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The Epistles of Paul - 2 Corinthians Part 1: The Affliction of the Anointed
According to the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians is attested to in 2 ancient Great Uncial manuscripts dating to the 4th century (א and B), 4 dating to the 5th century (A, C, I 016, and 048), and 7 dating to the 6th century (D, H 015, 0186, 0223, 0225, 0285 and 0296). It is also attested to in the Chester Beatty papyrus labeled P46, which is esteemed to date to circa 200 AD. The 28th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece adds to that list the more recently discovered papyrus P99, which is dated to around 400 AD and in which are preserved considerable fragments of chapters from throughout the epistle, as well as the 5th century papyrus P117 which contains portions of chapters 7 and 8, and the 6th century papyrus P124 in which is preserved fragments of chapter 11. Therefore the contents of the epistle are well attested from ancient sources.
After spending approximately three years in Ephesus, Paul of Tarsus had departed from the city in 56 AD. We can date his departure by reckoning backwards from the time of his detention in Caesareia which is given by Luke in the final chapters of the Book of Acts, in relation to the tenures of office of the Roman procurators Festus and Felix which are known from secular history. For this the primary witness in Luke's writing is at Acts 24:26-27 which states of Antonius Felix that “He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.” While historians are divided over whether it was 58 AD or 59AD, the one year difference in the chronology is close enough for us. We cannot be absolutely certain, but for various historical reasons we are confident that the year was 59, and we can count back through the Book of Acts to this point in 56 AD.
Departing Ephesus, Paul went through the Troad and on to Makedonia, as he had outlined in his first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 16: “5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. 7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. 8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” Paul sent Timothy and Erastus out from Ephesus to Makedonia ahead of him (Acts 19:22). However reading the account in the Book of Acts, and seeing that after the trouble with the silversmiths that Paul had left Ephesus unexpectedly, it is unclear as to whether he had actually managed to stay there until after Pentecost. We then read in the opening of Acts chapter 20: “1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. 2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece”. We only learn from Paul's later address to the elders of the Ephesians that Paul had been in Ephesus three years, as it is recorded in Acts 20:31.
We know from his epistle to Titus that Paul had stopped in the Troad en route to Makedonia, and had hoped to find Titus there. That this is the context of the epistle to Titus, we can see from where he had explained in 2 Corinthians chapter 2 that “12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.” In the Troad, Paul must have found where to reach Titus, since he wrote his epistle to Titus some short time later, and he said (in Titus chapter 3): “ 12 When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.” Here we also learn that even though before leaving Ephesus Paul had planned on wintering in Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:6), after he had left Ephesus and before writing to Titus he decided to winter in Nicopolis instead (Titus 3:12).
The reasons for Paul's changing his mind and delaying his visit to the Corinthians are explained by Paul here in the first two chapters of this second epistle. In the meantime Paul must have received an answer to his first epistle to the Corinthians which in some ways had upset him, because he had also grieved the Corinthians with his first epistle. The primary reason for that grief was Paul's insistence that the Corinthians expel a certain fornicator from their assembly. We shall discuss these things in greater detail when we encounter them here later in our presentation of the epistle. With this understanding, however, it is evident as to why Paul first planned on wintering in Corinth, and later decided to winter in Nicopolis instead. We can confidently assert that this epistle was written as Paul's response to the Corinthians' reply to his first epistle.
Many commentaries claim that Paul spent this winter in Nicopolis in Macedonia. This claim is even found in some of the manuscripts from the 6th century and later in the form of a subscript to the epistle to Titus. There was evidently a city named Nicopolis in Thrace, near to Macedonia. However if Paul wintered there, he could never have traveled to Greece after the end of winter, spent three months in Greece, and then have made it back through Macedonia to the Troad and on to Miletus and Palestine to arrive in Jerusalem before the Pentecost, as it is recorded that he was resolved to do in Acts 20:16. The entire space from the end of winter, which is traditionally the end of February, unto the Pentecost would be less than 5 months in the year 57 AD. If Paul stayed the winter in Nicopolis in Makedonia and then spent three months in Greece, all this would have been impossible to do since there were not even three full months between the end of winter and the date of Pentecost. Rather, there were a few days short of three months, Pentecost that year being in the last week of May.
