In our study of 2 Corinthians chapter one, we will look at the will of God and its role in the lives of men. We will see an example of how God's plan for our lives can override our own desires.
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Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother. To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul introduces himself again and we immediately see the point that He is an apostle because of God's will. "God's will" refers to His plans for His creation. The creator of something is also its owner and the owner has the right to do as he or she wishes with what they have created. God's will (plan) for man has a broad nature in that He wants us to be with Him for eternity. The plan is also an individual thing as He has set out the path for our lives and is active in our lives. His big plan for all of creation is found in His word and He has given us a Counselor (the Holy Spirit) to guide us in our individual lives. This is Paul's second letter to the Corinthian believers and was sent after he had heard the report from Titus of the improvement in the situation there. At this time, Paul was in Macedonia and this letter is also addressed to the believers in Greece (Achaia).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Here, we see another facet of God's will for believers and that is to provide comfort for those who are hurting. We see that we are able to do this because we have been comforted through our trials by the very power of God through the Holy Spirit. We often hear the question of why Christians have to endure so many hardships and we see that the answer is contained in this passage. Our troubles, our walk with Christ through them and our victory over them are for the benefit of others who will face them in the future. When you face many trials, be comforted by the fact that God is going to use you in a big way for His glory. If he wasn't going to use them and you for good, you wouldn't be going through them.
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
Paul knew about suffering as he had even been stoned and left for dead. He reminds the Corinthian believers that it was Jesus who got him through all of his troubles. Paul is not bragging but he wanted to remind us that it is normal to suffer as a Christian. That is not popular to say today but it is still true.
If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
Paul reminds them that his suffering for the gospel has led to them getting to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He also reminds them that his sufferings have shown them what to expect as Christians and how to cope with the persecution of believers. Why do bad things happen to Christians and the more you serve the Lord the more trouble comes your way? It is just as Paul said; our suffering leads people to Jesus and shows them how to cope with a world that is hostile towards God.
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Paul expresses his confidence in the Corinthian Christians' ability to stand firm. He could be confident because he knew that they had the same source of strength that he had which is the presence of God through the Holy Spirit.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
Paul is probably talking about his adventure of faith in Lystra where he was taken out and stoned. He reminds the believers that no man has the power to overcome the plan of God. It was not his time to go to heaven so, even after being stoned, he got up again. We must remember that nothing has the power to defeat a man that is following the will of God for their life. He has numbered our days and He is in charge.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
With all of Paul's travels and writings it is easy to forget that he was a great man of prayer. He explains how God has answered all of their prayers for his ministry and that because of their prayers many more have become citizens of the kingdom of God. Sometimes we get caught up in actions and forget the fact that prayer is the most valuable thing that we can give someone. We also see that, when we pray for another ministry, we are even credited with being a part of that ministry team.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God's grace.
Their was slander of his character being spread in Corinth. Paul tells them that his conscience is clear and that they should know better. He had spent eighteen months with them where he discipled them (see Acts 18). During that time, they had seen his character firsthand.
For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Paul reminds them that they had not been taught vague philosophies and big words that they couldn't understand. It was not man's wisdom but it was God's grace that was shared with them. He also explains that they are all on the same team and they will be counted as such on the day of judgment. Oh, if the church would grab hold of what Paul is saying here! There is so much competition and backbiting in ministry that should not be. As long as we pray for each other, then, we are counted as part of the teams that we pray for. It is all about team Jesus and not another ministry name or denomination.
Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea.
Paul explains his original plans for visiting them twice but, as we shall see, his plans were changed by God. The believers were somewhat hurt by the change in plans and it was used by some to slander Paul. This happens, even today in the ministry, when you are dealing with those who do not understand walking in the power and Spirit of God. Paul did not want to disappoint the believers in Corinth but there was nothing that was going to change his mind when He knew the will of God.
Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both 'Yes, yes' and 'No, no'?
Paul uses this question to get them to see that it is not about his plans but about listening to the Holy Spirit. He intended to do this but his actions were always subject to the leading of the Spirit. This is what James was talking about when he said that we should always make it known that our actions are subject to the will of God (see James 4:15).
But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not 'Yes' and 'No.' For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us - by me and Silas and Timothy - was not 'Yes' and 'No,' but in him it has always been 'Yes.'
Paul reminds them that it is all about Jesus and sharing the gospel. They had heard the gospel because of the efforts of Paul's ministry team and that was the main thing.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God.
The word "Amen" means let it be so and Paul is describing the fact that our will must be conformed to the will of God. We can make all kinds of plans but the only plan that really matters is the plan of God for our lives. We can only know and follow that plan through the power of the Holy Spirit that is active in our lives.
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Jesus Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Paul goes on to explain that we all have that same Spirit living in us and we should be able to understand walking in the Spirit. He reminds them and us that the Spirit living in us is our assurance of eternal life with God. We are secure in our salvation because we know that the Spirit is in us. Therefore, there should be no way that anyone or anything can get you to question whether you are saved or not.
I call God as my witness - and I stake my life on it - that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
Paul had already made one difficult trip to Corinth and he says, here, that his plans changed so he did not have to do so again. In short, he gave God a chance to work in the hearts of the believers.