Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Second Corinthians 1:15-22 is part of the long introduction to this book. We have pointed out that Paul wrote such a long introduction in order to calm down the Corinthian believers and to soothe them. The complicated Corinthians talked about Paul and even criticized him. Some may have said, “Paul told us that he would come to Corinth, but he has not yet come. Paul seems to be changeable; he says yes one day and no the next day. Thus, Paul is not faithful or trustworthy. Let him say whatever he wants. He always changes his word.” Because this was the situation with at least some of the Corinthians, Paul included 1:15-22 in his word of introduction.
Verse 15 says, “And in this confidence I intended to come to you previously that you might have a second grace.” By “this confidence” Paul is referring to what he has just said in verses 12 through 14: the testimony of his conscience that he and his co-workers conducted themselves in the singleness and sincerity of God, not in human wisdom, but in the grace of God. It was in this confidence Paul intended to come to the Corinthians. His intention and decision to visit Corinth were not political or changeable. Paul and his co-workers did not live in such a way. On the contrary, they lived in the singleness and sincerity of God. Their yes was yes, and their no was no. They did not say yes at one time and no at another.
In verse 15 Paul speaks of the Corinthians having a second grace. This is a double grace by the apostle’s coming to Corinth twice, once referred to in this verse, and again, referred to in the next verse. Through the apostle’s coming, the grace of God, that is, the imparting of God as the life supply and spiritual enjoyment, is bestowed upon the believers. His two comings would bring them a double portion of such grace.
Verse 16 says, “And through you to pass through into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be sent forward to Judea.” Macedonia was a province of the Roman Empire, north of Achaia, in which were the cities of Philippi and Thessalonica.
In verse 17 Paul asks, “This therefore intending, did I then use fickleness? Or the things which I resolve, do I resolve according to the flesh, that with me there should be yes, yes and no, no?” Fickleness here means changeableness, turning from one thing to another. Here Paul indicates that he did not use fickleness; he did not change from yes to no and from no to yes. Furthermore, he did not resolve according to the flesh. To resolve is stronger than to decide. Paul was not two-faced. He did not say yes and no at the same time, for he did not resolve anything according to the flesh.
In verse 18 Paul declares, “But God is faithful, that our word toward you is not yes and no.” “But” gives a contrast. In the preceding verse the apostle refers to the charge that he is a man of yes and no. In this verse he defends himself by saying that God is faithful, so that the word of their preaching is not yes and no. Hence, neither are they fickle persons of yes and no. Their being is according to their preaching. They lived according to what they preached. The word of the apostles’ preaching (1 Cor. 1:18) in verse 18, their word toward the Corinthians, was their message concerning Christ (v. 19).
In verse 18 Paul indicates that he was one with God. Paul did not use fickleness; he did not say yes and then no. Rather, he was the same as God in being faithful. His word toward the Corinthians, the word of his ministry, was not yes and no. Paul did not change his tune. From the first time he came to the Corinthians until the writing of this Epistle, his preaching sounded the same note. There was no change at all in the word of the ministry.
In verse 19 Paul continues, “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, Who was preached among you through us, through me and Sylvanus and Timothy, did not become yes and no, but in Him is yes.” “For” indicates that what follows is an explanation of what is mentioned in the preceding verse. God is faithful, never changing, especially in His promises concerning Christ, so that the word the apostles preached concerning Christ is likewise never changing, because the very Christ whom God promised in His faithful word and whom they preached in their gospel did not become yes and no, but in Him is yes. Since the Christ whom they preached according to God’s promises did not become yes and no, the word they preached concerning Him was not yes and no. Not only their preaching but also their living was according to what Christ is. They preached Christ and lived Him. They were not men of yes and no, but men who were the same as Christ.
In verse 20 Paul says, “For whatever promises of God there are, in Him is the Yes; wherefore also through Him is the Amen to God, for glory through us.” “For” again gives the reason for what is mentioned in the preceding verse. Christ, whom the faithful God promised and whom the sincere apostles preached, did not become yes and no, did not change, because in Him is the Yes of all the promises of God, and through Him is the apostles’ and believers’ Amen to God for His glory. Christ is the Yes, the incarnate answer, the fulfillment of all the promises of God to us. The Amen here is the Amen given by us through Christ to God (see 1 Cor. 14:16). Christ is the Yes, and we say Amen to this Yes before God. The phrase “for glory” means for the glory of God. When we say Amen before God to the fact that Christ is the Yes, the fulfillment, of all the promises of God, this is a glory to God through us.
The “us” in verse 20 refers not only to the apostles, who preached Christ according to God’s promises, but also to the believers, who received Christ according to the apostles’ preaching. Through both there is glory for God when they say Amen to Christ as the great Yes of all God’s promises.
It is not a matter of great importance to decide to go to a certain place. This certainly cannot compare with a major decision like the decision to get married. Nevertheless, the Corinthians criticized Paul over such a small matter. Some of them probably said, “Paul said that he would come to Corinth, but he hasn’t come. This proves that he is a man of yes and no.” Paul defended himself against this accusation. Thus, even in this Epistle of encouragement, there is an aspect of argument and vindication.
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