A message of Hope to a Church with Many Problems



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2:5-11 ~ The Christians at Corinth should forgive the man who *sinned


In the end, the Corinthians did as Paul asked in his letter. When Paul heard of this, he was glad. But still this worried him. He cared for the man who had done the wrong. He was afraid that the man might have too much regret. Then *Satan might get some advantage. So, Paul asked the Corinthians to show the man that they still loved him.

Verse 5 Bad results follow when someone does wrong. It is not just that person who suffers. Everyone in the church feels the pain. The church is a body. It is like the human body. It has many parts. If one part is ill, other parts will be ill. Then the whole body will suffer. Someone in the church at Corinth had done wrong. It was not that person only who was sad. All the people in the church were sad.

Verse 6 The Corinthians understand what Paul is saying. They have punished the man. Paul is now happy. The punishment given to this man is enough.

Verses 7-8 Paul asks the Corinthians to welcome the man back into the church. They should *forgive him and comfort him. They should tell him that they love him. If they do not do this, too much regret could overcome him.

Verses 9-11 Paul had tried to persuade the Corinthians to punish this man. That was why he had written his letter. Now he is testing them. He wants to know how they will obey him in everything. It does not matter so much that they obey Paul or anyone else. What does matter is that they obey the *gospel. For the *gospel demands good and correct behaviour. The Bible has many instructions about behaviour. It is important that we obey them.

Paul gives a promise to his readers. This is the promise. If the Corinthians *forgive anyone, Paul will agree with them. He too will *forgive that person.

There was something that Paul needed to *forgive. There seems little doubt about that. We see this from the previous verses. But then Paul adds, ‘if there was anything to *forgive’. This seems strange. Someone may have hurt Paul. But that was not important. This is what he is trying to say. If the Corinthians know that Paul forgives, they will feel free to *forgive the man. Everyone in the church will feel better. They will love each other more.

Paul adds, ‘in the sight of Christ’. This again could be an *oath. The *oath would be ‘I stand in the company of Christ (with Christ). Therefore I have *forgiven the man’. It could also mean that Christ agrees with Paul in this. If Christ forgives, then Paul forgives. This is because Paul knows Christ so well. So he too is able to *forgive. It could be that Paul had no opportunity to *forgive the man. He had never met him. But, in agreement with Christ, he had *forgiven him.

The man who had done wrong belonged to Christ. He was one of Christ’s own people. He was in Christ’s church. The work of *Satan was to steal him from the other Christians. So, Paul says, ‘It is not as if we do not know about *Satan’s plans. We do know about them. So we will not allow this to happen’. The way to prevent *Satan’s plan is to love the man and keep him in the church.

The church is the Body of Christ. Sometimes members do wrong or hurt each other. It is important that the church deals with *sin. Paul shows how we should do this. He sets the example for us all. He shows how important it is for us to be right with each other. We should *forgive each other and love each other.


2:12-13 ~ Paul waits for Titus


Verses 12-13 Paul came to Troas to *preach the *gospel. There he found that God had ‘opened a door’ for him (1 Corinthians 16:9). The words ‘an open door’ mean that God had already prepared the way for Paul. God showed Paul that it was right for him to *preach the *gospel there. The door was open and God told Paul to enter.

Titus went with Paul on his journeys. Paul had asked Titus to do certain things in Crete. He asked him to choose leaders for the church there (Titus 1:5).

Paul knew that it was right for him to go to Troas. But it worried him that he could not find Titus there. Paul hoped that Titus would give him a report on the church. He wanted to know what the Corinthians thought about his letter. He was afraid that the letter might have upset the Corinthians. They may have been unkind to Titus because of it. He certainly must have worried quite a lot. In fact, it caused him to leave the ‘open door’ in Troas. He said goodbye to the Christians there. He went on to Macedonia. However, Paul did visit Troas a year later. He stayed there 7 days (Acts 20:6). We could say that God did keep the door open.

These verses show that Paul was honest. This is a help to leaders in the church. Paul does not give the Corinthians a wrong impression. He does not want them to think that he is a strong man. He sometimes made mistakes. Sometimes he worried. He did not want them to have wrong ideas about him. He wanted people to know him in his true character. Always we see God’s strength coming through Paul’s weakness.


2:14-17 ~ The march that shows that Christ is the winner


These verses give us a rather sad picture of Paul’s work. He has had troubles in Asia. The Corinthians suggest that he may not be honest. The one who had *sinned caused him pain. Also, he left the work that God told him to do in Troas.

Verse 14 However, Paul is able to thank God for all that God is doing. Paul speaks about a great march for winners. Paul and those working with him are at the front of the march. The Roman soldiers often marched like this through the streets of Rome. They did this on their return from winning a war. But this march is not about war. Paul is glad. He is happy about his successes. With God’s help, he is the winner over all his troubles.

When soldiers marched like this, they burnt *incense. It gave out a sweet smell. They offered this sweet smell to their gods. Many people would be watching the march. The smell would spread all over them. So Paul speaks like this about his march. A sweet smell went out from it. The sweet smell was everywhere. It was the sweet smell of the knowledge of God.

Verses 15-16 In the march of the Roman soldiers, the smell of the *incense blew over everyone. But it would not smell the same for everyone. To the Romans, it would have been a sweet smell. They had won the war. But it was different for those who had lost. It would be a nasty smell to them. It was the smell of death. The same applied to the *believers. To them, the *preaching of the *gospel was a sweet smell. It was the smell of life from death. To those who would not obey the *gospel it was different. It was a smell from death to death.

In the Roman march, the smell made by the *incense was for their gods. For Paul, the sweet smell was for God. Paul and his friends offered this sweet smell of Christ to God.

There is a connection between the message and the one who brings it. On the one hand, Paul says, ‘We speak ... like men sent from God (verse 17)’. On the other hand, he writes, ‘because we are to God the sweet smell of Christ (verse 15)’. Then, it is God who ‘through us spreads everywhere the sweet smell of the knowledge of him (verse 14)’. When Jesus was on this earth, he lived and died for us. The one who brings the message of Jesus should be like him. People will either agree or not agree with the message. They will see difference in the character of the one who brings the message. This is the test.

This is why Paul felt so responsible for his work of *preaching the *gospel. So he asks, ‘and who is equal to this work?’ Later, in chapter 3 verse 5, Paul gives the answer, ‘Not that we are able in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves. But through God we are able’. Paul’s strength for him to do anything comes only from God.

Verse 17 A *peddler could be someone in the wine trade. He made his wine weaker by adding water to it. He did this to cheat those who bought his goods. But Paul will not use methods like that in *preaching the *gospel. The word of God is the *gospel spoken by the *apostles. It is that Christ died for our *sins. God then raised him from death on the third day. This is the *gospel, the word of God.

Sometimes God’s word says hard and difficult things. But Paul will not make the word weaker. Those who use it for gain do this (4:2). There are people who do make God’s word weaker. We hear of people like that later in this letter. They do this for profit (11:20). Paul talks too of those who tell of another Jesus. They speak a different *gospel (11:4). He may be referring to these people.

Paul is not like these men. An *apostle is one whom God sends out to *preach the *gospel. God gave Paul this task (Acts 9:1-19). It was after Paul had met with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He is always aware that God is watching him as he speaks. Some might have said that Paul spoke only his own opinions. Paul says that he spends every day before God. He spends every day in the sight of God. Some other people are different. That is why they do not speak truth. The test of Paul’s work is its results. He must always speak the truth from a pure heart.


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