1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and
Timothy our brother,
to the assembly of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are
in the whole of Achaia:
1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort;
1:4 who comforts us in all our affliction,
that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us,
even so our comfort also abounds through Christ.
1:6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.
If we are comforted, it is for your comfort,
which produces in you the patient enduring of the same sufferings which
we also suffer.
1:7 Our hope for you is steadfast, knowing that,
since you are partakers of the sufferings, so also are you of the
1:8 For we don't desire to have you uninformed, brothers,
concerning our affliction which happened to us in Asia,
that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power,
so much that we despaired even of life.
1:9 Yes, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead,
1:10 who delivered us out of so great a death, and does deliver;
on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us;
1:11 you also helping together on our behalf by your supplication;
that, for the gift bestowed on us by means of many,
thanks may be given by many persons on your behalf.
Minister in Holiness and Sincerity
1:12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in
holiness and sincerity of God,
not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God we behaved ourselves in
and more abundantly toward you.
1:13 For we write no other things to you, than what you read or even
and I hope you will acknowledge to the end;
1:14 as also you acknowledged us in part, that we are your boasting,
even as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.
1:15 In this confidence, I was determined to come first to you, that
you might have a second benefit;
1:16 and by you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to
come to you,
and to be sent forward by you on my journey to Judea.
1:17 When I therefore was thus determined, did I show fickleness?
Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh,
that with me there should be the "Yes, yes" and the "No, no?"
1:18 But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not "Yes and no."
1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by
by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not "Yes and no," but in him is
1:20 For however many are the promises of God, in him is the "Yes."
Therefore also through him is the "Amen," to the glory of God through
Rely on God to Establish
1:21 Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is
1:22 who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in
1:23 But I call God for a witness to my soul, that I didn't come to
Corinth to spare you.
1:24 Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are fellow workers
with you for your joy.
For you stand firm in faith.
vs 3-11 What experiences of comfort and deliverance has the Lord
brought you through that may be an encouragement to others?
How do our prayers help others, and what does this imply about our role
in God's ministry? vs 12-20 What has been your experience with and you opinion
concerning Christian messages which are unclear or ambiguous?
Paul apparently had made plans to come to them, but then changed his
mind. So why is it that he makes a big deal about "Yes, yes" and "No,
no" thing? vs 21-24 What effects does the Holy Spirit produce in us?
What phrases here support the doctrine of Eternal security (Once saved,
2Cor 1:1,2Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
While 2Corinthians is a response to the Corinthians actions as a result of Paul's first letter to them, much of it also gives us insight into Paul's view of Christian ministry which is a major theme in this letter. Though"there are different kinds of service"1Cor 12:5, every mature Christian is to be involved in some sort of ministry, and as such will find guidance and application from this letter with regards to one's attitude in ministry and with regards to its implementation. Such are given not as the individual wills, nor as institutional leaders will, but as the Spirits determines."All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."2Cor 12:11
Just to comment on the greeting, typical of Paul to note his credentials, but also typical of Paul to give recognition to other members of his team. Despite one's personal calling - even that of apostleship - ministry involves teamwork. But with regards to his credentials, it was God's will that Paul be an apostle. Prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, the Eleven presumptuously chose by lot an apostle to replace Judas (Acts 1). That's not the way the Lord chooses an apostle. While Matthias was the Eleven's choice, Paul was the Lord's choice of whom he said,"This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel."Acts 9:15and the Lord said to him,"The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard."Acts 22:14,15And we find Paul much more responsible than the other apostles in carrying out the Great Commission.
2Cor 1:3-7 For just as the sufferings of Christ
flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
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 have received from God. 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.
One of the possible answers to the question, "Why is this happening to
me?" which we all ask from time to time is that God may be subjecting
us to troubling circumstances so that we may develop empathy for those
who are likewise suffering.
In fact even of Christ it is written, "For this reason he had to be made like
his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and
faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make
atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when
he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."Heb 2:17,18 and "we do not have a high priest who is
unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been
tempted in every way, just as we areó yet was without sin."Heb 4:15 And conversely Jesus said
of his apostles, "You are those
who have stood by me in my trials." Lk 22:28
Also note an example in Paul's life who says, "Because of my chains, most of the
brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more
courageously and fearlessly." Php
But while some receive comfort and encouragement from other people,
here he speaks also of receiving comfort from God. Used to be that
people would find a tree on a hill and cut down all the trees around it
so that alone it would have to endure the wind. After some time they
cut it down and used it as a mast of a ship. For enduring tribulation
alone can make one particularly strong.
is this happening to me?
2Cor 1:8-11We do not want you to be uninformed,
brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We
were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we
despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt 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. 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 favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
An aspect of going through difficult situtations that is often
overlooked is their potential effect to enhance one's ministry by
Developing one's perseverance
Revealing the depth of one's convictions to oneself and others
Helping to relate with those going through similar things
But it is not simply one's reaction to circumstances that is the
essential issue, but rather one's experience of God's comfort in the
midst of difficult circumstances. For the Christian life is cannot be
lived simply on the basis of one's own will and decisions, but rather
in the midst of obeying God the Christian finds strength in his
experience of God.
