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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1-2

The Salutation- The passage of Scripture in 2 Corinthians 1:1-2 is called the salutation and is found in all thirteen of Paul's New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).

2 Thessalonians 3:17, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."

In 2 Corinthians 1:1-2 we have the opening salutation in which Paul introduces himself and Timothy to the Corinthian church.

2 Corinthians 1:1 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:

2 Corinthians 1:1 — "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God" - Comments (1) - To those churches and individuals in which Paul displayed his apostleship over them in order to give correction and doctrine, he introduces himself as "an apostle of Jesus Christ" ( Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:1, 2 Timothy 1:1 and Titus 1:1). To the Philippians Paul describes himself as a "servant." This is because within the context of this epistle Paul will give examples of himself ( Philippians 1:12-20), of Jesus Christ ( Philippians 2:1-11), of Timothy ( Philippians 2:19-24) and of Epaphroditus ( Philippians 2:25-30) as servants who laid aside their own wills and in order that to fulfill the will of those in authority over them. For this is the message and theme of Paul's epistle to the Philippians. To Philemon Paul declares himself as a "prisoner of Jesus Christ," because his message to Philemon was about a slave, or prisoner, who was serving Philemon. In his two letters to the church of Thessalonica Paul defers the use of a title in order to equate himself as co-workers with Silas and Timothy. He will refer to his apostleship in 1 Thessalonians 2:6, but he will be mindful to use it in the plural form as a co-worker with Silas and Timothy. This is because he emphasizes their need to labour together until Jesus returns.

Comments (2) - Paul refers to his office as an apostle in nine of his thirteen epistles. In contrast, John never referred to his office. Some scholars suggest that Paul makes this reference because he was often challenged by others in this office, unlike John. Peter also opens his epistles stating his apostleship in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 1:1 — "and Timothy our brother" - Comments- Timothy is referred to again in 2 Corinthians 1:19 of his second epistle to the Corinthians as one of three ministers who initially came and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

2 Corinthians 1:19, "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."

2 Corinthians 1:1 — "with all the saints" - Comments- Paul addresses his Church epistles to the "saints." This description for his recipients reflects the underlying theme of his epistles, which is the sanctification of the Church. In contrast, Peter addresses his first epistle to the "the strangers scattered," or "sojourners," which is a reflection of its theme of the perseverance of the saints.

The epistles of Paul were written to the church, not to lost people, to people who were born again, not to the world. All of Paul"s epistles were written to believers. This is a very important point in interpreting many passages in his epistles.

2 Corinthians 1:1 — "with all the saints which are in all Achaia" - Comments- With this added phrase, Paul extends his intended recipients beyond the city of Corinth, and into the province of Achaia, to which the city of Corinth belongs. Thus, this becomes a circular letter.

This phrase also makes it evident that other churches were being planted out of the Corinthian church. One example of this is found in Romans 16:1, where Paul refers to Phebe, a member of the church in Cenchrea.

Romans 16:1, "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:"

Cenchrea was a seaport city seven or eight miles east of Corinth on the Isthmus of Corinth, the seaport to the west being called Lecheum. Paul visited this city during the end of his second missionary journey and perhaps started or strengthened a church there.

Acts 18:18, "And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow."

2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:2Comments (The Pauline Greeting) - Scholars discuss the meaning of Paul's epistolary greetings from two different angles, either an historical approach or a theological approach.

(1) The Historical Approach - The historical approach evaluates the history behind the use of the words "grace" and "peace" in traditional greetings, with this duet of words limited in antiquity to New Testament literature. J. Vernon McGee says the word "grace" in Paul's greetings was a formal greeting used in Greek letters of his day, while the word "peace" was the customary Jewish greeting. 42] More specifically, John Grassmick says the Greek word χαίρειν was a common greeting in classical Greek epistles (note this use in Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26, James 1:1), so that χάρις was a "word play" Paul used in conjunction with the Hebrew greeting "peace." 43] Thus, Paul would be respectfully addressing both Greeks and Jews in the early Church. However, Paul uses these same two words in his epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon , which weakens the idea that Paul intended to make such a distinction between two ethnic groups when using "grace" and "peace." Perhaps this greeting became customary for Paul and lost its distinctive elements.

42] J. Vernon McGee, The Epistle to the Romans , in Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Romans 1:1.

43] John D. Grassmick, "Epistolary Genre," in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.

(2) The Theological Approach- Another view is proposed by James Denny, who explains the relationship of these two words as a cause and effect. He says that grace is God's unmerited favor upon mankind, and the peace is the result of receiving His grace and forgiveness of sins. 44] In a similar statement, Charles Simeon says the phrase "‘grace and peace' comprehended all the blessings of the Gospel." 45]

44] James Denney, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, in The Expositor's Bible, eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.), 15-16.

