2Corinthians 1

Sunday Evening Bible Study

April 30, 2000


When Paul wrote 1Corinthians from Ephesus, he apparently sent the letter with Timothy (1Cor.4:17). Timothy was to find out what was going on and report back to Paul.


Somehow Paul seems to have heard that things weren't going too well in response to his letter, and so Paul may have made a quick trip to Corinth to deal with the problems. This trip is not recorded in Acts, but is inferred by some in their interpretation of 2Cor.12:14, 13:1-2.

It is also possible that Paul may have written a "sorrowful letter" (2Cor.2:4; 7:8) then to the Corinthians, a letter we do not have (though some even think that 2Cor.10-13 is the "sorrowful letter"). This would not be the first letter of Paul’s we don’t have (1Cor.5:9, Col.4:16). Or, this "sorrowful letter" may have been 1Corinthians.


After the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41) Paul moved on to Troas, then to Macedonia, hoping to meet with Titus and receive a report on the condition of the church. Titus meets up with Paul in Macedonia with some good news and some bad news (2Cor.2:12-13; 7:5-7). Paul hears that most of them responded to his letter in repentance, yet there were still some who were rebellious towards Paul.

So, from Macedonia, possibly Philippi, around A.D. 56, about a year after the first letter (2Cor.8:10), Paul and Timothy write this letter, and send it with Titus (2Cor.8:16-17). Paul then makes his third trip to Corinth (Acts 20:2), where he writes the letter to the Romans.

2Corinthians 1

:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God

When the church in Corinth received Paul's first epistle, those who were against Paul became more vocal, even expressing doubts about Paul's authority and apostleship. This second epistle is mainly Paul's defense and testimony of his ministry.

:1 which are in all Achaia:

The Roman province including all of southern Greece below Macedonia, including Athens and Corinth, the capital.

:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

comfortparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); supplication; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment.

The Holy Spirit is called the "Comforter" (John 14:16).

:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

tribulationthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

God promises to give us comfort in every trial we go through so we can turn around and comfort others.


A.B. Simpson declared. "You will have no test of faith that will not fit you to be a blessing if you are obedient to the Lord. I never had a trial but when I got out of the deep river I found some poor pilgrim on the bank that I was able to help by that very experience."


Hone recorded the following anecdote about Charles Pratt, Earl Camden, when he was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. "Being on a visit to Lord Dacre, he walked out with a gentleman—a very absent-minded man—to a hill, on the top of which the stocks of the village stood. The Chief Justice sat down, and wanting to feel what the punishment was, he asked his companion to open them and put him in. This being done, his friend took a book from his pocket, sauntered on and completely forgot the judge. In the meantime, the Chief Justice tried in vain to release himself. Seeing a countryman, he endeavored to convince him to let him out, but obtained nothing by his persuasion. ‘No, no, old gentleman,’ said the man, ‘You were not set there for nothing,’ and left him until he was released by a servant dispatched from the house.

"Later he presided at a trial in which a magistrate was charged for false imprisonment and for sitting in the stocks. The counsel for the magistrate made light of the whole charge and especially of sitting in the stocks, which he said everybody knew was no real punishment.

"The Chief Justice rose and, leaning over the bench, said in a half-whisper, ‘Brother, have you ever been in the stocks?’

"’Really, my lord, never!’

"’Well, I have,’ said the judge, ‘and I assure you, it is no such trifle as you represent.’"

A little experience of the real trials of life would be of essential service to many professing believers, and especially to those religious teachers whose path in life has been smooth and prosperous. Nothing promotes true sympathy like a kindred experience.

- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)

:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

sufferingspathema – that which one suffers or has suffered; externally, a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil, affliction; of an inward state, an affliction, passion

aboundperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; "Abounding" is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.

There will be no end to trials any time soon.

As many trials come your way, comfort will come too.

: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.

Paul would eventually be using the comfort God was giving him to encourage others.

Paul could see how God was using his own suffering to help others.

:7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

partakerskoinonos – a partner, associate, comrade, companion; a partner, sharer, in anything

Someone once wrote,

I rejoice in knowing that...

There is no oil without squeezing the olives,

No wine without pressing the grapes,

No fragrance without crushing the flowers, and

No real joy without sorrow.

: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:

pressedbareo – to burden, weigh down, depress

out of measurehuperbole – a throwing beyond; beyond measure, exceedingly, preeminently; beyond all measure

strengthdunamis – strength power, ability

despairedexaporeomai – to be utterly at loss, be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope, be in despair

I believe Paul is probably talking about how the entire city of Ephesus had turned out to demonstrate against Paul because he had been ruining the business of the silver idol makers. Paul had fled Ephesus for his life. (Acts 19:23-41)

:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

(2 Cor 1:10 NIV) He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,

Paul had his hope set that God would continue to deliver him, one way or another.

:11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us

Paul was grateful that the church had been praying for him.

: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.

(2 Cor 1:12 NIV) Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.

:16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.

Paul had originally made plans to go to Corinth before going to Macedonia, then to come back to Corinth after visiting Macedonia. But he had to change his plans.

: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 yea yea, and nay nay?

(2 Cor 1:17 NLT) You may be asking why I changed my plan. Hadn't I made up my mind yet? Or am I like people of the world who say yes when they really mean no?

This was part of the accusations made against Paul, that he was a "wishy-washy" kind of guy. They claimed that he wasn’t a strong leader and that he couldn’t make up his mind about things. I personally find this comforting.


It ain’t easy being in charge

I don’t know how some guys do it, but it isn’t easy being a boss, or being in charge. From time to time I’ll have people ask me what our "five year plan" is for our church. Sometimes I have to admit I don’t even know what this week’s plan is for our church! Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not against planning or setting goals. It’s just that sometimes things don’t always work out the way we plan them. It’s not bad to set goals and think ahead, it’s just that sometimes it’s a little more difficult than others think.

:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

(2 Cor 1:18-20 NLT) As surely as God is true, I am not that sort of person. My yes means yes {19} because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never wavers between yes and no. He is the one whom Timothy, Silas, and I preached to you, and he is the divine Yes--God's affirmation. {20} For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say "Amen" when we give glory to God through Christ.

:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

earnestarrhabon – an earnest; money which in purchases is given as a pledge or down payment that the full amount will subsequently be paid.

:23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

One of the reasons Paul hadn’t returned to Corinth yet was because he was pretty upset with them and he would have given them a pretty severe rebuke if he had come.

I think it’s okay sometimes to let things cool off.

:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

dominionkurieuo – to be lord of, to rule, have dominion over; to exercise influence upon, to have power over

helperssunergos – a companion in work, fellow worker

(2 Cor 1:24 NLT) But that does not mean we want to tell you exactly how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy as you stand firm in your faith.


Helpers not lords

Paul has had some pretty tough things to say to the Corinthians. But the bottom line is, he is not their "lord". He is an authority over them, he is an apostle, he is someone to pay attention to, but not their "lord".

People can always say "no" to a "helper", but they can’t say "no" to a "lord".

There is a place of learning to submit to those who are in a leadership position:

(1 Cor 16:15-16 KJV) I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) {16} That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

But those of us in a leadership position are not in a place to demand others to "obey", we can only suggest.

(1 Pet 5:1-3 KJV) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: {2} Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; {3} Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.