You are here ENTRY 226: DEC 3-7 Third Missionary Journey plus The Corinthian Letters Acts 18:23-28; Acts 19; Acts 20:1; 1 & 2 Corinthians
ENTRY 226: DEC 3-7 Third Missionary Journey plus The Corinthian Letters Acts 18:23-28; Acts 19; Acts 20:1; 1 & 2 Corinthians
This entry, worth FIVE days of reading, covers topics such as THE HOLY SPIRIT, “RE-BAPTISM”, BEING ENCOURAGING, UNITY, FOUNDATIONAL TEACHING, HUMILITY, SEX IN & OUT OF MARRIAGE, LEARNING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT, SPIRITUAL GIFTS, LOVE, THE RESURRECTION, COMFORT FROM GOD, FORGIVENESS, PERSPECTIVE ON AGING, FAITH, SPIRITUAL VIEWS, AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, NOT BEING YOKED, GODLY SORROW, SOWING GENEROUSLY, and AIMING FOR PERFECTION.
In the last entry, we ended with Paul and his team leaving Corinth for Ephesus. He left Aquila and Priscilla there before he returned to Antioch. We pick up in this entry with Paul setting out from Antioch again on what is known as his third missionary journey, strengthening the disciples around the region.
At the same time, an incredibly bold and knowledgeable preacher by the name of Apollos, a convert from Judaism, arrived in Ephesus. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they realized that he didn’t quite have all of his doctrine on straight. And how could he, since he only knew of the baptism of John the Baptist, not of the baptism preached under the new covenant after the death of Jesus? The respectful way that the dynamic duo (as I like to call this evangelistic married couple) dealt with Apollos is a great example for us in helping others:
When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
This story didn’t end there, because Apollos went on to preach in Corinth, but some of the people he had studied with (so to speak) in Ephesus before he met Aquila and Priscilla had not heard the new and improved version. Therefore, when Paul heard about this unusual doctrinal situation, he returned to Ephesus (reading this is a bit like a geography pop quiz!), and began asking disciples of Jesus if they had received the Holy Spirit. The following exchange speaks for itself:
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
Here is an example of people who were following Jesus, were truly disciples in that they had repented and wanted to be his followers, yet they didn’t have Holy Spirit because they didn’t even know there was a Holy Spirit. They needed to be baptized into the name of Jesus.
At the risk of going off on a tangent, I do believe that when we examine the scriptures about baptism, we will land on baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if a person doesn’t have this kind of baptism, they, as far as I can tell, have not experienced the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:4. It was for this reason that Apollos had to be taught by Aquila and his wife and later, his followers by Paul.
In those days, when the apostles were still around, they could lay hands on people to give them the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. I am of the school of thought which believes that those gifts were necessary then because there was no Bible for them to preach from, and when the apostles died, the gifts also died out because there was no one left to pass them on… Read Douglas Jacoby’s book, The Spirit, for a more detailed explanation if you so desire (available on Amazon).
Paul stayed on in Ephesus for the next two years. He preached boldly in the synagogue, against persecution, and then started a “campus ministry” of sorts: “He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.”
The word of God spread in an amazing way, as Paul preached and did miracles. The name of Jesus was held in such honour that even sorcerer’s were publicly repenting! (You can tell they were sincere when they burned 50,000 drachmas worth of sorcerer’s scrolls!!!)
Somewhere in this time frame, according to Dr F LaGard Smith, Paul sent a letter to the church in Corinth via Timothy. In a second letter, known to us as 1 Corinthians, Paul addressed issues discussed between them in his letter and in their reply and answered specific questions from them.
I will do a cursory run through of Paul’s marvellous and inspiring letter.
It was co-written not with Silas this time but with Sosthenes. A man with the same name was a synagogue ruler in Corinth who was beaten by the Jews during a time of persecution. I have no idea if this is the same man. Perhaps that beating persuaded him to investigate Jesus as the Messiah more thoroughly and he later became a writer with Paul – who knows?