45] Charles Simeon, 2 Peter , in Horae Homileticae, vol 20: James to Jude (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1833), 285.

Comments (The Pauline Blessing) - In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host ( Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God's peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God"s peace upon it.

Matthew 10:13, "And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."

This practice of speaking blessings upon God's children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. We see in Ruth 2:4 that this blessing became a part of the Jewish culture when greeting people. Boaz blessed his workers in the field and his reapers replied with a blessing.

Ruth 2:4, "And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee."

We also see this practiced by the king in 2 Samuel 15:20 where David says, "mercy and truth be with thee."

2 Samuel 15:20, "Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee."

Song of Solomon , this word of blessing was a part of the Hebrew and Jewish culture. This provides us the background as to why Paul was speaking a blessing upon the church at Ephesus, especially that God would grant them more of His grace and abiding peace that they would have otherwise not known. In faith, we too, can receive this same blessing into our lives. Paul actually pronounces and invokes a blessing of divine grace and peace upon his readers with these words, "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." I do not believe this blessing is unconditional, but rather conditional. In other words, it is based upon the response of his hearers. The more they obey these divine truths laid forth in this epistle, the more God's grace and peace is multiplied in their lives. We recall how the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, with six tribes standing upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people and six tribes upon Mount Ebal to curse the disobedient ( Deuteronomy 27:11-26). Thus, the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28:1-68 were placed upon the land. All who obeyed the Law received these blessings, and all who disobeyed received this list of curses. In the same way, Paul invokes a blessing into the body of Christ for all who will hearken unto the divine truths of this epistle.

We see this obligation of the recipients in the translation by Beck of 2 Peter 1:2, "As you know God and our Lord Jesus, may you enjoy more and more of His love and peace."


Verses 3-7

Explanation: The Father's Predestined Ministry of Comfort and Hope to His Servants - In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Paul explains the ministry of the Father in comforting His servants in the midst of their tribulations and sorrows ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7). In this passage, Paul expresses his steadfast assurance of the Father's willingness through His divine foreknowledge to comfort all who suffer for His name sake.

Opening Prayers in Ancient Greco-Roman Epistles- Paul begins many of his epistles with a prayer, a feature typical of ancient Greco-Roman epistles as well, 46] with each prayer reflecting the respective themes of these epistles. For example, Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the church at Rome ( Romans 1:8-12) reflects the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in redeeming mankind. Paul's prayer of thanks for the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 1:4-8) reflects the theme of the sanctification of believers so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through them as mature believers walking in love. Paul's prayer to the Corinthians of blessing to God for comforting them in their tribulations ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7) reflects the theme of higher level of sanctification so that believers will bear the sufferings of Christ and partake of His consolation. Paul's prayer to the Ephesians ( Ephesians 1:15-22) reflects the theme of the believer's participation in God the Father's great plan of redemption, as they come to the revelation this divine plan in their lives. Paul's prayer to the Philippians ( Philippians 1:3-11) reflects the theme of the believer's role of participating with those whom God the Father has called to minister redemption for mankind. Paul's prayer to the Colossians ( Colossians 1:9-16) reflects the theme of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the life of every believer, as they walk worthy of Him in pleasing Him. Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4) reflects the theme of the role of the Holy Spirit in our complete sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. Paul's second prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) reflects the theme of maturity in the believer's sanctification.

46] John Grassmick says many ancient Greek and Roman epistles open with a "health wish" and a prayer to their god in behalf of the recipient. See John D. Grassmick, "Epistolary Genre," in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.

The Purpose of Suffering and Consolation- Throughout 1 Corinthians 1:3-7 Paul is going to make a clear distinction between himself and his traveling companions and between the believers as Corinth and throughout Achaia. He will use the words "our" and "your" in reference to the way God has chosen the apostles to suffer in behalf of the body of Christ. Theirs, as apostles of Christ, is a life of greater suffering in order to bring about perfection and maturity to the body of believers. Thus, Paul will use himself throughout this epistle as an example of one who partakes of the sufferings of Christ in order to build up the body of Christ.

