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Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ ctf/ 2-corinthians-1.html. 1993-2022.
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/
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Paul’s Apostolic Greeting
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
Paul: "Paul," who also goes by the name of Saul, is referred to by Jesus as "Saul of Tarsus" (Acts 9:11). He is born into a Jewish family, of the race of Israel, and of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). His father’s being a Roman citizen indicates that Paul naturally inherits this same distinction. When he is among the Romans, he is usually called "Saul"; but when he is among the Gentiles, he generally identifies himself by the name of "Paul."
In the scriptures, Luke first depicts Paul as one who zealously loves God; but because of his misunderstanding of the law of Moses, he does not believe Jesus is the Messiah. He is an enemy of Christians (Acts 23:1; Acts 26:9). He approves of Stephen’s being stoned to death. While creating confusion within the churches throughout Judea and Samaria, he goes into houses of suspected Christians committing to prison every man and woman. Luke, while recording Stephen’s death, mentions Paul and says:
And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. … Now Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison (Acts 7:58; Acts 8:1; Acts 8:3).
Paul is later found "still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1). As he makes plans to go to Damascus, he first goes to the high priest to receive authority to detain Christians with whom he may come in contact on his journey and bring them "bound to Jerusalem" (9:2). While on his journey to Damascus, with the intention of continuing his persecution of Christians, Paul’s life unexpectedly changes. Speaking of Paul, Luke says:
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do (9:3-6).
Paul is handpicked by Jesus to be His messenger—that is, to preach His gospel, not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Speaking to Ananias about Paul, Jesus says, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15). A short time after reaching Damascus and receiving instructions from Ananias, Paul is baptized (9:18); and within days, he goes to the synagogue preaching that Jesus is "the Son of God" (9:19-20).
an apostle of Jesus Christ: An "apostle" (apostolos) is "a delegate" (Thayer 68-2-652), or as Robert G. Bratcher says:
A person who has been sent out to speak on behalf of the one who chose him, and to act in his name. An apostle is not simply a messenger but an authorized representative, somewhat like an ambassador (5).
God and Jesus select Paul to be an apostle. In nine of the fourteen letters he writes, Paul identifies himself as an apostle. To the Christians in Rome and Corinth, he says he is "called to be an apostle" (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1). To the churches of Galatia, he says he is "Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)" (Galatians 1:1). To the saints who are at Ephesus and Colosse and in his second letter to Timothy, he identifies himself as "an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God" (Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1). In a passing statement about not seeking glory from men, he identifies himself among "apostles of Christ" to the church of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:6). When writing his first letter to Timothy, he distinguishes himself as: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1). In writing to Titus, he says he is both "a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ" (Titus 1:1).
Even though Paul has repeatedly identified himself as an apostle, it is more important in this letter because certain Judaizers are teaching that Paul is not an "apostle" (1 Corinthians 9:1); therefore, he does not delay to declare his apostleship.
by the will of God: Paul is called to be an apostle "by the will of God." The preposition "by" (dia) is "denoting the channel of an act" (Strong 22). Paul does not decide on his own that he is an apostle of Jesus. Neither does he become an apostle by being selected by another man. The channel or the way through which Paul becomes an apostle is "the will of God." "The will" (thelema) of God means that Paul becomes an apostle because it is God’s "choice" (Thayer 285-1-2307). His apostleship is "not assumed of himself; it is a mission from God" (Bernard 37).
and Timothy our brother: "Timothy" is not Paul’s physical brother. He has the same relationship to Paul as Sosthenes does in Paul’s first recorded letter (1 Corinthians 1:1). The expression "our brother" is used both times to refer to a "fellow-Christian" (Bloomfield 205). Paul meets Timothy during his trip to Derbe and Lystra:
Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek .And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem (Acts 16:1-4).
Timothy apparently is one of Paul’s most favorite co-workers, and he writes two letters directly to Timothy. In the first letter, Paul expresses the love and closeness he has for him, saying, "Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Timothy 1:2).
Timothy is with Paul in Ephesus when he hears the disturbing news of the conflicts in the church in Corinth. Paul, at that time, could not return to Corinth; therefore, he sends Timothy to assist in correcting these problems. Paul writes:
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17).
On another occasion, Paul writes to the church of Christ in Philippi and says:
I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel (Philippians 2:19-22).
unto the church of God which is at Corinth: The word "church" (ekklesia) "in the New Testament is people, not a building or an institution" (Bratcher 6) and refers to "a company of Christians" (Thayer 196-1-1577). The expression "church of God" (ekklesiaitoutheou) is found eleven times in the New Testament to identify the children of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:5). In this context, Paul refers specifically to Christians in the congregation at Corinth. Corinth, which is today Southern Greece, was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. Luke records the establishment of the church in Corinth:
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized (Acts 18:1-8).
with all the saints which are in all Achaia: Paul intends this second letter to be accepted and obeyed, not only by the church of Christ in Corinth but also by the "saints" throughout the province of Achaia. The word "saints" (hagios) is a designation of Christian converts. The phrase "church of God" and the word "saints" both refer to the followers of Jesus Christ.
