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 4:13-18 Free Bible Study Lesson

I. Paul’s faith caused him to speak out (13-15)
II. An eternal perspective helps them not to lose heart (16-18)

I. Paul’s faith caused him to speak out (13-14)

Discussion Questions

  • What is the spirit of faith Paul mentions in verse 13?
  • He has the same spirit of faith as who?
  • What is the relationship between believing and speaking?
  • What does Paul know according to verse 14?
  • How does this motivate Paul? What does this motivate him to do?
  • How does it effect you to know that you will be raised with Jesus?
  • What was the purpose of their ministry?
  • How you are thankful for God’s grace in your own life?

Cross-References

Romans 1:17 – For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith, not by sight.

1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 – For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Psalm 107:1 – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Teaching Points

1. Since we have the same spirit of faith – The spirit of faith is not the Holy Spirit. It is an attitude of faith. Paul had the same kind of faith as the one who wrote “I believe, and so I spoke.”

This is quoted from Psalm 116:10 in the Greek Septuagint, which says, “I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, LORD.

2. We believe so we speak – 2 Corinthians is a very personal letter. In this letter, Paul often defends himself to the Corinthians. He does this because a group of false teachers had been slandering him. By discrediting Paul, they could then lead the sheep astray. In response, Paul reveals his inner motivations in order that they will understand why he does things and realize it is because of his relationship with Jesus and His care for them.

And here we see that like the psalmist before him, it was Paul’s belief which caused him to speak. He had no ulterior motives. Paul was not peddling the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:17). All the ministry he did was a direct result of his firm faith in and relationship with Jesus. Speaking out was like a compulsion. He had to do it.

1 Corinthians 9:16 – For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Thus Paul’s faith was a living faith. His belief in God changed his actions, his speech, and in fact everything about his life.

Reflect: How does your belief in Jesus affect your daily life?

Application: If we really believe in Jesus, then we must preach the gospel. The Bible tells us that every person will go one of two places, either hell or heaven. Every person will be in one of those two places for eternity. And their decision now on this earth to follow Jesus or not will decide that fate. Do you believe that? Then woe is us if we don’t speak out. A lot of people are silent and don’t share their faith because in the end they don’t really believe it. Perhaps they believe that there are more chances after death. Or perhaps going to church is just a tradition. For these people, their faith is dead. If our faith is alive then we, like Paul, will have a compulsion to share it with others. Our family members and friends need to hear the gospel. If you really believe it, tell it to them.

3. Verse 14 – Jesus’ resurrection is a reminder of our future resurrection one day. That resurrection to glory and being with Jesus forever is what we hope for. God raised Jesus from the dead as the firstfruits of our eventual resurrection.

When a person has good news, normally he will want to share it with others. In like manner, we have good news. So we should speak it out and tell others. We are not only invited to this eternal celebration with our Lord, but we can invite others to join us. We can come together with more people. So let us diligently hand out as many invitations as we can while we can.

4. As grace extends to more people it may increase thanksgiving – God has made an investment in our lives. He has graciously given us His own Son. Normally when someone makes an investment they hope to have a return on that investment. God wants to see us with hearts full of thanksgiving and mouths which express that gratitude.

Not everyone reacts to kindness with thanksgiving. Jesus healed ten lepers and only one said, “thanks.” That is indicative of the sin of ingratitude which plagues so many. We have probably all seen examples of ungrateful people. Sometimes it seems that the more you do for them the more spoiled they get. Many take kindness for granted and think that it is their right. Such attitudes are toxic. It is likely that when our gifts are met in such manner that we are less likely to give.

Jesus told His disciples not to “cast pearls before swine.” (Matthew 7:6). Why? Swine do not appreciate pearls. They will trample them. If we react like swine to God’s grace then it may be that we won’t receive more. And in fact it is true. God extends common grace (such as sunshine and rain) to the whole world. But only those who respond positively and ask Him will receive more grace.

Application: Be thankful. Let thanksgiving become a lifestyle to you. Throughout the day you can make a habit of thanking God for even small acts of kindness (a flower blooming, a bird chirping, a laugh with a friend) He shows to you. And as we are more thankful to God, we will become more thankful to others as well.

5. All of this is for the glory of God – God gives us grace also for His own glory. When He shows kindness to us and we respond with thanksgiving, God is glorified. When God is glorified the world is in proper balance, exactly as it should be.

II. An eternal perspective helps them not to lose heart (16-18)

Discussion Questions

  • How do the things Paul just wrote encourage him not to lose heart?
  • What is the outer self?
  • What is the inner self
  • How were their outer selves wasting away?
  • How were their inner selves being renewed day by day?
  • What are some light momentary afflictions that you have faced?
  • How did these afflictions help prepare you for eternity?
  • What practical things can you do to keep an eternal perspective?
  • What is the eternal weight of glory?
  • How can you keep your eyes on the unseen?
  • What are some examples of the “unseen” which you should focus on?

