Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

2 Corinthians 10:7-18 Inductive Bible Study Guide – Boasting In The Lord

Outline:

I. Paul’s authority is for building them up (7-12)
II. Paul’s influence with the Corinthians (13-18)

I. Paul’s authority is for building them up (7-12)

Discussion Questions

  • Why does Paul say, “look at what is before your eyes?” What does he want them to see?
  • Why did Paul boast of his authority?
  • What was this authority used for?
  • What can we learn from this about the proper exercise of authority?
  • Why did Paul write such severe letters?
  • In verse 10, what did people accuse Paul of?
  • What was the connection between Paul’s letters and his “in person” behavior?
  • Why is a person who compares himself with others “without understanding?”
  • Why do many people compare themselves to others?
  • Why is this practice unhealthy?

Cross-References

1 Peter 4:10 – As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

1 Peter 4:11 – Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Galatians 1:10 – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Teaching Points

1. Look at what is before your eyes – This is a plea from Paul to examine the facts and to use common sense. Some in the church were falsely accusing of being a false teacher, of selfishly exploiting his authority for his own gain.

Paul appeals to them to open their eyes and see what is right in front of them. He had been serving them faithfully without using them for any selfish gain. Toiling on their behalf, he cared for them like a father. They should not listen to lies anymore.

Application: Satan is a master of deceit. He whispers lies, which spread like gangrene. But God can open our eyes to the truth. Don’t listen to false reports. Instead ask God to open your eyes to the truth.

2. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that so are we –

Others claimed to be Christ’s and Paul said “so are we.” In other words, “we are believers too.” Paul was not some nefarious deep secret spy. He didn’t have any ulterior motives. What they saw is what they got, a servant of Christ who cared for them.

3. If I boast a little too much I will not be ashamed – Paul has spent much of the letter of 2 Corinthians defending himself. He has talked about his pure motives, his credentials, his apostleship, his communication, his work on their behalf, and much more. To many, it might look like Paul spent all together too much time focusing on himself, even boasting.

But Paul says that he is not ashamed. It was necessary to defend himself against the false accusations so that the Corinthians would not reject him and by extension his message, the gospel of Christ.

There are many warnings in Scripture not to boast in arrogance.

1 Samuel 2:3 – “Boast no more so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
And with Him actions are weighed.

But Paul knew that he did not say these things out of an arrogant desire to build himself up and receive the Corinthians praise. His motives were pure. Thus he had a clear conscience in saying these things.

Acts 24:16 – So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

3. Their authority was for building up – Paul had authority over the Corinthians. And note how he used that authority. He used it to build them up. Though he could have abused that authority in a self-serving manner, he didn’t.

In the world today, many people use their authority in a selfish manner. Politicians often do whatever it takes to stay in power, even to the detriment of their people. Some mega-church pastors live in luxury on the backs of donations from the elderly. They generate excitement by false promises and showy displays. These things destroy the very people they are supposed to be serving. People’s faith are sometimes shattered when they are not healed as the pastor promised.

Jesus made it clear that the correct model of leadership is serving.

Matthew 23:11 – The greatest among you shall be your servant.

Jesus Himself served in this manner, and so should we. Being a leader of a flock is not a path to live in luxury. It requires self-sacrifice. The ultimate goal is to build up Gods people.

Application: Observe your Christian leaders. Do they, like Paul, use their authority for building you up? Or do they use people? Do they consider that the people exist so that they can stand on them? If your leaders are self-serving, it may be time to find a new church.

4. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters – Paul’s letters were at times “severe.” His goal was not to scare them, but to stimulate them to repentance.

5. His letters are weighty, but his bodily presence is weak – Here is another accusation laid against Paul. He was accused of being a bold, strong writer, but weak in person.

Paul responds to this criticism by saying “let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.”

In other words, their lives and message were consistent. They were not hypocritical, preaching one thing and living a different way. Instead their lives reflected their teaching.

A hypocritical preacher loses all credibility. People learn to tune him out because they know that he doesn’t practice what he preached. But Paul did.

