The Message Of Second Corinthians: 2 Corinthians As The Legitimation Of The Apostle -- By: Mark Seifrid

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 19:3 (Fall 2015)
Article: The Message Of Second Corinthians: 2 Corinthians As The Legitimation Of The Apostle
Author: Mark Seifrid

The Message Of Second Corinthians: 2 Corinthians As The Legitimation Of The Apostle

Mark Seifrid

Mark Seifrid is Professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Previously, he taught New Testament interpretation for twenty-three years at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. He earned his Ph.D. in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Seifrid is the author of numerous articles on Pauline theology and the doctrine of justification. In addition, some of his published books include The Second Letter to Second Corinthians (Eerdmans, 2014) and Christ our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification (InterVarsity Press, 2001).

Paul does not write abstract theological disquisitions. His word is always a “word on target,” intended to address the needs of his readers at times in which he himself cannot be present with them.1 All of Paul’s letters are likewise personal. Second Corinthians is intensely so. The question at stake here is the legitimation of an apostle, and not merely any apostle, but the legitimation of Paul as apostle to the Corinthians.2 Precisely in its particularity, 2 Corinthians speaks to the present, and it does so profoundly. As the Corinthians themselves recognize, the marks of an apostle are the marks of a Christian. Apostolic existence is Christian existence as large-screen video, set before the eyes of the world, the angels, and all human beings (1 Cor 4:9).

Already when Paul wrote our 1 Corinthians, Paul’s legitimacy as apostle was in question within the Corinthian church.3 The church had divided into factions, each of which promoted the apostolic figure that seemed best to them: “I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I am of Christ” (1 Cor 1:12). The final claim in the list probably should be understood as an

attempt to outdo all of the rest. Every apostle is of Christ, by definition (2 Cor 10:7; cf. 13:3). The claim to be “of Christ” likely signifies a direct, visionary knowledge of the risen Lord, and anticipates the challenges to Paul’s apostolic authority that arose first within the church (2 Cor 1:23-2:11) and then from without (2 Cor 10:1-12:13). It is this situation to which Paul resp...

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