We must bear in mind that Luke distinguished Greece from Macedonia in Acts 20:1-3. There was another Nicopolis, a city founded by Augustus in 31 BC, which was in the mainland area of Greece which was a part of the Roman province of Achaia, in the region of the ancient kingdom of Epirus. Spending three months in Greece, two of those months (January and February) must have been during the winter in Nicopolis of Epirus. In that manner the statements by Luke (Acts 20:2-3) and Paul (Titus 3:12) are seen to be accurate and can easily be reconciled with the timing of Paul's travels.
This would afford Paul the traditional two months for winter and a month to visit Corinth, completing Luke's “three months” in Greece. There would then be approximately 8 weeks left after the end of March to again go back again through Makedonia, spend a week in the Troad where the other apostles had also collected (Acts 20:4-6), to sail by Miletus to once again see the elders of the assemblies of Asia, and make it to Jerusalem by sea in time for the Pentecost near the end of May. The Passover that year being in early April, Paul had from the end of March until nearly the end of May for this journey to Jerusalem from Corinth.
Therefore from Nicopolis, during the winter and just before Paul had gone on to visit Corinth in March of 57 AD, he had written this second epistle to the Corinthians. While he was in Nicopolis, he wrote this second epistle to the Corinthians. This can be established by comparing Paul's request in the epistle to Titus, where he asked Titus to meet him in Nicopolis, to 2 Corinthians chapter 7 where Paul describes the coming of Titus as he had requested. In 2 Corinthians chapter 8 we see that Titus went ahead of Paul into Corinth to deliver this second epistle. Then in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul merely speaks of Titus as if he is already in Corinth and the Corinthians are reading his words concerning him.
1 Paul, ambassador of Yahshua Christ by the will of Yahweh, and Timotheos the brother, to the assembly of Yahweh which is in Korinth, with all of the saints who are in the whole of Achaia, 2 favor and peace to you from Yahweh our Father and Prince Yahshua Christ.
As we have already stated, Timothy was with Paul in Ephesus, and Paul had sent him along with Erastus to go ahead of him to Makedonia, which is recorded in Acts 19:22. Paul may have also expected Timothy and Erastus to precede him into Greece to Corinth as well as Makedonia, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 16:10 that “... if perhaps Timotheos should come, you see that he may be without fear before you, for he performs the work of the Prince, even as I.” But Timothy could not have gone ahead into Corinth, and rather he must have stayed in Makedonia until he was reunited with Paul, because here we see that he is with Paul when this second epistle to the Corinthians is written, some short time before Paul gets to Corinth. Titus, who is not mentioned at all in Acts chapters 19 or 20, is later sent by Paul to deliver this second letter to the Corinthians. Timothy, being with Paul in the Troad as Luke describes it in Acts chapter 20, must have stayed with Paul at this time.
Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians was addressed to the Corinthians, of course, and also to “all those calling themselves by the name of our Prince Yahshua Christ in each place, theirs and ours”, where perhaps each may have been better rendered as every. Here we may determine what he had meant by that, where he addresses this second epistle not only to the Corinthians but to all of the “saints who are in the whole of Achaia”. In the first century the term Achaia referred to the Roman province which included the Peloponnesus, and parts of the southern mainland of Greece. Separate provinces were Epirus and Makedonia. Luke had evidently considered Epirus and Achaia to be Greece, as in Acts chapter 20 he distinguished from the Roman province of Macedonia, which was also mostly Greek.