Illustration- 1 Corinthians 1:3-7 gives us a brief summary of the contents of the epistle of 2Corinthians. Paul says that the sufferings that he endured were for their sake that they might be comforted during their tribulations. One great illustration of this theme was stated by prophetess Juanita Bynum. In the early 1990's, she was at a point of feeling worthless after having gone through many trials, including a divorce. When she laid her heart open to the Lord, He replied by telling her that she was now a "weapon of power". The Lord began to explain that the power in a gun does not lie in its size or in its shape; but, it lies in the bullet that is powered by the gunpowder packed inside a small primer. This powder had to first be crushed and ground into a powder in order to become useful. Still, it could be blown away with the slightest breath. However, when this gunpowder is pressed inside a cap and placed inside the gun, it becomes a powerful weapon. In the same way, God has to crush us and then remold our hearts like gun powder being packed into a primer in order for our lives to become useful to Him. At this point, our testimonies become like a bullet in a gun. When it goes forth, it becomes a powerful weapon of power able to transform many lives. 47]

47] Juanita Bynum, Weapons of Power, on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 16 June 2004.

2 Corinthians 1:3 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 — "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" - Comments (1) - In this epistle which reveals the sufferings of Paul the apostle to a greater extent that any of his other epistles, we see a man who has chosen to rejoice and bless God. He has taught this principle the church at Colossi.

Colossians 1:24, "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body"s sake, which is the church:"

The divine revelations of the glory that is to be revealed are the basis for rejoicing in this present evil world. Note:

1 Peter 4:13, "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."

We see in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 how these revelations have come to Paul as a result of his sufferings, as a means of strengthening him, so that he can endure.

Comments (2) - The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, His deity and Godhead as a part of the trinity is the foundation of the Christian faith. This doctrine was severely attacked for the first few centuries of the early church. Here, Paul bases his epistle on this foundation, which is the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was the result of His resurrection from the dead.

We see the adversity that Jesus faced by calling God His Father.

John 5:18, "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God."

2 Corinthians 1:3 — "and the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort" - Comments- Many of Paul"s epistles open with a description of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ that will match the theme of the epistle. This is the case in 2Corinthians. The opening verses reveal a part of God"s character that matches the theme of this letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 1:3 Paul mentions the Father as a Father of mercies and a God of all comfort. Paul will take much effort in revealing to his recipients the sufferings that he has endured for his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the response from God as One who has shown him an abundance of mercy and comfort during his tribulations.

The description of God the Father as "the God of all comfort" means that there is no trial too difficult for God to work in and to comfort us. Therefore, we should not fear circumstances of life, knowing that God will give us the grace and comfort to handle any situation, no matter how difficult. This is one of the major themes that runs throughout this epistle.

It is the office of the Holy Spirit to bring God's children comfort. Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit to His twelve disciples for the first time at the Last Supper by calling Him the "Comforter" ( John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7). The epistle of 2Corinthians places emphasis upon the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit, particular in the aspect of sanctification that involves comforting the saints. We see also from 2 Corinthians 1:3 that this comfort by the Holy Spirit is brought about because of the Father's compassion and mercy towards His children, in the same way that we comfort our children above other children because of the abundance of mercy we have for our own.

2 Corinthians 1:4 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.

2 Corinthians 1:4"Who comforteth us in all our tribulation" - Comments- There is not a trial that we face, but which God is there to comfort us. This is because He is touched by our feelings of hurt and pain.

Hebrews 4:15-16, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Illustration- As a young believer, the first year of my Christian walk was very difficult. I was learning to break away from the old life style. I had to crucify my flesh and affections for things of this life. The second most difficult period of my life was the time when I left the Southern Baptist church, seminary and denomination. Many family members and friends not only left, but provided some persecutions. It was during these two periods of my life that I experienced the most grace of God. I was caught up in heaven to hear an angelic choir. One night, the Holy Spirit came into my room and filled the room until I had to ask the Spirit to life.

I learned at that point in my life that I never had to fear the difficulties of life again. I learned that when life became difficult, God"s presence and His grace came in the form of the Holy Spirit to comfort us. As I look back on these difficult years, I see them as the most precious years of my life with God"s presence. Note:

Romans 15:5, "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:"

2 Thessalonians 2:16, "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,"

This theme of God's comfort will be Revelation -stated in another way in 2Corinthians when Paul tells the Corinthians that he prayed for God to deliver him from the thorn in the flesh. God's answer to Paul that God's grace was sufficient for him ( 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

2 Corinthians 1:4 — "that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble" - Comments- Only those who have been afflicted can understand the feelings of others who suffer in similar ways. Paul will talk about his afflictions later in this epistle. For this same reason Christ partook of flesh and blood and experienced suffering so that He could be a compassionate High Priest in our behalf ( Hebrews 4:15 to Hebrews 5:2).

Within the context of the message in 2Corinthians on sorrow and Paul's testimony of full consecration, note Kathryn Kulhman's comment, "No man can give to another any more than they have experienced themselves." 48] Illustration: When Paul and Silas were released from prison, having been beaten, they returned to comfort the brethren.

48] Kathryn Kuhlman, "I Believe in Miracles," on This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 28 January 2008), television program.

Acts 16:40, "And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed."

