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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

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Verses 1-11

Comforted to comfort

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

It is evident from the salutation that the apostle Paul is the author of this epistle and that it was written to the church at Corinth, probably from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, a year or so after the first epistle. In this epistle Paul defends his office and gospel against false teachers, urges the church to comfort and restore the fallen brother, writes of the true glory of God and reconciliation to God which is only seen in and accomplished by Christ Jesus, tells of his sufferings and afflictions in the service of Christ and gives perhaps the fullest instructions concerning collections, offerings and giving to be found the New Testament.

2 Corinthians 1:1. Paul identifies himself by name and office. His salutation is much the same as is found in other epistles and reveals that the true servants of Christ are not fond of fancy titles, before or after their names, and they ascribe their offices and authority to the will and call of God. God put Paul in the ministry and gave him his gifts (1 Timothy 1:12-14). In humility (characteristic of Paul) he includes young Timothy in this greeting, calling him ‘our brother’ in the grace of God and the ministry of the gospel. The epistle is addressed to the church at Corinth and to all believers in that region.

2 Corinthians 1:2. ‘Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Paul prays for an increase of grace, for every grace is imperfect in us, and those who have the most stand in need of more (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 1:1-3). By ‘peace’ is meant peace with God through Christ, peace and contentment in our own hearts and peace among believers and with all men. The Father is the giver and Christ is the fountain of all grace and peace in this life and throughout eternity.

2 Corinthians 1:3. The word ‘blessed’ means to praise, to thank, to speak of in the highest adoration and to give all glory to our eternal God. He is described as ‘the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ not by creation, as angels and men, nor by adoption as believers, but by eternal generation, having the same nature with him and equal to him in perfection, power and glory (John 1:1-3). The title ‘Father’ denotes his covenant relation to the Mediator and his seed (Galatians 3:16). He is called ‘the Father of mercies’ even as life, love, light and all mercies are from God (Micah 7:18), physical, material and spiritual! And he is called ‘the God of all comfort.’ There is no comfort nor rest except from him and in him. Whatever comfort believers enjoy, they have from the Father, who is their covenant God, through Christ, who is their Redeemer and Mediator and by the Holy Spirit, who is called the Comforter.

2 Corinthians 1:4. Two things are evident from this verse.

1. The apostle attributed all comfort, strength and grace; which he experienced in trials and tribulations, to God (Hebrews 13:5-6) as the fountain of mercies.

2. The gifts, grace and comforts which God bestows upon us are not merely for our own use, but in order that we may help and comfort others by the comfort we have from our Lord.

2 Corinthians 1:5. ‘The sufferings of Christ’ are not those which he suffered himself in our stead, but the persecution, afflictions and trials which ministers and believers endure on earth because of the gospel and opposition from men (2 Corinthians 4:7-10). Christ called Saul's persecution of believers a persecuting of himself (Acts 9:4; Matt. 25-40). God multiplies his comfort in Christ according to the measure of his trials. As our afflictions increase, so do our comforts in order that we may comfort others and not be overwhelmed with grief.

2 Corinthians 1:6. The afflictions and comfort, the sufferings and blessings of the apostles and other ministers of the gospel were all for the good of believers, who saw their boldness, submission and courage in trial, heard their comforting words (Philippians 1:13-14) and were encouraged to endure with faith the same trials. The spirit and attitude we exhibit both in trial and comfort have a great and lasting effect upon those to whom we minister the word (Philippians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 4:15-18). God uses men as ambassadors and examples (1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Peter 5:3).

2 Corinthians 1:7. ‘Our hope for you’ – that is, ‘our confident expectation the good work of God in regeneration, sanctification and in Christ, which is begun in your souls, will be carried on and perfected. You will continue in the faith and not be moved away from your profession of Christ by the afflictions and trials which you see in us and experience yourselves. Just as you share and are partners in our sufferings, you share and are partners in our comfort.’

2 Corinthians 1:8-9. We are not sure about the troubles Paul refers to in this verse but, whatever they were, he says they were so great he despaired even of life, for these trials were above his natural strength to bear them. It was his opinion that he would die, but God brought him to this extreme condition that he might lay aside all trust and confidence in human strength, wisdom and power to survive and be encouraged to trust in God alone, who raised the dead. If he is able to raise the dead, so he is able to deliver us at all times. Abraham believed this (Hebrews 11:17-19).

2 Corinthians 1:10. The Lord in mercy delivered us from this heavy affliction and, knowing that we are continually exposed to danger and death, he will continue to preserve and protect us! All three tenses - past, present and future - are mentioned, which shows Paul's confidence in God's goodness in delivering of troubles for his glory and our good. This confidence can also apply to our redemption. We have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9), we are being saved (l Cor. 1:18), and our salvation is nearer than when we believed (Romans 13:11).

