Sunday, May 3, 2015

2 Corinthians Chapter 1 Part One

2 Corinthians 1:1

Even in this very first verse of the letter, Paul says it was the will of God for him to be an apostle. Paul, in a real sense, is saying, I did not choose to be an apostle, God chose me. The Christians, at this time, were called saints, or brothers.
It is not clear whether this letter was written from Cenchera, or not, but it was in Achaia.  An ancient province which is a part of the country of Greece on the northern coast of the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece in Ancient Roman times the name of the province of Achaea was given to the whole of Greece. This would be somewhere in the southern part of Greece.   
Paul immediately states that he is an apostle. He does not say, I think I am an apostle. He boldly states that he is. The word "apostle" means delegate, or ambassador of the gospel. In the official sense, it means commissioner of Christ, this meaning includes {with miraculous powers}. It can, also, mean messenger, or he that is sent. Paul was all of these things.
We must notice in this that Paul always has someone to minister with him. In this particular instance, he has Timothy. He knows that Timothy is loyal to him. Timothy is Paul's student and would not differ with Paul at all. There are times when this type of loyalty is very important. Timothy is not the only one with Paul, but is the closest to Paul in this instance. One of the reasons it is important to have the second minister that agrees with you, is for the prayer of agreement. Paul wants this church to know that his ministry is actually a revelation of Jesus Christ through Paul.
2 Corinthians 1:2

Grace refers to the love of God in action with peace its result. Both aspects were displayed in Jesus’ ministry (Joh_1:14; Joh_14:27). This is a greeting that Paul used many times and is more evidence that this letter was Paul's. It is a prayer of Paul's for them. He wished that God would give them this grace {unmerited favor}. He is explaining, also, that this is not just from Jesus as Savior, but from the Father, as well.  Paul hoped that this salutation would find expression in the Corinthians’ lives as he shepherded them.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Thanksgiving for God’s comfort (2Co_1:3-11)
One of the many paradoxes of the Christian life is that the grace of God is most keenly experienced not in the best but in what seem to be the worst of times. However much a Christian longs for exaltation (cf. 1Co_4:8), it is often in humiliation that he finds grace (cf. 2Co_12:9). That theme pervades this letter and finds poignant expression in Paul’s thanksgiving.
Troubles (thlipsei, “pressures, distresses”) are mentioned nine times by Paul in this letter (2Co_1:4 [twice], 2Co_1:8; 2Co_2:4; 2Co_4:17; 2Co_6:4; 2Co_7:4; 2Co_8:2, 2Co_8:13; sometimes the word is trans. “troubles,” other times “hardships”). Paul also used the corresponding verb thlibō three times in this epistle (“distressed,” 2Co_1:6; “hard-pressed,” 2Co_4:8; “harassed,” 2Co_7:5). Troubles are experienced by all Christians. And the Apostle Paul probably endured more pressures than nearly all his readers. Troubles, Paul said, help Christians shift their perspective from the external and temporal to the internal and eternal (cf. 2Co_1:9; 2Co_4:17-18).
The source of all comfort in the midst of troubles is God Himself, to whom Paul gave three titles: the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. identical wording in Eph_1:3; 1Pe_1:3), the Father (i.e., the Originator) of compassion, and the God of all comfort. Paul, never once, stopped speaking of the blessedness of God. "Father of mercies" just means that God is full of mercy for everyone who believes.
There is no other comfort compared to the peace that God brings. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Lord Jesus Christ to comfort. He is even spoken of as the Comforter.
This same God had sustained Paul through his suffering (2Co_1:8-9) and delivered him from it (2Co_1:10). Tribulation comes to the Christian, as well as to those of the world. This "comfort in tribulation" speaks of us having a peace in the midst of the tribulation. There is a rest for the Christian in Christ. The world may be falling apart around us, but we can have perfect peace within.
God’s comfort is not an end in itself. Its purpose is that believers also might be comforters. Having humiliated and convicted the Corinthians, God used Paul to return to them with a strengthening message after he himself had received divine strengthening.
The only way to truly sympathize with someone else is to have had the same problem yourself.
“Compassion” translates the Greek oiktirmōn, used only four other times in the New Testament (rendered “mercy” in Rom_12:1 and Heb_10:28, and “compassion” in Php_2:1 and Col_3:12). Just as spiritual gifts are not intended solely for the recipients’ benefit but are to be used in turn for the service of others (cf. 1Pe_4:10), so comfort received from God enables believers to comfort others. The comfort of God is channeled through people (cf. Act_9:10-19; 2Co_7:6) and by means of prayer (2Co_1:11).
2 Corinthians 1:5-7