It is clear elsewhere that Paul had expected his epistles to be shared among the assemblies not only to whom he had written, but also among those of neighboring places. For instance, in his epistle to the Colossians, Paul wrote in its closing verses “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” In other words, Paul had also written a now-lost epistle to the Laodiceans, and he expected the Colossians and Laodiceans to share with one another what he had written to each of them. The two cities were near one another in southwest Anatolia (Asia Minor). Likewise here, Paul must have expected this epistle to be shared with other, unnamed, Christian assemblies throughout this region of Greece.
3 Blessed is Yahweh, even the Father of our Prince, Yahshua Christ, the Father of compassions, Yahweh also is of all encouragement.
There is a Greek noun, παράκλησις (Strong's # 3874), which appears 6 times here in verses 3 through 7, and we have translated it as encouragement each time. There is a corresponding Greek verb, παρακαλέω (Strong's # 3870), which appears 3 times in verse 4 and once in verse 6, which is translated as encourage. According to the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon, the noun is “a calling to one’s aid, summons...a calling upon, appealing...an exhortation, address...encouragement” and the verb is “to call to one...to call to aid, call in, send for...to summon...to invite...to call to, exhort, cheer, encourage...to comfort, console....” These words occur frequently in Paul's writings, where according to the Moulton-Geden Concordance to the Greek Testament, the noun appears 17 times and the verb 54 times elsewhere in Paul's letters.
Part of the purpose of the Gospel was to comfort the children of Israel. From Isaiah chapter 35, from Brenton's Septuagint: “4 Comfort one another, ye fainthearted; be strong, fear not; behold, our God renders judgment, and he will render it; he will come and save us. 5 Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall speak plainly; for water has burst forth in the desert, and a channel of water in a thirsty land.” Likewise, from Isaiah chapter 40: “1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith God. 2 Speak, ye priests, to the heart of Jerusalem; comfort her, for her humiliation is accomplished, her sin is put away: for she has received of the Lord's hand double the amount of her sins. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. 4 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and all the crooked ways shall become straight, and the rough places plains.” Both of these passages were later used in the Gospel to describe the purpose of the Christ. It is this comfort to which Paul refers in his epistles.
This is summarized again in Isaiah chapter 41 where the Word of Yahweh says “ 27 I will give dominion to Sion, and will comfort Jerusalem by the way.” It is expressed also in Isaiah chapter 49: “ 8 Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I succored thee: and I have formed thee, and given thee for a covenant of the nations, to establish the earth, and to cause to inherit the desert heritages: 9 saying to them that are in bonds, Go forth; and bidding them that are in darkness shew themselves. They shall be fed in all the ways, and in all the paths shall be their pasture. 10 They shall not hunger, neither shall they thirst; neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them; but he that has mercy on them shall comfort them, and by fountains of waters shall he lead them. 11 And I will make every mountain a way, and every path a pasture to them.” In 2 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul cites this same passage in reference to the Corinthians, after exhorting them to be reconciled to God at the end of 2 Corinthians chapter 5. The comfort of the cast off and put away children of Israel is a frequent theme in the later portion of Isaiah, and Paul of Tarsus is teaching the fulfillment of that comfort, or, as we have here, encouragement in Christ.
4 He is encouraging us upon every one of our afflictions, for us to be able to encourage those in every affliction, through the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by Yahweh.
Isaiah chapter 54 speaks of the affliction of Israel, and prophecies the coming comfort: “11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. 12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. 13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” It was in this very teaching of the children of Israel in which Paul was engaged, whom he identified in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 as “Israel according to the flesh”, just as Isaiah had prophesied.
5 Because just as the sufferings of the Anointed are abundant to us, in that manner through the Anointed our encouragement also is abundant.
Paul is not talking about the sufferings of Christ alone. While it is true that Yahshua Christ was to suffer on behalf of the children of Israel, and Paul taught that as well, here he is referring to the same sufferings which Christians must also suffer, and the context supplied by verses 6 and 7 proves the interpretation of the Greek. So we translated the Greek word χριστός as anointed, believing that the singular noun refers to the group as well, to the entire body of Christ, which is Yahshua Christ as the head and includes His people Israel. This usage is apparent many times in Paul's epistles.
