Greetings from Paul:
Read (2 Cor 1:1-2)
Paul greets the Corinthian church with a standard greeting. He establishes his authority and divine commission at the outset of the letter. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. Timothy is Paul’s fellow worker and son in faith. This letter is addressed to all the saints in Greece including Corinth. The saints are the set apart people of God for his special use (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 5:17). Paul wishes them grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace always precedes peace. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. God’s love alone makes grace available to mankind through the death of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). God’s grace received by faith brings peace. Peace is not the absence of strife but the deep rooted rest and contentment one finds in God as a result of reconciliation (Rom 5:1). They come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The link between the Father and Christ affirms the deity of Jesus. Christ is the incarnated Son of God.
Comfort in Suffering:
Read (2 Cor 1:3-11)
Paul gives thanks to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because He is the source of every mercy and comfort. His mercies include our deliverance from sin and Satan. He gives eternal life. Comfort has the idea of someone coming alongside to provide help. It is more than feeling sympathy. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter (John 16:7). God comforts us in our afflictions so that we can comfort those who are afflicted. As the trials increases so do the comforts increase. Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He identifies his suffering with Christ’s suffering (Rom 8:17). Paul wrote to Timothy “If we suffer, we will also reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12). Paul was thrown into prison, beaten, abandoned by friends and left for dead. He faced life threatening dangers but God delivered him from all dangers (Acts 14:19-20). Paul trusted in God who raises the dead. He knew that God is able to deliver him from his past, present and future dangers (Heb 2:14-15). Paul is confident that God is able to do the same for the Corinthians. He was strong in the faith because he learned to draw his comfort from the Lord. This enabled Paul to be a source of comfort to those around him. Paul says “As you share in the suffering, you will also share God’s comfort” (1:8). Jesus himself experienced the ultimate pain and sorrow on the cross. So Christ is able to provide abundant comfort to his people (John 14:18; Heb 4:15-16). God may allow afflictions in our life for a season (1 Pet 1:6). They are various in kinds (James 1:2). The reason for trials is to make us more like Jesus Christ. They prepare us for God’s purposes (2 Cor 12:7-9). Trials help us to rely not on ourselves but on God. They help to grow in patience and Christian character (James 1:3; Rom 5:3-4). Trials also bring spiritual maturity and give assurance of our son-ship (Heb 5:8; 12:7; Rom 8:17). Paul was confident that God will rescue them because believers were praying on their behalf. He trusts that many will give thanks to God for their answered prayers (2 Cor 1:11). We can find comfort in our pain and afflictions knowing that God is the ultimate source of comfort. He cares for us in our troubles.
Paul’s Reason for his Change of Plan:
Read (2 Cor 1:12-20)
Paul had to address those who challenged his integrity and motives. They accused Paul for promising to visit them with no intention of ever coming. Here Paul seeks to set things straight. He had the clear conscience that he was sincere in all his conducts with Corinthians. Paul depended not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. Clear conscience is a prerequisite for fruitful ministry. Paul’s letters were sincere, straightforward and honest. Paul is confident that when all the secrets are revealed, Corinthians would know that their faith in him was not misplaced. They will be proud of him in the same way he is proud of them (2 Cor 1:14). Paul’s initial plan was to go from Ephesus to Corinth and again on the return trip to visit them. He expected that they will send him on his way to Judea (2 Cor 1:16). Then why he changed his plan? He did not change his plan for his advantage but to spare Corinthians from severe correction and to have a fruitful ministry among them (2 Cor 1:23). Correction will hurt so it may not be appreciated initially. But correction performed out of love will bring blessing. Paul has not been unreliable (2 Cor 1:17). His reliability has come from God and is in consistent with the gospel he preached (2 Cor 1:19). God’s promises in Christ is always, yes. It is up to us to say “Amen” to them to be blessed. Amen means, “So be it”. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus. God's promises can ease the pain and sorrow of believers in this broken world.
Read (2 Cor 1:21-24)
Being confident that God has commissioned him to be an apostle, Paul served Corinthians for the sake of their spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit is the pledge that there are more blessings to come (2 Cor 1:22; Ephesians 1:14). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the surety of our salvation (2 Cor 1:22). His presence in us confirms that all God’s promises are “Yes” in Christ, to which we can say “Amen” to the glory of God. Paul served Christ without being discouraged. Paul knew that his delay in visiting the Corinthians will give the backslider time to repent and to spare them from severe rebuke (2 Cor 1:23). When we live in confident of God’s acceptance, it allows us to respond well to criticism. We must be humble and loving to serve Christ effectively. Our confidence should be always in the Lord (Psalms 118:8-9). Paul wanted to serve the Corinthians so that they will be full of joy and firm in the faith.