Study Notes

2Corinthians 1:8-24

Last week, we heard Paul talking about the comfort of the Lord that comes to us during affliction. And how that comfort could be used to minister to others in affliction. Paul is a guy who was familiar with affliction. He continues,

1:8-11 Paul's Sentence Of Death

Paul refers to an affliction which had come upon him. He does not go into detail of what it was, but does say that things were so bad, that he despaired even of life.

Some believe that this was a horrible sickness. An infirmity so bad that he was expecting to die. Others think that it was the trouble he encountered in Ephesus.

You may remember the story from Acts 19.

Silversmiths made a good living off of people's idolatry. But Paul had been preaching the gospel and bunches of people were being saved. And when they were saved, they stopped their idolatry. So many people were getting saved that it was really cutting into the silversmith's profits.

Demetrius was a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, the Ephesians' false god. he held a meeting of these guys and whipped them all into a rage against Paul for ruining their business. They grabbed Paul's traveling companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, dragging them to the city's theater.

Paul also mentioned in 1Corinthians 15,

1Cor. 15:30-32 Why are we also in danger every hour? I protest, brethren, by the boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?...

Whether the "wild beasts" were this mob, or actually a pack of animals that he encountered, we don't know. But we do know that Paul's afflictions in Asia were so bad that he despaired even of life.

Sometimes things get so bad - our finances so disastrous, circumstances so difficult, relationships so awry - that it just seems easier to die. When people get to that point, they realize that they can no longer trust in themselves. No matter how much fortitude or self will they've had. No matter how strong or how solid their character has been, they have come to an end of themselves.

That is a time when many people trust in God. The Lord often waits until there's no more you before He'll save the day. He often waits until you think you're going to die, so He can be shown as the God who raises the dead.

Many people who have intellectually acknowledged God refuse to give their lives to Him until they come to a place that they despair of life. That is why often you will hear people's testimonies of how they got saved when they hit the absolute bottom.

If you're not a Christian today, don't wait until you hit bottom. Don't put it off until things are so bad you think you're going to die. I've been there - it's not fun. Don't wait.


But indeed, God does deliver. Paul says that he did deliver us. And is delivering us. And He will yet deliver us. God has worked in our lives to rescue us, He's doing it now, and He'll do it in the future. We can have confidence in the Lord.

One of my favorite quotes from the Old Testament is from Moses. The Israelites have been released from Egypt, and all two or three million of them have come up to the shores of the Red Sea. Meanwhile, Pharaoh has changed his mind, and sent all the chariots of Egypt after them. The people freak out:

Exod. 14:11-12 Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

But then Moses says to the people something that we need to commit to memory and apply to our own hearts and lives:

Exod. 14:13-14 ..."Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today"... "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent."

The words of a song often minister to me in my own heart,

"God will make a way

When there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me."

The Israelites couldn't see how they were going to get out of that jam. Paul couldn't see how he was going to get out of his. You may not see a way out of your situation either. That's good. That means you're coming to an end of yourself, and when you are delivered you'll have no choice but to know that God worked the deliverance Himself.

Prayers Of Others

Paul points out how necessary their prayers were as well.

Paul encouraged the Ephesians,

Eph. 6:18-20 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Paul couldn't do the ministry in his flesh. He wasn't strong enough. He wasn't bold enough. He coveted their prayers. He asked for their prayers.

I ask you for the same thing today. I can't do this schedule in the flesh. I don't have the time, strength, or ability in my flesh to be a good pastor/teacher, employee, husband and father. I need your prayers just like Paul needed theirs. Pray on my behalf.

Phil. 1:19 For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ

With your prayers, and God's help, I can have the strength to press on.

1:12-20 Yes And No

This can be a confusing portion of the Scripture. What is Paul saying with all this "yes and no" stuff? Remember last week I described to you the situation. In 1Corinthians 16, Paul had told them of his plans to see them - a long visit that would not happen for a while.

But when the letter was delivered, the Corinthians didn't receive it well at all. So Paul made a quick trip to see them almost immediately.

He wasn't well-received, the visit didn't go well. When he was leaving, he said he would visit them again soon. But when he got back to Ephesus, instead of a visit, he sent another letter with Titus.

By this time, Paul was looking a little flaky. "He says he won't visit and he does. Then he says he will visit and he doesn't. This guy's not true to his word!"

