2 Corinthians 1

Introduction

Probable Chronology

1. Paul comes to Corinth during 2nd missionary journey. Stays 18 months. Acts 18:11. About 48 A.D.

2. Leaves for Judea. Acts 18.18. Spring-Summer A.D.52.

3. Returns to Ephesus, ‘Asia to Ephesus’. Acts 19:1. Autumn A.D 52-53.

4. 1 Corinthians written from Ephesus following report from ‘Chloe’s people’. Carried to Corinth by Timothy l Corinthians 16:10. Spring 54 A.D.

5. The ‘painful’ visit to Corinth from Ephesus. 2 Corinthians 2:2. Summer-Autumn 54 A.D.

6. Titus sent to Corinth with the ‘painful’ letter 2 Corinthians 2:4. Early 55 A.D.

7. Paul in Troas restlessly awaits the return of Titus. 2 Corinthians 1:12. Autumn 55 A.D.

8. Decides to go to Macedonia and Illyricum where he hopes to meet Titus. 2 Corinthians 2:13. Winter 55 A.D.

9. Overjoyed by the report of Titus he writes 2 Corinthians. Probably from Philippi. 56 A.D.

10. Visits Corinth again. Third visit. Winter 56-57 A.D. 2 Corinthians 13:1.

Introduction

1. Explanation.

Paul’s account of his ministry. 2 Corinthians 1-5.

a. The range of his activities: 2 Corinthians 1:8.

Asia. 2 Corinthians 1:16. Macedonia. 2 Corinthians 2:12. Troas. Commissioned and sealed.

b. Terms describing his ministry: 2 Corinthians 1:21.

An anointing by God. 2 Corinthians 4:1. Mercy is received from God. 2 Corinthians 5:20. An ambassador for Christ. Summed up in 2 Corinthians 7:1. ‘Working together with Christ’.

2. Exhortation.

Paul’s appeal to the Church. 2 Corinthians 6-9. 2 Corinthians 6:1. ‘We entreat you’. 2 Corinthians 6-7. Spiritually, for their understanding. 2 Corinthians 6:11-12. Materially. ‘The grace of giving’. 2 Corinthians 8-9.

3. Vindication of his apostleship. His critics. 2 Corinthians 10-12.

2 Corinthians 10:10-11. The criticism. Also 2 Corinthians 11:16.

His response. His ancestry. 2 Corinthians 11:22. His experience. 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. His inspiration and authority. 2 Corinthians 12:1-5ff. The proof of his authority. 2 Corinthians 11:14-21.

4. Closing exhortation. 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.

Become Complete!

The Letter

Generally regarded as a difficult book to analyse, with the result that we search in vain in many commentaries for anything that resembles a clear outline! One highly regarded scholar, Plumtre, says, ‘An analysis is not an east matter.’, and that is certainly an understatement! Theologians are generally agreed that the form of the letter is ‘not as systematic or orderly as other letters’.

The reason for this is not hard to find. 2 Corinthians is the most personal letter written by Paul which has been left to us because in it he reveals his innermost feelings and emotions in a way found nowhere else in the New Testament.

2 Corinthians is not an analytical exposition of Christian doctrine such as we have, for example, in the Roman letter, nor is it a letter of instruction sent to a problem-beset congregation, by one who speaks with the assurance and authority of an inspired apostle. Instead, it is the outpouring of his heart, as he waits to learn how the Corinthians have reacted to his earlier letter.

Consider The Circumstances

1. The letter was written whilst Paul was still in Macedonia probably written from Philippi.

See 2 Corinthians 9:2-4 and 2 Corinthians 11:9. Compare 2 Corinthians 11:9 with Philippians 4:15-16, where we see him anxiously awaiting the result of Titus with news from Corinth.

2. Consider also, that it seems that he had been very sick about this time, and his weakened physical condition would undoubtedly affect his attitude of mind.

We shall see more of this in 1 Corinthians 1, where he writes of ‘despairing even of life.’ In a word, he was depressed at this time.

But Titus returns!

And Paul is overjoyed to learn that the situation in Corinth has improved greatly. The emotionally excitable, unpredictable Corinthians have taken his instructions to heart and have embarked on a plan of discipline in the Church.

They have dealt with the man who was guilty of immorality, and he has repented. And they have even done something about the Collection for the poor saints in Judea, according to his instructions, so that the outlook seems altogether more hopeful.

It, seems that only one problem remains, and that is, the lingering influence of certain people in the church who are critical of Paul himself, and who are questioning his authority as an apostle of Christ so that the first part of his letter might be described as:

1st Section

Paul’s account of ministry. 2 Corinthians 1-5. In this section, he writes to clear himself of their malicious accusations and stresses the sincerity of his motives in all that he has said or done. But, of course, a man may have motives that are above reproach, and still, be mistaken about his message or his authority. Therefore he deals with both issues in this first section.