He had already explained in 2 Corinthians 10:1-2 that was bold when away and humble when present. The methodology he used was intentional. A letter provided a better forum for rebuke since more time for calm reflection and repentance would be possible. The goal was that after the strong letters the Corinthians would repent. Then when Paul visited in person they could have joyful fellowship instead of gloomy confrontation.

6. Those who measure and compare with others are without understanding – Paul chooses not to engage in the unhealthy practice of comparing.

Certain others did so.

Reflect: Why do people compare themselves to others?

The key reason is also given in this verse. They desired to commend themselves. People compare themselves with others in order to show they are better, building themselves up. Generally those who do this are quick to point out other’s flaws as if this will make them look better by comparison.

There are several key problems with comparing. Firstly, other people are not our standard. You can always find someone worse than you to compare with. You may then feel better about yourself. But God is our standard. We are to be holy as God as holy. It is not enough to be less unholy than Neighbor Joe.

In the end our goal should be to please God, not to ingratiate ourselves with others.

Reflect: What sins either cause comparing or spring out of comparing?

Jealousy, pride, boasting, selfishness, empty conceit, vain rivalry, and greed are just a few of the sins that comparing either stems from or leads to.

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” Set your eyes on Him and diligently seek to please Him. His is the only opinion that really matters.

Application: Do you compare yourself with others (either out loud or in your own thinking)? What is the root reason why you do this? Meditate on this question and be honest with yourself. If you do have a habit of comparing, confess it to the Lord. Go to that person and confess to him your spirit of rivalry or jealousy. Instead begin to encourage others when they do well and rejoice with those who rejoice.

II. Paul’s influence with the Corinthians (13-18)

Discussion Questions

  • What does Paul mean that “we will not boast beyond limits?”
  • What is the appropriate “limit” to boasting?
  • When is it acceptable to commend yourself?
  • What did Paul remind the Corinthians of in verse 14?
  • What can we learn about Paul’s goal in verse 15?
  • Explain the phrase, “let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
  • Since self commendation is meaningless, then why does it seem that Paul did it?
  • When and how could a person be commended by God?

Cross-References

James 4:16 – As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Proverbs 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

Jeremiah 9:23 – Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,

Galatians 6:14 – But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Teaching Points

1. We will not boast beyond limits – Paul did not commend himself in all areas. It wasn’t random or prideful. Rather Paul commended his motives and actions in a limited range for a specific reason. His goal was to strengthen his credibility with the Corinthians so that they would listen.

Remember Paul’s stated goal in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Desire for the Corinthian’s growth in the Lord drove Paul to “boast” within a certain limit. And all of the things he said were true. There was no exaggeration as was common with those concerned about their own glory.

2. Verse 14 – Paul’s defense of his care for them was not made up. They had not exaggerated their service on behalf of the Corinthians. It was Paul and his team who originally brought them the gospel. That in itself should show the church at Corinth that their motives were pure.

3. Our hope is that are your faith increases our area of influence among you will be enlarged – Paul wanted to be used among the Corinthians is big ways. He hoped that his ministry would bear abundant fruit in their lives. Again, his goal is for their growth, and not for himself.

4. So that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you – Paul’s ministry model was to plant churches, train leaders, and move on to new areas. His vision was to take the gospel where no one had taken it before. If the Corinthians would become established in their faith, then Paul would be confident to leave them and continue as a pioneer of the gospel to new regions.

5. Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord –

Jeremiah 9:24 – “But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Boasting means to lift up or draw attention to something. Normally it is used in a negative connotation when referring to oneself. Boasting in the Lord is drawing attention to Him and lifting Him up. It is magnifying Him as the object of praise. Instead of saying, “I am great” it is saying, “God is great.”

In the end, anything which Paul said which was positive about himself was for the purpose of glorifying God.

Application: Do you boast in the Lord? Our mouths should be filled with His praises. Our goal should be to draw others to Him.

6. It is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends – Yahweh is on the throne. He is the judge. A person can praise himself, but unless God says, “Well done,” then those praises will amount to nothing.

Proverbs 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

If getting praise from another person is better than from ourselves, than how much better is it to get praise from God! He is the Alpha and the Omega. God will give the final verdict on each person. So His opinion is the one that matters. Therefore we should strive to please Him in all that we do.

2 Corinthians 11:1-15

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