2 Corinthians 1:11. Faith in God's purpose, power and sovereignty ought not to discourage prayer, the use of means, nor intercession for one another (James 4:2; Matthew 7:7-8). ‘You prayed for us and God was pleased to deliver us. Therefore, for this gift bestowed upon us by the means of many praying, many ought also to give thanks to God on our behalf.’ We ought to pray for those in distress, but we ought also to give thanks when prayers are heard.


Verses 12-24

All God's promises in Christ are yes

2 Corinthians 1:12-24

In the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:1-7), Paul indicated that he would stop in Corinth on his way to Macedonia and, after he had finished his business in Macedonia, he would come back to Corinth and spend a long time with them. Although these were his plans, the Lord ordered otherwise and Paul did not visit them. This change of plans caused many problems. Some accused Paul of levity, unfaithfulness, going back on his word and several other things. The enemies of Paul and the false teachers tried to capitalize on this and destroy Paul's influence with the Corinthian church.

2 Corinthians 1:12. Paul answers the charge that he had falsified his word in not coming to Corinth as he had promised, by appealing to his own conscience, integrity in the faith and sincerity towards the glory of God and his church. ‘I rejoice to inform you and all others that my conscience and conduct, my heart and mouth behave together in simplicity (not double-mindedness) and Godly sincerity (as opposed to hypocrisy); not with fleshly wisdom (craftiness to accomplish selfish ends) but by the grace of God dwelling in me, I have acted in the world and especially towards you in sincerity and truth.’

2 Corinthians 1:13. ‘There is no double meaning to what we say or write. The things which I write are what you know and must acknowledge to be truth (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20-21). I hope you will acknowledge them to be true to the end of your lives.’

2 Corinthians 1:14. ‘In part’ may refer to persons or things. ‘A part of you have owned us to be sincere ministers of God and have rejoiced and blessed God that you heard us, though others of you have abused us.’ Or, ‘You have in part (at one time) owned us and had cause to thank God for us. When the Lord Jesus shall come to judge the world in righteousness, I shall rejoice that my labour among you has not been in vain.’ What a blessing when ministers and people rejoice in each other here, and their joy shall be complete in that day!

2 Corinthians 1:15-16. ‘Therefore, being persuaded of your affection for me and my rejoicing in you and your love for Christ, I fully intended and promised to come to visit you on the way to Macedonia. The benefit you received from my first visit was to hear the gospel and be converted to Christ, so a second benefit would be your edification and growth in grace! I planned to visit you on the way to Macedonia and on my return, and to have you help me on my way to Judea.’ Yet, for some reason, Paul changed his plans. He deals with the matter further in 2 Corinthians 1:23 and chapter 2:1-3.

2 Corinthians 1:17. ‘When I originally planned to come to you and put it in writing, did I do it lightly and carelessly, with no regard to God's will and your good? Did I not say, ‘If the Lord permit?’ (l Cor. 16:6, 7.) Do I purpose according to the flesh? Do I consult my own interest and advantage? Do I say, ‘Yes,’ when I may mean, ‘No?’ Do my lips say one thing and my heart another?’

2 Corinthians 1:18-19. The false teachers and enemies of grace had suggested that since Paul had not kept his word in coming to them as he promised, then he was not to be depended upon in his ministry. Paul declares that as God was true to his promises, so he had taught Paul to be true to his words to them. He calls the Lord to be his witness that his words preached among them and his personal words to them were true, honest and sincere - not ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ ‘Our intentions and plans are subject to the will and providence of the Lord; his promises in Christ are not subject to change (Malachi 3:6; Romans 11:29). For the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ our Surety, Redeemer, Mediator, Prophet, Priest and King, whom we preached to you and in whom we have life through his person and work, is not ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ but all of God's promises in him are ‘yes’!'

2 Corinthians 1:20. God has made many promises to believers. These promises are all in Christ, since only he existed when they were made and since he has fulfilled all conditions by his obedience and death. Therefore, these promises are all ‘yes’ and in him ‘amen’ or ‘so be it.’ ‘Christ fulfilling, our preaching and your believing are all for the glory of God’ (Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:12).

2 Corinthians 1:21-22. Now it is God who chose us in Christ, redeemed us in Christ, called us in Christ and secures us for ever together in Christ. It is God who anoints us with his spirit and presence in regeneration and in ministerial gifts. It is God who has owned us as his own, putting his seal upon us (Philippians 1:6). It is God who has given us the Holy Spirit himself as an earnest or pledge of the heavenly inheritance (2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14).

2 Corinthians 1:23. Paul gives a hint as to the reason why he did not come to visit them. ‘I call upon God as my soul's witness; it was to avoid hurting you that I refrained from coming to Corinth. With all the disorders among you, I would have had to come with the rod of correction. I am hoping for a reformation among you that when I do come, it may be with joy.’

2 Corinthians 1:24. ‘Not that I have dominion over you or your faith; Christ is the author and object of faith.’ The minister can neither give faith nor sustain it. We are but helpers, or means and instruments, which God uses to preach the gospel and to instruct believers (1 John 1:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9).

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/2-corinthians-1.html. 2013.

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Friday, December 6th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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