Discussion Notes for 2 Corinthians
Opening – 2 Corinthians 1:1-2
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:
- Discuss the significance of Paul calling himself an Apostle.
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Words of Comfort and Consolation – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
- Discuss the qualities of God which the apostle Paul emphasized.
- [TT] In vs. 3-7, Paul uses the word comfort/consolation some 10 times. As JD notes, the 2 words are related to each other. Could this be tied to the theme of his book?
- [ER] He returns to the theme of comfort in 2 Corinthians 7:5-9 as he describes his relief at hearing the good report about them from Titus. That seems to explain his emphasis on comfort in chapter 1.
4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
- Definition: Comfort
- “parakaleo (παρακαλέω, 3870), the most frequent word with this meaning, lit. denotes ‘to call to one’s side,’ hence, ‘to call to one’s aid.’” (Vine’s)
- [JD] Discuss how God comforts us.
- [ER] Interesting to note that God comforts us “in” our affliction, not by removing it. Paul continued to “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings” (vs. 5).
- [JD] Discuss how we can comfort those who “are in any trouble.” Sometime we may get caught up in our own suffering and anguish so much so we are blind to the sufferings of others. Some people find a sense of relief from their own suffering when they are able to help others in their suffering.
- [ER] In order to comfort others, we must have the Word in our hearts and on our tongues. From a Messianic prophecy: “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.” (Isa. 50:4, ESV)
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
- Definition: Consolation
- “paraklesis (παράκλησις, 3874), means ‘a calling to one’s side’ (para, ‘beside,’ kaleo, ‘to call’); hence, either ‘an exhortation, or consolation, comfort,’” (Vine’s)
- [JD] Discuss how the sufferings of Christ abound in us.
- [JD] Is Paul talking about the righteousness, which comes as a result of the suffering of Christ, abounding within us?
- [JD] Or is Paul talking about us suffering with Christ as a result of our righteous obedience unto Him?
- [JD] Since the verse points towards consolation abounding through Christ, our suffering with Christ may be what Paul is referencing. Verse 7 would also confirm this. [ER] Gary Kerr used to have this quote as his e-mail signature: “Christ suffered, not that we might not suffer, but that our suffering might be like his.”
- [JD] Consider . . .
- How did the sufferings of Christ abound in the Corinthians (vs 7)?
- How could the suffering of Christ abound in us today?
- [JD] Discuss how “our consolation also abounds through Christ.”
- [JD] Romans 8:35-39 brings to light the reason for our consolation through Christ.
6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
- ESV – If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
- [JD] “If we are afflicted . . .” Compare this to Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10.
- [JD] Consider what modern day situations under which our (elders, preachers, teachers, etc.) affliction and comfort may be for the “comfort and salvation” of others.
7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
- Discuss Paul’s hope for the Corinthians?
Difficulties in Asia – 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia:that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
- [JD] The scriptures are not specific regarding the troubles which Paul and others faced in Asia. However, in 1 Corinthians 15:32, Paul referenced fighting with “beasts at Ephesus.” [ER] Riot in Ephesus in Acts 19 would fit into the timeline of 2 Corinthians. “About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way” (Acts 19:23, ESV).
- [JD] The mentioning of these troubles points toward Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.
- Verse 8: “We are hard- pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;”
- Verse 17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,”
- [PDA] I thought is was notable that here we see an apostle saying that the trouble was so severe he “despaired even of life”. It seems we all have stronger and weaker moments. That is why we need comfort and consolation from God, His word, and one another.
9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
- [JD] This verse shows the apostle’s trust in the Lord in being able to raise them from the dead. It is likely Paul is referencing the resurrection at judgment. However, it may point towards a belief in God to literally restore them to life if He so chose.
- [PDA] Paul seems at peace with this “sentence”. He trusts in God’s care and wisdom. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
- [JD] The Lord had delivered Paul and others from the “sentence of death” seen in verse 9. They had faith God would continue to deliver them.
11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
- Discuss some troubles we may face and the help that can be provided for us.
- [PDA] Sometimes we say/think … well, I can’t do anything else, so I’ll just pray.” Praying is doing something!
Paul’s Boast – 2 Corinthians 1:12-14
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
- Definition: Boast
- kauchesis (καύχησις, 2746) denotes ‘the act of boasting,’” (Vine’s)
- Discuss how Paul uses the word “boast” in this context.
- [ER] I just noticed that boasting is a recurring theme in this letter. It occurs 23 times (in the ESV). He often clarifies what he does boast in and what he doesn’t, and compares his boasting to that of the false apostles.
- [PDA] I was thinking about how everyone can understand what it takes to be saved. Those with limited education or a PHD can be saved, simple thinkers of philosophers.
13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end
- [PDA] When Paul wrote, the recipients could understand. “… when you read, you may understand …” (Ephesians 3:4)
14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
- [PDA] There seems to be an emphasis on mutual appreciation in being one another’s boast. We need one another – a reality to appreciate.
Paul’s Confidence – 2 Corinthians 1:15-20
15 And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit—
16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea.
- Discuss how the brethren could have helped Paul.
17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?
- (TT) – Paul here is simply stating that as he made plans he had every intention to fulfill them, but things happen. The ‘yes,yes’ and ‘no,no’ are statements that mean absolutely and with no exception.
18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.
20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
- [JD] – Regarding verses 15-20, it may be Paul was stating he did not plan his according to the flesh “vacillating” (ESV) back and forth between yes and no. He then goes on to point out that God does not “vacillate” between yes and no. Jesus Christ is certain as to what He has said and God’s promises are always yes.
- [JD] – Regarding verses 15-20, it may ALSO be Paul is simply pointing out that the decision of where to go and where not to go was not his decision to make, but the Lord’s. Consider . . .
- Verse 15-16 – Paul intended to return to visit the church in Corinth.
- Verse 17 – Paul asks, “Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?”
- The ESV reads, “Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?”
- I would suggest the answer to Paul’s question is no. He does not make plans according to the flesh leaving him with the final decision of yes and no.
- Verse 18 – Just as God’s word is faithful, Paul did not make his plans according to the flesh.
- Verse 19-20 – Paul’s plans were ultimately up to God’s decision. It was for God to say yes.
Established By Faith – 2 Corinthians 1:21-24
21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,
- Definition: Established
- Definition: Anointed
22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
- Discuss how the Spirit is given in our hearts as a guarantee.
23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.
24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.