2 Corinthians 1
2 Corinthians - An Exposition, with Practical Observations, of The Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians
In his former epistle the apostle had signified his intentions of coming to Corinth, as he passed through Macedonia (1Co.16:5), but, being providentially hindered for some time, he writes this second epistle to them about a year after the former; and there seem to be these two urgent occasions: - 1. The case of the incestuous person, who lay under censure, required that with all speed he should be restored and received again into communion. This therefore he gives directions about (ch. 2), and afterwards (ch. 7) he declares the satisfaction he had upon the intelligence he received of their good behaviour in that affair. 2. There was a contribution now making for the poor saints at Jerusalem, in which he exhorts the Corinthians to join (ch. 8, 2Co. 9:1-15).
There are divers other things very observable in this epistle; for example, I. The account the apostle gives of his labours and success in preaching the gospel in several places, ch. 2. II. The comparison he makes between the Old and New Testament dispensation, ch. 3. III. The manifold sufferings that he and his fellow-labourers met with, and the motives and encouragements for their diligence and patience, ch. 4, 5. IV. The caution he gives the Corinthians against mingling with unbelievers, ch. 6. V. The way and manner in which he justifies himself and his apostleship from the opprobrious insinuations and accusations of false teachers, who endeavoured to ruin his reputation at Corinth, ch. 10-12, and throughout the whole epistle. — Henry
2 Corinthians - The most remarkable circumstance in this Epistle, observes Mr. Scott, is the confidence of the Apostle in the goodness of his cause, and in the power of God to bear him out in it. Opposed as he then was by a powerful and sagacious party, whose authority, reputation, and interest were deeply concerned, and who were ready to seize on every thing that could discredit him, it is wonderful to hear him so firmly insist upon his apostolical authority, and so unreservedly appeal to the miraculous power which he has exercised and conferred at Corinth. So far from shrinking from the contest, as afraid of some discovery being made, unfavourable to him and the common cause, he, with great modesty and meekness indeed, but with equal boldness and decision, expressly declares that his opposers and despisers were the ministers of Satan, and menaces them with miraculous judgments, when as many of their deluded hearers had been brought to repentance and re-established in the faith, as proper means could in a reasonable time effect. It is inconceivable that a stronger internal testimony, not only of integrity, but of divine inspiration, can exist. Had there been anything of imposture among the Christians, it was next to impossible but such a conduct must have occasioned a disclosure of it. Of the effects produced by this latter epistle we have no circumstantial account; for the journey which St. Paul took to Corinth, after he had written it, is mentioned by St. Luke only in a few words (Act.20:2, Acts 20:3). We know, however, that St. Paul was there after he had written this Epistle; that the contributions for the poor brethren at Jerusalem were brought to him from different parts to that city (Rom. 15:26); and that, after remaining there several months, he sent salutations from some of the principal members of that church, by whom he must have been greatly respected, to the church of Rome (Rom. 16:22, Rom. 16:23). From this time we hear no more of the false teacher and his party; and when Clement of Rome wrote his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul was considered by them as a divine apostle, to whose authority he might appeal without fear of contradiction. The false teacher, therefore, must either have been silenced by St. Paul, by virtue of his apostolical powers, and by an act of severity which he had threatened (2Co. 13:2, 2Co. 13:3); or this adversary of the apostle had, at that time, voluntarily quitted the place. Whichever was the cause, the effect produced must operate as a confirmation of our faith, and as a proof of St. Paul’s divine mission. — TSK
The Second Epistle of Paul the
Apostle to the Corinthians
The following reasons seem to have induced Paul to write this Second Epistle to the Corinthians: (1) That he might explain the reasons for his having deferred to pay them his promised visit, by taking Corinth as his way to Macedonia (1Co. 4:19; 2Co. 1:15, 2Co. 1:16; compare 1Co. 16:5); and so that he might set forth to them his apostolic walk in general (2Co. 1:12, 2Co. 1:24; 2Co. 6:3-13; 2Co. 7:2). (2) That he might commend their obedience in reference to the directions in his First Epistle, and at the same time direct them now to forgive the offender, as having been punished sufficiently (2Co. 2:1-11; 2Co. 7:6-16). (3) That he might urge them to collect for the poor saints at Jerusalem (2Co. 8:1-9, 2Co. 8:15). (4) That he might maintain his apostolic authority and reprove gainsayers.
