I suggested that, having done his basic study and outline of the text, it's helpful to ask three questions:
- How does this passage testify to Christ? This is the core content of the message. The Bible is always about Christ, the real question is just "How?" and the opportunity is to hold up the particular riches of Christ that this passage displays so that God's people can believe in him.
- What is this passage supposed to achieve? This is the application we aim for, what the passage was meant to do for the original audience is what it's meant to do for us (at least when that's read in view of how the passage testifies about Christ). Application should shape the sermon.
- What's here that we'll disbelieve and why? This is where we aim with the sermon. Knowing where we want to go and where we're coming from does a lot to define the route we're to take.
The passage in question was 2 Corinthians 13. I was struck that Paul is challenged by the Corinthians who are asking him a good question that he takes seriously and generously, namely: 'can you give us proof that Christ is speaking through you?' rather than the super-apostles (13v3). He has been with them twice and will be again (Two-three witnesses...Deut 17:6,19:15, Matt 18v:6 etc). He hopes is third visit wont be to condemn them with apostolic authority but to rejoice with them (v10-11).
He answers their question. His answer in v3-4 seems to be through a three-fold laying out of the pattern of Christ's weakness and power, his death and resurrection - unsuprisingly for Paul things always come back to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We see Paul's weakness and Christ's power. From which I conclude, you know it's Christ speaking when it's the gospel. So go with Paul because the message and the medium is with the gospel. And in 2 Corrinthians we particularly see the clarity of his powerful gospel preaching and the weakness of the man.
The remainder of the passage turns the question with hope onto the Corinthians. He speaks for Christ... is Christ in them... I look forward to hearing the finished preach that will conclude our series in the book.
I preached on 2 Cor 2 and 2 Cor 3 way back in the early autumn.