2 Corinthians 1:19


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

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. 2 Corinthians 1:19

This verse shows us that Silas is the same as Silvanus mentioned elsewhere. With one name or another, he is mentioned in Acts and some of the epistles. But, along with this verse, the verse which ties the two as being the same person is Acts 18:5 –

“When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 18:5

Knowing who was with Paul at that time and then comparing it to the timing of this epistle, it is certain they are the same person. And so, using Silvanus and Timothy as support for his words to the Corinthians because they were both reputable souls, Paul continues with his defense concerning his actions.

He calls on an understanding of “the Son of God, Jesus Christ” by his audience. In this, he cannot be referring to a person who is an adopted son of God, but rather the true and only begotten Son of God. Hence, the highlighting of Him in this way – marking Him out as unique and distinct from all others. It was He “who was preached among you by us.” The truly begotten of the Father was the subject of their preaching. As this is so, their words are being tied into the truthfulness of their actions.

It would make no sense to preach the embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ, just to turn around and act in an untruthful manner. In essence, there is the “Proof of the unchangeableness of the doctrine from the unchangeableness of the subject of it, namely, Jesus Christ” (JFB Commentary).

The doctrine of those who preached was sure because of the One of whom they spoke. In Him what they communicated “was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.” The words “in Him was Yes” are literally, “Yes has come to pass in Him.” Jesus is the embodiment of truth and He demonstrated this in His life and actions. For a few corresponding verses which confirm this, we can go to the following –

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6

“For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37

“These things says He who is holy, He who is true.” Revelation 3:7

“And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” Revelation 19:11

As Jesus is so represented as the truth, and as Paul proclaimed the truth of Jesus, he himself, along with the others with him determined to always be as truthful as the One whom they proclaimed. There was no vacillating or wavering in a “Yes and No” but rather in Him was “Yes.”

Life application: Because we bear the name of Jesus, we need to ensure that our words to others reflect His character as well. As He is the embodiment of truth, let us always be truthful in the words we convey to others.

Lord God, it is so easy to fall into little untruths to cover up a fault or an unplanned event which arises. It’s not difficult to fall into outright lies as well when it will cover something we have done wrong. But Lord, I bear the name of Jesus who embodies truth itself. Because of this, I know that it is as important to be as truthful as I can be. Help me in this Lord. Help me to always be a person of integrity and honesty. When others see me, I pray that You will not be diminished in their eyes. Amen.


2 Corinthians 1:18


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. 2 Corinthians 1:18

Paul’s words here have been construed in various ways. The two predominant views are 1) that this is an oath. “As God is faithful, so are my words to you,” or 2) that God will vindicate him in his words to them. Either way, his words contain and relay the sense that what he has spoken and continues to speak to those at Corinth is in accord with the words of the Lord.

His “Yes” has meant “Yes” and his “No” has meant “No.” They were not fickle or faltering, but firm and fixed. This note of God’s faithfulness is not unique to this letter. It is a theme which he has transmitted often. Not only does he speak of God’s faithfulness to the Corinthians on several occasions, but also to those in other areas. One example is in his first letter to the Thessalonians –

“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

He also conveys this in his second letter to them as well –

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Paul wants those in Corinth to know that just as God is faithful, the words he has spoken are faithful. God is his witness to the integrity of his words.

Life application: Integrity is a dying attribute of people in the world today. But when one possesses it, they are remembered for it. As Christians, we are called to speak openly and honestly so that others may see in us truthful disciples of the Lord. We bear His name and therefore others will make value judgments concerning Him based on how we present ourselves.

Lord God, it is my hope and desire that when others interact with me, they will see someone who is truthful and willing to place his integrity above the temporary and fleeting passions of the world. I know that my every action may be evaluated by someone else, and that this will in turn reflect upon You. May I never conduct myself in a way which would diminish You in their eyes. May it be so. Amen.



2 Corinthians 1:17


Monday, 1 June 2015

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? 2 Corinthians 1:17

In a round about way of explaining why he chose not to come to Corinth, as he originally planned and as he noted in the preceding verses, Paul asks rhetorically, “When I was planning this, did I do it lightly?” In other words, was he just saying, “I may come or I may not… it all depends on how I feel at the time.” Were his words vacillating and unsure?

The Greek translated as “lightly” is elaphria. It is only used this one time in the New Testament and it means “levity,” i.e. fickleness. It comes from another similar word which means light, as in not heavy or burdensome. And so, he is refuting the charges of those who claimed he was fickle or insincere in his dealings with them.

Continuing on he asks, “Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh…?” “According to the flesh” is probably referring to a person who easily makes promises and then easily reneges on those promises, showing that he lives in a carnal and self-centered manner. It could also have the second meaning of a person who is weak and unable to say what he really means out of fear of alienating others. Either way, his asking this as a question is intended to show that such is not the case.

