Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 1
Let's get going into a new book today! Who doesn't like sequels?
2 Corinthians 1
This follow up to 1 Corinthians is more autobiographical and we learn a lot about Paul in it, trials he went through, why we hadn't yet visited them and much more.
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:
The introduction. Paul is writing this with Timothy. The state of Achaia means Greece so while this letter was primarily addressed to Corinth, it was intended for it to be shared in the area.
2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
A common Pauline greeting. Grace and peace because there is no peace without grace.
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Father of mercies carries a stronger meaning than if you were to just say "merciful father." He is the source of all mercy. Everyone that denies God still recognizes mercy and this is only because of who are Creator is whether we acknowledge Him or not.
All comfort we have in God. Seek Him always for comfort no matter what the situation is. See next two verses where this is elaborated upon.
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.
God provides comfort in our tribulations and sufferings, and because of that comfort we can show comfort to others when they go through hard times.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
Especially Paul and his co-workers suffered much for the gospel but they were comforted as well. Just like the grace of God overcomes sin, His comfort overcomes our pain.
You can't experience comfort until you need comfort. This is a wonderfully encouraging chapter.
2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.
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.
The trials of Paul and Timothy were for their benefit! Incredible love. Do we have this kind of love for other believers that we would willingly suffer for their benefit?
Since Paul and Timothy are comforted, the church at Corinth will be consoled as well, and they will be able to endure their own hardships.
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.
This concludes this paragraph, and wraps it up saying that Paul and Timothy are confident that the Corinthians will be able to endure what they are going through. They partake in the suffering and will therefore partake in comfort.
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:
So this is why I don't really like the expression, "God will never you more than you can handle", because it sure looks here that Paul had more than he could handle.
He's giving an example where his own strength failed him and he had to rely on God totally to rescue him in support of his argument given above. He was down and expected death. We don't know exactly what's being referred to here.
David said in 2 Samuel 22:18, He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
See Romans 5:3-5.
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
They were in a hopeless state where death seemed certain, but the trust must be put in God. God delivers not only eternally but in this life as well.
Things CAN be too difficult for us, but never too difficult for God.
Proverbs 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
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.
Prayer works. The church at Corinth had prayed for Paul, and he gives them thanks for that. Several times in his epistles Paul requests prayer and we shouldn't forget to pray for our Pastors.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
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.
Paul's rejoicing or boasting is that he knows, by the grace of God and not of himself, that he has conducted ("our conversation") himself with godly sincerity in abundance towards the Corinthians.
13 For we write none other things unto you, that what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
Paul is saying he's being consistent with his writing and that his writing to them is plain, without hidden meanings. It is hoped that they will continue to follow his instructions. We also should continue in what we have learned in Scripture.
14 As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are our's in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Many, but not all, acknowledged Paul's authority and sincerity. Remember there were divisions over certain people in the church and perhaps that was still a problem (1 Corinthians 3:4).
15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;
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.
Remember 1 Corinthians 16:5 where Paul wrote of his intent to visit them, he'll now go on to say that he was not fickle. He wanted to bestow upon them a second benefit or second favor by his visit.
It seemed he wanted to visit Corinth, then head to Macedonia before coming back to Corinth and then sailing to Judea. But that didn't happen as we see elaborated on in the next chapter. Apparently the previous visit was very rough.
2 Corinthians 2:1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
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?
When that was Paul's plan to go that route was he fickle about it? No. Does he desire things out of simple fleshly desire? No. Does his yes mean no and his no mean yes as some of the Corinthians apparently accused him of? No!
18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
Appealing to God's perfect faithfulness, Paul assures them that his yes means yes and no means no.
We should be able to do the same. Because we are believers, others should know that our yes means yes and our no means no.
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.
20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
It was wrong of the Corinthians to so quickly distrust an apostle of the perfect faithful Lord Jesus Christ. The perfect Christ would not send wishy-washy people to preach His name. The Holy Spirit uses their accusations to write theses verses showing the dependable trustworthiness of our Lord.
Because of God's perfect nature Paul was compelled to conduct himself rightly. Shouldn't we be compelled to do the same? Shouldn't we be convicted to be living as ambassadors for Christ?
Here it says in God is "Amen" and we see in Revelation 3:14 Jesus is the "Amen" meaning true, faithful, certain.
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
We are anointed as believers with the Holy Spirit, and it is with the Holy Spirit that we are sealed. He is the earnest, or promise, of eternal life.
Read Exodus 28:41. The priests of the Old Testament were anointed, and now as believers every one of us is a priest. We see this in 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6 etc.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
Paul now here appeals fully to God as his witness that he didn't come to them, not for being fickle, but in order to spare them. Like disciplining a child, he decided to show mercy rather than punishment.
His last visit was painful as we see in the next chapter, and for now he wanted to avoid having to use the rod (1 Corinthians 4:21).
24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
No man has dominion over your faith. Your Pastor is your shepherd to guide and teach, but you will stand before God alone. No church system or hierarchy should have any rule over any individual believer.
Even Paul who planted this church did not claim rule over it. Every biblical church operates independently. No denominational structure, no committees, no outside control whatsoever. If your Pastor answers to anyone other than Jesus Christ he's in violation of Scripture.
Adam Clarke wrote, "Europe is learning that the SACRED WRITINGS, and they alone, contain what is necessary to faith and practice; and that no man, number of men, society, church, council, presbytery, consistory, or conclave, has dominion over any man's faith. The word of God alone is his rule, and to its Author he is to give account of the use he has made of it."