My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.
This verse clearly says, “salvation is on the way”, yet it was hundreds of years after this before Jesus came, bringing the Good News of eternal salvation. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when Jesus said, “the end is near…”, but we have not seen it yet in this generation. Time is not something that restricts God, and in the face of eternity, a few hundred years certainly could be called “near”. Like the islands, we wait in hope.
This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority – the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
No matter what authority we are given, or the circumstances where we will use that authority, it is always for building the other person up in Christ.
But he (the Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ***parentheses, mine
I struggle to identify with Paul’s delight in weaknesses in insults, persecutions, etc. Yet, in the 40 years of my life as a Christian, I have indeed experienced the power of Christ in those very instances. In that, I delight. When you are insulted, and you want to lash out, but you hold your tongue and go to the Word of God and prayer, the Lord leads you to work though the insult to a place of grace and forgiveness. THAT is the power of Christ made perfect in weakness. When you suffer persecution for doing right, or even for no explainable reason, and you hold on to the hand of God and slog through it with Him, you learn humility, grace, servanthood, hope and comfort as only He can give. When Christ leads you out of the other side of your trial or struggle to a door He has opened wide to refreshment and restoration, then, you will know Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness.
This chapter is a warning against false teachers. People can talk about Jesus, but if their talk is not about the Jesus of the Bible, the One Who was Sinless, but died for men’s sins, then do not listen. Studying God’s Word daily, knowing what it says, prepares us and equips us fully with the truth. Then, when the false comes along, we recognize it immediately, and are able to reject it.