2 Corinthians


Paul defends his integrity, 1:12-2:11

i] Paul defends himself theologically


Paul continues his defense against the charge that he is weak, vacillating and fickle. He has indeed put off his intended visit to the church in Corinth, but he wants the Corinthian believers to know that it is not intended to cause them pain. In the passage before us, Paul presents an apologetic, a defense of his character, a character grounded in God's faithfulness. Paul reminds his readers of the unchanging gospel proclaimed to them by his evangelistic team. In these "promises" both Paul and his readers are confirmed, consecrated, sealed and already enjoy the first fruits of the Spirit, and all this through the will of God. It is therefore, unthinkable for Paul to be called a yes man.


i] Context: See 1:8-11.


ii] Background: See 1:1-7.


iii] Structure: Paul defends himself theologically:

God's faithfulness evident in Christ, v18-19;

The faithfulness of God realized in the fulfillment of his promises in Christ, v20;

The outworking of God's faithfulness for those in Christ, v21-22.


iv] Interpretation:

In the passage before us, Paul continues to defend his integrity, but does so indirectly by asserting the faithfulness of God. "Because his gospel is uniform, with no glaring irregularities either in doctrine or application, Paul has shown that what he says is backed up by what he does", Naylor. The gospel proclaimed by Paul and his mission team reveals a God whose yes is yes; He is a consistent God, and so Paul fully accepts the importance of acting in accord with the divine consistency evident in the gospel. The gospel reveals the faithfulness of God as "seen in the unambiguous Son of God (God's eternal Yes) as proclaimed by Paul, v18-19, in the fulfillment of the promises of God, v20, and in his people by his ongoing guarantee of their Christward focus, in consequence of his gift to them of the Spirit, v21-22", Barnett.


v] Exposition: A simple verse-by-verse exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 1:18

Paul invokes the faithfulness of God to confirm his claim that he is not guilty of inconsistency, v18-22: i] A faithfulness evident in Jesus Christ, v18-19. By itself, this verse is a little unclear. Paul is probably saying something like "God is to be trusted, he does what he promises, he is reliable, and we, his servants, are similarly trustworthy, similarly reliable. As far as our plans to visit you are concerned, they were made with the full intention to follow them through."

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, "now" ("contrastive in a general sense", Thrall??), introducing a theological digression. Best left untranslated; "The faithful God warrants it that our message to you is no such thing as Yes first and then No", Cassirer.

pistoV adj. "faithful" - [god is] reliable, trustworthy. Predicate adjective; the verb to-be is assumed. Either serving as a comparison, "God can be trusted and so can I", CEV, or as an oath, "God is my sure witness that my language toward you is consistent, not vacillating", Bruce. Thrall and Harris opt for an oath.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / epexegetic or a dependent statement; "God is faithful in respect of the fact that .....", or "now God is my true witness that .....", Harris.

hJmwn gen. "our" - [the word] of us. The genitive may be classified: adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective, or ablative, source/origin, "the message from us." The plural "our" is used when the singular "my" would be expected, is possibly a royal plural / epistolary, therefore "my" may be intended. Of course, Paul is possibly being inclusive, referring to the evangelistic team that intended to visit. "I did not speak to you ...", Barclay.

o logoV "message" - the word. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. It is possible that the criticism against Paul extends beyond his unreliability with regard his travel plans, to the unreliability of his message, namely, the gospel, so Chrysostom; "Paul might be as unreliable in his preaching as he had seemed to be in the planning of his itinerary", Thrall. Yet, it is unlikely that he is defending the reliability of his "gospel/message" here, but rather his own reliability when it comes to keeping promises. Paul is not into making "airy promises", Hering. "Our promise to visit you wasn't a vacillating 'yes' and 'no'". Still, in Paul's mind there may be a link between the oJ logoV, "the word", concerning his itinerary and "the word" concerning his gospel; as Paul's "communication with the Corinthians is totally reliable, so must all that he tells them be, including what he says about proposals to visit them", Thrall.

proV + acc. "to [you]" - to [you is not yes and no]. Spacial; "toward", AV. The "is not Yes and No" is an example of short-talk which requires some filling out; "I did not speak to you in terms of a vacillating and ambiguous yes and no", Barclay.