The affliction which Paul refers to here is that of the children of Israel collectively, and is referred to by Paul again in chapter 4, where the King James Version has him writing: “17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Ostensibly, this affliction is due to the seven times of the punishment which the children of Israel were prophesied to be subject to because of their disobedience in the Old Testament Kingdom. Even those turned to Christ would still suffer to some degree for this original apostasy. As the Word of Yahweh says in Amos 3:2: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” This punishment is ongoing until the time when the children of Israel finally have victory in Christ, as described in the Revelation and the fall of Mystery Babylon.
6 Now, whether we are afflicted on behalf of your encouragement and preservation, or if we are encouraged on behalf of your encouragement which is being produced in the endurance of the same sufferings by which we are also affected, 7 then our hope for you is steadfast, knowing that just as you are partners of the sufferings, in that manner also of the encouragement.
The Codex Claromontanus (D) and the Majority Text have verse 6 to read: “Now, whether we are afflicted on behalf of your encouragement and preservation (being produced in the endurance of the same sufferings by which we are also affected), or if we are encouraged on behalf of your encouragement and preservation,” with which the Codex Vaticanus (B) agrees although it varies slightly, omitting the last 2 words, “and preservation”. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Ephraemi Syri (C), and the 3rd century papyrus P46 which generally agrees.
Paul is about to mention the afflictions which he and the other apostles had in the task of spreading the Gospel. However he is also referring to the affliction of the Corinthians Christians. As we discussed while presenting 1 Corinthians chapter 7, where Paul had referred to the “present violence” in verse 26 he was referring to persecutions of Christians which they were suffering in the days of Claudius Caesar as well as Nero who succeeded him.
8 For we do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which happened [the MT interpolates “to us”] in Asia, because we were exceedingly oppressed, beyond ability, consequently for us to despair even of living.
Here Paul is almost certainly referring to the troubles with the silversmiths which had caused him to leave Ephesus sooner than he had expected. Ephesus was no mean city. Strabo called it the “largest emporium in Asia this side of the Taurus” (Geography, 14.1.24), referring to the mountains of central Anatolia. That meant that Ephesus was the largest merchant city in Asia Minor. In 27 BC, Augustus Caesar made the city the capital of the Roman province of Asia, favoring Ephesus over the the city of Pergamon which had long been the capital of the Attalic kingdom that Rome had succeeded for political control of the area.
Of the trouble with the silversmiths, in the records of this event in Acts 19:23 Luke had said that “there arose no small stir about that way”, referring to the new Christian creed. Luke also said that “the whole city was filled with confusion”. The desperation reflected by Paul's own description here, however, certainly shows that Luke's words were not at all overstated, but were rather modest. Paul was prepared to enter into the stadium and face the silversmiths, but at Acts 19:31 we read “And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theater.” Where the King James Version has “chief of Asia”, referring to men, it is a reference to the Asiarchs, the rulers of the people of the province who were appointed by the Romans. Then in Acts 19:35 we see that the announcement of the town clerk in response to the charges of the silversmiths was also favorable to the party of Paul, since the charges of the silversmiths were dismissed and evidently none of the Christians were actually harmed. This caused Paul to depart from the city, along with many of his Christians companions, however the hand of Yahweh is clearly evident because Paul was favored by the local rulers in spite of the fact that not only the pagan religious beliefs, but also the the economic life of the city had been threatened by the message of the Gospel.