Even though Paul had much to teach the disciples in Corinth, he still began with a greeting, as opposed to the rebuke he used when he wrote his Galatian letter. The opening paragraph is indicative of the way Paul would begin many of his letters – telling the receiving church that he always thanked God for them. It already feels nice when someone tells you they have prayed for you, but how do you feel when someone says, “I thanked God for you today?” Wow! I could spend one page on this paragraph, but I am trying to be brief, so explore it yourself one day when you want to do an in-depth study!
Not too far into the letter, Paul got down to business. Whereas the issue in Galatia had been horrible false doctrine related to legalism, and in Thessalonica people had been worried about the second coming, in Corinth there were many issues to tackle. First off the bat was UNITY. It seems fairly obvious that this was Paul’s number one concern. If a local church is fragmented, there is no point in talking about other issues, cause the church will split anyway. How serious do you take unity in your church / life/ relationships? This is crucial! Please make sure you are united with the leaders in your local church and with the people in your small group, and get help if you don’t know how to go about this!
Disunity is often a reflection of ego problems – or as one brother has preached, “it has to do with one word, with has five letters and rhymes with ride!” ha ha. Perhaps Paul focused on the wisdom of God vs. the wisdom of man to underscore the fact that we cannot use our “wisdom” (and opinion) to solve unity issues. We must rely on God! I still remember studying this book back in 1980 at the Sunset church of Christ (home of the mainline churches famous Sunset School of Preaching) and hearing the teachers say that God chose “the things that are not to nullify the things that are” and then the teachers made their point – WE are the “are nots”! Understanding this keeps us from being puffed up, amen!
Paul reminded the Corinthians that he was resolved to know nothing while he was with them except Jesus Christ and him crucified! Perhaps because the Greeks were so in love with worldly wisdom, Paul felt the need to be centered on the cross even more than usual. (Remember he had told the Galatians that he wanted to boast in nothing but the cross.) Beware if you are an older Christian or perhaps if you have served in the ministry at one point – it is easy to become critical and rate sermons for their eloquence and captivation. Paul felt that this is not always necessary; instead, we should listen for the message of the spirit in the preaching. I try to take away at least one thing from the scriptures during every sermon and communion; I believe if you do this, you will see your heart change. God’s spirit is full of wisdom. Any wisdom we have is connected to what we get from God and His word, and the spirit working in our lives.
Divisions, jealousy and quarrelling show an immaturity in the body, and prevent the church from growing properly. Anyone who is helping is just a servant – remember Jesus’ warning that we are not to lead as the Gentiles, lording over anyone. Paul’s analogy of the plant and building are so cool – we are God’s fellow workers – nothing to get boastful about!
Jesus is the only worthy foundation, and if disciples don’t have the right foundation, the work will be exposed for what it is and burned up. Consider the foundation your local church is built on – strengthen it, fortify it, dig it up and start over if you have to, but make sure it is Jesus!
Division destroys God’s temple. Our loyalty should be to Christ and His word alone. This prevents following men.
Paul made a great point here – that we can feel we have a clear conscience, but that doesn’t mean we are innocent. Ah ha! That is why we need good friends who will speak to us openly, amen! The rest of the chapter was a warning against them growing prideful, especially those who had been “bad-mouthing” Paul and his team. He even got a bit sarcastic in order to make his point! But bottom line, he was appealing to them as their father in Christ, and he was begging them to repent.
Chapter 5, 6
Paul rebuked them for tolerating sin, and especially the sin of immorality. He made it clear that we are not to allow some sins in the church – this is one of the passages where we get our doctrine of “dis-fellowshipping” people who will not repent. This is a strong teaching and is carried over to the next chapter, in which Paul lists many sins, saying “and that is what some of you were”. We should never forget where we came from, and we should continue hating sin until we die. For those who would seek a “loophole”, Paul came up with the masterful, “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial”. Remember the “freedom in Christ” argument of the Galatians? This is similar. Use your freedom to serve and love others, not to prove a point or cause others to stumble! And avoid sins of the flesh, especially sexual immorality. I can’t write this without including the final verses:
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.
