2 Corinthians 1:12-2:4

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

Observation

  • Paul boasted in the was simple godly sincerity of his behavior in the world.
  • Paul’s behavior was not according to worldly wisdom
  • Paul’s boast behavior was not his own doing but by the grace of God.
  • Paul’s behavior toward the Corinthians was supremely godly.
  • Paul is not writing any thing new to the Corinthians.
  • Paul hopes the Corinthians understood what he was writing to them.
  • The Corinthians did partially understand what Paul had told and written to them in the past.
  • Paul hopes the Corinthians understand what he is writing them so they can boast to the Lord Jesus about him.
  • Paul will boast to Jesus about the Corinthians on the day of the Lord Jesus.
  • Paul wanted to come to the Corinthians so they could have a second experience of grace.
  • Paul wanted to visit the Corinthians on his was to Macedonia and see them again on the return trip to Judea.
  • God is faithful.
  • Paul’s message was not contradictory or wishy washy.
  • When Paul, Silvanus and Timothy proclaimed Christ to the Corinthians they were very clear.
  • Paul, Silvanus andTimothy were clear because they spoke in Christ.
  • All the promises of God are found in Christ.
  • Because the promises of God are found in Christ Paul give his assent to Christ.
  • God gives Paul authority in Christ with the Corinthians
  • God anointed Paul and the Corinthians
  • God has put His seal on Paul and the Corinthians
  • God has given the His Spirit Paul and the Corinthians as a guarantee.
  • Paul call God to witness against him.
  • Paul did not come to the Corinthians because he wanted to spare them.
  • Paul did not lord it over the Corinthians’ faith.
  • Paul worked with the Corinthians
  • Paul worked with the Corinthians for their joy.
  • The Corinthians joy was in standing firm in the faith.
  • The Corinthians stood firm in their faith.

Interpretation

You might think Paul is bragging when he says in verse 12, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” Is not pride a sin? Is not boasting sinful. Paul is not saying he himself is the source, as if he had anything that was not given to him. He is not placing the foundation of his salvation on what he has done. He does not even glory in the gifts that have been given him in such a way as to suggest they bring glory to him. So what is Paul saying? Paul glorifies and acknowledges God as the source of everything he is and has done. In following Paul’s example, we must first acknowledge we are indebted to God for every good thing we have. Second, we must acknowledge God’s mercy and grace are the very foundation of our salvation. Third, we must acknowledge God is the sole author of every blessing. Then we along with Paul can glory in what God has done in our lives.

All the good deed we perform, our salvation is not our doing but God’s. But we are glory hogs. We love to bask in glory that is not ours. We try to appear to be something we are not. We want to be held in high regard by others. But our glory is a foreign glory. It belongs to God and is the result of Christ’s work not our work. Therefore, in the sight of God we stand only in the glory of Christ. That is why Paul does not find it enough for men to think he is sincere and behaved honorably. He calls on God as his witness.

In this section, Paul reminds the Corinthians the that, both his writings and preaching were not dishonest or sneaky or filled with hidden meanings. There were not ulterior motives. In the same way the scriptures are not written for scholars. We do not need a PhD in theology, bible or philosophy in order to understand what is being said. We simply need to be able to read. The word of God is clear for those who read it. But that is the key, those who read it. The problem today is we decide what we believe based on what seems right to us, or to our culture. We let others tell us what to believe, We read a verse or two at a time. Rarely if ever will we set down and read an entire book, fully in its context. We live in a modern or post modern culture that bases right and wrong on our own personal biases rather than God’s holy word.

I read Paul here with a little humor. When Paul says,”not with earthly wisdom,” I see Paul saying “If people may think I am an idiot. They can take it up with God.”

Paul is not writing anything new to the Corinthians. But it is clear that they only partially grasped what he had said before. Hopefully this time they will fully grasp it.

When speaking about the “the day of our Lord Jesus” He is referring to the last day. At that time all the temporary and bright shinny objects men glory in will be gone. Only that which is stable and grounded in Christ will remain.

After having telling the Corinthians to expect him at he end of his first letter, events occurred that prevented Paul from coming to the Corinth. The reason Paul wanted to come was first so the Corinthians they may be blessed again. Paul had devoted a year and a half to the Corinthians (Act 18:11). Therefore, they were indeed special to him. However, God prevented Paul from fulfilling his plans.

But God has kept and will continue to keep his promises. Paul reminds them God is faithful. Paul calls on God’s faithfulness as the pattern and guarantee for his own faithfulness. Paul reminds them that his gospel message was absolutely reliable and led to their salvation.

Verses 21 and 22 points to the roles of all three divine Persons in salvation. The Father causes Christ to come and anoints us with His seal. Christ is the one in whom we stand. The Spirit witnesses to us assuring us of God’s mercy and grace.

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