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2 Corinthians 1:312; 2:1417comment (0)

July 29, 2010

By Robert Olsen

Related Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:312; 2:1417

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Relationships: The Integrity Factor
2 Corinthians 1:3–12; 2:14–17

Live for Others (1:3–7)

Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians had been strained, and 2 Corinthians was written in order to defend his authority as an apostle since some had questioned it. Typically Paul would begin his letters by thanking God for the believers to whom he was writing. However, in this instance, he did not do so. Instead he began by comforting them, emphasizing that God comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others. As evidenced by the first letter to the Corinthians, the church in Corinth had a lot of internal problems, and Paul was writing to show the members that they needed to be comforting each other and not allowing the divisions to persist. Paul mentioned that Christians are comforted by Christ but this does not exempt them from sufferings. In fact, Paul emphasized that just as Christ suffered on our behalf, we likely will suffer for Him and should be willing to do so. In America, our sufferings are quite light compared with those of other Christians throughout the world who are persecuted with imprisonment, torture and even death because of their faith in Christ. Yet, even if this should befall us, we take comfort in the fact that we have an eternal reward that outweighs our current troubles. Even in death, Christians are victorious. We ought to find comfort in the salvation that we have in Christ when we face trials. Furthermore, when we overcome our bad experiences through Christ, we then are able to encourage others with the hope of Christ. When we see God’s hand in our situations, it should spur us to relate this to other believers in similar situations to be an encouragement to them.

Live in God’s Strength (1:8–11)
Paul recounted the sufferings he faced throughout Asia for the cause of the gospel. Throughout his account, he pointed out that he relied on God for his salvation. Regardless of the circumstance, Paul depended on God. Sometimes believers lose hope in despairing situations, perhaps thinking God has abandoned them or does not care for them. This is the wrong understanding. God is with us in all of our situations, both good and bad. God never promises an easy life, despite the preaching of some in America today. Paul asserted that in times of trials, rather than abandoning us, God is trying to get us to rely on Him all the more. Paul emphasized this so that the Corinthians would not have a misconception about suffering. Paul confirmed that he was delivered precisely because of the Corinthians’ prayer for him. God delivered Paul from his trials so that he could write to the Corinthians of his circumstances that they may, in turn, give thanks to God for hearing their prayers. Christians need to remember to be praying for each other. Not only are we to do this because we are told to do so but we also pray to remind us that Christians do not operate solo. The body of Christ is a unity of believers. In America, where we focus on independence and self-reliance, Christianity strikes opposite, affirming that the body of Christ is made up of many parts. When we hear of suffering in other parts of the world — Christians jailed in China or believers killed in Sudan — it should motivate us to pray for these brothers and sisters just as the Corinthian church did for Paul.

Live So God Approves (1:12; 2:14–17)
Paul had a clear conscience about how he had acted toward the Corinthians because he was doing what God wanted of him. His actions were not based upon worldly wisdom but rather were done according to God’s grace. The gospel is not spread by preaching what the world wants to hear. The gospel is an offense because it points out sin and tells people that they are unable to save themselves. There are many preachers today who say what their audience wants to hear, but this is no gospel at all since it makes believers comfortable in their sin. The true preaching of the gospel is the word of life to believers, but to unbelievers, it is a death sentence. Paul preached the true gospel with sincerity. Paul made tents to support his ministry; he did not take advantage of his listeners, and because of this, it should have been evident to the Corinthians that he was living with integrity, which is what all believers should strive to do.

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