This is one of the passages I memorized as a baby Christian and it helped me deal with a lot of temptation back when I was 17 and 18 years old! Thank you God!
(Stuck in this chapter, Paul said that he was shocked that some of them were taking each other to court. Paul said in essence if we get to that point, we have already lost.)
We know about this chapter because of Paul’s teaching on marriage. I will just hit what I think is useful for a quick overview:
*Married couple’s bodies belong to each other for pleasure – therefore, sexual relations for the sake of pleasure is perfectly legitimate (meaning it wasn’t meant just for having babies).
*Married couples are not supposed to withhold sexual pleasure from each other. (It may surprise you to know that in studies on sexuality in the USA, married couples from Bible-believing churches scored the highest of any sub-group on sexual satisfaction and frequency. Go God!)
*People who became Christians after they were married are not supposed to leave their non-Christian spouses, but if the unbeliever wants to leave, they may let him leave.
*Be happy in whatever situation you are in, and be devoted to the Lord.
Chapter 8, 9
We are to overlook our rights if the exercising of those rights is causing others to stumble. Our motives and our conscience are more important than our “rights”. Paul even wrote about giving up the right to get married or get paid for his work! He said that he wanted to become all things to all men so that he could win as many as possible. You can’t get nobler than this! Of course, to do this takes a life of unparalleled self-discipline. What an upward call to me personally – Wow!
Chapter 10, 11
The stories in the Old Testament are there to teach us not to sin – whether they be about self-indulgence, grumbling, or whatever. We shouldn’t be over confident about or make excuses about temptation:
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Paul’s wisdom is summed up in his closing comments in this chapter and the first verse of the next chapter:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Just imagine if we all lived with this attitude!
Paul talked about distinctions of roles among members, and then challenged them for not following common practices, especially in relation to women’s roles and the way the rich were not being sensitive to the poor. He used the taking of the Lord’s supper as a way to remind them to be united.
These chapters centre on spiritual gifts. In order to make sense of it all, Paul first talked about the importance of understanding the nature of the body – it is made up of many parts. We use this passage in our church study to show that we are added to the body by one spirit when we get baptized, and that we are all equal – there are no “important members” or “unimportant members” in God’s local church.
Paul acknowledged that diversity was important and that the body needed it that way, but before he got into his more specific teaching on gifts, he hit on the most important thing a person could understand about gifts, and that is that they are, like everything else, completely related to love!
Of course, this is one of the most read and repeated passages in the whole Bible! But since it is so wonderful, I will put it in here from the Message Bible, just in case you haven’t bought that translation yet.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be cancelled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
There is no way I have enough time or space to write about those amazing words. Suffice it to say that we could spend our whole lives just trying to live up to that, and it would be a life worth living!
Eventually Paul got into the nitty-gritty on gifts – for more detailed information, see the Douglas Jacoby book I recommended above and take a look at Charismatic Chaos by John F. MacArthur. I don’t particularly like MacArthur’s tone, but I do tend to agree with many of his doctrinal points.
The main principles to take away from this chapter are that we should excel in things that help us to build up the local church (rather than to show off how spiritual we are!) and that we should strive to build the kind of church/body of believers that, when we are together, people should feel, “God is really among them!”
Because of the teaching that women should keep silent, which I take to be related to women interrupting the service, and combined with the teaching in Timothy about women, I have chosen to not read scriptures in front of or preach to the brothers, although I do frequently share in a mixed audience. In addition, I often teach parenting or counselling helps, but I do not preach, read from the Bible, or “lay it out”, so to speak, when there are men present. That is my interpretation, and I am open, of course, to comment on this…
Chapter 15, 16
Paul was getting to the end of his letter, and was just about finished going through all of the questions sent to him from the Corinthians. I figure that Paul wanted them to remember that, just as the “message of the cross” had started off his letter, so would the resurrection end it. I find this an encouraging chapter to read. (It can also be used when teaching Christian evidences.) A friend of mine from campus ministry days was paraplegic and severely diabetic. He found this passage extra encouraging, and used to talk about how one day he would run in heaven! The famous “Bad company corrupts good character” is found here – it fits in with the idea of avoiding those who don’t believe in the resurrection and therefore live as they see fit!
