friends hug November 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV): or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Corinthians 16; 2Corinthians 1:1–2:11

Camaraderie—We Need Each Other!

Things we share bring us together in a common bond. Sometimes people come together by choice and become friends. Other times people are brought together in war, or in a disaster as neighbors seek to help neighbors in crisis. People, who would not otherwise become acquainted, become friends. They help each other, sacrifice for each other, and bonds are formed.

In the early church, Christ was the common bond between believers of different cultures. Not only did they share the same faith, but they also shared the same experiences of suffering for his name. Jews hated Christians and would not do business with them. Because of this, in today's Bible reading we see the Apostle Paul collecting money from churches in Asia Minor (Turkey) to meet the needs of poor Jewish believers in the church of Jerusalem (1Corinthians 16:3). We should also help others in need, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Galatian church has already committed to help, and now Paul wants the Corinthian church to help, too. Paul does not just want their money, however; when he next comes to visit, he wants to be an encouragement to them. What is our motive in our dealings with people? Do we seek to help them or use them? Do we just hold our hand out for money and favors, or do we give people a hand up by encouraging them?

Before the apostle ends the letter to 1Corinthians, he sends along greetings from other believers. He then leaves them with an exhortation, a final word persuading them to live in a way that pleases God. The Corinthians face idolatry and sexual temptations, deceiving doctrines, and division. In some ways Paul’s exhortation sums up the message of the letter: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (16:13-14, NIV). In our churches and personal lives we share similar challenges and temptations. By following Paul’s exhortation we can obtain victory over them.

Paul ends his first letter to the Corinthians by naming people who have been helpful to the Corinthians and to him. He urges the Corinthians to “submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it” (1Corinthians 16:16, NIV). We should recognize, as Paul does, that there are people who are making sacrifices for us. In some ways they are contributing to our welfare and perhaps to the whole church. No matter how small the contribution may seem, they still deserve some recognition. Have we thanked, not only the ministers but their spouses, the financial officers, nursery workers, children's ministry workers, youth workers, janitors, musicians, or the prayer warriors and those who write words of encouragement? Paul gives thanks to those who have helped him and the church, and he remembers them by name. We should do the same.

2Corinthians is really Paul’s fourth letter to the Corinthians. Although we have just finished 1Corinthians, it was probably his second letter; it is named 1Corinthians because it is the first letter to that church which we have in the Bible cannon. The first and third letters were somehow lost and not included in the sacred Scriptures (1Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Corinthians 2:3-4). 2Corinthians is a response to a painful visit he made to them and is a defense for Paul's apostleship (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, pp. 551-552).

Paul shares a common bond of suffering with the Corinthians (1:1–2:11). Knowing they are not alone in their pain and distress is an encouragement, not only to Paul and the Corinthians, but to us as well. When we suffer we are able to encourage others. Paul writes,

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many (2Corinthians 1:8-11, NIV).

Suffering teaches us to rely on God, to set our hope in him, and to give thanks to those who carry our burdens in prayer. As Christians we are all in this together—we are comrades in the faith. We need to support each other. Are some of us not Christians? God offers us forgiveness, peace, spiritual life, and the comradeship of fellow believers (more...).

Lessons to Live By

Because of our common bond as Christians, let us

  • love each other and show it by helping and encouraging each other.
  • give materially to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have genuine needs.
  • give due honor and loyalty to those who are ministering servants.
  • pray for each other as we labor together in the work of the Lord.
A Biblical Cannon means a standard of measurement that the early church used to recognize which Scripture texts were inspired of God.

Focus Verses

2Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

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A Look Ahead: We are fellow workers in God's harvest field, but sometimes this is forgotten. How do we Commend ourselves before others and get their support? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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