Greetings from Paul:
Read (2 Corinthians 1:1-2)
Paul greets the Corinthian church with a standard greeting. He establishes his authority and commission at the outset of the letter. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. Timothy was 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 (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 (Romans 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 Corinthians 1:3-11)
Paul gives thanks to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because He is the source of mercies and all comfort. His mercies include our deliverance from sin and Satan. We are saved by the mercy and grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul was comforting the Corinthian church that was suffering. Comfort has the idea of someone coming alongside to 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 increase, so do the comforts increase. Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He identifies his suffering with Christ’s suffering (Romans 8:17). He learned to draw his comfort from the Lord. This enabled Paul to be a great source of comfort to others. Paul wrote to Timothy “If we suffer, we will also reign with Him (2 Timothy 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 miraculously (Acts 14:19-20). Paul trusted in God who raises the dead. He knew that God was able to deliver him from his past, present and future dangers (Hebrews 2:14-15). Paul is confident that God is able to do the same for the Corinthians. Paul says “As you share in the suffering, you will also share in the comfort God gives us” (1:7). 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; Hebrews 4:15-16). God may allow afflictions in our life for a season (1 Peter 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 use (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Trials help us to pray and rely on God. They help to grow in patience and Christian character (James 1:3; Romans 5:3-4). Trials also bring spiritual maturity and give assurance of our son-ship (Hebrews 5:8; 12:7; Romans 8:17). Paul was confident that God would rescue them because believers were praying on their behalf. He is confident that many will give thanks to God because prayers for their safety have been answered (2 Corinthians 1:11). We can find comfort in our pain and afflictions knowing that God is the ultimate source of comfort. God cares for us in our troubles.
Paul’s Reason for his Change of Plan:
Read (2 Corinthians 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 Corinthians 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 would send him on his way to Judea (2 Corinthians 1:16). Then why did he change his plan?(2 Corinthians 1:17). He did not change his plan for his advantage but to spare Corinthians from severe rebuke (2 Corinthians 1:23). Correction will hurt so it may not be appreciated initially. But correction performed out of love will bring blessing. Paul was reliable and consistent with the gospel he preached (2 Corinthians 1:19). God’s promises in Christ are 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 Christ. God's promises ease our pain and heal the brokenhearted.
Read (2 Cor 1:21-24)
Paul was confident that God had commissioned him to be an apostle. He served Corinthians for the sake of their spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit is the pledge that there are more blessings to come (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the surety of our salvation (2 Corinthians 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 would give the backslider time to repent and to spare them from severe rebuke (2 Corinthians 1:23). When we live in confidence of God’s acceptance, it allows us to respond well to criticism. Paul wanted to do everything for the sake of their joy. Paul's response to them provides a good example for us to follow. 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 remain firm in their faith. No matter how great a hardship you face, Jesus is able to comfort and strengthen you. In turn, you will be better equipped to comfort those around you who suffer. Trials help us to grow spiritually and comfort others. Our sufficiency comes from God (3:5). God who is all powerful is able to heal the brokenness of our life. He will bring complete restoration to all of his children someday soon.