II Corinthians 1

 

 

                                    Address and Greeting (vs. 1-2)

 

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:"  By the will of God (see I Corinthians 1:1). In the face of Judaizing

opponents, it was essential that he should vindicate his independent apostolate

(Acts 26:15-18).    And Timothy. Timothy had been absent from Paul when he

wrote the First Epistle, and Sosthenes had taken his place, whether as amanuensis

or merely as a sort of joint authenticator. Our brother; literally, the brother, as in

I Corinthians 1:1. The brotherhood applies both to Paul and to the Corinthians;

there was a special bond of brotherhood between all members of “the

 household of faith.”  The saints. Before the name “Christians” had come into

general use, “saints” (Acts 9:13) and “brethren” were common designations

of those who were “faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). In all

Achaia. In its classical sense Achaia means only the northern strip of the

Peloponnesus; as a Roman province the name included both Hellas and the

Peloponnesus. Here Paul probably uses it in its narrower sense. The

only strictly Achaian Church of which we know is Cenchrea, but doubtless

there were little Christian communities along the coasts of the Corinthian

gulf. To the Church at Athens Paul never directly alludes. This letter was not in

any sense an encyclical letter; but even if it were not read in other communities,

the Corinthians would convey to them the apostle’s greeting.

 

2 "Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the

Lord Jesus Christ.”  Grace be to you and peace. On this pregnant synthesis of the

Greek and Hebrew greetings, see I Corinthians 1:3; Romans 1:7.

 

 

 

The Will of God (vs. 1-2)

 

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God” etc. Here are three subjects

of thought.

 

  • THE SUPREME LAW. “By the will of God.”

 

Ø      God has a will. He is, therefore, personality, free and intelligent. His will

explains the origin, sustenance, and order of the universe. His will is the

force of all forces, the law of all laws.

 

Ø      God has a will in relation to individual men. He has a purpose in

relation to every man, every man’s existence, mission, and conduct.

His will in relation to moral beings is the standard of all conduct and

the rule of all destiny. Love is its primal fount or mainspring.

 

  • THE APOSTOLIC SPIRIT. Judging from what Paul says here, we

observe:

 

Ø      The apostolic spirit involves subjection to Christ. “An apostle of Jesus

Christ.” Christ is the moral Master; He the loving, loyal servant.

 

Ø      The apostolic spirit is that of special love for the good. He calls Timothy

his “brother,” and towards “the Church of God which is at Corinth, with

all the saints which are in all Achaia,” he glows with loving sympathy.

Love for souls, deep, tender, overflowing, is the essential qualification

for the gospel apostolate or ministry.

 

  • THE CHIEF GOOD.

 

Ø      Here is the highest good. “Grace and peace.” He who has these has the

summum bonum (the highest good).

 

Ø      Here is the highest good from the highest Source: “From our Father,

and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

 

                                Thanksgiving for God’s Comfort in Paul’s Affliction

                                and for the Corinthians Sympathy (vs. 3-11)

 

3 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of

mercies, and the God of all comfort;”  Blessed be God. This outburst of

thanksgiving was meant to repress the relief brought to the overcharged feelings

of the apostle by the arrival of Titus, with news respecting the mixed, but on the

whole good, effect produced at Corinth by the severe remarks of his first letter.

It is characteristic of the intense and impetuous rush of emotion which we often

notice in the letters of Paul, that he does not here state the special grounds for this

impassioned thanksgiving; he only touches upon it for a moment in ch. 2:13, and

does not pause to state it fully until ch. 7:5-16. It is further remarkable that in this

Epistle almost alone he utters no thanksgiving for the moral growth and holiness

of the Church to which he is writing. This may be due to the fact that there was

still so much to blame; but it more probably arose from the tumult of feeling

which throughout this letter disturbs the regular flow of his thoughts. The

ordinary “thanksgiving” for his readers is practically, though indirectly,

involved in the gratitude which he expresses to God for the sympathy and

communion which exists between himself and the Church of Corinth.

 Even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.   The Greek is the same as in

Ephesians 1:3, where, literally rendered, it is, “Blessed be the God and Father.”

The same phrase is found also in I Peter 1:3; Colossians 1:3. The meaning is not,

“Blessed be the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of our Lord

Jesus Christ” (although the expression, “the God of our Lord Jesus

Christ,” occurs in Ephesians 1:17: compare John 20:17), but

“Blessed be God, who is also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and

who is therefore “our Father” by adoption and redemption, as well as our

God by creation.  The Father of mercies.  This corresponds to a Hebrew

expression, and means that compassionateness is the most characteristic

attribute of God, and emanation from Him. He is the Source of all mercy;

and mercy

 

                                    “Is an attribute of God Himself.

 

He is “full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and

truth (Psalm 86:15).  See also God’s revealing of Himself to Moses (Exodus 34:6-8)

“The Law,” says the Talmud, “begins and ends with an act of mercy. At its

commencement God clothes the naked; at its close be buries the dead” (‘Sotah,’

f. 14, 1). Thus every chapter but one of the Koran is headed, “In the name of

God the Compassionate, the Merciful;” and it is an Eastern expression to say of one

that has died that. “he is taken to the mercy of the Merciful.” Compare

“Father of glory,” Ephesians 1:17; I Corinthians 2:8 (“of spirits,” Hebrews 12:9;

“of lights,” James 1:17).  The plural, “compassions,’’ is perhaps a plural of

excellence, “exceeding compassion” (Romans 12:1), and may be influenced

by the Hebrew word rachamim, often literally rendered by Paul “bowels.”

The article in the Greek (“the Father of the compassions”) specializes the mercy.

The God of all comfort. So in ch. 13:11 God is called “the God of love and peace;”

Romans 15:5, “the God of patience and of comfort; This word “comfort”

(unfortunately interchanged with “consolation” in the Authorized Version)

and the word “affliction” (varyingly rendered by “trouble” and “tribulation” in

the Authorized Version), are the keynotes of this passage; and to some extent

of the whole Epistle. Paul is haunted as it were and possessed by them. “Comfort,”

as verb or substantive, occurs ten times in vs. 3-7; and “affliction” occurs four

times in succession.  It is characteristic of Paul’s style to be thus dominated,

as it were, by a single word (compare notes on ch. 3:2, 13; 4:2; see note on

ch. 10:8). The needless variations of the Authorized Version were well

intentioned, but arose from a false notion of style, a deficient sense of the

precision of special words, and an inadequate conception of the duties of

faithful translation, which requires that we should as exactly as possible reflect

the peculiarities of the original, and not attempt to improve upon them.

No matter how the mercies reach us and what their nature and connections,

they are from the Father as the God of all comfort.  Mercy implies something

more than mere benevolence; it is a modification of goodness; it implies sorrow

and suffering. God is good to all, but He is merciful to the afflicted — He

compassionates and comforts them.

 

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.”  Who comforteth us” - The “us” implies

here, not only Paul and Timothy, but also the Corinthians, who are one with them

in a bond of Christian unity which was hitherto undreamed of, and was a new

phenomenon in the world.  Paul always uses the first person in passages

where he is speaking directly of individual feelings and experiences. In

other passages he likes to lose himself, as it were, in the Christian

community. The delicate play of emotion is often shown by the rapid

interchanges of singular and plural (see vs. 13, 15, 17; ch. 2:1, 11, 14, etc.).

The present, comforteth,” expresses a continuous experience, with which the

Christians of the first age were most happily familiar (John 14:16-18;

II Thessalonians 2:16-17)  In all our affliction. The collective experience

of affliction is sustained by the collective experience of comfort.  

That we may be able to comfort.  Paul takes “a teleological view of sorrow.”

It is partly designed as a school of sympathy. It is a part of the training of an

apostle, just as suffering is essential to one who is to be a sympathetic high priest

(Hebrews 5:1-2).  In any trouble. The original more forcibly repeats

the words, “in all affliction.” Wherewith we ourselves are comforted. By

means of the comfort which God gives us, we can, by the aid of blessed

experience, communicate comfort to others.  Affliction is necessary to

qualify us to sympathize with and administer comfort to others. By affliction Christ

qualified Himself to comfort others. “We have not a High Priest that cannot be

touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” (Hebrews 4:15-16). 