Paul found strength in the midst of circumstances he describes as ,"We were under great pressure, far
beyond our ability to endure." But his strength was not found in
his will or determination. It is good for Christians to go
through distressing circumstances, for as Paul says, "this happened that we might not rely
on ourselves but on God." Whether we tend to rely on
ourselves or on other people, we need to learn to rely on God, setting
our hope upon Him to deliver us.
Relying on God is a process learned by persevering through troubles. If you intend to serve
God through the long-haul expect setbacks and discouragements, even
disillusionment as one's expectations are torn apart. It's all part of
the process of learning to rely on God. Israel was sent into the desert
to learn to rely on God. "He
humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna,
which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man
does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the
mouth of the LORD."Deut 8:3
know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken
those who seek you."Ps 9:10
Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of
trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.Ps 50:14,15
2Cor 1:12Now this is our boast: Our conscience
testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially
in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from
God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to
Now just as in the book of Galatians, so also Paul is alluding to a
contrast between his team and that of the those who are having a bad
influence upon the Corinthians. For example he later says, "we have renounced secret and shameful
ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On
the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves
to every manís conscience in the sight of God." 2Cor 4:2, alluding to those who are
distorting the gospel to justify their shameful lifestyle. And also he
says later, "Unlike so many, we
do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we
speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God."2Cor 2:17 alluding
are peddling the gospel for financial gain.
A good principle of living, "I
strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." Acts 24:16 So "Pray for us. We are sure that we have
a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way."Heb 13:18
2Cor 1:13,14 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.
Paul's sincerity is revealed by his frankness in communication. He
doesn't have a hidden agenda. He is open and direct in his
communication and speaks plainly. If you read post-Biblical
theologians, many of them are hard to understand, even while using an
abundance of words and very little scripture. To me that's just a sign
of a poor teacher. Many such people like to say things that "sound"
spiritual but which are so vague as to be practically meaningless. "The
goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good
conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and
turned to meaningless talk.They want to be teachers of the law, but
they do not know what they are talking about or what they so
confidently affirm."1Tim 1:5-7 And "I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent
deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the
simplicity that is in Christ." 2Cor
11:3 Don't overcomplicate it. The Bible is alot easier to
understand than the writings of many post-Biblical theologians.
Intentionally and Decisively
2Cor 1:15-20 Because I was confident of this, I
planned to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I planned
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. When I
planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly
manner so that in the same breath I say, "Yes, yes" and "No, no"? 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 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.
The point is to be intentional walking in one's convictions rather than
half-heartedly indecisive about one's plans. While one should not boast
presumptuously about one's plans, making false promises.
And whatever God has promised will come to pass because He is faithful
to his word, and so should we be faithful to our word according to the
spirit of the law, "When a man
makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a
pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said." Num 30:2 "If you make a vow to the LORD your
God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly
demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin."Deut
with a Guarantee
2Cor 1:21,22Now 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
Jesus said, "All men will hate
you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." Mt 10:22 But in fact those who are
in Christ will stand firm to the end due to the nature of the
regeneration, as John wrote, "No
one who is born of God will continue to sin, because Godís seed remains
in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9 Thus he could say of those
who leave the faith, "They went
out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had
belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going
showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19 For no one born of God
leaves the faith.
Yet standing firm also involves exercising faith. "Because it is by faith you stand
firm." 2Cor 1:24b Those
who are of the faith will in fact exercise their faith and
characteristically follow Jesus,
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."John
10:27 And by doing so show themselves among the elect.
The Holy Spirit is a seal in two senses. One is that he is a sign of
ownership. For "if anyone does
not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."Rom 8:9"And you also were
included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your
salvation. Having 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 Godís possession" Eph 1:13,14 Those who are in Christ
are eternally secure.
Micromanaging the Mature
2Cor 1:23,24I call God as my witness 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.
Christian leadership are to lead by example, not lording it over the
flock. Peter writes to the elders,
"Be shepherds of Godís flock that is under your care, serving as
overseersó not because you must, but because you are willing, as God
wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording
it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1Peter 5:2,3 If Christian followed
your example what do you suppose the Christian community would look
Likewise Jesus said to his disciples, "You know that the rulers of the
Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority
over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great
among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be
your slaveó just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to
serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."Mt
Interesting to note Paul's application here. Sometimes the best thing
is to leave people alone to apply themselves, rather than
micromanaging. One is reminded of the over-protective mother who never
lets her kids grow up. Christian leadership needs to allow for
Christians to take initiative and apply themselves, not being
micromanaged. Too much emphasize on institutional programs, and too few
opportunities to minister as a mature Christian with freedom from
unnecessary oversight will make the church into a bunch of babies who
never grow up.