Did you know that you can listen to the entire book of 2 Corinthians in 33 minutes? One way to get a good overview of the book is to read it all in one sitting. Maybe you could set aside 33 minutes and read or listen to the whole thing.
You can read more about Corinth in the BACKGROUND for 1 Corinthians.
Paul wrote this second letter while in Macedonia on his way to Corinth for his third visit. He wrote it to answer questions that challenged his apostleship (1:12-7:16), his conduct (1:8-9), and his commitment to the Corinthians (1:10-13).
The themes in this book include trials and suffering, church discipline, hope, giving, and sound (as opposed to false) doctrine.
2 Corinthians 1
Timothy was one of Paul’s partners in ministry. He is mentioned in the greetings of Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. We learned in Acts 16 that he joined Paul at the beginning of his second journey.
The grace of God is often experienced in our deepest times of pain. The comfort that we receive from God can often be used to comfort others. Paul had experienced much suffering and hardship in serving God, but he saw great hope in the Lord’s deliverance (1:10). Some of the hardships on his missionary journeys are recorded in Acts 13:2-14:28 and Acts 15:40-21:17.
Starting in 2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul begins the defense of his apostleship by stating his conduct among the Corinthians was in holiness and truth. Conscience is used twenty-three times in Paul’s letters and his speaking ministry in Acts. The Corinthians accused Paul of deception and not caring for them because he had to change his plans in coming to them. Apparently they had accused him of “fleshly wisdom” (1:12), being careless with the will of God (1:17), and making plans to please himself.
Have you ever had someone misunderstand what you said or did? They go down a road of thought based on their false assumptions. Next thing you know, you are being confronted based on those assumptions, even calling your integrity and character into question. Instead of clarifying with you your intention or considering that their view might be incorrect and suspending judgment on you, they launch an attack based on their false assumptions. It is hard to convince someone of the error of those assumptions once they have gone down that road, and the misunderstandings can often escalate from there.
This is what happened between Paul and the Corinthians. They assumed Paul did not care for them because he did not come and see them, but he did not come see them for very legitimate reasons. They assumed he did not care and even accused him of using fleshly wisdom in his decision making. This is what Paul was defending in the last half of chapter one.
I was confronted based on someone’s false assumptions this week just as I was preparing this post. This quote from Warren Wiersbe was a balm to my soul:
Misunderstandings among God’s people are often very difficult to untangle, because one misunderstanding often leads to another. Once we start to question the integrity of others or distrust their words, the door is opened to all kinds of problems. But, no matter what his accusers might say, Paul stood firm because he had a clear conscience. What he wrote, what he said, and what he lived were all in agreement.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 1, p. 633)
In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always
a blameless conscience both before God and before men.
Lord, lead us into lives of integrity and truth. We ask this so that we might glorify Your name, Amen.