2 Corinthians 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:5"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us" - Comments- The term "sufferings of Christ" mean suffering for righteousness sake. It is not referring to sickness and poverty, which are curses of the law.

Philippians 3:10, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"

1 Peter 2:21, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:"

1 Peter 4:13, "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."

Scripture References- Note a similar verse:

Psalm 34:17-20, "The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken."

2 Corinthians 1:5Comments (1) - Throughout this epistle, Paul the apostle declares his authority in the body of Christ by backing up his declaration with examples of his sufferings for the kingdom of God. As Rick Joyner says in his book, The Final Quest, true peace and safety is not avoiding the dangers of serving the Lord, but is found by living in the will of God, even when sufferings are experienced. 49]

49] Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1977).

Paul walked in authority because he had suffered for the kingdom of God. Just as we receive healing by the stripes of Jesus, others are able to receive healing through our sufferings.

Those believers who are willing to face danger and risk their lives are those who love the Lord more than their own lives. True leaders in God"s kingdom, who carry true spiritual authority, must prove their devotion by a willingness to sacrifice and suffer for the kingdom"s sake.

Luke 17:33, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."

2 Corinthians 1:5Comments (2) - The measure of your comfort depends upon the measure of your sufferings, and the measure of the comfort you give depends upon the measure that God has given you. The more you suffer for Christ, the more comfort you can give to others. This is a reason that a Christian can rejoice in tribulations.

Illustrations:

1. Paul's sufferings ( Acts 9:16) were the reason he was able to write such letters from God of comfort and exhortation.

Acts 9:16, "For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name"s sake."

2. Corrie Ten Boom - Her years in Jewish concentration camps and God's grace giving her a forgiving heart was what God used so much in her ministry. 50]

50] Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (New York: Random House, Inc, 1982).

3. David - David suffered much abuse in his life. But oh, how many hundreds of years and millions of souls have been comfort by God's controlling words to him in the Psalm.

2 Corinthians 1:6 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.

2 Corinthians 1:6"which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer" - Scripture Reference- Note:

Luke 21:19, "In your patience possess ye your souls."

2 Corinthians 1:6Comments- In 2 Corinthians 1:6 Paul is saying that when he and his companions are afflicted while preaching the Gospel and establishing the churches, it is so that they can comfort other believers who have to endure similar sufferings for receiving the Gospel. He says that this system that God has put in place is effective in causing many believers to patiently endure the same kinds of suffers of Paul and his companions. Paul explains that the divine comfort and salvation that they receive from God is also effectively used to comfort and strengthen the believers. Thus, in 2 Corinthians 4:9-18, Paul was able to list his trials with the added hope of God"s delivering power.

This is why Paul can say in 2 Corinthians 1:6, "And whether we be afflicted, it is for" a purpose. In other words, God will use such afflictions in the lives of mature believers in order to perfect those who are weak in the faith. This is why Paul says, "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." ( 2 Corinthians 12:10)

2 Corinthians 1:7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

2 Corinthians 1:7Comments- Paul's hope and confidence in the Corinthian's ability to endure hardships in behalf of Christ is based upon the fact that he is sure of God's consolation towards them when they are suffering.


Verses 3-11

Paul's Testimony of Comfort from the Father: The Father Foreknew and Predestined Comfort and Hope for His Servants - In 2Corinthians we get a glimpse of what a man looks like who is walking in a mature level of sanctification. It is important to note that this passage gives us a perspective of the Heavenly Father's role in this mature level of sanctification. We immediately see a man who has dedicated his life to Christian service. He has endured suffering. The office and ministry of God the Father through His divine foreknowledge is now to comfort such servants in the midst of their sufferings. Paul will first explain the Father's ministry of comfort to His servants ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7), then give an illustration of the Father's comfort in his own life ( 2 Corinthians 1:8-11). Only those who have suffered affliction can understand the feelings of others who are cast down. Therefore, Paul will open his heart to the Corinthians and describe some of his afflictions later in this epistle.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

2. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 1:8-11


Verses 3-16

Paul's Spiritual Journey: His Ministry of Reconciling the World to Christ - 2 Corinthians 1:3 to 2 Corinthians 7:16 forms the first major division of this Epistle. In these seven chapters we have the testimony of Paul's ministry of reconciling the world unto Christ. It reflects the work of the foreknowledge of God the Father ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-11), justification through Jesus the Son ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-11), and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit ( 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 4:16) at work in the life of a mature servant, then God's role in bringing him to his eternal home in Glory ( 2 Corinthians 4:17 to 2 Corinthians 5:10). Paul then calls the Corinthians to be reconciled with God ( 2 Corinthians 5:11 to 2 Corinthians 7:16).