Achaia is the country separated from the main land by the Isthmus of Corinth. Possibly because of the uproar in Corinth, many Christians may have left the city. John Calvin writes:
…this phrase refers to believers, who were dispersed hither and thither, throughout various corners of the province—it being likely, that in that greatly disturbed period, when the enemies of Christ were everywhere venting their rage, many were scattered abroad, who could not conveniently hold sacred assemblies (110).
Paul may include another geographic area as a way of spreading God’s message throughout the world. J.W. Shepherd says:
One of Paul’s methods in his evangelistic work was to reach the surrounding country from some city as a strategic center. As early as A.D. 48, at Antioch in Pisidia, on his first missionary tour, it is said: "The word of the Lord was spread abroad throughout all the region." (Acts 13:49). Doubtless all Achaia in a similar way heard the word of the Lord, resulting in many becoming Christians. There were Christians at Athens (Acts 17:34), and at Cenchreae (Romans 16:1). Although the epistle is addressed to the church at Corinth, Paul includes in the salutation all the Christians in the province of which Corinth was the capital. They were certainly associated with the brethren in Corinth in some intimate way and must have known something of the difficulties that had arisen there (Vol. III 21).
Henry Alford writes:
This, and the Epistle to the Galatians, were circular letters to all the believers in the respective countries: the variation of expression in the two cases being accounted for by the circumstance that the matter of this Epistle concerned directly the church of Corinth, and indirectly all the saints in the province—whereas that to the Galatians, being to correct deep-rooted Judaizing error, directly concerned all the churches of Galatia—Achaia comprehended Hellas and Pelponnesus; the province was so named by the Romans because they became possessed of them by subduing the Achean (627).
The history of Achaia is recorded in the Acts of the apostles:
And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat (18:12-16).
Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace be to you and peace: The two words, "Grace" and "peace" are customary expressions of prayer found in every letter written by the Apostle Paul with the exception of Hebrews. In the spiritual sense, "Grace" (charis) "is the Greek salutation, (and) peace is the Jewish" (Marvin R. Vincent, Vol. III 186). The word "grace" "contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved" (Thayer 666-1-5485). "Grace" is God’s favor or blessing. The word "peace" (eirene) means not only the tranquil state of life without conflict but "the sense of well-being which results from the proper relationship that God’s people have with God and with one another" (Bratcher 6).
from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ: "God our Father" and "the Lord Jesus Christ" are placed before the Corinthians as the only source of grace and peace. The pronoun "our" is inclusive, meaning all Christians. Paul’s desire is for all Christians in Corinth to receive spiritual blessings from God. His prayer is that as God and Jesus help him and comfort him in his sufferings that the same blessing will be bestowed upon the Corinthian Christians.
Suffering and Comfort
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: The word "Blessed" (eulogetos) means "praised" (Thayer 260-1-2128) or to speak well of. The Greek verb eulogetos translated "Blessed" is the word from which we get our English word eulogy. "Blessed" (eulogetos) is found eight times in the New Testament and always refers to God (Mark 14:61; Luke 1:68; Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3). It is as an expression showing adoration and confidence in Him. God is described by His relationship to Jesus as "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Bratcher translates this phrase saying: "Thanks be to God, who is the God and Father of Jesus Christ, our Lord" (7).
the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort: The plural word "mercies" (oiktirmos) means "manifestations of pity" (Thayer 442-1-3628). The word "comfort" (paraklesis) means "encouragement" (Thayer 483-2-3874). The phrases "the Father of mercies" and "the God of all comfort" impart one major thought. Bloomfield says the message is: "God is the fountain of mercy and the source of comfort" (205). Meyer says, God is "The compassionate Father and God who worketh every consolation" (417). God is the God of everything desirable. He is the:
God of glory
Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran (Acts 7:2).
God of peace
The God of peace be with you all. Amen (Romans 15:33).
God of grace
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
God of hope
The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13).
God of love
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).
God of patience
The God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5).
God of comfort
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).
The "Father of mercies" means "the Father who is merciful—a Father who is "kind or compassionate" (Bratcher 7). Paul is not indicating separate acts of kindness, but instead he refers to God’s constant attitude of kindness. God often shows compassion or kindness to Paul as he confronts tribulations and afflictions; however, he still needs the "comfort" that only God provides. In the expression "the God of all comfort," Paul portrays God as "the author and bestower of comfort" (Thayer 483-2-3874). Paul is in need of comfort because of the persecution he faces. He writes of the times when he was persecuted and says:
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (11:24- 27).
The comfort Paul receives from God benefits him, for even though he faced all the afflictions mentioned above, he says:
… I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (12:9-10).
Paul is also in need of God’s comfort because of the intense concern he has for God’s children. He says, "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches (11:28).