 

5 “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also

aboundeth by Christ.”  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us” - rather,

unto us. “The sufferings of Christ” are the sufferings which He endured in the

days of His flesh, and they were not exhausted by Him, but overflow to us who

have to suffer as He suffered, bearing about with us His dying, that

we may share His life (ch. 4:10). The idea is, not that He is suffering in us and

with us (though the truth of His intense sympathy with His suffering Church

may be shadowed forth in some such terms, Matthew 25:40-45; Acts 9:4),

but that we have “a fellowship in His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10);

Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ;” Hebrews 13:13,

“Bearing His reproach.” Our sufferings are the sufferings of Christ

because we suffer as He suffered (I Peter 4:13) and in the same cause.

Aboundeth by Christ.  If His sufferings, as it were, overflow to us, so too is

He the Source of our comfort, in that He sendeth us the  Comforter (John

14:16-18).  Talking from the intellect is in such a case of no avail.  A man must

have been a sufferer, must have felt Christ in his sufferings, must have abounded

in these “sufferings of  Christ,” as Paul designates his afflictions, before he can

be fitted to minister unto others. Only sorrow can speak to sorrow. Notice the

correspondence in the degree; if the sufferings of Christ abounded, so

our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” “By the sufferings of Christ

abound in us” (“unto us,” Revised Version), we understand the apostle to

mean his fellowship with Christ in suffering the ills and sorrows that came

upon him as an apostle and as a man because of his spiritual union with Christ.

Mediation in all its offices, in the peculiar and exclusive work of Christ as the

one Reconciler and Healer, in the subordinate and imperfect operations

of human sympathy, is essentially painful. And allowing for the infinite

distinction between the Divine Sufferer and human sufferers, there is yet a

unity in suffering predicable of Christ and the members of His mystical body.

For it is the capacity to suffer which is the dignity and glory of our nature.

We are God-like in this quality. It is the basis of all grand excellence, nor can

our innate love of happiness nor any other ideal of our being have its fulfillment

except through that kind of sorrow which Christians undergo in the Man of sorrows.

V. 6 emphasizes this fact.

 

 

The God of Christianity (vs. 3-5)

 

“Blessed be God, even the Father,” etc. The God of nature is revealed in

nature as the Almighty and the All-wise. “The invisible things of the world

are clearly seen, being made visible by the things that are seen, even his

eternal power and Godhead.” (Romans 1:20)  But God in Christianity appears

in three aspects.

 

  • AS THE FATHER OF THE WORLD’S REDEEMER. “Blessed be

God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is the world’s

Redeemer, and the world’s Redeemer is the Son of God. “This is my

beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:17)

 

  • AS THE SOURCE OF MAN’S MERCIES. “The Father of mercies,

and the God of all comfort,” or the merciful Father. Mercy implies

something more than mere benevolence; it is a modification of goodness; it

implies sorrow and suffering. God is good to all, but He is merciful to the

afflicted — He compassionates and comforts them. God in nature does not

appear as the God of mercy and comfort for the fallen and the lost.

 

  • AS THE COMFORTER OF AFFLICTED SAINTS. “Who

comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them

which are in any trouble,” etc. The best of men have their tribulations here.

Most, if not all, the men who have entered heaven have passed through

much tribulation.  (“In the world ye shall have tribulation:  but be of

good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

 

Ø      He comforts His afflicted people “in all their tribulations.” Whatever the

nature and variety of affliction, He has suitable and adequate comfort to

bestow. Moral remorses, worldly losses, social bereavements, He has a

healing balm for all.

 

Ø      He comforts His afflicted people, that they may be able to administer

comfort to others. “That we may be able to comfort them which are in any

trouble.” Affliction is necessary to qualify us to sympathize with and

administer comfort to others. “They comfort others who themselves have

borne,” says Sophocles. By affliction Christ qualified Himself to comfort

others. “We have not a High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling

of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without

sin.”  (Hebrews 4:15)

 

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.”

And; - rather, but. The verse expresses the additional thought that the comfort

(i.e. encouragement and strengthening) of the apostle, as well as his affliction,

was not only designed for his own spiritual training, but was the source of direct

blessing to his converts, because it enabled him, both by example (Philippians 1:14)

and by the lessons of experience, to strengthen others in affliction, and so to further

their salvation by teaching them how to endure – “we glory in tribulations also:

knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and

experience, hope.”  (Romans 5:3-4). The affliction brings encouragement,

and so works endurance in us, and, by our example and teaching, in you

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.”  What a

glorious enterprise Paul and his fellow apostles were engaged in! — nothing

less than the restoration of mankind to the knowledge, image, and friendship

of the great God. Yet how great their sufferings! “We were pressed out of

measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.”  (v. 8) 

I can not only sympathize with you, but I can assure you of that which will

cure you, for it has cured me; — this, perhaps, may serve as an illustration of

the apostle’s meaning here; and this every true Christian man who has suffered

can say to all — I was in your condition, I was restored; I can sympathize with

you, and I urge the same means of restoration.  The Holy Ghost is the Comforter,

we are His  agents, and, just as the gospel reaches you from Him through us, so

too the gospel of consolation comes to your hearts through our hearts.  To

console is one of our greatest tasks.  Everywhere the dejected were to be lifted up,

the discouraged animated, the afflicted taught to hope.

 

7 “And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers

of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”  And our hope of you

is steadfast” - literally, And our hope is steadfast on your behalf. The variations of

text and punctuation in the verse do not materially affect the sense. The meaning is

“And I have a sure hope that you will reap the benefits of our common fellowship

with Christ in His affliction, and of the comfort which He sends, because I know

that you have experienced the sufferings, and am therefore sure that He will send

you the strength and the endurance. The close connection of tribulation and Divine

encouragement are found also in Matthew 5:4; II Timothy 2:12; I Peter 5:10. The

interchange of the two between teacher and taught is part of the true communion

of saints (Philippians 2:26).  knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings,

so shall ye be also of the consolation.” - Corruptions were among these Corinthians

God’s judgments had overtaken them because of their freethinking and laxity of

morals: they were punished, they were chastened but in the midst of all, Paul was

encouraged to hope for their stability and growth in grace, seeing that they were

not only sympathizers but participants both in the suffering and in the consolation

he himself experienced for their sakes.  There are times in our history as

believers when, if left without the support of Church relations, we should be overcome

by temptation. In such hours God shows us the worth of membership in the Church;

grace comes to us through their affections, and brethren in Christ are our best friends

in the flesh. The human, or rather the Divine in the human, saves us when all else

would be ineffectual, and thus it is that associates and companions in the faith

cooperate with other ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall

be heirs of salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14)  Keep in mind how sorrow ennobles us.

Is it the silence and loneliness, the self-examination, the penitence, the amendment,

in which the divinest fruits of chastening appear? These are not ultimate results.

It is not alone what the discipline of pain makes us in ourselves; it is not the

individual man, but the social man, that is under God’s plastic hand, and who, while

learning to “bear his own burden,” is also learning a lesson far more difficult,

to bear another’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  (Galatians 6:2) 

Who are they that practice the “so”?   Who are the burden bearers — those that

carry the ignorance, perverseness, folly, misfortune, troubles, of other people on

their hearts?  Only such as have known Christ as He suffered from taking “our

infirmities and bearing “our sicknesses,” (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17)

and who have been taught by the Holy Spirit that the mediating life to which we

are called as the highest sphere of life is possible only by means of personal affliction.

Was Bunyan immured in Bedford jail on his own account or for the world’s benefit? 

Was Milton blind for his own sake or for England’s? How could ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’

or ‘Paradise Lost’ have been produced except in obedience to the law — partakers

in suffering, partakers in consolation?

 

 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:”  For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant.

This is a favorite phrase with Paul (Romans 1:13; 11:25; I Corinthians12:1;

I Thessalonians 4:13).  Of our trouble; rather, about our affliction. He assumes

that they are aware what the trouble was, and he does not specially mention it.

