Sunday, December 23, 2012

Galatians, Chapters 1-3: Curses

Chapter 1

Paul and the other apostles are writing to the church in Galatia, which is apparently already worshiping other gospels. He curses the false preachers and says if he was trying to win a popularity contest, he'd tell them what they wanted to hear, but he's a servant of Christ, so he tells them what they need to hear.

He reminds us about how he used to persecute Christians, until god spoke to him on the road to Damascus. Or possibly he was in Arabia. Anyway, he was somewhere, and he spoke to god. Then he went to Jerusalem and spoke to Peter and James.

Chapter 2

Paul went around hectoring people for a few years, but then had a revelation that sent him back to Jerusalem to get his new message for the Gentiles approved. They agreed and didn't make his companion Titus get circumcised, for which I'm sure Titus was eternally grateful. They had this conversation because of some false christians who wanted to kidnap them and sell them into slavery. But they were careful, because they wanted to get to evangelising. The apostles approved the message, with the proviso that they also had to remember the poor.

Later, at Antioch, he got into an argument with Peter, who refused to eat with the gentiles in public, which led other Jewish christians to act the same, so he pointed out that salvation is through Jesus, not circumcision.

Chapter 3

Paul calls the Galatians fools, which seems like the easiest way to lose your audience. He asks if they got the word through obeying the law, or faith, and why they're so materialistic.

Following the law makes you cursed, because Jesus. The laws were just a temporary thing between Abraham and Jesus. A prison guard, or a teacher. Then he tells us we're all one under Jesus, conveniently forgetting that part in just the last book where he said women shouldn't speak in church.

Monday, December 17, 2012

2 Corinthians, Chapters 11-13: Virgins for Jesus

Chapter 11

Paul asks us to bear with his foolishness, then admits that he's jealous because we'll be going to our marriage beds with Jesus as virgins. Of course he also thinks we're dummies who'll do it with Satan, because during the apocalypse, there will be a lot of people claiming to be Christ.

Paul changes topic so he can humble-brag that though his speech isn't polished, he's at least as awesome as all the other apostles. Like Peter, who jumped out of a boat that one time, then spent a whole night pretending not to know Jesus? Set your sights high, Paul.

He also reminds us that he's doing this gratis for the Corinthians, since other churches already paid him. He also admits that he's not actually coming to Corinth, all Godot-like, not because he doesn't love them, but because you get what you pay for. Also, other places need him more.

He then riffs some more on the fools theme, saying he acts like a fool because ye suffer fools gladly (v. 19), which I did not know was a biblical expression. Not only do they like fools, they like slavers and people who slap them across the face. Next, he starts ranting about how superior he is to all the false prophets, after all, he's more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. (v. 23) He then starts listing off all the things he's suffered. Highlights include 3 non-hyperbolic-at-all shipwrecks, an entire day spent in the ocean, 195 lashings doled out over 5 sessions, and being lowered out of a prison window in a basket.

Chapter 12

Now Paul wants to tell us about the visions he's received from god. Once, he was high as a kite, possibly having an out-of-body experience and he met a fellow christian who went to heaven and heard things so amazing no human could possibly express them. And that's literally all we find out about this guy. Because telling us this story would be bragging, and Paul only wants to tell us about his weaknesses.

At one point, Paul had either a literal or a metaphorical thorn in his flesh. He kept asking god to take it out, but god kept saying his grace was enough. So now Paul likes his weaknesses, because somehow it means he's stronger in Christ.

He does promise to visit the Corinthians again, even though the more he loves them, the less they love him. He says he lured them in through deceit, but says it's so they'll see the truth. Also, it's so they won't disappoint him when he finally arrives.

Chapter 13

Paul reiterates his promise to visit the Corinthians so he can judge them. He says he'll only try cases that have 2 or 3 witnesses, and therefore he won't be lenient. Here's how to tell if you're a reprobate, which is a word I always thought my mother just made up: if Jesus is in you, you're fine. Also, don't do evil shit. Paul promises to come in a couple of months. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2 Corinthians, Chapters 9 & 10: Spare us the speeches

Chapter 9

Paul changes tactic and starts telling the Corinthians how he's been bragging about their generosity to the Macedonians. He's sending some other disciples to pick up the money, and he hopes they won't be disappointed. Of course, this is all freely chosen, it's just that he'd look awfully silly if he boasted about this and didn't deliver. Besides all that, it also helps them to get into heaven, because God loveth a cheerful giver (v. 7).