In verse 3 through verse 7, the word translated "comfort" (paraklesis) occurs ten times, indicating the importance of the subject.
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
The pronouns "us," "our," and "we" refer to Paul, but the same message can be applied to every apostle or even to every Christian who faces similar persecutions. Paul often writes of himself in the plural "as an idiomatic way of speaking, when often only the singular is intended" (Alford 628). On other occasions Paul refers to himself by interchanging both plural and singular modes of expression in one sentence. Paul says,
For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things (11:5-6).
Commenting on Paul’s plural mode of expression, Meyer says:
Even in the plural mode of expression, however, he has always himself and his own relations primarily in view; and, owing to the versatility of his mode of conception, it is often quite a matter of accident whether he expresses himself singulariter or communicative (417).
On the other hand, there are times in which Paul is careful not to refer to himself in the plural. Meyer says:
He does not express himself communicative, but in the singular, where he gives utterance to his own personal conviction or, in general, to anything concerning himself individually (417).
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation: The word "comforteth" (parakaleo) means to "bid any one to take courage, by suggesting to him the reasons for hope and confidence" (Bloomfield 205). In this passage, the words "tribulation" and "trouble" come from the same Greek word, thlipsis meaning "oppression, affliction, distress, straits" (Thayer 291-1-2347). Paul expresses his gratitude to God who shows mercy to him by comforting him in his tribulation. The specific affliction that Paul has in mind is probably the troubles he faced in Asia that he references later in this chapter:
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead (1:8-9).
that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God: Personal experiences, regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, can be beneficial for the one who goes through the experiences. We see the unselfishness of Paul is here displayed. While he experiences severe persecution, he does not think only of himself but instead he contemplates how he can console others during their persecution by imitating the comforting acts God bestows upon him during his persecution. Adam Clarke says:
Even spiritual comforts are not given us for our use alone; they, like all the gifts of God, are given that they may be distributed, or become the instruments of help to others. A minister’s trials and comforts are permitted and sent for the benefit of the Church (314).
Paul’s message is that God comforts us, just as He has comforted Paul, to teach us how to comfort others (see verse 6.). J.W. McGarvey says, "Paul regarded affliction as a school wherein one who is comforted of God is thereby instructed and fitted to become a dispenser of comfort unto others" (170).
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: The word "sufferings" (pathema) means "misfortune, calamity, evil, (or) affliction" (Thayer 472-1-3804). The expression "sufferings of Christ abound in us" means sufferings endured for His sake. Paul speaks of "the afflictions which Christians must undergo in behalf of the same cause for which Christ patiently endured" (Thayer 472-1-3804).
so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ: A Christian’s "consolation" (paraklesis) is the "comfort (or) solace" (Thayer 483-2-3874) that "aboundeth" (perisseuo) or comes in "abundant(s)" by Christ (Thayer 505-2-4052). Because of the union Christians (such as Paul and Timothy) have with Christ, they are persecuted—they suffer as Christ suffered.
A person is identified as a follower of Christ—a Christian—when he willingly suffers as Christ suffered. Jesus foretells of His followers’ being persecuted for His namesake. He says:
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also (John 15:20).
The act of Christians’ suffering with Christ is a common message of Paul. To the saints in Philippi, Paul says: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Philippians 3:10).
In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul says:
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Romans 8:16-17).
Because of Paul’s perseverance in faithfulness to Jesus during times of persecution, he receives "consolation" or "comfort" from God. Bratcher translates: "Christ suffered, and we also suffer as he did; and as Christ was helped by God, so by means of Christ we are helped by God" (8). Paul taught the same message to the churches of Galatia, saying:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Peter imparts the same message about suffering for Christ when he says:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified (1 Peter 4:12-14).
And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation: Paul continues his thoughts from verse 4 and makes a distinction between himself ("we") and his readers ("your") in order to encourage them by using his suffering and comforts as an example. Bloomfield says, "The Apostle means to say, that both his affliction and his consolation is calculated to profit them" (206). Paul loves the Corinthians and willingly explains to them of the afflictions that he endures for their benefit. A person generally has great appreciation for another when he realizes the trouble or expense he goes through on their account. Albert Barnes observes:
We are under the deepest obligations of gratitude to one who suffers for us; and there is nothing that will bind us more tenderly to any one than the fact that he has been subjected to great calamity and trial on our account. This is one of the reasons why the Christian feels so tenderly his obligation to the Lord Jesus Christ (10).
which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: The words "effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings" mean the sufferings for Christ’s sake endured by Paul would have a tendency to promote salvation for the Corinthians.
The sentiment of the whole passage is, that their eternal welfare would be promoted by the example of the apostles in their trials, and by the consolations which they would be able to impart as the result of their afflictions (11).