What he wants them to know is that, by the help of their prayers and sympathy,

God had delivered him out of this affliction, crushing as it was. There is a tendency

in men to parade their sufferings and their trials, to spread them out before men,

in order to enlist their sympathy and excite commiseration. This is selfish, is not

justifiable.  Christ — the greatest of all sufferers — never did this: in this respect,

“He opened not His  mouth.”   (Isaiah 53:7)   But to declare sufferings in order to

benefit others, to give them courage and comfort, and to establish between you and

them a holy unity in the Divine cause, this is right, this is what Paul does here. He

does it that they may believe in his sympathy and seek the comfort which he

himself experienced.  which came to us in Asia” – Most commentators refer this

to the tumult at Ephesus (Acts 19); and since Paul’s dangers, sicknesses, and troubles

are clearly understated throughout the Acts, it is possible that the perils and personal

maltreatment which were liable to occur during such a season of excitement may

have brought on some violent illness; or, again, be may have suffered from some

plots (I Corinthians 16:9; Acts 20:19) or shipwreck  (ch.11:25). In Romans 16:4

he alludes again to some extreme peril. But Paul seems systematically to have made

light of external dangers and sufferings. All his strongest expressions (Romans 9:1-3)

are reserved for mental anguish and affliction. What he felt most keenly was the

pang of lacerated affections. It is, therefore, possible that he is here alluding to the

overpowering tumult of feelings which had been aroused by his anxiety as to

the reception likely to be accorded to his first letter.  To this and the

accompanying circumstances he alludes again and again (ch. 2:4,12; 7:5, etc.).

The sense of “comfort’’ resulting from the tidings brought by Titus (ch. 7:6-7, 13)

is as strong as that expressed in these verses, and the allusion to this anguish

of heart is specially appropriate here, because he is dwelling on the

sympathetic communion between himself and his converts, both in their

sorrows and their consolations.  That we were pressed out of

measure above strength; literally, that we were weighed down exceedingly beyond

our power. The trial seemed too heavy for him to bear. The phrase here rendered

out of measure” occurs in ch. 4:17; Romans 12:3; I Corinthians 10:13; Galatians

1:13;  but is only found in this particular group of letters. Insomuch that we

despaired even of life.  Literally it is, so that we were even in utter perplexity

(ch. 4:8) even about life.  “I fell into such agony of mind that I hardly hoped

to survive.” Generally, although he was often in perplexity, he succeeded in

resisting despair (ibid.).

 

9 “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not

trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:”  But; perhaps rather,

yea. The word strengthens the phrase, “were in utter perplexity.”  The sentence;

rather, the answer. The word is unique in the Septuagint and the NewTestament.

We had the sentence of death in ourselves.” The original is more emphatic,

“Ourselves in our own selves we have had.” Not only did all the outer world look dark

to me, but the answer which my own spirit returned to the question, “What will be the

end of it all?” was “Death!” and that doom still seems to echo in my spirit because

I seemed to myself to be beyond all human possibility of deliverance.  Such hours

do come to the best and noblest of God’s servants.  Body gives way, heroism

is weakened, faith is half shorn of its strength.  It is the eclipse of light, the

hour of darkness and of the Prince of darkness; the very soul seems to put off

its better attributes, and life to its core appears an unreality.  Paul “had the

sentence of death” in himself. Was there any “lower deep”?  Yet in this season

of terrible experience a Divine lesson was being taught him, and it was

 that we should not trust in ourselves” - There was a divinely intended meaning

in my despair. It was meant to teach me, not only submission, but absolute trust in God

(see Jeremiah 17:5, 7) -  Paul’s experience did two things for him:  To have transferred

 his trust in himself to trust in God. “We had the sentence of death in ourselves,

 that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God.” Paul no doubt felt that he was

brought near unto death, to the very extreme of suffering, and that led him to look away

from self, to put his trust in God. When affliction does this it is indeed a blessing in

disguise.  When it detaches us from the material and links us to the spiritual, takes

us away from self and centers us on God, then, indeed, it worketh out for us a

far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  (ch. 4:17-18)  The second

thing was To have  awakened prayers by others on his behalf. (v. 11).   All

self-reliance was taken away, and, in utter hopelessness, his heart was committed

to God with his life, even the God who raises the dead!  But in  God which raiseth 

the dead.  Being practically dead - utterly crushed with anguish and despairing of

deliverance   I learned by my deliverance to have faith in God as one who can

raise men even from the dead.  (Think of the mind-set of Abraham when

he went to offer Isaac! – [Genesis 22:1-14; Hebrews 11:17-19*****] – CY – 2010) 

After this era in Paul’s life, imagine his consciousness of God’s power in him.  It is on

record that he was revived and reinvigorated; for he speaks of God as one who had not

only “delivered, but “doth deliver,” and “in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us.”

(v. 10) - “So great a death” had been escaped; why might he not hope for future and

triumphant victory? 

 

10 “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom

we trust that he will yet deliver us;”  From so great a death.  From a state of

dejection and despair, which seemed to show death in all its power (see ch. 4:10-12).

And doth deliver.  Perhaps a pious marginal gloss which has crept into the text of

some manuscripts.  We trust;  rather, we have set our hope.  That. This word is

omitted in some good manuscripts, as also are the words, “and doth deliver.

He will yet deliver us. This  implies either that the perils alluded to were not yet

absolutely at an end, or Paul s consciousness that many a peril of equal intensity

lay before him in the future. 

 

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.” Ye also helping together by prayer for us. Paul had a deep conviction

of the efficacy of intercessory prayer (Romans 15:30-31; Philippians 1:19;

Philemon 1:22).  By the means of many persons;  literally, from many faces.

Probably the word προσώπων prosoponfaces -  here has its literal meaning.

The verse, then, means “that from many faces the gift to us may be thankfully

acknowledged by many on our behalf.”  God, he implies, will be well pleased

when He sees the gratitude beaming from the many countenances of those who

thank Him for His answer to their prayers on his behalf. The word for “gift

is charisma, which means a gift of grace, a gift of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4).

 

 

 

Thanksgiving in the Midst of Tribulation;

Uses of Sorrow; Comforting Others;

                          and

                           Personal References (vs. 3-11)

 

The ascription begins with “blessed,” the strongest term the apostle could

employ as representing the highest and strongest emotions, the head-word

in the vocabulary of gratitude and praise, found in the Old and New

Scriptures, and common to Jews and Gentile Christians. “Blessed;” the

best in us acknowledging the God of grace, an anthem in a single

utterance, and embodying the whole nature of man in reverence and

adoration. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;” not

only God, but the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a Father to us in

Him. What significance Christ gave to the word “father” we all know. It is

the root-word of the Lord’s Prayer, every ascription and every petition

being but an offshoot from “Our Father which art in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9)

So of the entire Sermon on the Mount; it is the motive:

 

  • to trust Providence,
  • the reason to be like God,
  • the ground of brotherhood,
  • the inducement to forgive those who offend us,
  • the inspiration of each duty, each sacrifice, and
  • the joy and strength of each beatitude.

 

So of the last conversations and discourse — all of the Father and of the Son in

Him, and the disciples in the Son. So after the Resurrection, “My Father and

your Father.” (John 20:17)  Paul rejoiced in the word. Nor did he hesitate to use

on Mars’ Hill the quotation, “We are also his offspring”  (Acts 17:25), and from

this point of view expose the error and sin of idolatry. And wherever he comes to

give it the fullness of its import, as in Romans 8., his heart overflows with feeling.

Here (v. 3) He is also the “Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort,” and

no matter how the mercies reach us and what their nature and connections,

they are from the Father as the God of all comfort. Physical and spiritual

blessings, a visit from Stephanas, the return of Titus, good news from

Corinth, — all alike are mercies from the Father, the God of all comfort.

