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Lesson 2: Promises and Faithfulness (2 Corinthians 1:12-2:13)

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Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

The God who comforts you understands the many kinds of suffering you undergo in daily life. Although Paul wrote about the persecution he and his friends experienced that made them fear for their lives, suffering doesn’t only come from persecution, from physical danger, or from outside your circle of friends. It can also come from within the circle of those whom you love the most. Misunderstandings, behavioral conflicts, and slanderous information from others can cause hurt feelings and mistrust.

Regardless of the source, suffering drives us to dependence on God. We set our hope on Him more than ourselves. We see His love and grace given to us. We trust Him to work in the situation and give thanks. That’s dependent living.

Questions To Consider This Week:

  • Have you been in a position where you were misrepresented by others and, therefore, misunderstood by someone in close relationship to you? Whom would you trust to help with reconciliation?
  • As you make plans that involve others, do you submit them to the Lord for Him to change if needed even though it might cause disappointments and misunderstandings for those involved?

Day One Study—Get The Big Picture

Read 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:13. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

[To print, follow this link (or for the NIV, this one). Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark: 1) anything that grabs your attention and 2) words you want to understand. Feel free to develop your own method of marking up a passage. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to dependent living.]

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

  • 1:12-14
  • 1:15-22
  • 1:23-2:13

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what dependent living on God looks like?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Two Study

Read 2 Corinthians 1:12-14. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

5. As you look for the facts, remember that the context of Paul’s words are misunderstandings between the Corinthians and himself because of what other people are saying against him.

  • Paul’s conscience testifies they behaved with what (v. 12)?
  • But they did not rely on what (v. 12)?
  • What does Paul intentionally not do (v. 13)?
  • Paul hopes that they will do what (v. 14)?
  • With what result (v. 14)?

From the Greek: “Boast” is based on a Greek word meaning “the act of glorying, rejoicing.” As a key word in 2 Corinthians, Paul uses it 30 times in various forms. Pay attention to all the references to those who are boasting and about what they are boasting.

What Does It Mean?

6. From 2 Corinthians 1:12-14, summarize what you think Paul is trying to communicate to the Corinthian believers.

7. Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. When Paul first met the Corinthians, what examples of worldly wisdom (literally, “fleshly, humanistic”) did he not use? Why?

8. What does Paul say in 2 Corinthians 1:12 to remind them about that?

From the Greek: Wisdom (Gr. sophia, meaning “knowledge, intelligence, learning”) was one of the Corinthians’ buzz words. The Greeks valued wisdom. Paul used this word or variations of it 15 times in 1 Corinthians plus 2 Corinthians 1:12.

9. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 1:12-14?

What Application Will You Make?

Being misrepresented by someone and, therefore, misunderstood is very painful. Paul basically tells the Corinthians, “Look at my behavior. I am single-minded and sincere. It’s the truth. Please trust me. Then, we can be proud of each other’s faith.”

10. Have you been in a similar relationship where you were misrepresented and misunderstood? What have you learned from today’s study that you could apply to your situation?

11. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Three Study

Read 2 Corinthians 1:15-22. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

12. Answer the following questions based on what is written in the biblical text.

  • Since Paul was confident the Corinthians would understand the truth, what was his plan for visiting them (vv. 15-16)?
  • What seems to be the accusation against Paul (v. 17)?
  • Referring back to v. 12, what does Paul declare in v. 18 (“yes” and “no” refers to fickleness)?
  • Whom does he call upon as his witness and example to follow (vv. 19-20)?
  • Through whom is Paul’s “amen / may it be fulfilled” spoken (v. 20)?
  • For what purpose (v. 20)?
  • What does God do to fulfill His promise and receive glory (vv. 21-22)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

Scriptural Insight: Verse 15 can cause some confusion depending on your Bible translation. “Second experience of grace (ESV)” / “benefit twice (NIV)” comes from the Greek word charis, meaning gift, grace, blessing, or benefit. Paul used this word in the context of his visits, not any kind of salvation or spiritual experience. He hoped that his visiting them twice would be a double blessing for them.

What Does It Mean?

Read Acts 19:21-22. Paul was in Ephesus when he made his initial travel plans. To understand where he was and where he was planning to go, find Ephesus, Macedonia, Corinth, and Judea on the map below.

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13. Paul made plans but left them in the Lord’s hands. On what was He relying to lead him to visit Corinth? See also Acts 18:21 and James 4:13-15 for insight.

Focus on the Meaning: In making his plans, Paul claimed not to have followed his “flesh” (his sinful human nature) rather than the Holy Spirit … Paul has argued in vv. 18-20 that as God is faithful, so, too, is Paul’s “word.” God’s faithfulness is to be seen (1) in the Son of God preached in Corinth as God’s unambiguous and now-eternal “Yes,” and (2) in the fact of all the promises of God having been kept in the Son of God, as proclaimed by the apostles including Paul, the minister of the God who speaks unambiguously (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:13) and who keeps his promises. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Corinthians 2017 Edition, pages 22, 24)

14. God was completely trustworthy in fulfilling His promises to them in Christ, uniting Paul with the Corinthians. This is true of all believers.

