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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

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Verse 1

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:

Paul is very jealous of his apostleship. There were some in Corinth who denied it, and therefore he takes care, at the very commencement of this Epistle,—as he does in beginning most of his letters,—to write concerning himself, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” But with what humility of mind does he associate Timothy with himself! Frequently he puts Timothy, his own convert, one so young, and so much beneath him in position and attainments, on a level with himself; and if we also can help our younger brethren, how willingly should we put our—selves side by side with them!

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

What a wonderful source of grace and peace! “God our Father.” How can he give other than grace and peace to his own children? “And from the Lord Jesus Christ,” our redeeming Saviour, who has given himself for us, and who has graven our names on the palms of his hands;—is there not an abundant supply of grace and peace to be found in the very music of his name?

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;

Let me read those titles again: “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” Do not the second and third titles derive much of their significance from the first one? It is because God is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” that he becomes “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.”

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.

Experience teaches the first rank of God’s servants, and their experience of sorrow and consolation is often the means of enabling them to be the means of blessing to others. Almost everything that the minister of the gospel enjoys or endures will be found to be sent to him for the elect’s sake, that he may know how to teach them the lessons he has himself learned.

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

Are we not willing to endure the greater suffering that we may enjoy the greater consolation?

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.

We receive both suffering and consolation for the sake of others, and we are bound to give out again all that we receive. It is the essence of the true Christian life first to be dependent upon God for everything, and then to give forth to all around us that which God has poured into our spirit. The heart would soon die if it pumped in the blood, and never pumped it out again; but it is by that perpetual process of giving out what it has received that it continues in life; and the highest form of Christian life is the reception of all that comes to us out of the fullness of Christ, and then the free giving out of what he has bestowed.

2 Corinthians 1:7-10. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 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: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

No doubt Paul did preach all the better and with the greater confidence in God because he preached, like Richard Baxter, “as a dying man to dying men.” His life was frequently in danger, and on this occasion it was so in a very remarkable degree; so, when he was again able to testify for his master, he realized that he had no time to waste, and therefore he wrote and spoke with the utmost earnestness. He felt himself in jeopardy every hour, and therefore he fell back upon his God, and trusted alone in him. Anything that works to this end for us also is an undisguised blessing.

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.

Much prayer leads to much thanksgiving. It should be a great cause for joy when numbers of Christians unite in praying for any Christian minister, for they will unite also in praising God on his behalf, when that which they asked for him is granted.

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

There had been whispers, among these Corinthians, that Paul had concealed a double meaning in some of his writings, and also that he had made a promise which he never intended to keep; so now he calls upon them to bear witness that he never was a man to act according to policy, but he was a straightforward, honest, plain-dealing man, full of godly sincerity and unselfishness. He had abundantly proved all this to the Corinthians, for, lest they should have any occasion for speaking against him, he would not take at their hands the support to which he was entitled, but he laboured at his trade of tent-making that they might not have anything to say concerning him except that he was disinterested in all his endeavors to serve them. Paul evidently felt their unkindness very much, but his conscience assured him that their accusations were unjust.

2 Corinthians 1:13-14. For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 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.

See how Paul restrains himself in wilting to these people, he had good cause to be offended, for they had touched him in a point about which he was very jealous, namely, his integrity; but here he speaks with great moderation of spirit, and herein lay his strength. Every Christian man, when he has to defend himself against false accusations, should use soft words and hard arguments.

2 Corinthians 1:15-16. 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.

He had planned to see them in his going, and also in his returning; but he could not carry out the idea which was in his mind. The wisest of men often find their plans impracticable, and even an inspired man is not always inspired. God guides him when guidance is absolutely necessary; but, at other times, he leaves him to arrange according to his own judgment:, and to find out that his judgment is not infallible. “I had a mind,” says he, “to come and see you twice.”

2 Corinthians 1:17. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness?

“Did I make up my mind hastily, and then did I change it all of a sudden without good reason? Had I never thought before I decided, and therefore did I find it necessary to revoke my promise?”

2 Corinthians 1:17-18. Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.

He binds up his own ministry with himself, and he says, “You charge me with being fickle, but you know better; you are well aware that I am not one who says one thing today and. another thing tomorrow. You know that I have been open and aboveboard in all my dealings with you, and that I have never stooped to policy and craftiness, but have spoken that which I believed, whatever might come of it.”

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.

He declares that he preached the truth straightforwardly and consistently, and that he did not say one thing one day and another thing a few days later.

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.

Christ is no quicksand, slipping and sliding away, and so ruining those who cling to him. He is the Rock of ages, and he stands fast for ever. His gospel is one and the same at all times. You see that, as Paul grows warm, he advances in his argument. If the Corinthians suspected his honesty in making a promise, the next thing they would do would be to suspect the gospel, and after that they would suspect Christ himself, who is the truth.

2 Corinthians 1:21-23. 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. Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

“If I had come, I should have been obliged to rebuke you and reprove you. I should have had to be like an armed man going to battle, or an officer of the law carrying out the sentence pronounced upon a criminal, and I could not bear to do that; so I felt it would be better and wiser to stay away, and therefore I did not visit you as I had proposed.”

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

(See Chapter 2.)

2 Corinthians 2:1. But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.

And they ought to have had enough confidence in him to know that he had a very good and sufficient reason for not fulfilling his conditional promise. Let us, dear friends, who, are one in Christ, trust each other; for, if suspicion be, once bred among the people of God, it will mean farewell to all fellowship.


