2 Corinthians provides a compelling portrait of the Apostle Paul – his soul is bared and his readers are given a glimpse of his inner life. We are enabled to see what made him tick and what were the motives and attitudes that moulded his life of service for Christ. Amongst other things, the author suggests that this letter is for Christians who want to stand out – a much-needed plea for excellence.
The future of the Christian cause depends to a large degree on the quality of the next generation of spiritual leaders. Where will these men find role models? To whom will they turn for inspiration? There is the ever-present danger that they will do as Paul’s rivals did in Corinth and turn to the world outside the Church and try to emulate the qualities that make for success in secular life.
Indeed, it is not exaggerating to observe that the churches of the modern West, like the Church at Corinth, face a crisis of authority and leadership. In 2 Corinthians we have both a stern warning that we should avoid styles of leadership that are worldly, perhaps even cultic while cultivating the kind of leadership that Paul himself showed, leadership that was self-sacrificing and self-giving, a model of loving service based on the character of Christ himself.
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