One may lose himself in the omnipresence of Jehovah and be overwhelmed

by its sublimity, but it is a very practical doctrine with the apostle, a

constant reality, and he feels it deeply because he feels it always. “Not far

from every one of us.” (ibid. v. 27)  How can He be, when “we live and move

and have our being” in Him? (ibid. v. 28)  We say these great words, but with

what little consciousness of their massive import! Reason tries in vain to

comprehend omnipresence; imagination labors and sinks under its images;

while the humble and docile heart accepts the grandeur of God’s presence in

immensity as the grandeur of His nearness in all the affairs of life. “God of

all comfort” because “Father of mercies;” the mercies very welcome to him

just then in that sore emergency, and the fatherhood of God in Christ

unspeakably dear, it enlivened the sense of special providence in his soul; it

was the Comforter whom Christ had promised as more than a compensation

for His absence (John 16:13-16), and, while this Comforter was never taken

from him, yet, as occasion demanded, His Divine manifestations were

augmented. Just as we need human sympathy, assurances of human

friendship and love, more at some times than at others, SO NEED WE

THE CONSOLER and to this varying want he adapts himself in the infinitude

of His power and tenderness. No soul is saved, we may suppose, on an unvarying

plan; no soul is cheered and strengthened by a rigid monotony of spiritual

influence. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, a zephyr, a breeze, a gale,

but in all the wind. “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) 

“Blessed be God,” not only for “mercies” and “comfort,” but for them in

particular adaptations to seasons and experiences that doubly endear the gracious

offices of the Paraclete. Now, these words of praise naturally lead us to

expect a justification of their special utterance, and we have it immediately.

“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,” and for what purpose? Titus

and Timothy had brought him much cheer and consolation, and why? Was

it just to revive his drooping spirit? Just to assuage his personal pain,

soothe his unquiet nerves, invigorate his tone of mind? Nay; consolation

was not selfish. Happiness is not exclusively or even mainly for its

possessor. “Doth God take care for oxen?”  (I Corinthians 9:9)  Yea; for

the owner of oxen too in his providence over the beast. The tribulation had

not fallen on Paul because of anything peculiar to him; it was vicarious; and the

comfort had been granted, not in his behalf alone, but that he might know how

to console others. This is his statement: “That we may be able to comfort

them which are in any trouble.” If the Holy Ghost is the Comforter, we are

His agents, and, just as the gospel of doctrine reaches you from Him

through us, so too the gospel of consolation comes to your hearts through

our hearts. Look at what the apostolic office meant. Far more than

preacher, organizer, administrator, leader, champion, was included in its

high duties and arduous responsibilities. To console was one of its greatest

tasks. Everywhere the dejected were to be lifted up, the discouraged

animated, the afflicted taught to hope. To be a physician to suffering souls

was a ceaseless requisition on Paul. Think of what it entailed on such

a man as he. Think of but one aspect of the matter — tension of sensibility.

The exhaustion consequent on the unceasing strain upon sensibility is the

hardest of all things to bear. It opens the door to all manner of temptations.

It is the crucial test of manly fortitude, Now, the quality of emotion has

much more to do with the exhaustion of the nervous system than the

quantity. Every preacher knows that a funeral occasion on which he has to

officiate is a severer tax on his nerves than half a dozen ordinary pulpit

services. The more solemn, and especially the more pathetic, the

circumstances, the more rapid and complete the subsequent exhaustion.

Think now of what Paul had to endure in this kind of apostolic

experience, and that too without a respite; how many thorns rankled

besides “the thorn in the flesh” (ch.12:7) and how many hearts bled in that

one bleeding heart of his. Just now, moreover, he was suffering greatly on

account of the Corinthians. This will appear hereafter. The main point

before us is — How was he qualified to be a consoler? What his discipline,

what his education, for this beautiful and holy service? Ah, Tarsus and

Jerusalem, Gamaliel, all other teachers, pass out of view in this deepest and

most personal of all culture, and the Holy Ghost and the man are the only

parties to the work. “By the comfort wherewith we ourselves are

comforted of God.” Talking from the intellect is in such a case of no avail.

A man must have been a sufferer, must have felt Christ in His sufferings,

must have abounded in these “sufferings of Christ,” as Paul designates

his afflictions, before he can be fitted to minister unto others. Only sorrow

can speak to sorrow. Notice the correspondence in the degree; if the

sufferings of Christ abounded, so “our consolation also aboundeth by

Christ.” “By the sufferings of Christ abound in us” (“unto us,” Revised

Version), we understand the apostle to mean his fellowship with Christ in

suffering the ills and sorrows that came upon him as an apostle and as a

man because of his spiritual union with Christ. Mediation in all its offices,

in the peculiar and exclusive work of CHRIST AS THE ONE RECONCILER

AND HEALER in the subordinate and imperfect operations of human sympathy,

is essentially painful. And allowing for the infinite distinction between the

Divine Sufferer and human sufferers, there is yet a unity in suffering

predicable of Christ and the members of His mystical body. For it is the

capacity to suffer which is the dignity and glory of our nature. We are

God-like in this quality. It is the basis of all grand excellence, nor can our

innate love of happiness nor any other ideal of our being have its fulfillment

except through that kind of sorrow which Christians undergo in the Man of

Sorrows. V. 6 emphasizes this fact. If we are afflicted, argues he, it is for

your good, that we may be instrumental in your salvation, and that grace

may abound to you because of what we endure. And, furthermore, it was

for their present consolation; it was “effectual;” the example of their

distressed apostle operated to strengthen and establish them, and the

consolation wherewith he was sustained availed to animate their souls.  For

this reason, his hope of them was “steadfast.” Corruptions were among these

Corinthians; GOD’S JUDGMENTS had overtaken them because of their

freethinking and laxity of morals: they were punished, they were chastened

but in the midst of all, Paul was encouraged to hope for their stability and

growth in grace, seeing that they were not only sympathizers but

participants both in the suffering and in the consolation he himself

experienced for their sakes. Two points here come into view: first, the

apostle was in great distress on their account, and they shared with him this

peculiar burden of grief; and, secondly, the supporting grace which God

had given him was not confined to his soul, but overflowed (abounded) in

their souls. What a great truth is this! There are times in our history as

believers when, if left without the support of Church relations, we should

be overcome by temptation. In such hours God shows us the worth of

membership in the Church; grace comes to us through their affections, and

brethren in Christ are our best friends in the flesh. The human, or rather the

Divine in the human, saves us when all else would be ineffectual, and thus

it is that associates and companions in the faith cooperate with other

ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of

salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14)  And what a meaning this imparts to the

Holy Communion, wherein we express, not only our remembrance of Christ’s

suffering and death, but our fellowship with His sufferings in others!

(Philippians 3:10)  Keep in mind how sorrow ennobles us. Is it the silence and

loneliness, the self-examination, the penitence, the amendment, in which the divinest

fruits of chastening appear? These are not ultimate results. It is not alone what the

discipline of pain makes us in ourselves; it is not the individual man, but the social

man, that is under God’s plastic hand, and who, while learning to “bear his own

burden,” is also learning a lesson far more difficult, to bear another’s

burden and “so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)  Who are they that practice

the “so”? Who are the burden bearers — those that carry the ignorance,

perverseness, folly, misfortune, troubles, of other people on their hearts?

Only such as have known Christ as He suffered from taking “our infirmities”

and bearing “our sicknesses,” (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17) and who have been

taught by the Holy Spirit that the mediating life to which we are called as the

highest sphere of life is possible only by means of personal affliction.

Was Bunyan immured in Bedford jail on his own account or for the world’s benefit? 

Was Milton blind for his own sake or for England’s? How could ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’

or ‘Paradise Lost’ have been produced except in obedience to the law — partakers

in suffering, partakers in consolation?  Paul proceeds to the illustration. Of his

general sufferings we have a definite idea. How he was misrepresented by his enemies,

how he was charged with meanness and cowardice, how he was vilified for his

self-denial, how the Judaizers pursued him with merciless zeal, we all know.

We know, too, how his heart was moved by the deplorable state of things at Corinth.

Now, it is quite true that the endurance of trouble prepares us to bear a

new trouble; but it is true also that trouble increases the sensitiveness to

pain, and hence, in a succession of sorrows, the last, though not in itself the

heaviest, is virtually such because of the sensibility involved. This was

Paul’s condition. At this very conjuncture, when a phalanx of evils

threatened, he had one particular trouble, of which he says, “We would

not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia.”

