2 Corinthians 1

In this chapter, Paul explains some of the difficulties one faces as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy {our} brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:

An apostle is one who is sent by God to communicate the gospel to people who haven’t heard it before. Paul didn’t become an apostle of his own accord, but by the commandment of God. If you want to build God’s kingdom, you can’t decide to do it yourself. You have to go by the commandment of God, and minister at the time and place of God’s choosing. Otherwise your efforts will be in vain.

Paul includes Timothy as an author, even though the revelation was given to him, and Timothy was very junior to him in the Lord. This is different from what we sometimes see today where the junior person gets the revelation and the senior person dispenses it as if it is his.

Saints are those who are born again. A saint is faithful if he is also living the way he said he would. This letter was written to the saints; in contrast, when Paul wrote to the Colossians, he wrote not merely to those who were saints, but he also considered them faithful in Christ.

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is help from God to solve spiritual problems. Peace from God is a condition wherein God is not at war with you, judging and disciplining you for something. Without grace and peace from God, you cannot do anything of eternal value. That is why Paul wishes grace and peace to his readers. Note that the Father and Jesus are always on the same side – you cannot be receiving grace from the Father if you are against the Son, and vice versa.

We should routinely check to ensure that our personal condition is such that we can receive grace and peace from God. If you are walking with God, and have wronged anyone, God will discipline you, and until you repent there will be no peace with God. If you are proud, God will oppose you, and you will not receive grace from God.

Paul points out that God is our Father. It is a very great blessing to have God as our Father, for a father protects and provides and mentors and wishes well for his children, and God is the greatest, wisest, richest, and most powerful person in the entire universe.

3 Blessed {be} the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

Paul points out that our God and Father is also the father of Jesus Christ. This makes us brothers with Jesus, with Him being the elder brother. We can learn a lot from our elder brother, Jesus, and since He is our brother, He is always ready to teach us. So not let your thoughts fool you into thinking that Jesus would withhold any useful teaching from you.

One important lesson to learn in our Christian walk is to receive comfort from God in the times of our affliction. Often, we have a tendency to go to some other human being for comfort. That is second best because receiving comfort from God enables you to comfort others. Our God is the God of all comfort – and we need to know God in that way – and when we learn to receive comfort from God in our afflictions we can comfort others, especially those who don’t know how to receive comfort from God.

Paul had to endure a lot of sufferings as he went along serving God. But as he turned to God for comfort he found that God was able to comfort him to the full extent of his sufferings.

As a father, we too can comfort our children when they endure suffering, just as God, our Father, comforts us in our times of suffering.

6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;

7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are {sharers} of our comfort.

Paul was able to comfort the Corinthians in their sufferings because of the comfort he received from God. In the process of comforting the Corinthians, Paul was blessed with the assurance that the Corinthians are on the path to maturity as they are suffering for good cause.

8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came {to us} in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;

9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;

10 who delivered us from so great a {peril of} death, and will deliver {us,} He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,

11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through {the prayers} {of} many.

Paul, and those who were with him, suffered a lot of hardship, and they almost died as they went about serving God. But God made sure that Satan didn’t go too far and take their lives. Through all those trials, they didn’t lose faith.

Many people thanked God for ensuring the safety of Paul and his team, and Paul wanted the Corinthians to also be thankful to God for that, at that time, and in the future.

Paul’s experience is similar to that felt by many people who serve God. They go through trials, so that their faith may be tested and strengthened. Through those experiences, they learn to depend on God, and to commune with God, and to persevere.

12 For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

13 For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end;

14 just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.

Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians went through its ups and downs. There were times when he had to discipline them severely, and they didn’t take it too well. They didn’t realize that he had their best at heart, and they cooled down towards him. Paul however, could point out to them that his conscience was clear, and that he didn’t take any advantage of them in any way at any time. He was always straightforward with them. Even though he was tough on them, he was proud of them, and he hoped that they were proud of him too – after all, he was the best of the best, when it came to apostles, and they had the great opportunity to be a church that was started by the pre-eminent theologian of their day.

Paul, being the best of the best, didn’t really need their favor – he could have brushed them aside and ignored them and stopped ministering to them when they cooled down towards him. But his love was genuine, and he continued to seek them out.

15 In this confidence I intended at first to come to you, so that you might twice receive a blessing;

16 that is, to pass your way into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be helped on my journey to Judea.

17 Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no {at the same time?}

18 But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no.

19 For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us – by me and Silvanus and Timothy – was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.

20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

Paul wanted to see these people on his way to Macedonia, and then again on his way back, but he wasn’t able to at that time. But he wanted them to understand that no matter what the situation, God always keeps His promises, and is able to do so because of the reconciliation that came through Jesus.

21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God,

God is the person who enabled Paul to minister to the Corinthians, and He is the person who strengthens and maintains and nurtures Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians.

22 who also sealed us and gave {us} the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

The reason why God has the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is two-fold: one, He serves as a seal, or identification mark, of those who belong to God, so that in the day of the rapture, the angels will know who to rapture and who to keep; two, He serves as God’s pledge to us, that God will indeed transform us at the resurrection so that we have a body that cannot be tempted. They Holy Spirit is a pledge in the sense of a deposit, so that we get a taste of what is to come.

23 But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth.

The real reason why Paul didn’t visit them was because he wasn’t very happy with their behavior, and he knew that if he visited Corinth he would have to say many strong things to them, and he wasn’t sure that they would be able to handle it, and that could end their relationship, and so to spare them all that, he didn’t visit them.

Sometimes, we have to say tough things to the people we have a responsibility for, and if we sense that they will not be able to handle it then we may want to avoid confrontation until a later time when they are able to handle it.

24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.

Paul wanted them to understand that he didn’t want to control them, but it was a joy to him to see them strong in faith and growing in Christ.

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