2 Corinthians 4:13-18 – So we do not lose heart

Updated: Feb 4

This reading includes 2 Corinthians 5:1


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Just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.


So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.


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This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 5. It will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, June 10, 2018. It is important as Paul explained that the deterioration of the body is natural for all living beings, but death for Apostles of Christ will release a soul into a most holy, eternal dwelling.


When this selection begins by stating, “We have the same spirit of faith,” that should not be read as an “enthusiasm to believe.” The Greek word translated as “faith” is “pistis,” which can also translate as “belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, and faithfulness.” About “faith” (from “pistis”) Bible Hub HELPS Word-studies states: “[It] is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, 4102/pistis (“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it.” Realizing that and then seeing how the word “pneuma” is used with “pistis,” as “spirit of faith,” this is stating that “spirit” comes from God.


The invisible gift that is designed to be re-gifted.


In regard to Paul making the assessment, “We have the same spirit,” knowing that “spirit” comes from God, this is the Holy Spirit, from which true faith comes. The presence of the Holy Spirit must then be within each and every Apostle, such that Paul can write to his brothers in Christ (men and women) knowing they possess the same Holy Spirit as does he, with all truly being Christian. They know the presence of Jesus Christ within them, which is the source of their “spirit of faith.” They do not simply “believe” in Jesus Christ, as they are all duplications of his spirit, being reborn as him.


The Scripture quoted by Paul: “I believed, and so I spoke,” comes from Psalm 116. The complete verse is 166:10, which says, “I believed, therefore spoken, “I am greatly afflicted.” In the NASB version of Psalm 116, posted by Bible Gateway, the song is given a title: “Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Death.” That title is seen as appropriate when one realizes all mortal human beings are born into temporary lives on earth, but the presence of the Holy Spirit comes from admission of personal “affliction” (sins), so one can cease living for self and begin speaking for God. The reward for that commitment, as David knew, is eternal life, thus “deliverance from death.”


Because Paul knew himself and the other Apostles in Corinth had so done this confession of being afflicted, he knew they had been saved from death by the Holy Spirit.  He could then truthfully write, “we also believe, and so we speak.” The Christians of Corinth, led by Paul, had all sacrificed self-ego for the “spirit” of Jesus Christ.  They all then spoke as ministers of Christ.


This is seen better when one reads, “Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.” The disciples of Jesus were with him when he ascended.  Jesus was raised by the power of God. Jesus was alone, as a holy individual who ascended that day.  Paul and the Christians of Corinth, however, were not on the Mount of Olives on the Sabbath of that occurrence.  They only knew the hearsay of that event, before they were baptized by God’s Holy Spirit and God’s knowledge was available to them.


This means that the truth of Paul’s words, “we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus” is in the promised return of Christ. Paul could make that true statement, just as Jesus’ disciples could also, because all Apostles know they have had the risen Lord Jesus with them.  The Apostles of Jesus knew on Pentecost (the next day, when Jesus Christ returned).  Paul and the other Saints had the same elevation of their souls, the day their lives were forevermore change by God sending them His Son too.


The Greek word translated as “with” is “sun” (written “syn”). We read that as “the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.” This word’s translation cannot be allowed to give the impression that Jesus Christ is in Heaven, and good living will allow one to go and be with him and God.  This is not the intent of that word’s use.


“Syn” (or “sun)” is not a simple preposition.  In this regard, Bible Hub HELPS Word-studies states: “[It is] (a primitive preposition, having no known etymology) – properly, identified with, joined close-together in tight identification; with (= closely identified together).” The translations for this word include, “accompanied, accompany, along, associates, besides, companions, including, and together.” This says that Paul was not promising a similar raising, as the disciples witnessed Jesus “raised” into Heaven (the Ascension), but when Jesus Christ is the Lord of oneself, having been “raised” within.  At that time, God will raise us also Jesus accompanied. Jesus will have become one with a Saint in his name, so that presence will bring us together in his presence.


The gift of God to the world is His Son, which is the total and complete source of faith. That gift was not for the glorification of Jesus of Nazareth alone, and Jesus promised his disciples they would do greater things than he. Thus, Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving for our benefit, so that grace (Greek “charis” = “a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ”) can be extended (Greek “pleonasasa” = “to super-abound, to make to abound, increasing, spreading, to be abundant) “through more and more people.”


This means that Paul said that there is no limit to how many times Jesus Christ can be reborn in human flesh, once a disciple (a student of Scripture) has proved him or herself to God as giving thanks, seeking to become an Apostle “to the glory of God.”  It is through the ministry of Apostles / Saints that “more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”  Jesus Christ touches “more and more people” by his being reborn into devoted disciples.


Isaiah 6:8


This connection to God comes through love, where one’s soul becomes married to Him. This marriage becomes the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, in Psalm 116, where David sang praises to the LORD, as recalled by Paul, David later sang, “I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:13) David then continued by singing, “O Lord, surely I am Your servant, I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid, You have loosed my bonds. To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:15-16)


Those are wedding vows, expressed through love.  David’s words sang of the obedience, subservience, and loving gratitude that comes from a devoted servant to his master.  David, as a male, spoke of God as would a wife to her husband. Thus, through this holy matrimony, where a bond is made until death, one’s heart is given unto the LORD, in the same way as had David’s been given to God.