Paul's own reliability rests on the reliability of the gospel, a message from a reliable God. As to the content of the message, it concerns "Jesus Christ." Paul and his team preached Christ, the "Son of God". The term "Son of God" is most likely used as a messianic title rather than expressing a filial relationship between Jesus and the Father. So, they proclaimed the message of the coming messiah who through his life, death and resurrection, inaugurates the kingdom of heaven and opens its gates for all. Christ is God's divine "yes" to broken humanity.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul and his team is not inconsistent, namely, because God is not inconsistent, he is a faithful God as evident in the person and work of Christ. Note position of this conjunction in the Gk. It serves to underline "God", the "trustworthy" one. "For my example is the Son of a trustworthy God."

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - [the son] of god. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Is the sense of this title, as used here, messianic, or filial? It is certainly likely that "Jesus Christ, Son of God" is the substance of the gospel that "was preached among you." As to the meaning, it is possible that the message concerns the divine Son who makes us divine in him, although a message that concerns the coming of the promised messiah, "the Son of God", the one who comes to gather a people before God, is more in line with the apostolic preaching recorded in Acts.

IhsouV CristoV "Jesus Christ" - Standing in apposition to "Son of God."

oJ ...... khrucqeiV aor. pas. part. "who was preached" - the one having been preached. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Son of God, Jesus Christ"; "who was preached among you through us", Barclay.

en + dat. "among [you]" - in [you]. Local, Space/sphere; "in" = "among".

dia + gen. "by [me and ...]" - through [us] through [me and silvanus and timothy]. Expressing agency, "by". The "us" prompts Paul to explain who the "us" is. He properly places himself first in the list seeing that the criticisms are directed at him. "I mean by myself, Silvanus and Timothy."

alla "but" - [was not yes and not] but [it has always been yes]. Strong adversative in a counterpoint construction; "not ......, but ...".

en + dat. "in [him]" - Adverbial, expressing reference / respect; "but with respect to him."

gegonen (ginomai) perf. "it has always been [yes]" - it has been. The perfect tense serves to indicate a past action with present ramifications; "in him 'yes' was and continues to be reality", Hughes. That is, in Christ, the divine promise of salvation finds its fulfilment; "in him the sure 'yes' has taken effect", Bruce.


ii] The faithfulness of God is evident in the realization of all his promises in Christ, v20. To this fact, through Christ, either: i] the people of God give ascent (say "Amen") in worship, or ii] Paul and his ministry team give ascent in their gospel preaching. This verse is difficult to handle as a verb must be supplied in both halves (a double ellipsis).

gar "for" - More reason than cause; "a further amplification of the statement that God is faithful", Barnett. "I mean that ....", Harris.

oJsai pro. "no matter how many" - as many as. A way of expressing "all" without exception; "in him all God's promises find their 'yes'", Barclay.

qeou (oV) gen. "[promises] God has made" - [promises] of god [there are]. The genitive is usually classified as verbal, subjective, but also possibly ablative, source / origin; "out of, from God."

nai "yes" - [in him is the] yes. The "yes", "no", form of expression can be a little confusing to the reader. Paul is simply expressing the fact that all God's promises are realized in Christ: Christ is the one "who fulfills all the promises of God", TH; "every promise of God finds its affirmation in him", Phillips.

en + dat. "in [Christ]" - in [him]. Adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to .." Probably "Christ", but possibly "God".

dio kai "and so" - wherefore also. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion, with kai taking adverbial force, "for as ...."

di (dia) + gen. "through [him]" - through, by means [of him]. Instrumental, expressing means / ground; God is the basis of the "amen", of the worship, of the liturgical affirmation in Christian worship. If, on the other hand, autou is referring to Christ, then Paul is making the point that this worship is expressed through the agency of Christ, "we say it through him - through Jesus Christ our Lord", Barclay.

to amhn "amen" - the amen, it is true! A Hebrew liturgical word said to give ascent to a prayer, or statement of praise to God. The presence of the article indicates a specific "amen", either in worship, "the customary amen", Plummer, or the affirmation of the "yes" realized in the proclamation of the gospel. Probably not "the final amen", Phillips.

di (dia) + gen. "is spoken by [us]" - through, by means of [us]. Expressing agency; we are the agents of the "amen", of the worship. The "us" is possibly the Christian congregation in worship; "through our spoken utterance", Martin. Although not widely accepted, it is possible that the "Amen" is but an affirmation of the "yes" expressed by Paul's apostolic team ("us") in their evangelistic work; "Paul's apostolic labour is an outstanding Amen to God and to his glory", Barrett, cf., Thrall. Of course, as noted above, the verb "spoken" is assumed.

