“Walk” in 2 Corinthians

In Eph 4:1 Paul urges us to walk worthily of our calling.

The metaphor “walk” for lifestyle or behavior is used repeatedly throughout the NT. I am looking at each passage that uses this metaphor. Today is 2 Corinthians (4:2, 5:7, 10:2-3, 12:18).

4:2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (NIV)

  • It is hard to see the walk metaphor in the NIV translation here. The NET Bible says, “not behaving with deceptiveness.” Literally, it would be “not walking in knavery” which would go to “not walking in dishonest behavior.”
  • The context of chapters 3 and 4 deals with stone tablets, veils, glory, and letter vs. Spirit. An allusion to Moses receiving the Law written on stone tablets at Mt. Sinai. Moses was changed by God’s glory and he himself began to actually shine. He put a veil on so that the people would not stare at this effect.
  • Those that reject the Lord have a veil over their hearts and don’t understand what God was doing. Those that turn to the Lord have the veil removed. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
  • This is the “treasure in clay pots” context.
  • (Side question: is there a trinitarian question here, the Lord = the Spirit?)
  • Old covenant vs. New covenant
  • We reject hidden, shameful things
  • We are honest and open
  • We do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord. Our role is servant to those to whom we proclaim.
  • A creation allusion: God created light in the darkness. So he can shine a light in our hearts. Also, God shined a bright spotlight on Paul at Paul’s conversion on the way to Damascus.
  • We don’t have to trick anybody or water down the gospel. We don’t control anybody. The Spirit opens people’s eyes. (This comes from verse 1, we do not become discouraged, and verse 6, the same God who created light out of darkness is the God who shines in our hearts.)

5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.

  • literally, “through faith we walk, not through sight.” “Faith” is emphasized because it is moved forward in the sentence. 
  • Context: Paul, the tent maker, compares our bodies on this earth to tents. We have permanent dwellings in heaven. We groan here; we look forward to there. Camping is fun (for those of us who like it, and I do) but it is nothing like coming home and taking a warm shower, eating a “normal” meal, sitting on the couch, sleeping on a real bed, etc.
  • We will answer to God for how we lived our life. Worthless things will not be rewarded; worthwhile things will be rewarded.
  • Walking by faith = we do not now have what we will have in the future. Our current relationship to God is real and good but it will be different then. It is faith now; it will be sight then.

10:2-3 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

  • A little tricky. In verse 2, some people considered Paul to be “walking according to the flesh”.  (κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας). In verse 3, Paul says he walks “in the flesh” (ἐν σαρκὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦντες) but he does not do war “according to the flesh”  (οὐ κατὰ σάρκα στρατευόμεθα).
  • I don’t think he is saying “we don’t make war.” I think he is saying that he was executing his job and responsibilities not “according to the flesh.”
  • He is human, in the flesh. He does not behave with fleshly ethics. He is not pretentious. He is not making wrong arguments.  He is obedient.
  • Seems to be an “in the word / not of the world” contrast. He lives here, is human. He is not relying on his flesh or fleshly methods to change his friends at Corinth. He says he fights with weapons that have divine power.
  • Paul has authority that comes from God and is rooted in the gospel.
  • It raises the question, how do we wage war? How do we do what we do? We aren’t to be deceitful or underhanded. I would say neither should we be rough or abusive, per the lists of flesh vs. Spirit. Those lists would have us to be gentle, kind, compassionate, forgiving. We are compelled to be honest and up-front with people. But just like a dentist can yell at you and tell you that you are an idiot for getting a cavity, or else can kindly and respectfully tell you that you have tooth decay and speak with you as much as you are willing about what you can do to modify your behavior, so we can let people know we are for them and we care and we truly want to walk with them for the long haul. Truth in love. (Some people tell the truth in a rough or harsh, or worse, in a self-serving way and try to define this as loving: “I wouldn’t beat on you with this truth if I didn’t love you.”  Baloney.)

12:18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course?

 

  • Literally, did we not walk in the same tracks?
  • Titus did not take advantage of them. Neither did Paul. Paul’s walk was not one of taking advantage of others.

 

So, four passages in 2 Cor that use the walk metaphor. One summary might be:

  1. We are open and honest. We do not veil or hide the gospel, even though some people’s hearts seem to be veiled from understanding or accepting it. 
  2. We don’t change people. We just keep doing our thing (living the gospel). God created light out of darkness and it is only he who can shine light in a dark heart.
  3. Faith. Our daily life here is by faith, not sight. One day it will be by sight. This life is temporary and we will answer to God for how we spent it.
  4. We are fully engaged in this world, but we engage with a different set of marching orders than we were born with.
  5. We do not take advantage of those we serve.

 

Link to verses in the NET Bible:
http://net.bible.org/passage.php?search=2%20Corinthians%204:2;%202%20Corinthians%205:7;%202%20Corinthians%2010:2-3;%202%20Corinthians%2012:18&passage=2%20corinthians%204:2;%202%20corinthians%205:7;%202%20corinthians%2010:2-3;%202%20corinthians%2012:18

Zhubert word study:
http://www.zhubert.com/word?word=περιπατῆσαι&root=περιπατέω&number=693258

Perseus LSJ entry:  http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph.jsp?l=peripate/w&la=greek#lexicon

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