Welcome to the Second Letter to the Church at Corinth – 6-8-22

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Second Corinthians chapter 1 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Greeting

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:

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

Comfort in Suffering

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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any [a]trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our [b]consolation also abounds through Christ. 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. 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.

Delivered from Suffering

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our [c]trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 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 [d]does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on [e]our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

Paul’s Sincerity

12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in [f]simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 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 end 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.

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. 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? 18 But as God is faithful, our [g]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. 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.

23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. 24 Not that we [h]have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tribulation
  2. 2 Corinthians 1:5 comfort
  3. 2 Corinthians 1:8 tribulation
  4. 2 Corinthians 1:10 NU shall
  5. 2 Corinthians 1:11 M your behalf
  6. 2 Corinthians 1:12 The opposite of duplicity
  7. 2 Corinthians 1:18 message
  8. 2 Corinthians 1:24 rule

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12- “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Paul was on his 3rd missionary journey, somewhere around 55 or 56 AD and possibly a year or so since he wrote 1st Corinthians. Paul was in Macedonia when he wrote it, possibly near the city of Philippi. Some say it was written while he was on his way to Corinth – others say it was written after leaving Corinth.
Some speculate that this is actually the third letter to the Corinthians. The second letter was even more harsh than the first and lost in time. This is based on verses in what we call 2nd Corinthians where Paul references the letter of tears. Well, 1st Corinthians could most definitely be read as angry, so there is that.
Again, this was a letter, written by Paul (co-authored by Timothy) to the church in Corinth, to state the obvious. They received the first letter and in general they did not receive it well and rebelled.

So here are the two timeline scenarios that are most commonly believed for the stage this letter was set to:
ONE – Paul wrote this on His way to Corinth, he was delayed and already received a letter from them (called the letter of tears) where they accused him of things and challenged his authority. Paul tells them he’ll never come to them again. Then after finishing his walking tour of Macedonia, he goes to get a boat back to Troas. But changes his mind and takes a boat down and around Greece to Corinth – to make up.
TWO – Paul wrote this AFTER he visited Corinth because in the next chapter he refers to the painful visit. He arrived late and they were mad and accusation and challenges and Paul left. Just after leaving he wrote them a letter of tears which is lost to time. Now he is writing to make up and show that he still loves them.

Some say this letter exposes Paul’s heart, tenderness and sensitivity more than any other letter – But I will let you decide that.

Let us jump in:

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: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Grace and peace – I wish we all greeted each other more like this. More prayers for each other! Amen?

Paul opens this letter with a pray, which we will see in many of his letters. When we read these prayers, we should take the time to learn to pray like Paul. And learn to apply these prayers to our lives, for ourselves or for our brethren.

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 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.”

As often is the case, Paul’s prayer lead into teachings. Which is quite fine. But when was the last time you praised God for the tribulation? While going through my own struggles I have tried to be quite transparent with you all so that God gets ALL the glory whenever He finishes whatever He is doing! You may recall when it dawned on me that I needed to stop complaining about how difficult it is, and stop focusing on the loss – and just bless Him for what He is doing. I do not need to understand or explain it – I will serve Him, even if he kills me – therefore Bless Him and Worship Him and Praise Him for the tribulations. And if ANYONE knows loss, and difficulty and trials, it is Paul.

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 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. 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.”

We all experience these sufferings. I think where our empathy fails is that we try to compare. One without finances, one risking literal death, one being teased by their peers and so on. In our human minds we say, bulling and teasing in a school yard is not that bad compared to our brethren tossed in labor camps and threatened with death in China for bringing in Bible. The truth is suffering is suffering. And neither is worse of better. And we are all made different with different walks and the Lord loves us each and tries us according to His purpose, for His plan, for our good and His glory.

It is in this suffering that we can unite in comfort, consolation, and salvation. Then stand firm, steadfast, together. Yes, standing is easier when locked arms in the spirit with others. Stop comparing struggles and support each other in them.

