Vs. 12-14 – Paul is contending against accusations of insincerity and evasiveness. This is his fourth letter. We have the second and fourth letters, the first and third are lost to time. We do know that Titus carried the third letter to them. This is a letter in response to Titus’s report back to Paul, he is appealing to their knowledge of his conduct both with them and informing them that his conscience is clear.
He is not teaching or acting out of Human wisdom, out of worldly values, but by the grace of God
They have read the letters, or had them read to them, and he hopes they will completely understand what he is saying. He is encouraging them in their walk so that at Jesus’s return he can be proud of what they accomplished in Christ!
Paul is answering a charge against him for being wishy-washy on coming to visit. He is stating to them, and to us, that his walk matches his talk, as should all of ours if we want our witness to be believed.
Vs. 15-24 – He then explains what has happened. Paul told the Corinthians that he planned to come and see them and spend a winter with them after he went through Macedonia. But that plan did not work out, and Paul did not make it to Corinth as planned. This is just the sort of thing critics latch onto.
It made no difference to the critics that Paul ended his promise to come to them with these words in 1 Corinthians 16:7, “…if the Lord permits.” Paul knew that life did not always go according to his plan, and so he conditioned his promise. But this did not stop those critical of his motives. It is hard to believe that people, in total ignorance of the facts, will go off half-cocked and in righteous indignation, blast people as if they had direct access to what motivated them to do or say what they did.
It is nothing new, Paul had to fight it in his day as well. All kinds of misinformation was being spread about him, and it was those of the church who were doing it and believing it. That is why we see his self-defense in this letter, for if the falsehoods were allowed to stand his ministry would suffer.
His first argument is, “I do not feel guilty for my conduct, for my conscious is clear.” His promise to visit them was made in all sincerity, and he does not feel any guilt that he could not keep his promise, for that was out of his hands. He does not control all of life, and so the best he can do is plan and make a sincere effort to carry out that plan.
But no matter what they thought of him, he is trying to make sure that the message of the Gospel that he, Silas, and Timothy proclaimed to them was ‘Yes!’ Not ‘yes’ and ‘no’, every promise of God is ‘yes’ in Christ!
For it is God who pushes us to the finish line, who strengthens us, who has anointed us for a purpose, who has given us His Spirit and poured His love into our hearts. He has done all of this to enable us to do and be all that He commanded and as a promise, a seal, of eternal life.
And we are called to push one another towards that final day, “let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Vs. 1:23-2:4 – He did not come to them first in order to spare them another painful visit. God led him, by his grace, to go to Macedonia. He had already pushed them to live according to God’s will and purpose through a painful visit of confrontation to their sin and attitude toward him.
Our mission, like Paul’s, is being witness of and sharing the Gospel and pushing others towards that final day with the Good news, “Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” and we know that there were many, many witnesses to these facts (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).
- Are you a witness of God’s love, mercy, and grace in your words and actions?
- How are you sharing the Gospel?
- What is your purpose in the body of Christ, His Church?
Further Reading: Romans 4:25-5:21, Romans 15:8, Hebrews 10:19-25, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:5-8, John 20:21, Acts 1:8