That love of God is why Paul wrote, “So we do not lose heart.” Those words do not express a plan or plot, as Paul suggesting how not to lose heart.  It was a statement of known commitment, by an Apostle bride to his or her source of holy love.  Paul said flatly, “We do not lose heart,” because we know the beauty and joy of a relationship with God.


Once we give our hearts totally and completely to God, that love will never cease. God will not forsake His wives (meaning souls in mortal bodies); and, likewise, a soul knowing the love of God will never do anything to lose that love. This is why all selfish ego concerns must be discarded, willfully, as one’s dowry given away at the altar. It is why human wives give away their father’s name and take on the name of their husband. Christians give up themselves out of love of God, and take on the name of Christ.


Priest: Who gives this woman to be married to this man? Father of the bride: I do.


Paul then wrote, “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” This is not simply a statement of one’s physical body growing older and weaker, which is the natural order of mortal beings. It also states how the attractions of worldly things – that which once defined our outer being – “is wasting away,” no longer having the lure or the glitter the material plane once had upon us. Instead, once we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God, reborn as His Son, Jesus Christ; so, the outer (material) world has less appeal, as “our inner nature is being renewed day by day,” giving us the strength to become oblivious to the lures of sin.


Those lures are then called by Paul, “slight momentary afflictions.” This says that the world is the illusion of time, where the past and the future are nothing more than a series of present moments. The weight of the past and the future is released by the presence of eternal life within, making feelings and memories of guilt and woe of what “coulda, woulda, shoulda” disappear with the cleansing of one’s soul by the Holy Spirit. We live forever more in the “lightness” of God in the present tense. None of the mental worries are retained, once the ego has been let go and allowed to die.  The ravages of a mortal body (natural or from persecution) are fleeting, when the Christ Mind comforts one from the temporal plane.


Paul explained this state of sainthood as being, “Because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” The eyes in our heads are connected to our brains, which then interprets the vibrations of sight. Our bodies also sense vibrations that are detected by ears (sound), skin (touch), tongues (taste), and noses (smell), with all sensations registered differently by different people. The organs of the body cannot sense God or the spiritual, but our souls can feel this presence and gain a higher awareness than a brain can generate from earthly sensations.


Human scientists cannot invent a machine that can see a soul, although they can relate the energy within a human body with heat and light. That only goes to show how faith in the worldly will eventually die, whereas true faith from the Holy Spirit is eternal, beyond mortal death.


The final verse in this reading comes from the beginning of chapter five, where Paul expanded on this concept of the temporal and the eternal. He wrote, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” The use of the Greek word “skēnous,” which is translated as “tent,” must be seen as used to denote a higher state of human life. The implication of “tent” is as a “tabernacle,” where the only ones allowed within were priests of the One God (the Levites).


This means the soul has been anointed by God and is the only one allowed within the holy domain, as God sits upon the heart throne and must be guarded by the righteous. Thus, the destruction of such a holy tabernacle means the physical death of one of God’s servants.  The Hindu people call death a transition, because the soul is eternal.  However, “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” cannot be reincarnation back into the material plane.


The mention by Paul that “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands” is synonymous with Jesus saying, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) When Paul then added how this house not made by hands is, “eternal in the heavens,” this confirms Jesus having said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” The eternal dwelling place that has been prepared for us, after our tents have been destroyed, is Jesus Christ.


As the Son of Man (Adam), the Son of God was formed from dust and breathed into by God.  Jesus Christ, as the returning soul of righteousness that was originally Adam, was not made by human hands. His Spirit is the temple of the LORD, build by His holy hand. When Jesus said, I am the alpha and the omega,” he said (in essence), “I am the eternal house you need to inhabit.” We live in that holy house when God lives within us, so it is as Jesus said, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.” (John 14:11a)


As the chosen Epistle reading for the third Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for God should be underway, we can see how the heart is the core element leading one in that direction. Paul was in ministry and his letters to the others he had led to be filled with the Holy Spirit were also in ministry for God, as Jesus Christ reborn. That rebirth can only come from a love between God and servant, where the “tent” is set up as a sanctuary for God upon a throne in one’s heart.


As an accompanying reading to the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus said, “Here are my mother and brothers,” the Corinthians were the relatives of Paul because all shared the same spiritual blood of Jesus Christ. The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be a selfish claim, or a private and hidden state of piety, as it must be shared with others. Amid a world of madness that rejects all who claim to be righteous, expecting more and more proof through miracles, the ministers of the LORD who come through (“together with”) Jesus Christ need time to experience the present time together. The house Jesus and his disciples went into share food and rest, as an escape from the maddening crowd, was the symbolism of a tabernacle.  There they shared their righteousness alone, apart from the world. That is the true symbolism of a church; and it is from that inner renewal of peace that one is prepared to face the non-believers of the world.

Therefore, we see the lesson of a support network in one’s ministry. When one is in the name of Christ, one is together with the Lord Jesus Christ; and that strength is sufficient to enter the outer world without fear of being enticed to sin. Still, one needs to bring others to the same state of security, and then one needs to reconnect to those of like mind (the Christ Mind) to partake of the spiritual food of Christ’s body (the Word) and the wine of his blood (the Holy Spirit). Paul’s letters to the Christians of Corinth show how all true Christians need this support.


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