The sermons on the website are working again. We should have the most recent sermons up in a couple of days.
Starting on April 17 we will begin a series on II Corinthians. This series will be different from the sermon series of the past because half of the series will be posted here.
As we work through II Corinthians, I will preach on a passage and then blog on the next passage. In this way we will work through the whole book.
Here is a little background on the Corinthian church, to whom the letter is addressed. (The information comes from either my course notes from Dr. Jeff Weima at Calvin Seminary, or from An Introduction to the New Testament by D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo.)
The Greek city of Corinth was destroyed in 146 BC. The Romans rebuilt it under Julius Caesar around 30 BC. By the time Paul visits Corinth around AD 50, the city is a well established Roman city and the capital city of the province of Achaia. As a Roman city it was a site for emperor worship in addition to the worship of other gods. The temples in Corinth were known for their cult prostitutes, which probably explains why the prohibition against eating food sacrificed to idols is coupled with the prohibition against sexual immorality.
Corinth is also a port city, making it a very busy city with many opportunities to gain wealth and climb the social ladder. For this reason it attracted the ambitious from all over the empire.
In some respects Corinth reminds me of Toronto. Toronto too is a booming port city. Like Corinth, Toronto attracts ambitious people from all over the world who are looking to climb the social ladder. Along with the influx of people comes a wide range of religious expressions. Toronto also is a capital city for the province of Ontario, meaning that like Corinth it is a center of political as well as economic power. These similarities will make it easier to cross the historical divide between ancient Corinth and our experiences today.
The Corinthian church was probably made up of about 30 to 40 people. The majority of the church was lower class. The culture of social ambition and pagan worship inevitably made it into the church itself, requiring Paul to point to the humiliation of the cross as the antidote to selfish ambition. The Corinthian church was deeply conflicted over a variety of issues. In 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds them that he has been given a ministry of reconciliation. And in reading 2 Corinthians we will see how Paul keeps referring back to the cross and back to Jesus as a means to overcoming conflict and achieving reconciliation.
Let us see what the Lord will teach us.