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2 CORINTHIANS – Chapter 1

Pastor Carolyn SissomSunday Evening Service, June 9, 2013, the Year of Our Lord

 Second Corinthians was written the same year as 1st. Corinthians.  Some scholars suggest it was written within six months. It is a challenging letter at best to teach, yet as with all the Holy Writ, it is filled with nuggets, wealth and warmth.  It is also a book of spiritual warfare by a great warrior, the Apostle Paul.   Paul’s main object in writing was to deal with the attacks against his apostolic authority; especially as the church in Corinth had been invaded by false apostles who were seeking to undermine his authority and to lead the people away from the gospel which they had received from him. 

  He writes as no mere authoritarian, but “by the will of God”.  The situation in Corinth was such that it was necessary for Paul to speak about himself.  Although appealing to their own personal and intimate knowledge of him and his character, and reminding them of the great sufferings and hardships he had endured in order to bring the message of salvation to them.  He does so with transparent humility, sincerity, and embarrassment.  Yet, with great spiritual authority over the evil-maneuvers of the false apostles who were perverting the truth of the Gospel.    Throughout this epistle the dignity, devotion, faith and passionate dedication of the Apostle Paul shine forth with an intense glow.  He sets himself before his readers as one who is himself utterly weak,  but through whose weakness the grace and power of almighty God are magnified.  Paul’s self-effacement is in contrast to the boasting, self-promotion, and self-interest of the false apostles; Paul’s message is, ‘all is of God and to the glory of God”. “Glory, glory, glory, that’s my story!”   The keynote sounded sweetly through the whole epistle is that of the divine assurance to him:  “And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness’” (12:9).  In this epistle, the Apostle preaches the doctrine of reconciliation in Christ and the theme is glory through suffering. 

 There is a doctrine of demons today that because we are Christians, we will not suffer trials and tribulations on earth.  I praise God for all that I have suffered!  I count it all joy!  Without the suffering and breaking of the Hand of God upon my life, I would not be able to carry my portion of the Glory.  However, I will not volunteer for more.  It is one of those walks whereby I choose only to be drafted.   As we continue with our story-line, Paul made a hurried visit from Ephesus to Corinth.  Perhaps the reason for the visit was that 1st Corinthians was not well received.   Paul heard that his apostolic authority was being challenged.  It is clear, that the visit ended disastrously and with great humiliation for Paul.  He refers to it later as a “painful visit”. In order to rectify the situation, he wrote a letter out of great distress and anguish (2 Cor. 2:4).  This is known as the ‘severe letter”.  It was taken to Corinth by Titus, who was to return to Ephesus via Macedonia and Troas. Impatient for news of how his letter had been received, Paul travelled to Troas to meet Titus (2 Cor. 1:13; Acts 20:1).  2 Cor. 2: 12-13  When I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a great door was opened to me of the Lord; I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus, my brother; taking my leave of them, I went from there into Macedonia.” In Macedonia he met Titus, who brought good news from Corinth.  In his joy and relief, Paul wrote 2 Corinthians (the fourth of his letters to Corinth known to us).  It is clear from the letter that he now commanded the general support of the church, but there was apparently still a dissenting minority as well as glaring moral errors in the lives of the church members.

 2 Cor. 1:1:  “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in Achaia. Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Achaia is the Roman province comprising all Greece south of Macedonia.  The most important church in Achaia appears to have been the one in Corinth, the capital of the province, though we know of others, in Cenchreae (Rom 16:1) and Athens (Ac. 17:34). 

  Paul asserts his apostleship stating that God Himself appointed him.  After all, the Lord Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus and commissioned him.  Without argument, the highest use of the word Apostle had to do with those who were personally called by the Lord and personally commissioned by Him. It is my persuasion that the Lord has not changed his mode of operation.  I believe anyone commissioned as an Apostle will receive a visitation.  It is the ascended Christ who visited Paul.  That same Christ still visits today to commission His servants.

 1 Cor. 3-7:  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.  If 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.” Paul is thanking God that He strengthened in his trials---not for my sake alone, but so that I may share my strength with others.  This is all through Christ, in whose sufferings and strength I have a share.  Thus my trials and my strengthening bring you strength in your affliction, and so I have every hope that you will be strengthened too. Paul is doing warfare for the gospel of the Kingdom and the establishing of the Church. 

