The second epistle to the Corinthians was written not long after the first, and when the apostle was in Macedonia (2 Cor. 7), having gone there to meet Titus, who had been to Corinth to ascertain the present condition of the assembly in that city, and the effect made on the saints by Paul's former letter. In the former he had told them how to deal with the offender; in this one he stirs them up to forgive him, as really repentant.
More restricted in its range than the first epistle, which, though addressed primarily to the assembly in that city, takes in all professing Christians as well, this one, though written and sent to Corinth, was for the benefit also, we learn, of "all the saints which are in all Achaia;" for besides treating at length of Christian ministry (2 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 7:1), Paul herein writes of some things in which saints in Achaia were especially interested; viz., the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, in which service the Macedonian saints had shone so brightly (8, 9), and the proof of his apostleship, which had been called in question at Corinth. Questions these were of more local interest than those treated of in the former epistle, yet not devoid of interest for saints in all time.
The first epistle was written whilst Paul was in great anxiety about the assembly at Corinth (2 Cor. 2:4), and whilst the work at Ephesus was progressing, despite the presence of many adversaries. (1 Cor. 16:9.) This, the second epistle, was written after the tumult raised by Demetrius the silversmith at Ephesus had ceased, and Paul had left Asia for Macedonia (Acts 20:1), and when Titus had rejoined him in that country with the welcome intelligence of the salutary effect of his former letter on the saints in the metropolis of the Roman province of Achaia; so his heart was full, both of God's delivering power exhibited towards himself, and of joy for the conscience-work in the saints at Corinth. (2 Cor. 7:4.) Hence we gather from these two epistles something of the exercises of Paul's heart, arising from the ministry to which he had been called, and of the sorrows and joys connected with it, to which he was no stranger. How he felt as he commenced his work in that city we read of in the former letter. (1 Cor. 2) His deep sorrow of heart, caused by the condition of the assembly (2 Cor. 2:4), and his fear as to the effect of his former letter (2 Cor. 7:4-9), coupled with the joy and relief that he experienced on learning from Titus how it had worked on them, we learn about in this second letter. Great as he was as an apostle, powerful as his letters were, uncompromising too as a champion for the truth of God, we are permitted in these epistles to see the man, the vessel, who felt keenly and deeply all that he was called to pass through, but who realized in proportion a joy and comfort such as one less exercised would never have known. It was no light thing to him that in places where he had been signally blessed, as Ephesus, Corinth, and Galatia, the enemy came in to make trouble and discord between him and the saints of God.
His heart full, he begins, after his customary apostolic salutation, with a thanksgiving such as is found at the commencement of no other epistle save that to the Ephesians, and the first of Peter: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort [or encouragement, parakleseos]; who encourages us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to encourage them which are in any tribulation through the encouragement wherewith we ourselves are encouraged of God." (2 Cor. 1:3, 4.)