And finishing up this verse, he asks whether they believe that with him “there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No.” In this is a portion of the teaching of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5, he said this –

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:33-37

This same sentiment is cited by James in his letter (5:12). It thus was by this time a commonly taught and understood precept. Paul was asking if they felt he was failing to adhere to the words of Jesus and speaking out of both sides of his mouth at once. The rhetorical nature of these questions shows that none of this was the case. He will defend his actions to show this is so.

It should be understood that each phrase in this verse carries a bit of ambiguity and can be viewed from different ways. It is as if Paul is purposefully using such ambiguous wording to cover any and all possibilities concerning accusations against him. In this the Pulpit Commentary says, “There is probably no clause in the New Testament of which the certain sense must be left so indeterminate as this.”

Life application: The Bible asks us to be trustworthy, even to the simple promises we make. When others hear our words, they should be willing to accept them at face value. In this, if we don’t follow through with them, we need to have a very good reason for it. We also have to be able to defend why we didn’t live up to the words we have uttered.

Lord, You have asked us to let our Yes be Yes and our No be No. We are to be so trustworthy that when we speak, people will accept our words at face value. Help me in this Lord! Give me the courage to speak only the truth and then the fortitude to follow up with the words I speak in a manner which will show that I am a person of integrity. Let others not see a fault in Christian honor when they see me. Instead, may my words bring honor to the Name I bear – Jesus! Amen.


2 Corinthians 1:16


Sunday, 31 May 2015

…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.  2 Corinthians 1:16

Paul’s words continue the previous verse. They convey his original intentions, though these things never actually came to pass. It was at first his desire to “pass by way of you to Macedonia.” In other words, it was his longing to go first to Corinth for a visit and then on to Macedonia after that.

After his visit to Macedonia, he intended to then turn around and go once again through Corinth to have that “second benefit” mentioned in the previous verse. He truly desired their company and their fellowship for that second time. And finally, after this second visit was coming to a close, he said he desired to “be helped by you on my way to Judea.” This “help” meant conducting him to the ship from the city. It is a similar thought to that found in 1 Corinthians 16:6 –

“And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go.”

In this, and in many other instances, we get clues to the fact that Paul had a disability, probably extremely poor eyesight, which necessitated that he be assisted in his travels. When leaving Corinth, he was hoping for an escort of any Corinthians that would like to see him off at the port. It is a touching note from his hand showing his sincerity in these original plans which were later amended.

Life application: Seeing off missionaries is a good way of honoring them. By giving them a grand send off, it is acknowledging to them that they are important people doing work which is necessary and appreciated. Should you have missionaries visiting your area, be sure to recognize them for their noble efforts.

Lord God, I really thank You for those people who have stepped out and accepted the role of being missionaries in other nations in hopes of making converts to the glorious gospel of Your Son. How easy it is to stay at home where there is comfort and ease. But how noble it is for someone to set that aside and be willing to go to remote places where comfort is forgotten and ease is the last thing available! Lord, lavish a reward upon those who are truly devoted to You in those remote places. Let them feel Your presence in a grand way. Amen.



2 Corinthians 1:15


Saturday, 30 May 2015

And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit— 2 Corinthians 1:15

The “confidence” that Paul is referring to is his statement in verse 13 which said, “I trust you will understand, even to the end.” In other words, Paul had said something in his previous letter to them which had not come to pass and he wanted them to know that he was not just saying one thing and arbitrarily doing another thing.

As he will explain, he had originally planned that he would leave Ephesus and travel directly to Corinth. After that, he would then head to Macedonia and return to Corinth, from which he would sail back to Jerusalem. However, in 1 Corinthians 16:5, 6 he had already changed those plans to instead go through Macedonia first. The “second benefit” that he speaks of was the original plan of having two visits.

The “benefit” in Greek is literally “grace.” Paul wasn’t just speaking about a happy occasion which would result from his visit, but instead a granting of divine grace. However, he was precluded from this by a change in his plans. He will continue to discuss this issue, giving a full explanation for why he didn’t follow through with the original arrangement.

Life application: Sometimes we think we know the motives of why someone takes a particular action and we allow it to upset us, even to the point where we feel resentment and anger. And yet, there may have been completely innocent motives for the action, or there could have been unavoidable circumstances which arose and which necessitated the change. It is always good to review the whole situation carefully before letting our emotions take over and ruin the day.

Lord, it sure is easy to assume we know the motives of other’s actions and to let them spoil our mood or even our friendships. But unless we know what they were thinking, we’re leaping ahead without all the information. I know I’ve done this a jillion times and I’ve spoiled many parties over nothing. Help me to be wise and discerning as things arise in life that may not be as how I first perceive them. I know that if I can just calm down, step back, and be willing to talk things through, I will be a lot better off. Be with me in this, O God. Amen.