1 & 2 Corinthians: Day 37

Paul’s Apostolic Authority

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Today's Text: 2 Corinthians 10:1-18, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Ephesians 2:8-9

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 10:1-18, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Ephesians 2:8-9

Many of us who engage with social media have seen it: folks emboldened by relative anonymity in the virtual world of the internet, or by the perceived distance from those with whom they interact. On social media a person can have a mouthful of opinionated vitriol to spew, but face-to-face they’re silent as a lamb. Those folks have what kids today call “Twitter fingers” (derivative of the phrase “trigger fingers”), a term used to describe someone who is always at-the-ready to take a proverbial “shot” at someone else on social media, while hiding behind an online persona or handle.

I wonder if the Corinthians church thought Paul was guilty of the same kind of communication. His letters to them are certainly stern and authoritative, but in person, the apostle seems a good bit more tame. But Paul doesn’t take their accusations lying down. In 2 Corinthians 10, he fires back at the Corinthians’ claims, saying they are off-base because they are judging strength and boldness in the same way the world does. The world expects strength and authority to manifest as brute force or powerful, charming speech, but Paul argues that those things are inferior to the spiritual authority he’s been given in Christ. The apostle’s strength and authority are waging war in the spiritual realm—where the real work is done.  

Paul’s words are strong, and they should be! He should speak as strongly as possible because he’s asserting that his authority comes from the Lord! It was by God’s power that Paul was even able to evangelize and establish the Corinthian church in the first place. It was because of the Lord’s grace that Paul had the strength, wisdom, and patience to have a shepherding presence for their community.

The Corinthian church had it all wrong. They thought Paul couldn’t support such bold words with action, and therefore, his spiritual authority shouldn’t be taken seriously. In truth, they should’ve been more eager to submit to his leadership because his authority was manifested with demonstrations of spiritual power. In fact, their own Christian lives were the fruit of Paul’s boldness and authority.

Friends, I think the same is true of us. Yes, we’re supposed to be marked by our meekness and gentleness and patience, but let’s not mistake those characteristics for weakness. On the contrary, when we’ve cultivated the fruit of the Spirit of God, we are actually reflecting the God of heaven and earth more accurately. We don’t have to be the best speaker, the most outgoing, or the smartest person in the room to move and act in the power of the Spirit. I’d argue that the less emphasis we put on our own strength to win the favor of people, the more we rely on the Spirit of God to empower us to be the people God has called us to be. That way, whenever victory is won, all glory goes to God!

So be encouraged, and don’t worry about impressing others. Let us boast in the power of God instead, which lives in each one of us (2 Corinthians 10:17). May we be quick to boast of knowing Him, enjoying Him, being found in Him, and loved by Him (Jeremiah 9:24).

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Erin Rose lives and works in vibrant Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as Worship & Teaching Pastor at East End Fellowship.  She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Erin is a member of Urban Doxology, a ministry that is writing the soundtrack of reconciliation for the church. Her greatest joy lies in leading God’s people in authentic worship, and teaching them the truth found in God’s Word. She also enjoys eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.

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  • Renae Pearson

    So little focus on what he accomplishes in ministry and so much focus on what God accomplishes!

  • England Elsie

    Oh wow! II really dislike instagram and facebook because I feel I have nothing to “boast” about. I struggle with fellow workers that “boast” in all they are doing and achieving and their skills. I feel I come up no where near.

    But, you know, none of it matters. To boast in the Lord now that is something I can try and do.

    Thank you Eric Rose and ladies, too, for your comments.

  • This devotional was timely for me. God has called me on a path where I don’t have many peers (a Christian full time working mom of three young kids with business gifting). I’ve found that churches rarely know what to do with a woman of my gifts, so I am constantly looking to the Lord for validation that I’m on the right path and somehow He is using me for His work. How I long to be a good singer or teacher who fit in easily into the structure of a church setting! I imagine my church leadership would be surprised if they got a letter like this from me, detailing the work God is doing outside of their orchestration. So I keep quiet and allow God to get the glory if something comes to light. I’m encouraged that Paul was not impressive in person yet was exactly where the Lord planted him.

  • Amy Quam

    “So be encouraged, and don’t worry about impressing others. Let us boast in the power of God instead, which lives in each one of us (2 Corinthians 10:17). May we be quick to boast of knowing Him, enjoying Him, being found in Him, and loved by Him (Jeremiah 9:24).”

    Such great reminder and prayer to start my day. That is what I want! To know him, enjoy him, be found in him, and be loved by him!

