The first letter to the church at Corinth was written, as Paul asserts today, “…out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” Remember the variety of issues within that church that it tackled: factions had developed around different teachers (including Paul himself); gross sexual sin was being flaunted under the guise of liberty; even the Lord’s Supper was being defiled; and the church appeared impotent to challenge any of this.
The tone of this second letter is, for the most part, less confrontational. This is not to say that the Corinthians go unchallenged, and one very important and personal issue will occupy the latter half of the letter. Once we get there, you’ll see how much foreshadowing Paul dropped into the earlier sections. Pay attention to Paul’s assertions about his calling, as in his retort that: “We are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
Much of today’s reading is seasoned with affliction. Paul lets them know what he suffered in Asia, when his party was “so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” He reminds them of the aforementioned tears that he shed over them, and to forgive if anyone has caused them pain. Furthermore, he witnesses to the strength that the hope of the Gospel provides him: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel. The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
2 Corinthians 1 through 4. Now let’s read it!
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.