Isaiah 3:1-5:30, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, Psalms 53:1-6, Proverbs 22:28-29
Today is the 9th day of September. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. It is a pleasure, it is an honor, it is a joy, and it is a calling to be here with you today as we take the next step forward into our week, get things all going and the next step forward in our year and the next step forward in the Scriptures. So, we began the book of Isaiah yesterday and we’re gonna be camping out in Isaiah for a little bit. So, let’s take that next step by reading Isaiah chapters 3 through 5 today. And we’re reading from the English Standard Version this week.
Okay, so we are obviously working our way through the letter that we know as second Corinthians, a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. And, so we’re starting to get an opportunity here to revisit and review and re-see some of the tensions that were happening in the early church. And as we observed while we were navigating through the book of Acts, and then some in the book of Romans, you know, it’s really easy to put these rose-colored glasses on and look back at the formation of the church and go, “what a blissful amazing time, tongues of fire are falling from heaven, people are coming to Christ, it’s a beautiful time of unity, but that’s actually not story, it’s not even the biblical story. And so many of the things that were challenging early on are the very things that are still challenging us today. So, we get just a little bit of a glimpse of that in today’s reading when Paul starts talking about “super apostles”. And he’s not talking about super apostles like, you know, these are the Avengers for Jesus, like their superheroes. He was using that term in a negative way, kind of condescending way. And scholars have been debating about who these super apostles are for a very, very long time, but probably this is the deal. People who probably came out of Judaism who were Hebrew people and who understood Jesus as a Hebrew in a Hebrew context, they just were not on board with this kind of nonexclusive thing that was happening in the world where Gentiles, like anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, like anyone who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead and believes that Jesus was the son of God, like anyone who believes that Jew or Gentile, so anyone could be saved. Very, very different from the way Hebrews had grown up in Judaism. So, as we’ve talked about in the past, these people, even though they had come to Christ and were following Jesus teachings, they would expect anyone else who wanted to do that to convert to Judaism. Like, they were not changing religions. At least that was their understanding. On the other hand, there were those including the apostle Paul who were like, “no…this is very, very inclusive. God is saving the world now. Like has gone from an exclusive chosen people to now through that chosen people God has sent His Son to save all the people.” So, like that’s a pretty…pretty big paradigm shift, and we still do indeed struggle today with who gets to be in. So, you can see in the stew that we just kind of made for ourselves, a lot of people thought a lot of different things. So, people who had different convictions about Jesus had started to visit these new churches that were being planted all over the Roman Empire on Paul’s missionary journeys and other people’s missionary journeys. And Paul had established these churches, right, through great persecution, with a lot of suffering, with incredible marginalization, right? It was a difficult job. He was getting stoned and left for dead. Like, all kinds of things have happened to Paul and he has suffered to plant these churches and then there are people who are going in behind him with different convictions about Jesus. And the way that they were teaching had nuances that Paul’s teaching didn’t, and it seems as if some of these people were finding traction, like they were being validated because they were associated with people who had actually walked with Jesus during His ministry. And those are probably the “super apostles”. And Paul couldn’t claim to be a super apostle. He never met Jesus during like His earthly ministry. While he was on earth in the flesh Paul never met Jesus. So, you know, tough time for Paul to say, “well…I have met the cosmic Christ…I have met the resurrected Christ. He came to me on the road to Damascus. I met him and he told me these things, and this is what I’m teaching.” Tough for Paul to make an argument against the people who were actually the disciples of Jesus Christ walking with him in his earthly ministry. So, like, I mean you think about it. Think about it. Your sitting in church one day or you’re just sitting on a park bench and there are a couple of people trying to share the gospel and one person’s saying, “I know Jesus personally, like walked with Him, I heard His voice. Like, I literally watched Him heal people. I heard what He taught.” And then you have another person who’s like, “I also know Jesus. I may know Him even better because He came to me after His resurrection and taught me what He taught me and sent me to who He sent me too.” So, you’re like…you’re sitting there and if that’s the decision you gotta make, think about…think about it. So, these people, whoever these people are, are, you know, kind of bringing their allegiance back to the living disciples who are probably leaders in Jerusalem. And even though there was a church council making decisions about Gentiles and Jews, it was a contentious thing. So, anyway, these people are visiting the churches and Paul considered like that…that they were using their association with these, quote unquote, “super apostles” as a way to validate themselves and he looked at that as boastful and self-serving. And, so, he’s in this position where he needs to respond, but in order to respond he has to kind of come to their level and start boasting himself, right? Bragging and boasting and like self-validation and drawing attention to yourself, that…that’s like not considered a good thing. Like, that’s not healthy behavior, but he’s like backed into a corner, as if he doesn’t have a choice. He didn’t want the Corinthians to be confused. He didn’t want them to be swept away into all kinds of nuanced things that…that he wasn’t teaching from the beginning. And, so, he was concerned. So, in yesterday’s reading and even today’s reading, we’re kind of watching Paul dance around this and squirm around this because like this is like a no-win situation when you have one group of people saying, “while I’m so great because of this”, and then you have another group of people going, “well, I’m even greater than that because of this and this and this and this.” It’s like, you can’t be validated by comparison. But the Corinthians are being influenced negatively so…so Paul has to start to talk about how he has struggled to bring the gospel to them in the first place. And this is the boasting that we’re gonna hear for the next little bit. So, I mean, we just talked about this, but what’s in it for…like what’s in it for us? Like, what can we do with all that? Was Paul just super insecure? I mean, maybe so. Maybe he was. He’s a human being. He’s moving forward just like the rest of us are. So, maybe so. But Paul actually said why he was doing what he was doing and why he was going to do this boasting and explain how it was that he was absolutely as valid if not more valid than the “super apostles.” He said, “I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband and that’s Christ.” So…so as we go forward and into tomorrow, we’ll hear this boasting that Paul’s setting up, but even before we start hearing this boasting, we should consider how it is that we are trying to validate ourselves in our faith. Are we legitimate because we can drop names or outmaneuver someone with Bible verses or, you know, win a theological debate or is our validation in the complete knowledge that we are nothing and have nothing to boast in other than Jesus?
father, we invite You into that because it brings up a bunch of stuff. It brings up how it is we attempt to create an identity. And so often this identity is…is created by comparison to other people when we are truly nothing…like there’s nothing to compare to. There’s nothing outside of You. And, so, come Holy Spirit, and once again remind us of our true identity, that we are Your sons and daughters. Come Holy Spirit we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.