In some ways it is humbling, in my twelfth year as a pastor, and yet also refreshing, that I continue to "discover" portions of the Holy Scriptures that I've not known as well or appreciated as much as I should. That's been my experience this week with respect to Second Corinthians. The New Testament Readings appointed for this week in the LSB Daily Lectionary have been from that letter of St. Paul, as was the Epistle Reading for the Feast of St. Bartholomew last week Friday, and I have simply been stunned by what a powerful Word of the Lord it is.
I've loved First Corinthians for many years, and probably turn to it more often than anything other than the Holy Gospels in my preaching and teaching, but I can't say that I've been nearly so aware of Second Corinthians. Of course there are certain passages that I've known and loved very well, but not so much within their context. There's the Apostolic stewardship of the Mysteries of God, the treasure bestowed in earthen vessels, and the Ministry of reconciliation in Christ Jesus, who became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. There's that beautiful passage concerning Christ, the Son of God, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we might inherit the riches of God in Him. There's St. Paul's litany of his sufferings for the sake of the Gospel, which he dramatically sets forth in the rhetorical style of a military commander's boasting of great victories. The Apostle boasts in his weaknesses (in, with and under the Cross), and has even come to accept his thorn in the flesh, because the power of God is made perfect in weakness.
These isolated passages I have already been aware of; although, sadly enough, whenever I've gone looking for them, I've had to hunt a bit, because I've never really had them rooted within their proper locus. Now, however, in reading through this Epistle over the course of the week, I've been much more immersed in the entire scope and sequence of the letter, and it is truly amazing. This is surely one of the most profound, and at the same time one of the most practical writings, in all of Holy Scripture. It is a marvelous proclamation and teaching of the Office of the Holy Apostolic Ministry, of the Theology of the Cross, of Redemption and Justification, of faith and hope and love, of sanctification and good works. It really doesn't get any better than this.
I remember Dr. Weinrich saying that First Corinthians was one of the most frequently cited (if not the most frequently cited) New Testament Scriptures in the early church. I honestly don't recall whether he included Second Corinthians along with it, or not; I suspect that he did not. But, for my part, having now "discovered" this rare gem, I cannot help but think that I will be turning to it far more often than I have done in the past.