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The question that Paul set before the ancient church in Corinth—“Do you not recognize that Jesus Christ is in and among you?” (2 Cor 13:5)—remains a critical question for the church today. This commentary by Mark Seifrid seeks to hear Paul's message afresh and communicate it to our time.
Seifrid offers a unified reading of 2 Corinthians, which has often been regarded as a composite of excerpts and fragments. He argues that Paul’s message is directed at the “practical atheism” of the Corinthian church—the hidden heresy that assumes God’s saving work in the world may be measured by outward standards of success and achievement.
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“All our giving, or also our failure to do so, is a response to the prior goodness, grace, and blessing of God. Our response is that of faith—or of unbelief.” (Page 355)
“The ‘things seen’ are those of the present, fallen world. The ‘things unseen’ are God’s promises, which find their Yes in Jesus and the hope of the resurrection that is yet to come. The ‘things unseen’ are the eternal dwelling that we have from God.” (Page 219)
“The warning against being unequally yoked is thus an admonition against common labor with unbelievers; it likely bears a special significance with respect to Paul’s opponents in Corinth.” (Page 292)
“We find here the theology of the entire letter in a nutshell: God’s fatherly comfort is given ever only to those in weakness and affliction, a comfort that is salvation itself. Such is the nature of apostolic ministry and Christian life, which the Corinthians have refused to accept. Paul thus reminds the Corinthians that the final gift of comfort is not given apart from the reality of suffering. The apostle first must trouble the comfortable in order to later comfort the troubled.” (Pages 12–13)
“Already in First Corinthians the form of apostolic life is the fundamental issue. It becomes the focal issue in Second Corinthians. The Corinthians implicitly recognize that the apostle who is thrust into weakness and suffering represents the form and nature of Christian existence. They prefer other apostolic claimants, who offer something that appears far more glorious than that which they find in Paul.” (Pages xxiv–xxv)
Mark Seifrid takes a distinctive approach to the commentator's task: rather than cataloging and evaluating the opinions of modern scholars, he chooses to focus on his own fresh, stimulating, and very definite interpretation of the letter.
—Douglas J. Moo, Kenneth T. Wessner Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College
Seifrid brings extraordinary erudition, exegetical precision, and astute theological reflection to the interpretation of this poignant letter. An outstanding addition to an excellent commentary series.
—David E. Garland, interim provost & the Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran Delancey Chair of the Dean, George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Refusing to dice up 2 Corinthians into disparate fragments, this volume presents a coherent if afflicted and sometimes distraught apostle committed to the fulfillment of the mission he has received from the risen Christ. At once a superb work of erudition and devotion.
—Timothy George, dean and professor of divinity history and doctrine, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University