Paul writes a similar message to the Christians in Ephesus when he says, "I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory (Ephesians 3:13).
or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation: The word "whether" (eite) means "if" (Strong 26); however, Paul does not imply that there is doubt about his past suffering. Bratcher’s suggested translation is clearer, saying, "Because we suffer, you receive help and salvation…" (9). The words "consolation" (paraklesis) and "salvation" (soteria) refer to eternal salvation. The affliction and comfort endured by Paul in other areas, such as in Ephesus, benefit the Corinthians by giving him the experience and the opportunity to continue teaching them the instructions of Jesus Christ. The Christians in Corinth need Paul’s spiritual guidance in the same way that the saints in Philippi need his teaching. Paul says:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith (Philippians 1:21-25).
And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
Paul’s "hope" for the Corinthians is steadfast. The word "hope" (elpis) means "expectation of good" (Thayer 205-2-1680). The word "hope" in the New Testament is "practically equivalent to confidence (or) assurance" (Bratcher 9). Paul has confidence and the expectation of eternal salvation for the Christians in Corinth. Paul has such strong confidence in the Corinthians’ salvation because he knows they are "partakers" (koynonos) or "a sharer" (Thayer 352-2-2844) of the sufferings he has endured. The "sufferings" Paul refers to here is not to one single affliction but to many of the examples of his past sufferings. Alford says:
The sufferings which the Corinthian brethren must endure are here represented as the same as those of the Apostle; i.e., the reference is not to any special affliction such as that alluded to in ver. 8, but to the troubles which came upon him in the general discharge of his Apostolic office and upon all those who were engaged in the struggle against Judaism on the one side and heathendom on the other (39).
By Paul’s saying "knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings" unmistakably proves the Corinthians have already been subjected to similar afflictions to those he endures. Since some of the Corinthian Christians share in Paul’s sufferings they automatically share in his "consolation." The "consolation" (paraklaysis) is the "comfort" (Thayer 283-2-3874) that Christ gives to Paul, the Corinthians, and others who suffer for His sake. Bloomfield says the Corinthians "were partakers of his sufferings by sympathy; and of his consolation they could not fail to be likewise partakers, by being likeminded, and as firm in the faith as he was" (206).
Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Great Persecution
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia: Paul illustrates his message about afflictions by calling to the Corinthians’ remembrance his recent experiences of which they were aware but appear to have forgotten. Some writers believe Paul is referring to a specific physical illness he suffered while living in Asia; however, this view does not follow the contextual teaching. In verse 5, Paul refers to his trouble as "sufferings of Christ." These sufferings for Christ benefited the Corinthians in their "consolation and salvation" (1:6). "Trouble," in the sense of a physical sickness, would not benefit anyone’s salvation. Paul wants the "brethren" in Corinth to remember the evil that confronted him in Asia. He does not want them to be "ignorant" (agnoeo) meaning "not to know" (Thayer 8-1-50) or to have forgotten the circumstances that confronted him.
Paul uses the generic term, "trouble" instead of recounting the specific "trouble" because the Corinthians well know of Paul’s situation in Asia. There were several occasions when he preached, knowing he would face persecution and even physical harm. In an earlier letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentions a time that he "fought with beasts" (1 Corinthians 15:32). These "beasts" were not literally four-legged wild beasts, but instead Paul is speaking figuratively of the violence and brutality he received from people in Ephesus. Paul, speaking to the elders of Ephesus about his upcoming trip to Jerusalem, says:
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me (Acts 20:22-23).
Paul introduces Priscilla and Aquila to the Christians in Rome and praises them for their help, saying:
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles (Romans 16:3-4).
"Asia" refers to the Roman province of Asia, which was the capital city of Ephesus; the area that today is called Turkey.
that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: While in Asia, Paul was "pressed out of measure." To be "pressed" (kata) means to be "down" (Thayer 326-2-2596). To be pressed "out" (bareo) means "to be weighed down, oppressed, with external evils and calamities" (Thayer 95-2-916). Therefore, to be pressed out of "measure" (huperbole) means to be "exceedingly" (Thayer 640- 2-5236) oppressed with evils. The description of being "pressed out of measure" indicates the extremely distraught circumstances Paul faced. He says his trouble was "above strength" (huperdunamis) meaning his persecutions were "beyond (his) power" (Thayer 159-1-1411) to overcome by himself; therefore, he "despaired" (exaporeomai), meaning he was "utterly at a loss." "There seemed no way out" (A. T. Robertson 210), and he was ready to "renounce all hope" (Thayer 221-2-1820). His treatment was so horrible that he expected to die.
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves: The word "But" (alla) is "an ascensive transition or gradation (meaning) moreover" (Thayer 27) and "carries on and intensifies the description of his hopeless state" (Meyer 60). The word "sentence" (apokrima) means a verdict or "an answer" (Thayer 63-1-610). Paul does not say that a judge has legally pronounced a death sentence to him. By the expression "the sentence of death," Paul means that because of the intensity of his treatment escalating, he was certain his death was imminent. He was in utter despair of life. Meyer says the clause "we had the sentence of death in ourselves" means "our answer within ourselves to the question, ’Life or Death?’ was ’Death’ " (630).
