Paul’s delay in coming to visit Corinth provided ammunition for those who were calling into question his authority as an Apostle. So Paul uses verses 12-14 to affirm his proud confidence in the Corinthians and their good reason to have confidence in him.
Paul was convinced that in his interactions with people in general, and especially with the Corinthian church, he had acted in a way consistent with holiness (meaning Paul was set apart from other purposes to specifically carry out the purposes of God) and godly sincerity. He was not motivated by “fleshly wisdom” (wisdom that come out of the natural instinct and tendency of human thinking) but acted in unison with the grace (undeserved favor) of God. His motives were not to look good or benefit himself. He handled his relationships with the kind of honesty and integrity modeled by God in the life of Jesus. (v.12)
Paul wrote to the Corinthians using words they could understand. He wasn’t trying to cleverly manipulate the truth to make himself look good or to persuade the Corinthians to favor him in some way. He hopes that, as their understanding in what Paul has said and written grows, they will understand that they can be proud and confident in Paul when Jesus eventually comes to judge the world, just as Paul will be proud and confident in them. (v.13-14)
As Paul talks about “confidence” and “boasting”, it’s important to understand that his ultimate purpose is not to boast or be boasted about to gain favor with people. His desire is to do what will honor God, which is why he mentions “the day of our Lord Jesus”, when Jesus will evaluate the deeds of every person.
Because of his confidence in their growth and receptivity to his teaching, Paul planned to visit the Corinthians twice. First while on his way to Macedonia, and again on his way back. Paul counters the idea that he made his plans lightly or behaved with a fickle attitude. He affirms his point strongly by saying that “as God is faithful our word to you is not yes and no”. Paul meant what he said and wanted them to understand that. (v.15-17)
Since he placed his own integrity on the faithfulness and integrity of God, Paul takes a minute to emphasize God’s integrity and the integrity of Paul’s message about Christ. Jesus does not go back on his words. If he affirms something, we can count on it. The word “Amen” is an affirmation that can also be translated, “truly”. So Paul is saying in verse 20 that when he affirms something, it is through Christ (whom he represents as an Apostle) and for God’s glory. (v.18-20)
Paul identifies God as the common bond between him and the Corinthians (and all believers for that matter). Being “anointed” was a symbol in the Old Testament that signified a person being set aside for a special ministry or God-purposed role. Believers are also given God’s “seal of ownership”, meaning that we are his prized and protected possessions. The Holy Spirit is placed in all believers and represents a sort of down payment for the incredible life to come. (v.21-22)
Next Week- So why DID Paul change his travel plans and avoid visiting the Corinthian church?
Coffee House Question
If you’re a Christian, have you ever thought of yourself as “anointed”(as defined above)? How do you think an “anointed” person might look at their everyday lives differently than someone else?