In 1 Corinthians 15:32 Paul had said that he had “fought with beasts at Ephesus”, and it seems that he is also referring to the problem with the silversmiths there. If that is the case, then Paul wrote 1 Corinthians within the short period of time between that event and the time when he had left Ephesus. Yet in the terse manner in which the Book of Acts was written, it is also possible that there was more time between the trouble and when Paul had left Ephesus than Luke's words actually indicate. However there may also have been other events in Ephesus which were the cause for Paul's comment about fighting with beasts. In Acts chapter 19 it is recorded that Paul was teaching in the assembly halls, and it says in verse 9 that, “when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.” Following that is Luke's description of the episode with the vagabond Jews. Either of these events may have precipitated Paul's comments. After that, from Luke's records it seems that the message of the gospel had great success in Ephesus up until the trouble with the silversmiths.
In any event, where Paul says here that “we were exceedingly oppressed, beyond ability, consequently for us to despair even of living”, it is evident that the troubles which he had in Ephesus were much more dangerous than Luke's records in the Book of Acts indicate. This is actually a credit to Luke and to Acts, that such things were downplayed rather than having become fantastically exaggerated tales.
9 Yet we had within ourselves that sentence of death in order that we would rely not upon ourselves, but upon Yahweh who raises the dead; 10 who from so great a death has protected us, and will protect; in whom we trust because also still He will protect;
The 3rd century papyrus P46 has a plural form of the same phrase rendered as “so great a death”, where we may write “so many deaths”.
In Matthew chapter 10 Yahshua Christ had spoken to His disciples in reference to His enemies, and He said “ 24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Christ was tortured and killed by His enemies, and since the disciple is not above His master, the followers of Christ are subject to that same thing. True Christians can expect to be persecuted by the world, as the apostles were no better than Christ. This is another aspect of the “affliction of the anointed” to which Paul refers. The disciples of Christ were told to proclaim the Word of God from the housetops, and they were also told that they would suffer in the flesh for that proclamation. This is an inevitable result of the apostasy of the children of Israel, that those who love Yahweh would suffer from the majority who have no understanding. From Psalm 34: “21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”
Paul understood this, and the “sentence of death” he spoke of was the knowledge that he would die for the Truth of God as Yahshua Christ his Master had also died. Yet Paul was persuaded in faith that since it was his mission to preach the gospel, that he would ultimately be protected from harm for as long as his ministry endured. However understanding that the Adamic soul is indeed immortal, the Christian should not fear any man, and for this reason Paul had no fear of death. He had later professed in 2 Timothy chapter 1, written from Rome when he was indeed facing death: “8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”
Taking the understanding even further than this, Paul had understood that since he was appointed to preach the gospel, he had no choice but to preach the gospel even in the face of death. Therefore in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 he had exclaimed “... woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” As Christ said, “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body”.
Now we had illustrated when presenting Romans chapter 5 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that the Adamic man has an eternal spirit. However that does not mean that Yahweh God has no power over that spirit, and eternal life is a gift from God. All Adamic men have the promise of life. Yahweh's power over the life of the spirit does not by itself indicate that He will revoke that promise for any man.
11 you also cooperating on our behalf in prayers in order that from [P46 has “by”] many persons, the gift to us would be thanksgiving by many on our [P46 and B have “your”, which is contrary to the context] behalf.
Paul expresses confidence that the Corinthians were praying for him while he was in Ephesus. It is evident in many places that Paul had exchanged many letters with the various Christian assemblies, beyond the fourteen epistles which we have. We have already seen evidence of at least one lost epistle to the Corinthians, lost instructions to the Galatians, and a lost epistle to the Laodiceans. It is likely that Paul was frequently in contact not only with the assembly in Corinth, but with many of the other assemblies during his three years in Ephesus.
Concerning prayer, Yahshua Christ had said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 18, “19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
First Christians must agree in Christ, as Christ Himself had said in John chapter 18 that “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Hearing His voice, true Christians should in turn become one voice in the world, as Paul said in his epistle to the Romans, in chapter 15: “ 4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” Agreement with the Scriptures should result in the like-mindedness of Christians, of those who are “of the truth”, as Christ described His sheep, and in that manner can they truly gather in His Name. Agreeing with one another in prayer, they may have an expectation that their desires are fulfilled, so long as those desires also accord with the Word of God. Even Christ said to certain requests of the apostles, that “you know not what you ask” (see Matthew 20:21-22, Mark 10:37-38).
