2 Corinthians 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.” (2 Corinthians 1:1-2)
Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthians with familiarity. He states his credentials, tells them who is with him in the greeting and proclaims grace and peace to them. Much like if you answer the phone on speaker phone you would say “Hello I have so and so here with me” that way the Corinthians knew that Timothy was “with” Paul when he was writing this letter.
“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 he comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Paul jumps right into things with the Corinthians, teaching them about sufferings and about comfort. And aren’t we glad he did. I am sure I am not alone in that these verses have brought me much comfort over the years. Why? Because it is one way that we can hold onto that our suffering is not in vain. Not that we want to suffer for the sake of someone else, but if we are going to suffer, and we all will at some point, then it is a comfort to us in the suffering as well as to others once we have walked through it to know that we will be helping others endure their suffering. I have had things, as I am sure you have too that were hard to walk through but later I may hear or know of someone going through the same thing that I am able to comfort them. For instance the death of my sister. The people who could identify, who had lost a sibling as well were of the greatest comfort to me during that time. And I have found since then that when I hear or know of someone who loses a sibling, I feel compelled to contact them to let them know that I know how it feels. Would I wish that I had not walked through the pain of my sister passing away? Sure I would, but I also asked the Lord to use it. I prayed that if something was going to hurt that bad, that the Lord would use that pain. That’s what makes the suffering worth it.
Paul is sharing his sufferings with these Corinthians so that he can also share in the comfort. Paul does not give specifics of his suffering but he does tell the Corinthians that he was in fear for his life. But that he trusted God to deliver him.
“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.” (2 Corinthians 1:10)
I love this verse because it is Paul stating his faith in God, past present and future. And that because of what God has done for him in the past, Paul believes that he will get deliverance from God from his present troubles as well as any future troubles he will encounter.
“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.” (2 Corinthians 1:11)
How many times do we say “all I/we can do is pray”. Friends!! That is the very best thing we can do is pray. And here Paul is asking for prayer. Never underestimate praying for others in whatever they are going through.
The letter changes tones just a bit. We had read at the end of Chapter 1 that Paul had intended to go to Corinth and spend time. He wanted to go through Corinth on his way to Macedonia and to return by way of Corinth and spend some time. However, it appears that the first trip to Corinth may not have gone quite as planned. So while the Corinthians were upset that Paul did not return to Corinth and it looks like word had reached Paul that they were grumbling about it. They were accusing Paul that his yes really means no and that his no would mean yes. Paul is telling them that it is not that that was not his original intent but that he had changed his mind to “spare” them any further confrontation. But also that God had changed his path. Paul has always held fast to God is the one who establishes his plans and his steps.
“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 how 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 1:20-24)
One of the most precious verses in scripture is verse 20. I had never read the full context surrounding it before but it was Paul’s affirmation and it is ours as well. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him!” God always says Yes to Jesus and God always affirms His promises with an Amen! God established Paul and his work, God anointed him and put a seal on him. And God will establish our work and put a seal on us too through the Holy Spirit. Stand firm my friends. Stand firm!
Lord thank you for your promises! Thank you that you put a Yes and Amen on your promises to us. Lord Jesus thank you that any suffering will not be in vain but that you will use it for your glory. Give us the grace to see it Lord and thank you for comforting us in all of our suffering.
Please pray for the Pastors and our churches today.