2nd Section

Paul’s appeal to his brethren. 2 Corinthians 6:1-9:15. In this letter, we have a clear change of topic. If we look at 2 Corinthians 6:1, we see that his appeal concerns:

1. What he has experienced in his Ministry, 2 Corinthians 6:1-10, and:

2. How he feels about them as ‘children’, 2 Corinthians 6:11-18.

In 2 Corinthians 8 he deals with material matters, and refers to ‘Giving’ as a Christian ‘grace,’ building on the good report of Titus, he appeals to them to ‘abound in this grace also’, 2 Corinthians 8:7, and in 2 Corinthians 8:24, he urges them to show, by their giving, the ‘proof’ of their love.

This theme continues in 2 Corinthians 9, concluding, in 2 Corinthians 9:15 with, ‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift’.

3rd Section

Paul answers his critics. 2 Corinthians 10-21. Again, a change of theme. Paul provides a crushing final response- one might even call it a ‘scathing’ response to his critics. Look at 2 Corinthians 10:2 / 2 Corinthians 10:7 / 2 Corinthians 10:10 / 2 Corinthians 10:12 / 2 Corinthians 10:15-16 / 2 Corinthians 10:18. 2 Corinthians 11:3-5 and 2 Corinthians 12:17, and notice that he launches a devastating onslaught on the pretensions of the people who were criticizing him.

And then notice, in 2 Corinthians 11:16-2 Corinthians 13:10, the contrast, when he sets out his own credentials.

Conclusion

The letter may be summarized in three words.

1. Explanation. 2 Corinthians 1-5.

2. Exhortation. 2 Corinthians 6-9.

3. Vindication. 2 Corinthians 10-13.

Outline of 2 Corinthians

Paul’s purpose for writing 1 and 2 Corinthians. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to test the brethren’s faith, 2 Corinthians 2:9. The Scriptures authorise this kind of test in light of the fact that souls are at stake, 1 John 3:10 / 1 John 4:1 / 1 John 4:6. Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to restore the brethren’s faith in the Lord, 2 Corinthians 13:9-10.

Paul’s preaching and writings of admonition were done due to a love for brethren’s souls, 2 Corinthians 1:6 / 2 Corinthians 2:4 / 2 Corinthians 4:15 / 2 Corinthians 12:14-15. Paul’s desire for the Corinthians is that they would be made sorrowful unto repentance when reading the first epistle, 2 Corinthians 2:2 / 2 Corinthians 7:7ff and be restored, 2 Corinthians 13:9-10.

The only way said reaction from the Gospel was to occur was by authoritative truthful preaching as opposed to ‘worldly wisdom’. 2 Corinthians 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 2:17 / 2 Corinthians 3:5 / 2 Corinthians 4:2 / 2 Corinthians 4:7 / 2 Corinthians 5:12.

Paul argued that his epistles were written by divine authority. The motivation for authoritative living is judgment and eternal life, 2 Corinthians 2:14 / 2 Corinthians 4:14 / 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 / 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

Further problems with the Corinthian brethren. A battle for souls was taking place in Corinth. Divisive brethren were attempting to delude the Corinthian brethren’s minds into thinking ill of Paul and his preaching companions, 2 Corinthians 11:19-20 / 2 Corinthians 13:3.

Some had charged Paul with being inconsistent and thereby not worthy of listening to, 2 Corinthians 1:17. Some had charged Paul as one who ‘commended’ himself, preaching his own ideas, to brethren 2 Corinthians 3:1 / 2 Corinthians 4:5 / 2 Corinthians 5:12 / 2 Corinthians 10:12 / 2 Corinthians 13:3.

False teachers were teaching Mosaic Law mingled with the Law of Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:7ff / 2 Corinthians 11:13ff. Some had charged Paul and his preaching companions as being ‘beside’ themselves, deranged and self-deluded in madness, 2 Corinthians 5:13.

Some had charged Paul with a lack of courage when in person, his letters were weighty and bold; however, when he was present, he was weak, 2 Corinthians 10:1 / 2 Corinthians 10:10. These brethren confused Paul’s tenderness for cowardice.

These same brethren charged Paul with being ‘rude in speech’, an idiot, 2 Corinthians 11:5. They challenged Paul’s apostleship because he did not take wages from the brethren as did the other apostles, 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 / 2 Corinthians 12:11.

From a logical standpoint, Paul’s critics were guilty of ‘Argumentum ad hominem,’ an argument directed at the man by attacking the person who made the assertion. They called Paul deranged, 2 Corinthians 5:13, cowardly 2 Corinthians 10:10, and an idiot, 2 Corinthians 11:6.

These brethren built themselves up in the minds of the Corinthians and were persuading many of them away from Paul’s divine teaching, 2 Corinthians 11:19-20. Paul exposed these same types of divisive false teachers to the Galatians, Galatians 4:17 / Galatians 5:7ff / Galatians 6:12.

