1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God of All Comfort
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Paul’s Change of Plans
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand—just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.
Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
2 Corinthians 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Between the first letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and this one much had happened. His first letter gave advice in how to deal with the divisions that were among them. The people did not heed the words of wisdom. Their problems continued. Paul made a personal visit. It was incredibly painful to see the mess the church was still in. The false teaching continued. The people he loved were being led astray and personally in crisis.
His visit was brief but the anguish was heavy upon his heart. He had plans to visit a third time but in the end decided it best to stay away because he was concerned for the unity of the church itself. This change of plans was met by accusations from these false teachers that he was a man who could not be trusted. Consequently, this letter is a deeply personal and almost autobiographical. His pain is scattered throughout.
Disappointment in people is a terrible thing to work through. In particular when they seek advice and then fail to heed what was given. As a bystander at times in these situations, you watch not only them self-destruct but also watch them walk further away from the truth. Situation after situation bombards them and they sink further into darkness. It’s particularly hard when they have known the truth and freedom of Jesus and yet choose a different path. And sometimes like Paul’s action of not revisiting them, sometimes it’s best to put some distance between. If you’ve ever had to do this, you know how hard and emotionally devastating it is.
We can’t make someone recognize their sin or error. We can’t force someone to do something they won’t, even if they’ve sought advice or counsel. As he continued to call the Corinthian church to be faithful, that same counsel goes to us to remain consistent even in the middle of such heartache and disappointment. From a distance Paul sought the help of the Holy Spirit who could work in their hearts and situations. Sometimes he lets things get far worse before there’s a turning point.
Sometimes they turn, other times they don’t. Our challenge is to rely on Him through these times as to when we should speak and when we should be silent. It’s relying on Him to direct our involvement or staying clear. Even when their own self-destruction is ever evident and we want to ‘save’ them, sometimes that’s not the course it is to go for them to finally get to a point of return to the Lord Jesus.
Stand firm in your commitment to Jesus even in the middle of such anguish. Rely on the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts and words. Speak truth in love when the opportunity is given. As Paul prayed for these people continually, do likewise. Let Jesus heal your heartache and don’t move until He says to.
2 Corinthians 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
“Paul’s purpose in this eulogy is not merely to praise God for personal comfort received or to discuss the nature of the gospel ministry. His primary concern is to show the Corinthians that their lives are inescapably intertwined, so that what impacts Paul impacts the Corinthians and what impacts the Corinthians impacts Paul. It is for their benefit, he says, that he encounters trouble.”IPV New Testament Commentary
Many times, pride prevents us from opening up our lives to other people. When we do this, we do not receive the comfort that God desires for our lives. I have told this story many times, however, it is fitting for this chapter. I remember a time when a group of people at church asked me if they could pray for me. Hank’s mom, Mona Jean, asked me to describe my needs. After I told her, she asked me if I’d ever shared this with anyone from chuch before. Ashamedly, I said no. The look she gave me said it all. It was pride.
The comforts that Paul described were not just for him. He knew suffering was universal. He understood that the Corinthians were struggling as well. He writes of the comfort God has given to him in order to encourage the Corinthian believers. As Adam Clarke writes, “What a miserable preacher must he be who has all his divinity by study and learning, and nothing by experience!”
But again, consider the key to this truth. It is not possible if we are not in deep, authentic relationships with other believers. How can we provide comfort and encouragement to another if we ourselves never share our burdens? How can we expect to receive comfort from others when we never ask?
I can’t tell you how many times I have been both encouraged and convicted by watching someone else endure a trial and face it with joy.