(c. 8)  What it specifically was, we know not. He tells us, however, that it was

exceptional even in his sad life; for he was “pressed [borne down] out of

measure,” and again, “above strength” (human resistance inadequate to

bear the load), so much so that he saw no way of escape, life hung in peril,

we despaired even of life.” In that dreadful hour all seemed over. Such

hours do come to the best and noblest of God’s servants. Body gives way,

heroism is weakened, faith is half shorn of its strength. It is the eclipse of

all light, the hour of darkness and of the Prince of darkness; the very soul

seems to put off its better attributes, and life to its core appears AN

UNREALITY.   Paul “had the sentence of death” in himself. Was there any

lower deep”? Yet in this season of terrible experience a Divine lesson was

being taught him, and it was “that we should not trust in ourselves.” (v. 9)

Had he not learned it long ago? Yes; in part, but not in this precise shape nor in

this degree. The capacity to suffer is peculiar in this, that its development

requires a manifold experience. One trouble is not another trouble; one

grief is not another grief. Affliction that reaches a certain sentiment or a

particular section of our nature may leave other sentiments and sections

altogether untouched. Every quality within must go through this ordeal.

The loss of money is not the loss of position and influence, the loss of

friend is not the loss of a child, the loss of a child is not THE LOSS

OF A WIFE!  Each affection must pass through the refiner’s fire. Nay, the

very instincts must share the purification ordained for such as are to be made

perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10)  Every link must be tested, must

be thoroughly known, before the chain can be formed. What the issue was in

Paul’s case he informs us, and it was this — all self-reliance was TAKEN AWAY,

and, in utter hopelessness, his heart was committed to GOD with his life, even

THE GOD “which raiseth the dead.” Could anything represent His marvelous

deliverance except the resurrection? Who delivered us from so great a

death;” it was an act of omnipotence, and as signal as raising the dead.

After this era in his career imagine his consciousness of God’s power in

him. There it was — part and portion of his being, thought of his thought,

feeling of his feeling, separable never from the existence of self. Had the

crisis passed? Yea; but maligners and intriguers and foes were still on his

track; the half-Christianized Pharisee nursed the old grudge against him,

and the Judaizer, who believed in no gospel of which the Law of Moses

was not a vital part as a requisite to salvation, was as inveterate as ever in

cunning and in the arts that undermine. Yet what a potency of assurance

lies in sorrow! After this season of trial, Paul, who was very

apprehensive of mischief from this Judaizing source, and most serious

mischief, and who felt his own ministry more imperiled at this point than at

any other, must have had an unwonted degree of heavenly strength

imparted to his spirit. Is it not likely, indeed, that it was a period of special

education for this struggle with the Judaizers? May it not have been that,

while in Ephesus, Troas, Macedonia, the principal warrior on the side of

Christianity and free grace had his armor refitted and burnished for the

dangers newly impending? It is on record that he was revived and

reinvigorated; for he speaks of God as one who had not only “delivered,

but “doth deliver,” and “in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”  (v. 10)

(I recommend Spurgeon Sermon:  The Tenses which can be found at

http://archive.spurgeon.org/sermons/2718.php - you might have to type

it in the browser - CY - 2018)  “So great a death” had been escaped; why

might he not hope for future and triumphant victory? Would not these

Corinthians be brethren indeed? “Ye also helping together by prayer for us;”

the joy of deliverance from his enemies would not be complete unless they were

partakers;” not even would he have triumph at the price of selfishness, but self

in them and self in him must be one; and, therefore, the recurring plural, weand

us.” “By the means,” or through the agency of “many persons,” the future

deliverance, “the gift bestowed upon us,” will be secured, and what then?

It would be no private and personal thanksgiving on his part. Instead of

that, “thanks may be given by many on our behalf.” His joy would be their

joy; their joy his joy; and, in their mutual thanksgiving, ALL WOULD SEE

that a common sorrow had been overruled for a COMMON GLORY!

 

 

Personal sufferings (vs. 6-11)

 

“And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation,” etc.  Jesus had

told Paul through Ananias “...I will show him how great things he must

suffer for my name’s sake.”  (Acts 9:16)  The words suggest a few remarks

concerning personal sufferings.

 

  • THEY ARE OFTEN EXPERIENCED IN THE BEST OF

ENTERPRISES. What a glorious enterprise Paul and his fellow apostles

were engaged in! — nothing less than the restoration of mankind to the

knowledge, image, and friendship of the great God. Yet how great their

sufferings! “We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch

that we despaired even of life.”  (v. 8)

 

  • THEY ARE EVER NECESSARY FOR THE RENDERING OF THE

HIGHEST SERVICE TO MANKIND. “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.” (v. 6)  The apostle here teaches that

his sufferings and those of his colleagues were vicarious. He and his

co-laborers incurred them in their endeavors to extend the gospel, and

they had the “consolations” which came to him, qualified him to

sympathize with and administer comfort to all who were in the same trying

condition. Paul could say to the sufferers at CorinthWe were in

sufferings and were comforted; you are in sufferings and may participate in

the same comfort. If you are partakers of the same kind of suffering, that

is, suffering on account of your religion, you shall also be partakers of the

same comfort. Suppose a man who had been restored from a certain

disease by a certain specific were to meet another suffering under a

complaint in all respects identical, and were to say to the man — I can not

only sympathize with you, but I can assure you of that which will cure you,

for it has cured me; — this, perhaps, may serve as an illustration of the

apostle’s meaning here; and this every true Christian man who has suffered

can say to all — I was in your condition, I was restored; I can sympathize

with you, and I urge the same means of restoration,

 

  • THEIR DETAILMENT PURELY FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS

IS JUSTIFIABLE. Paul says, “We would not, brethren, have you ignorant

of our trouble.” There is a wonderful tendency in men to parade their

sufferings and their trials, to spread them out before men, in order to enlist

their sympathy and excite commiseration. This is selfish, is not justifiable.

Christ   the greatest of all sufferers — never did this: in this respect,

“He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)  But to declare sufferings in order

to benefit others, to give them courage and comfort, and to establish between

you and them a holy unity in the Divine cause, this is right, this is what

Paul does here. He does it that they may believe in his sympathy and seek

the comfort which he himself experienced.

 

  • THEIR EXPERIENCE OFTEN PROVES A BLESSING TO THE

SUFFERER. They seem to have done two things for Paul.

 

Ø      To have transferred his trust in himself TO TRUST IN GOD!  “We had the

sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in

God.” (v. 9)  Paul no doubt felt that he was brought near unto death, to the

very extreme of suffering, and that led him to look away from self, to put his

trust in God. When affliction does this it is indeed a blessing in disguise.

When it detaches us from the material and links us to the spiritual, takes us

away from self and centers us on God, then, indeed, it worketh out for us a

far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  (ch. 4:17)

 

Ø      To have awakened prayers by others on his behalf. “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 own behalf.”

                        (v. 11)

 

 

            Vindication of Paul’s Right to Their Sympathy (vs. 12-14)

 

Paul here mentions the conscience.  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.”  Three remarks are suggested:

 

  • WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE SOUL CONSCIENCE OBSERVES.

            This is implied in its “testimony.” The eye of conscience pierces into the

            deepest secrets of motives, and is cognizant of all our hidden impulses,

            thoughts, and aims. We may appear sincere to others, but hypocrites to

            conscience; hypocrites to others, but true to conscience. Conscience is the

            best judge.

 

  • WHATEVER IS GOOD IN THE SOUL CONSCIENCE APPROVES.

 

ü      Paul’s conscience approved of his inner principleshis “simplicity” or

                        holiness, and “sincerity.” On these elements it has ever smiled and will ever

                        smile, but not on “fleshly wisdom,” carnal policy, and worldly expediency.

 

ü      Paul’s conscience approved of his external demeanor. “We have had

                        our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” His

                        outward conduct was the effect and expression of his inner life. Conscience

                        smiles on every holy deed, however mean in the sight of men.

 

  • WHATEVER IS JOYOUS IN THE SOUL CONSCIENCE OCCASIONS.

      “Our rejoicing is this,” or, “our glorying is this.” Where there is not an approving

      conscience there is no real, moral joy. Its “well done” sets the soul to music;

      with its approval we can stand, not only calm and serene, but even triumphant,

      under the denunciations of the whole world. Dr. South says, “Conscience is

      undoubtedly the grand repository of all those pleasures which can afford any

      solid refreshment to the soul; when this is calm and serene, then properly a man

      enjoys all things, and, what is more, himself; for that he must do before he can

      enjoy anything else. It will not drop but pour in oil upon the wounded heart; it will

      not whisper but proclaim a jubilee to the mind.”