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Paul looks on the positive side of his horrible situation. He realizes the evil he faced helps him not to "trust" (peitho) or "have confidence" (Thayer 498-1-3982) in himself, but in God. As stated in the previous verse, Paul knows his situation was beyond his control to change. The only way to escape the death was to trust in the God "which raiseth the dead" to rescue him. Paul’s "thoughts were weaned from all hope of surviving in this life, and fixed on that better deliverance which God shall work when He raises us from the dead" (Meyer 630). Paul’s expectation of death was so certain that the deliverance from death appeared to be a kind of a resurrection from the dead.
Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
The word "delivered" (rhoumai) means "to rescue" (Thayer 564- 1-4506). The clause "so great a death" shows Paul was not expecting a speedy, peaceful death, but a long, torturous violent death. Paul’s expectation of death did not occur because God took control over the situation and saved him. E.M. Zerr says, "This gave him renewed faith in the power and goodness of God in delivering him from other conditions that threatened him" (46).
The idea of being delivered in this verse is found in three tenses. It is spoken of, first, in the past tense—"delivered us." Paul is thankful that because of his prayers and the prayers of the Corinthians his troubles in Asia did not lead to death; however, the danger confronting him was not over. He needs continual prayer for the present time; therefore, the present tense—"doth (does) deliver" us is used. Finally, Paul uses the future tense— "will yet deliver us," showing his trust and confidence that God will deliver him in the future. Bloomfield translates: "Who formerly delivered, now delivereth, and, we hope and trust, will yet again deliver us" (207).
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
Ye also helping together by prayer for us: Paul acknowledges that the Corinthians assist him by praying for him. Prayer was an important part of Paul’s life. He often requested others to pray for him. In writing to the church of the Thessalonians, Paul simply says, "Brethren, pray for us" (1 Thessalonians 5:25). In his second letter to the Thessalonians, he says, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:" (2 Thessalonians 3:1). In his letter to the Christians in Rome, he begs for prayer for several areas of his life, saying:
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed (Romans 15:30-32).
Paul clearly believes in prayer and knows that the Corinthians’ praying for him will further the work he does among them and other churches.
that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf: The word "that" (hina) means "in order that" or "inasmuch as what follows is not the thing prayed for, but the purpose of the prayer" (Ezra P. Gould 153). The "gift" (kharismah) is his deliverance from death. Thayer says the "gift" is the "deliverance from great peril to life" (Thayer 667-1-5486). The word "persons" (prosopon) means the "countenance" (Thayer 551-2-4383) of many faces as the people turned toward God to pray for him.
Paul refers to three actions:
1. Many people pray for Paul during his time of persecution.
2. God answers the prayers offered for Paul and blesses him.
3. Other people offer prayers of thanksgiving for God’s blessing Paul by delivering him from his oppressors.
Proof of Paul’s Sincerity
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience: Paul continues speaking of himself in the plural sense with the use of the pronouns: "our" (three times) and "we" (one time). He first mentions his personal rejoicing. The word "rejoicing" (kauchesis) means "the act of glorying" (Thayer 342-2-2746) or "boasting" (NKJV). "It is not the testimony of which he boasts, but in which his boasting itself consists" (Alford 631). In other words, Paul is able to boast because of the testimony of his conscience. He is satisfied with the moral qualities of his actions and attitude. The word "testimony" (marturion) means "proof" (Arndt and Gingrich 494). The word "conscience" (suneidesis) refers to "the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending the one, condemning the other" (Thayer 602-2-4893). Paul’s conscience is his evidence that the things he has done and the decisions he has made will prove his actions are in harmony with God’s will.
that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom: "The two terms (simplicity and sincerity) are nearly synonymous; both denoting candour and sincerity" (Bloomfield 207). "Simplicity" (haplotes) means "mental honesty" (Thayer 57-2- 572). The word "godly" (theos), indicating what is holy or God- like, is used in contrast with the word "fleshly" (sarkikos), meaning "having the nature of flesh" (Thayer 569-1-4559) or what is human-like. Paul describes his sincerity as "godly" sincerity to emphasize that his honesty is to the highest ground possible. He contrasts his godly "sincerity" (heilikrineia), meaning "ingenuousness" (Thayer 175-1-1505) or his God-like honesty to that of human "wisdom" (sophia), meaning "the wisdom which belongs to men…craftiness" (Thayer 581-1-4678). Paul references this same type of godly sincerity in a previous letter when he says, "Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8). The "fleshly wisdom" means the dishonest actions of sinful men. "Fleshly wisdom is any thing but holy and pure, having many windings and insincerities in order to captivate men" (Alford 631). The simplicity and godly sincerity that Paul says characterize his conduct are supreme, divine qualities; and because these acts are exhibited in him, he recognizes them as God’s gift to him.
but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward: Instead of being dishonest, Paul rejoices that the testimony of his conscience proves his actions do not come by fleshly wisdom but "by the grace of God." Paul taught the same message in his previous letter to the Corinthians when he says:
My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power...Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 2:13).