People simply praying for one another, however, is not enough by itself. Out in the world, people are constantly appealing for prayers or praying for others whom they do not even know. It is vanity to pray for an unrepentant sinner, unless one is praying that the sinner be shown the path to repentance. The apostle James, in chapter 5 of his epistle, had advised Christians to “16 Therefore acknowledge sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed. The entreaty of the righteous being employed prevails much.” The ability to acknowledge sin reflects an attitude of repentance. However even the sacrifices of wicked men are rejected, as it says in Proverbs 15:8: “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” James had also warned, in chapter 4 of the same epistle: “1 From where are battles, and from where are fights among you? Is it not from this: from your pleasures making war among your members? 2 You desire, and you have not. You murder and strive and are not able to succeed. You fight and battle. You do not have for reason that you do not request. 3 You request and do not receive for reason that you request evil, in order that you may be consumed in your pleasures!”
Most prayers offered by those in the world are vanity, as James adds, “4 Adulterers! Do you not know that the love of Society is hatred for Yahweh? He therefore who would desire to be a friend of Society establishes himself as an enemy of Yahweh! 5 Or do you suppose that vainly the Scripture says: “With envy yearns the spirit which dwells in us”? 6 But more greatly He gives favor, on which account it says: 'Yahweh opposes the arrogant, but He gives favor to the humble.'” The humble are those who are willing to submit themselves to God. Paul was confident, however, that the prayers of the Christians of Corinth were indeed effectual.
12 Therefore this is our reason to boast: the testimony of our conscience, that in sanctity and sincerity of Yahweh, (and not with fleshly wisdom, but with favor of Yahweh,) we have had our dwelling in the Society, and more extraordinarily in reference to you.
Rather than sanctity the King James Version has simplicity, following the Codex Claromontanus (D) and the Majority Text. The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
Paul esteems the keeping of a Christian walk as a reason to boast, but he is not necessarily admitting having boasted. According to Liddell & Scott, the Greek word καύχησις (Strong's # 2746) is a reason to boast. A related word, καύχημα (Strong's # 2745), is a boast and appears here in verse 14 where Paul speaks of the assembly, not of himself. The King James Version does not distinguish the words, having only rejoicing in both places.
In the final clause here Paul is complimenting the Corinthians for enriching the lives of the apostles with their fellowship. While he had spent at least 18 months in Corinth, which is recorded in Acts chapter 18, his words here certainly indicate that there was an ongoing relationship after he had departed.
13 For we do not write other things to you but those which you have read, or even know;
The 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Vaticanus want the words for the phrase “or even know”. Paul must be referring to the Scriptures, and is telling the Corinthians that he has written nothing to them which is contrary to the Scriptures, meaning the Old Testament writings which he so often cited in his earlier epistle. In that lengthy epistle, the few times Paul offered advice without Scripture he explicitly told them that there was no commandment, and that the advice was of his own opinion.
and I expect that even until the fulfillment you will know,
Here Paul seems to express a confidence that the things which he has communicated to the Corinthians will stand the test of time as well as they stand the test of comparison to Scripture. Our reading his epistles today are an attestation that Paul was right.
14 just as also you have known us to some degree, seeing that we are your boast, just as you also are ours in the day of [א and B add “our”; the text follows P 46, A, C, D, and the MT] Prince Yahshua.
The Greek word ἐπιγιγνώσκω (Strong's # 1921) is simply “to know” twice here in verse 13 and once in verse 14. The word usually implies a more precise meaning, as Liddell & Scott define it in part as “to look upon, witness, observe...to recognize, know again...” In various places in Paul's epistles we have rendered it as know, recognize, acknowledge, discover, and even observe. Without the prefix, the word γιγνώσκω (Strong's # 1097) is more typically to know. Another word from the same root is ἀναγιγνώσκω (Strong's # 314) is “to read” here and everywhere it appears in Paul's letters.