 

12For 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 our rejoicing; rather, for our boasting is this. My expression of confidence

in your sympathy with me may sound like a boast, but my boast merely accords

with the testimony of my conscience that I have been sincere and honest to all,

and most of all to you. The testimony of our conscience. To this Paul frequently

appeals (Acts 23:1; 24:16; Romans 9:1; I Corinthians 4:4). In simplicity;  rather,

in holiness. The best reading is ἁγιότητιhagiotaeti - holiness (א, A, B, C, K),

not ἀπλότητιhaplotaeti - . simplicity.  “Holiness” seems to have been altered

to “simplicity,” both on dogmatic grounds and because it is a rare word,

only occurring in Hebrews 12:10.  And godly sincerity;  literally, sincerity of God;

which is a gift of grace  (compare “peace of God,” Philippians 4:7;

“righteousness of God,” Romans 1:17). For the word used for “sincerity,” see

note on I Corinthians 5:8.  Not with fleshly wisdom, (compare ch.2:17;

I Corinthians 2:4), but by the grace of God.  The preposition in both clauses is “in.”

The grace of God was the atmosphere which the apostle breathed, the sphere in

which he worked. We have had our conversation.  We lived and moved. The

word “conversation” originally meant “mode of life,” and is used to translate

both  ἀνεστράφημενanestraphaemen (behavior) and πολίτευμα politeuma

which means properly “citizenship.” The exclusive modern sense of “conversation”

is not earlier than the last three centuries. In the world; i.e. in my general life as

regards all men.  More abundantly to you-ward.  Sincerity and holiness, the signs of

the grace of God, were specially shown by the apostle towards the Corinthians,

because they were specially needed to guide his relations towards a Church

which inspired him with deep affection, but which required special wisdom to guide

and govern. The fact that, in spite of all his exceptional care, such bitter taunts could

still be leveled at him, shows that he had not been mistaken in supposing that no

Church required from him a more anxious watchfulness over all his conduct. 

 

 

 

Conscience and the Inner Life of Man (v. 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.”

Three remarks are suggested.

 

  • WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE SOUL CONSCIENCE OBSERVES.

This is implied in its “testimony.” The eye of conscience pierces into the

deepest secrets of motives, and is cognizant of all our hidden impulses,

thoughts, and aims. (Whether my comment here is accurate or not, I

think it worth the risk.  Until this moment of my life I have never had

the following thought or association – this in my 75th year.  Concerning the

colored words above, is it not possible and perhaps probable, that

this is evidence that we are made in the image of God and that

our conscience is  a projection of HIS OMNIPOTENCE!  We are

warned not to follow every spirit but to try them – I John 4:1 - CY –

2018)  We may appear sincere to others, but hypocrites to

conscience; hypocrites to others, but true to conscience. Conscience is

the best judge.

 

  • WHATEVER IS GOOD IN THE SOUL CONSCIENCE APPROVES.

 

Ø      Paul’s conscience approved of his inner principleshis “simplicity” or

holiness, and “sincerity.” On these elements it has ever smiled and will ever

smile, but not on “fleshly wisdom,” carnal policy, and worldly expediency.

 

Ø      Paul’s conscience approved of his external demeanor. “We have had

our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” His

outward conduct was the effect and expression of his inner life.

Conscience smiles on every holy deed, however common in the sight of men.

 

  • WHATEVER IS JOYOUS IN THE SOUL CONSCIENCE

OCCASIONS. “Our rejoicing is this,” or, “our glorying is this.” Where

there is not an approving conscience there is no real, moral joy. Its “well

done” sets the soul to music; with its approval we can stand, not only calm

and serene, but even triumphant, under the denunciations of the whole

world. Dr. South says, “Conscience is undoubtedly the grand repository of

all those pleasures which can afford any solid refreshment to the soul; when

this is calm and serene, then properly a man enjoys all things, and, what is

more, himself; for that HE MUST DO before he can enjoy anything else.

It will not drop but pour in oil upon the wounded heart; it will not whisper

but proclaim a jubilee to the mind.”

 

13 “For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or

acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;” 

For we write none other things unto you, etc. Remarks like

these obviously presuppose that the conduct and character of Paul had

been misrepresented and calumniated. The perpetual recurrence to a strain

of self-defense would have been needless if some one — probably Titus —

had not told Paul that his opponents accused him of insincerity. Here,

therefore, he tells them that he is opening out his very heart towards them.

What he had to say to them and of them was here set forth without any

subterfuges or arrieres pensees (ulterior motives). He had nothing esoteric

which differed from exoteric teaching. It is a melancholy thought that even

such a one as Paul was reduced to the sad necessity of defending himself against

such charges as that he intrigued with individual members of his Churches,

wrote private letters or sent secret messages which differed in tone from

those which were read in the public assembly. Or acknowledge; rather, or

even fully know; i.e. from other sources. The paronomasia of the original

cannot be preserved in English, but in Latin would be “Quae legitis aut

etiam inteltigitis.” And I trust… even to the end; rather, but I hope that,

even unto the end, ye will fully know — even as ye fully knew us in part —

that we are your subject of boast. After telling them that they have in this

letter his genuine and inmost thoughts, he adds that “even as some of them

(for this seem to be implied by the ‘in part’) already knew well that the

mutual relations between him and them were something wherein to glory,

he hopes that they will appreciate this fact, even to the end.” He knows that

some honor him; he hopes that all will do so; but he can only express this

as a hope, for he is aware that there are calumnies abroad respecting him,

so that he cannot feel sure of their unbroken allegiance. Such seems to be

the meaning; but the state of mind in which Paul wrote has evidently

troubled his style, and his expressions are less lucid and more difficult to

unravel in this Epistle than in any other. To the end. The expression is quite

general, like our “to the last.” He does not seem definitely to imply either

to the end of his life or to the coming of Christ, which they regarded as the

end of all things, as in I Corinthians 1:8; 15:24; Hebrews 3:6.

 

14 “As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your

rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

In part. Not as a whole Church. Some only of the Corinthians

had been faithful to his teaching and to himself. (For the phrase, see

Romans 11:25; 15:15, 24; I Corinthians 11:18; 12:27; 13:9)

Rejoicing; rather, ground of boast, as in ch. 9:3; Romans 4:2,

whereof to glory;” I Corinthians 5:6. In v. 12 the substantive means

the act of rejoicing.” The word is characteristic of this group of Epistles,

in which it occurs forty-six times, Even as ye also are ours. This clause takes

away all semblance of self-glorification. In I Thessalonians 2:19-20 and

Philippians 2:16 he expresses the natural thought that a teacher’s converts are,

and will be in the last day, his “crown of exultation.” Here alone he implies

that they may glory in him as he in them. The thought, however, so far from

being egotistical, merely indicates the intense intercommunion of sympathy

which existed between him and them. He does but place himself on a level

with his converts, and imply that they mutually gloried in each other.

In the day of the Lord Jesus (see on I Corinthians 3:13).

 

 

            Paul’s Change of Purpose in not Visiting Corinth (vs. 15-22)

 

15 “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might

have a second benefit;”  In this confidence. In reliance on the mutual respect and

affection which exists between us. I was minded. The stress is partly on

the tense: “my original desire was.” When speaking of matters purely

personal, Paul generally reverts to the first person. To come unto you

before. I meant to visit you, first on my way to Macedonia, and again on

my return from Macedonia, as explained in the next verse. A second

benefit; rather, a second grace. There is another reading, χαρὰνcharan

 joy, and the word χάρις charisgrace itself sometimes has this sense

(as in Tobit 7:18), but not in the New Testament. Here, again, there is no

boastfulness. Paul, filled as he was with the power of the Holy Spirit, was able

to impart to his converts some spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11), and this was the

chief reason why his visits were so eagerly desired, and why his change of plan

had caused such bitter disappointment to the Corinthians. The importance

of the Church of Corinth, its central position, and its unsettled state made it

desirable that he should give them as much as possible of his personal

supervision.

 

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.”

To be brought on my way (see note on I Corinthians 16:6) toward Judaea

(ibid. vs. 4-6).

