This verse-by-verse commentary is different from others in two respects. First, it is brief while some commentaries are unnecessarily wordy and verbose. Second, it is Pentecostal in outlook. This implies that we generally adhere to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and adopt a literalist approach to the interpretation of the Bible.
Second Corinthians has been described as the most autobiographical epistle Paul ever wrote. At Corinth, Paul's ministry was under fire and he was forced to defend himself. Here we see Paul as Paul. The epistle is thus an apologetic letter. The message of 2 Corinthians is relevant for Christian life today.
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A Pentecostal Commentary
By Matthew N. O. Sadiku
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2015 Dr. Matthew N. O. Sadiku
All rights reserved.
COMFORT IN CRISES
2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Verse 1a: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
1a Like other letters, Paul begins this letter with his signature: "Paul." He is not just Paul, he is "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus." An apostle is messenger who is sent from God. Being an apostle is one of the five major gifts (or offices) Christ gave to His church (Ephesians 4:11). There are no greater gifts than the gift of an apostle. This is why many Pentecostals covet that title.
Paul emphasizes that his authority comes from God. He is not just "Paul, an apostle," he is "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God." Paul's apostleship came from God, not by human authorization. God has willed Paul to be an apostle and has given him the authority that goes with it. This authority is awesome; to reject it is to reject the authority of God Himself.
Paul does not write alone. He is a team player, not a lone ranger. He names Timothy as the cosender of the epistle, not necessarily a coauthor. Timothy is Paul's beloved brother in Christ. He is also a brother in Christ to the recipients of this letter. Paul saw Timothy's potential and recruited him as a missionary coworker. Timothy was a native of Lystra, the son of a mixed marriage; his mother was Jewish, while his father was Greek (Acts 16:1).
Verses 1b,2: To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1b This epistle was addressed to the church of God in Corinth and to those in Achaia, a Roman province of which Corinth was the capital. Greece was divided into two provinces by Augustus Caesar–Macedonia and Achaia. Achaia was the southern Greece and it included Corinth, Athens, and Cenchreae. Corinth was also the place Paul gained his first converts in Achaia. The readers are God's holy people or saints since they are separated unto God by faith. Each member is set apart by God and for God, living a holy life, and can be regarded as a saint.
2 Paul desires grace and peace to the Corinthians and Achaians. "The order is always 'grace and peace,' the former is the source of the latter. Without grace there is no peace, but with grace peace is certain." Grace is God's undeserved favor. Peace is the same as well-being and inner tranquility. Each comes from the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father is the source, while Christ is the means.
Comfort in Suffering
Verses 3-7: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
3 Paul has learned that praise changes things just as prayer changes things. He praises God for His blessings. He praises Him for who He is and what He does.
He describes God using three titles. First, He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some may wonder why the Father is referred to as the God of Jesus Christ if they are equal. We must understand that in His deity Jesus is equal with the Father, but in His humanity He submitted to the Father. Jesus is the same essence as the Father and the exact representation of His nature (Hebrews 1:3). With the phrase "our Lord Jesus Christ," Paul is identifying Jesus as His Master and the promised Messiah of the OT.
Second, He is the Father of compassion. God is compassionate and gracious. He has compassion on those who fear Him (Psalm 103:3,13,17). As Warren Wiersbe said, "God in His grace gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy He does not give us what we do deserve."
Third, He is the God of all comfort. The word "comfort" is used nine times in this section and in each verse. It means to call someone to one's side for exhortation or consolation. God comforts His people in their affliction (Isaiah 40:1; 49:13). He comforts those who suffer for Christ, not for those who suffer for their unconfessed sin. God "is the God of all comfort. That is to say, He has an absolute monopoly on it. All true and lasting comfort comes from Him."
4 The God of comfort comforts us in all our troubles so that we may in turn comfort those who are in trouble with the comfort with which we were comforted by God. The main purpose of comfort is to equip us to be able to comfort others in trouble. This is like a chain reaction. As Paul has been comforted by God, he is able to comfort others with the same comfort that he has received from God.
People often ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Trouble is a reality we must face in this fallen, sin-cursed world. Job said, "Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1). Life is often filled with inescapable trouble, crises, pain, sorrow, and disappointment.