Note – verse 51 was put on a sign outside of the babies’ nursery room at a church in Texas: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.”
But seriously, how encouraging is it to know that the sting of death is gone! Amen!
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
This would have been an appropriate ending, but Paul, being the encouraging man that he had become, ended with personal thoughts, exhortations, and well-wishes.
“Do everything in love”, “greet one another with a holy kiss”, and “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.”
The historical record in Acts 19 returns to Paul’s final days in Ephesus. He was satisfied with his work there, and was just about to leave for Jerusalem (with the idea of passing through some of the others churches on the way and eventually visiting Rome as well) when a riot broke out. Guess what provoked it? Money! The people making idols were mad that their business was suffering. Of course they pretended that they were concerned about the reputation of the “goddess” suffering – ha ha! At least it got the crowd worked up!
When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theatre. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theatre. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defence before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
The city clerk talked sense into everyone, the uproar ended, and Paul set out for Macedonia. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, John and I had the pleasure of going to Athens and the Greek islands for our 15th anniversary, 12 years ago! It was amazing, to say the least, both from the marriage perspective, and from the biblical/spiritual perspective. We went to the site of ancient Ephesus, which is remarkably well preserved, and we saw the amphitheatre, the road to the harbour that Paul probably would have walked on, and other incredible sights. Wow! (It was awesome!!! I know that word is overused, but sometimes it is the only thing that fits!)
Paul probably wrote this between AD 56-57. It was sent with Titus, who was traveling to Corinth to collect funds.
Reading this book sends me down memory lane. In the first year after my baptism, I can still remember some of the insights I got when reading this book for the second time. (I don’t think I got any insights when I read it the first time!) About a year later, the midweek lesson at my church was the study of Second Corinthians. I can still hear the preacher’s accent as he read the passages aloud. “YOU are our letter, written on our hearts…”
Paul felt that God had comforted him so much and he wanted to share that comfort with others. Have you ever felt comforted by God? Meditate on a time when it was tangible, and then use that to comfort yourself in the future as well as to comfort others the way Paul did. Paul had really been in need of comfort – he had almost died! Sometimes our lives are threatened by unforeseen circumstances, or poor health. Paul’s was in danger because of his stand for Jesus. Wow! Most of us won’t be that personally threatened, at least not to the extent that Paul was. But who knows? If we keep standing up for Jesus for the next 50 years, the way the world is going, there may come a time when we will ALL face death for His name! And sometimes it is overworking for Jesus – my husband is about to have his fifth operation in almost as many years, the second one on his spinal discs…oh my!!
I have always taken personal comfort in the idea that in Christ, all the promises of God are YES! Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament. If God can do that, He can do anything! Have faith!
Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian life. We must forgive each other in the body, even when someone has really messed up, or really hurt us! Not believing that the person has changed after the person has supposedly already repented causes the past offender to be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Sometimes when someone has hurt us, or when we are very indignant about a sin, we may think, “You sinned for so long, or you hurt me for so many years, and now you think you can get off by saying ‘sorry’? You’ve got to be kidding! Prove it!” This goes against Jesus’ teaching on forgiving each other. I have written in much earlier entries about Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Languages of Apology. Read this if you are having trouble getting someone to forgive you! (We should have all read this in 2003, but it wasn’t written yet!)
I can’t leave this chapter without talking about durian. You must google it. Durian is known as the king of fruit in southeast Asia. Singaporeans and Malaysians will do anything for a taste, which looks like yellow pudding and smells like rotten blue cheese or a rancid diaper. (My husband would disagree with the taste part, but this isn’t his blog!) To him, it tastes like heaven. Hence, it fits in perfectly with verses 14-17 – when we really live like disciples of Jesus and spread his aroma everywhere, to some we will be the smell of death, to others, the fragrance of life.
Perhaps Paul’s rivals had brought letters of recommendation to make the Corinthian disciples listen to them. Paul, however, wanted to appeal to them on the basis of their memories of him and their time together. “YOU are our letter, written on our heart…”
Paul spoke of the splendour of the gospel message. I just love the next paragraph and have included it in full.