 

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 I therefore was thus

minded. Without saying in so many words that all this plan was now given up,

he proceeds to defend himself against the charges which had been evidently

brought against him by his opponents. The Corinthians were aware that he no

longer meant to come to them direct from Ephesus. They had certainly been

informed of this by Titus, and he had indeed briefly stated it in I Corinthians 16:5.

Their disappointment had led some of them into angry criticisms upon the

indecision” of the apostle, the more so because he had (out of kindness, as

he here shows) spared them the pain of expressing his reasons. Did I use

lightness? Was this change of plan a sign of “the levity” with which some

of you charge me? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according

to the flesh, etc.? Every phrase in this clause is of ambiguous meaning. For

instance, the “or” may imply another charge, namely, that his purposes are

carnal, and therefore capricious; or it may be the alternative view of his

conduct, stated by way of self-defense — namely, “Does my change of

plan imply that I am frivolous? or, on the contrary, are not my plans of

necessity mere human plans, and therefore liable to be overruled by God’s

will?” Thus the meaning of the “or” is doubtful, and also the meaning of”

according to the flesh.” Generally this phrase is used in a bad sense, as in

ch.10:2 and Romans 8:1; but it may also be used to mean “in a human way,”

as in ch. 5:16. That with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay. There is

probably no clause in the New Testament of which the certain sense must be

left so indeterminate as this.

 

(1) The Authorized Version gives one way of taking the clause. The

grammar equally admits of the rendering.

 

(2) That with me the yea should be yea, and the nay nay.

 

Whichever rendering we adopt, it may be explained in accordance with the view

indicated in the last note. “I was not showing the levity which my

opponents speak of, but my purposes are necessarily mere human

purposes, and therefore my ‘yes’ and ‘no’ can be only ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when

I make a plan. My ‘yes’ or ‘no’ may be overruled by the Spirit (Acts 16:7)

or even hindered by Satan, and that more than once (I Thessalonians 2:18).”

“With me,” i.e. as far as I am concerned, I can only say “yes” or” no;” but

lhomme propose, Dieu dispose. His intended double visit to them was prevented,

not by any frivolity of his, but, as he afterwards shows, by their own unfaithfulness

and his desire to spare them.  There is yet a third way of taking it which involves

a different meaning — “In order that with me the ‘yea yea ‘ may be also ‘ nay nay,’”

Am I inconsistent? or, are my purposes merely carnal purposes, in order that my

yes yes” may be, as far as I am concerned, no better than “no no” — like

the mere shifting feebleness of an aimless man? A fourth way of taking the

clause, adopted by St. Chrysostom and many others, is, “Do I plan after

the flesh, i.e. with carnal obstinacy, so that my ‘ yea’ and ‘nay’ must be

carried out at all costs?’ This suggestion can hardly be right; for Paul

was charged, not with obstinacy, but with indecision. The phrases, “yea”

and “nay,” as mentioned in Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12, throw

no light on the passage, unless indeed some one had misquoted against

Paul our Lord’s words as a reason for adhering inviolably to a plan once

formed. Of these various methods I adopt the first, because it seems to be,

on the whole, most in accordance with the context. For on that view of the

passage he contents himself with the remark that it cannot be inconsistency

or levity on his part to alter plans which are liable to all the chance and

change of ordinary circumstances; and then tells them that there was one

part of his teaching which has nothing to do with mere human weakness,

but was God’s everlasting , “yes;” after which he explains to them the

reason why he decided not to come to them until he had first visited

Macedonia, and so to give them one visit, not two.

 

 

18 “But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.”

 But as God is true; - rather, but God is faithful, whatever man may be

(I Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; I Thessalonians 5:24; II Thessalonians 3:3; I John 1:9). 

Our word toward you was not yea and nay.  The verse should be rendered,

But God is faithful, because (faithful herein, that) our preaching to you proved

itself to be not yea and nay. Whatever you may say of my plans and my conduct,

there was one thing which involved an indubitable “yea,” namely, my preaching

to you. In that, at any rate, there was nothing capricious, nothing variable, nothing

vacillating. Paul, in a manner characteristic to his moods of deepest emotion,

goes off at a word.” The Corinthians talked of his “yea” and “nay” as though one

was little better than the other, and neither could be depended on; well, at

any rate, one thing, and that the most essential, was as sure as the

faithfulness of God.

 

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.”  For. This is a proof of what he has just said. His preaching

was as firm as a rock; for, tried by time, it had proved itself a changeless “yea,”

being a preaching of Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.  (Hebrews

13:8) By me and Silvanus and Timotheus. They are mentioned because they

had been his companions in the first visit to Corinth (Acts 18:5), and he wishes

to show that his preaching of Christ had never wavered.  Silvanus

(I Thessalonians 1:1; II Thessalonians 1:1) is the “Silas” of Acts 15:22.

He disappears from the New Testament in this verse, unless he be the

 Silvanus” of I Peter 5:12. Was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea.

“Became not (proved not to be) yes and no (in one breath, as it were, and

therefore utterly untrustworthy), but in Him there has been a yea.” The perfect,

has become,” means that in Him the everlasting” yes” has proved itself valid,

and still continues to be a changeless affirmation (Hebrews 13:8 again.).

 

20 “For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto

the glory of God by us.”  For all the promises of God in Him are yea.  All the

promises of God find in Him their unchangeable fulfillment and “the promise of

the eternal inheritance” can only be fulfilled in Him (Hebrews 9:15)  And in Him

Amen.  The true reading is, “Wherefore by him also is the Amen to God, uttered

by us to his glory” (א, A, B, C, F, G, etc.). In Christ is the “yea” of immutable

promise and absolute fulfillment; the Church utters the “Amen” of perfect faith

and grateful adoration. Here, as in I Corinthians 14:16, we have a proof of

the ancientness of the custom by which the congregation utters the “Amen”

at the end of praise and prayer. But as the “yea” is in Christ, so it is only

through Him that we can receive the grace to utter aright the “Amen” to the

glory of God.

 

21 “Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us,

is God”  Now he that stablisheth us. They will have seen, then, that

steadfastness not levity, immutability not vacillation, has been the subject of

their teaching.  God is that source of steadfastness and has anointed and confirmed us

into unity with Christ.  With you. We partake alike of this Christian steadfastness; to

impugn mine is to nullify your own. In Christ; rather, into Christ, so as to

be one with him. They are already “in Christo;” they would aim more and

more to be established “in Christurn.” Who anointed us. Every Christian is a

king and priest to God and has received an unction from the Holy One

(Revelation 1:6; I John 2:20,27).  All is in the Spirit of Christ —

our preaching, promising, and living. God has made us firm and strong in Christ,

has given us the unction of His Spirit, so that while Jesus of Nazareth was by

distinction the Anointed, and received the Holy Ghost without measure,

He has taken us, apostles and believers, unto Himself, and conferred on us the

gifts of grace.  We are “sealed;” the mark is evident that we belong to Christ,

and this “earnest” or pledge is “in our hearts.”  All of the above gave Paul,

and will give us MORAL STABILITY!  “Now He which stablisheth us with

you in Christ” He that “hath anointed us is God. Among the Jews

in olden times, kings, priests, and prophets were set apart to their offices by

anointing them with oil; hence here the word “anointed” means they were

consecrated by God to a Christly life and labor. A truly Christian man is divinely

consecrated, not to a mere office, but to the noblest character and the sublimest

mission. As such he has God’s seal on him, “who hath also sealed us.”  Paul had

this sealing;  DO WE?  He who has this seal possesses DIVINE CONSECRATION! 

This is revealed in the next verse.

