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Summary: The fact that Paul first made an unscheduled visit and then cancelled his second scheduled visit to Corinth gave his opponents another reason to criticize him. He had not carried out his promise.

March 22, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

Lesson II.A.1.b: His Plan. (1:15-22)

2nd Corinthians 1:15-22 (NKJV)

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.

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?

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.

21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,

22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Commentary

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.

And in this confidence I intended to come to you before. The confidence that Paul refers to is expressed in the preceding verse—“. . . that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. 1:14). Paul had based his travel plans on the confidence that the Corinthians were taking pride in him, just as he was in them. He had made a quick unscheduled visit to Corinth. But when he had arrived, he discovered quite a different atmosphere at that church. At least a portion of its members had rejected him and renounced his authority. Paul would later call this a “painful visit,” one which caused a breach in the Corinthians’ intimate relationship with him (2 Cor. 2:1{1]). This “painful visit” was quick because Paul had to hurry on to visit the churches in Macedonia. But while he was in Corinth, he had promised to visit the Corinthians on the way back (1 Cor. 16:5-7{23]).

Paul changed his travel plans, however. Instead of visiting Corinth on the way back from Macedonia and Achaia (present day Greece), Paul most likely sailed directly to Ephesus. Paul had made his original plans thinking that the church had solved most of its problems. When the time came for Paul’s scheduled trip to Corinth, however, the crises had not been fully solved (although progress was being made in some areas (see 2 Cor. 7:11-16{2]). So Paul wrote a letter instead (2 Cor. 2:3-4{3]; 7:8{4]). He believed that another visit would only make matters worse.

The fact that Paul first made an unscheduled visit and then cancelled his second scheduled visit to Corinth gave his opponents another reason to criticize him. He had not carried out his promise. Consequently, in 2 Corinthians, Paul spent much of the letter defending his honesty to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:12)

The Greek words Paul uses in these verses emphasize his sincerity. First, he wanted to communicate that he had made his plans carefully. Paul used a Greek word for “planned” that conveys a strong act of will—basically, a thought-out decision. Second, Paul wanted to emphasize the motives behind his actions, which he reveals in the rest of the verse . . .

That you might have a second benefit—the root of the Greek word for “benefit” is charis the word commonly translated as “grace.” Paul used charis in this context to mean “joy,” “kindness,” “pleasure,” or “benefit.” Thus he was saying that he would have two opportunities—because of the two visits—to show kindness to the Corinthians. In contrast, the visit turned out not to be a joy but a burden and a source of pain.

With his careful choice of words, Paul was trying to express his motives clearly to the Corinthians. He had made intentional plans for their mutual spiritual benefit. The abrupt change in Paul’s travel plans were for the same reason: He cancelled his visit to Corinth because he wanted the best for them.

The Corinthians had misread Paul, and in this letter he had to explain his motives. Paul’s predicament is a clear warning to all Christians. Christians not only must pursue what is right in all circumstances, but they should also make sure their course of action effectively communicates their sincere motives.

And be helped by you on my way to Judea. Paul hoped that the Corinthian believers would help him on his way to Judea—probably by their hospitality, lodging prayers, and an escort for part of his journey, but not by their money, since he later stated his determination not to accept funds from them (2 Cor. 11:7-10). The only exception would be their contribution to the offering he was accepting from all the churches for the poor in Jerusalem.

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