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During this four-week period, Epistle readings from the Revised Common Lectionary are from a section of the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians sometimes referred to as the “great digression”. In chapter 2 verse 14, the Apostle digressed from travel plans to praise God for calling him to preach the Lord Jesus Christ. His Epistle returns to addressing his travel plans in chapter 7 verse 5.
Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 4: 13 – 5: 5 (NIV)
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
In a physical sense it is difficult to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen”. The physical world holds so much that distracts, whether delighting the eye or offending it. Self discipline (self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit, see Galatians 5: 23) is essential for the disciple of Jesus who would rather be with him than struggle along in a world hostile to Jesus and in a body that groans and is burdened – as the Apostle Paul describes it: “the earthly tent we live in”.
As the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews explains (11: 1): “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” If all that we believe were visible, tangible, provable, would there be any need for faith?
Speaking of his own ministry of preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul explained that “we also believe and therefore speak” (verse 13). Belief, faith, is essential in order to present with conviction the message one holds to be true. Paul was utterly convinced of the veracity of what he preached.
We should commit to memory these words of encouragement from Paul:
“we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus,” (verse14) and “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (verse 18).