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Paul's Anxiety Over the Corinthian Church
Summary —Salutations. Paul's Recent Danger in Asia. His Conscientious Sincerity in Preaching the Gospel at Corinth. An Answer to Those Who Criticised His Change of Plans in Coming to Corinth.
1–7. Paul … and Timothy our brother. See notes on 1 Cor. 1:1. Timothy had been sent to Corinth along with the First Letter (see 1 Cor. 4:17), and had now returned to Paul. As he had so recently been on a special mission to Corinth, he joins in the salutation. With all the saints … in the whole of Achaia. That is, in the whole of Greece, Achaia being the Roman name of the province. Corinth was the Roman capital. Hence it seems that other churches already existed in the province. We know of two, Athens and Cenchreæ. See Rom. 16:1. 2. Grace be to you, etc. See note on 1 Cor. 1:3. 4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation. He who had tribulation and has learned the comfort of faith in God is best fitted to comfort others. 5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us. Christ suffers with his saints when they suffer for him. See Acts 9:4, 5. Hence, when Paul endured affliction for Christ, “the sufferings of Christ abounded” in him. But Christ comforts those who thus suffer (John 16:2–4). Christ suffers in the person of his servants, but 131forgets not his promise to be with them always. 6. And whether we be afflicted. These words concerning suffering are introductory to an allusion to what he had so recently suffered at Ephesus (verse 8). His example under affliction would help them in affliction to endure, and his deliverance would fill them with hope of a like deliverance.
8–11. We would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble. I believe, in opposition to many commentators, that the great trial at Ephesus, caused by Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen, is referred to. See Acts, chapter 19. Asia. The Roman province of Asia, embracing the western part of Asia Minor. Ephesus was its capital. We despaired even of life. It is evident that the record in Acts does not give all the dangers that threatened Paul in Ephesus. His precipitate departure from Ephesus immediately after the riot shows that he was in danger. See Acts 20:1. He was not the man to exaggerate his danger. The allusions here, and in 1 Cor. 15:31, 32, show that he met with extreme peril. 9. We had the sentence of death in ourselves. The meaning seems to be that he felt that the time had come for him to die, and his reprieve from death was, as it were, a resurrection from death by the providence of God. 10. Who delivered us out of so great a death. This points to some remarkable peril and signal deliverance. It is probable that Acts 20:30, 31, hints at it. 11. Ye also helping, etc. He recognizes the aid he had received from the prayers of the Corinthian church raised on his behalf. The prayers of many persons secured the gift of his deliverance. Hence many could give thanks for his escape.
12–14. For our rejoicing is this. Rather, as in the Revision, “our glorying.” He could boast that in his conduct everywhere, and at Corinth as well, he had acted with purity of purpose, integrity, and under the guidance of God. He appeals to his singleness of purpose, because a charge had been made against him, which he answers below (verses 15–19). 13. For we write none other things. The charge seems to have been that he was ambiguous in what he wrote (verse 17). Hence he insists that he writes plainly, and that they read, understand, and accept what he writes. 14. As also ye have acknowledged us in part. All but a faction acknowledged him as an apostle and rejoiced in his labors.
15–24. In this confidence. Of their acknowledgment of his apostleship and rejoicing in him. 132I was minded to come unto you before. Before going to Macedonia, sailing straight across from Ephesus to Corinth. That you might have a second benefit. Two visits, one as Paul went to Macedonia, and one on his return. All this is explained in verse 16. 17. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? Some of his detractors at Corinth had urged from his change of plans that he was fickle, or that he made ambiguous promises, and was ready to break them. His original plan was probably conveyed in the letter which has not come down to us (1 Cor. 5:9). In 1 Cor. 16:5, he declared his change of plans. Do I purpose according to the flesh? In a carnal way. So that there should be a readiness to turn a yea into a nay; that is, no fixed purpose to do as promised. 18. Our word … was not yea and nay. That is, ambiguous and unreliable. 19. For the Son of God, etc. The idea is that there was no vacillation and uncertainty about Paul's preaching when he was in Corinth. In him was yea. There was positive affirmation. 20. For all the promises of God in him are yea. They are sure and positive. 21. Now he that stablisheth us with you in Christ. He gives us our stability so that our gospel is yea, sure and steadfast. And hath anointed us. With the unction of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27). 22. Sealed us. The seal was anciently the mark of ownership. In Eph. 1:13 and 4:30, it is said that the saints are sealed by the Holy Spirit. They are thus marked as Christ's. So here the sealing is by the earnest of the Spirit. 23. Moreover … to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. He delayed coming in order to give time for his First Epistle to have effect and bring repentance. Had he come before they repented, his coming must have been in severity. 24. Not that we have dominion over your faith. Not that he would exercise a lordship. How different this is from the arrogant style of a Catholic bishop! Paul wishes rather to be a helper. For by faith ye stand. Faith in Christ. He hath dominion. Every disciple is accountable to him. Not even an apostle can come between. 133
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