The word "grace" (charis) "is used of the merciful kindness" of God (Thayer 666-1-5485). Because of the grace of God or the "gracious help of God" (Bloomfield 208), Paul says he "had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." The word "conversation" (anastrepho) is "an expression used with reference to conduct of whatever kind" (Bloomfield 208) and means "the manner of life and moral character" (Thayer 42-2-390) of his life in the world and more "abundantly" (perissoteroso), meaning "above others" (Thayer 506-1-4056) to the Corinthians. In this verse, Paul refers to God’s exerting His holy influence upon him. Because of God’s grace Paul is strengthened and retains his Christian virtues in his dealings with all mankind and especially in his dealings with the Corinthians.
For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge: It appears that some factions among the Corinthians claim that some of Paul’s teaching in his previous letters was written in ambiguous language and that later he changed the teaching and interpreted them as it suited his purpose.
Therefore, Paul supports his claim that he has been honest by referring to his previous letters to them. The word "than" (alla) means "other than" (Robertson 212). Paul says he is not writing anything new to them.
The Corinthians "read" (anaginosko), meaning "knowing again" (Robertson 212) or "recognize" (Bloomfield 208), Paul’s previous letters; and they have acknowledged them. To "acknowledge" (epiginosko) means "to know accurately, (to) know well" (Thayer 237-1-1921). McGarvey says:
The apostle shows himself conscious of the scrutinizing suspicion with which the Corinthians watched all his actions. He knew that to govern such a people he must walk with more than common circumspection. Therefore, with a careful, guarded spirit he had penned his letters to them so that there was nothing in them of doubtful meaning (173).
Paul is aware that the Corinthians are thoroughly acquainted with his teaching, and he encourages them to compare what he says in one letter to what he says in others to prove he is not misleading them; his letters have no hidden nor deceptive meanings. Everything is the same in all of his writings to them.
and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end: Paul says I "trust" (elpizo), meaning he "hope(s)" (Thayer 205-2-1679), the Corinthians will continue acknowledging, understanding, and accepting his teaching "even to the end." "The end" (telos) means that he hopes they will continue accepting his message until "the end of all things (i.e. of the present order of things)" (Thayer 620- 1-5056) when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed. Bloomfield says the real and full sense of what Paul is saying is: "For I write no other things [i.e. doctrine] unto you than what you read, what you even recognize [to be true], and I trust will always continue to acknowledge" (208). Alford says that Paul means:
My character in my writings is one and the same, not fickle and changing, but such as past facts have substantiated it to be, and as I hope future facts to the end of my life will continue to do (632).
As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.
As also ye have acknowledged us in part: In the previous verse, Paul writes about the Corinthians’ understanding of his letters: now he writes of their understanding him as a person. The word "acknowledged" (epiginosko) is used here in reference to "one’s character, will, (and) deeds" (Thayer 237-1-1921). Paul says they have acknowledged him "in part," meaning Paul realizes he does not have unanimous support of the Corinthians; but he does have approval of "part" or most of them while others were still prejudiced against him.
that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours: Paul speaks in the present tense to show that what he says "is a settled recognized fact" (Alford 632). The word "rejoicing" (kauchema) means "that of which one glories or can glory, matter or ground of glorying" (Thayer 342-2-2745). Most of the Christians in Corinth were proud of their relationship with Paul and rejoice or glory in him for being their teacher. They recognize he led them to salvation by teaching God’s message to them. Not only did the Corinthians rejoice for having Paul in their lives, Paul also rejoices for the Corinthians’ being in his life as his converts. Paul always rejoices for all he has led to Christianity. To the saints in Philippi, he says:
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me (Philippians 2:16-18).
Paul also speaks the same message to the Thessalonians he converted to Christ, saying:
What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
in the day of the Lord Jesus: The expression "in the day of the Lord Jesus" was a common expression of Old Testament prophets (see Isaiah 13:6; Isaiah 13:9; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15; Zechariah 14:1). Paul also frequently uses this expression (see 1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). The expression "in the day of the Lord Jesus" means the final judgment day when God will judge every person. Thayer says "the day" (hemera) is "the last day of the present age, the day in which Christ will return from heaven, raise the dead, hold the final judgment, and perfect his kingdom" (278-2-2250).
Paul Defends Himself of the Charge of Fickleness for Not Having Come to the Corinthians Earlier
And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.
And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before: Paul cares when others Christians have false suspicions about his motives. Some Corinthians do not believe Paul is honest about his reason for not returning to Corinth sooner. Paul had devised a plan of travel that would allow him the opportunity to go to Corinth two times. At some point, probably in the lost letter referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:9, he informs the Corinthians of his plans; however, his plans changed as he indicated in his last letter:
I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries (1 Corinthians 16:5-9).