Note that these sufferings could be referring to their fight, the tearful letter or the painful visit. But it more likely has to do with Paul explaining His delay in coming to them. As we see in the next few verses.

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. 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, 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.”

There have been MANY times Paul ran for his life so we can understand this statement in general. But let’s look at the situation he was probably talking about. We saw in 1 Corinthians that Paul was making great progress in Ephesus and was hoping to finish a work there. He actually stayed there for over 2 years!! If you recall, Ephesus is a city deep in cultic practices with more temples to false gods than any other city and these temples date back to the earliest days of the Greek Empire and having the height of their glory during the Roman Empire and STILL being used during the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century!
An area this entrenched by principalities and powers, it is AMAZING the work the Lord did in Ephesus. Paul (or more correctly God) had made so much progress that the local silversmith feared he would go out of business, as fewer people were buying his replicas of the pagan gods. So the silversmith decided to start a riot – and two of Paul’s men were caught and brought to the city center.
Paul was always running for his life, but whenever his helpers were put in harm’s way, we see Paul moved. There is a greater concern for others. Paul was prohibited to help them. Paul also doesn’t like the feeling of helplessness as we saw each time Paul was unable to assist. It was a very real and scary threat that was unpredictable. You can read about it here: Acts 19:23-41.
After the situation and reuniting with the brethren who were caught up in it – Paul left. Paul took a group and went to Macedonia and Greece. Their first stop was Philippi and probably where he wrote this letter. 
Paul credits their deliverance from that situation in Ephesus to God – but acknowledges the (Verse 11) the Corinthian’s helping together in prayer. Meaning, praying for Paul helped! Meaning – praying for me will help as I pray for you and it helps and we pray for all our brethren and it helps.

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 toward you. 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 end 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.”
Paul truly loved the church at Corinth – it was a church he founded and cared deeply for. His boasting? It is like a father’s for his son, even if his son is a screw up, even if feelings are hurt and fights have happened.
Paul repeats the idea of not trusting in fleshly wisdom but rather trust in the grace of God. And he even states that he is repeating himself. The 1st century version of “Per my previous email…”

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. 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?”

First of all Paul would have been to Corinth EVEN FASTER except because he fled Ephesus, and he did not wait in Ephesus for a ship go to Corinth. Instead he fled to Troas and now Macedonia was the closest area. So now he has a longer journey to get there.

What are you trying to say Paul with lots of yes no yes no going on here!?! He doesn’t get to the full point until verse 23 – he is being gentle about it. But let’s sum this up with an old saying with an unknown author that I can remember my grandmother saying all the time: ‘If you cannot find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ And Paul was struggling to say a yes, yes.
Let’s look further to understand…

18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.”

Are you starting to see it? I am getting the picture that the issue of Paul being late was because Paul said he hoped and planned and NOT that God said it was set in stone.
Paul had told them he was planning on coming. And he did not get there. One school of thought is (since the last letter was tears) that he changed his plans on purpose to be late, so he would NOT show up all mad and fleshly, instead have the time to pray and calm down so he could show up in love. The other is that fleeing literally took him so far off course that he had to reverse his plans. My personal thought based all these verses is maybe it is a combination of these things.
But the people in Corinth were not just having Paul respond to rumors that Paul was toying with them about visiting and delayed. The rumors about Paul were more like the fake news about real men of God today. You know the things they say about them, lies and craziness to tear down people’s reputations.
There are the ones falling because God is shaking and the tares (imitations) are falling. Don’t let that be confused with the enemy’s attacks on reputations of REAL men of God. Look at Paul’s defense and if the man is behaving like Paul, chances are he is a real man of God. The only one who will fall if someone is accusing the righteous, is the person who touches God’s anointed. God put or permitted every preacher to have their platform. He said HE would shake out the fake ones… NOT US. I cannot emphasize enough that we need to stay out of it. Be careful, we need more discernment and we only know in part. Let God do the work and do not touch those who are appointed by God, even if we think they are false teachers. There are prophets anoint to speak against false teachers – but very few are called to such things and will still have to answer for it according to the scriptures. It is more wise for us to keep our mouths shut and clear the accusations from our minds and avoid the ones we think are false teachers.  

