evil and evil practices that might tempt them or desensitize them to evil behavior.

(1 Corinthians 14:21) In the law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people; yet even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.

Paul consistently referred people back to the law of God and the prophets (see Isaiah 28:11-12). God placed the rebellious people of Judah in Babylon where they would hear a foreign language they could not understand; still, some remained rebellious and would not listen to God. By analogy, Paul used Isaiah to teach that in a similar way some people would speak God’s message in a foreign tongue and their listeners would remain rebellious against God. In general, Paul wrote that God will use foreign people and foreign languages to speak to people and lead many to faith in Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 14:22) Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers.

Paul wrote that the gift of speaking in tongues or in a foreign language was a sign for unbelievers that Christianity was from God, a gift of God, that the good news of Jesus Christ was a gift from God for all people and not just for the Jews. Earlier, Paul may have taught the Corinthians about the Day of Pentecost and how the disciples in Jerusalem spoke in foreign languages as a sign from God for unbelievers that Jesus had been raised from the dead and had sent the Holy Spirit to fill them. Prophecy or teaching the truth might not mean anything to unbelievers, it may seem foolishness to some, but it should mean something to believers and build them up.

(1 Corinthians 14:23) If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

In Paul’s day, if the whole church spoke in tongues and unbelievers could not understand a word they said, they would think the whole church was crazy. On the day of Pentecost, many people could actually understand the different languages that the disciples spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them the gift of speaking foreign languages. Even on the day of Pentecost, however, some thought that the disciples were drunk (Acts 2:15).

(1 Corinthians 14:24) But if all prophesy, an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all.

Preaching and teaching is the result of thinking with the mind, so an outsider or unbeliever may be able to understand the teaching in their own language, especially with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, Who can reprove the unbeliever through the truth. In Corinth, Greek and Latin would have been the only languages that needed to be spoken in daily life, and if everyone in the church was speaking the truth about God in Greek or Latin then the unbeliever might be called to account for his disobedience to God and encouraged to repent and come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

(1 Corinthians 14:25) After the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart are disclosed, that person will bow down before God and worship him, declaring, “God is really among you.”

Paul did not mean “reading people’s thoughts or minds,” which can be a trick to trap people. Rather, unbelievers would hear about particular sins that concerned them personally, and they would hear the call to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and their conscience would speak to them. The truth would convict them of sin and show them their need of a Savior. The Holy Spirit would further convince them of the truth they had heard, and they would come to faith, believe the gospel, and worship the true God.

(1 Corinthians 14:26) What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

Paul did not condemn all speaking in tongues in the church. He did suggest that the home may be the best place for praying and praising God by speaking in tongues. He did suggest a proper order of worship, and the order of worship in this verse would not lead an unbeliever to think that the whole church was out of their minds, especially when the tongue would be followed by an interpretation (which followed a hymn and a lesson from the mind at the first part of the service of worship). Whatever believers do in Christian worship, “Let all things be done for building up” the church spiritually and in other ways so believers can give reasons why they believe and live holy to the Lord.

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. Why does Paul say Christians should be eager for spiritual gifts? What are we to strive to do with our gifts?
2. What did Paul say about how he would pray and praise God?
3. What can happen when someone does not understand what we say? What should we do when someone does not understand us?
4. What did Paul prefer to do in the church?
5. When Christians gather to worship God, what should they do according to Paul?

International Bible Lesson

When You Use Your Spiritual Gifts

“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12—KJV).

“So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12—NRSV).

Paul wrote, “Love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Love for God and others motivates Christians to seek spiritual gifts eagerly “for building up the church.” Christians strive to excel in spiritual gifts, and they know that using some spiritual gifts in their private devotions will build them up spiritually; however, using these same gifts in public worship might not build up the church. So, when Christians think about when to use some of their spiritual gifts in the church, they put love first and remember that “not all things build up” (1 Corinthians 10:23). For example, the Apostle Paul wrote that in the church he would rather speak five words with his mind to instruct others than ten thousand words in tongues that no one could understand (1 Corinthians 14:19). Paul wrote that if someone said things in worship that others could not understand then he needed to pray for the wisdom to interpret what he said so others would be built up in church (1 Corinthians 14:13). When the church gathered for worship, Paul encouraged singing hymns, preaching the gospel, and teaching the lessons of Jesus. As Jesus foretold, the time had come for the true worshipers to “worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him;” therefore, Paul encouraged Christians to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23). Jesus and Paul wanted believers to worship God in spirit and truth because they wanted believers to be adult in their thinking (1 Corinthians 14:20). Christians with mature thinking will “let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26). – L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


Begin or close your class by reading the short weekly International Bible Lesson. To print the International Bible Lesson in three different sizes (including large print size and bulletin size) and for the Teacher’s Study Hints for Five Discussion Questions andThinking Further, go to the International Bible Lessons Commentary website.

See the recommended Bible study, Recovery, and Worship Resources at SmallChurchResources.com.

— © All Contents of this website are copyright 2014 by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr. Permission Granted for Not for Profit Use.

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