When he does not go to Corinth as he originally planned, he is not concerned because he has confidence they will understand. The word "confidence" (pepoithesis) means "trust (or) reliance" (Thayer 500-2-4006). He is sure the Corinthians will completely understand his reasoning for not having already returned to visit them. Paul says, "I was minded to come unto you before." The word "minded" (boulomai) means "to will deliberately" (Thayer 105-1-1014). The word "before" (proteron) means Paul deliberately planned to go to Corinth "prior" (or) "before something else is or was done" (Thayer 552-1-4386). His original intention was to go to Corinth, maybe, for a short visit as he was traveling from one place to another and then to return for a longer visit later.
that ye might have a second benefit: Paul’s original purpose for going to visit them two times was to give them a "second benefit." The word "benefit" (charis) means "a token or proof of grace" (Thayer 666-2-5485). The "second benefit" refers to the advantage the Corinthians would receive from his teaching and from receiving spiritual gifts during his additional visit—one visit on his trip to Macedonia and this second visit on his return from Macedonia.
And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you: Paul was in Ephesus; he left to go to Macedonia, a Roman province that consists of what is most of Northern Greece today. When he left Ephesus, he planned to go directly to Corinth, then leave Corinth and continue his trip to Macedonia. After working in Macedonia for a while, his original plan was to backtrack and return for another visit in Corinth; however, he changed his plans and did not go directly to Corinth. Instead he went straight to Macedonia. It was not uncommon for Paul’s plans to change during his travels when doors of opportunity were opened to preach the gospel to the lost (2:12). Those in Corinth who oppose Paul took advantage of his altered plans and criticize him for not doing as he originally announced.
and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea: Paul is not saying he expects financial support from the Corinthians as when he went to Judaea. The words "to be brought on my way" (propempo) mean "to send forward, accompany or escort" (Thayer 541-1-4311). It was customary for traveling apostles to go to a city to preach the gospel and then when he is ready to depart, some of the Christian families would walk with him for a few miles. An example of this action is seen when Paul went to Tyre. Luke, speaking of Paul’s trip to Tyre, records:
Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship (Acts 20:38).
When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?
When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness?: It appears those who oppose Paul in Corinth accuse him of changing plans about coming to Corinth for no reason except for his personal desire and that he never intended to return as he said. Paul responds by asking a rhetorical question: "When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness?" The word "minded" (bouleuo) means "to resolve" (Thayer 104-2-1011) or to make up your mind. Therefore, Paul says, "When I made up my mind not to come directly to Corinth, did I use lightness?" The word "lightness" (elaphria) means "fickleness of mind" (Thayer 202-1- 1644). The rhetorical question demanding a negative answer is asking: Did I decide not to go directly to Corinth for selfish reasons? Answer: "No!"
or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?: The word "purpose" is translated from the same Greek word, bouleuo, that is also translated "minded" and means "to resolve" (Thayer 104-2-1011). Paul reaffirms his previous thought and emphasizes that his decision about not returning to Corinth as soon as he originally announced was not based upon "the flesh," that is, upon selfish reasoning. Alford says that "according to the flesh" means "according to the changeable, self-contradictory, and insincere purposes of the mere worldly and ungodly man" (633). The original announcement was also not said with "yea yea, and nay nay." In other words, Paul did not say "yes" and "no" at the same time, and he denies the accusation that he stated he was going to Corinth but never intended to go. Bernard explains Paul’s argumentation, saying:
His argument is that, although the details of his original plan had been altered, yet in spirit and purpose it was unchanged; there is no room for any charge of inconsistency or fickleness. His principles of action are unchangeable, as is the Gospel which he preaches. He had promised to go to Corinth, and he would go (44).
But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
Paul’s enemies have cast doubts about his trustworthiness in teaching the true word of God. Their proof that he cannot be trusted is based upon the fact that he said he was coming to Corinth but did not come when he said he would. It appears they are saying that as he said he would come but did not, he will also preach one message on one occasion and then teach the opposite message later. Therefore, Paul says, "But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay." The word "true" (pistos) means "faithful" (Thayer 514-1-4103). Paul appeals to God as his witness that his "word," meaning his "doctrine and preaching" (Bloomfield 209) of Jesus, "was not yea and nay" (see verse 19 for proof that preaching Jesus is what Paul has in mind when he says "word").
The expression "not yea and nay" means Paul did not preach one thing but have as an objective to change it later. There is a difference that allowed Paul to change his original words about going to Corinth but would not allow him to change his preaching of God’s word. Paul’s original plan to go to Corinth before going to Macedonia was not God’s plan. It was his decision—his plans; therefore, it was his prerogative to change those plans. Preaching God’s word, however, did not originate with Paul; therefore, he can never change the messages about Jesus’ doctrine. Bloomfield says, "My purpose to come to you was my own, — wherefore I attained it not; but my doctrine is of God, and what, as such, cannot deceive" (209).
