Term 1 2019

2 Corinthians: The Paradox of the Cross

The church in first century Corinth had more than its share of problems. Paul addressed these problems in the letter we call 1 Corinthians, but many rejected his advice. He followed up with a painful visit and then sent them 2 Corinthians, a letter that assured them he forgave and loved them. After reading the letter, many church members repented and embraced the letter’s message.

Essentially, Paul challenges believers to see life through the paradox of the cross. “Power in weakness”, “Life in death” “Glory in suffering” are just some features of this paradox.

Because of the cross and God’s Spirit, Jesus’ followers receive power to live transformed lives. They become equipped to take up Jesus’ cross shaped life and make it their own. Through the cross and resurrection, believers may live differently and model the values God desires, including generosity, humility, and weakness. (Adapted from the Introduction on thebibleproject.com)

Hidden Treasure     2Corinthians 4:7-18     7th April

  1.  In verses 8 and 9 Paul says he is hard pressed, persecuted  etc. BUT not  crushed etc.  What accounts for his confidence that these things will not destroy him? What light does Romans 8:28ff shed on these verses?
    2. In another place Paul writes that he “fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. How does this passage help us to understand what he might mean by this?
    3.  List the evidence in this passage of God’s sovereignty.  How would you respond to someone who is thinking of tossing in their Christian faith because of opposition from their family?
    *  In two columns list the aspects of this passage that illustrate the two perspectives:  Temporary   and  eternal.
    *  If a policeman interrupted your group with an official order from a judge ordering your group to disband and not meet again and he said the same order applied to St. Anne’s how would you respond?  What issues would you take into account as you consider your response?

 

We Preach Jesus 2Corinthians 4:1-6         31st March

  1. “Be more concerned about your character than your reputation. Your reputation is merely what others think you are, whereas your character is what you really are. ”Is this good counsel or not? Why? What would Paul say about this?
  2. Why do you think Paul needed to defend himself?
  3. How did Paul describe his ministry? (v1-2)
  4. What is the consequence of a hidden gospel? (v3)
  5. a) Why can’t the lost understand the gospel?
    b) What does v4 tell us about Satan? How might his power be limited?
  6. What internal and external battles do you face when sharing your faith?

True Glory Unveiled2Corinthians 3:7-1824th March

  1. In verses 7-11 Paul argues from “lesser to greater” when comparing the Old and New Covenants.  Make a list of the comparisons he draws in these verses.
  2. Read Exodus 34:29-35. Why do you think people were afraid to come near Moses?  How does their experience with Moses contrast with ours?
  3. What do you think God’s “glory” is exactly?  What does John mean when he says “We have seen his (Jesus’) glory”?  John 1:14.
  4. When Peter caught a glimpse of Jesus’ glory in Mark 9:2-8 it had a profound effect on him. Why do you think he reacted like this?
  5. What is it about the character of God that means we cannot treat him like a “mate at the football”?
  6. Read 2Corinthians 3:12-18.   Contrast the situation of the person before and after they “turn to the Lord” in this passage.
  7. How would you answer someone who says “I prefer law over grace.  With Law, you know exactly where you stand with God and your efforts are rewarded.  Grace is so humiliating.”?

New Covenant Ministry  2 Corinthians  2:12-3:6 17th March

  1. Read the passage and in the light of the previous sermon theme “Integrity Is Everything,”  note and discuss the way Paul’s concern for integrity is evident either in the words he uses or his obvious underlying motives.
  2. What is new about the “new covenant” as opposed to the “old covenant”?  Read Jeremiah 31:31-   and Ezekiel 36:24-32. What do you think God means by the image “I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”?  What is the role of God’s Spirit in this new covenant?
  3. Paul talks about Christian witness as being the aroma of Christ (2Cor 2:15-16).  What does God think of this “aroma,” and what do others think of it?  What makes the difference?  Have you ever experienced these differences when you talk about your faith?
  4. Some people see 2Cor 3:6 as a licence to get rid of all rules and laws and even the Bible itself in favour of a kind of spiritual “free for all”.   What do you think is the place of law and rules in the Christian life?
  5. How would you respond to a friend who says “I’ve got no time for Christianity – with all its rules and restrictions.  I want freedom.”?