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "of God" - [to, toward glory] for god. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage. The expression "toward the glory of God" is found elsewhere in scripture, but with "God" taking the genitive, eg., eiV dozan qeou, 1Cor 10:31. It seems more likely here that the dative tw/ qew/ stands with amhn, "the amen for God, toward [his] glory, through us." "So that God will be honoured", TH.


iii] In line with his faithfulness toward the realization of the divine promises in Christ, God has confirmed both the Corinthians and Paul, anointing them and sealing them with the gift of the Holy Spirit, v21-22.

de "now" - but/and. Here serving to establish a logical connection, "and so ..."

oJ bebaiwn (bebaiow) pres. part. "who makes [both us and you] stand firm" - the one establishing, confirming, guaranteeing, making sure, making firm, securing. As with crisaV, "having anointed", oJ .. sfragisamenoV, "the one having sealed", and douV, "having given", the participle functions adjectivally, limiting qeoV, "God"; "it is God who confirms me along with you in Christ, who consecrated me, who stamped me with his seal and gave me the Spirit as a pledge in my heart", Moffatt. The present tense expresses ongoing action, the ongoing reliability of God's promises in Christ: "is making us and you stand firm." The sense is either of "confirming / verifying" the status of the apostolic team, or "securing" our salvation which is "in Christ."

hJmaV "us" - us. The first "us" is obviously Paul and his mission team, while the second "us" may include the Corinthians. None-the-less, the Corinthians are, with Paul, confirmed in the same sure promises of God: "we along with you belong to Christ", Barclay.

sun + dat. "and [you]" - with [you]. Expressing association; "along with you."

eiV + acc. "in [Christ]" - into, to [christ]. Lit "toward Christ", expressing sphere = relationship with Christ, as en; "in union with Christ."

crisaV (criw) aor. part. "He anoints" - [and] the one having anointed [us is god]. The participle functions adjectivally, "God ..... who consecrated me", Moffatt. Reflecting the Old Testament image of an anointing with oil as a sign of commissioning, setting apart for a special purpose. Numerous meanings are possible: set apart for / appointed to ministry / to apostolic ministry; set apart for the kingdom; endowed with the Spirit; endowed with the gifts of the spirit. "Commissioned", RSV; "set us apart", TEV; "Chose us", CEV; "consecrated us to his special work", Phillips. It is possible that the anointing is Christ's and that we share it; "and made us to share his [Christ's] anointing."


As well as confirming the standing of Paul and his team (as well as all those who believe, "you") and consecrating them for service, God also sets "his seal of ownership on" them, i.e., God seals his servants as a person seals a document for authentication. And as well as this, the apostolic team (as well as "you") possess the "deposit", the earnest, or first deposit of the Spirit, the first deposit of our eternal inheritance. So, the suggestion that Paul and his team are vacillating Yes No men is absurd.

oJ sfragisamenoV (sfragizw) aor. mid. part. "set his seal of ownership on" - [and] the one having sealed. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "God", cf., v21, "God ..... who stamped me with his seal", Moffatt. A seal used in commerce etc., to verify ownership and the authenticity of the contents of a consignment. Here indicating "divine ownership and protection", even "legal validation", Thrall. Obviously a metaphorical marking, sealing, is intended, rather than a literal "circumcision", eg., water baptism. "It is God who marked us as his own", Barclay.

tou pneumatoV (a atoV) "his Spirit" - [us and having given the earnest, the down-payment] of the spirit. The genitive is adjectival, probably epexegetic; "the guarantee consisting of the Spirit", MHT III.

en + dat. "in [our heart]" - in [the heart of us]. Local, expressing space / sphere.

ton arrabwna (wn wnoV) "as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" - the earnest, down-payment, deposit, pledge. A deposit given as a guarantee of full payment in the future. As a deposit it does serve as a guarantee, although "guaranteeing what is to come" is not actually in the Greek. "Given us His Spirit in our hearts as His sure pledge", Bruce.


2 Corinthians Introduction


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