Evening Bible Study
Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus, and sent it
back to Corinth with his friend Timothy (1Cor. 4:17)
For this reason I have sent Timothy
to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of
my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
Timothy was also supposed to find out what was going on and report back to Paul.
What happened immediately after that is a little unclear.
It would appear that Timothy didn’t come back with
the greatest news about Corinth, and Paul might have made a “quick trip” to
Corinth, a trip not recorded in the book of Acts.
We think there was another trip to Corinth because of what Paul says in
2Cor. 12:14; 13:1.
12:14a NKJV) Now for the third time I am
ready to come to you.
I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours,
but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents
for the children.
This will be the third time I am coming to
you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be
Luke records Paul’s first visit to Corinth in Acts 18, and
after he writes 2Corinthians he will make another trip (Acts 20:2), so where
was the other missing trip?
For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though
only for a while.
Back in Ephesus, after having written 1Corinthians, there was a full on
riot in Ephesus over Paul’s ministry (Acts 19:23-41), and as a result, Paul
left Ephesus and headed north to Troas, then on to Macedonia (Acts 20:1)
the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself,
embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.
It’s when Paul gets to Macedonia that Paul meets up with Titus, and gets
the latest update on the Corinthians (2Cor.2:12-13; 7:5-7).
and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with
which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your
mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
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, most likely 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
If you want to keep track of these things – make a couple of notes in your
At Acts 19:22, write “Paul writes 1Corinthians”
At Acts 20:1, write “Paul writes 2Corinthians”
the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself,
embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.
At Acts 20:2-3, write “Paul writes Romans”
:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of
God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth,
with all the saints who are in all Achaia:
:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ.
:1 Corinth … Achaia
Achaia is the Roman province that included all of southern Greece.
It included cities like Athens.
The capital of Achaia was Corinth.
The letter is not just written to those in
Corinth, but also the wider region of Achaia.
:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
:4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we
may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with
which we ourselves are comforted by God.
:3 God of all comfort
Warren Wiersbe writes,
We must not think of comfort in
terms of “sympathy,” because sympathy can weaken us instead of strengthen us.
God does not pat us on the head and give us a piece of candy or a toy to
distract our attention from our troubles. No, He puts strength into our hearts
so we can face our trials and triumph over them. Our English word comfort comes from two Latin words
meaning “with strength.”
comfort – paraklesis (“called alongside”) – exhortation, comfort, that which brings
comfort or refreshment
One of the descriptions of the Holy Spirit is that of the “comforter” or
“Helper” (same Greek word).
(John 14:16 NKJV) And I will pray the Father, and He will give
you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—
:4 who comforts us in all our
(Matthew 5:4 NKJV) Blessed are those who mourn, For they
shall be comforted.
God promises to give us “comfort” in every difficult situation.
The hard part is our receiving it.
(Psalm 27:10 NKJV) When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.
I don’t think this is something that automatically
happens. I don’t
think that just because you go through a difficult situation you will
automatically be comforted.
Sometimes the way we receive comfort is through others who have gone
through similar things.
But ultimately God wants to be the one who
:4 that we may be able to comfort
Paul had found comfort in his difficulties and now he shares that comfort with
When you go through a difficult situation and have found
God’s help in the struggle, God wants to be able to use you to help
someone else going through that struggle.
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.”
On Monday I saw a pretty funny video about how
impatient people can get when things go slower than they want.
After seeing that video, I decided to get to my project for the day, to work
on a problem we had been having with our DVR.
I called the cable company, spent the required ½ hour on
the phone, and ended up going to the store and exchange my DVR
for a new one.
I got home, plugged in the new DVR,
and it didn’t work.
I fiddled with it for a while before calling customer service, spending
another ½ hour, and then went back to the store to exchange the DVR for another one.
This time there were seven people in line ahead of me,
and all but one of the customer service reps were gone for lunch.
When I got home with the new DVR,
It didn’t work.
called customer service and after ½ hour we decided we
needed to have a cable guy come out to the house, and it wasn’t going to happen
until WEDNESDAY. Ughh!
All the while I was kind of
occasionally chuckling to myself because I kept thinking about that video I had
watched, and was amazed at how impatient I was.
Then yesterday I was on the phone with a friend who was telling me about
what kind of day he had had at a government office – the inefficiency, and the
long, long waits. We had to laugh as we
compared our days.
I was able to comfort and encourage my friend because of
the terrible, horrible, no good day I had been through on Monday.
I see this on a regular basis in the church when those of you who have
survived certain difficulties get connected to those
who are currently going through those same difficulties.
I’ve seen it happen with people going through cancer.
I’ve seen it happen with people who are struggling
I’ve seen it happen with people who have lost a
Be careful of thinking that the difficult thing you’ve just survived was a total waste of time in your
life. God can use you in the life of
Sometimes we don’t really give any help at all
when we don’t realize what a person is going through.
Spurgeon shares a story 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
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)
If you haven’t gone through what another person is
going through, that doesn’t mean that you can’t help.
Just be careful to not pretend like you
Ultimately, Jesus is the only one who really understands.
4:15–16 NKJV) —15 For we do not
have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points
tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us
therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we
may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us,
so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
It’s the same word translated “comfort” in the previous verses.
