Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (of the ones that have survived, though actually the fourth he wrote) has quite a different feel from 1 Corinthians, and offers some of the most profound reflections in Paul on Christian discipleship and ministry. In it, he makes some fascinating new connections between the resurrection, suffering, and Christian living.
In Eph 1.19–20, Paul talks of the ‘incomparably great power for us who believe’ which is the ‘same mighty strength’ by which God raised Jesus from the dead (compare 1 Cor 6.14), and he is clear that the Christian life is to be one of power (1 Cor 4.20, 2 Tim 1.7). We might expect, then, that Paul’s language about Christian ministry will be all about the power, success and victory of the Christian life—but here we find the opposite! For Paul, ministry is about frustration, weakness and brokenness—so how can this be the foretaste of the resurrection life that we anticipate? The answer is that, paradoxically, the resurrection-shaped (‘anastiform’) life is actually the cross-shaped (‘cruciform’) life, because it is the life of Jesus.