The longer I have been a pastor the more I have grown to love 2 Corinthians. The book has ministered to me on many different levels, especially as I have dug into the background of the Corinthian correspondence and the interpersonal dynamics between Paul and the Corinthians. So as I picked up Sam Storm’s A Sincere and Pure Devotion: 100 Daily Meditations on 2 Corinthians (Crossway, 2010), I wondered if such a popular level format of daily meditations could possibly tap into this rich reservoir of a pastoral theology of suffering. I was not disappointed! In fact, I was deeply satisfied to see that Storms picked up those pastoral threads right away without being pedantic or too scholarly.
It is no small task to give the background to a NT epistle in a way that reads like a good book. Yet, Storms does it with skill. He sets up 2 Corinthians with a marvelous introduction that frames the meditations so that they do not lose their force for the sake of being devotional. Of special note is the very readable way he explains the Corinthian correspondence (14–18). Too much of 2 Corinthians is eclipsed if we fail to see it as the response to the Corinthians’ response to Paul’s “severe” letter which is now lost. This is not merely a minor detail of NT background; rather it forms a vital piece of the puzzle in understanding 2 Corinthians.
What drew me to this two volume devotional work is that it deals with one of my favorite NT books and yet it is a devotional. I am always looking for good material on 2 Corinthians and I am always looking for good devotional material to recommend or use in small groups. Obviously one of the frustrations with much devotional material is that it often uses Scripture superficially, as a springboard to other thoughts. Herein is the beauty of Storm’s work, it deals with the texts in a substantive manner and yet it is highly applicable. It is obvious to anyone who has worked through 2 Corinthians that Storms has taken in-depth study of the texts and has explained the passages without technicalities and then has woven in excellent points of application. In other words, there is solid exegesis behind these meditations.
The books have a variety of uses. A Sincere and Pure Devotion to Christ can be used individually, in private devotions, to dig into and meditate on the text of 2 Corinthians. The subtitle, “100 daily meditations” indicates that this is the primary purpose. However, this work would also be very profitable for a small Bible study group or prayer group. The points of application could easily be used as segues for discussions. I would also hasten to add that this work would also be useful in sermon preparation. Often after the hard of exegesis is done, the pastor struggles with application. Storms provides some very insightful applications of the text which consistently ring true with the meaning of the text.
I heartily recommend A Sincere and Pure Devotion to Christ for all the above applications and probably more. Sam Storms has served the church well with pastoral scholarship for the edification of our faith by drawing out substantive meditations from 2 Corinthians.