Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider just three verses, 1:12-14. In these verses there is something very deep, not in doctrine but in experience. If we have not had the experience described here, we shall not be able to understand what Paul is talking about in these verses. Apparently Paul’s word here is simple and easy to understand; actually Paul is referring to something deep and profound.
In verse 12 Paul says, “For our boasting is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in singleness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we conducted ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you.” Here Paul says that their boasting was the testimony of their conscience regarding the way they lived and behaved themselves. We need insight to understand what Paul means.
The Greek word rendered singleness in verse 12 can also be translated simplicity. Instead of singleness or simplicity, some manuscripts read holiness. The deep thought and rich experience found in verse 12 are mainly related to the Greek word that means singleness, sincerity. In the New Testament this word is used at least five times. Different translations adopt different renderings: singleness, simplicity, liberality, generosity, bounty. Without adequate experience, it would be difficult to decide which word to use in the translation here.
Verse 12 opens with the word “for,” indicating that this verse is to be an explanation of the preceding verses. Thus, in order to understand verse 12, we need to keep in mind what Paul has said in the foregoing verses. Paul has just pointed out to the Corinthian believers that he and his co-workers were in a death situation. In verse 10 he testified that God had delivered them “out of so great a death.” Every difficulty, problem, or hard situation can be changed by human power, strength, wisdom, or methods. The only exception is death. No human being has a way to handle a situation of death. Wealthy people can solve problems by writing a check for a large amount of money. There is a proverb which says, “Money goes everywhere.” This means that money can solve every problem. But not even the wealthiest person can handle a death situation. When death comes to a millionaire, no amount of money can enable him to avoid it. Before writing this Epistle, Paul was in a death situation. Humanly speaking, there was no way out of that situation. But for the apostle, and for those who believe in resurrection, there is a way out. The God of resurrection is the way.
The situation in which Paul found himself in Asia forced him to be single or simple in the way he dealt with it. Those who are rich, strong, or knowledgeable are not single in the way they deal with difficult situations. On the contrary, they apply their knowledge, their wisdom. If a certain method does not work, they turn to another method. Their mind is very complicated; they are far from being simple. Because they are knowledgeable and capable, they have many ways to deal with situations. A person who has many ways to deal with situations surely is not simple.
According to the preceding verses, Paul and his co-workers were in a situation that restricted them to such an extent that no human way was of any help. Only one way was available to them: the God of resurrection. They were not just in difficulty or afflictions, and they did not just have problems. They were in death. No matter how knowledgeable, capable, or wealthy we may be, there is nothing we can do about a death situation. For Paul and his co-workers, the only way of escape was the God of resurrection.
A dead person is always simple. A living person, however, is not simple. On the contrary, he always has a way to face a situation. We human beings are not simple. We all have many different ways. But blessed are they who are simple. What kind of person can be simple? Only a dead person. When Paul and his co-workers were suffering affliction in Asia, they were pressed to such an extent that they regarded themselves as dead. They had no way to deal with their situation. Their confidence was not in themselves; it was only in the God who raises the dead.
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