15 And with this confidence I had planned to come to you earlier [א wants “earlier”], in order that you would have a second favor ; 16 and by you to pass through into Makedonia, and again from Makedonia to come to you, and by you to be escorted into Judaea.
By “second favor” Paul means that he had initially wanted to visit Corinth twice, both before and after a sojourn to Makedonia. Apparently, before he left Ephesus he first planned on visiting Corinth, then sojourning to Makedonia and returning again to Corinth before going to Judaea, as he describes here. But Luke, who could have recorded these events in Acts only at a later time since he was not with Paul, wrote only what Paul had reflected in 1 Corinthians chapter 16, which was a plan to go to Makedonia first and then to Corinth. This part of Paul's travel plans are described in Acts 19:21, and that record agrees with what Paul had also said of these plans in 1 Corinthians 16. However Paul seems to have belabored visiting Corinth, and to have changed his plans in stages, so we only get the full picture here in this later epistle. First he cut his plans for going to Corinth from two visits to one, where he would winter there. In 1 Corinthians 16:7 he indicate this first change of plans where he says “For I will not see you now by the way”. Then he must have changed his plans further, deciding to winter elsewhere and making a much shorter visit than he planned initially.
Where it says “and by you to be escorted into Judaea”, in the Passive voice the Greek word προπέμπω (Strong's # 4311) may mean either “to be escorted” or “to be sent forth”, but the sense can often be determined by a preposition. Here, just as the same phrase appears in Romans 15:24, it is accompanied with a preposition and pronoun meaning “by you”. In both places, here and in Romans 15:24, the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Claromontanus have “from you”, where we would write “from you to be sent forth”, and with those manuscripts the Codex Vaticanus agrees in one place, and disagrees in the other.
17 Therefore planning this, had I indeed been in want of easiness? Or that which I plan, do I plan in accordance with flesh, in order that with me it would be ‘yea, yea’ then ‘nay, nay’? [P46 has only “... ‘yea’ then ‘nay’?”]
Paul's initial plans for visiting the Corinthians were sincere, even if he chose to change them due to the circumstances which he explains in detail in the second chapter of this epistle. Therefore he insists that he had purposed to be honest and consistent.
18 But trusting is Yahweh, seeing that our word to you is not [MT: “to you has not been”] ‘yea’, then ‘nay’.
In Matthew chapter 5 Yahshua Christ admonishes men not to swear, meaning to make oaths, and then He says “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Therefore Christian men should not swear, but should bind themselves to their own word. Later the apostle James writes, in chapter 5 of his epistle: “12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” The Christian should be careful with his communications, and seek to keep his word.
19 For the Son of Yahweh, Yahshua Christ, who among you has been proclaimed by us, (by me and Silovanos and Timotheos,) has not been ‘yea’ then ‘nay’, rather with Him it has been ‘Yes’. 20 For however so many of Yahweh’s promises there are, with Him is the Yes, and through Him the Truth, with honor to Yahweh through us.
The Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C) and 0223 have verse 20 to read in part “with Him is the Yes, on which account through Him the Truth”; the Majority Text has “with Him is the Yes, and in Him the Truth”; the text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Claromontanus (D).
The phrase τὸ ἀμὴν is rendered in the King James Version and others as “the amen” but here it is “the Truth”. We prefer to translate the original Hebrew word. Strong’s definition, found in his Hebrew lexicon at entry # 543, is sure or faithfulness and his concordance shows that in the King James Version of the Old Testament this and other closely related words were sometimes translated as truth. Where the adverb often appears in the Gospels as an exclamation, “amen, amen”, we prefer to render it as “truly, truly”.
