2 Corinthians 1–3: Our Letter & Our Hearts

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 17: Sunday

You are our letter, having been written in our hearts, known and read by all men.
2 Corinthians 3:2 LSB

Sunday’s Bible reading of 2 Corinthians 1–3, introduces this wonderful letter in which we find Paul’s love for the Lord Jesus and his love for other Christians reflected in sentence after sentence; Paul teaches by word and by example.

In many ways this letter shows us what it means to live in love and obedience to Christ in understanding of the Christian life according to Jesus as He taught in the Upper Room Discourse of John 13–16. Jesus gave commands to obey, told us what to expect in our lives as Christians, and He gave assurance of His comfort and care. Paul lives out those words of Christ.

The first chapter of 2 Corinthians introduces one of the major themes of the letter: suffering. In John 13–16, Jesus taught that tribulation and suffering is to be expected because we are His and the world hated Him. But He did not leave us as orphans to endure this alone, because in John 13–16, He also taught on prayer, abiding in His Word, loving one another and His sending of the Holy Spirit—and He tells them why He said these things to them when He finishes with these words of encouragement:

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 LSB

In 2 Corinthians 1, notice Paul’s authenticity as Paul describes the intense suffering he and Timothy underwent in Asia and how difficult their affliction was, “we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even to live.” He is not attempting to cover up the fact that their suffering was overwhelming, nor is he trying to puff himself up about his incredible faith. Instead, throughout the chapter, Paul points you to God over and over again, as he writes of the great comfort and deliverance given to them by God, and in doing this, he gives to us real encouragement to trust God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. But whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is working in your perseverance in the same sufferings which we also suffer. And our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3–7 LSB

In 2 Corinthians, we see Paul’s humility and great love for believers. The following sentence is an incredible thing to write to a church that was as raucous as the church at Corinth:

Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
2 Corinthians 1:24 LSB

He doesn’t lord it over them! He considers himself as a worker with them for their joy! This is the apostle Paul writing this—should we not heed his example and repent of our pride, our love of power and being first, and of any authoritarianism over fellow believers?

Look at what he was thinking and feeling when he wrote to them previously about the sin they had tolerated in their midst:

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have abundantly for you.
2 Corinthians 2:4 LSB

His love and humility are evident again in chapter 3, as he tells the Corinthians they are his letter of commendation written on his heart.

You are our letter, having been written in our hearts, known and read by all men, being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, ministered to by us, having been written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of hearts of flesh.
2 Corinthians 3:2–3 LSB

Again, rather than puffing up himself in his ministry, he gives honor and glory to God:

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:5–6 LSB

He continues to contrast the old covenant of the Law with the new covenant of the Spirit. He closes with this wonderful truth about the transformation of our lives, another theme of this letter, through knowing the Lord Jesus.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 LSB

May God strengthen, comfort and transform you through this letter—for the purpose of God’s Word is to change your life.

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Folio from Papyrus 46, containing 2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9: Public Domain.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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