5 Paul was one of the most afflicted persons ever. He suffered beatings, imprisonments, nakedness, desertion, and more. He has shared abundantly in the sufferings of Christ. Here "sufferings" refers to the hardships that come to those involved in the service of Christ. Someone has said that "Suffering is a page in the textbook used in God's school of faith." Paul does not glory in sufferings per se, but he knows that sufferings are inevitable. Each of Paul's sufferings was attended to by God's comfort. The result was that he was able to comfort others with the comfort with which he was comforted by God.
6 Paul and his coworkers have experienced a lot of sufferings, but this has resulted in the comfort and salvation of the Corinthians. Abundant suffering produces abundant comfort. The Corinthians have a strong connection with Paul, their spiritual father and mentor. Paul links the Corinthians' experience of God's comfort to their patient endurance of sufferings. Someone has defined patience as the ability to wait for Christ to return and end all suffering.
Like their counterparts all over world, the Corinthian Christians have been called to suffer: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). As they patiently endure sufferings because of their commitment to Christ, their comfort will overflow.
7 Paul expresses his complete confidence in the Corinthians—"our hope for you is firm." Paul's hope is firm and unwavering. He knows that what the Corinthians may be suffering is related to Christ's suffering. Paul also knows that the Corinthians are sharers of his sufferings so that they can be sharers of his comfort. The comfort Paul receives through Christ is readily shared with his fellow believers.
A Near-Death Experience in Asia
Verses 8-11: We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
8 Paul reminds the Corinthian brothers and sisters of a life-threatening experience he had in Asia, from which God delivered him. He was in danger and nearly lost his life. The situation is not known. Where in Asia Paul had this experience is also not known. Since Paul refers to Asia, some have speculated that the incidence happened in Ephesus, the chief city of Asia, where a riot was incited by Demetrius (Acts 19:23-41). Paul wrote Corinthians from Ephesus and mentioned that "a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me" (1 Corinthians 16:9). Those opponents may have come close to taking Paul's life. Paul was burdened excessively, beyond his strength. The situation was so severe and life-threatening that Paul despaired of life itself.
9 The situation was so serious that Paul felt that he had received the sentence of death. Not only was the prospect of death involved, but it also seemed that Paul's missionary effort was going to be cut short. The situation was hopeless. No one could save Paul; his only hope was in God. But Paul sees beyond the suffering. He realizes that it happened so that he might not rely on himself but on God. Only God can raise the dead. Only His power can turn a hopeless situation around.
10 Paul realizes that God has delivered him in the past. Knowing that God is faithful, Paul is sure that God will deliver him again. His hope is set that God will continue to deliver him. Paul experiences a foretaste of the ultimate deliverance from death. Realizing that our God delivers those who serve Him should evoke our unshakable trust and faithfulness to Him.
11 God's deliverance of the saints is not automatic. It comes through intercessory prayers. When we are in trouble and others pray to God on our behalf, God delivers. When God's people pray for each, they experience God's power and realize His purposes. So remember to pray for your pastors, Sunday school teachers, missionaries, and others who are in the battlefield.CHAPTER 2
PAUL'S DEFENSE OF HIS INTEGRITY — PART 1
2 Corinthians 1:12-22
The Witness of Conscience
Verses 12-14: Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God's grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Second Corinthians is Paul's defense of his integrity and genuineness against the accusations of the false apostles.
12 Boasting is a sensitive issue for Paul. "Boast" does not mean sinful arrogance, but appropriate confidence. (The word is used 29 times in 2 Corinthians.) Paul's boast is not self-praise but a boast in the Lord.
Paul refutes the charges against him by appealing to the witness of his conscience. The conscience is more or less a warning system God has placed in human beings. Although the conscience is not infallible, it reacts to the proximity of sin and warns us to change our sinful course of action. One cannot reject the voice of conscience with impunity. When a person has a good conscience, he has integrity and can be trusted.
