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Book chapters «The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians»
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  • A province of the Roman Empire south of Macedonia. It constituted the greater part of today's Greece, where the city of Corinth is.

  • Or, mercies, pity, sympathy.

  • Comfort implies being cheered. A title such as the Father of compassions and God of all comfort is ascribed here to God because this Epistle is one of comfort and encouragement, written by the apostle after he had been comforted and encouraged by the repentance of the Corinthian believers. The rebuking and condemning in the first Epistle to the Corinthians were intended to cause the Corinthian believers to turn back to and stress Christ; the comfort and encouragement in this Epistle were intended to bring them to experience and enjoy Christ.

  • We must first experience God's comforting; then we are able to comfort others with the comfort from God that we have experienced.

    The first Epistle to the Corinthians was the apostle's argument, an argument that defeated and subdued the distracted and confused Corinthians. Now the second Epistle brought them back into the experience of Christ, who was the subject of his argument in the first Epistle. Hence, the second Epistle is more experiential, more subjective, and deeper than the first. In the first, Christ, the Spirit with our spirit, the church, and the gifts are covered as the major subjects. In the second, Christ, the Spirit with our spirit, and the church are developed further, but the gifts are not even mentioned. The gifts are replaced in this book by the ministry, which is constituted with, and produced and formed by, the experiences of the riches of Christ gained through sufferings, consuming pressures, and the killing work of the cross. This Epistle gives us a pattern, an example, of how the killing of the cross works, how Christ is wrought into our being, and how we become the expression of Christ. These processes constitute the ministers of Christ and produce the ministry for God's new covenant. The first Epistle deals negatively with the gifts; the second speaks positively about the ministry. The church needs the ministry much more than the gifts. The ministry is for ministering the Christ whom we have experienced, whereas the gifts are just for teaching the doctrines concerning Christ. Not the gifts but the ministry produced and formed by the experience of the sufferings, the afflictions, of Christ is the proof that the apostles are ministers of Christ.

  • Not sufferings for Christ but Christ's own sufferings as shared by His disciples (Matt. 20:22; Phil. 3:10; Col. 1:24; 1 Pet. 4:13).

  • The Christ here is a designation of the condition of Christ; it is not a name (Darby). Here it refers to the suffering Christ, who suffered afflictions for His Body according to God's will. The apostles participated in the sufferings of such a Christ, and through such a Christ they received comfort.

  • I.e., weighed down, pressed down. The same Greek word as in 2 Cor. 5:4.

  • In Greek the same word as for utterly without a way out in 2 Cor. 4:8.

  • Or, life.

  • In this book the apostle is presented as a pattern of a person living Christ in five aspects for the church:
    1) not basing his confidence on himself but on God, who raises the dead (v. 9), which includes related matters such as conducting himself in the world not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God (v. 12) and being one with the unchanging Christ of the faithful God (vv. 18-20);
    2) being attached to Christ, anointed and sealed by His Spirit, and captured, subdued, and led by Him to scatter His savor (vv. 21-22; 2:14-16);
    3) being sufficient of Christ as the spiritual alphabet to write living letters with the life-giving Spirit of the living God (2 Cor. 3:3-6);
    4) having the shining of the glory of the new covenant (2 Cor. 3:7-11);
    5) being transformed into the image of the Lord from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit, by beholding and reflecting like a mirror His glory with unveiled face (2 Cor. 3:16-18).

  • Or, answer. When the apostles were under the pressure of affliction, despairing even of life, they might have asked themselves what the issue of their suffering would be. The answer or response was "death." This led them to the vital decision not to base their confidence on themselves but on God, who raises the dead.

  • The experience of death ushers us into the experience of resurrection. Resurrection is the very God, who resurrects the dead. The working of the cross terminates our self that we may experience God in resurrection. The experience of the cross always issues in the enjoyment of the God of resurrection. Such experience produces and forms the ministry (vv. 4-6). This is further described in 2 Cor. 4:7-12.

  • Referring to the immediate future (indicating continuity).

  • Or, work together. This must refer to the believers' coordinating with and rendering help in God's deliverance and the apostles' hope mentioned in the preceding verse.

  • Referring to the grace given (v. 12), the resurrected Christ Himself, who is the grace that the apostles enjoyed in the experience of resurrection out of death (vv. 9-10). This is the gift of grace, which is different from the gifts of abilities mentioned in 1 Cor. 12 and 1 Cor. 14. The gift of grace is inward for life, and the gifts of abilities are outward for function.

  • Lit., faces; implying that thanks are given by cheerful countenances.

  • We must have a pure conscience (2 Tim. 1:3), a conscience without offense (Acts 24:16), that can bear a testimony to what we are and do.

  • Or, simplicity. Some MSS read, holiness. The apostles' situation of death forced them to be simple, that is, not to base their confidence on themselves or on their natural human ability to work out a solution to their difficult situation. This was the testimony of their conscience and was their confidence (v. 15).

  • A divine virtue, a virtue of what God is. To conduct ourselves in such a virtue means to experience God Himself. Hence, to conduct ourselves in such a virtue is to be in the grace of God (later in the verse).

  • I.e., human wisdom in the flesh. This equals ourselves, just as the grace of God equals God Himself.

  • God for our enjoyment (see note 1 Cor. 15:101a). Grace here is the gift in v. 11, which the apostles received for the experience of resurrection in their sufferings.

