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Summary: Neither Paul nor we are meant to be Mr. Spock from Star Trek; Paul was comfortable with emotion, but -- even when he was emotionally intense -- he kept his eyes on Jesus and sought to follow God’s will, not his own.

Paul, the Emotional Case

(2 Corinthians 7:2-16 (quickview) )

1. I love this old Jewish joke:

During a service at an old synagogue in Eastern Europe, when the Shema prayer was said, half the congregants stood up and half remained sitting.

The half that was seated started yelling at those standing to sit down, and the ones standing yelled at the ones sitting to stand up... The rabbi, educated as he was in the Law and commentaries, didn't know what to do. His congregation suggested that he consult a housebound 98 year old man, who was one of the original founders of their temple.

The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him what the actual temple tradition was, so he went to the nursing home with a representative of each faction of the congregation. The one whose followers stood during Shema said to the old man, "Is the tradition to stand during this prayer?"

The old man answered, "No, that is not the tradition."

The one whose followers sat asked, "Is the tradition to sit during Shema?"

The old man answered, "No, that is not the tradition."

"But", the rabbi said to the old man, "the congregants fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether....."

The old man interrupted, exclaiming.... "THAT is the tradition!"

2. Religious conflict is not unique to Christianity; it is an old, Christian tradition. The Apostle Paul had a full dose of it at Corinth. MacArthur writes:

But what really broke Paul’s heart was not what the world did to him but what the church did to him. In 11:28, after listing the trials he had endured, Paul wrote, “Apart from … such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.” And none caused him more trouble than the church in Corinth.

The church in which he had invested nearly two years of his life had repaid him with disloyalty. They had allowed false teachers to come into their assembly and attack Paul’s character and ministry. Even worse, some of the Corinthians believed their lies and joined in a mutiny against him. One of them had apparently verbally assaulted and abused Paul (cf. 2:5–8, 10) during the apostle’s painful, sorrowful visit to Corinth…the majority in the church had not defended him from those attacks which wounded Paul deeply. The visit was so discouraging that he did not want to return to Corinth & expose himself to more pain (2:1).

As a result of the visit, he had written a sternly worded letter, rebuking the Corinthians for their disaffection, disloyalty, and lack of love toward him. Writing that letter was extremely painful for Paul, as he noted in 2:4: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears.” Paul sent the letter to Corinth with Titus, his beloved son in the faith (Titus 1:4 (quickview) ), who was also to bring the Corinthians’ response back to him. The apostle left Ephesus (where he had written the severe letter) and went to Troas (a seaport on the west coast of Asia Minor), where he hoped to rendezvous with Titus.


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