Paul's conscience testifies that his conduct has been with integrity and godly sincerity. At all places, at all times, and to all people, Paul's life has been above reproach. He has dealt with the Corinthians with integrity and godly sincerity. Integrity is living a life that is consistent in belief and behavior. It is based on the practice of always letting people know exactly where one stands on all matters. The integrity of the righteous guides them (Proverbs 11:3). Sincerity is the absence of deceit and hypocrisy. These traits characterize Paul's service in the churches.
13 Paul has no hidden agenda in writing the Corinthians. His letters do not contain anything they cannot read or understand. He writes what he means and means what he writes. There is no deception or distortion of God's Word. His letters are clear and straightforward. There is no need to read between the lines.
14 Paul assures that the little that the Corinthians understand about him will help them understand him fully. This will result in their boast of him just as he will boast of them in the day of the Lord Jesus. He sees himself as a source of pride to the Corinthians and the object of their boasting on the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord refers to a day of judgment, when believers in their glorified bodies will appear before the Lord's tribunal. For some, that will be a day of rejoicing.
Paul's Change of Plans
Verses 15-17: Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both "Yes, yes" and "No, no"?
15,16 Paul plans to visit Corinth twice: on his way to and from Macedonia. In other words, Paul will pass through Corinth on his way to Macedonia and again when coming back from Macedonia on his way bsck to Judea. He has hoped that the Corinthians will furnish him with whatever provisions are necessary for his journey to Judea with the collection. His visits are motivated by his personal loyalty to them. But this plan has changed from the one communicated in his previous letter (1 Corinthians 16:5-0). It was these changes in plan that caused his opponents to consider Paul as fickle and vacillating. The charge was painful. Paul will deny the charge that he changes his plans needlessly.
17 Paul's opponents accuse him that he cannot be trusted. They accuse him of promising a visit with no intention of ever coming. If his word about travel plans has been double-tongued, how can we trust his apostolic message and ministry? Paul faces these criticisms head-on. He denies the charge of falsehood and deception. What he says is what he means. He is not the kind of person who plans according to the flesh or in a worldly manner. Paul is not a yes-and-no person. Like his Master, his yes is yes and his no is no. You can depend on his word.
Walking in the Way of Jesus
Verses 18-22: But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No." 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
18 Paul never loses sight of his accountability before God. No one can accuse him of fickleness, inconsistency or of saying one thing and meaning the other. His message is not "Yes" and "No." There is no duplicity in God and His messenger. God is faithful and will fulfill His promises. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that a simple yes or no from a believer is sufficient (Matthew 5:33-37). Paul is not a yes-and-no person, as though nothing matters to him but the whim of the moment. His word to the Corinthians is reliable. As John MacArthur said, "How utterly absurd, Paul argued, to accept and experience the gospel message as reliable, but consider those who preached it unreliable."
19 Paul refers to Jesus by His full title, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Paul as well as Silas and Timothy have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Corinthians (Acts 18:5). Silas and Timothy are coworkers with Paul in the ministry. Their message is not yes and no but a resounding yes to God's truth. Jesus fulfilled God's covenant promises through His obedience to the Father. Jesus' unconditional yes to God culminated with His giving His life on the cross.
Excerpted from 2 Corinthians by Matthew N. O. Sadiku. Copyright © 2015 Dr. Matthew N. O. Sadiku. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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Table of Contents
1 Comfort In Crises, 1,
2 Paul's Defense Of His Integrity – Part 1, 7,
3 Paul's Defense Of His Integrity – Part 2, 12,
4 Church Discipline And Forgiveness, 15,
5 The Competent Ministers, 19,
6 The Glory Of The New Covenant, 24,
7 Christ Is The Theme Of Ministry, 29,
8 Our House In Heaven, 36,
9 Love And Reconciliation, 41,
10 Ministry That Commends, 47,
11 An Appeal For Reconciliation, 55,
12 Models For Christian Stewardship, 62,
13 Commendation Of Titus And Two Brothers, 68,
14 God Loves Cheerful Givers, 72,
15 Weapons Of Our Warfare, 78,
16 Paul And The False Apostles, 84,
17 Paul's Foolish Boasting, 90,
18 Power In Weakness, 97,
19 Apostolic Authentication, 101,
20 Final Exhortations, 107,
Selected Bibliography, 113,