Every letter written by the Apostle Paul, and, indeed, all of the books of the Bible, have their own particular appeal. That is no less true of this great second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians that we are beginning to study now. What is the appeal of this book? Since Paul deals with different subjects in this letter, there are different reasons why it will appeal to different people. It often appeals to readers because of what it reveals in an autobiographical sense about the Apostle Paul.

At the very end of 1 Corinthians Paul talks about a number of individuals. He generally does that in his letters. Paul, for all of his ability and all of his missionary strategies, nevertheless was always thinking about people. And he thought about them in a very warm way.

In verse 13, Paul gives a series of statements meant to encourage the Christians at Corinth. There are five statements there. First, he tells them to be on guard. Second, he encourages them to stand firm in the faith. Third, he exhorts them to be men of courage. The fourth statement is simply, "be strong"; and finally, he tells them to do everything in love. That is a good challenge for any group of Christians at any time because it speaks of our work in Christianity as warfare, and reminds us that there are enemies. Paul speaks of the enemies that he was facing earlier in this chapter, his enemies at Ephesus, in the context of the Christian’s need to stand firm against them in the power of Christ.

In the next portion of this sixteenth chapter, beginning with verse 5, Paul speaks of himself and his fellow workers. Paul is an apostle, so he speaks with a special divine authority not given to many others. Since his writing was divinely inspired, he actually wrote with the authority of the Holy Spirit. He mentions Timothy, whom he was training to carry on a lot of the leadership of the church after he was gone. Timothy was a younger man, a godly man, and one about whom Paul speaks very favorably. He does so extensively in the letter to the Philippians and in his letters to Timothy himself, and yet a man who, as we read those various references to him, was probably somewhat insecure in his position of leadership.

The second principle Paul presents concerning Christian giving is regular giving on the first day of every week. I do not think that means that in every single instance for every single person, giving has to be once a week. But it is saying that giving should be regular because it is built into the fabric of the Christian life. As a matter of fact, if someone in need comes along, regardless of when that is, the Christian has an obligation to help out. It is not simply to be a thing that is done at whim as if it does not enter our thinking most of the time. It is not only when somebody is pressing a certain deplorable situation in the church, that we should say, "Well, maybe I ought to respond to that."