Summary: Paul teaches us some important principles of God’s comfort in his response to their condition. Might not have 3rd letter because it was of such personal nature.
If we were to have all over Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth then this would be chapter 7 of his 4TH letter. 1st Corinthians would be letter number 2. We do not have his 3rd letter and by the tone we have in this chapter we can assess that letter number 3 was pretty harsh.
Paul was concerned about the reaction of the church but encourages them that God can comfort them in the sorrow his ministry to them must have produced.
Paul teaches us some important principles of God’s comfort in his response to their condition. Might not have 3rd letter because it was of such personal nature.
• Titus had made a visit to the church and then returned to give a report to Paul.
6 But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.
Paul was delighted by how Titus was treated by the church and that they expressed thru Titus and longing and zeal to see him again.
Titus isn’t mentioned in the book of Acts, but Paul mentions him 13 times in his letters. He is called his “son”, his “partner and fellow worker” and his “brother”. Titus probably came from Antioch and accompanied Paul to Jerusalem to give a gift to the famine stricken brothers. Titus became a test case of whether a Gentile needed to be circumcised to be a Christian (Gal.2:3).
He accompanied Paul on his third journey (the present one), being sent to Corinth at least once. Paul eventually leaves him in Crete to pastor the church there, and writes to him the letter of “Titus”. During Paul’s last imprisonment in Rome, he was with Paul awhile, then left to go to Dalmatia. (2Tim.4)
• Titus became a channel of COMFORT for Paul in his absence from the Corinthian church. Paul lived with a constant concern for the Christians and churches God had allowed him to have a ministry to. Any news was very welcome and he often mentioned a thankfulness for those who brought him news from time to time.
13 For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.
14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth.
15 His affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling.
16 I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.
comforts – parakaleo – call to one’s side, call for, summon; to admonish, console, encourage and strengthen. Same word used for the Holy Spirit. COMFORTER
It was very hard on Paul to have to confront this church over the problems they had: Problems such as Abusing gifts / Communion / Suing / Divorce and remarriage / Sexual immorality / Idolatry Huge issue – Tolerance of Man who was with his Fathers wife.
Paul struggled to the point of his own depression over the issue.
One Sunday morning in 1866, the famous preacher C. H. Spurgeon shocked 5,000 listeners from the pulpit of London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle announcing, “I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever gets to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.”
Martin Luther was subject to such fits of darkness that he would hide himself away for days, and his family would remove all dangerous implements from the house for fear he would harm himself.
At one point in his depression his wife entered the room he was in. She was dressed in total black. Luther asked who died and she said by the way he was acting God must have.
If these people and even Paul can get down I think all of us will not escape it from time to time. One person I read said that times of depression are when God is placing us where He can teach us truths that we otherwise won’t learn.
Paul told Galatians, “I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain” (Gal 4:11);
and he wrote to the Thessalonians, “For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain” 1 Thess 3:5
He must have been thankful for the news he received thru Titus.