2 Corinthians 1
After the introduction
(2 Corinthians 1:1,2)
the apostle begins with the narrative of his troubles and God's
goodness, which he had met with in Asia, by way of thanksgiving to God
(2 Corinthians 1:3-6),
and for the edification of the Corinthians,
2 Corinthians 1:7-11.
Then he attests his and his fellow-labourers' integrity
(2 Corinthians 1:12-14),
and afterwards vindicates himself from the imputation of levity and
2 Corinthians 1:15-24.
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1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and
Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at
Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from
the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the introduction to this epistle, in which we have,
I. The inscription; and therein,
1. The person from whom it was sent, namely, Paul, who calls himself
an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. The apostleship
itself was ordained by Jesus Christ, according to the will of God; and
Paul was called to it by Jesus Christ, according to the will of God. He
joins Timotheus with himself in writing this epistle; not because he
needed his assistance, but that out of the mouth of two witnesses the
word might be established; and this dignifying Timothy with the title
of brother (either in the common faith, or in the work of the
ministry) shows the humility of this great apostle, and his desire to
recommend Timothy (though he was then a young man) to the esteem of the
Corinthians, and give him a reputation among the churches.
2. The persons to whom this epistle was sent, namely, the church of
God at Corinth: and not only to them, but also to all the saints
in all Achaia, that is, to all the Christians who lived in the
region round about. Note, In Christ Jesus no distinction is made
between the inhabitants of city and country; all Achaia stands upon a
level in his account.
II. The salutation or apostolical benediction, which is the same as in
his former epistle; and therein the apostle desires the two great and
comprehensive blessings, grace and peace, for those Corinthians. These
two benefits are fitly joined together, because there is no good and
lasting peace without true grace; and both of them come from God our
Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the procurer and
dispenser of those benefits to fallen man, and is prayed to as God.
|Paul's Sufferings and Consolations.
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3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able
to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort
wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our
consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and
salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same
sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it
is for your consolation and salvation.
After the foregoing preface, the apostle begins with the narrative of
God's goodness to him and his fellow-labourers in their manifold
tribulations, which he speaks of by way of thanksgiving to God, and to
advance the divine glory
(2 Corinthians 1:3-6);
and it is fit that in all things, and in the first place, God be
I. The object of the apostle's thanksgiving, to whom he offers up
blessing and praise, namely, the blessed God, who only is to be
praised, whom he describes by several glorious and amiable titles.
1. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: ho
Theos kai pater tou Kyriou hemon Iesou Christou. God is the
Father of Christ's divine nature by eternal generation, of his human
nature by miraculous conception in the womb of the virgin, and of
Christ as God-man, and our Redeemer, by covenant-relation, and in and
through him as Mediator our God and our Father,
In the Old Testament we often meet with this title, The God of
Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, to denote God's
covenant-relation to them and their seed; and in the New Testament God
is styled the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to denote
his covenant-relation to the Mediator and his spiritual seed.
2. The Father of mercies. There is a multitude of tender mercies
in God essentially, and all mercies are from God originally: mercy in
his genuine offspring and his delight. He delighteth in mercy,
3. The God of all comfort; from his proceedeth the
He giveth the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts,
2 Corinthians 1:22.
All our comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in
II. The reasons of the apostle's thanksgivings, which are these:--
1. The benefits that he himself and his companions had received from
God; for God had comforted them in all their
2 Corinthians 1:4.
In the world they had trouble, but in Christ they had peace. The
apostles met with many tribulations, but they found comfort in them
all: their sufferings (which are called the sufferings of
2 Corinthians 1:5,
because Christ sympathized with his members when suffering for his
sake) did abound, but their consolation by Christ did abound also.
(1.) Then are we qualified to receive the comfort of God's mercies when
we set ourselves to give him the glory of them.
(2.) Then we speak best of God and his goodness when we speak from our
own experience, and, in telling others, tell God also what he has done
for our souls.
2. The advantage which others might receive; for God intended that they
should be able to comfort others in trouble
(2 Corinthians 1:4),
by communicating to them their experiences of the divine goodness and
mercy; and the sufferings of good men have a tendency to this good end
(2 Corinthians 1:6)
when they are endued with faith and patience. Note,
(1.) What favours God bestows on us are intended not only to make us
cheerful ourselves, but also that we may be useful to others.
(2.) If we do imitate the faith and patience of good men in their
afflictions, we may hope to partake of their consolations here and
their salvation hereafter.
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7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are
partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the
8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble
which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure,
above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should
not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in
whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift
bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be
given by many on our behalf.
In these verses the apostle speaks for the encouragement and
edification of the Corinthians; and tells them
(2 Corinthians 1:7)
of his persuasion or stedfast hope that they should receive benefit by
the troubles he and his companions in labour and travel had met with,
that their faith should not be weakened, but their consolations
increased. In order to this he tells them,
1. What their sufferings had been
(2 Corinthians 1:8):
We would not have you ignorant of our trouble. It was convenient
for the churches to know what were the sufferings of their ministers.
