A few weeks ago we started our sermon series looking at 2 Corinthians – a letter from the
apostle Paul to the church in Corinth (in Greece). As I’ve been reading through the letter and
reflecting on it, a few things have struck me and stood out to me. I hope that these things
comfort and challenge you!
1. Paul endured great suffering for Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul regularly tells the Corinthians what terrible suffering he faced. He did
this to show them that he was a faithful and authentic apostle, and that true followers of Jesus
suffer as he did. In fact “the sufferings of Christ overflow to us.”
8 For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we
were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life. 9
Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in
ourselves but in God who raises the dead. (1:8-9)
In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were troubled in every
way: conflicts on the outside, fears inside. (5:5)
Paul lists lots more affliction in 11:23-33 (have a read of it sometime, it’s astonishing!) and
talks about having a “thorn in the flesh” that God would not remove in 12:7-10, concluding
that “I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may
reside in me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This is why Paul says this in 4:7: “Now we have this treasure (the gospel) in clay jars (our
weak and suffering bodies), so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from
us.” Even though Paul suffered greatly, he took great comfort in the treasure he carried in his
heart and mind – the gospel – the fact that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paul’s
eternal life was safe and secure, even if his physical life was not.
2. Paul loved the Corinthians.
Paul and the Corinthians had a strained relationship, as Paul often had to rebuke and teach
them strongly about the Christian life, and the Corinthians preferred the style and teaching of
other “super-apostles”. But nonetheless, Paul remained committed to them. He loved them
and worked for their growth in Christ, and rejoiced when he got good news about them.
15 I planned with this confidence to come to you first, so you could have a double benefit, 16
and to go on to Macedonia with your help, (1:15)
In fact, I made up my mind about this: I would not come to you on another painful visit. (2:1)
I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. (2:9)
6 But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, 7 and not only by his
arrival, but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your
sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more. (7:6-7)
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of
Achaia.11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do! (11:10-11)
14 Now I am ready to come to you this third time. I will not burden you, for I am not seeking
what is yours, but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents
for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for you. (12:14-15)
3. Paul is on about the gospel.
Throughout 2 Corinthians Paul shows us that the gospel is the most important thing in life, and
that we need to understand all the parts of our lives in light of Jesus – who he is and what he’s
For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows.
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus
and Timothy—did not become “Yes and no”; on the contrary, a final “Yes” has come in
Him. 20 For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore, the “Amen” is also spoken
through Him by us for God’s glory. (1:19-20)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became
poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. (8:9)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with all of you. (13:13)
I pray that these 3 things that struck me also strike you, and that you continue to be comforted
and challenged by this passionate and powerful letter! Let’s learn from Paul and imitate him
as he imitates Christ!