Paul, Peerless Apostle and Prophet (5 of 15)

Focus Text: 2 Corinthians 4.8-18

Tenacity originally referred to the tendency of one or more substances to adhere or “stick together.” From that root meaning of the word, language has evolved such that the word tenacious now is commonly used to refer to traits of an individual; it still carries the idea of adhering but more specifically, the tendency of an individual to stick to his position and not give up. Tenacity in an individual is an admirable trait, that is, as long as the person is right in his position. Holding one’s ground when the evidence supports a position is laudable; holding one’s ground when the evidence fails to support the position is lamentable (and sometimes indicative of just plain hardheadedness.

Paul was tenacious! He was tenacious when he erroneously persecuted Christ by persecuting the believers. However, he was not hardheaded; when the truth was clearly presented to him regarding the Christ, it took no persuasion to convince him to change his position; once Paul saw that the weight of evidence was overwhelmingly on the side of Christianity, he did an immediate about face. It was this trait, the trait of sticking tenaciously to one’s position, that made him such an invaluable warrior for the faith and which undoubtedly drew God’s attention to him as His chosen vessel to the Gentiles. Tenacity is a marvelous and usable trait in almost any arena, especially in the promulgation of the Gospel; hardheadedness is a curse in all arenas. Paul was tenacious but not hardheaded!

Consider the following lengthy text as it demonstrates the “stick-to-it-tiveness” of the grand apostle: “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4.8-18).

Paul was and is a great example of tenacity; he also demonstrated that one does not have to be stubborn in order to be tenacious. His mind was open and he was always ready to change his position when the evidence warranted it. “Go thou and do likewise!”

Questions:

1. What is the difference between being tenacious and in being stubborn?

2. From the focus text, what did Paul believe the One who raised up Jesus would do for the Corinthians and for him?

3. The outward man was perishing, but what of the inward man? What did this have to do with Paul’s “never say die” attitude?

4. What does it mean to not look at the things that are seen and to look at the things that are not seen?