 

22 “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”

Who hath also sealed us. We cannot be deconsecrated, disanointed. Still less can

the confirming seal be broken. Paul continues to dwell on the conception of the

unchangeableness of God and of the gospel into which he had been incidentally

led by the charge of “lightness.” The earnest of the Spirit.  The promises which

we have received are not mere promises, they are already so far fulfilled to us and

in us as to guarantee hereafter their plenary fruition. Just as in money bargains

earnest money,” “money on account,” (for us moderns translate “down payment”

– CY – 2010) is given, in pledge that the whole will be ultimately discharged, so

we have “the earnest of the Spirit” (II Corinthians 5:5), “the firstfruits

of the Spirit” (Romans 8:23), which are to us “the earnest” or pledge money that we

shall hereafter enter upon the purchased possession (Ephesians 1:13-14). We now see

the meaning of the “and.” It involves a climax — the promise is much; the unction

more; the seal a still further security (Ephesians 4:30; II Timothy 2:19); but beyond

all this we have already a part payment in the indwelling of the Present of God

(Romans 5:5; 8:9; Galatians 4:6). The word ἀρραβῶναarrabona - earnest of

Hebrew origin [ (עָרַב - `arabown - a pledge), i.e. part of the purchase-money or

property given in advance as security for the rest: — earnest.  The word has an

interesting history. It is very ancient, for it is found עַרָבון) in Genesis 38:17-18,

and comes from a root meaning “to pledge.” It seems to be a Phoenician word,

which had been introduced into various languages by the universality of Phoenician

commerce. In classical Latin it is shortened into arrha, and it still exists in Italian

as aura, in French as arrhes. The equivalent Hebrew figure is firstfruits

(Romans 8:23).  A pledge is something different in kind given in assurance

of something else, as when Judah gave his staff and ring in pledge for a lamb

which he promised should be given afterwards. But an earnest is part of that

thing which is eventually to be given, as when the grapes were brought from

Canaan, or as when a purchase is made and part of the money is paid down at

once.”  He who has the Christly life within has already Paradise in germ. 

Paul had this pledge!  DO WE?  He who has it is evidence that he is

MAKING HIGH SPIRITUAL PROGRESS!

 

 

Possessions of a Genuine Christian (vs. 15-22)

 

“And in this confidence, etc. These verses may be regarded as indicating

what every genuine disciple of Christ — that is, every Christly man —

possesses now and here.

 

  • HE POSSESSES MORAL STABILITY. Paul is here writing on the

defensive; indeed, the whole tone of his letter is apologetic. Because he did

not visit the Corinthians according to his first promise, they perhaps

pronounced him fickle, vacillating, untrue to his word. Against this he

protests. “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before,

that ye might have a second benefit; 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.” Here he admits his intention and his promise,

but in reply says emphatically, “When I therefore was thus minded, did I

use lightness?” etc. He claims stability, and the stability which he claims is

possessed by all true Christians.

 

Ø      A stability of purpose. “As God is true, our word toward you was not

yea and nay.” What we said we meant; there was no equivocation, no

yeaand “nay” in the same breath. In defending his veracity:

 

o        He makes an asseveration. “As God is true,” or as God is faithful, we

meant to perform what we promised.

 

o        He indicates an incongruity. “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. For all the

promises of God in Him are yea,” etc. He means to say that the gospel

which he had preached to them necessarily bound him to faithfulness.

Christ, in whom he lived and for whom he labored, was the Grand

Reality, the “Amen,” the Truth. The idea of a man in Christ being

                                    untruthful was preposterous.  An untruthful man cannot be a

Christian. This the apostle means and declares.

 

Ø      A stability of character. “Now He which stablisheth us with you in

Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.” The stability he claims for himself

he accedes to all the Christians at Corinth. How blessed to have the heart

fixed, their character “in Christ” established, “rooted and grounded in

love”!  (Ephesians 3:17)

 

  • HE POSSESSES DIVINE CONSECRATION. He that “hath anointed

us is God.” Among the Jews in olden times, kings, priests, and prophets

were set apart to their offices by anointing them with oil; hence here the

word “anointed” means they were consecrated by God to a Christly life

and labor. A truly Christian man is divinely consecrated, not to a mere

office, but to the noblest character and the sublimest mission. As such he

has God’s seal on him, “who hath also sealed us.”  (v. 22)

 

  • HE POSSESSES A PLEDGE OF THE HIGHEST PROGRESS.

“Given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” “Let us,” says F.W.

Robertson, “distinguish between an earnest and a pledge. A pledge is

something different in kind given in assurance of something else, as when

Judah gave his staff and ring in pledge for a lamb which he promised

should be given afterwards. (Genesis 38)  But an earnest is part of that thing

which is eventually to be given, as when the grapes were brought from

Canaan, or as when a purchase is made and part of the money is paid down

at once.”  There is no finality in the life of goodness; it passes on from

strength to strength” (Psalm  84:7), from “glory to glory.” (ch. 3:18)

In every step, after the first, up the celestial mountains, the scenes widen

and brighten, and the breezes become more balmy and invigorating as

we advance. He who has the Christly life within has already

Paradise in germ.

                                                    

23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not

as yet unto Corinth.  Paul solemnly appeals to God to be a witness against his soul

if he had not spoken the truth.  Paul had the testimony of conscience, the seal of God,

and the unction of the Holy Spirit as his earnest!  Moreover I call God for a record;

rather, But I call God for a witness. At this point, to ch. 2:4, he enters for the first

time on the kindly reasons which had led him to forego his intended earlier

visit. He uses a similar adjuration in ch.11:31; and although these appeals

(compare I Corinthians 15:31; Romans 1:9;  Galatians 1:20) may be due in part to

the emotional fervor of his temperament, yet he would hardly have resorted to them

in this self-defense, if the calumnies of his enemies had not gained much credence.

The French proverb, Qui sexcuse saccuse (he who excuses himself accuses

himself) is often grossly abused. The refutation of lies and slanders is often

a duty, not because they injure us, but because, by diminishing our usefulness,

they may injure others. Upon my soul. Not “to take vengeance on my soul if I lie,”

but to confirm the appeal of its honesty and integrity. By the use of such “oaths for

confirmation,” Paul, no less than other apostles, shows that he understood our

Lord’s rule, “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay” (Matthew 5:37),

as applying to the principle of simple and unvarnished truthfulness of

intercourse, which requires no further confirmation; but not as a rigid

exclusion of the right to appeal to God in solemn cases and for good

reasons. To spare you. This postponement of the intended visit was a sign

of .forbearance, for which they should have been grateful. After all that he

had heard of them, if he had come at all, it could only have been “with a

rod (I Corinthians 4:21). I came not as yet. The rendering is erroneous.

It literally means “I no longer came,” i.e. I forbore to come as I had intended.

 

24 “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of

your joy: for by faith ye stand.”  Not for that we have dominion over

your faith. The expression, “to spare you,” might have been resented as

involving a claim “to lord it over their faith.” He had, indeed, authority

(I Corinthians 4:21; II Corinthians 10:6; 13:2, 10), but it was a purely spiritual

authority; it was valid only over those who recognized in him an apostolic

commission. Peter, no less than Paul, discourages the spirit of ecclesiastical

tyranny (I Peter 5:3). But are helpers of your joy. We are fellow-helpers of

your Christian joy, and therefore I would not come to cause your grief.

That was how I desired to spare you. The object of my visits is always

for your furtherance and joy of faith” (Philippians 1:25). For by faith ye

stand. The expression is not a mere general principle, but explains his disclaimer

of any desire “to lord it over their faith.” As far as their “faith” was concerned,

they were not to blame; that remained unshaken, and was independent of any

visit or authority of Paul. But while “in respect of faith ye stand” (Ephesians 6:13),

there are other points in which you are being shaken, and in dealing with these I

should have been obliged to take severe measures, which, if I postponed

my visit, would (I hoped) become unnecessary.

 

 

Not for That We have Dominion Over Your Faith (v. 24)  

 

Had we desired to set up a lordship over you, we might have hastened to you at once,

but we respected your feelings, and sought your happiness – “but are helpers of

your joy: for by faith ye stand.”  This is the true work of a gospel minister. 

He is a helper, not a lord; a helper, not a substitute. A true minister is:

 

  • To help men to think aright. To think aright is to think on the right

            subject, in the right way.

 

  • To help men to feel aright. Feel aright in relation to self, mankind, the

            universe, and God.

 

  • To help men to believe aright. “By faith ye stand.” Spiritually men can

            only “stand” by faith, and the work of a true minister is to help people to

            stand” by “faith” on the right foundation. When will ministers come to feel

            that they are the spiritual “helpers” of the people; to help them, not by

            doing their work for them, but to assist them in working for themselves?

 

Paul is his own biographer, and, in this chapter, admits us to the privacy of his heart.

Throughout the Second Epistle we shall enjoy this inner communion with him, and

feel every moment the heart that throbs beneath the words.

 

 

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