THE MPN HOME PAGE

INDEX PAGE for all MPN Letters Bible Studies

2 Corinthians 1 and 2: A Return Visit

INTRODUCTION: Paul wrote this second letter to the church at Corinth as he was planning to return there for another visit with them. Paul had a very special relationship with that church, but felt it necessary to send a letter to address some matters he had heard about to be better prepared for that visit. He opened with praise to the God of all mercy and comfort. Paul also gave some explanation of why he had delayed his return.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American KJV.

A - COMFORT OTHERS BY THE COMFORT YOU HAVE FROM GOD IN CHRIST

2 Corinthians 1 "1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: 2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ. 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."

COMMENTS: Paul began his letter to the church of God at the city of Corinth by clearly stating that it was by the will of God that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ; then he included greetings from Timothy as a brother in Christ, and greetings from all the saints in all Achaia. He wanted the saints at Corinth to know that he desired them to have grace and peace which is from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing that during all tribulations experienced by believers, the God of all comfort, is the God of great mercy. Saints can offer comfort to fellow believers who are in the midst of troubles, by sharing ways God had brought comfort to them when they also had difficulties. Paul then indicated that the suffering Christ endured in our place, is now part of the connection believers have with Him through the Spirit, when we experience suffering. If by faith we hold in our heart the truth that the suffering of Christ was in our place; then we can be certain that our compassionate comfort of eternal life also is abundantly supplied by Christ.

Romans 8 "16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Philippians 2 "8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Hebrews 9 "24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation."

Hebrews 12 "1 Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."


B - OUR TRUST IS IN GOD WHO RAISES BELIEVERS FROM THE DEAD

2 Corinthians 1 "7 And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation. 8 For we would not, brothers, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; 11 You also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed on us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted the church at Corinth to know that they must view both his sufferings and his times of comfort as the way he shares in their various experiences to be more able to comfort them with the comfort wherewith he has been comforted by trusting in eternal salvation. Paul suffered in many ways even as a chosen Apostle of Christ, and the promise of eternal salvation is the same underlying comfort for all believers down through the ages. In Asia when Paul had expended his own strength as he despaired even of life: the reality was very prominent in his mind that believers have the sentence of physical death in themselves because every person born in the flesh is a descendent of Adam. Therefore, we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. The Lord delivered Paul from that dangerous situation in Asia, and Paul continued to trust that the Lord would yet deliver him. Paul then acknowledged the help from the Corinthians by prayer, and that the gift bestowed by the means of many persons would result in thanks being given by many other people.


C - PAUL DID NOT CLAIM SOVEREIGNTY OR CONTROL OVER THE FAITH OF THE CORINTHIANS

2 Corinthians 1 "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. 13 For we write none other things to you, than what you read or acknowledge; and I trust you shall acknowledge even to the end; 14 As also you have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as you also are our's in the day of the Lord Jesus. 15 And in this confidence I was minded to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit; 16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia to you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. 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 yes yes, and no no? 18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yes and no. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yes and no, but in him was yes. 20 For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, to the glory of God by us. 21 Now he which establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God; 22 Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 23 Moreover I call God for a record on my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet to Corinth. 24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith you stand."

COMMENTS: We can rejoice when the testimony of our conscience is that our personal conduct before others in simplicity and godly sincerity in the present world, is of God. We do not need to depend upon worldly wisdom because our faith is by God's grace, not by anything of our own merit. Paul had spent quite a few months with the Corinthians and had written much in his first letter to them, and Paul said he had not changed from what he had shared in person or through writing. They could rejoice in their relationship with the Living God, that would be in full measure in the day of the Lord's return.

In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he described an impressive background that many Jews would have accepted as verification of righteous belief in God; but Paul instead counted all other knowledge or societal recognition to be a loss, to be put behind for the excellency of the knowledge through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God. Paul also said in his letter to the Philippians that there is fellowship in sufferings if Christ is in us. And Peter wrote of the way suffering as a Christian will be fully rewarded at the revelation of Christ and the resurrection of believers to life eternal.

Philippians 3 "4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; 11 If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead."