The external testimonies for its genuineness are Irenaeus [Against Heresies, 3, 7, 1]; Athenagoras [Of the Resurrection of the Dead]; Clement of Alexanderia [Miscellanies, 3, p. 94; 4, p. 101]; Tertullian [On Modesty, 13].
The Time of Writing was after Pentecost, a.d. 57, when Paul left Ephesus for Troas. Having stayed in the latter place for some time preaching the Gospel with effect (2Co. 2:12), he went on to Macedonia, being eager to meet Titus there, having been disappointed in his not coming to Troas, as had been agreed on between them. Having heard from him the tidings he so much desired of the good effect produced on the Corinthians by his First Epistle, and after having tested the liberality of the Macedonian churches (2Co. 8:1), he wrote this Second Epistle, and then went on to Greece, where he abode for three months; and then, after travelling by land, reached Philippi on his return at Passover or Easter, a.d. 58 (Acts 20:1-6). So that this Epistle must have been written about autumn, a.d. 57.
Macedonia was The Place from which it was written (2Co. 9:2, where the present tense, “I boast,” or “am boasting,” implies his presence then in Macedonia). In Asia (Lydian Asia) he had undergone some great peril of his life (2Co. 1:8, 2Co. 1:9), whether the reference be [Paley] to the tumult at Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41), or, as Alford thinks, to a dangerous illness in which he despaired of life. Thence he passed by Troas to Philippi, the first city which would meet him in entering Macedonia. The importance of the Philippian Church would induce him to stay there some time; as also his desire to collect contributions from the Macedonian churches for the poor saints at Jerusalem. His anxiety of mind is recorded (2Co. 7:5) as occurring when he came into Macedonia, and therefore must have been at Philippi, which was the first city of Macedonia in coming from Troas; and here, too, from 2Co. 7:6, compared with 2Co. 7:5, must have been the scene of his receiving the comforting tidings from Titus. “Macedonia” is used for Philippi in 2Co. 11:9, as is proved by comparison with Phi. 4:15, Phi. 4:16. So it is probably used here (2Co. 7:5). Alford argues from 2Co. 8:1, where he speaks of the “grace bestowed on the churches (plural) of Macedonia,” that Paul must have visited other churches in Macedonia, besides Philippi, when he wrote, for example, Thessalonica, Berea, etc., and that Philippi, the first on his route, is less likely to have been the scene of his writing than the last on his route, whichever it was, perhaps Thessalonica. But Philippi, as being the chief town of the province, was probably the place to which all the collections of the churches were sent. Ancient tradition, too (as appears from the subscription to this Epistle), favors the view that Philippi was the place from which this Epistle was sent by the hands of Titus who received, besides, a charge to prosecute at Corinth the collection which he had begun at his first visit (2Co. 8:6).
The Style is most varied, and passes rapidly from one phase of feeling to another; now joyous and consolatory, again severe and full of reproof; at one time gentle and affectionate, at another, sternly rebuking opponents and upholding his dignity as an apostle. This variety of style accords with the warm and earnest character of the apostle, which nowhere is manifested more beautifully than in this Epistle. His bodily frailty, and the chronic malady under which he suffered, and which is often alluded to (2Co. 4:7; 2Co. 5:1-4; 2Co. 12:7-9; compare Note, see on 2Co. 1:8), must have been especially trying to one of his ardent temperament. But besides this, was the more pressing anxiety of the “care of all the churches.” At Corinth, as elsewhere, Judaizing emissaries wished to bind legal fetters of letter and form (compare 2Co. 3:3-18) on the freedom and catholicity of the Church. On the other hand, there were free thinkers who defended their immorality of practice by infidel theories (1Co. 15:12, 1Co. 15:32-36). These were the “fightings without,” and “fears within” (2Co. 7:5, 2Co. 7:6) which agitated the apostle’s mind until Titus brought him comforting tidings from Corinth. Even then, while the majority at Corinth had testified their repentance, and, as Paul had desired, excommunicated the incestuous person, and contributed for the poor Christians of Judea, there was still a minority who, more contemptuously than ever, resisted the apostle. These accused him of crafty and mercenary motives, as if he had personal gain in view in the collection being made; and this, notwithstanding his scrupulous care to be above the possibility of reasonable suspicion, by having others besides himself to take charge of the money. This insinuation was palpably inconsistent with their other charge, that he could be no true apostle, as he did not claim maintenance from the churches which he founded. Another accusation they brought of cowardly weakness; that he was always threatening severe measures without daring to execute them (2Co. 10:8-16; 2Co. 13:2); and that he was vacillating in his teaching and practice, circumcising Timothy, and yet withholding circumcision from Titus; a Jew among the Jews, and a Greek among the Greeks. That most of these opponents were of the Judaizing party in the Church, appears from 2Co. 11:22. They seem