Study on the Book of 2nd Corinthians

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Division 2 — “The Personal Defense of Paul”

Lesson 1: "Paul Answers Charges Against Himself" - II Cor. 1:12-22

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

We said that there are five divisions of this book of II Corinthians. We already looked at Division One which dealt with the God of Paul. In this second division entitled the personal defense of Paul, we will look at three areas which are,

1- Paul Answers Charges Against Himself: A Minister's Answer to His Attackers, II Cor 1:12-22

2- Paul's Reasons for Delaying a Visit to the Church: When a Minister is Under Attack, II Cor 1:23-2:4

3- Paul's Treatment of an Offender: Church Discipline & Forgiveness, II Cor 2:5-11


Let’s look at point number one,

#1) Paul Answers Charges Against Himself: A Minister's Answer to His Attackers.

2 Corinthians 1:12-22, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus. And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”


-Introduction: “The Charges Against Paul”

By way of introduction, let’s first of all look at several of the accusations against Paul. Paul was criticized with what seems an innumerable list of charges. These criticisms or charges, which called forth the writing of this letter, are found primarily in the following passages.

a.     Unholy and improper conduct. 2 Cor. 1:12, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.”

b.     Hidden and selfish motives. 2 Cor. 1:13, “For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end.”

Also 2 Corinthians 3:12, “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.”

c.      Fickle and indecisive. 2 Cor. 1:15, “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit.”

d.     Inconsistent in his message and preaching. 2 Cor. 1:18, “But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.” Also 2 Corinthians 6:3, “Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed.”

e.      Weak and shaky in the faith. 2 Cor. 1:21, “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.”

f.       Unanointed for the ministry. 2 Cor. 1:21, “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

g.     That he praises himself and lacked letters of commendation. 2 Corinthians 3:1, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?”

h.     That he was sometimes faint-hearted and slack, doing some shameful, disgraceful, and scandalous things, walking about deceiving people, and mishandling the Word of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”

i.       That Paul was beside himself, mad and insane. 2 Corinthians 5:12-15, “For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

j.       That Paul was wronging treating people, unjustly corrupting, injuring, and destroying people, defrauding, cheating, and stealing from people. 2 Corinthians 7:2, “Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.”

k.     That Paul walked after the flesh, was a coward, not of Christ, claimed unauthorized authority, having a weak appearance, being a poor speaker, and exceeding his authority. 2 Corinthians 10:1-13, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.”

l.       That Paul was not an Apostle, he was damaging the churches image, and that he was taking money through middle men. 2 Corinthians 12:11-18, “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?”

These criticisms, so long in number, point out one thing. Paul was an extraordinary servant of God. Several other factors point to the same conclusion: his experience of every conceivable trial and suffering; his special vision of heaven and the revelations given at that time; his unusual thorn to keep before his mind that he was but a mere man—except in the mission and responsibility to which God had called him; and his dramatic vision of the Lord at his conversion.


It is probably true to say that God chose Paul, a mere man, to make of him an example for all men. For although most ministers and Christian believers have suffered some of the things Paul suffered, have been criticized for some of the things for which Paul was criticized, have experienced some unspeakable spiritual experiences, have been given a thorn of some suffering, and have perhaps been converted as dramatically, there is hardly a servant who would claim to have had all the experiences that Paul had. He was a servant to whom we can all look as an example and as an encouragement—no matter what trouble confronts us.


The present passage under consideration tonight gives Paul's answer to some of the charges against him. There are five:

          1.  He had a pure conscience (v.12).

2.  He did not write one thing and mean another (v.13-14).

3.  He was not fickle and indecisive in his plans (v.15-17).

4.  He was not inconsistent in his message and preaching (v.18-20).

5.  He was just as much in Christ and anointed as others (v.21-22).

 

#1) Paul had a pure conscience.  

Look with me again at II Corinthians 1:12, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.”