1 Peter 4 "12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests on you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters."

With confidence in their relationship, Paul had planned his second visit to Corinth on his way into Macedonia, and to visit Corinth again after leaving Macedonia on his way to Judaea. He said his choice of each course of action was not made lightly, and especially not just for his own desires. Paul said when Christ was preached among the Corinthians by him, Silvanus, and Timotheus, it was always yes: for all the promises of God in Christ are yes, and amen to the glory of God. God has established us in Christ, anointed us, and sealed us with the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Paul said he had delayed coming to Corinth to spare them, but that was not because he had dominion over their faith; but rather he was a helper to the joy they had as those who stand by their own faith.


D - WE MUST FORGIVE IN CHRIST LEST SATAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF US<.h4>

2 Corinthians 2 "1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. 2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that makes me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? 3 And I wrote this same to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have more abundantly to you. 5 But if any have caused grief, he has not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise you ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Why I beseech you that you would confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether you be obedient in all things. 10 To whom you forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."

COMMENTS: Paul did not want to visit Corinth with the feelings of heaviness, because if he caused them to be sad, they would not have the joy they should share when together as fellow believers. So he decided to write to them first, and await a response. He felt affliction and anguish in his heart as he wrote with tears, because he wanted them to know the abundant love which he had for them, and not to give them cause to be grieved. Since he heard that the punishment they had rightfully given to one in the church had brought repentance, he now wanted them to accept that person back into fellowship with them with loving comfort. This is part of our obedience to forgive in the manner of Christ, otherwise Satan could get an advantage of us: for we should not be ignorant of his devious methods. Paul had included comments about the devil in his letter to the church at Ephesus; and Peter had given warning about the devil in his letter to the believers who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Ephesians 6 "11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

1Peter 5 "8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brothers that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."


E - PAUL SPOKE SINCERELY OF CHRIST BECAUSE HE KNEW HE WAS ALWAYS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD

2 Corinthians 2 "12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me of the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from there into Macedonia. 14 Now thanks be to God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the aroma of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are to God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the smell of death to death; and to the other the smell of life to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."

COMMENTS: Paul said when he was at Troas there was a door open of the Lord to him, to preach Christ, but he had no rest in his spirit to remain in that work. Since Titus was not there to give a report about the Corinthians, Paul left Troas and went into Macedonia. Apparently Paul felt in his heart a more pressing need at that time to know about the state of affairs of the believers at Corinth where he had such an affectionate relationship in the Lord. Paul then wrote in this second letter that he was giving thanks unto God, which always brings triumph in Christ, as God made the aroma of knowledge about Christ obvious and clear by Paul and his companions in every place where they shared the Word. Paul used the metaphor of being to God, a sweet and pleasing aroma of Christ: to those who are saved the aroma of life to life, but to those who are perishing in their sin we are the putrid odor of death to death. In humility Paul said who could have sufficient means for this strong message when the gospel has both results. But, it was his purpose that he not be as many others who corrupt the Word of God: but to have sincerity, and that it would be of God, knowing he is always in the sight of God when he spoke of the gospel of Christ.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you that Paul was guided by your Spirit to draw my attention to the way I can have fellowship with you through my sufferings. And I can also encourage others who suffer by telling of the comfort you had given to me in those times. The final consolation for believers will come through the resurrection to eternal life with God. As Paul said every person has the sentence of death in the body, and that is because all are descendants of Adam. Thank you Lord, for the gift of eternal life which is a sweet fragrance of your grace and of your abundant love. Help me to have a joyful fellowship with other believers, and to have discernment in any case that involves me in the discipline of another person in my local body of believers. Make me always ready to forgive in love when there is repentance on the part of one who had openly sinned. Keep my mind and heart continually in the study of Scripture; and do not allow me to speak or act out of pride, but rather to be humble before my Lord whenever I am in discussion with others. I want to sincerely apply the precious words of The psalmist as I follow the ways of my Savior and Lord.
Psalms 19 "7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse you me from secret faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."
And to those words I say Amen, and Amen!

Published 29 October 2020