It is right to speak well of God the Father, who exercises His children that they may minister to others in similar circumstances of the encouragement wherewith they have been themselves encouraged of God. Pressed beyond measure at Ephesus, so that he despaired even of life, having the sentence of death in himself, that he should not trust in himself, but in God, who raises the dead, he had proved delivering power as to his person, and the sustaining power of divine consolation as to his soul. Thus the enemy was outwitted. Attempting to crush the vessel of testimony at Ephesus, God had interposed, not to shield from trouble, but to bring His servant through it. And now the one so recently the object of the devil's attack, became the channel to communicate to other saints in trouble that encouragement which had been divinely ministered to him. But more. The persecution stirred up by Satan furnished an opportunity for prayer to flow forth from saints on behalf of Paul and those in trouble. (2 Cor. 1:11.) Thus the Christian bond would be strengthened, and the natural interest in each other deepened. (v. 14.) Paul and his companions were their boast, as the Corinthians were his in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Now their prayers on his behalf he could confidently seek, for in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, he had his conversation in the world, and especially toward them. (v. 12.) They knew that, and acknowledged it, and he hoped they would to the end. For already had they in part acknowledged that he was their boast, as they were his in the day of the Lord Jesus. It was in this confidence that he had wished to go to them, that they might have a second benefit. But he had not made out his purpose. Was it that he was fickle, or that he purposed such a thing lightly? He could appeal to the character of his ministry among them in refutation of such an idea. So he reminds them of the tenor of it. "The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him is yea. For whatever [eis] promises there are of God, in Him is the yea, wherefore through Him also is the Amen, to the glory of God by us. Now He that stablisheth us with you in [eis] Christ, and has anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." (vv. 19-22.) All here is definite and unchanging, but only in connection with Christ. "Whatever are the promises of God, in Him is the yea." Therefore God has firmly connected us with Him, that we may have part in their fulfilment. So we are anointed, that we may know the truth (1 John 2:20); we are sealed by the Spirit; thus marked by God as His own; and we have the Spirit too as the earnest of the inheritance, which we shall share with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Definiteness and certainty being characteristics of the truth he announced, his practice was in harmony with them. Why, then, had he not revisited them? He tells them: "To spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth." (2 Cor. 1:23.) Unless God worked in them in grace, how could he revisit them with joy? For that, however, he had not waited in vain. The Corinthian offender was broken down, so that his restoration was called for, and the assembly consequently were to forgive him. Further, the apostle's former letter had called forth an expression on the part of the mass [ton pleionon] of their sorrow and of their judgment of the sin. Hence Paul could write, "If any hath caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part (that I may not overcharge) you all." (2 Cor. 2:5.) So from the man broken down in conscience and restored in soul, the punishment inflicted by the many was to be removed, "lest such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." What care had Paul evinced for God's glory! what care does he here manifest for the offender! and what watchfulness does he show to defeat any attempt of the enemy to make discord between the Corinthian saints and himself! "To whom ye forgive anything, I also, for what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ, lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. 2:10, 11.)
What sorrow had he passed through from learning the sad state of that assembly! What anxiety had he experienced as to the effect on them of his first letter! His whole soul, which generally went out in burning desire for the gospel, had been so overburdened, that at Troas, where a door was opened unto him of the Lord to preach the gospel of Christ, he could not take advantage of it, because Titus had not rejoined him from Corinth. So, leaving it, he went to Macedonia, on the way to Corinth, the sooner to receive tidings of them by the arrival of Titus. (2 Cor. 2:13.) How little had they understood the feelings of his heart towards them! But at this point he interrupted his narrative, to resume it in 2 Cor. 7:5, by a long digression on Christian ministry, which he commences by a thanksgiving to God, who always led him in triumph in Christ, and made manifest the savour of His knowledge by Paul in every place. A sweet savour he declares he was of Christ to God in them that are saved, and in them that perish, like the perfume burnt in the triumphal procession of the conqueror - the token of death to those captives who were about to be slain, but of life to those who would enjoy the conqueror's clemency. "But," asks the apostle, "who is sufficient for these things?" The answer to this is supplied further on (2 Cor. 3:5, 6). For himself, however, he could say, conscious of what God was doing by him, he did not adulterate the message, but as of sincerity, as of God, before God, he spoke in Christ. (2 Cor. 2:14-17.)
Hereupon he gives us, first, distinctive features of the Christian ministry (2 Cor. 3, 4:6), then states circumstances into which the exercise of it brought the labourers (2 Cor. 4:7-18), then motives which actuated him in his service (2 Cor. 5:1-17), and the message entrusted to him. (2 Cor. 5:18, 2 Cor. 6:1.) After that he tells them of the care with which he walked, that the ministry should not be blamed; and how he approved himself as a minister of God (2 Cor. 6:2-10), closing this long digression with the exhortation to the Corinthians, to respond in truth to this ministry carried on among them. (2 Cor. 6:11 - 7:1.)