 Today the power of his warfare is just as strong in the written Word of God as it was when he spoke and wrote it.  We are still comforted, consoled, and encouraged to fight the good fight of Faith. I have a testimony of how “suddenly” on May 31, 2013, I was walking across my kitchen and my body was instantly strengthened.  I had been “pushing” all of 2013.  Instantly the tiredness and weariness left my body. God’s comforting is more than enough for Paul and overflows into comfort for others.  “We”, “us” and “our” in 2 Corinthians is to be understood not just Paul himself, but to the Body of Christ then and now. 

The Word of God under the unction of the Commander and Chief of the Armies of Heaven, Jesus Christ, has not lost its power.  That great General Paul wielded that sword.  We still feel its power. Because Paul is a follower of Christ, he suffers affliction and persecution as Christ did, and so shares in the fellowship of his sufferings.  He also shares in the power of supernatural strength of the same power that raised Christ from the dead. His afflictions, like all the rest of his life, are for their benefit as well as for ours as we follow wholly after the Lord.  The close bonds between Paul and the Corinthians mean that they suffer when he suffers, and likewise share in his supernatural strengthening.  

 2 Cor: 1: 8-11: “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 raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; You 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.”  That he does not speak more precisely of his hardships suggests that the Corinthians must have known the nature of them.  A severe illness would suit his language; and would explain why he felt he had the ‘sentence of death within himself’ as would also an outbreak of persecution or mob violence, or a flogging such as he refers to in 11:23.   The riot in Ephesus described in Acts 19: 23-24, might well be thought to be the occasion referred to, except that Luke does not hint that Paul was in any personal danger at that time.  Asia is the Roman province of that name; Ephesus was its most important city.  Paul despaired of life, but he never despairs of God’s ultimate deliverance of him  2 Cor. 4:8: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.” He was so close to death that he felt God’s sentence of death had been passed on him.  He could turn only to the God who raises the dead, a title of God with which he was familiar from the Jewish prayer, the Eighteen Benedictions:  ‘Blessed are thou, O Lord, for you make the dead to live’ that we might not rely on ourselves. He covets their prayers.  We all should covet the prayers of one another.  When I meet a man or woman of prayer, I always ask them to pray for me if my face should come before them.  “Give me that old time religion—If it was good enough for Paul and Silas, it is good enough for me”. He is also thanking them for their support for the gift bestowed upon him.

 2 Cor. 1: 12-14: “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 we write none other things to you, than what you read or acknowledge; and I trust you will acknowledge even to the end.  As also you have acknowledged us in part,  that we are your rejoicing, even as you also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul says, " I dare to ask for your prayers because my conscience assures me that I have always acted honestly, especially where you are concerned.  I am sincere in all I write; I hope you will give me credit for this.  You have to a certain extent done so already---and realize that there is nothing in my conduct you need be ashamed of.  By God’s grace I will be able to be just as proud of you at Christ’s judgment seat. He had been accused of dishonesty and equivocation.  His detractors had said he lived like a worldly man (1:17).  God’s grace expressed in the love of Christ is the dominant ethical force in his life. It had apparently been said in Corinth that he was insincere and lacking in candor in his letters, writing one thing and meaning another.  His critics had fastened on his failure to carry out his expressed intention of visiting Corinth, and Paul deals with their criticism in the following verses.   He is thinking also of a more general complaint, that the Paul of the letters is a different person from the Paul they know in the flesh.  His reply is that his letters mean just what was written.  They have already shown their partial understanding of this by their punishment of the offender and their reception of Titus.   That we will all boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.  On that day of Christ’s appearing and of His judgment seat, the value of the Corinthians lives and of Paul’s work as an apostle will be tested.

 2 Cor. 1:  15-20: (Paraphrased)  “I was so sure of your approval of me that I wanted to revise my plans and visit you twice, once going to Macedonia, and a second time returned from Macedonia.  This change of plan, however, has been dubbed by my opponents ‘vacillation’, and worse, changing my plans, but let me first assure you that I am no “will-o-the-wisp’ neither in my plans nor in my preaching.  “My yea is yea and nay, nay.”  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 Timothy, was not yea and nay, but to Him was Yes.  For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us.” This confession honors God’s faithfulness. It is this faithful God who gives us the gift of steadfastness and has certified me and my fellow-workers as reliable.

 1 Cor. 1: 21-14:   Now He which establishes us, with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God; who has 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 to Corinth.  Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy; for by faith you stand.” None have dominion over our faith.  As ministers of the gospel, we are to always be helpers of your joy. Taught by: Pastor Carolyn SissomScripture from K.J.V.I entered into the labors of F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary; David J. A. Clines.  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those whom I entered into their labors
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