With the last couple of chapters dealing with gift the Corinthians had promised to prepare for the Saints in Jerusalem but had not yet, this chapter switches gears. Paul once again begins to defend his ministry from the false teachers who have infiltrated the Corinthian church and have relentlessly attacked him and his ministry.
The Corinthian church had caused Paul no shortage of heart aches. But, in spite of this, he loved them very much. The first part of this letter has been about defending his ministry and restoring his relationship with them, and today, we finish with Paul encouraging them once again to open their hearts to him. In addition, he spends a great deal of time encouraging and commending them on how they responded to his first letter.
As we read 2 Corinthians, it seems the Corinthian church did not really appreciate Paul and what he had done for them. When they should have been defending Paul to his opposition, they were instead listening to them. Today, we are going to see a continuation of Paul's defense and proof of Paul’s love for the Corinthians. In addition, he will round out the chapter with a very important lesson about making sure that we are not yoked (partnered) with unbelievers.
Paul continues in his thoughts on the eternal verses the temporal as we begin chapter 5. We live in earthly bodies, but we groan to be clothed in our heavenly bodies. But whether in this body or our heavenly body, our aim is to please God. And while we are here, we are ambassadors of Christ and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. And our goal should be to share the gospel and persuade others of its truth.
Paul was no stranger to difficulties, hardship, and persecution, but, because of the importance of his ministry and the power and strength of God, he didn't lose heart. Instead of complaining about hardships and what he didn’t have, he keeps his focus on what He does have in Christ. We should do the same.
Moses came with the ministry of death carved in letters in stone, but Paul presents the ministry of the Spirit which brings life. And where once men were left with a veil over their heart, we, with unveiled face behold the glory of the Lord and are being transformed!
Paul's decision to not visit the Corinthians was made in great pain and anguish. Today we see Paul explain in greater detail why, in order to not cause them any additional pain, that he didn't visit as expected. He also encourages forgiveness to the one who seems to have caused this painful situation.
As we continue on in our study of 2 Corinthians, it appears that those who would undermine Paul are saying that he is inconsistent, saying one thing but doing another. They also question his ministry and teaching. In the second half of chapter one, Paul begins defending his ministry and his decisions.