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

A. Paul's Testimony of the Father's Comfort — 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

1. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

2. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

B. Paul's Testimony of Jesus Christ — 2 Corinthians 1:12-20

1. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

2. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 1:15-20

C. Paul's Seal of the Holy Spirit (His Anointing) — 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 4:16

1. Indoctrination — 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:17

a. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:4

b. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 2:5-17

2. Calling — 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

a. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

b. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

3. Perseverance — 2 Corinthians 4:1-16

a. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

b. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 4:7-16

D. Paul's Hope of Glorification — 2 Corinthians 4:17 to 2 Corinthians 5:10

E. Paul's Call for Reconciliation — 2 Corinthians 5:11 to 2 Corinthians 7:16

Paul Explains Why He Changed His Travel Plans - In 2 Corinthians 1:15 to 2 Corinthians 2:1 Paul explains to the Corinthians why he had to change his original travel plans. It becomes obvious from comparing Paul's reference to his travel plans in his two epistles to the Corinthians that he had initial plans of visiting the Corinthians by a certain route that took him directly from Asia to Corinth, into Macedonia and back to Corinth before departing back to Asia. However, these plans were changed at some point in time, because he left Asia and entered Macedonia before spending the winter in Greece.

In Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians he tells them of his anticipated plans of coming to visit the Corinthians when he goes into Macedonian to strengthen the churches there ( 1 Corinthians 16:5-7).

1 Corinthians 16:5-7, "Now 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."

This very well may be the same travel plans that Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 1:15 to 2 Corinthians 2:1 that were changes. Since an adversarial group within the church of Corinth had accused Paul of being fickle and unstable with his promises, Paul felt compelled to explain his reasons for a change of plans by giving a Scriptural basis. He explains that he did not come at this time in order to spare them of grief from the punishment that he would have inflicted upon them. He bases the authenticity of his ministry to them on the seal of the Holy Spirit that worked mightily among them through the hands of him and his co-workers.


Verses 8-11

Illustration: Example of the Father's Comfort: Paul's Sufferings and Consolation - In order to illustrate the comfort that only the Heavenly Father can bring to those who suffer, Paul gives the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 an example of one of his most stressful experiences as a servant of Christ and the divine comfort that certainly followed. After Paul sets the theme of the second epistle of Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 1:2-7 by telling them the purpose of their sufferings and consolations in Christ, he then gives them perhaps his greatest example of a hardship that he endured for their sake on the mission field in the following passage of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.

At the time Paul wrote 2Corinthians he felt pressure on all sides. This was a difficult time in Paul's missionary journeys. He had just escaped the city of Ephesus with his life. The Corinthian church had been in revolt up until recently, which occasioned this second epistle to them. Judaizers were bringing "another gospel" to the churches of Galatia. He describes himself as being "pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that he despaired even of life." Never had he felt so helpless and dependent upon God for strength and divine intervention. However, his victory came through his "sentence of death," a decision that many Christians make. It is a decision that moves a child of God from the natural into the supernatural. It is such an attitude of selfless sacrifice that ushered in an abundance of divine revelations and heavenly consolation, as Paul will refer to in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.

In the natural it appeared as if Paul and his co-workers were going to be killed unless there was a divine intervention ( 2 Corinthians 1:8). As a result they had to make the decision to obey the Lord and preach the Gospel even if it cost them their lives, for their hope was in the resurrection of the saints and not in this life ( 2 Corinthians 1:9). Then Paul declares that God did faithfully intervene and delivered them, and that he will continue to deliver them ( 2 Corinthians 1:10). We find this same situation taking place when the three Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace ( Daniel 3:1-30). They, too, made the decision to obey the Lord even if it cost them their lives. God miraculously delivered them also. This verse illustrates Revelation 12:11.

Revelation 12:11, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."

Illustration- I cannot think of a better example of hardship and suffering for Christ Jesus during modern times than Arthur Blessitt who has carried a wooden cross into every nation on earth. There was one day when he was walking through Central America that a group of military soldiers surrounded his mobile trailer and demanded that he step out so that they could execute him. At that time, Mrs. Jan Crouch tells of how God woke her up in the middle of the night and impressed upon her to pray for Arthur Blessitt. Since he felt that he was going to die, he reached into his trailer to grab some Bibles and hand them out while being shot. To his surprise, when he turned around every soldier was lying on the ground. God wrought a miracle in that region as word spread that God had visited them that night in His power to knock down those soldiers. 51] We see how Blessitt had the sentence of death in his life and how Jan Crouch was moved to pray and intercede for his deliverance. This is an example of what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.

51] Arthur Blessitt, interviewed by Matthew Crouch, Behind the Scenes, on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 2008), television program.