Chapter 10

Paul claims he's shy in person, but bold in print, so he hopes he won't get into any confrontations when he finally puts down his pen and heads for Corinth. His only weapons are his ability to hector people into converting just to shut him up. He also promises to punish the disobedient in the future.

Apparently, there is already a schism as Paul is writing, with each side saying they're the true heirs of Christ. He urges them to see that they're all christians. He says he's not trying to frighten them with his letters, he just feels more comfortable writing, as people have said his speeches suck. He does promise that he's been practising and he'll be better in person. However, they won't go too far, just evangelising.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2 Corinthians, Chapters 7 & 8: Competitive Donating

Chapter 7

Paul advises us to cleanse ourselves for the apocalypse. He also urges us to make rooms in our hearts for him and his friends, and claims they haven't corrupted anyone. He says he's proud of the Corinthians for making Macedonia safe for him and Titus, who has told him how much they miss him. He says he doesn't regret sending his last letter, even though it made them sad for awhile, but it did make them repent, and hopefully stop banging their stepmothers, so he's happy he sent it.

Apparently holy sorrow leads us to heaven, but worldly sorrow leads us to hell. But now the Corinthians are back on the right track. He closes by reassuring them that Titus loves them in his heart and that he himself is confident in them.

Chapter 8

Paul will now give us a list of all the good things the churches have done in Macedonia. The congregation is poor in monetary terms, but spiritually generous. They gave a big donation to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. They can expect a future begging visit from Titus. Paul isn't commanding them, just setting them up for a friendly competition with other churches to see who can raise the most cash, just like Jesus. He says the Corinthians have a good shot, since they won last year, but reminds them not to give more than they can afford. He assures them that later on, when they need money, the Jerusalem crowd will pay it forward. Unless the world ends, of course.

Paul promises to send someone along with Titus for extra exhorting, but supposedly because the church wants to be completely transparent in its cash dealings, the first and last time one of them made that claim.

Monday, December 3, 2012

2 Corinthians, Chapters 5 & 6: Watch out for people walking by faith

Chapter 5

It doesn't matter if your life sucks here on earth, if you're homeless, naked and sick, because soon you'll die and go to heaven, where you'll have nice things. Also, faithful people walk by faith, not by sight (v. 6). 

You have to be good, because after you die, Jesus is going to judge you and he's terrifying. Or god is, but since they're all one, it's also Jesus. If christians are acting all crazy, it's because of god, but if they're normal, it's because they want to save you. Either way, it's all controlled by Jesus. 

Christians are to stop considering other people from a worldly perspective. Even though they once did that with Jesus, they have to stop. Also, Jesus was made in sin, which somehow absolved all the actual sinners.

Chapter 6

There's no waiting! You have to choose salvation now or never. But no pressure or anything. The apostles won't put any stumbling blocks in your way. Rather, they'll endure patiently, even lashings, secure in the holy ghost's love. They extend this love to the Corinthians, who are holding their love in their bowels. Seems as good a place as any. 

Finally, don't associate with non-Christians, because they might turn you evil.    

Saturday, December 1, 2012

2 Corinthians, Chapters 3 & 4: Slagging off Moses

Chapter 3

Paul informs us that christians don't need letters of introductions, because they're written in their hearts. We're also told that all our competences are given by god. He promises a new covenant with god, given not by a set of laws, but by the holy spirit. Much easier for getting converts that way. Also good? Telling people the old way leads to death. And that they can get to know god through the new way.

Now, with all our newfound glory, we can be direct, unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so people wouldn't see the shine of god fading. Apparently the people of Israel still wear this veil over their hearts. If they turn to god, though, the veil will be lifted.

Chapter 4

Now that we have this awesome new relationship with god, we need to be forthright in telling people about it. If their hearts remain veiled, Satan did it. After all, they aren't preaching about themselves, but about Jesus, because god turned a light on in our hearts. This allows us to be troubled but not distressed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not foresaken, cast down but not destroyed. Our suffering is supposed to remind us of Jesus, and give life to others.