A Time to Forgive  2 Corinthians 2:5-11  10th March

  1. From verses 5 & 6, what do we know for sure has happened in the church at Corinth? What are we left wondering about?
  2. How does Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18:15-17 help us understand what church members have done? How is Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 relevant?
  3. Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. Do you think this is the same situation Paul is referring to in 2 Corinthians 2? How confident are you of your opinion?
  4. What change has happened in the Corinthian Christians between 1 Corinthians 5:2 and 2 Corinthians 2:6 and 9? How do you think Paul felt about that change? Why?  How do you feel about the possibility of such change happening today?
  5. What instruction does Paul give to the Corinthian church in v7-8? What reasons does Paul give? We are told the man was extremely sorrowful about his actions. Which type of sorrow was he displaying – see 2 Corinthians 7:9-10?
  6. When should we forgive/not forgive someone? Why?
  7. Paul was passionate about the health of the church. How can we stir up our passion for the health of the church?
  8. What is Satan trying to achieve in the church (v11)? Do you think we are sufficiently aware of his schemes today? What difference might adequate awareness of Satan’s schemes make to our prayers?

Integrity Is Everything  2 Corinthians 1:12 – 2:4  3rd March

  1. It is said that 2 Corinthians is the most emotional of Paul’s letters in the New Testament. Which emotions of Paul can you see in this passage?
  2. What is the main reason the Corinthians were upset with Paul (1:17, 23, 2:1)?
  3. What hints do we get of other reasons the Corinthians were upset with Paul?
  4. What is Paul trying to achieve in this passage?
  5. In v18-22 Paul’s tone and content changes. How would you describe the tone and content of these verses? Why are they there?
  6. How does the character of God’s messenger relate to the message he or she brings?
  7. What happens when there is a disconnect between the message and the messenger – in the church? In the community? In the heart of God?
  8. What is the relevance of this passage to those who do not consider themselves Christian leaders?
  9. What needs to happen for you to grow in ‘integrity and godly sincerity’ (v12)? See v18-22.
  10. Pray for those who’ve been abused by church leaders.

The Compassion and Comfort of God  2 Corinthians 1:3-11  24th February

  1. How do we share in the sufferings of Christ? How do we not share in the sufferings of Christ?
  2. What is the hope Paul writes about in verse 7? Is it different from the hope that is mentioned in verse 10? If so, how?
  3. Why might it be hard to find comfort in God?
  4. What does Paul say about comfort that might be challenging for us?
  5. What role does prayer have in comfort?
  6. Do you actively seek out comfort from other Christians?
  7. How can we comfort non-Christians?

Dear Corinthians ….     2 Corinthians1:1-2      17 February 2019

  1. Make a list of the values/beliefs of the people of the City of Ryde / Sydney that differ from Christian values / beliefs. Discuss how each of these presents a challenge AND an opportunity for Christian witness.
  2. Read Galatians 1:11-24. How does this help us to understand Paul’s self-description as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” 2Corinthians 1:1.
  3. Paul describes Christian believers as “holy people” (or “saints” ). On what basis can he do this? What obligations and privileges does this description of us involve?
  4. Paul’s greeting “grace and peace to you” involves two profound and loaded words. How would you describe them to a friend who is asking about your faith? How could you use these two words as a “gospel outline” to explain the essence of Christian faith?
  5. We say “I believe in one, holy, universal, apostolic church”. What makes this description true of St Anne’s? Can you think of any areas we need to change to make this description more true of us? What are the advantages and disadvantages of belonging to a denomination (in our case the Anglican Church of Australia)?

Good News Comes to Corinth  Acts 18:1-17   10 February 2019

  1. Together, make a list of criteria that could be used to assess Christian ministry.
  2. Read Acts 17:16-34. Here Luke recounts Paul’s visit to Athens. Do you think this was a “successful” visit? Why? How does Paul’s ministry measure up to the criteria you listed in section 1?
  3. Read Acts 18:1-17. Why do you think Paul worked as a tentmaker when he arrived? Why do you think he is reluctant to accept financial support from the Corinthians?
  4. Why do you think Paul always goes to the local synagogue when he enters a new town or city? What is his message for the synagogue (verse 5) and how does this differ from his message in Athens? What accounts for this difference?
  5. Why do you think Paul needed the encouragement words from God in verse 9 and 10? (See acts 17:1-15 for example) How does the outcome of the charge before Gallio show that God keeps his promise?
  6. What encouragement do you need to reach out and tell others about Jesus? Do you think God would say “I have many people in this city” of the City of Ryde? What practical implications are there for us in this?