The theme of Daniel is not “be brave like Daniel.” It’s not end-time prophecy. The theme of Daniel is God. The original hearers were Jewish exiles whose world had ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Was God still in control? A. W. Tozer once wrote: “what comes into our minds when we think of God is the most important thing about us.” That’s what this magnificent OT book is about.
These verses bring Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians to a close. They include a benediction, probably the most well-known benediction other than Aaron’s, found in Numbers 6. What is a benediction? It’s noteworthy that these final verses are dripping with optimism and joy. How could Paul write such things to a church that was so dysfunctional and had hurt him so deeply?
Having vividly expressed the theme of the letter in 12:1-10, Paul now applies that theme to the normal, everyday Christian life. What are the characteristics of a life upon which the power of Christ rests (12:9)? Here are some of the most beautiful (and attractive) expressions of humility and self-denial in all of Scripture. C.S. Lewis wrote that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. What does that practically look like, and why can only grace produce it?
Here is where Paul gives the clearest expression to the theme of the letter: strength in weakness. This text is not only the climax of 2 Corinthians, it is arguably the climax of 1 and 2 Corinthians. It reminds us of the very heart of Christianity. When Jesus said to Paul, "my grace is sufficient for you," how was he reminding him not only of the gospel, but of the core principle of the entire Christian life?
Who would put a catalog of weakness and frailty on a resume? This is exactly what Paul does as he is forced to defend himself against false teachers who were distorting the gospel and misleading the Corinthians. What can we learn from this surprising description of a servant of Christ? What can we learn about humility?
How important is it to defend the gospel against distortions and redefinitions? Is it too far fetched to think that servants of Satan could disguise themselves as Christian leaders? Why are warnings against false teachers fairly common in the New Testament? What is the best way to prepare ourselves to be discerning as we can be exposed to so many voices claiming to speak truth? Out of love for Christ and his Bride, Paul here takes aim at those who would preach "another Jesus" (11:4).