Paul’s Introduction to 2 Corinthians
There is a famous classic novel that begins with the words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In the Christian life, sometimes the worst of times also turns out to be, in a certain way, the best of times. It may be that only in the midst of great suffering do we experience the grace of God in a very personal way. We may feel closest to God when we are under great distress and adversity. As God told Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). We experience the grace of God most fully only when we also experience our own weakness.
That was Paul’s experience, and he tells us about it in the book of 2 Corinthians.
About 15 years ago, we studied through 1 Cor, so I thought it was about time that we made our way through 2 Cor.
At the time Paul wrote this letter, he was planning to travel to Corinth for a third visit. He’d been there not many months before, but that visit had not gone well. He sent a rather harsh/severe letter to the church, but they had responded well to that letter. There were still problems in the church that Paul wanted to address, so he was planning to visit the church in Corinth again in the near future. So this letter is preparing the way for his upcoming visit.
Last week, we looked at some introductory matters regarding the book, and today we’ll consider the first section—vs. 1-11.
We find in this passage that Paul had suffered greatly for his Christian faith, but he’d also experienced the comfort of God in his suffering. God had rescued him from his afflictions, and Paul was confident that God would continue to rescue him and to provide help in his suffering.
And we can expect the same comfort in our times of tribulation and affliction. We all experience difficulties in life, and it’s during those times that we value God’s comfort.
Remember that part 1 of the book gives us Paul’s Explanation of His Conduct and Apostolic Ministry (chapters 1-7). Before he begins that explanation, he opens his letter with an introduction (1:1–11)—that’s what we’re looking at this morning.
Let’s look at Paul’s introduction to this letter.