  • Lit., second; referring to the double grace bestowed by the apostle's coming to Corinth twice, once in this verse and again in the next verse. Through the apostle's coming, the grace of God, that is, the imparting of God as the life supply and spiritual enjoyment, was bestowed on the believers. His two comings would bring them a double portion of such grace.

  • A province of the Roman Empire, north of Achaia. The cities of Philippi and Thessalonica were in Macedonia.

  • But gives a contrast. In the preceding verse the apostle referred to the charge that he was a man of yes and no. In this verse he defended himself by saying that because God is faithful, the word of their preaching was not yes and no. Hence, they were not fickle persons of yes and no. Their being was according to their preaching. They lived according to what they preached.

  • The word of the apostles' preaching (1 Cor. 1:18), their message concerning Christ (v. 19).

  • For introduces the reason for what is mentioned in the preceding verse. God is faithful, never changing, especially in His promises concerning Christ. Hence, the word the apostles preached concerning Christ was likewise never changing, because the very Christ whom God promised in His faithful word and whom they preached in their gospel did not become yes and no. Rather, in Him is yes. Since the Christ whom they preached according to God's promises did not become yes and no, the word they preached concerning Him was not yes and no. Not only their preaching but also their living was according to what Christ is. They preached Christ and lived Him. They were not men of yes and no but men who were the same as Christ.

  • I.e., Silas. See Acts 15:22; 18:5.

  • Again, for introduces the reason for what is mentioned in the preceding verse. Christ, whom the faithful God promised and whom the sincere apostles preached, did not become yes and no, did not change, because in Him is the Yes of all the promises of God, and through Him is the apostles' and the believers' Amen to God for His glory.

  • Christ.

  • Christ is the Yes, the incarnate answer, the fulfillment of all the promises of God to us.

  • Christ.

  • The Amen given by us through Christ to God (cf. 1 Cor. 14:16). Christ is the Yes, and we say Amen to this Yes before God.

  • When we say Amen before God to the fact that Christ is the Yes, the fulfillment, of all the promises of God, God is glorified through us.

  • Referring not only to the apostles, who preached Christ according to God's promises, but also to the believers, who received Christ according to the apostles' preaching. Through us there is glory unto God when we say Amen to Christ as the great Yes of all God's promises.

  • The apostles, who preached Christ according to God's promises and lived Christ according to their preaching, and the believers, who received Christ according to the apostles' preaching, are joined to Christ, becoming one with Him, through whom they say Amen before God to the great Yes of God's promises, which is Christ Himself. But it is not they but God who attaches them all together unto Christ. Their being one with Christ is of God and by God, not of themselves and by themselves.

  • Lit., establishes. God establishes the apostles with the believers in Christ. This means that God firmly attaches the apostles together with the believers unto Christ, the anointed One. Hence, the apostles and the believers are one not only with Christ, the anointed One, but also with one another, sharing the anointing that Christ has received of God.

  • I.e., the apostles with the believers have been attached to Christ, the anointed One. This shows that the apostles ranked themselves with the believers in being attached to Christ by the anointing Spirit, not considering themselves a special group separate from the believers in God's all-inclusive salvation.

  • I.e., together with.

  • I.e., the anointed One (Dan. 9:26, lit.).

  • Since we have been attached by God to Christ, the anointed One, we are spontaneously anointed with Him by God.

  • The anointing in the preceding verse is the sealing. Since God has anointed us with Christ, He has also sealed us in Him. See note Eph. 1:131b.

  • The Spirit, the earnest of God as our portion, is a foretaste to us; thus, here it says that He is in our hearts. Rom. 5:5 and Gal. 4:6 refer to the matter of love and, hence, speak of the Spirit in our heart. But Rom. 8:16 refers to the work of the Spirit, since it says that the Spirit witnesses with our spirit. Our heart is a loving organ, but our spirit is a working one.

  • The seal is a mark that marks us out as God's inheritance, God's possession, as those who belong to God. The pledge is an earnest, guaranteeing that God is our inheritance, or possession, and belongs to us (see note Eph. 1:141a). The Spirit within us is the pledge, an earnest, of God as our portion in Christ.

    God's attaching us to Christ issues in three things:
    1) an anointing that imparts God's elements into us;
    2) a sealing that forms the divine elements into an impression to express God's image;
    3) a pledging that gives us a foretaste as a sample and guarantee of the full taste of God.
    Through these three experiences of the anointing Spirit, with the experience of the cross, the ministry of Christ is produced.

  • Lit., upon. The apostle called on, or asked, God to be a witness against his soul, that is, against himself, should he speak falsely.

  • The apostle would not come to visit the Corinthian believers with a rod for discipline, but in love and a spirit of meekness for building (1 Cor. 4:21). In order to avoid any unpleasant feeling, he refrained from coming. He treated them leniently and would not come to them in sorrow (2 Cor. 2:1). He did not like to lord it over their faith but wished to be a fellow worker with them for their joy (v. 24). This was the truth. He called on God to witness to this for him.

  • For the believers to stand in the objective faith (1 Cor. 16:13 and note 1 Cor. 16:132c), subjective faith is needed. Lording it over their subjective faith weakens it, but being a fellow worker with them for their joy strengthens it.

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