Was there need, he asks, of a letter of commendation on his behalf to them or from them? They were his epistle, known and read of all men; for they were manifestly declared to be an epistle of Christ, ministered by Paul and his fellow-labourers, written, not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone, but on fleshy tables of the heart.* Now this illustration and contrast naturally draws attention to the history of Israel and of Moses, in Ex. 34, which we see was in the apostle's mind when he penned these sentences. And anyone who refers to the Greek Septuagint will see that the passage in that translation was in his mind, if not actually under his eye, at the moment this epistle was written.**
*Or, as some read, "fleshy tables, your hearts."
**Compare dedoxasmene, dedoxastai, kalumma, henika d'an . . . . periereito to kalumma of Exodus with dedoxastai, dedoxasmenon, kalumma, henika d'au . . . . periaireitai to kalumma of 2 Cor. 3.
Now there were two ministries, both of which were of God; but the difference between them is immense. Paul was a minister of a new covenant, not of letter, but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit quickens. A covenant which demanded obedience from man as the terms on which he could enjoy its blessings was of no avail. Man wanted life. This by the gospel was provided. Hence he contrasts the two ministries - the one was of death and condemnation, ushered in indeed by glory, but a glory which was to pass away, paling before the brighter glory attending the ministry in which he was privileged to have part. This last was of the Prince of righteousness, and ushered in by a glory which will never pass away. Transient then was the glory connected with the ministry of the first covenant (2 Cor. 3:7), which itself was to pass away. (v. 13.) Abiding is the glory of that of which Paul, not Moses, was a minister, and which will never be annulled.
He had spoken of the ministry of the new covenant, not of letter, but of spirit. Now the Lord Jesus is the Spirit referred to. It all speaks of Him. And the effect of this ministry was twofold. It set those free to whom it was ministered, and emboldened the minister to use great plainness of speech. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, and we all beholding the glory of the Lord prove its transforming power. With Israel it was different. They could not stedfastly look at the glory in the face of Moses. Freedom in his presence they could not enjoy, though they had to behold his face resplendent with divine glory. (Ex. 34:30, 31.) But he subsequently veiled it, that they should not look to the end of that which is annulled (v. 13), which is done away in Christ.* (v. 14.) But now since that which abides is ministered a veil is no longer required. There was nothing to conceal. So Paul did not use one, but spoke with great plainness of speech, not handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
*Throughout this portion katargein, to annul, is used of the glory and of the covenant, and peiriairein, to remove, of the veil. Hence, in verse 14, it is the covenant it would seem, not the veil, that is said to be done away in Christ.
Yet veiling was still practised. The veil rested on the heart of Israel as they read the Old Testament Scriptures; and the enemy covered or veiled the minds of those to whom the gospel had been preached, but who had refused to believe it, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine forth. Thus, on the one hand, Israelites did not see that the glory of the former ministry was eclipsed by that of the latter, and that the old covenant is done away in Christ. But when Israel shall turn to the Lord, as it was with Moses in God's presence so it will be with them, the veil will be removed. For the rejecters however of the gospel, whether Jews or Gentiles, there is no such prospect. The enemy blinds the thoughts of those that believe not that the light of the glad tidings of the glory of Christ, the image of God, should not shine forth. The knowledge of Christ being in glory, the accepted One on behalf of sinners, who is the image of God, gives confidence to the soul that believes it, and demonstrates what he must be who is here styled "the god of this world [or age];" viz., the enemy of God and of man, who led men to crucify God's Son, and blinds the thoughts of the unbelievers. What malice and activity does he display! To them the gospel was veiled. That arose not from the infirmity of the messenger. Plain, indeed, was the word that was preached, and clearly was it set forth who was preached - Christ Jesus, Lord, and the apostle and his co-workers their bondsmen for Jesus' sake. Blessed, too, was the truth made known, that the glory of God now shines in the face of Christ as once it shone in the face of Moses. (2 Cor. 4:1-6.)