:5 as the sufferings of Christ abound in
There will not be an end of difficulties any time soon, unless Jesus comes
Yet God promises to give you comfort each time you face difficulty.
:6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your
consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings
which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is
for your consolation and salvation.
:7 And our hope for you is steadfast,
because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you
will partake of the consolation.
:6 it is for your consolation and
Paul knows that his own sufferings end up benefitting others because he is
receiving God’s comfort and passing it on to others.
1:8-11 Paul’s Deliverance
:8 For we do not want you to be ignorant,
brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond
measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
:8 we were burdened beyond measure
Paul is looking back to what has happened over the last year in his life,
especially what had just happened in Ephesus.
The men who made their living in Ephesus making pagan idols were very upset
with Paul and the church in Ephesus. (Acts 19:23-41)
There were so many people coming to Christ and giving up idol worship that
these fellows were going out of business.
They got the whole city stirred up, had a huge rally in the theater in
Ephesus, and were very nearly on the verge of a city-wide
riot over the situation.
Paul barely escaped with his life.
the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into
the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians,
Paul’s travel companions. And when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice
cried out for about two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of
Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is
temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell
down from Zeus? Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to
be quiet and do nothing rashly. But
:8 we despaired even of life
Though God promises to give us comfort in our “tribulations”, it often does
not seem like this at first.
Usually our initial response to difficult times is to agree with this
phrase from Paul, that we “despair even of life”.
The trick in life is to not stay “stuck” in
The way you survive life is to learn to look up and get a hold of God.
:9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
:10 who delivered us from so great a death, and
does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
:9 in God who raises the dead
Paul had had a hint while writing 1Corinthians of the trouble ahead in
Ephesus, but he hadn’t gone through the worse of it
Yet even then he had written that the thing gave him hope was his
confidence in the resurrection, that there was indeed life after death, and
that everything he would go through was all worth it.
15:30–32 NKJV) —30 And why do we stand in
jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I
have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have
fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the
dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
:11 you also helping together in prayer for us,
that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted
to us through many.
:11 helping together in prayer for us
Paul acknowledged that some of the help he received came through the
prayers of the church in Corinth.
Please do not underestimate the power there is in praying for others.
You may not see the help it brings, but it’s real.
1:12-14 Paul’s Sincerity
:12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our
conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly
sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly
:13 For we are not writing any other things to you
than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the
:14 (as also you have understood us in part), that
we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
:12 we conducted ourselves in the world
Some in Corinth were saying that Paul was a liar because he had promised to
come to them when he ended up going to Macedonia first.
But Paul was proud of how he had conducted himself
through the prior year.
Paul had not been trying to manipulate the Corinthians in the things he
wrote or in how he acted.
He always meant what he wrote.
1:15-24 Sparing the Church
:15 And in this confidence I intended to come to
you before, that you might have a second benefit—
:16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come
again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea.
:16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia
Paul had originally made plans to make a couple of trips to Corinth before
going to Jerusalem, but he had to change his plans.
:17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do
it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according
to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?
:17 did I do it lightly?
(2 Corinthians 1:17
NLT) You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my
plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when
they really mean “No”?
Some in Corinth were upset because they felt that Paul was going back on
his word to them on how many times he would visit.
What do you call a person who says one thing and then does another?
We often call them “politicians”.
We call them “flip-floppers” or “wafflers”
Yet if a politician is a wise man, he will have to acknowledge from time to
time that he might have promised one thing, but later found out that it was the
Plans can change
It is not a bad thing to make plans.
(Proverbs 21:5 NKJV) The plans of the diligent lead surely
to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
But sometimes plans change. Sometimes even the best of plans need to
(Proverbs 16:9 NKJV) A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
:18 But as God is faithful, our word
to you was not Yes and No.
:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by
me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.
:20 For all the promises of God in Him are
Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
1:18–20 NLT) —18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver
between “Yes” and “No.” 19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not
waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what
he says. 20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled
in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ,
our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
:21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ
and has anointed us is God,
:22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit
in our hearts as a guarantee.
:22 as a guarantee
If you went out garage sale shopping this Saturday and came across a lamp
that would look just great in your den, but didn’t
have enough money to outright buy the item, the seller might allow you to make
a “deposit”. You won’t
get to take the item home, but the “deposit” insures the seller keeps the item
aside only for you.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a “deposit”, a pledge from
God to us that Jesus will indeed come back and pick up this ugly old lamp one
:23 Moreover I call God as witness against my
soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.
:23 to spare you
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
severe rebuke if he had come.
I think it is okay sometimes to let things cool off.
:24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but
are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.
:24 dominion over your faith
1:24 NLT) But that does not mean we want to
dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to
work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith
that you stand firm.
Lord or Helper
What role does church leaders have in your life?
Are they supposed to be “lords”, telling you what to do? Or are they “helpers”?
A “lord” is in control of your life, and they make all your decisions for
A “fellow worker” is someone who struggles like you do, but who can give
help and guidance – yet ultimately your walk depends on you.
There is a place of learning to submit and pay attention to what a person
in leadership might say to you. We saw
last week (1Cor. 16:15-16)
I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits
of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the
But in reality, a leader is not your “lord”. Only Jesus is your “lord”. Peter wrote to leaders when he said,
(1 Peter 5:2–3
NLT) —2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it
willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you
are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them
by your own good example.