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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 1

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-20

1 Timothy is associated with Paul in this introduction, as Sosthenes is in the former epistle, yet it is evident that Paul himself wrote both epistles, for he continually refers to himself in them, and usually specifies who is meant when he changes the usual "I" to "we". Corinth was the chief city of Achaia, hence the whole province was interested in and influenced by its internal spiritual condition. The many specific references to the ecclesia in the city make it plain that it was for the saints in the province only in a secondary sense, much as we profit by it today.

3 The opening words strike the key note of the epistle. God is introduced as the Father of pity and consolation. It engages us with that strong undercurrent of feeling which stirred the heart of the apostle to its very depths. Here we see the precious fruit of the gospel abounding in the apostle's dealing with his erring children. Paul's previous epistle evidently had its desired effect, for he would not think of consoling them in their sins and schisms and departures from the truth.

5 Paul's afflictions were, in a very real sense, "the sufferings of Christ", for they came, not as the result of his misdeeds, but because he proclaimed Christ's evangel. Not long before he had been in danger of death at the hands of a mob in Ephesus. He was suffering from some physical ailment. He was in much suspense about the Corinthians and their reception of his previous epistle. When he finds that they, too, have suffered, though it be for their own wrong doing, he is swift to console them, and sees in his own afflictions the means used by God to prepare him for this ministry. All this should be an object lesson to us to show how sin and suffering is being used by God to bring our hearts into closer union with Himself and with one another. And affliction is the surest means of ridding us of confidence in ourselves and of placing our reliance in God. Suffering for Christ's sake is the highest honor which can be accorded to mortal man. Just as His sufferings are the basis of the glories that shall follow, so our sufferings for His sake are sure to yield an untold harvest of happiness and exultation when He appears.

9 It seems probable that Paul was doubly in danger of death in Ephesus. The "rescript" of death may refer to a dangerous illness, while the death of "such proportions" seems best suited to the violence of the Ephesian mob. It is most likely that, had he attempted to speak to them during the excitement, nothing would have prevented the unruly multitude from tearing him to pieces in their frenzy. Now that he had come through these dangers he desired the Corinthians to join him in thanksgiving.

12 The apostle seems to be meeting the opposition of his enemies here, who accused him of insincerity and dishonesty in dealing with the Corinthians. His reply is that his course may not appeal to fleshly wisdom, but it is in accord with grace-a quality of which they knew little.

13 Perhaps some suspected him of writing privately, to individuals, what he did not dare to put in his public epistles. This he denies, and registers his assurance that ultimately they would recognize him as one in whom they might well boast in that day when the hidden motives of the heart will be made manifest.

15 Paul ackowledges that he formerly intended to come to them first, on his way to Macedonia, as well as to return to them on his way to Judea. His enemies probably accused him of being vacillating, and of changing his plans for fear he would not be well received in Corinth. But Paul insists that his plans are always made subject to God's further leading. Men in the flesh may make their plans and strive to carry them through from headstrong pride, but not so the plans of God's servant. Later on he gives the true reason why he did not go direct to Corinth. Not fear for himself, but for them, postponed his visit to a later date.

20 God's promises are not like those of His servants, but are always confirmed in Christ. He is not only able to carry out His will, but His promises are made with a full knowledge of all conditions such as might arise to change the course of one of His servants. They are fallible, He is infallible.

Verses 21-24

21 The operation of God's Spirit is here seen under three distinct figures: the anointing, the seal, and the earnest. Prophets and priests and kings were anointed for their office. They were anointed with oil. We are anointed with the spirit, as Christ, the anointed, was at His baptism. This qualifies us for service. The seal is the sign of possession. We belong to God. The earnest is that small instalment of the spirit which we have received, which is the pledge of its fullness in the day of deliverance.

23 In view of the devious motives which have been suggested as the reason why he had avoided Corinth, Paul solemnly calls God to witness, when he discloses the real reason. He wished to give them time to repent. He did not wish to be under the necessity of dealing harshly with them again. He looked forward to the day when those whom he had made sorry would rejoice. He did not wish to force their faith, as might be necessary if he did not wait patiently until his former epistle had borne its full fruition. That time now seems to have come. The present epistle is the fruit of much forbearance.

5 Paul's sorrow over the incestuous person, concerning which he wrote to them in his former epistle ( 1Co_5:1 ), was much modified because it was not countenanced by the majority. He did jot wish to burden them all with this serious sin. Now, indeed, that the majority have administered the needed rebuke, and it has had a salutary effect, he would have them restore him their fellowship again. He had doubtless been "delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh yet this was "that the spirit may be saved" ( 1Co_5:5 ). Such is the invariable object of God's judgments. They may seem harsh and vindictive, but they eventuate in salvation. They may seem baneful at first but they are all dictated by the love that uses them o reveal itself. Like the returned prodigal, the Corinthian sinner became the special object of their love. From this it is evident that God is able to use Satan himself, as a destroyer, for the ultimate welfare and blessing of the saints. It proved so in Job's case. May He not be able to undo all his deeds in this manner?

12 The grave and disquieting concern of the apostle for the Corinthians is most signally evident from his conduct at Troas. Once before he had been there, intending to preach the evangel, but the vision of the man of Macedonia drew him away. Now he finds himself not only in Troas but with a special opportunity for service. While he probably remained a considerable time and saw much to encourage further effort, his love and solicitude for the Corinthians draws him away again. He expected to meet Titus at Troas with news from Corinth. He was so concerned to know how they had received his epistle that he leaves the promising world in Troas and goes to Macedonia, probably meeting Titus at Philippi.

14 The true servant of Christ is always triumphant. He need not be concerned whether his message be received or rejected, but rather let him be sure that he is preaching Christ and Him alone. His course then, as the apostle's, will be like the triumph of a Roman conqueror.

Accompanied by his friends, and followed by captives laden with chains, while the whole procession is perfumed with the incense of many censers, the Roman triumph was but a rare occasion in the life of a general. It should be the continual course of the servant of Christ who so preaches His grace that its fragrance is found even on those who reject the message of life.

17 Too many in these days are like those the apostle condemns. They made the word of God a matter of commerce and a means of gain. May He forgive them for such an infamous offense! Such grace as we have to dispense loses its flavor when coupled with avarice or cupidity.

1 How the apostle's heart must have ached to think that his beloved Corinthians, who had been called into the grace of Christ tbrough his ministry, should be so unmindful of his claims on their affections! How pathetic his appeal! "You are our letter, engraved in our hearts." They certainly should not ask for his credentials, for they themselves were the very best that could be found. No doubt those who opposed him were of the Circumcision, for he brings in the contrast of the Mosaic law.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/2-corinthians-1.html. 1968.
 
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