Greetings from Paul
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece.
Established during Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-17), the church at Corinth was plagued by the corrupting influence of the pagan lifestyle of that bustling metropolitan city. Paul wrote them a disciplinary letter (1 Corinthians), exerting his authority as an apostle to deal firmly with such problems as divisions, doctrinal debates, questionable practices, and abuses of the Lord’s Supper and spiritual gifts. False teachers in Corinth — angered by Paul’s first letter — swayed the people against him. They claimed Paul was fickle, proud, unimpressive in appearance and speech, dishonest, and unqualified as an apostle.
After Paul sent Titus to deal with the situation, he rejoiced to hear of the Corinthians’ change of heart. Paul wrote this letter to thank the repentant majority for their support and to appeal to the rebellious minority to accept his authority, as he defends his conduct, character, and calling. The book of 2 Corinthians is heavily autobiographical, offering glimpses into the life of Paul found nowhere else in Scripture: his pre-conversion background, his visions from God, his thorn in the flesh, and his persecution of Christ.
–Walk Thru the Bible Ministries
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
God Offers Comfort to All
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
from Whispers of His Power
by Amy Carmichael
2 Corinthians 2:3 (KJV) — Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.
In one of his letters, Aldolph Monod tells how he found in his hardest moments that it was enough to take firm hold on a single promise. It sustained him in the sorest difficulties. He loved the words Father of Compassions, as 2 Corinthians 1:3 has it in French.
When one is in great pain or trouble, or caught suddenly by fierce temptation, it is the word of strength or comfort that is set deep in the memory that takes life. It speaks in a new tone, and becomes to us at that moment more than we could have ever believed it would be. John 14:26 explains this: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost . . . He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
So let us fill the storehouse of our mind with the treasure of God’s word. Every day offers opportunities. When we go to bed tonight, let us think, “What treasure did I put in my storehouse today?”
4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Often, we never receive the comfort God wants to give us, because He wants to give it to us through another person. Pride often keeps us from revealing our needs to others, so we never receive the comfort God would give us through them.
5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us.
Paul’s Change of Plans
In this section, Paul defends himself against the accusation that he is fickle and unreliable. Here, he simply states that he has a clear conscience before God, and trusts that the Corinthian Christians will understand. The Corinthian Christians were so used to dealing with ministers who were calculating and manipulative, they figured Paul must be the same way. Therefore, when Paul said he was coming to them, but did not, they figured he was just manipulating them. Paul is letting them know this is not the case at all.
12 We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 13 Our letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, 14 even if you don’t understand us now. Then on the day when the Lord Jesus returns, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you.
15 Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing by visiting you twice— 16 first on my way to Macedonia and again when I returned from Macedonia. Then you could send me on my way to Judea.
17 You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” 19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
“We might never have had this precious verse if Paul had not been so ill-treated by these men of Corinth. They did him great wrong, and caused him much sorrow of heart … yet you see how the evil was overruled by God for good, and through their unsavoury gossip and slander this sweet sentence was pressed out of Paul.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
23 Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. 24 But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.
I love verse 20: For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” HERE is “Trading My Sorrows” written by Darrell Evans — Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord! (This song gets into my brain and plays on a loop; we will hear it again later this week!)
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.