Monday, August 9, 2010

338: Give Them to Satan or Not?

2 Corinthians 1-4
"When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 5:4-5

"If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." - 2 Corinthians 2:10-11

After Paul's long introduction to this second letter, he tells the Corinthians that the church is having problems in Asia. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say that "We are under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure". What happened to "God doesn't give anyone more than they can handle"? Paul ends this by saying he needs the Corinthian's prayers, so that God may more readily assist them in Asia.

Paul spends the rest of the first chapter, and the beginning of the second, explaining why he won't be able to make a second visit to Corinth. I say he "explains" but in the end I'm not really sure why he doesn't make the second visit. He rambles on for awhile about the answers to all promises being "yes" through Christ. Except, apparently, for Paul's promise to return to Corinth. The only reason he gives for not visiting is that he was "sparing" the Corinthians another visit from him.

Next Paul tells the Corinthians that, if they have forgiven anyone, Paul forgives them too. Of course, if they had followed Paul's previous letters they would have thrown people that needed forgiven into the clutches of Satan. Anyway, I thought Jesus had already forgiven everyone, regardless of Paul's approval.

Chapter 3 is about how the glory of Jesus must be more glorious than the glory of Moses. This, Paul would contend, logically follows, because the glory of Moses only brought destruction but the glory of Jesus brings life. Paul's ramblings seem to get more vacuous every day.

In chapter 4 Paul repeats that God has blinded some from the message of Jesus. Some get personal visits from Jesus (like Paul), while others are intentionally blinded from seeing the message of Jesus? Why?

Paul ends the chapter by saying that we should focus on things that are unseen, rather than things that are seen. "For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". Incidentally, things that are unseen are also sometimes nonexistent.

What does Pat Robertson think women should do with their committed boyfriends who just happen to be atheists:

Christ didn't have fellowship with people that believed differently than he did? What bible is that in?

This is reason #5382 that you shouldn't be taking relationship advice from Pat Robertson. It's interesting that Pat still goes the "it's never going to work" route, when the woman said that her and her boyfriend had been together for four years. It obviously seems to be working enough for them to stay together for four years.

By the way, Paul mentions interfaith marriages (1 Corinthians 7:12-13). In fact, he specifically mentions that people should not get a divorce in marriages where one spouse is a nonbeliever. He also says that the believing spouse "sanctifies" the unbelieving one. First, Paul is acknowledging that these marriages exist. And second he is giving his de facto approval to them by saying that they should not end in divorce.

Does Pat bother to read his bible between his bouts of vitriol?


  1. 2 Corinthians is a composite letter, made up of between 2 and 5 (or even 6?) different fragments written by Paul and one or more other people, but the bulk of the epistle consists of only 2: The first letter (actually, it's Paul's 2nd or 3rd to the Corinthians), which is found in 2:14-6:13, 7:2-4, and 10-13, and later letter, found in 1:1-2:13 and 7:5-7:16. There are 3 additional fragments: chapters 8 and 9 and 6:14-7:1, the latter of which wasn't even written by Paul. Somebody assembled this collection in the 2nd c.; its first known use was by Marcion.

    Based on the content of these letters, this seems to be the situation: After Paul's first visit to Corinth he wrote them a letter, 1 Corinthians. Then he visited Corinth a second time, but got into a confrontation there with someone who seems to have insulted Paul, calling him unimpressive when compared to other apostles. Paul responded by writing an angry letter (the first one mentioned above, though it is not the first one that you encounter when reading 2 Corinthians) and threatened to visit Corinth for a third time to kick some ass. Afterward the congregation apologized and Paul wrote his next letter (the one that begins the epistle), saying that a third visit won't be necessary. As well see, the other 3 fragments are unrelated to this confrontation - 2 of them are random requests for donations and the other is an anti-Pauline Jewish-Christian sermon that someone mistakenly included in this motley collection.

    There's not much actual theology in these letters, although they are a good chance to see Paul rant and whine and generally sound like a lunatic.

  2. 2 Cor 1-4

    Here we start with the later, more friendly letter.

    2 Cor 1:3. The way Paul specifies God as the father of Jesus here smacks of Gnosticism, or at least Marcionism: They believed that there are 2 gods: the supreme God who was Jesus' father and a lesser god, Yahweh, the god of the Jews and creator of the universe.

    2 Cor 1:13: "for no other things do we write to you, but what ye either do read or also acknowledge, and I hope that also unto the end ye shall acknowledge." I've switched to Young's literal translation here to give a better sense of the verse. The writer seems to be preemptively warning against twisting his words to mean something else, as generations of Xians have done with scripture since the founding of the religion.

    2 Cor 1:15. The writer slips into the singular here, goes back to the plural from v. 18 to v. 22, and then switches back to 1st person singular until 2:13.

    2 Cor 1:21. God anointed them? So does that make Paul the Christ?

    2 Cor 2:13. This is the end of this section of the 2nd letter. It will resume in 7:5, with an account of the trip to Macedonia.

    2 Cor 2:14. Now we pick up the 1st letter, in the middle as it were. This follows 2 Cor 13:9.

    2 Cor 3:1-2. The writer says he doesn't need letters of credentials, in a letter that was probably used for that purpose.

    2 Cor 3:7. It is taken for granted that the Jewish Law brings death, without even so much as an explanation, as we find in Romans and Galatians.

    2 Cor 3:12-13. Bryan, Paul is not comparing Moses to Jesus so much as comparing himself to Moses!

    2 Cor 3:14. The reference here to "old covenant" is really anachronistic - the phrase didn't come into use until the 2nd c., possibly due to Melito of Sardis.

    2 Cor 3:16-18. In the NIV it looks like Paul is saying the Spirit is the Lord, but that's not actually what Paul says. Here's a literal translation:

    "'But whenever he turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.' Now 'the Lord' refers to the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord, there liberty; and we all, with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord beholding in a mirror, to the same image are being transformed, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

    The first quote is a paraphrase of Exodus 34:34. Paul then clarifies that the word "Lord" in the OT quote in fact is referring to the Spirit of the Lord.

    2 Cor 4:4. "The god of this age." Here is more blatant Gnosticism. This is a reference to the (evil) lesser creator god, Yahweh. Cf. 1 Cor 2:6,8: "the rulers of this age."

    2 Cor 4:10: "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." Does this sound like he's talking about a recently lived human being?



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