2 Corinthians 1
1Paul, 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:
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul writes this letter to the Corinthians along with the support of Timothy, his brother and fellow minister. Paul affirms his official apostleship as commissioned by Christ Himself by the will of God, not because Paul sought God. Paul writes to both the church in the city of Corinth and to the saints in that province, wishing them grace and peace from God and Christ as he typically did.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
4who 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.
5For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
Paul praises God the Father for being the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort because He is there to comfort us in all of our afflictions. He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Even when we are in the valley of the shadow of death, He is there with us to lead and guide us (Psalm 23:4). Because God is faithful to comfort us in our affliction, we can have strength by faith to comfort others who are also afflicted. Affliction is a normal part of life on this earth, even as believers, and God is there to walk through it with us (Ecclesiastes 8:14 John 16:33). He might not take the difficulties, the pain, and the trials away, but He will be there with us to go through it with us. Being a follower of Christ does involve suffering, and we can expect persecution for the sake of Christ (Colossians 1:24, 2 Timothy 3:12). The world rejected Christ, and we can expect it to reject us also. Yet, just as our sufferings for Christ’s sake our abundant, our comfort through Christ is also abundant. Thus, our hope and joy is that we always have a Savior Who understands and Who is there to comfort us in our pain and distress (Hebrews 4:15).
6But 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;
7and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
The apostles suffered for Christ’s sake in order to bring the gospel to the Corinthians. They suffered so that the Corinthians could be saved and so that when they suffered, they could also have comfort in Christ. The Corinthians proved their salvation by being willing to endure under trial and persecution and by the fact that they still had hope and joy during the difficulty because they knew the comfort of Christ.
8For 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;
9indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;
10who 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,
11you 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 communicates to the Corinthians very vulnerably in that he says that he experienced times of suffering that were so great that he even despaired of life itself as did the brothers with him. They suffered excessively in Asia such that their human strength was gone, but God still comforted them even when they looked death square in the eye. They had no hope but to trust God because their very existence was dependent upon His grace and intervention alone. This surely deepened their capacity to trust God and to be able to acknowledge their absolute need for the Lord. Many times trials are for that very purpose, so that God can teach us to trust Him, which works best when it is no longer possible to even attempt to trust in ourselves. God did deliver them from such a great danger of death, and Paul believed that God would continue to preserve their lives until they had accomplished their ministry and calling. God is the One Whom they hope in exclusively because of His demonstrated and proven power to deliver. Paul is confident that God will keep looking out for them and comforting them, due in part to the prayers of the saints at Corinth. This is so that many people have an opportunity to participate in the work of the kingdom and who can be rewarded accordingly. Prayer is an invaluable ministry that bestows favor and blessing upon those prayed for, which, in turn, returns the blessing to those who do the praying because of the eternal rewards sure to come.
12For 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.
Paul’s confidence is that he has maintained a pure testimony in holiness and godly sincerity before the church. He has not served by fleshly wisdom and strength but by the grace of God. He has ministered to the world and to the church, particularly to the Corinthians, to whom he had been especially careful not to rest on human abilities but on the grace of God and upon the power of the message of the gospel itself (1 Corinthians 1:17). He doesn’t need to fear as to whether his labor will count for eternity because he is sure that it was God’s grace that enabled him to do all that he did. He didn’t compromise along the way, but what was left from his labor was true genuine fruit of God.
13For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end;
14just 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 was fully straightforward with the Corinthians, having no ulterior motive and being free of any deception (2 Corinthians 7:2, 11:9). He wrote what they had read and understood, and he was fully forthright and honest. He wants them to have full confidence in his integrity and to grow in their understanding of their kinship in Christ. They are Paul’s boast because of the fruit God had cultivated in their lives, and the Corinthians could likewise be proud of having a chance to know and fellowship with Paul and the apostles, faithful men of God who loved them. Each will be able to rejoice greatly when they see each other in heaven. The faith of the apostles led to conversions at Corinth, and the Corinthians’ faith to respond gave Paul fruit and rewards. So both win and benefit, and thus both should fully trust one another.
15In this confidence I intended at first to come to you, so that you might twice receive a blessing;
16that 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.
In 1 Corinthians 16:5-7, Paul had said that he had planned to go to Corinth on his way to Macedonia and then again on his way back. He wanted to twice enjoy their fellowship and be a blessing to them. For some reason, he wasn’t able to keep his plans to come the first time. Thus, some likely attacked his integrity, and this is why he felt compelled to argue for his credibility and trustworthiness.
17Therefore, 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?
18But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no.
19For 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.
20For 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 did not break a promise to the Corinthians, but he had merely said that he was going to try to come. He didn’t lie to them as if he couldn’t be trusted, saying one thing and planning another. But as God is faithful, Paul says that his word is faithful. When he says “yes,” he means “yes,” and when he says “no,” he means “no.” Christ, Whom Paul and Silvanus and Timothy preached to the Corinthians, is not One Who waffles, but He is sure. He doesn’t change, and His promises always are true because He is always faithful. Nothing can thwart His plans, promises, and purposes. Because they fear Christ and follow Him as Lord, Paul’s claim is that he and his brothers in Christ will tell the Corinthians the truth. They are trustworthy because their Savior is trustworthy Who gives them the grace to keep their word to the glory of God.
21Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God,
22who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
23But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth.
24Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
God was the One Who called the apostles, Who saved them, Who used them to save the Corinthians, Who sealed them with the promise of salvation (Ephesians 4:30), and Who anointed them, setting them apart by the commission of God for service. They are sure of their future in heaven, and they are sure that they are changed people because of the grace of God. Thus, they are adamant that their integrity is in tact, and that they didn’t break their commitment to the Corinthians. Paul explains why he chose not to come, and he says that it was for the good of the Corinthians. He wanted to spare them his having to come and rebuke them yet again. Evidently, as the next couple verses indicate, he would have had to reprimand them and cause them sorrow. They hadn’t repented to the extent that they needed, and Paul wanted to wait until they did before coming to them again. Paul didn’t make this decision as if he was abusing his apostolic right and lording his authority over them. He really believed that he needed to wait for his brothers in the Lord whose faith was real to start to live it out. He wanted to give them time because he loved them and wanted to be able to rejoice with them when he came. He didn’t break his commitment, but something merely caused him to reevaluate his earlier plans. His change of plans was then for the good of the Corinthians.