Their boasting led Paul to boast of himself, however, Paul’s glorying was on behalf of the souls that were saved through all that he suffered. Paul found himself in great danger from every aspect of life, cities, wilderness, sea, from Jew, Gentile, and false brethren. Paul suffered at the hands of all in every place he travelled, 2 Corinthians 11:22.

Truly Jesus’ words were correct when he said that the world would hate the disciples because they would expose the world’s evil deeds as did He, John 7:7 / John 17:14.

These same critics accused Paul and Titus of trying to perform a scam on the Corinthian brethren that they may have gained, 2 Corinthians 12:16-18.

Paul exposed the doctrine of the devil. Satan has ‘devices’ he uses to gain disciples, 2 Corinthians 2:11. Paul exposed the devices as ‘craft and deceit’, 2 Corinthians 4:2.

A battle for souls exists between the God of light and the god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. When godly men expose sin, due to a love for souls, they are hated and persecuted, John 7:7 / 2 Corinthians 1:8ff / 2 Corinthians 4:8-18.

Without fear, Paul called the false teachers in Corinth ‘ministers of Satan,’ ‘false apostles’ and ‘deceitful workers’, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Paul’s true fear was that the brethren in Corinth would be ‘beguiled’ by the ministers of Satan, 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 / 2 Corinthians 12:20.

Paul encouraged the Corinthians to have the funds ready for the needy saints in Jerusalem. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to follow the example of the Macedonians who gave with great liberality to help the needy saints in Jerusalem, 2 Corinthians 8:1ff.

Paul made it clear that this was not a command, however, it was a testament to their love for God and brethren, 2 Corinthians 8:8 / 2 Corinthians 9:1ff. The consequence of such actions is that the name of God is glorified and those who are helped will make supplications on behalf of those who helped, 2 Corinthians 9:12-15.

Paul addressed the issue of church autonomy

Individuals in the churches of Paul’s day were communicating with each other, 2 Corinthians 1:1 / 2 Corinthians 7:4 / 2 Corinthians 7:14 / 2 Corinthians 8:18. Said communication was not gossip else the divine record is flawed. The universal brotherhood was united in truth.

Truth enabled Paul to make a judgment about the fornicator of 1 Corinthians 5 without violating the Corinthians’ autonomy. Paul simply gave the principles of truth, and the brethren were at liberty, and autonomy, to make the decision as to when these principles should be applied, 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-8.

The churches were able to agree, by show of hands, over who to send with the party that would carry the monetary aid back to Jerusalem without violating each other’s autonomy, 2 Corinthians 8:19.

No decision on the amount of money to be sent from the treasury was made by this individual, and he thereby did not violate anyone’s church’s autonomy.

Overview

Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians sets forth the apostle’s great love for the brethren. Everything that Paul did was for the benefit of the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 1:6 / 2 Corinthians 2:4 / 2 Corinthians 4:15 / 2 Corinthians 12:14-15 / 2 Corinthians 12:19.

Paul’s great desire for these brethren was their spiritual restoration, 2 Corinthians 13:9. The Corinthians; however, needed to clear three major hurdles to achieve restoration.

1. The Corinthians needed to identify and pray for the forgiveness of their sin of being unwilling to forgive one who seeks forgiveness, 2 Corinthians 2:5-9.

2. The Corinthians needed to clear themselves from sharing unlawful affections with unbelievers such as uncleanness, fornication, and lasciviousness, 2 Corinthians 6:11ff / 2 Corinthians 12:21.

3. The Corinthians needed to be restored for being deceived by divisive brethren who were teaching false doctrines and making faulty accusations against Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:19-20 / 2 Corinthians 13:3.

The beauty of reading 2 Corinthians is that one can clearly see God’s expectations for His beloved saints. The saints are those who are obedient in all areas of truth, 2 Corinthians 2:9.

The saint is to be the mirror image of Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:18. The saint is to be cleansed from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, 2 Corinthians 7:1.

The saint is to be presented to God as a pure virgin with respect to sin, 2 Corinthians 11:2. The saint of God is to ‘do no evil’, 2 Corinthians 13:7.

The Christian today is expected to be no less perfect than these early New Testament Christians, Matthew 5:48. There is no sin that God overlooks or excuses without man seeking justification.

A great ‘device’ of Satan is lies, 2 Corinthians 2:11. There were many ministers of Satan in Corinth who laid claims to being Christian yet their deeds were far from Christ-like, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

These divisive brethren sought to destroy Paul’s reputation as an apostle who spoke divine revelation so that the Corinthians would turn away from him.

