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Lorin

Lorin
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Grew up in farm and ranch life about 70 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas near the small community of Perrin. Did undergraduate degree at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas (BA, 1964) and masters (MDiv, 1968) / doctorate (ThD, 1975) at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth. Taught Koine Greek and New Testament at SWBTS 1974-1997. Then taught at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC (1998-2008). Pastored the IBC Baptist Church in Cologne Germany (2008-2010) before retiring and moving to Santa Ana, Costa Rica, where Claire and I now live.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Paul and the Corinthians

Sometimes in doing in depth Bible study an idea in the text just jumps out at you. In the exceedingly complex expression of Paul defending his ministry to the Corinthians in chapters ten through thirteen of Second Corinthians, he uses an intriguing image in 11:2-4. Outsiders have come into Corinth and become influential over a small group of members who do not care for the apostle. Thus criticisms of Paul's ministry to the church are being leveled against him by the hostile members. These chapters especially in the letter are devoted to a defense of his ministry strategy and style to the church over the several years prior to the writing of the letter in the mid 50s. 

In 11:1-15 the apostle puts on the table before his Corinthian readers the profile of the outsiders and then sets forth his approach to the Corinthians. In verse 2, he does something very creative:
ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς θεοῦ ζήλῳ, ἡρμοσάμην γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἑνὶ ἀνδρὶ παρθένον ἁγνὴν παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ. I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. In the context of the universal practice of arranged marriages in the first century, Paul pictures himself as the father of the daughter, the Corinthian church, who has arranged for a wedding day for his daughter to marry a husband, who is Christ. His creativity is seen especially in the modification of a common OT image of God as husband of covenant Israel the bride (e.g., Hos 1-3). 

Paul modifies the image to fit the situation of the Corinthians while drawing from two major emphases of the OT image: God's jealousy for Israel as her 'husband' and the bride Israel's tendency toward unfaithfulness to her husband. Paul in the Corinthian adaptation of the image is the bride's jealous father as the founder of the church. He has entered into a marriage contract with God the Father for his daughter to marry Christ at the future eschatological wedding day. That is, he has betrothed, ἡρμοσάμην, her to Christ.  

Now his task as father is to keep her pure from immorality for the wedding day: παρθένον ἁγνὴν παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ. The outsiders who have come into Corinth are thus seen as seducers who are trying to entice the daughter into betrayal of her betrothal to Christ as husband: φθαρῇ τὰ νοήματα ὑμῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ἁπλότητος καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος τῆς εἰς τὸν Χριστόν (v. 3). Those attracted to these false teachers in the church were just like ancient Israel with a penchant for unfaithfulness to Christ (v. 4). Just as the first century father was obligated to present his daughter as a virgin to her betrothed husband on the wedding day, Paul feels an obligation toward the Corinthians to do everything in his power to keep the Corinthian church faithful to its commitment to Christ. 

By portraying himself as a jealous father and the false teachers as seducers, he develops a powerful image to challenge his opponents in the church to rethink their attraction to these false teachers, and to understand clearly where he is coming from in his rebuke of them. 

The resulting question that emerges here is Who are we as spiritual leaders? A protective father? Or a seducer of the bride of Christ? Is our ministry centered on keeping God's church faithful to Christ? Or, is it more interested in building man centered devotion to a preacher?    

Saturday, August 6, 2016

HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP?
In Second Corinthians 10:1-18, the apostle Paul challenges one of the most deeply embedded values of modern western culture: competition. His opponents in the Corinthian church contended that he and his message stood as inferior to them and their message. They based this contention on a self-comparison to others around them. In reaction, the apostle condemned comparison to others as a standard of evaluation: Οὐ γὰρ τολμῶμεν ἐγκρῖναι ἢ συγκρῖναι ἑαυτούς τισιν τῶν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστανόντων, for we dare not evaluate or compare ourselves to some who are commending themselves (v. 12a). People who do this do not possess good sense: ἀλλʼ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἑαυτοὺς μετροῦντες καὶ συγκρίνοντες ἑαυτοὺς ἑαυτοῖς οὐ συνιᾶσιν, But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense (v. 12b). 

Volume 11, Second Corinthians, in the BIC commentary series now contains the indepth commentary for chapter ten of this letter. In this scripture text, how to properly do Christian ministry is set forth clearly and forcefully. The message of this chapter is vitally needed in our contemporary world! Note especially the CONCLUSIONS drawn at the end of the exegesis to our world and church life.