It should be the purpose of man to honor and praise God. As the Word of God says in Malachi chapter 3, “6 For I am the LORD, I change not”, and as Paul attests of Christ in Hebrews chapter 13, “ 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Only God knows what comes, and therefore only God can keep His promises with certainty, while the plans of men often fail. In this same regard the apostle James once again says in chapter 4 of his epistle: “ 13, Come on, those now saying 'Today or tomorrow we shall go into this here city and we shall spend a year there and trade and make profit', 14 those who do not know what condition your life is in tomorrow! For you are as vapor appearing for a short time, and then disappearing. 15 Instead of which you are to say 'If the Prince [or Lord] desires and we shall live, then we shall do this or that.'”
The name Silovanos, or Silvanus in the King James Version, is known only from this mention here and two others which are seen in each of the two epistles to the Thessalonians, both of which were written some time before this epistle while Paul was actually in Corinth. So Silvanus was well known to the Corinthians. He must have also been known to the Ephesians, since he is probably also the same man mentioned by Peter in his first epistle, which was addressed to the assemblies of Asia. In the Book of Acts, it is apparent that Silvanus is indeed the same man as Silas, which is a shortened form of the name, and he is mentioned frequently as a companion of Paul's in chapters 15 through 18. Silvanus was with Paul from Antioch. It is interesting that Paul calls him by the full form of his name, while Luke, who was also from Antioch, calls him by the familiar form of the name. Perhaps that indicates that Luke was a friend of Silas from an early time, while Paul only knew him later and more formally.
Silvanus is not mentioned any later in time than this occasion here, except in Peter's epistle to the assemblies of Asia where in 1 Peter chapter 3 he mentions that he had also written to him. This helps to lend credibility to an argument we have made in the past, that Peter had written his two epistles to those assemblies after Paul's arrest, when Paul was absent from them. We would contend that Peter wrote those epistles for the edification of the assemblies which Paul had founded earlier, in order to confirm to them many of the things which Paul had taught.
21 Now He who is establishing us with you in the Anointed, and anoints us [C has “you with us”], is Yahweh:
The apostle John says to his students “Yet you have an anointing from the Holy One”, in chapter 2 of his first epistle. This helps to corroborate our assertion that Paul is often referring not to Christ alone, but to those Christians who are the Body of Christ when the uses the word χριστός.
22 who [א, A, and C want “who”] is also confirming us, and is providing the deposits of the Spirit in our hearts.
The Greek word for confirming is literally sealing. The Holy Spirit of the apostolic era was seen by Paul as a deposit for the greater things to come at the fulfillment of the age. He wrote in his epistle to the Ephesians, in chapter 1, speaking of Christ: “11 In whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being pre-ordained according to the purpose of He who accomplishes all things in accordance with the design of His will. 12 For which we are to be in praise of His honor, who before had expectation in the Christ, 13 in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth - the good message of your deliverance - in which also having believed, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, 14 which is a deposit of our inheritance, in regard to redemption of the possession, in praise of His honor. ”
23 Now I appeal to Yahweh as a witness upon my soul, that sparing you I had not yet come to Korinth.
Paul had initially planned on visiting Corinth even before going to Makedonia, which would have been shortly after Pentecost in 56 AD. Then he found it necessary to change that plan, go to Makedonia first, and then winter in Corinth. Later, he found it necessary to adjust his plans further, and put off going to Corinth until after winter. So here he is writing them during the winter, which he spends about two hundred miles away in Nicopolis, northwest of the isthmus which leads to Corinth.
24 Not because we lord over your faith, rather we are colleagues of your joy: for you are established in the faith.
Paul, the apostle of Christ to the nations, would not “lord over” the faith of those who he was reconciling to Christ. However he did seek to admonish them to follow the Scriptures, letting Christ become their Lord. In that manner they would be established in the faith and become his colleagues. Paul's attitude in this regard is an outright refutation of popery.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 2 Paul himself explains why he had to be sparing with the assembly, and also shows that how it was that he would not rule over their faith.