These men accused Paul of being inconsistent, 2 Corinthians 1:17, preaching his own ideas, 2 Corinthians 3:1 / 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 / 2 Corinthians 5:12, etc., deluded, 2 Corinthians 5:13, a coward, 2 Corinthians 10:1 / 2 Corinthians 10:10, an idiot, 2 Corinthians 11:15, not an apostle, 2 Corinthians 12:11 / 2 Corinthians 13:3, and that he and Titus were participating in a scam of the brethren, 2 Corinthians 12:17-18.

Paul was fearful that the Corinthians would be fully persuaded by these false accusations. Paul wrote, ‘But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 11:3.

Again, Paul writes, ‘For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder’. 2 Corinthians 12:20

Paul had great anxiety for the brotherhood of saints, 2 Corinthians 11:28. He would not sit back idly and do nothing while brethren lost their eternal souls. To combat the false accusations by the divisive brethren of Corinth Paul lowers himself to their tactics.

Apparently the divisive were boasting of their ancestry and the need for the Corinthians to continue in the Mosaic system as well as the teachings of Christ, very similar to the Acts 15 Jerusalem Conference and the book of Galatians, 2 Corinthians 3:4-18 / 2 Corinthians 11:22. Paul boasts not only of his sufferings but also his experience of being transported to the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 11:22-12:6.

Paul was in all sense of the word an apostle of Jesus Christ who spoke divine revelation. Paul writes, ‘I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.’ 2 Corinthians 12:11

Having proved his apostleship and the error of the divisive there was only one thing left to do. Paul was coming to Corinth and those who would not repent of their sins would not be spared but rather dealt with sharply, 2 Corinthians 13:1-2 / 2 Corinthians 13:10.

The practical application for the saints today is that we too must ‘do no evil’, 2 Corinthians 13:7. Those who will not be restored to the Lord through teaching, patience, and longsuffering must be dealt with. Paul would not sweep men’s sins under a rug of apathy and pretend to be in favour with God.

One year had passed between the writings of 1 and 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 8:10. Now was the time for the brethren to be either restored or exposed as moving from death unto death, 2 Corinthians 2:16.

Paul concludes by saying, ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.’ 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Expanded Survey

1. Comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.

Paul’s description of God. Strengthening and merciful. God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

2. Concern No. 1. 2 Corinthians 2.

His anguish and the reason for them. ‘Caused you pain’.

3. Commendation? 2 Corinthians 3.

Surely not necessary in his case! His critics had come to Corinth with ‘letters of commendation’.

4. Commission. 2 Corinthians 4:7.

His apostleship. The ‘treasure in ‘earthen vessels’ is a text often misunderstood.

5. Confidence. 2 Corinthians 5:1.

If our earthly house, this tent, is dissolved. The believer’s assured future. ‘Absent from the body.’

6. Co-operation. 2 Corinthians 6:1.

‘Workers together with Him’. Fellowship.

7. Concern No. 2. 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Conversely, ‘Do not be mismated with unbelievers’.

8. Cleansing. 2 Corinthians 7:1.

‘Perfecting holiness’. Sanctification.

9. Care. 2 Corinthians 8-9. The ‘grace; of giving’. The needy saints in Judea.

10. Critics! 2 Corinthians 10:10ff.

The accusations were levelled against him.

11. Credentials. 2 Corinthians 11-12.

His ancestry, service, sufferings and visions.

12. Closing words. 2 Corinthians 13:5.

‘Examine yourselves!’ ‘Test yourselves!’

This letter is remarkable, one might even say unique, in the New Testament, for the number of words it contains relating to the trials and hardships which Paul endured in the course of his ministry.

Words used which reflect the ‘Sufferings of Christ’. Suffering. Affliction. Anguish of heart. Tears. Pain. Sorrow. Perplexity. Persecution. Hardships. Calamities. Beatings. Imprisonments. Tumults. Labours. Hunger. Thirst. Nakedness. Sleepless nights. Fears within. Foes without. Fightings. Grief. Stonings. Shipwreck. Anxiety. Insults. Danger.

These are only some of the words Paul uses in this letter, as he opens his heart and reveals the different ways in which he has personally experienced the suffering in which he has received the ‘strengthening of the God of all Strength.’

He uses at least 30 adjectives to describe suffering of every kind, mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual, in other words, suffering involves the entire Man, body, soul and spirit. And over against them all, he sets the words ‘comfort’ and ‘comforted’, words which occur about 13 times in his letter.

Introduction to 2 Corinthians 1

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians deals with problems among the brethren. At the writing of 2 Corinthians Paul had not yet been to Corinth after the first epistle; however, it is apparent that he has gained information regarding the Corinthians’ response to the first epistle.

The apostle begins this second letter by letting the Corinthians know of the great suffering yet comfort, he and his fellow-labourers in Christ were experiencing in Asia. Paul and the brethren’s suffering was not due to teaching the precepts of men but that of God.