The enemy then worked where God's grace was proclaimed; but the opposition was more than negative against the servants of God. Persecution was aroused, so the apostle acquaints his readers with the circumstances into which he and others were brought by the exercise of his ministry. (2 Cor. 4:7, 8.) The treasure was in earthen vessels. Of that the labourers were fully conscious, being reminded of it by their daily experience. (v. 11.) But that only evidenced that the excellency of the power was of God, and not of man; the labourers being strengthened in the inner man as they looked on things eternal and unseen. God thus enabled the vessel to bear and to serve without removing the opposition of the enemy.
Now that opposition could only extend to this life. So Paul looked beyond its bounds, and was encouraged, and tells us how. "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Cor. 5:1.) Two statements he here makes which deserve attention. He speaks of death as an uncertainty, of his being clothed upon with his house from heaven as that of which he was certain - language, thoughts, the exact opposite of those which are commonly met with amongst Christians. To them death is a certainty, and the future condition of blessedness at best an uncertain hope. Let us mark also the contrasts. An earthly house, a building in the heavens, a tabernacle, a building from God; dissolved, eternal. Still Paul did not desire death, but the coming of the Lord. His wish was not to be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (v. 4.) And this is the proper Christian hope, if the person knows that being clothed (i.e. in his body now) he shall not be found naked, or unfit for the presence of God. (Rev. 3:17, 18; Rev. 16:15.)
How near the future and the eternal state of heavenly saints seemed to him! Without passing through death, he and others might be, and some will be, clothed upon with their house from heaven. Clearly in his teaching there was no room for purgatory. The proper Christian expectation is to pass at once into the fixed and eternal condition as regards the body in which we shall dwell for ever with Christ, and be at home in the Father's house. Of this the Spirit is the earnest. Hence Paul was always confident yet willing to die to be present with the Lord; for while at home in the body he was absent from the Lord. (vv. 6-8.) Wherefore he laboured that whether present or absent he might be acceptable (euarestos) to Him; for, though certain he was accepted, he never forgot that he had to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive that which he had done. Now the judgment-seat concerns every body. Every one must stand before it. Hence with Paul to be accepted and to be acceptable were two different, but all-important, questions. He knew by the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ that He was accepted; he laboured to be acceptable. Thus the doctrines of grace were not weakened, though his responsibility was ever present to his thoughts. Nothing less than being acceptable to Christ would satisfy him. It befits a servant to be acceptable to his master (Titus 2:9), so not only for himself, but for others, did he desire this. (Eph. 5:10; Heb. 13:21.)
But other considerations there were by which also he was moved. As he thought of the judgment-seat of Christ, knowing the terror of the Lord, he would persuade men. As he remembered who had died, the love of Christ constrained him. His death, by His dying for all, proved that all were dead; and He died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again. "Wherefore," he adds, "henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, they have become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation." But more, "He has committed unto us," says Paul, "the word of reconciliation." "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." That was true when the Lord was on earth. But He has been rejected; so now, ere judgment is poured out, God has raised up a ministry of reconciliation, and provided the message, the tenor of which the apostle sets forth. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us: we pray in Christ's stead, Be reconciled to God. He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
He was not ashamed of the gospel; for it was God's power unto salvation. (Rom. 1:16.) He did not adulterate the message (2 Cor. 2:17); for what more fitted to attract any one who would listen than the story of God's love to the world, and the proof of it - the surrender of His Son to die for sinners? What more powerful motive could there be to induce a human creature to live to Christ than the knowledge that He died for him. True, all are not attracted by it; all are not won by it. True, too, it is that Christians need to be reminded of it; a witness surely of what man's wretched heart is. Nothing, however, that Paul could have urged would have made the gospel more powerful, or his ministry more successful. Hence he only exhorts them not to receive the grace of God in vain, reminding them of the special characteristic of the present time, during the Lord's rejection by the nation of Israel, that now is the well-accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