2 Corinthians 1:8 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:

2 Corinthians 1:8"insomuch that we despaired even of life" - Comments- Strong says the Greek word ( ἐξαπορέομαι) (G 1820) means, "to be utterly at a loss, i.e. despond." BDAG says the phrase means, "despair of living." Thus, most modern English translations follow this translation.

The ASV reads, "that we despaired even of life."

Rotherham reads, "so that we despaired, even of life."

The NIV reads, "so that we despaired even of life."

The RSV reads, "that we despaired of life itself."

The YLT reads, "so that we despaired even of life."

2 Corinthians 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

2 Corinthians 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

2 Corinthians 1:10Comments- Paul believed that God would deliver him from every situation and danger. Yet, early Church tradition tells us that Paul was beheaded under the Roman Emperor Nero. Song of Solomon , why did God not deliver Paul then? We find the answer in 2Timothy. At that point in his life he felt that he had finished his course and fulfilled God's plan for his life. Therefore, he willingly laid down his life as a sacrificial offering unto death by martyrdom.

2 Corinthians 1:11 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.

2 Corinthians 1:11"Ye also helping together by prayer for us" - Comments- Paul recognizes that their prayers for him were a benefit in helping God to spare his endangered life.


Verses 12-20

Paul's Testimony of God the Father Calling the World to Reconciliation in Jesus Christ Through His Ministry: Paul Offers His Pureness of Heart - In 2Corinthians we again get a glimpse of what a man looks like who is walking in a mature level of sanctification. We must note that this passage gives us a perspective of the role of Jesus Christ in this mature level of sanctification. We immediately see a man who has dedicated his life to Christian service. He has been saved and transformed by the blood of Jesus and serves the Lord with a pure heart ( 2 Corinthians 1:12-14). He then gives us an example of his efforts to proclaim the Gospel without vacillating in its message ( 2 Corinthians 1:15-20).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

2. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 1:15-20

2 Corinthians 1:12-14 — Explanation: The Son's Ministry of Coming Again to Receive His Servants- In 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 Paul is attempting to explain how a true servant of the Lord is marked with the outward manifestation of favor with God because he serves with pure motives in anticipation of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. This passage of Scripture serves as the testimony of his conversion and justification through Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly Wisdom of Solomon , but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

2 Corinthians 1:12Comments- Paul and his companions behaved themselves in holiness and moral purity in their daily activities of this world. This was achieved, nor by fleshly wisdom ( James 3:14-16), but by the grace of God Almighty. Finally, Paul and his companions were especially careful to conduct themselves godly around the saints.

2 Corinthians 1:13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;

2 Corinthians 1:13Comments- Paul only writes to them what they are ready to receive and understand (Note 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Paul has fed them with milk and not with meat. Paul hopes that they will continue to know until the end, just as they have already partly understood the Gospel and perceived Paul's divine service ( 2 Corinthians 1:14). This is a reason they are to rejoice in one another.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"

2 Corinthians 1:14 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.

2 Corinthians 1:15-20 — Illustration: Example of Proclaiming Christ - Having explained the testimony of God's favor in his life as he anticipates the Second Coming of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 1:12-14) Paul then gives the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 1:15-20 an illustration of his right standing with God through Jesus Christ by explaining how with pure motives and godly sincerity he has proclaimed to them the Gospel without vacillating in its message ( 2 Corinthians 1:15-20).

2 Corinthians 1:15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;

2 Corinthians 1:15"that ye might have a second benefit" - Comments- The phrase "a second benefit" is translated, "twice receive a blessing" (NASB). This meant that Paul was to pass by and visit them twice.

NAB, "With this confidence I formerly intended to come to you so that you might receive a double favor,"

2 Corinthians 1:15Comments- In Romans 1:11 Paul tells them that he wants to visit them in order to impart a spiritual gift ( χά ρισμα). He mentions in the next verse that this gift means their mutual faith will bring comfort to both Paul and the Roman believers. This comfort can come in many forms. For some, it may be simply words of comfort and encouragement and love that strengthen their faith and wisdom. When believers get together, the anointing is often present. Song of Solomon , for others, their comfort may be an impartation of the anointing by the gifts of the Spirit. For still others, Paul may bring some love offerings and material gifts. God knows what each individual at Rome needed. Note that in 2 Corinthians 1:15, Paul makes a similar statement when he tells them that his next visit will bring them an additional benefit, or grace ( χά ρις).

Romans 1:11-12, "For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That Isaiah , that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."

2 Corinthians 1:16 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.

2 Corinthians 1:16Comments- Paul would visit them twice when he stopped by Corinth on his way to Macedonia and returned to Corinth on his return to Judea.