Cross-References

Psalm 31:24 – Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!

Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Romans 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Teaching Points

1. Though our outer self is wasting away – Their earthly bodies were decaying. Part of this was the normal process of aging. No matter how much exercise you get or unhealthy food you avoid, sooner or later your body will break down.

An elderly gentlemen I know is avid about maintaining a healthy body. Most of his time is spent on various forms of exercise. He takes great care in what he eats. And most of his conversations are focused on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Keeping fit is a good thing, but I often remind him that no matter how much we take care of our bodies, they are still temporary and will get worn out. Their lifespan can be extended some, but in the scheme of eternity not much. And I remind him that one day he will stand before Almighty God in judgment. Will he be ready? Will you be ready?

Beyond the normal aspects of aging, Paul and his team faced a lot of persecution. Beatings, whippings, and imprisonment were routine for them. Travel in harsh conditions was necessary. All of these things took a toll on them physically, reminding them that their outer selves were indeed wasting away.

2. Our inner self is being renewed day by day – The inner self refers to the soul, the essence of a person. While the body may decay, the soul should be growing in sanctification, holiness, and maturity. The prime of life physically is 20-35 or so. After that a slow downward decline begins. But spiritually it should be continual upward growth.

Reflect: How can you be renewed? What practical steps can you take to speed up this process?

3. So we do not lose heart – The knowledge of all of these things discussed (resurrection, coming into His presence, continual renewal of the spirit) helps Paul and his team not to lose heart. If they focused only on the physical afflictions, they might. But by looking at the eternal perspective they were encouraged to press on to fulfill their calling.

4. This light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory – In comparison to what others go through, Paul’s affliction was anything but light (2 Corinthians 11). But in comparison to the rewards of an eternity in the glory of Christ’s presence, they were light indeed.

How can we understand this logic? Well, if you were to endure a day of hard manual labor in very unpleasant conditions for a dime, you would think you were very ill treated. The work would seem harsh and painful. But on the other hand of you received 100 million dollars for this same day of hard manual labor you would think that those same afflictions were quite light in comparison to the reward your received for your work. The time would seem to pass much slower if you knew you only received a dime and your attitude would likely be much worse.

As we will discuss more in the next verse it is therefore important to have an eternal perspective in the face of adversity.

Reflect: Share specific ways that afflictions can help your inner spirit be renewed and prepare you for eternity?

The afflictions that Paul faced and that we face he says have a purpose. They prepare us for eternity. God uses these afflictions to shape our character and strengthen our faith and dependence upon Him.

Romans 5:3-4 – More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

Afflictions help us to fix our eyes on Jesus. They help us take our eyes off of this world (because it doesn’t satisfy) and focus on Jesus. They remind us to place our hope in Him and not in this world. Adversity decreases our attachment to this world and increases our attachment to Jesus.

5. Have an eternal perspective – The key theme which we see throughout this passage is reinforced clearly in verse 18.

“as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

We are to look at the things unseen rather than the things seen. The things we see are temporary. Your house, bed, furniture, car, money, and materials are all temporary. Your bodies are temporary. The most beautiful landmarks in the world will all be gone. In fact every single thing which you see will be destroyed one day.

2 Peter 3:10 – But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

The materials in this world are “transient.” And yet these temporary things are what most people spend all their life thinking of, gazing at, and working to get. Even for believers, it is so difficult to focus on the spiritual rather than the physical, the eternal rather than the temporary.

Reflect: Why is it so difficult for us to have an eternal perspective? How can we better focus on the things which are unseen?

In contrast, the important things are things which can’t be seen or touched. God is spirit. He is invisible. Our souls are spirit and invisible. The souls of our loved ones can’t be seen either.

So we need to set our spiritual eyes on the spiritual by meditating on God, His attributes, our relationship with Him, and the eternal. We need to remind ourselves that the things we can touch and see and buy will not last.

Proverbs 23:4 – Don’t wear yourself out to get rich.

Riches don’t last so don’t focus on it. Pleasure and entertainment, position and worldly recognition are all temporary. What is eternal? God.

God is I AM. He exists forever from eternity past to eternity future. Therefore He is more important than anything else. And He has made our souls to be eternal. Because they are eternal, their value is priceless. Let us invest in our spiritual well-being instead of our earthly possessions. Doing so is a far better investment.

Reflect: How will having an eternal perspective change how you live now? Share a decision you have made which was perhaps made with a short-term perspective. Share a decision you have made which you made because you had an eternal perspective.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

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