 

He was not pricked by a violated conscience, nor consumed or nagged by guilt. The testimony of Paul's conscience was that of purity. Three points here,

1.  Paul lived a life of simplicity. This means singleness of mind, a mind set upon God and being unmoved. It is the opposite of duplicity, of a dual mind and conduct. It means not being distracted or turned aside, not being double minded. It means setting one's life upon God and staying there. It means determining to follow God in all the simplicity or singleness of mind possible and doing it.

"And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart" (Acts 2:46).


"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).


"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ" (Ephes. 6:5).


"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God" (Col. 3:22).


*Note: Some translations have the word "holiness" instead of "simplicity." This would simply mean that Paul lived a life of holiness, not of filth and uncleanness.


2. Paul lived a life of "godly sincerity." This means purity. It is the unadulterated, the pure that has been shaken and rolled through a sieve. It means the unadulterated, the pure that shows up unstained and untainted when examined in the sunlight. Paul is saying that he is pure, unstained, untainted, unadulterated in his conduct and behavior. This word is used only one other time by Paul in 1 Cor. 5:8.


"That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (Phil. 1:10).


"In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity" (Titus 2:7).


"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth [godly sincerity]" (1 John 3:18).


"Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD" (Joshua 24:14).

 

3. Paul lived by the grace of God, not in fleshly wisdom. By "fleshly wisdom" is meant the human, natural, corrupt wisdom of men. It is the natural (unsaved) reasoning of the human mind. Paul is saying that he did not use his own reasoning’s...

•  to set his mind upon God

•  to make new year resolutions

•  to discipline his body

•  to change his life

•  to govern his behavior

•  to control his conduct

What Paul did was set his mind upon the grace of God. By grace is meant the glorious favor of God in saving us and in showing us how to live. God's grace has not only given us the written Word of God to tell us how to live; it has given us the living Word of God, His very own Son to live and walk as a Man upon the earth.


God's grace has given us Jesus Christ to demonstrate and show us exactly how God wants us to live. Jesus Christ shows us how to live with a pure conscience. Jesus Christ Himself is the gift of God, the grace of God to the world. God has favored the world by giving His very own Son to the world.


The point is this: Paul lived by God's grace, by Jesus Christ. He set his mind and life upon Jesus Christ, not upon rules and principles thought up by his own fleshly mind. He gave his heart and life to Christ; therefore, God forgave his sins and removed his guilt. Thereby, he had a pure conscience.


"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).


"For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward" (2 Cor. 1:12).


"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" (1 Tim. 1:5).


"Holding the mystery of the faith in pure conscience" (1 Tim. 3:9).


"Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly" (Hebrews 13:18).


"Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation [behavior] in Christ" (1 Peter 3:16).


We said that number one; Paul had a clear conscience,

#2)  Paul did not write one thing and mean another.

Look with me at II Corinthians 1:13 & 14, “For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.”


Here’s the thing, Paul did not write with a hidden and deceptive motive. Some in the church were saying that Paul's first letter (1 Corinthians) was full of deception: that he did not really believe nor live the things he had written, that in writing about spiritual matters he was only trying to sound pious and to secure the support of the church.


-Paul's response was twofold.

1.  He meant and lived exactly what he had written. All that he had written and only what he had written—no more, no less. He was utterly sincere, and what he had written was the truth. There was no hidden meaning nor any duplicity in what he said; what they read and understood was exactly what he meant.


2.  He had only one motive: to rejoice in the day of Christ. The Corinthians had acknowledged his testimony in the past and rejoiced in it, even as he had in their testimony. His only motive was to write and live in such a way that he and God's people could rejoice in the day of the Lord Jesus.


We said that number one; Paul had a clear conscience, and that he did not write one thing and mean another,

#3) Paul was not fickle and indecisive in his plans.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 1:15-17, “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?”


The story lying behind this point is interesting. Paul had changed his plans, and by such he had left himself wide open to the charge of indecisiveness. Just what happened is unknown. One possibility is as follows.

-Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, telling the Corinthians that he was going to visit them on his way back from Macedonia. In I Cor 16:5 he said, “Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia.” He later made the plans mentioned here—to visit on his way to Macedonia and on his return—thus seeing them twice. But he did neither; therefore, some in the church were saying that Paul could not be trusted; that he made promises that he did not keep; that he was indecisive, fickle and frivolous; that he could not be depended upon; that he was not definite; that he could not be trusted to stick to his word "yes, yes" or "no, no."


But what Paul is trying to say here is that he was not indecisive and fickle. He changed his plans because he was the center of controversy and disturbance within the church—unjustifiably so—and the best way for him to handle the situation was to write another letter and not to visit.


-Thought 1. Every believer must guard and protect what he promises. He should do everything he can to keep his word. It is the change of plans and the breaking of promises, whether justified or not, that causes the charge of being indecisive, fickle, untrustworthy, and undependable.


We said that number one; Paul had a clear conscience, number two, that he did not write one thing and mean another, thirdly, he was not fickle and indecisive in his plans, and

#4) Paul was not inconsistent in his message and preaching.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 1:18-20, “But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”


Some in the church were saying that Paul's word could not be trusted, that what he preached and taught could not be trusted. If a man treats his word so lightly, how can anything he says be trusted? How can we be sure that God has revealed His Word to Paul?


Emphatically, Paul declares that his words were not the words of a vacillator nor were they inconsistent. Note how emphatically Paul answers those who oppose him, He was saying, “As God is true so is what I preach, my words were not the words of a vacillator, not yes and no; not this is true, then turning around and saying this is false. I did not preach one thing and then another."


Paul gives two forceful reasons why he preached with strong affirmation and authority, two reasons why he insisted that what he preached and taught was the truth.

-1. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was not fickle and inconsistent. He was the absolute truth; therefore, He had to proclaim "yes"—that is, nothing but the truth. The Son of God could have nothing to do with uncertainty and inconsistency, with being untrustworthy and undependable. What he preached and taught had to be the truth.


-2. All the promises of God are sure and certain in Christ. In Christ all the promises of God...   Are "yes"—fulfilled in Him.; and "amen"—so be it.

And when we say "Amen," we glorify God. The point is this: the preaching of Paul, Timothy, and Silas to the Corinthians was not untrustworthy. It was and is dependable. It is the truth coming from the very words of the Son of God Himself. The very words and truth of the Son of God, of Jesus Christ, have been passed on down to the Corinthians through Paul and the other apostles. The preaching and teaching of both Christ and Paul are "Yes! The promises of God in Christ are true." And, "Amen! 

We said that number one; Paul had a clear conscience, number two, that he did not write one thing and mean another, thirdly, he was not fickle and indecisive in his plans, and he was not inconsistent in his message and preaching,

#5) Paul was just as much in Christ and anointed as others.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”


The word "us" refers primarily to Paul. He is comparing himself with the Corinthians and he is also including those who oppose him. In no uncertain terms, Paul says that the same God who has worked in the Corinthians has also worked in him. Note the four great things that God does for believers,

          -1. God "establishes" believers. The word means to confirm; to make firm, steadfast, and constant.


"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began" (Romans 16:25).


"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving" (Col. 2:6-7).


"Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work" (2 Thes. 2:16-17).


-2. God "anoints" believers: The word means to be consecrated and qualified for service.


"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18).


"But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things" (1 John 2:20).


"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him" (1 John 2:27).


-3. God "seals" believers. The word means to mark, to stamp, to place a seal upon. God places His seal, His stamp, and His mark upon believers. It shows ownership!


"[God] hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:22).


-4. God gives "the earnest of the Spirit" in the hearts of believers. The word "earnest" means guarantee, security, deposit, payment. It was the first installment paid on an item to guarantee that the rest would be paid. It was the engagement ring that guaranteed the marriage.

God has given the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of eternal life. The Holy Spirit is an advanced payment, a down payment on His promise to believers.


"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).


"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6).


"And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us" (1 John 3:24).


"Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit" (1 John 4:13).


"This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 John 5:6).


Let’s pray.


*Next Lesson: Paul's Reasons for Delaying a Visit to the Church: When a Minister is Under Attack, II Cor 1:23-2:4.



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