In 1 Corinthians 16:5-7 Paul had promised to visit them twice; once to pass through unto Macedonia, and again to perhaps winter with them.

1 Corinthians 16:5-7, "Now 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."

2 Corinthians 1:17 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?

2 Corinthians 1:17"When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness" - Comments- Paul saying, "Did I speak with lightness of speech", i.e, "speech lacking in seriousness." Paul is saying that he was serious about what he said to them.

2 Corinthians 1:17"or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay" - Comments- Paul is saying that he was not walking in the flesh when he said he would visit (yea, yea) and did not visit (nay, nay). In other words, he was being led by the Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 1:23, Paul says that he did not yet visit them as he had promise in order to "spare" them. The Living Bible reads that Paul would have had to deal severely with them.

NLT, "Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn't return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke." ( 1 Corinthians 1:23)

2 Corinthians 1:18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.

2 Corinthians 1:18Comments- In 2 Corinthians 1:18 Paul defends his integrity by saying that during his entire ministry to and relationship with the Corinthians he has never been a person who vacillated with his words. He will then give an example of how his message of the Gospel has been consist and without contradiction ( 2 Corinthians 1:19-20).

2 Corinthians 1:19 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.

2 Corinthians 1:19Comments- In 2 Corinthians 1:19 Paul says his message of the Gospel that he preached to them during these years has been consist and without contradiction. Thus, Paul is not a person who vacillates in word.

We have another reference in Acts 18:5 to Silas and Timothy assisting Paul in founding the church at Corinth.

Acts 18:5, "And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ."

2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

2 Corinthians 1:20"For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen" - Comments- God's promises are true. God will never back down from fulfilling any of them through Jesus. God is faithful to His Word. God fulfills all of His promises through Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:20"unto the glory of God by us" - Comments- So it is through Jesus and because of Jesus that we say, "Amen," and give to God the glory that He alone deserves.

2 Corinthians 1:20Comments- The reason that the Gospel message that Paul preached unto the Corinthians was consist is because God's promises are consistent. There are many promises from God in the Scriptures, and it is through Christ that every single one of these promises are "yes." Wherefore, through Jesus we say, "Amen," or, "I believe and trust in God's Word."

All of God"s children are in His will when they desire to receive any promise that is in God's Word. It is not just some of God"s promises, nor are these promises just for some Christians, but all of these promises are for all believers.

Illustration- In the fall of 1988, I had just moved back to Fort Worth, Texas in order to finish seminary. I found a small Assembly of God church in Hurst, near to the apartments that I was living in. I began to notice that many of the sermons by the pastor declared that sometimes God takes Christians through hard times in order to test their faith. He said that God does not always hear or deliver a person. This message troubled me, and as I began to meditate on this message, the Lord quickened to me this very verse. The Lord was assuring me that all of His promises work all of the time, when a believer looks to Him in faith.


Verse 21

Explanation: Establishing the Corinthians in the Faith - In 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:4 Paul explains to the Corinthians that God had anointed him and established them and sealed them with the Holy Spirit. They stand by faith in God's Word. He explains why stayed away from Corinth in order to avoid damaging their faith in Christ.

Paul's Painful Visit and Sorrowful Letter- 2 Corinthians 2:1 makes a reference to a second visit that Paul the apostle made to the church at Corinth. We have other references to this visit in 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1.

2 Corinthians 12:14, "Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children."

2 Corinthians 13:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."

This would have been his second visit to them, because he tells them he is planning on making a third trip. Although we have no reference to this visit in the book of Acts , he tells them that he came in heaviness at that time.

We have another reference to the tone of this second visit in 2 Corinthians 12:21.

2 Corinthians 12:21, "And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed."

It would be unlikely that he is referring to his first visit as painful. Thus, scholars describe this second one as the "painful" visit. These problems could have been caused by sectarian groups fighting for preeminence, or from a refusal to carry out Paul's instructions regarding the problem of incest within the church.

As to the time of this visit, most scholars believe that it took place after Paul wrote 1Corinthians. This is simply because he makes no reference to this painful visit in this earlier epistle. We can suggest that this visit took place before his "sorrowful letter", which he refers to in 2 Corinthians 2:3-4. We can suggest from 2 Corinthians 2:6; 2 Corinthians 2:9 that the sorrowful letter was intended to instruct the church to discipline the wrongdoer, whom he confronted on his painful visit. He also wrote it in order to avoid another painful visit ( 2 Corinthians 2:4), to show his sincere love for their wellbeing ( 2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:12), to test their obedience ( 2 Corinthians 2:9) and

Evidently, after the delivery of 1Corinthians Paul's relationship with this church deteriorated. So he made a hurried visit to Corinth only to be confronted with adversaries. Now, Paul was a man who had seen much adversity and persecution come against him. When it comes from your own children it hurts much more. This seems to be the tone that Paul used when he returned to Ephesus and sadly wrote the sorrowful letter and sent it by the hand of Titus.