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.”

Yes – with two clauses: “In Him” & “To the GLORY of GOD through us”. There is another great litmus test to figure out if a man is a man of God or a fraud. Is God glorified through him? You see, Paul deflects to God – always test to see if a person points to Jesus or themselves. The goal is to lead others to Jesus – always pointing to Jesus!

Now verse 20 has been taken out of context for years and make it to mugs and posters and keyrings, etc. It is a great verse without all the yes and no confusion around it and without Paul trying to carefully rebuke them and defend himself at the same time. This is one of the few times the verse means the same in context and out of context and isolated. If God gives a promise (Paul is speaking to them of scriptural promises and salvation – so it has to be a promise you found in the Bible, correctly understood) then for the glory of God through us, the answer is yes.
For example. I pray for the money for my bills, the Bible says he’ll provide my every need, and I am not just taking advantage of the promise. SO – HE WILL PROVIDE. I pray for the work of my hands to be blessed, I am doing the work He told me to do and have not turned to my left or right. The Word says he will bless the work of my hands – SO HE WILL PROVIDE BLESSINGS ON MY BUSINESS. 
I hope you get the point. If you have a situation that you need God glorified in – find the promise and study to make sure you are not taking it out of context. If you do not know biblical context around it, ask someone. Then stand on that promise: IT IS WRITTEN! And of course, per this verse – God says: “In me it Is YES and AMEN!”

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.”

Paul was always defending his calling and ministry. I suppose I can understand to some degree. He was a Christian killer before he became a Christian maker. He also spoke with the authority of the 12 disciples now called Apostles and seemingly giving himself that same title. Paul appeals to God – God did it, not Paul. Which being that it is a miracle that Paul is a Christian – should be enough evidence. But it apparently isn’t when feelings are hurt. Remember the last letter we read he confronted pride and arrogance in the people – pride HATES to be called out! Especially since they think they are better.

So as we look, verse by verse, let us not miss the big picture of what Paul is saying.

23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.”

Look he was not in a place to build them up. Give the man time to cool down. He was sparing you his wrath! All this if he was writing before he came.
If he was writing after then he means he will not come again. (I am trying not to choose a side here about when it was written – so you are presented with both ideas and can figure it out by the Spirit.)

24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.”

He knows God called him to build their faith and joy – and he was mad enough to rip that all down and knew that was NOT God’s will.
So you see, if this was written before visiting, then– we can say to our brother or sister I am too mad to deal with this now. We’ll reconnect on the other side. AND on the converse, if a brother or sister says that to you – do not over react and burn the bridge and give them their stuff back and tell the pastor nonsense and cause a church split I have seen that happen a couple times in my life. Instead, expect the restoration once cooler head prevail.
And if written after, then he is explaining he his call to work for their joy and I am not sure how it fits in his argument.
Either way, the church in Corinth decided to talk smack about Paul when he didn’t come instead of waiting patiently. But now, Paul is on his way there, by way of a walking tour through the very large area of Macedonia. Stopping at Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and a boat (or a few) around Greece and Athens to finally arrive in Corinth.

So all Paul can do it start off this letter with defending himself and his position.

After a rough star to this book and study – hang in here because this book has some beautiful revelations on giving, offering, tithing principles and insights. It may even change your view of generosity a little. Over reaching themes in the letter are generosity, humility and all Glory to God.
The three section are: chapters 1-7 where Paul seeks reconciliation; chapters 8-9 are about generosity; and chapters 10-13 where Paul challenges those who still reject him. Which is a terrible summary – so why don’t we just go through it!

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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