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AM Bible Study Archives
2 Corinthians 1:12-22
Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 21, 2008
This letter was written by Paul during a time of trial. Many within the Corinthian church were questioning his authority as an apostle, his honesty as a man, and the integrity of the doctrines which he preached. As Paul had been telling the Corinthians the story of his sufferings—and the comfort that God gave him in the midst of them (1:3-11), he now tells them of his confident boast in the midst of the trials he was undergoing with respect to them.
It's not a wrong thing to "boast" in and of itself. It all depends on what our "boast" is. As Paul says later in this letter; "[H]e who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (10:17; see also Jeremiah 9:23-24). In the midst of his trials, his boast centered on Christ and his relationship with Him. (Look up the word "boast" in a concordance; and you'll see that it shows up a whole lot in 2 Corinthians!) It was the things that he boasted in—with respect to God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit—that sustained him in his ministry.
As we read this section of his letter, we find that he boasted . . .
I. IN HIS PAST CONDUCT BEFORE GOD (vv. 12-14).
A. The specific thing that Paul boasted in was in the witness he and his co-workers had of a good conscience (v. 12). He was being accused by many in Corinth; but he knew that his conscience was clear before God. (See 1 John 3:21). He knew that, before the watching world, he and his co-workers had conducted themselves inwardly in simplicity (i.e., without duplicity) and godly sincerity; and outwardly, not with the wisdom of the flesh, but in the grace of God (2 Corinthians 2:1-5). Others may not have seen him correctly; but he had nevertheless invested himself in a life of integrity before God; and was confident that his investment would pay off, and that the God he served would bring forth the truth about him.
B. We should note that Paul conducted himself in this way not only before the world, but even more so before his Christian brethren in Corinth. Many professing Christians try to keep up a good appearance before the world, and relax their witness before the church—where they don't think their witness matters. But Paul did the exact opposite. He conducted himself in the ways he describes above before the world, and even more so before the Corinthian believers!)
B. He affirmed that he was not now writing anything to the Corinthians other than what they read and knew (vv. 13-14). Some were saying that he was different in person from what he presented himself to be in his letters (10:10); but he affirms that there's nothing hidden about him. He is even confident that, when they all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, they will know perfectly about him what they now knew only in part; and that he and his co-workers would then be the boast of the Corinthians, just as they will be his (1 Thess. 2:19-20).
II. IN HIS PRESENT CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST (vv. 15-20).
A. It was in this confidence—that is, in his confidence not only of his own sincere conduct, but also of his future expectation before the throne of Christ—that he had made plans to come to them (vv. 15-16). He had stated his plan somewhere along the way to come to them on his way (most likely from Ephesus) to Macedonia, and then to come again to them on his way back from Macedonia to Judea. This, he told them, would have been a "double-grace" or "double-benefit". But he apparently felt compelled to change his plans. (See 2:1-2 for the reason.)
B. The accusation then arose that he was fickle and that he made plans lightly. Because of this, he was deeply concerned that this accusation would not then result in some viewing the promises of Christ that he preached also being "fickle" and "lightly-made" (vv. 17- 18). "Why do you keep believing this guy?", some might say. "He doesn't keep his word; so why should you believe his gospel?" He insisted, however, that he was not a "yes and no" man (that is, unreliable in his word); but as God Himself is faithful, his word to them is not "yes and no". Paul was a man of his word, because God was faithful to His word!
C. He affirms this, because the Jesus that he and his co-workers preached was not "yes" and no". He affirmed that every promise God made is "yes" in Christ—and that the "amen" (that is, the declaration that it is true) resounds to the glory of God from those who believe in Him. We can be sure that all of God's promises—every single one—will prove to be "yes" and "amen" in Christ. And in response, may we be careful to live so that we ourselves adorn a "yes" and "amen" gospel!)
III. IN HIS FUTURE HOPE THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT (vv. 21-22).
A. Paul was assured that he was "established" with the Corinthians in Christ (v. 21). They were not simply "with" Christ; but "in" Christ. Not only so, but he and his co-workers were also "anointed" unto the ministry that God had given them toward the Corinthians. This was all done for them in Christ by the Father.
B. And this "anointing" was of the Holy Spirit. Paul's boast was that he and the Corinthians, together, had been sealed for all that it means to be in Christ by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit Himself is the "guarantee" or "promissory seal"—a seal that assures of the full accomplishment of all that it means to be in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14). And Paul's confident boast was that this seal was in his heart, and in his co-worker's hearts, and even in the hearts of the Corinthians (v. 22).
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There are many trials in our service to the Lord Jesus. But there are also some solid things that we can hold on to in the midst of those trials. Paul exemplifies for us a confident "boasting" in the things that keep us in the midst of those trials: a good conscience before the Father, the fulfillment of all His promises in and through Christ, and the Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee of future glory.
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