Do you look on outward appearances?

Bethel Baptist Church Service: April 15, 2018: 10:15 am

The Message: ‘Do you look at Outward Appearance?’ begins with humorous incidents of looking at outward appearances and with the admonition not to judge others by their appearance. There is also the reminder that God does not judge by outward appearances but instead looks at the heart.

However, the focus of ‘Do you Look According to Outward Appearances?’ is Paul’s defense of himself made in response to the criticisms levelled by his detractors at Corinth, as recorded in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 10. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was stern. It addressed several problems in the church that he had founded in that city. Paul was concerned that although his frontal, forceful and forthright instructions were necessary and needed, his intention was to build up the fellowship at Corinth not to tear it down. He was also concerned that some Corinthian believers may have taken offence. His second letter was personal and apologetic. It included Paul’s response to those criticisms that had been leveled at him.

The main criticisms made by Pauls’ detractors at Corinth were that:

  • As Saul, Paul, had been an arch persecutor of Christians and therefore could not be trusted.
  • Paul’s words and letters were powerful and weighty but were written when he was absent.
  • His physical appearance was weak and unimpressive. By outward appearances, Paul lacked presence.
  • Paul’s speech was contemptable. He was no orator in an era when oratory was prized.

Interestingly, Paul did not dispute the factual content of the criticisms made of him. Early Christian writers’ description of Paul’s physical appearance confirmed that his critics were accurate.

Paul’s rebuttal was not that his critics were inaccurate but that they had gone down the wrong path. They looked at him according to outward appearances. The essence of Paul’s rebuttal was that:

  • What he wrote when he was absent from Corinth he lived when he was present at Corinth.
  • He did not preach the Gospel for any monetary gain. He worked to support himself.
  • His critics had set themselves up as the standard and benchmark, and as the standard had judged themselves among themselves, which was unwise and conceited.
  • He Paul, on the other hand, had limited himself to the purpose and sphere of authority which God has assigned to him, which included the Church at Corinth.