  • What did God do to set His seal of ownership on us (v. 22)?
  • What does it mean to put down a deposit or guarantee?
  • Can humans back out of a bargain?
  • Can God back out of a bargain? See v. 20.
  • So, what does God pledge or guarantee for us? See also Ephesians 1:13-14.

Scriptural Insight: Promise and hope – the Holy Spirit is called a “deposit” or “down payment” on our salvation, giving assurance of the completion of his work. At the moment of salvation, the Spirit places you in Christ. This is the basis for your: 1) acceptance before God, 2) assurance of salvation, and 3) identity. And, Jesus Christ lives in you through His Spirit. Through Christ’s presence in you, you receive: 1) life (regeneration), 2) power for living, and 3) the basis of a relationship with the living God. What a truly awesome deal!

15. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 1:15-22?

Dependent Living: Paul made plans but held them loosely. Gods grace was leading him (v. 12). The Spirit drove his concern for the Corinthians so Paul wanted to check on them. Paul said in vv. 19-20 that he depended on Christ as he made plans. Making plans then having to change them may result in disappointments and misunderstandings for those involved. Paul had to trust in Christ to overcome that as well.

What Application Will You Make?

16. Where you can apply what you learned today to your own life?

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

Day Four Study

Read 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:13. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What Does The Bible Say?

17. Paul continues to explain himself so they can understand him.

  • Why had Paul not returned to Corinth first as he planned (v. 23 & 2:1)?
  • Paul reminds them that his role is to do what (v. 24)?
  • Why had Paul written a letter (2:3)?
  • As he wrote, how did he feel (2:4)?
  • What was true about the one who had been confronted with a deliberate sin (v. 5)?
  • What was true about the punishment inflicted on the offender (v. 6)?
  • Now what should they do (vv. 7-8)?
  • What might happen if they don’t forgive?
  • For what other reason had Paul written the severe letter (v. 9)?
  • Paul will do what (v. 10)?
  • What did he hope to avoid (v. 11)?
  • What happened when Paul left Ephesus and went to Troas (vv. 12-13)?
  • Did anything else grab your attention?

What Does It Mean?

18. Instead of another visit (2:1), Paul wrote a painful letter. What was his concern now (vv. 2-3)?

19. Notice the number of times joy / glad / rejoice are used in 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:13. What is it about broken relationships that affects our joy?

Focus on the Meaning: Paul refers to “joy” repeatedly in this letter, referring to it as “overflowing” and “boundless.” Only the Lord Jesus Christ can fill our hearts with overflowing joy even in the midst of hardships.

20. Correcting someone’s error in behavior or thinking is hard but necessary in the church of Christ. We don’t know what had happened, but we can look at an incident requiring previous correction. Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-7.

  • What was the problem that time?
  • Why is it necessary to address ungodly behavior in a church community?
  • What is the goal of caring enough about your church community that you would ask someone to leave who is deliberately sinning in such a public, proud way?

21. Based on 2 Corinthians 2:6-10, what are some “tough love” steps you can take to restore an offending community member and then comfort them?

22. Read v. 11 in several Bible translations to help in your understanding.

Paul warned of a danger always threatening believers, especially unity within the local church community. Satan’s schemes could outwit church leaders.

  • What is a scheme?
  • What does it mean to outwit?
  • What might it look like for Satan to “outwit” church leaders when it comes to enabling bad influences to remain in the church community?

Focus on the Meaning: Comfort means encouragement plus alleviation of grief. The one offended must go to the offender who has been confronted and give forgiveness and comfort to her. This confirmation of love helps to bring everyone back into loving fellowship. Satan delights in seeing our church body, small groups and families broken up by our failure to forgive and confirm love.

23. Paul sent the painful letter with Titus. Read Galatians 2:1-3, Titus 1:1, 4-5, and 2 Corinthians 7:5-7. What do you learn about Titus?

Historical Insight: Paul left Troas, not because he wasn’t having success but because he was so concerned about his Corinthian “children.” His focus was on relationship. The likely route for Titus to take back to Ephesus / Troas would have been up from Corinth to Macedonia then a short sea journey to Troas. He had places to stay along the way with the churches already planted. Paul hoped to meet Titus in Macedonia. Do you now understand why Paul started off this letter with praising God for comfort? Titus brought him comfort in the way of good news about the Corinthians.

Dependent Living: God makes you to stand firm (v. 24). You choose to let Him do so.

24. What else did you learn as you studied 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:13?

What Application Will You Make?

25. Paul trusted Titus to represent him and help with reconciliation. Whom would you trust to send to a family member to help with reconciliation, as Paul trusted Titus? Why?

26. In what other ways can you apply this lesson to your life?

27. Review the passage for this lesson in “Day One Study.” Add reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves to the chart below. I’ve given a few prompts.

Verse(s)

Reasons why God wants us to depend on Him more than on ourselves

1:17

We get distracted and disappointed when things dont go as we planned

1:22

He owns us and lives in us.

2:5-10

2:11

Respond To The Lord About What He’s Shown You Today.

As His child, God transforms your life by teaching you to live dependently on Him in weakness and in strength.

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