The sufferings Paul experienced were a consequence of his relationship to Christ (cf. Mat_5:11; Col_1:24). As Paul continued to preach the gospel, he suffered at the hands of men (e.g., 2Co_11:23-26) and from privations which were a part of his task (2Co_11:27). But Paul’s sufferings for Christ were accompanied by a comfort that overflowed. When we receive Christ in us, we are partakers in His suffering, as well.
Romans 8:17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together."
Here is a favorite Scripture that explains this very well.
Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
God’s comfort to believers extends to the boundaries of their suffering for Christ. The more they endure righteous suffering, the greater will be their comfort and reward.
In referring to the sufferings of Christ (2Co_1:5), sufferings we suffer (2Co_1:6), and our sufferings (2Co_1:7), the apostle probably had in mind either the suffering he experienced in Asia which he referred to next (2Co_1:8) or the pain brought to him by the problems of the Corinthian church (cf. 2Co_11:28-29). Both kinds may be in mind, but if it was primarily the latter to which he referred (cf. 2Co_7:5) then the Corinthians’ own suffering was similar. Paul’s severe letter (2Co_7:8) produced in them a profound sorrow as they understood how their reprehensible behavior had grieved Paul (2Co_7:9). It had certainly distressed him to write it (2Co_2:4) but he did it out of love for them, for their comfort and salvation (cf. 2Co_7:10). Paul is saying to them, that his suffering and tribulations were endured by him without complaining, so that he could bring the gospel to them. Paul was willing to go through almost any hardship, if he thought in so doing; he could win some to Christ.
Here Paul is referring to the body of Christ’s partnership of suffering, which mutually builds godly patience and endurance. All believers need to realize this process, avoid any sense of self pity when suffering for Him, and share in each others’ lives the encouragement of divine comfort they receive from their experiences.
The aspect of salvation suggested here is their advance in sanctification, which in fact this letter produced (cf. 2Co_7:11). The Corinthians’ response brought comfort to both themselves and Paul (2Co_7:13) and reaffirmed Paul’s hope (2Co_1:7) that God indeed had His hand on their lives (cf. Heb_12:7-8). In addition, the Corinthians’ comfort produced in them patient endurance (hypomonē; steadfastness in the face of unpleasant circumstances; cf. 2Co_6:4; Rom_5:3; Col_1:11; Jas_1:3). Paul is saying that he will not give up on them. He, also, says to them, if they are to minister for Christ there will be sufferings that they will have to endure, as well. Paul says if you allow yourself to die to this world, in Christ, you will share in His resurrection.
Many in the church of Corinth were suffering for righteousness as Paul was. Although that church had caused him much pain and concern, Paul saw its members as partners to be helped because of their faithfulness in mutual suffering.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11