The Text

The God Of All Comfort

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:1-2

Some in Corinth had falsely laid claim to the office of apostle, 2 Corinthians 11:13. Paul, however, was a true apostle of Jesus Christ, Acts 9:15-16. He was handpicked ‘by the will of God.’ Timothy is mentioned here and thereby apparently present with Paul in Macedonia at the time of this writing.

Paul first met Timothy on his second tour of preaching and found him to be a faithful worker in the Kingdom of God, Acts 16:1ff. Paul later referred to Timothy saying, ‘because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.’ Philippians 2:22.

Though this letter is addressed to the ‘church of God in Corinth,’ Paul included ‘all the holy people throughout Achaia’ as those who greet the Corinthians.

Once again, this solidifies the idea that the early saints communicated with each other from church to church without violating anyone’s autonomy, Romans 1:8 / Romans 16:19 / 1 Corinthians 16:19. The saints in Achaia would have included the brethren from Athens, Acts 17:34 and Cenchreae, the home of Phoebe, Romans 16:1.

Paul’s salutary remarks typically include the wish for ‘grace and peace’ to be with the brethren from ‘God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ One who has God’s grace has been forgiven of sins, Romans 5:1ff / Ephesians 1:7, through the initial act of baptism, Acts 2:38 and thereafter through a process of humbly asking forgiveness, Isaiah 57:15 / Isaiah 66:2 / 1 John 1:9 / 1 John 3:3.

The ‘peace’ of God is experienced by walking by the authority of Jesus Christ, Philippians 4:9. Clearly, grace and peace belong to those who truly and humbly love the Lord.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

The word ‘praise’ ‘eulogetos’ is defined as to bless, ascribe praise and glorification. ‘Eulogetos’ is found in other passages of Scriptures such as 1 Peter 1:3. The meaning, in this context, is that of giving praise and honour to the name of God. The reason Paul gave God praise and honour was that He is merciful ‘compassionate’ to mankind, Jeremiah 9:23-24.

Paul later would say to the Romans that the ‘wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Romans 6:23

Through Christ, we may escape the condemnation of sin, and thereby we see the love and mercy of God, John 3:16 / 1 John 3:16 / 1 John 4:10.

Not only is the Lord the God of mercy but also of all ‘comfort.’ The word ‘comfort’ ‘paraklesis’ is a calling to one’s aid, to strengthen. The God who strengthens us.

Consider the use of ‘paraklesis’ in Romans 15:4 / 2 Corinthians 7:4 / 2 Thessalonians 2:16 etc. Interestingly, the apostle John used the Greek word ‘parakletos’ being transliterated ‘advocate’ to describe the merciful work of Jesus in the forgiveness of our sins, 1 John 2:1.

In what way then does the Lord ‘comfort us in our affliction’? The word ‘affliction’, ‘thlipsis’ is defined as metaphorically to oppress, afflict, distress.

1. The saints of God may appeal to God for the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ and thereby be comforted in the idea that we shall be with the Lord in paradise for ever, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

2. With such marvellous blessings available to us, we can help others who are distressed to receive comfort through the blood of Jesus Christ.

3. We may suffer physical afflictions as well, and the God of comfort will help as He wills, James 5:14. Herein is the two-fold nature of God exposed and summed up in the word love. God is merciful to those who would live lawfully, and He cares for our sick and distressed physical wellbeing, 1 John 3:16-17.

There is a connection between the sufferings of Jesus Christ and the comfort, and forgiveness of sins, offered by Christ. Jewish flogging 39 strokes, they used a strap with 13 strips on it and you were struck 3 times. 2 Corinthians 11:24.

Roman flogging has no restrictions and had animal bones on the straps. One will not receive the end of product of comfort if one has not suffered with Christ.

Therefore, Paul stated, ‘For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.’

Peter said, ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’ 1 Peter 2:21

When we suffer, as did Christ for righteousness, we are assured of His comfort.

Again Paul told Timothy, ‘In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’. 2 Timothy 3:12. Again Paul said, ‘if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.’ 2 Timothy 2:12.

2 Corinthians 1:6 means that Paul wants to make them whole again. The church in Corinth needed healing, needed all their problems solved.

The distress and mental anguish that Paul, Timothy, and the other servants of Christ went through was due to their stand in truth. Truth reveals instructions whereby a man may be saved.

As the apostles and evangelists such as Timothy, Erastus, and Titus went about preaching the Gospel and suffering the consequence was comfort, through the preaching of the forgiveness of sins, toward all who heard.

Paul, Timothy, and all the faithful of Achaia had a steadfast hope in the Corinthian brethren due to their being ‘partakers’, sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. Philippians 3:10 / 1 Peter 4:13. Those who so suffered would also receive the comfort of knowing that their sins had been forgiven.

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Here is an informative statement. Preaching should inform rather than leave brethren ‘uninformed!’ Paul informed the brethren of the ‘the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia.’