We read in 2 Corinthians 7:6-16 the Corinthian response to Paul's severe letter. Paul recall's the message that he received from Titus of how they had repented with godly sorrow and of their fervent desire towards Paul. He justifies his harshness in the letter after seeing its results.

As to the identity of this "severe letter" mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:2-4, most scholars agree that it is no longer extant. However, there are some scholars who make observations that must be considered. Scholars do not believe this to be a reference to 1Corinthians, because its tone is much more severe that we find in that lengthy epistle. However, the events of 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 seem to correspond to those of 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 7:12. The contents of 1Corinthians was not written in the place of another painful visit, but rather in response to some new disturbing reports and a list of questions brought by a delegate from the Church. Thus, whether these two passages refer to the same event or not, we cannot view 1Corinthians as the "sorrowful letter."

One interesting proposal suggests that 2Corinthians 10-13contains portions of the sorrowful letter. We must acknowledge that these last four chapters of 2Corinthians turn from a tone of reconciliation into something harsher. However, most scholars feel that the contents of these chapters do not fit the description of the harsh letter. Thus, most scholars believe that this sorrowful letter is indeed a lost letter.

2 Corinthians 1:23Comments- Evidently, during Paul's initial visit which he promised in 1 Corinthians 16:5-6 he was confronted by this group of Jewish emissaries who had embedded themselves within the believers in Corinth and had persuaded many to abandon Paul's leadership and follow them. There must have been a public confrontation, and many sincere believers were left confused by such a harsh exchange of words within their congregation. Thus, Paul altered his plans by headed into Macedonia and back to Ephesus, without returning through Corinth, as he had promised. He felt it better to avoid further strife amongst a young congregation and settled back in Ephesus after this "painful visit." Another visit may have done more harm than good at this time. He then wrote what is described as the "sorrowful letter" and sent it by the hand of Titus. It was a difficult letter to write, and accompanied with much tears. It is always difficult to punish your own children, but its rewards outweigh the pain.

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

2 Corinthians 1:24Comments- Since Paul has just said that he spared then by not visiting (because he loved them) ( 2 Corinthians 1:23), he explains that he is not trying to "dominate" them by telling them what they must believe (NLT), or force them to do certain things, but to help them have a joyful life of faith, because by faith is how a person stands firm.

NLT, "But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm."

2 Corinthians 2:3"I wrote this same unto you" - Comments- Paul wrote to them the letter of 1Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.


Verse 21

Paul's Seal of the Holy Spirit (His Anointing) - In 1 Corinthians 1:21 to 1 Corinthians 4:16 Paul explains the role of the Holy Spirit in his spiritual journey of serving the Lord. This passage will open with the statement that he has been sealed with the Holy Spirit, the guarantee of his inheritance ( 2 Corinthians 1:22) and his discussion on his glorification will close with the same statement ( 2 Corinthians 5:5). Paul will explain how his has been called to indoctrinate them in the faith ( 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:17), and how the calling of the Gospel excels over that of Moses ( 2 Corinthians 3:1-18), and how he is determined to persevere ( 2 Corinthians 4:1-16) in order to reach his eternal home in Glory.

Outline- Note the proposed outline:

1. Indoctrination — 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:17

a. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:4

b. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 2:5-17

2. Calling — 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

a. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

b. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

3. Perseverance — 2 Corinthians 4:1-16

a. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

b. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 4:7-16


Verse 21

Indoctrination: The Gospel as an Aroma of Christ- In 2Corinthians to 2 Corinthians 2:17 we again get a glimpse of what a man looks like who is walking in a mature level of sanctification. It is important to note that this passage gives us a perspective of the role of the Holy Spirit as He uses God's servants to indoctrination believers in this sanctified lifestyle. We immediately see a man who has dedicated his life to Christian service. He is attempting to impart a blessing upon God's children through the knowledge of Christ. His role is to establish them in the faith. Paul first explains how they are established by faith in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:4), then he illustrates his efforts to establish them by charging them to forgive the offender and receiving him back into fellowship ( 2 Corinthians 2:5-11). Paul then compares the ministry of teaching the doctrines of Christ with the analogy of a sweet-smelling fragrance being dispersed abroad. It brings life to those who received it and death to those who reject it ( 2 Corinthians 2:12-17).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Explanation — 2 Corinthians 1:21 to 2 Corinthians 2:4

2. Illustration — 2 Corinthians 2:5-17

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/2-corinthians-1.html. 2013.

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