After hearing from Timothy – Paul’s missionary companion – that some of the Corinthian Christians had questioned his authority to write his first letter of correction and exhortation – Paul wrote this second letter to them about AD 58. This epistle would be the most personal of any he would write. Through it, we see the heart of a man committed to the kingdom. Paul starts off in Chapter 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia.” It was vitally important that those reading Paul’s words knew he was an apostle of Jesus – by the will of God. He wanted to make sure they understood he was called of God, trained by Christ, and not of other men. Have you noticed the early church was referred to many different ways and with a variety of names? In this epistle, Paul refers to it as “the church of God” or “the church of God which is at Corinth.” There wasn’t an “official” name for the Church. Believers in Christ were known by a number of titles: like, “the Way”, “Christians”, “Nazarenes”, “Church of Christ”, “Church of the Firstborn”. All believers – no matter what city or region they were in – were part of the body of Christ. They were all Christians. Neither Jesus nor any of His apostles declared an official name – because it wasn’t about that. It was all about a personal relationship with God.
2 Corinthians 1:4-5 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, but the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” The point is: Jesus suffered for the world – The apostles suffered for the Saints in the early church and for us now – And so are we to suffer. But we shall be comforted by God. How much did Paul have to suffer? 2 Corinthians 1:8 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” Paul faced somethings that were beyond human survival and was extremely discouraging because it threatened to end his ministry. Verses 9-10 “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;”
Paul was so sure he was going to die for the gospel sake, that he pronounced the sentence of death upon himself. His only hope was in God. Verse 11 “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.” Paul wanted them to know that he needed their prayers and those prayers were very beneficial. Verses 21-22 “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” In these two verses, Paul describes how he, his coworkers – Timothy and Silas – and the Corinthian Saints themselves were all tied together. They had all received the Holy Spirit – an indication they all belonged to God through Christ.
It was hard on Paul to be as direct and blunt with these believers in Corinth as he had to be, as seen in 1 Corinthians. So, in this second letter – his deep tenderness emerges as he shows forth an increase of love towards his readers. He says in 2 Corinthians 2:1 “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.” In this chapter, Paul talks about forgiveness. In Chapter 3, Paul begins by asking the Saints if he and his missionary companions need additional identification as authorized servants of the Lord. It’s like when Jesus walked the earth, the Jews wanted to know where He got His authority to tell a man that his “sins were forgiven him.” This seems to be Paul’s stance too. Letters in ink? Written recommendations? Whatever! Let me prove to you whom I am – the way Jesus proved who He was – by the power of the Spirit -in Jesus. Chapter 3:2 “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:” Paul seems to be saying, “you are the real epistle of my life – you show whether I am what I claim to be – or not.” “Your lives are the ‘letter of recommendation’ which others read to find out about God.” THEY are the proof of His apostleship, of his integrity for God. Having established this, Paul now gives an expansion of this point in Verse 3 “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly (obviously) declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone (not written in stone tablets like the Ten Commandments were), but in flesh tables of the heart (but written deep in your hearts).” In other words, what has the most value on a human being – words of God written on the minds and hearts by the Holy Spirit – or words written in ink and paper? This idea is taught again in Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” You see, laws written on stone and paper are impersonal to a certain extent. They require interpretation and deep analysis on the part of all readers with help from the Holy Spirit. But when God writes and puts His laws directly in the hearts and minds of His children – we are talking about a whole new level of understanding and knowing Him. Then Paul says in Verse 6 “Who (speaking of God) also hath made us able ministers of the new testament (the new covenant brought by Christ, which replaces the Law of Moses); not of the letter (the detailed performances required by the Law), but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Paul said back in Romans 7:6 “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Paul will continue in 2 Corinthians warning them against such things as dishonesty and reminding them that troubles for the faithful in mortality are nothing compared to the blessings of eternity with God. Chapter 4:1-2 “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not (we do not give up). But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness (not deceiving others), nor handling the word of God deceitfully (not twisting and cherry-picking and corrupting God’s word); but by manifestation of the truth (we teach the true gospel plainly) commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (presenting ourselves and our message to all people so that they can follow their conscience and come to God).”
Verse 3 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.” In other words, if it seems to some that our message is hard to understand – it only seems so – to those who are spiritually lost. Verse 4 “In whom the god of this world (the devil, Satan, the prince of this world) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (meaning, those who are under Satan’s influence).” Same applies to our day and age. Paul teaches in Ephesians 6:12 “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.” But we read in Colossians 2:15 “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he (Jesus) made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” And even Jesus himself said, John 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” My good friends – when we look at the book of Revelation – we will learn that when Jesus came with judgment and reward to His own, that Satan would be cast into the Lake of Fire, which was made specifically for him.
I will end Chapter 4 with Paul speaking of his suffering for the gospel in the last two Verses 17-18 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us (prepares for us) a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen (we focus on spiritual things rather than on things of the world): for the things which are seen are temporal (temporary); but the things which are not seen (the things of God) are eternal.” God spoke this in Isaiah 48:10 “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” What a great perspective for all of us to have.
In Chapter 5, Paul starts out by teaching the doctrine of the resurrection and how wonderful it will be to eventually be rewarded with a resurrected body. Then Paul speaks some of the most important words to those who have been crucified with Christ and have been regenerated or born again – by Christ. Verse 17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (born again): old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” To clarify, Paul also says in Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” With Christ living in us, our mind, will, and emotion has become new. We view the world differently – we view others differently – we have more patience and love – just like Christ has for us. We become new creatures. We still sin but we know we’ve been saved. With salvation comes a deep desire to serve and love. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 explains that God has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ through the atonement. Then, no other scripture summarizes or expresses the doctrine of imputation and substitution like Verse 21 “For he (the Father) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin (Christ was perfect); that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” He bore our sins so we might be justified and sanctified – made holy and righteous – through Christ.
In Chapter 6, Paul instructs the readers to avoid connecting with those who would injure them in the faith. The focus is really on improper marriages and ruinous alliances with idolaters.
Finally, Chapter 7:9 “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance (because of what I said to you, Corinthians): for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing (as it ultimately turned out, we did not hurt you in any way).” Paul now defines “godly sorrow” which is a vital part of truly repenting. Verse 10 “For godly sorrow worketh repentance (causes us to repent) to salvation not to be repented of (and leaves us with no regrets): but the sorrow of the world (like being sorry you got caught, or sorry because you are embarrassed) worketh death (leads to spiritual death).” To summarize: When sorrow is from God – the result is a repentance – that leads to salvation – which is never regretted over – but the certain result – of sorrow from, or in, or by, the World – is death.
And that is all the time we have, so we’ll conclude today’s study. Don’t forget, we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast learn more in the links below.
Until next time, God Bless!