The hope in God which sustained Paul in his relationship with the Corinthians was also effective in his own life. An experience in Asia had brought him to the end of himself. Apparently the Corinthians had some knowledge of this hardship, possibly communicated to them by Titus, but they did not appreciate its severity. Rather than gloss over his feeling of despair and helplessness in this situation Paul underscored it forcefully to illustrate how powerless both he and the Corinthians were apart from God and to stress how important is prayer as a means of effecting God’s gracious intervention and aid.
Just what the hardships were is debated. Commentators in the 19th century and earlier held that the phrase in the province of Asia referred to Ephesus. Paul’s experience was linked with that mentioned in 1Co_15:32, in which he mentioned fighting with beasts, a possible allusion to the contention instigated by Demetrius and his fellow silversmiths (Act_19:23-41). However, no mention is made in that account of any harm coming to Paul. Twentieth-century opinion seems more disposed to locating this experience somewhere in the outlying region of the province of Asia (in the western end of what is today Turkey). One such suggested area is the Lycus Valley, where Paul may have experienced a beating by the Jews (cf. 2Co_11:24), which nearly killed him. Or perhaps he contracted a drastic illness with similar devastating results. All such views are merely conjectures. Being unable to be specific in identifying this experience permits believers today to apply this to themselves, especially when they find themselves in desperate circumstances where deliverance seems impossible.
Paul believed he would die. He was under such great pressure (thlipseōs; cf. 2Co_1:4) far beyond his human ability to endure, so that he despaired even of life and felt the sentence of death (cf. 2Co_4:10-12, 2Co_4:16; 2Co_11:23-25). The persecution that Paul endured was so great, that, he would have welcomed death. We are not told just exactly which act of violence came to Paul while he was in Asia. We are told that it was almost more than he could bear.
Paul faced something that was beyond human survival and was extremely discouraging because he believed it threatened to end his ministry prematurely. The Corinthian’ were aware of what had happened to Paul, but did not realize the utter severity of it, or what God was doing through those circumstances.
The one thing Paul wants them to learn from this is that they also might be called upon to suffer. The Lord Jesus Christ did not deceive Paul. He told Paul that He would show him what he must suffer. Acts 9:16 "For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." This is the Words of the Lord. They are printed in red in the Bible.
Certainly the Christian life was for him no bed of roses! Some suggest that this experience irrevocably altered Paul’s perspective on his own destiny.
Before this he expressed the hope that he might be numbered among those who would be alive at the coming of Christ (cf. 1Co_15:51-52; 1Th_4:15-17). Now his focus was on the resurrection (cf. Php_3:10-11).
What was sure was Paul’s trust that God would deliver him from the peril of death (cf. 2Co_4:8-14) until his course was run (2Ti_4:7), and his task completed. Then later God, he knew, would deliver him from the dead (cf. 1Co_15:55; 2Co_4:14). Paul knew that his life was in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was not fearful of physical death. He knew that there were many Jews who would like him killed. He, also, knew that he could do nothing about this. His trust was in the Lord. He also knew, if they killed his body, he would live on through Jesus Christ.
Paul was so absolutely sure he was going to die for the gospel that he had pronounced the sentence upon himself. This was God’s ultimate purpose for Paul’s horrible extremity. The Lord took him to the point at which he could not fall back on any intellectual, physical or emotional human resource.
Paul placed his trust in Jesus the same as we must do. We should all heed this Scripture in Hebrews.
Hebrews 13:6 states "So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Before we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we are living unto death. We have no hope for the future. When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we receive everlasting life.
Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Again, these are the Words of Jesus as shown by the red print.
Paul had a firm hope in the Corinthians (2Co_1:7) and also in the Lord (2Co_1:10). The prayers (2Co_1:11) of the Corinthians were part of this deliverance, a means ordained by God to fulfill His will among people. Paul was thanking them for praying for him. Every church that I know of is as strong as the prayers that go up for it. Every minister needs the prayers of the congregation. Some people think that they cannot help the ministry, because they are not the minister. The job of intercessory prayer is just as important, and I would say more important than the actual ministry.
Intercessory prayer is crucial to the expression of God’s power and sovereign purpose. In this regard, Paul wanted the faithful Corinthians to know he needed their prayers then and in the future.
Prayer’s duty is not to change God’s plans, but to glorify Him and give thanks for them. Paul was confident that God’s sovereign purpose would be accomplished, balanced by the prayerful participation of believers.
The prayer, then, causes the Spirit to call to the person. No one will come to the Lord, unless the Spirit woes him. You see, prayer is the number 1 reason for people being saved. Someone must care enough to pray for you.
2 Corinthians 1:12

Apostolic Ministry
One reason Paul wrote this letter was to answer insinuations raised in Corinth about the authenticity of his apostleship, the propriety of his conduct, and the sincerity of his commitment to those Christians. Later (in chaps. 10-13) Paul gave a defense of the genuineness of his apostleship. Questions about the propriety of his conduct, especially as it concerned “the collection,” are addressed in 2Co_8:1-24 and 2Co_9:1-15. The burden of these preceding chapters (1:12-7:16) is an emotional affirmation by Paul of his sincere commitment to the ministry in general and to the Corinthians in particular.
Changed plans defended
Who raised the questions in the Corinthians’ minds about Paul’s supposed lack of commitment to the church in Corinth or his alleged insincerity? No one knows for sure. But a reasonable conclusion is that they were broached by false apostles (2Co_11:4, 2Co_11:13) who hoped to discredit their chief rival. Though Paul reserved his open confrontation with these opponents for the conclusion of his letter, a polemic pervades even these early chapters.
Paul met questions concerning his motives head-on. He could affirm with confidence — this is our boast — that the moral sensibilities of his conscience (cf. 2Co_4:2; 2Co_5:11), intensified by his knowledge of God’s Word, were without censure regarding his conduct, especially in his relations with the Corinthians (cf. 1Co_4:3-4). He said three things about his conduct. (1) It was with a singleness of heart. Instead of holiness (hagiotēti) Paul probably wrote “simplicity in the sense of singlemindedness” (haplotēti; cf. 2Co_11:3). These two Greek words could easily have been confused by a manuscript copyist. (2) His conduct was in sincerity (cf. 1Co_5:8; 2Co_2:17) of purpose that could stand the closest scrutiny. (3) His conduct was not in keeping with worldly (sarkikē, lit., “fleshly,” i.e., human) wisdom, for that is ultimately self-serving. Instead it was according to God’s grace, that is, he was guided by a love for others and sought what was in their best interests. Paul is just saying that he has a clear conscience.
The conscience is the soul’s warning system which allows human beings to contemplate their motives and actions and the make a moral evaluation of what is right and wrong.
Paul has not tried to show how smart he is, but has tried to bring the good news of the gospel as simply as he could, so that all could understand. Paul has spoken the words that the Lord has given him for these people. He will not apologize for the message God has given him. The gospel is not complicated, but simple, so that all might receive it with joy in their heart. This is still the way the Lord expects His salvation message to go out. He wants it simple, so that all may understand.
Using big words, elevate the person that is using them, but do nothing for the uneducated person who is trying to understand. Ministers are to keep it simple for all to understand. Ministry is not to make the minister feel important, but to cause people to come to Christ. The more who understand, the more who believe and come to Christ.
Fleshly wisdom is the wisdom that is based on worldly, human insight. See James 3:15.
2 Corinthians 1:13-14

