painting of family seated around a table at night

Reflecting on 2 Corinthians 4 16 – 5 10

What gives us our ultimate hope? In 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10, Paul affirms his confident hope in the reward of eternal life, as promised by God and sealed in the Spirit, that comes from faith in and service to Jesus Christ. We are studying this text for Sunday, August 29. [Here are some notes on the text.] Here are some questions we might want to consider, or discuss in class, as we think about what this text means for us:

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In v17, Paul refers to a “slight momentary affliction.” We can get some idea of what he means by this, somewhat more specifically, from 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

How would we ourselves characterize similar afflictions, if they happened to us? Do we share Paul’s perspective on afflictions, or do we usually have a different perspective? Why is that, do we think? Do we learn anything valuable from Paul’s perspective here? What?

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In 5:1-4, Paul develops a metaphor in which the body is a kind of house, which is a kind of “clothing.” The idea seems to be that the body is a temporary housing and clothing, preliminary to an eternal body – house – clothing in heaven. What are our feelings about this perspective on the body? What do we appreciate about this perspective? What, if anything, do we have difficulty with? Why?

Is this our own perspective on the body and life in the body? Why, do we think, or why not?

Have we ever tried to practice the outlook presented here? Why, or why not? What did we do? How did that work out for us?

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Does this text feel hopeful to us? Why, or why not?

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[More personal] Do we ourselves think much about pleasing God, or pleasing Jesus Christ? What impact does that have on our lives?

[Still more personal] How do we ourselves feel when we anticipate the prospect of “appearing before the judgment seat of Christ”? Why?

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impressionistic view of family members around a table lit by an oil lamp

Image: “A Family Around a Table,” Julius Paulsen (1919), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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