  • J. Alison

    As I was reading the Corinthian passage today, all I could think was “Wow, this reminds me of how social media allows us to distort words and situations.” It was great to see your words echo my thoughts.

  • I love this. I am a quiet person by nature and for a long time I thought I needed to be more “loud” in order to be more brave. But I’ve learned to take confidence in the fact that just because I’m not shouting it from the rooftops, doesn’t mean I don’t have courage, nor that I can’t win my battles.

    “Those who truly wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am The Lord who demonstrates unfailing love, who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.”

    I still have so far to go before I can even claim this!

  • September Shaw

    I’ve been in a deep season of change in my life, and for really the first time I’m [attempting to] let go of my planning, earnestly seek the Lord by listening, praying, but in many ways redefining my definition of success. It’s a process, and I’m clearly very imperfect, but this resonates so deeply with me because it’s helping me remember: it’s all from God. Whatever the next step in my life is, however “successful” it does or doesn’t look on paper, doesn’t matter. He matters. It’s our call to seek Him and do His work, unconcerned with our earthly accomplishments. I know this — we all do — but it’s helpful to be reminded of it when it’s so complex to walk it out.

    • Libby Kosciuszko

      “Redefining my definition of success”. I love this! I too have been feeling the Spirit move in this area. I’ve always felt “unsuccessful” because I only ever finished high school and I’m a stay-at-home mom. God has been working on my heart to see that it was all for the glory of myself. What is more successful than living each day for Him? Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Jennifer Martin

    This is amazing. Lord, help me to boast in You instead of in myself. Help me to be focused on You and less on myself. Thank You Lord for Your goodness and power. Amen.

  • Ana Lisa Johnson

    This is so good. Lord, help me to be more focused on your power and work in my life and less focused on my own plans and accomplishments. Help me to see as you see. Let my heart boast only in how great YOU are, Lord.

  • Jen Ryabyy

    It is so easy to want to take credit for things, especially at work. Today reminded me of other words Jesus spoke. “ Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone.” If our Prince of Peace was denying that he was good, then I am a mess :) What a wonderful example to us , what a wonderful Savior.

    • Carolyn Marcos

      Well said Jen! I love this

      • AliceV

        Jen–just wanted to share with you what my ESV study Bible said regarding these verses. The study notes say this regarding verse 18 in the Book of Mark: “To ask this question (why do you call me good?), Jesus assumes the perspective of the rich young man. No one is completely good except God alone, therefore it is not proper for the young man to address Jesus as ‘Good Teacher’ until he is ready to acknowledge that Jesus is God.”

        So, it’s not that Jesus is denying that He is good, He’s trying to get the rich young man to acknowledge that He is God, who is infinitely good. Hope this helps!

  • This is sooo good – I think of all the things we “brag” about – our jobs, degrees, salaries, homes, our children’s accomplishments- and often our kids host the same things – grades, homeruns, touchdowns, likes on instagram – but how much do we boast in the Lord – in Our Creator – I am challenged to talk about Him more – brag on His love for me and His goodness !!!

  • Kelly Chataine

    I am encouraged and want to boast of God’s love, provision, forgiveness, strength, and healing!
    God is good all the time! All the time God is good!

  • Churchmouse

    Demolition of strongholds. Taking every thought captive. Both of these require high caliber spiritual warfare. We do not have the strength, wisdom or power within ourselves to wage such a battle. BUT GOD in us through His Holy Spirit is more than able. We rely on Him – His strength, His wisdom, His power – as we don the armor of God and wield the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Victory is ours for the taking but our boasting is only in Him.

  • When she says that Paul was only able to evangelize bc of God, she is absolutely correct. We can’t even take a breath without Him allowing us to do that. Jesus is sustaining everyone and everything. They were beating, spitting, and tormenting Him in the cross. However, they wouldn’t have been able to breath if He didn’t give them the ability. He was sustaining everything even while being crucified. He is an awesome Savior. Let’s remember that we have authority in the spiritual realm because of Jesus to tear down strongholds and imaginations that are contrary to God and to take every thought captive. I definitely can’t do that without Him. God please help us to be bold for You and show Your love. We can’t fight against darkness without You. We can’t show Your love without You. Be with us and let Your kingdom come and your will be done. Please protect and guide each of us in Jesus’ Powerful Name Amen

  • Kat Hensley

    My prayer is that I delight the Lord by boasting that I love Him and He loves me. I am his daughter.

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