It is not certain what particular troubles in Asia are here referred
to; whether the tumult raised by Demetrius at Ephesus, mentioned
or the fight with beasts at Ephesus, mentioned in the former epistle
(1 Corinthians 15:32),
or some other trouble; for the apostle was in deaths often. This
however is evident, that they were great tribulations. They were
pushed out of measure, to a very extraordinary degree, above the
common strength of men, or of ordinary Christians, to bear up under
them, insomuch that they despaired even of life
(2 Corinthians 1:8),
and thought they should have been killed, or have fainted away and
2. What they did in their distress: They trusted in God. And
they were brought to this extremity in order that they should not
trust in themselves but in God,
2 Corinthians 1:9.
Note, God often brings his people into great straits, that they may
apprehend their own insufficiency to help themselves, and may be
induced to place their trust and hope in his all-sufficiency. Our
extremity is God's opportunity. In the mount will the Lord be
seen; and we may safely trust in God, who raiseth the dead,
2 Corinthians 1:9.
God's raising the dead is a proof of his almighty power. He that can do
this can do any thing, can do all things, and is worthy to be trusted
in at all times. Abraham's faith fastened upon this instance of the
divine power: He believed God who quickeneth the dead,
If we should be brought so low as to despair even of life, yet we may
then trust in God, who can bring back not only from the gates, but from
the jaws, of death.
3. What the deliverance was that they had obtained; and this was
seasonable and continued. Their hope and trust were not in vain, nor
shall any who trust in him be ashamed. God had delivered them, and did
still deliver them,
2 Corinthians 1:10.
Having obtained help of God, they continued to that day,
4. What use they made of this deliverance: We trust that he will yet
(2 Corinthians 1:10),
that God will deliver to the end, and preserve to his heavenly
kingdom. Note, Past experiences are great encouragements to faith
and hope, and they lay great obligations to trust in God for time to
come. We reproach our experiences if we distrust God in future straits,
who hath delivered as in former troubles. David, even when a young man,
and when he had but a small stock of experiences, argued after the
manner of the apostle here,
1 Samuel 17:37.
5. What was desired of the Corinthians upon this account: That they
would help together by prayer for them
(2 Corinthians 1:11),
by social prayer, agreeing and joining together in prayer on their
behalf. Note, our trusting in God must not supersede the use of any
proper and appointed means; and prayer is one of those means. We should
pray for ourselves and for one another. The apostle had himself a great
interest in the throne of grace, yet he desires the help of others'
prayers. If we thus help one another by our prayers, we may hope for an
occasion of giving thanks by many for answer of prayer. And it
is our duty not only to help one another with prayer, but in praise and
thanksgiving, and thereby to make suitable returns for benefits
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12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,
that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom,
but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the
world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read
or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
14 As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your
rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord
The apostle in these verses attests their integrity by the sincerity of
their conversation. This he does not in a way of boasting and
vain-glory, but as one good reason for desiring the help of prayer, as
well as for the more comfortably trusting in God
and for the necessary vindication of himself from the aspersions of
some persons at Corinth, who reproached his person and questioned his
I. He appeals to the testimony of conscience with rejoicing
(2 Corinthians 1:12),
in which observe,
1. The witness appealed to, namely, conscience, which is instead of a
thousand witnesses. This God's deputy in the soul, and the voice of
conscience is the voice of God. They rejoiced in the testimony of
conscience, when their enemies reproached them, and were enraged
against them. Note, The testimony of conscience for us, if that be
right and upon good grounds, will be matter of rejoicing at all times
and in all conditions.
2. The testimony this witness gave. And here take notice, Conscience
(1.) Concerning their conversation, their constant course and tenour of
life: by that we may judge of ourselves, and not by this or that single
(2.) Concerning the nature or manner of their conversation; that it was
in simplicity and godly sincerity. This blessed apostle was a true
Israelite, a man of plain dealing; you might know where to have him. He
was not a man who seemed to be one thing and was another, but a man of
(3.) Concerning the principle they acted from in all their
conversation, both in the world and towards these Corinthians; and that
was not fleshly wisdom, nor carnal politics and worldly views, but it
was the grace of God, a vital gracious principle in their hearts, that
cometh from God, and tendeth to God. Then will our conversation be well
ordered when we live and act under the influence and command of such a
gracious principle in the heart.
II. He appeals to the knowledge of the Corinthians with hope and
2 Corinthians 1:13,14.
Their conversation did in part fall under the observation of the
Corinthians; and these knew how they behaved themselves, how holily,
and justly, and unblamably; they never found any thing in them
unbecoming an honest man. This they had acknowledged in part already,
and he doubted not but they would still do so to the end, that is, that
they would never have any good reason to think or say otherwise of him,
but that he was an honest man. And so there would be mutual rejoicing
in one another. We are your rejoicing, even as you also are ours in
the day of the Lord Jesus. Note, It is happy when ministers and
people do rejoice in each other here; and this joy will be complete in
that day when the great Shepherd of the sheep shall appear.