As we follow our timeline of events discussed in the introduction of this study, we find that between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians Paul suffered at the hands of Demetrius in Asia as recorded in Acts 19:23ff.

So intense were the persecutions that the timing of Paul’s stay in Ephesus was most likely cut short, though there were still many doors of opportunity, 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 / Acts 20:1ff.

The words ‘under great pressure’ is the Greek word ‘kata’ and it has the idea of pressing the grapes with your feet, pressure. Paul felt he was being crushed. This danger was so great that Paul said, ‘we despaired of life itself.’ Death was certain in times of Paul’s ministering to the saints and the lost.

That which kept Paul and others with him pressing forward was their faith in the fact that God would one day raise them from the dead never to die again.

‘God who raises the dead’ means God is not only the God of living but also the dead, God takes care of both. The Lord had delivered Paul from danger in the past, and He would surely continue to be with Paul. Paul put his trust in God rather than the arm of flesh.

Here were brethren in Christ, i.e., Paul, Timothy, Titus and others that preached truth who suffered for the cause of Christ at the hands of wicked men. Paul now thanked the Corinthians who prayed passionately on behalf of these men and the sufferings that they underwent for the cause of Christ.

The Corinthians were informed of the dangers Paul and others in Asia faced due to the apostle’s statements in 1 Corinthians 16:9. Christians today ought to pray for each other in times of affliction as well. ‘Prayers of many’ means many faces, a sea of upturned faces.

Paul’s Conscious Sincerity

“Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

The word ‘Now’ connects this thought with what he has said up to this point, i.e., 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. Paul had suffered for the cause of Christ even to the point of nearly losing his life that others may hear and share in his comfort, i.e., the comfort offered by God, spiritually first, and physically second.

To ‘boast’ ‘kauchesis’, translated ‘boasting’ as ‘reason to boast’. There is, therefore, one thing that the Christian may be proud of, boast, and that is in our salvation. Let us brag about our spiritual state and put all else in its proper place.

The apostle Paul could boast or brag boldly and confidently because his conscience had been trained by the word of God. The word of God promised salvation to those who obey, Acts 2:38.

Faith in God will give one confidence in the promises of God. The premise of this verse is that the conscience is to be trained through God’s word as opposed to ‘worldly wisdom.’

This confidence of the conscience is a product of ‘integrity and godly sincerity’ in relation to truth. ‘Conscience’ is defined as ‘with, knowledge.’

The conscience is the faculty of recognizing the distinction between right and wrong regarding one’s conduct coupled with a sense that one should act accordingly.

The apostle Paul once said, ‘I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth’ and then went on to enumerate those evil deeds that he thought were right. Acts 26:9ff.

Paul’s conscience, his distinction between right and wrong, was based on ‘I too was convinced that I ought to’ rather than in ‘the grace of God’, 2 Corinthians 4:2.

‘Sincerity’, ‘honest’, ‘haplotes’ means simplicity. Simplicity means purity of mind, Romans 12:8 / 2 Corinthians 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 11:3 / Ephesians 6:5 / Colossians 3:22. 2 Corinthians 11:3 may give us some help here with understanding this word.

Paul said, ‘But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.’

The same Greek word is translated as ‘sincere’ in 2 Corinthians 11:3 and ‘sincerity’ in 2 Corinthians 1:12. The idea is that the mind of man is to be trained in one, single, divine truth alone as opposed to ‘worldly wisdom’ if the comfort is to follow.

‘Sincerity’, ‘heilikrineia’ is defined as unmixed, pure, absolutely. Far too many times we are hearing our brethren justify their erroneous living by statements such as, ‘he is honest and sincere in his beliefs.’ My genuine and confident mind will not be the judge of my eternal soul.

Just because one’s conscience has been misled by another’s genuine and confident position does not qualify him for salvation. The word of God clearly reveals the truth of the words honesty and sincerity. One may be honest and sincere in error, i.e., personal convictions or opinions, or honest and sincere in truth.

Paul claimed sincerity not in human reasoning but through the ‘grace of God’ 2 Corinthians 1:12. Paul later told Titus ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” Titus 2:11-12

Sincerity and honesty are therefore states of man’s conscience that have been determined by either truth or human reason. Those whose conscience is trained by absolute truth are pure, honest, and sincere in an approved way, Luke 8:15 / 1 John 2:4 /1 John 3:7-8. When one preaches error, it is a lie no matter what his motive or ignorance of a subject may be, 1 John 2:21.

Erroneous information, no matter one’s state of honesty and sincerity ‘leads astray’, 1 John 2:26 / 1 John 3:7. Note that the word ‘sincere’, ‘heilikrineia’ is used only three times in the New Testament. Once here, 2 Corinthians 1:12 and two other times, 1 Corinthians 5:8 / 2 Corinthians 2:17.

