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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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

DEFENDING ONE'S MINISTRY, 2 Corinthians 11:1-12:13
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This segment of the commentary covers essentially chapters 11 and 12 of Second Corinthians as a part of volume 11 of the Biblical Insights Commentary. It is 90 pages in length as a pdf file. The original Greek text is one of the most complicated text sections in the entire Greek New Testament.
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The apostle Paul in chapters 10 - 13 of this letter is defending his ministry against criticisms leveled against Paul from two sources. First, came the insider criticisms from select members of the Christian community at Corinth. Mostly, Paul addresses these individuals in chapters ten and thirteen. However, in chapters eleven and twelve he primarily targets outsiders who have traveled to Corinth evidently from Judea and have severely questioned Paul as a divinely called messenger of the true Gospel. Their claim, naturally, is of having a superior message and credentials to teach this alternative message.
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Paul's challenge is to confront these false teachers in an appeal to the Corinthians church to remain faithful to the initial apostolic Gospel preached by him at the establishment of the church some years earlier. How to best do this?
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Feeling some pressure from the Corinthian church members, Paul steps out of his comfort zone and adopts a rather popular strategy of defending his ministry through the use of a 'fool's speech,' that is contained in 11:1-12:13. This literary device was popular in Greek and Latin speaking circles of the mid-first century, but not used much at all among Jews. The heart of the device was to argue one's case by adopting the techniques of one's opponents in a Greco-Roman setting. Mostly, this centered on a bragging contest of one-up-man-ship about who has the best credentials and best message or teaching. Thus comparisons with one's opponents functioned at the heart of the contest of boasting. The 'fool's speech' made heavy use of biting sarcasm in the bragging.
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Paul's uncomfortableness with this approach is expressed several times through the speech. But he felt compelled by Corinthian demands that he defend himself with a way of thinking that the Greek and Roman oriented Corinthians themselves knew and understood. His choice was brilliant and he makes a powerful case for a ministry that, instead of being self generated as the outsider group claimed for themselves, was instead a divinely blessed superior ministry in and through a man who himself was a nothing. The insider critics who claimed for themselves superior skills in Greek rhetoric etc. to Paul came to discover that this know-little Jewish preacher possessed brilliant skills with one of the most complex ways of making one's case known in the ancient world. These two chapters are a masterpiece in the use of biting sarcasm embedded into surprising and unexpected ways of setting up comparisons with one's opponents.
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For us modern readers, this is the source of the huge difficulties in understanding Paul's ideas in these two chapters. We want everything presented in simple black and white terms. But in these chapters Paul lives in a weaving pattern of idea expression virtually completely in the grayish mid tones with only a few black/white expressions. The English language reader will notice this somewhat by a confusing maze of very differing translations of these two chapters. And one can be certain that the simple idea expression in some of the more contemporary English translations especially are giving you, the reader, a highly re-contextualized translation assuming modern frameworks, not the first century framework that Paul is working in.
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What can we learn from Paul's example here? The final section of this commentary chapter attempts to pull together some lessons from these chapters. I'll leave it up to you to go through these and see whether you agree or not with my conclusions.