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15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before,
that ye might have a second benefit;
16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of
Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward
17 When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or
the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh,
that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?
18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you
by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and
nay, but in him was yea.
20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him
Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath
anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit
in our hearts.
23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare
you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are
helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
The apostle here vindicates himself from the imputation of levity and
inconstancy, in that he did not hold his purpose of coming to them at
Corinth. His adversaries there sought all occasions to blemish his
character, and reflect upon his conduct; and, it seemed, they took hold
of this handle to reproach his person and discredit his ministry. Now,
for his justification,
I. He avers the sincerity of his intention
(2 Corinthians 1:15-17),
and he does this in confidence of their good opinion of him, and that
they would believe him, when he assured them he was minded, or
did really intend, to come to them, and that with the design,
not that he might receive, but that they might receive a second
benefit, that is, a further advantage by his ministry. He tells
them that he had not herein used lightness
(2 Corinthians 1:17),
that, as he aimed not at any secular advantage to himself (for his
purpose was not according to the flesh, that is, with carnal
views and aims), so it was not a rash and inconsiderate resolution that
he had taken up, for he had laid his measures thus of passing by
them to Macedonia, and coming again to them from Macedonia in his way
(2 Corinthians 1:16),
and therefore they might conclude that it was for some weighty reasons
that he had altered his purpose; and that with him there was not yea
yea, and nay nay,
2 Corinthians 1:17.
He was not to be accused of levity and inconstancy, nor a contradiction
between his words and intentions. Note, Good men should be careful to
preserve the reputation of sincerity and constancy; they should not
resolve but upon mature deliberation, and they will not change their
resolves but for weighty reasons.
II. He would not have the Corinthians to infer that his gospel was
false or uncertain, nor that it was contradictory in itself, nor unto
2 Corinthians 1:18,19.
For if it had been so, that he had been fickle in his purposes, or even
false in the promises he made of coming to them (which he was not
justly to be accused of, and so some understand his expression,
2 Corinthians 1:18,
Our word towards you was not yea and nay), yet it would not
follow that the gospel preached not only by him, but also by others in
full agreement with him, was either false or doubtful. For God is
true, and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is true. The true God, and
eternal life. Jesus Christ, whom the apostle preached, is not
yea and nay, but in him was yea
(2 Corinthians 1:19),
nothing but infallible truth. And the promises of God in Christ are not
yea and nay, but yea and amen,
2 Corinthians 1:20.
There is an inviolable constancy and unquestionable sincerity and
certainty in all the parts of the gospel of Christ. If in the promises
that the ministers of the gospel make as common men, and about their
own affairs, they see cause sometimes to vary from them, yet the
promises of the gospel covenant, which they preach, stand firm and
inviolable. Bad men are false; good men are fickle; but God is
true, neither fickle nor false. The apostle, having mentioned the
stability of the divine promises, makes a digression to illustrate this
great and sweet truth, that all the promises of God are yea and amen.
1. They are the promises of the God of truth
(2 Corinthians 1:20),
of him that cannot lie, whose truth as well as mercy endureth
2. They are made in Christ Jesus
(2 Corinthians 1:20),
the Amen, the true and faithful witness; he hath purchased and ratified
the covenant of promises, and is the surety of the covenant,
3. They are confirmed by the Holy Spirit. He does establish Christians
in the faith of the gospel; he has anointed them with his sanctifying
grace, which in scripture is often compared to oil; he has sealed them,
for their security and confirmation; and he is given as an earnest
in their hearts,
2 Corinthians 1:21,22.
An earnest secures the promise, and is part of the payment. The
illumination of the Spirit is an earnest of everlasting life; and the
comforts of the Spirit are an earnest of everlasting joy. Note, The
veracity of God, the mediation of Christ, and the operation of the
Spirit, are all engaged that the promises shall be sure to all the
seed, and the accomplishment of them shall be to the glory of
(2 Corinthians 1:20)
for the glory of his rich and sovereign grace, and never-failing truth
III. The apostle gives a good reason why he did not come to Corinth, as
2 Corinthians 1:23.
It was that he might spare them. They ought therefore to own his
kindness and tenderness. He knew there were things amiss among them,
and such as deserved censure, but was desirous to show tenderness. He
assures them that this is the true reason, after this very solemn
manner: I call God for a record upon my soul--a way of speaking
not justifiable where used in trivial matters; but this was very
justifiable in the apostle, for his necessary vindication, and for the
credit and usefulness of his ministry, which was struck at by his
opposers. He adds, to prevent mistakes, that he did not pretend to have
any dominion over their faith,
2 Corinthians 1:24.
Christ only is the Lord of our faith; he is the author and finisher
of our faith,
He reveals to us what we must believe. Paul, and Apollos, and the rest
of the apostles, were but ministers by whom they believed
(1 Corinthians 3:5),
and so the helpers of their joy, even the joy of faith. For by
faith we stand firmly, and live safely and comfortably. Our strength
and ability are owing to faith, and our comfort and joy must flow from