In other words, Paul is leading up to the fact that there was a wise and good reason for his delay in visiting them.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
Here Paul is confirming what he says in the preceding verse about his preached "word." He reminds the Corinthians that Jesus "was preached" among them by him, Silvanus and Timotheus. "Silvanus" is another name for Silas, who is spoken of as being with Paul in Corinth. Luke says:
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; …And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ (Acts 18:1; Acts 18:5).
Paul names his traveling companions as a way to prove that his teaching is consistent not only as he personally preaches from place to place but also consistent with the teaching of other preachers—Silas and Timothy. They all preach the same message about Jesus.
To "preach" "Jesus Christ" is to "proclaim the gospel and matters pertaining to it" (Thayer 346-2-2784). Paul’s point in referencing the fact that he talked to the Corinthians about Jesus is to emphasize that he did not say one thing about Jesus on one occasion and then change his teaching about Him on another. The emphasis here is the unchangeableness of Jesus and His doctrine. Paul’s message about Jesus is always consistent. In another letter Paul writes: "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). There is no room for change in regard to Jesus and His doctrine.
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
For all the promises of God in him are yea: Verse 20 is restating the same message as verse 19. Every promise of God is "yea" (yes) means that every promise is definite and will remain true to the end of time. No changes will ever be made.
and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us: The expression "and in him Amen" means that the promises of God are plain and sure and are certain to be fulfilled. Paul rejoices that his preaching about Jesus contributes to the glory of God.
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
The definitive ground of Paul’s steadfastness in Christ is God. God is the common factor that links Paul to the Corinthian converts. To reconfirm his trustworthiness to the Corinthians, Paul identifies four positive things that God has done for him:
1. God "stablisheth" (bebaioo) him in Christ. The word "stablisheth" (bebaioo) means "to make firm, establish, confirm, (or to) make sure" (Thayer 9-2-950). To establish one with another means to have the same belief. Bratcher translates: "God assures us that we, together with you, belong to Christ" (18). There is no fickleness in Paul’s preaching.
2. God "anointed" (chrio) him. Paul’s message here is that God has set him apart to do His service as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Bratcher translates: "God chose us for our work" (18).
3. God "sealed" (sphragizo) him. To be "sealed" indicates ownership. Paul belongs to God, meaning he is shown to be God’s by the changes in his life. Paul teaches the same message to the Christians in Ephesus, saying:
4. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
5. God gave "the earnest of the Spirit" in Paul’s heart. The word "earnest" (arrhabon) means "to pledge" (Thayer 75-1-728). As is true with all Christians, God gives the Holy Spirit in some degree to every Christian at the point of baptism (Acts 2:38). The Holy Spirit is God’s pledge to fulfill every promise He has made to those who obey Him.
Paul’s Reason for Postponing His Return to Corinth
Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul: For the first time, Paul explains why he did not go to Corinth when he originally intended: "I call God for a record upon my soul." The word "record" (martus) means Paul calls upon God "to be a witness" (Thayer 392-2-3144) to prove what he is about to say is true. To "call God for a record upon my soul" means Paul willingly places his soul in jeopardy of being lost if what he says is false. He uses a similar expression to confirm his words to the Christians in Rome: "God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Romans 1:9). He states the same sentiments to the churches of Galatia: "The things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not (Galatians 1:20).
that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth: Paul’s reasoning for not returning to Corinth earlier was "out of a feeling of compassion" for the Corinthians (Alford 635). He wants to "spare" (pheidomai) them. If he had returned to Corinth as first planned, he would have been forced to discipline them because of their disorderly state regarding the incestuous person who should have been removed already. Paul says:
I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? (1 Corinthians 4:19-21).
Paul, therefore, gives instructions about how the Corinthians are to take care of the sinful issues within the church before he comes. For example, in his previous letter Paul says:
I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:3-7).
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
Not for that we have dominion over your faith: Paul insists he is not a tyrant over their faith. The words "have dominion over" (kurieuo) mean "to rule over" (Thayer 365-1-296). Their faith did not come from Paul but from God’s word (Romans 10:17). It is not his responsibility to rule over their faith, but it is his duty as an apostle to insist they follow God’s word. As a church, they must exercise disciplinary actions for the sins among them.
but are helpers of your joy: By the word "helpers" (sunergos), Paul means "we labor with you to the end that we may rejoice in your Christian state" (Thayer 603-2-4904). Paul’s desire is not to rule over their faith but to help the Corinthian Christians have joy and to avoid having to punish them. Paul’s conclusion is that it is the interruption of joy that encouraged him to forego his visit until later.
for by faith ye stand: The only ground for acceptance of God is faith in Jesus Christ. There is no way to express the strength of a person’s faith more than to acknowledge that the person stands in his faith—that is, that he perseveres in faithfulness to Jesus Christ.