2 Corinthians Introduction + 1

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To understand the context for 2 Corinthians, let’s remember what we know about 1 Corinthians. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul is giving correction to the church in Corinth. The church in Corinth was plagued with divisions in the church coming from faith in the wisdom of men that resulted in immaturity and judgment. The church was also divided because of selfishness and the need for distinction. Paul was giving the Corinthians a harsh rebuke and calling them to complete devotion to Christ.

While 1 Corinthians resolved a few of the issues in the church, some of the Corinthians did not respond well to Paul’s rebuke and it sparked some resentment towards him. They started to question his authority as an apostle. As a result of this, 2 Corinthians is essentially Paul’s defense of his apostleship and why he was a trustworthy source. Why should they listen to him?

In this book, Paul addresses the critics questioning his apostleship (Ch. 1-7), he appeals to complete the collection for believers in Jerusalem (Ch. 8-9), and recaps his credentials as an apostle (Ch. 10-13). It is important to note the requirements to be an apostle of Christ. They had to have seen Jesus in resurrected form (1 Corinthians 9:1), been specifically chosen by Christ (Acts 9:15), and had the ability to perform signs and wonders (2 Corinthians 12:12).

There is so much to unpack in 2 Corinthians along with eternal truths for us to apply today. We learn more about the apostle Paul and the character of his ministry in the book of 2 Corinthians than we do in any other New Testament book. Richard C. H. Lenski, a biblical scholar, puts it like this, “In Second Corinthians, Paul bares his heart and his life as he does in none of his other letters. This lends a special value to the letter.” Like Paul, let us be ambassadors of Christ and ministers of reconciliation to the people and places that God has entrusted to us. 

Read 2 Corinthians 1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise to the God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 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. 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.

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. 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.

Paul’s Change of Plans

12 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.

15 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”?

18 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.

23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

Go Deeper

Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians giving thanks to God for comfort in affliction. He says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (v. 3-4). The key idea is that the comfort that God gives us allows us to comfort others. Many of us have had times in our lives where someone we know is walking through something difficult that we haven’t personally experienced. Sometimes we can feel lost in how to care for them in that affliction. This opening passage addresses that and tells us that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort that we receive from God. As followers of Jesus, we are agents in extending God’s comfort to others. 

Every one of us have either experienced a trial or are currently in one, and the good news is that God will provide adequate strength and encouragement in that trial as we seek Him. We can receive comfort from God that will last. The comfort the world gives is fleeting, but the comfort that God gives is lasting. Harry A. Ironside, a theologian and pastor, puts it like this, “There are two things of which God is said to have the monopoly: He is ‘the God of all grace’ and He is ‘the God of all comfort.’ All grace comes from Him, all lasting comfort comes from Him.” 

Although worldly comfort isn’t always lasting, there are practical ways we can help those around us who are facing affliction. Three principles in caring for those in a hard time are: 1) show up 2) resist the urge to say something profound and 3) identify a need and meet it. The reality of our broken world is that suffering is guaranteed. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us “In this world you will have trouble.” However, we were not meant to go through these troubles alone. We were made to comfort one another in community. 

The apostle Paul faced suffering for the sake of the gospel and had experienced the God of comfort firsthand. In fact, 2 Corinthians 11 details Paul’s sufferings for Christ, and what He went through to get the good news of Jesus to people who had never heard it. These sufferings allowed him to better comfort the church in Corinth, so that they too could endure trials for Christ’s sake. There is a promise here that, “just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (v. 5). God’s comfort will always outweigh the sufferings He allows us to experience. We can praise God today that He is our comforter and deliverer, an ever-present help in times of trouble. 

  1. What characteristics of God do you see displayed in this passage? 
  2. How have you experienced God’s comfort in your own life? 
  3. Who is someone in your life going through a trial? What would it look like to be an agent of comfort to them? 
Watch This

Check out this helpful video overview of 2 Corinthians from The Bible Project!

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3 thoughts on “2 Corinthians Introduction + 1”

  1. Reading Paul’s words gives us a glimpse of the emotional toll his suffering and ministry had taken on him. Yet he did so with grace and peace, always pointing to God’s faithfulness. His teaching was born from personal experience and his commitment to build up the fledging church in Corinth. Here are key ideas believers can take to heart:
    • God is present in our suffering and offers comfort.
    • We tap into God’s power through prayer.
    • God wants us to be real and transparent in all our relationships.
    • Just as Christ was faithful, we are to be faithful, too.
    • We have the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, as a guarantee that we belong to God.
    • Unity in Christ brings joy and the ability to stand firm in her faith.

  2. Paul was dealt many struggles in his pursuance of God’s plan over his life. And yet he reminds the church in Corinth that “just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (vs 5). We were never told this life would be easy, but there’s comfort and peace in the reminder that we are not alone; we are able to help each other.

  3. Praying, talking to God, that communication is sometimes difficult. I love to take scripture and put people or situations in those amazing words. No matter what words we use God knows the intentions of our heart. In this chapter Paul sounds excitedly forlorn. He wants to come see them and put any unrest to rest BUT GOD has other plans for him, and to my own self head craziness self control, he listens to God. (Learning always I am learning, BUT GOD). He gives them words of wisdom, tells them how God has taken care of him, that we have to be authentic with our people we are surrounded by, and all that is through the Holy Spirit guiding us as we stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ.

    God thank You!!! 3 Praise be to You God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts me in all my troubles, so that I can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort I myself receive from You, God. 5 For just as I share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also my comfort abounds through Christ. God let my yes be yes and my no be no. Thank You that I am not wishy-washy on anything in Jesus name amen\

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