After which he tells them of his walk, and of the proofs by which he and his fellow-labourers were commended as ministers of God. (2 Cor. 6:1-10.) Then, his heart full, his mouth was opened to the Corinthians in earnest desire for faithfulness to God on their part. He had reminded them of the character of the day in which through grace they and we are living, as described by the prophet. (Isa. 49:8.) He now would remind them of a principle, enunciated in one of the precepts of the law (Lev. 19:19), applicable to saints, though they are not under law. "Be not diversely yoked (heterozygein) with unbelievers. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" Five important questions thus follow close one upon another, indicative of the ways of some at Corinth, but illustrative too of the immense change introduced by the gospel. After that he sets forth special Christian privileges under three distinct heads. They were a temple of the living God; they were His people; they were His sons and daughters. (2 Cor. 6:16-18.) A threefold ground of exhortation this is to holiness. (1) As God's assembly at Corinth they were His temple. Of old He dwelt in the midst of Israel in the tabernacle; now He dwells in the company of His people as His shrine; a closer association this than Israel ever knew or will know. (2) As His people, though surrounded by evil, they were, like the remnant of Isaiah 52, to be separate from it. (3) They were in a known relationship to Him of which saints in Israel could never have spoken. He was the Father of Israel as a people (Ex. 4:22); of this Jeremiah too could write (Jer. 31:9); but none before the cross could say they were His sons and daughters. And who is their Father? Jehovah-Shaddai. As Shaddai He revealed Himself to Abraham. As Jehovah He made Himself known to Moses. Now the God of Abraham and of Israel is our Father if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7:1.)
Here this long digression about Christian ministry comes to an end. The character of it, the need of it, the message conveyed by it, and the practical effect it should have on souls, the apostle has set forth. He now returns to that about which he had been writing - the effect made on him by his meeting with Titus, who rejoined him in Macedonia, on his return from Corinth. How truly could he rejoice! Grave had been his exercise of heart about the Corinthians. Great now was his joy respecting them. "I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation." (2 Cor. 7:4) God, who comforteth those that are cast down, had comforted him by the coming of Titus; and not by his coming only, but by the encouragement wherewith Titus was encouraged through their deep expression of godly sorrow - a sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of. They had dealt with the offender, and they had cleared themselves. His letter had the desired effect. He had written, not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that had suffered the wrong, but that their care for Paul might be made manifest to them before God. "Therefore," he adds, "we were encouraged, and in addition to this our encouragement, we exceedingly the more rejoice for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth. And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him."
Encouraged by his visit there, we can well understand the readiness of Titus to return, in order to collect their contributions for the poor saints at Jerusalem. About this Paul next writes (2 Cor. 8, 9), acquainting them with the liberality of the saints in Macedonia, and reminding them of that readiness to help to which they had begun to give expression a year previously. The liberality of the saints in Macedonia had exceeded the apostle's expectations - the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. This outflow of real Christian love was beautiful and spontaneous. Beyond their power they gave, and even entreated of Paul the grace and the fellowship of the service to the saints. It was favour bestowed on them to be able to help, and to be allowed to help. They owned it, and desired to have fellowship in that service; for they had first given themselves to the Lord, "and to us," writes Paul, "by God's will." Cheered by such tokens of love in these saints, he encouraged Titus to finish the work of collecting the alms from Christians at Corinth. And what a motive does he bring to bear on them! Even "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, being rich, for their sakes became poor, that they through His poverty might become rich." (2 Cor. 8:9.) The willing mind would produce a cheerful giver. Two points should here be noticed. The offering should be spontaneous, and according to that which a person had. Grace and righteousness were both to be displayed. God did not ask any one to go beyond what he had. (v. 12.) Being generous at the expense of others formed no part of Christian practice. On the other hand, to give grudgingly, or of necessity, could not be the true fruit of Christian love. God loves a cheerful giver, and glory flows to him by that proof of divine grace in the giver, and by the thanks which ascend upwards from those who share in the bounty. Paul had reminded them of the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. He would encourage them by the remembrance of what God can do, and will do, for His people, quoting from Psalm 112, which, the reader may see on reference to it, is the counterpart, as displayed in the saints, of the actings of the divine nature as seen in God. Psalm 111 describes the state. Psalm 112 fitly comes after it, as it describes the former. One sees too how he avoided all appearance of evil, or occasion for surmises, against those engaged in such a service (2 Cor. 8:18-21), and maintained the full right of the almsgivers to select their own almoners. (1 Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 8:19, 23.)