All three of these passages connect sincerity with the purity of truth. Therefore, nowhere in the word of God do we find sincerely erroneous teachers that are approved of God.

Such does not exist and is a concoction of human reasoning. The truth of the matter is that when one practices error it is termed ‘understand’ and such ‘understanding’ is to be repented of, Acts 3:15-19.

We all understand that one can be honestly or sincerely mistaken, as the word is used in the English language, however, truth and untruths remain what they are. Our honesty and sincerity change no truth. Brethren, let us be on the side of truth.

We now read the last clause of 2 Corinthians 1:12, ‘we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you.’

How did they ‘behave’? It was in the simplicity of truth that they conducted themselves and taught.

Truth alone will see a man to his heavenly abode and ‘no other thing.’ Paul admonished the Corinthians to therefore cling to this truth and place their hope in it alone. ‘Worldly wisdom’ will only conclude in defeat and servitude to Satan.

Paul prepared the Corinthians for his impending visit. 2 Corinthians 1:15-22

“Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?” 2 Corinthians 1:15-17

The ‘confidence’ that Paul had was in the faith, Gospel truths. Due to Paul’s assurance of the resurrection of the dead and eternity with God, he could come to the Corinthians knowing that all the stern words of 1 Corinthians were not empty. Souls were at stake. The only way to receive true comfort was for the Corinthians to repent and ask for forgiveness.

The ‘benefit twice’ can only mean that the Corinthians would receive more teaching in truth and divine revelation. They, therefore, should look forward to his visit.

2 Corinthians 1:15 is now explained geographically. Paul had intended to leave Ephesus and come straight to Corinth, first. 1 Corinthians 16:5 indicates a change in plans.

Paul said, ‘I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia’. 2 Corinthians 1:16 gives Paul’s original intention; i.e., to go directly to Corinth from Ephesus and then travel north through Macedonia and once again return to Corinth.

Through some unrecorded correspondence between Paul and the Corinthians, he had apparently told them that he planned on going to Corinth directly from Ephesus.

When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he made the statement about going to Macedonia first instead of Corinth, again, 1 Corinthians 16:5.

Titus had apparently told Paul that some in Corinth were accusing him of ‘fickleness’ due to changing his plans. To be ‘fickle’, ‘elaphria’ is lightness of mind or levity. The word ‘levity’ is defined as a light manner or attitude.

There must have been some disgruntled in Corinth who were saying that the apostle Paul was inconsistent in his words and plans and thereby men should discontinue listening to him.

“But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 1:18-22

Again, Paul asked, ‘do you believe that I make statements according to worldly wisdom as does the world so that when I speak no one really knows what I mean? Do I say yes when I really mean no?’

Paul answered, ‘But as God is faithful, our message to you is not yes and no’ at the same time. Here is where the confidence that Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 1:15 lay. The preaching of Jesus Christ, the Son of God is not a matter of confusing language that makes no consistent sense, 1 Corinthians 14:33.

The word of God is perfect, clear, and understandable. Said words will lead souls to heaven and are, therefore, confidently affirmed as ‘yes’ alone and not ‘yes and no’.

God has promised salvation to those who hear His clear truths, Acts 2:38. There was no uncertainty in God’s promises or Paul’s preaching. So certain were God’s promises that Paul said ‘through him (God) is the Amen.’

The word ‘Amen’ is defined as affirmation, so be it. There is truth and certainty with God’s word as opposed to confusion and uncertainty.

How is one ‘standing firm in Christ’ through God?

To be ‘standing’, ‘bebaioo’ is to make firm or confirm. Colossians 2:6-7 uses the same word as follows, ‘So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

The context of 2 Corinthians 1 is in agreement with Colossians 2:6-7, that is, it is the word of God that ‘makes firm’ our confidence in God’s promises. One is made to be ‘secure’ in the promises of God through divine revelation.

Secondly, how has God ‘anointed us’?

Clearly, the anointing is connected to Christians being established, and secure in God’s promises. This same word ‘chrisma’ is used in 1 John 2:20 where John said, ‘But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.’

The antecedent to the pronoun ‘yes’ is the faithful Christians holding and abiding in the teachings of Jesus.

The faithful have an ‘anointing from the Holy One.’ The word ‘anointing’, ‘chrisma’ means anything smeared on. In the Old Testament, Kings, 1 Samuel 10:10, priests, Exodus 29:7 and prophets, Isaiah 61:1, were anointed with oil to signify the validity and acceptance of God to their office. ‘Chrisma’ is a noun. The ‘chrisma’ is the object, not the action.

Clearly, the anointing here is figurative and represents the validity of the disciple as he abides in all truth. The saint that abides in the teachings of Christ has God and continues in God having God’s anointing.

The words ‘anointing from the Holy One’ are used figuratively by metonymy to illustrate the effects of the Gospel’s call. One who answers the call of the Gospel is recognized as a Christian.