So Paul, now writing his fourth letter, that we call second Corinthians, addresses his seeming lack of consistency in word and deed.

He tells them, "I really did mean what I said both times. That was completely and honestly my intention." Then he directs them towards God's "yes's and no's," which are always dependable.

That is something that we need to learn to do when addressing critics. Very often, people will defend their lack of faith in Christ with examples of how Christians have let them down, with famous Christians that have fallen into sin, with how divisive and hypocritical Christians are.

Don't defend these things - admit them. Yes, sin is sin. Man falls short. Christianity doesn't preach that we become perfect. Christianity just gives us forgiveness. Then direct the subject off of men and onto God. Jesus was perfect. Jesus was sinless. Begin to focus the discussion on Jesus Christ. Paul has to admit, "Yes, I did say I wasn't coming and then I did, and yes I did say I would come and then I didn't." But he also points out that when God says "yes" it is always a yes. And when God says "no" it is always a "no."

1:21-24 The Seal Of The Spirit

As Paul finishes up his explanation of why he wrote this letter instead of coming personally, he mentions that God anointed us and

2Cor. 1:22 ...sealed us and gave {us} the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

I'd like to take some time to look at this with some depth.

The Anointing Of The Spirit

First, let's look at "the anointing." That's a buzzword in Charismatic churches today. "You need the anointing." "This brother has a special anointing." "Come to Pensacola and get the anointing."

You know, in the last 2 1/2 years that we've been going through the New Testament, we've never talked about "the anointing." Why is that? This is the first time it's been mentioned in the New Testament. We never hear of believers' anointing until 2Corinthians chapter one.

And guess what? We're not going to hear about it again until the book of 1John. That's the only other place where the New Testament mentions the anointing of believers. Paul includes all believers in this anointing, and so does John.

1John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.

1John 2:27 And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you...

All believers have been anointed. There is no "special" anointing. There is no anointing that someone can transfer to someone else. There is not a place that you can go to get a certain "anointing." That is all hogwash - and it comes from hyper-spiritual people who want to have spiritual leverage over you. "I have an anointing and you don't. My church has a minister with a special anointing that yours doesn't." It's all garbage. Every believer is anointed.

The Seal Of The Spirit

Who anointed us? God, who also sealed us. We are all sealed. What does that mean? Back in these ancient times, a seal was used to prove ownership. Merchants would put their seal in wax on cargo to authenticate that they owned it.

Ephesians says that the seal of the Spirit is

Eph. 1:14 given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

So God sealing us with His Holy Spirit means that we are His possession. But who does it happen to, and when?

Having Believed

Let's go back to those verses in Ephesians again.

Eph. 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of {God's own} possession, to the praise of His glory.

As soon as a person is saved, God seals him with His Holy Spirit. From the moment that you are born again, you are sealed with the Spirit.

The Pledge Of The Spirit

Why are we sealed by the Spirit? In Ephesians 4, we read the command,

Eph. 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

We were sealed by the Spirit for the day of redemption. The seal of the Spirit is a pledge of our inheritance. Being sealed means that we're guaranteed.

Think of it, if you will, as a down payment. If I were to desire to purchase a car, I don't typically carry twelve thousand dollars in cash on me. But I might have fifty dollars to use to guarantee that the guy selling it will hold the car for me until I get the rest of the money. I give my fifty dollars as a pledge that I am coming back to buy that car.

The seal of the Spirit is God's pledge. The Lord has made a down payment on me. A deposit, claiming that I'm His.


So has God really bought us?

1Corinthians chapter 6 says that we have been bought with a price. What was that price? Acts chapter 20 tells us that God purchased the church with His own blood.

The very last thing that Jesus Christ said on the cross was,

John 19:30 ..."It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

That phrase in Greek is "te telestai." If we were to literally render it in English, it would be translated, "paid in full."

If you are a Christian today, Jesus Christ paid for you with His own blood.

He gave you the Holy Spirit as a pledge of your inheritance - a deposit, a down payment.

He sealed you with His Spirit - saying, "I own this one."

If you're not a Christian today, you are owned by sin. Jesus said,

John 8:34 ..."Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

If you are a slave of sin, you will have to pay with your own blood.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Your choice - pay with your blood, or let Jesus buy you with His.

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