Paul’s letters were like his conduct: simple, sincere, not in man-made wisdom but in God’s grace. Paul had no hidden meanings or ulterior motives in his correspondence with the Corinthians. He was aboveboard and straightforward in person; and he was the same way in his letters. He felt the Corinthians must acknowledge this to a degree (in part). And he hoped that this provisional assent would one day grow into their wholehearted acceptance and endorsement (understand fully). Many ministers, even now, find themselves in the awkward position of trying to defend their selves. Paul was no different. Rumors had arisen that he was not ministering correctly. This letter, as we said before, is to dispel some of those rumors.
This broadly answers the accusation that Paul had engaged in deceptive personal relationships. His continuing flow of information to the Corinthians was always clear, straightforward and understandable, consistent and genuine.
Paul is just saying, in the verse above, that he has no ulterior motive at all for what he is doing. He said, in the previous verse, that his conscience was clear. He had brought the simple message of salvation. Paul is saying here, if you will examine what I have said, you will know it to be truth. He also says, I believe the very things that you have heard and accepted.
Paul wanted them to know that he was not holding back anything, nor did he have any secret agenda.
That in fact was how Paul viewed them. He was confident of the genuineness of their conversions (cf. 1Co_9:1-2). And he felt they would eventually come to vindicate him and even boast of (kauchēma, “exult over”) him in the day of the Lord Jesus (cf. Php_2:16), that is, at the judgment seat of Christ (cf. 2Co_5:10-11). Paul is saying, in this, that he will rejoice on judgment day, when many of those that he brought the gospel message to, will stand before the Lord and be saved.
Paul eagerly longed for the Lord’s coming when they would rejoice over each other in glory.
He is, also, saying that in that day, they will rejoice that he brought them to the knowledge of the Lord. It is so strange, after they were saved under his ministry, that suddenly many find fault with his ministry.

2 Corinthians 1:15-16

In this spirit of confidence in his relationship with the Corinthians, Paul had proposed a journey from Ephesus that would have permitted him to visit them twice. This was apparently a change in the plans he had stated earlier (1Co_16:5-7). At that time he hoped to go to Corinth by way of Macedonia and spend the winter with them, a course of action he eventually followed (cf. Act_20:1-3). The change included the opportunity for two visits: first from Ephesus to Corinth and then on to Macedonia; then a second stop as he retraced his route. The two visits were meant to express Paul’s affection for them. He wanted to see them as often as possible. Paul is feeling that it would have been good, if he could have come to them and ministered again.
Paul’s original plan was to visit the Corinthians twice so that they might receive a double blessing. His travel plans were not the result of selfishness, but of the genuine relationship he enjoyed with the Corinthians and their mutual loyalty and godly pride in each other.
Sometimes there needs to be lessons taught on how to continue in the faith. The difference in an evangelist and a pastor tell us that. An evangelist brings the message of salvation and goes on to the next place. The job of a pastor is to teach his congregation to live in the salvation they have received. The pastor is a shepherd who leads the sheep. That is the very reason it is so important for the pastor to be living a good clean life himself. Paul had planned to leave Ephesus, stop at Corinth on the way to Macedonia and return to Corinth again after his ministry in Macedonia. For some reason, Paul’s plans changed and he was unable to stop in Corinth the first time. The false apostles who had invaded the church seized upon that honest change of schedule as evidence of his untrustworthiness and tried to use it to discredit him.