Like the priest who was anointed by oil into the official office, so the Christian is figuratively anointed with the Gospel call to be baptised for the forgiveness of sins and is now a qualified saint, John 6:44-45 / Acts 2:38. 1 John 2:27 indicates the fact that the anointing has to do with the Gospel, truth or Word of God.

How does God ‘seal us’ and against what are we sealed? To be ‘sealed’, ‘sphragizo’ is to set a seal on, confirm, or stamp with approval. The same word is found in Ephesians 1:13-14 and appears to be a parallel passage to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.

Paul said, ‘And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.’

When one hears the Gospel and complies with the conditions of salvation through baptism, Romans 10:17 / Acts 2:38, that person is now assured and confirmed, sealed, as a Christian and all blessings that appertain to the one who would remain faithful. The Christian is to be confident in his salvation and the promises of God.

Secondly, this assured, confident, confirmed Christian has a ‘deposit of our inheritance (of heaven)’ by being ‘sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.’ The word ‘deposit’ ‘arrhabon’ is earnest-money, caution-money, deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase is not completed.

God’s ‘earnest money’ or way of assuring us as Christians that we will receive the promises revealed in the word of God is His word, ‘the word of the truth’. Rather than doubting the validity of Paul’s words, the Corinthians needed to look back to the revealed revelation and keep their hope, confidence, and trust there.

A lesson on longsuffering.

“I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

The word ‘spare’ is key to understanding this verse. To ‘spare’, ‘pheidomai’ is to spare persons and things in war, i.e. not destroy them, and be merciful.

We must remember that Paul had written in 1 Corinthians 4:21, “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?’

Paul desired to ‘spare’ the Corinthian brethren of the verbal rod of correction. If he would have come directly to Corinth from Ephesus, he may have had to use said rod, 2 Corinthians 1:15. This is why his plans changed. He wanted to give them time to repent.

This verse indicates the willingness on Paul’s part to wage battle with any that they may have the deposit of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, it illustrates that Paul had the betterment of brethren in mind by making these statements.

When erring brethren see this attitude in the admonishing saint, they will be left without excuse for saying that the person is arrogant or ‘hard.’ Sinners must be led to repentance through divine instructions. Divine instructions demand exposure, Ephesians 5:11.

To ‘lord it’, ‘kurieuo’ over one’s faith would be to have dominion or authority over it. Paul would not claim such a state. Each man gives an answer to God only.

Rather than dictating one’s faith, Paul desired to help the Corinthians experience joy through their confidence and assurance of salvation. Salvation belonged to them, ‘by faith you stand firm.’

Summary

Confidence, hope, trust and patience. Paul wrote Second Corinthians approximately one year after he wrote the first epistle to the brethren in Corinth. These brethren were guilty of many things, one of which was brought out in 2 Corinthians 1.

Some of the Corinthian brethren had apparently demoted Paul from a truthful apostle to one who was guilty of being ‘fickle’, 2 Corinthians 1:17.

Paul had written in his first epistle that the conduct of the Corinthians would determine whether he came ‘to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness’, 1 Corinthians 4:21

Here is an example of patience and longsuffering. One year had passed from his scorching, yet loving, rebuke to the Corinthians.

Paul was not ‘fickle,’ but he purposefully changed his travel plans to give them an allotted time to repent, 1 Corinthians 16:5 / 2 Corinthians 1:15-18. As the Lord commands us to be patient and longsuffering today, let it not be ever-patient and ever-longsuffering, 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

Chapter one of 2 Corinthians set the tone for the letter. We must remember that Paul had given a rebuke of their unlawful practices in the first epistle. One year had passed and it was now a matter of days before he would see them to the face.

Paul’s earnest desire was that the Corinthian brethren understand his true love in faith for them. He began by painting a picture of his and other Gospel preachers’ work on behalf of the souls of men.

These preachers of righteousness suffered much that the gospel message may be heard and learned of the Corinthians and those in Asia, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.

The message of comfort was not dreamed up by human reason, and worldly wisdom, but by divine revelation, 2 Corinthians 1:12-14. 2 Corinthians 1:15-22 reveal the confidence, hope and trust that the Corinthians and all other Christians are to have in Christ Jesus. Our salvation is real! Heaven is real! God’s promises are real and true!

Paul concluded by telling the Corinthians that his true desire was that they repent of their errors. He revealed to them the fact that he purposely travelled through Macedonia before coming to them first that they may have time to repent. Said repentance would come of Paul’s help, the first epistle and this second, and would give him and the Corinthians much joy.

We learn from this first chapter that there is a time when longsuffering and patience with a sinner must end. We learn that God’s promises, revealed in His word, are true and real.

We learn confidence and assurance through this chapter. Lastly, we learn that God wants us to be happy in our faith and long for that happiness in others.

Go To 2 Corinthians 2

 
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