to have been headed by an emissary from Judea (“he that cometh,” 2Co. 11:4), who had brought “letters of commendation” (2Co. 3:1) from members of the Church at Jerusalem, and who boasted of his purity of Hebrew descent, and his close connection with Christ Himself (2Co. 11:13, 2Co. 11:23). His partisans contrasted his high pretensions with the timid humility of Paul (1Co. 2:3); and his rhetoric with the apostle’s plain and unadorned style (2Co. 11:6; 2Co. 10:10, 2Co. 10:13). It was this state of things at Corinth, reported by Titus, that caused Paul to send him back forthwith thither with this Second Epistle, which is addressed, not to Corinth only (1Co. 1:2), but to all the churches also in Achaia (2Co. 1:1), which had in some degree been affected by the same causes as affected the Corinthian Church. The widely different tone in different parts of the Epistle is due to the diversity which existed at Corinth between the penitent majority and the refractory minority. The former he addresses with the warmest affection; the latter with menace and warning. Two deputies, chosen by the churches to take charge of the contribution to be collected at Corinth, accompanied Titus (2Co. 8:18, 2Co. 8:19, 2Co. 8:22). — JFB TOC
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: Phil 1:1; 2 Grace [be] to you and peace from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ. Jn. 20:19,21; Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:3; Eph 1:2; 1Pet 1:2;
3 Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Eph 1:3; 1Pet 1:3; 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. 2Cor 7:6; 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. Ps 34:19; Ps 94:19; 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. 2Cor 4:17;
7 And our hope of you [is] stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so [shall ye be] also of the consolation. Lk. 22:28,29; 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: Acts 19:23; 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Jer 17:5; Jer 17:7; 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver [us]; 1Cor 15:31; 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. Rom 15:30; Phil 1:19; 2Cor 4:15;
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 Jesus. Phil 2:16; 1Thess 2:19;
15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; 1Cor 16:5; 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 Judaea. 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 nay. Matt 5:37; Jas 5:12; 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. Lk. 1:72; 2Pt. 1:4;
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. Rom 8:16; 2Cor 5:5; Eph 1:13; 4:30; 23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. Rom 1:9; Rom 9:1; 2Cor 11:31; Gal 1:20; Phil 1:8; 1Thess 2:5; 1Tim 5:21; 2Tim 4:1; 24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. 1Pet 5:3; TOC
Commentary: 2 Corinthians 1 - St. Paul encourages them to trust in God in all adversities, from a consideration of the support which he had granted them already in times of afflictions; and expresses his strong confidence of their fidelity, 2Co. 1:1-7. Mentions the heavy tribulation which he had passed through in Asia; as also his deliverance, 2Co. 1:8-11. Shows in what the exultation of a genuine Christian consists, 2Co. 1:12. Appeals to their own knowledge of the truth of the things which he wrote to them, 2Co. 1:13, 2Co. 1:14. Mentions his purpose of visiting them; and how sincere he was in forming it; and the reason why he did not come, as he had purposed, 2Co. 1:15-24. — Clarke
2 Corinthians 1 - Overview
2Co. 1:1, Paul salutes the Corinthians; 2Co. 1:3, he encourages them against troubles, by the comforts and deliverances which God had given him, as in all his afflictions, 2Co. 1:8, so particularly in his late danger in Asia; 2Co. 1:12, And calling both his own conscience and theirs to witness of his sincere manner of preaching the immutable truth of the gospel, 2Co. 1:15. he excuses his not coming to them, as proceeding not of lightness, but of his lenity towards them. — TSK
We are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The Lord is able to give peace to the troubled conscience, and to calm the raging passions of the soul. These blessings are given by him, as the Father of his redeemed family. It is our Saviour who says, Let not your heart be troubled. All comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him. He speaks peace to souls by granting the free remission of sins; and he comforts them by the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit, and by the rich mercies of his grace. He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and also to give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows. The favours God bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also that we may be useful to others. He sends comforts enough to support such as simply trust in and serve him. If we should be brought so low as to despair even of life, yet we may then trust God, who can bring back even from death. Their hope and trust were not in vain; nor shall any be ashamed who trust in the Lord. Past experiences encourage faith and hope, and lay us under obligation to trust in God for time to come. 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 received. Thus both trials and mercies will end in good to ourselves and others.