He had written the first epistle "that your care for us," as he tells them, "might be made manifest unto you;" for this seems to be the best attested reading. That having been markedly proved, of which Titus was the witness, he was free now to enter on the matter of his apostleship (2 Cor. 10 - 13), the validity of which some at Corinth had called in question. Looking on the outward appearance they disparaged the apostle, and, it would seem, questioned the validity of his commission to concern himself with Corinth. Little did such would-be teachers know about Paul. Weapons he was furnished with by the Lord that would be used for their edification or for casting them down. Man in nature might have used these weapons for the latter purpose; Paul aimed at their edification. Powerful indeed were his letters - all felt that; but his personal appearance was not in harmony with the power of his writing. He terrified by words, but who would be afraid of him when present? His speech was contemptible. Such were the thoughts and sayings of those people. Well, as regards his personal appearance and his speech, their remarks might be true. His figure was probably not a commanding one; his speech was anything but eloquent; but as to power, what he was when absent, that he would be when present. Nor had he overstepped his commission in going to Corinth. Looking at the outward appearance would not do. "Let him that glorieth," he writes, "glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." (2 Cor. 10:17, 18.)
From this he passes on to a comparison between others and himself. But why this line of things in an inspired epistle? He tells them he fears lest, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, their minds should be corrupted from simplicity as to the Christ. Hence he enters on a comparison as to his preaching, his Jewish descent, his endurance of trials and hardships, his sympathy with others. Then he tells them where he excelled all others, and claimed them as being witnesses of the truth of his apostleship. What could others preach of truth which he had not preached? Unskilled in speech he might be, but not in knowledge. As to correct Jewish descent, who could surpass him? As to labours and sufferings, who had outdone him? He preached at Corinth, feebly it is true; he would continue to do it, that the false apostles should have no ground of boasting over him.
But he had been where they had not, even in the third heavens, and in paradise; and he bore in his person the marks of these favours in the thorn in the flesh, which the Lord, though thrice entreated by Paul, refused to remove. Of how much could he have boasted! But he forbore. And why? Lest any man should think of him above that which he saw him to be, or heard of him. (2 Cor. 12:6.) What a reason for his reticence! Paul, who had been in the third heavens, and had heard when in paradise what he could not utter on earth, was looked down on by these really false apostles, who had enlisted the Corinthians on their behalf. How utterly contemptible they must have appeared after the bare recital of his labours and sufferings for Christ! Completely crushed they ought to have been by the mention of his visions and revelations. Before he had ever visited Corinth he had been in the third heavens, yet they apparently knew nothing of it till they forced him to mention it. "I am become a fool," he writes; "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, by signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds." (2 Cor. 12:11, 12.) Trying it must have been for him to have to write thus. Condemnatory of them it was that he should be worked upon to do it.
Yet his love was unwearied. He could revisit them, and gladly spend and be spent for them, though the more abundantly he loved the less he was loved. (2 Cor. 12:15.) And did they think that in all this he was excusing himself to them? "We speak before God in Christ," he says, "and all things are for your edifying;" for the moral condition of some in the assembly he well knew. (vv. 20, 21.) So coming again he would not spare. Did any doubt that Christ spoke in Him? They had but to examine themselves to see. By whom were they evangelized? Christ Jesus was in them unless they were reprobates. Was it then in vindication of himself that he thus wrote? Again he reminds them that it was their real edification which he sought, that he might not be called upon to use sharpness towards them.
Now, after an exhortation and salutations, he closes with, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all." C. E. Stuart.
We are not looked at as risen with Christ in Romans, but justified, and Christ our life, as men living in natural life down here, only Christ our life in it - in Him before God, not in the flesh.
For faith the flesh is gone in death, and Christ is come in life.
The Christian is always looked at as born again, forgiven, and sealed.