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
There’s no way I can read this and not be fired up!!! And it is is a great upward call to me – that every morning my time with God should be obvious. It is also a great promise to me – that I should remember that I am being transformed into His likeness!
We are to be truthful and honest jars of clay, which contains untold treasures! That sums up the first part of this chapter! I love the last bit because it reminds me that getting old is not something to fear – yes, my body will deteriorate, but my spiritual life will get better and better. (Did I tell you about one of my favourite T-shirt slogans? “Just when I got my head together, my body fell apart!”)
This is one of my favourite chapters in the Bible! First, we hear that Paul was torn between life here and in heaven. Then we see that the Holy Spirit is like a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. When we go to the Judgment Day, the Holy Spirit in us makes sure that God claims us! Amen! Then we learn that we should walk by faith, not by sight! What a great memory verse. This can be quoted whenever we are scared or worried… “I walk by faith, not by sight.” How can we do this? Well, we make it our goal to please God, not ourselves! Why? Cause we will all face judgment one day! So, we try to persuade others as well, since we are compelled by Christ’s love (one version says, “the love of Christ leaves us no choice”). Verse 15 (and verse 21 below) is the foundation of the gospel:
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
This is why we do all that we do and believe all that we believe! Which causes us to change the way we think about others:
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
I can’t read this verse without telling of my first experience with this insight. I was in my first semester of university, barely 18 years old, and I was about a nine-month old Christian. I loved the Bible and my church fellowship, but I was still flirting with people in the world at times. Certainly I had my eye on a few cute guys in some of my classes, one in particular, “Jimmy”, a blonde who sat near me in French 101. While struggling to figure out the meaning of this verse in my quiet time one day (I still remember where I was sitting!), I thought, “What does a worldly point of view mean? Well, it must be the opposite of a spiritual point of view. What would that be? I guess that would be how God views people. How does He view us? I think it’s either as saved or lost. He wants the saved to be encouraged and stay saved, and he wants the lost to get saved. I don’t think he cares about anything else, certainly not who’s rich or poor or cute or ugly or fat or thin or smart or dumb or whatever other silly categories we humans put people into. Gasp, I better stop thinking about how cute Jimmy’s butt is and start thinking about how I can help him get saved!” And that was the end of that! (Thanks, God, for teaching me that early!)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Of course you’re a new creature if you have had such a huge mind change!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We are all ambassadors for Jesus, wherever we go, we are spreading a message. Let’s remember that today!
Ok, this is taking too long…I’ll try to shorten it to my favourite verse from each chapter! Well, my favourite passage. And from this chapter, Paul pleaded for an open relationship with the Corinthians, and then reminded them that followers of Jesus don’t have anything in common with non-believers – that they should not be yoked. I take this to mean that we should not put ourselves in a position with non- Christians where they are in control of our lives. This includes marriage and dating!
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. This is always an upward call for us at any time. Why do we try to grow in our holiness? Out of reverence for God! If we have this “holy fear”, it helps us to have “godly sorrow”, which is the kind that leads to repentance. Don’t you love the way Paul described it?
Paul talked about generosity and how the Corinthians should excel in different gifts, including giving, because Jesus himself excelled in it! He made Himself poor so that we could be rich. Wow! Another gospel statement!
Here we are reminded that God loves a cheerful giver! Our attitude does matter! And Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. This is a principle that is true in all walks of life!
As Paul tried to reason with the Corinthians about his authority to teach them, he taught something that is very helpful when trying to live like Jesus – that we should stop listening to Satan’s lies, and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” In the next chapter, he boasted about how God had used him and how much he had suffered to do God’s will, and in chapter 12, he spoke of his visions in heaven. Paul acknowledged that he was weak but that in Christ he could be strong, because of God’s grace. You can tell how he loved them and how, like a parent, he was saying all sorts of things just to make sure they were humble and ready to see him.
This wonderful book ends with a plea for self-examination. There is a sweet ending, as usual:
Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
See ya in a few days with Romans!