Though, as a sinner, the apostle could only rejoice and glory in Christ Jesus, yet, as a believer, he might rejoice and glory in being really what he professed. Conscience witnesses concerning the steady course and tenor of the life. Thereby we may judge ourselves, and not by this or by that single act. Our conversation will be well ordered, when we live and act under such a gracious principle in the heart. Having this, we may leave our characters in the Lord's hands, but using proper means to clear them, when the credit of the gospel, or our usefulness, calls for it.
The apostle clears himself from the charge of levity and inconstancy, in not coming to Corinth. Good men should be careful to keep the reputation of sincerity and constancy; they should not resolve, but on careful thought; and they will not change unless for weighty reasons. Nothing can render God's promises more certain: his giving them through Christ, assures us they are his promises; as the wonders God wrought in the life, resurrection, and ascension of his Son, confirm faith. The Holy Spirit makes Christians firm in the faith of the gospel: the quickening of the Spirit is an earnest of everlasting life; and the comforts of the Spirit are an earnest of everlasting joy. The apostle desired to spare the blame he feared would be unavoidable, if he had gone to Corinth before he learned what effect his former letter produced. Our strength and ability are owing to faith; and our comfort and joy must flow from faith. The holy tempers and gracious fruits which attend faith, secure from delusion in so important a matter. — MHCC
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.
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 (2Co. 1:3-6); and it is fit that in all things, and in the first place, God be glorified. Observe,
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 patēr kuriou hēmōn Iēsou 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, Jn. 20:17. 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. Gal. 3:16. 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, Mic. 7:18. 3. The God of all comfort; from his proceedeth the COMFORTER, Jn. 15:26. He giveth the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts, 2Co. 1:22. All our comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him.
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 tribulations, 2Co. 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 Christ, 2Co. 1:5, because Christ sympathized with his members when suffering for his sake) did abound, but their consolation by Christ did abound also. Note, (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 (2Co. 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 (2Co. 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.
In these verses the apostle speaks for the encouragement and edification of the Corinthians; and tells them (2Co. 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 (2Co. 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 Acts 19, or the fight with beasts at Ephesus, mentioned in the former epistle (1Co. 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 (2Co. 1:8), and thought they should have been killed, or have fainted away and expired. 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, 2Co. 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, 2Co. 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, Rom. 4:17. 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, 2Co. 1:10. Having obtained help of God, they continued to that day, Acts 26:22. 4. What use they made of this deliverance: We trust that he will yet deliver us (2Co. 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, 1Sa. 17:37. 5. What was desired of the Corinthians upon this account: That they would help together by prayer for them (2Co. 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 received.
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 (2Co. 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 (2Co. 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 to Judea (2Co. 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, 2Co. 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 truth, 2Co. 1:18, 2Co. 1:19. 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, 2Co. 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 (2Co. 1:19), nothing but infallible truth. And the promises of God in Christ are not yea and nay, but yea and amen, 2Co. 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. For, 1. They are the promises of the God of truth (2Co. 1:20), of him that cannot lie, whose truth as well as mercy endureth for ever. 2. They are made in Christ Jesus (2Co. 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, Heb. 7:22. 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, 2Co. 1:21, 2Co. 1:22. 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 God (2Co. 1:20) for the glory of his rich and sovereign grace, and never-failing truth and faithfulness.
III. The apostle gives a good reason why he did not come to Corinth, as was expected, 2Co. 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, 2Co. 1:24. Christ only is the Lord of our faith; he is the author and finisher of our faith, Heb. 12:2. He reveals to us what we must believe. Paul, and Apollos, and the rest of the apostles, were but ministers by whom they believed (1Co. 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 faith. — Henry