Verses 1-20

2 Corinthians 1:1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,—

Paul is very careful to remind the Corinthians of that fact, since some of them had gone the length of denying his apostleship altogether.

2 Corinthians 1:1. And Timothy our brother,—

Whom, in all humility, he associates with himself, although he was a younger man, of far less consequence; but Paul loved him very much, and therefore he put his name at the beginning of this Epistle side by side with his own: “and Timothy our brother,”

2 Corinthians 1:1-2. Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christianity is a religion of benedictions. Whereas worldly people often use the language of courtesy towards one another without meaning what they say, the saints of God put a fullness of meaning into their expressions, and really wish every good thing to those to whom they write. “Grace be to you.” That comes first, and then peace follows. Peace without grace is a very dangerous possession; but a peace that grows out of the possession of grace is a gracious peace, and will lead to the peace of glory ere long. This grace and peace are to come “from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is no grace for us apart from the Lord Jesus Christ; and though the Father is full of love, and will give grace and peace to his people, yet the Lord Jesus Christ must always be the channel through which these incomparable favors must flow to them.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 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.

Nothing less, then, shall be given to the tried people of God than that same comfort which was enjoyed by the apostle Paul; it shall be shared by all who are resting where Paul rested.

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

The apostles were the most tried, but they were the most comforted. They had to stand the brunt of the battle, but the Lord was their strength in a very special sense. Observe the balance in this verse: “as the sufferings,” “so our consolation;” and “as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” With little trial, we may expect little comfort. It is better to leave the whole matter entirely with God, or else we might almost desire to be digged about by the spade of affliction, that we might receive more of the living waters of consolation.

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.

That, is the grand object of Christians, to live for others. When God has helped us to receive both our comforts and our sorrows as matters of trust that we are to take care of for the benefit of our fellow-Christians, then have we learned the lesson which Christ would teach us by them.

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.

How these things are put together! God does not call his people to the one without the other,— no consolation without affliction; and, blessed be his name, no affliction without consolation!

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:

Why would Paul have them know this but that they might understand that he had to suffer as they did, and even more. Sometimes, God’s people are apt to think that their ministers are not cast down as they themselves are. They look upon them as a sort of superior order of beings who have no doubts and fears, no want of strength, no despair; but that is an idle fiction, and the sooner it is gone from our minds, the better; for those who lead the people of God will rather have more afflictions than less. Seeing that they need more instruction than others need, and that instruction usually comes with the rod, in all probability they will have more of the rod than others will. Paul, therefore, is anxious that the Corinthians should know in what seas of trouble he had to swim.

2 Corinthians 1:9-10. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we: should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

It is supposed by some that the apostle was in danger of being put to death in some extraordinary way,— perhaps by wild beasts in the amphitheatre. We know that he speaks of having fought with beasts at Ephesus; we cannot tell whether there is here any allusion to that trial, or what it was; but it was evidently some death which, to the apostle, seemed to be exceedingly terrible; and when he was delivered from it, it was like a resurrection. He speaks of it as having been wrought by God that raiseth the dead; and he puts down this deliverance, together with some other of which he was at that very time the subject,— “and doth deliver,” — and upon these experiences he builds his expectation that God “will yet deliver.”

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.

When many pray, after the blessings is received, many will give thanks. Paul rejoices to have been the object of interest to a large number of Christians everywhere in the time of his great peril; and when he escaped, he believed he would still be the object of their interest, and that there would be more prayer in the world, and more praise, too, because of the dangers from which God had delivered him. It is worth while for any of us to be in sore sickness, or in great straits, if thereby the quantity of prayer and praise in the world shall be increased to God’s glory.

2 Corinthians 1:12. 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 to them he had been specially particular, that in no point they should speak of him as having used the wisdom of words. Among them, he determined not to know anything save Jesus Christ and him crucified; to them, he was like the nurse who administers milk to babes.

2 Corinthians 1:13-14. For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; as also ye have acknowledged us in part,—

Some of them disputed his apostleship; but most of them did not,—

2 Corinthians 1:14. That, we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

What a happy condition of things it is when the teacher and the taught mutually rejoice in each other; when the teacher is the joy of the flock, and when he can rejoice in his people! This is profitable to all; but when there are discards, and fault-findings, and the like, this is neither glorifying to God nor profitable to the people.

2 Corinthians 1:15-17. 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. 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?

There were some in the church at Corinth who said, “He promised to come and see us, but he did not keep his word.” They declared that his promise could not be depended upon, and that he very easily changed his mind. Now, the apostle had done nothing of the kind; he had solid reasons for his change of purpose, and reasons full of love to them; but they misrepresented him. Do not, my dear friends, count the fiery trial of misrepresentation to be any strange thing. Even some of those whom you have loved, and for who’ you have been willing to lay down your lives, will turn against you; it is no new thing that they should do so. They may catch up anything which you have done in the simplicity of your heart, and turn it against you. Whenever they do so, I say again, do not think that any strange thing has happened unto you; it happened to Paul, then why should not you have a similar experience?

2 Corinthians 1:18-20. But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. 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. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Paul loved to turn from some lower subject to his Lord. When he wrote the words, “yea and nay,” they suggested to him the perfect constancy of the love of Christ, and thankfulness for his faithful promises; so, as the thought came into his mind, he could do no other than put it into the Epistle he was writing, for he never missed an opportunity of praising the Lord Jesus Christ. I wish we could all imitate him, in this respect, far more than we have ever done; for, our Saviour is worthy of all the praise we can ever give him, and more, too.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/2-corinthians-1.html. 2011.

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Saturday, December 14th, 2019
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