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A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13 Paperback – May 1, 2007
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From the Back Cover
How do some of the apostle Paul's most passionate words help us to understand our lives as Christians today?
According to Bible scholar D. A. Carson, 2 Corinthians 10-13 most clearly reveals Paul's heart and mind. It contains well-known passages, such as Paul's description of his thorn in the flesh and an intense chronicle of his specific sufferings. This section of Scripture also models Paul's style of spiritual leadership and warns of false leadership in the church, something of crucial importance to anyone with an influential role in the body of believers.
Carson unpacks Paul's call for us to embrace discipline and obedience, and his thoughts on the nature of spiritual boasting. Through Paul we explore the struggles, opportunities, and intentions of a Christian under fire, journeying with him as he seeks to guide the Corinthian church and speak to us as well.
D. A. Carson (Ph.D., Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has served as a pastor and is the author or editor of more than forty-five books.
About the Author
D. A. Carson (Ph.D., Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has served as a pastor and is the author and editor of more than forty-five books.
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Clearly, at the time the book was originally written, Mr. Carson was bringing out how many of the Word of Faith ministries had gotten over into error in certain areas. As for myself, someone who was immersed in WOF teaching for many yrs in my early Christian life and now a 'Charismatic' pastor (I really don't like this label though), you would think that I would find 'issue' with much of what he's said. However, I agree with him in MOST areas because I have clearly seen many excesses in doctrines and truths that have been pushed to their extremity (ie 'error'); many of my own personal stances changed as I continued to pursue God and study His Word. Mr. Carson is thoroughly scriptural for the most part, brings out the correlation of what was happening in Paul's day and what has happened today over the past 30 yrs in the Body of Christ, & beautifully brings Paul's attitudes toward doctrine and leadership to light.
I feel the need to point out my most obvious area of disagreement: the identity/ source/ purpose of Paul's thorn. My personal belief from studying this contextually, is that the thorn (its source being clearly a messenger of satan) wasn't any form of illness, depression, or other things along this line-- the context clearly suggests that it was an oppressive spirit working through his opponents to create persecution/hardships (chap 11) & the reason it wasn't 'taken away' was because we aren't redeemed from persecutions (it goes along with the territory of being a Christian). Also in context, satan didn't give it to Paul to create an attitude of humility (satan is the source of pride)but to depreciate Paul in OTHER people's minds as being someone less spiritual than other supposed false super apostles of the day as they saw Paul's struggles. Satan knew a lifestyle of persecution wouldn't be attractive for the Corinthians or for many others in the Greco-Roman culture of the day.
Also, I used David Garland's commentary on 2 Corinthians (NAC) & it is excellent as well. Among the 7 commentaries I used, his was the most helpful by far. I own all of the ones he's written and I personally believe he's one of the clearest & best authors of modern commentaries.
It's been a long time since I read a book, either academic or popular level, that I was this excited and enthusiastic about as this one by Mr. Carson. I wholeheartedly recommend his book to ANY pastor, no matter what their background, if they would like to read something for personal growth or to assist in creating a series.
Carson wrestles with the exegesis of the important last four chapters of 2 Corinthians. This section's tone is harsh whilst also famous for Paul's boast to humility. Paul's defense of his apostolic authority takes central stage in this part of the Bible, for even then there were those who limited his authority or claims to apostleship. So Paul's character was put to the utmost test from within the fledgling Corinthian church. 'The insinuation had been made that Paul himself was aware of the hollowness of his claims, because he would not take from the church the support to which, if a true apostle, he ought to have felt himself entitled. The apostle had not even been spared the meanest of aspersions - that he was spending the money collected for the poor saints in Judea on his own person.' Geerhardus Vos, Grace & Glory pp. 107-108
The major exegetical thrust is directed toward the identity of the 'super-apostles'. Their introduction to the church was then by all means, an unwelcome one, yet today we appreciatively refer to Paul's way of handling the tough issue of the 'hyper-pneumatics'. The letters to the Corinthians never were normative, but corrective letters to a troubled church. 'We shall learn too, that individual Christians and local churches alike must take responsibility for the styles of leadership they follow.' p 40 Leadership can at times be competitive, and the delusion is created that a structured or institutionalized church with strong leaders may avoid these power plays.
Carson's work engages with the problems of authority and gospel-truth sanctioned by God - in this way it aligns well with the masterful work of John Howard Schutz: Paul & the Anatomy of Apostolic Authority. Said Schutz: 'The Holy Spirit works ambiguously in the congregation, requiring the critical judgment of the gospel.' p 62 All preaching and teaching is to be measured against the standard of the holy Word which holds the demands of a holy God. Against an assuming congregation and a self-congratulatory leadership Paul wielded irony and employed boasting to meet their prideful presumptions in that they had drawn the eschaton into the present, in order to make their claims carry more authority. Similarly, much of what passes for preaching today is hype and theater - thereby denying God the glory.
'The Christian church needs a little more both of Paul's discernment and intolerance. We seldom ask if it is the same Jesus as the one presented in the Scriptures, or if the gospel being presented squares with the apostolic gospel. Is it a biblical Jesus who promises us nothing but health, prosperity, wisdom, and joy? Is it a biblical Jesus who guarantees heaven and says nothing of hell? Is it a biblical Jesus who promises eternal life but says nothing about entailed righteousness? Is it a biblical Jesus who needs to have His saving work supplemented by our merits, ceremonies, and sacrifices if we are to be redeemed? If the Corinthians could be deceived in the first century into transferring their allegiance to a Jesus who did not really exist, what entitles us to think we shall always be exempt from similar dangers and deceptions? Our only safeguard is a humble return, again and again, to the apostolic gospel, the biblical Jesus, preserved for us in the pages of Scriptures.' pp. 99-100