Salutation. Part 1 of 3 Series

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

March 1, 2014
Tom Lowe
The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

I.A. Salutation. (1:1–2)

2nd Corinthians 1:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


When serious problems arose in the Corinthian church, after his departure, he sent Timothy to deal with them (1 Cor. 4:17), and then Paul wrote the letter we call 1st Corinthians. Unfortunately, matters grew worse and he had to make a “painful visit” to Corinth to confront the troublemakers (2 Cor. 2:1). Still, there was no solution. He then wrote a severe letter which was delivered by his associate Titus (2 Cor. 2:4-9; 7:8-12). After a great deal of distress, Paul finally met Titus and got the good report that the problem had been solved. It was then that he wrote the letter we call 2nd Corinthians. He had suffered great persecution in Asia Minor—perhaps in the city of Ephesus—and he was on the way to visit the Corinthians. He was traveling through all of Greece—through both Macedonia in the north and Achaia in the south—to collect a donation for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. Paul sent this letter on ahead of him to tell the Corinthians how they should handle some of the problems that were plaguing them; he especially focused on the problem of false teachers who had infiltrated the church. A significant number of believers had been influenced by these false teachers. Paul wrote Second Corinthians for several reasons:
1. He wanted to encourage the church to forgive and restore the member who had caused all the trouble (2 Cor. 2:6-11).
2. He wanted to reassert his apostolic authority among the Corinthians (2 Cor. 4:1-2; 10-12).
3. He wanted to explain his change of plans (2 Cor. 1:15-22).
4. He wanted to encourage them to share in the special “relief offering” he was taking up for the needy saints in Judea (2 Cor. 8-9).

Much of this letter, written about twelve months after 1st Corinthians is intensely personal, ‘a pouring out of the man himself.’ Though containing several doctrinal matters (for example, 5:1-10 on the resurrection; Ch. 8-9 on Christian giving), the letter vividly reveals Paul’s feelings—and his faith—as he faces peril and disappointment, and counters slander and disloyalty, while he carries out his commission as an apostle. Often we will be puzzled by unexplained references and allusions to people and events, doubtless familiar to the Corinthians, yet totally unfamiliar to us. But in general the letter is Paul’s spirited refutation of certain sham ‘apostles’ who had infiltrated the Corinthian church for their own ends, and in the process were busily discrediting the apostle and the true gospel he preached.

This letter was probably one of the more difficult letters for Paul to write. Although Paul wanted to rejoice with the Corinthians in their spiritual growth, he didn’t shrink from asserting his authority and disciplining those who needed it.


1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.
Right from the start, Paul introduced himself as an apostle. It was appropriate for Paul to mention his apostleship here, for his authority is a major theme of this letter. A group of false apostles had infiltrated the Corinthian church—“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13). This greatly distressed Paul because he had founded the church on his second missionary journey. To gain a foot-hold in Corinth, these false apostles had systematically discredited Paul’s missionary work. Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to defend his apostolic authority and to refute the false teachers and their accusations.

What does it mean to be an “apostle”? The Greek word from which we get “apostle” means “one sent forth.” An apostle was “sent forth” by Jesus Christ with the mission to make disciples in His name—“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matt. 28:18-20). The disciples—the twelve who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry, learning from Him and witnessing His miracles—became the apostles. Yet Paul was also included among the apostles because Jesus Himself had called Paul to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. Although Paul had been a zealous Pharisee who persecuted Christians, Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus road, calling him to a radically different life. Paul was a disciple by the will of God because God Himself chose him for that work—“But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). This vision of Christ changed Paul forever, making him not only a devoted follower of Christ, but also an apostle sent by Christ to make disciples among the Gentiles. Jesus’ calling gave Paul the authority to establish churches throughout the known Mediterranean world and to teach the believers who gathered in these churches. Paul’s apostleship was confirmed by the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28), and his message was confirmed at the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-21). However, it was this divine call that sustained the apostle during many bitter hours. Oftentimes when, in the service of Christ, he was pressed beyond measure, he might well have given up and gone home if he had not had the assurance of a divine call.
The word “apostle” also has a broader meaning of “one sent forth on a mission” as in 2 Corinthians 8:23 where Titus is called a “messenger”—“If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.” It is also used for traveling missionaries, such as Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy (1 Thess. 2:6), or Barnabas and Paul (Acts 4:14). This wide meaning enabled the “false apostles,” as Paul calls them (v. 11:13), to claim the title for themselves. The word, however, was used more explicitly for the pioneer witnesses whom the risen Christ had called to testify to His resurrection (1 Cor. 9:1; Acts 1:22), and finally in later times was limited to the twelve (Matt. 10:2) or to the twelve and Paul. Paul did not choose this honor; it was due to the will and call of God, that he was the chosen messenger, the captive (v. 2:14), the ambassador (v. 5:20), the minister of Christ (v. 11:23).

Paul was an apostle “by the will of God.” You can’t go any higher than that. That is the authority. If your life is in the will of God, it makes no difference where you are or how you are or what your circumstances may be, you are in a wonderful, glorious place. You may even be lying in a hospital bed. If that is the will of God, that is the proper place for you. Paul believed he was in his proper place as a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was to preach that Paul felt he was called—“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect” (1 Cor. 1:17). It was a task he dare not refuse—“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). Behind the call to preach, he saw “the will of God,” His age-long purpose reaching down to himself to take him up into its mighty movement. This gave him confidence.It freed him from all doubt about whether or not he was the right person for the task. It freed him from all concern about his resources for the work. Our sufficiency is from God (2 Cor. 3:5). It delivered him from all anxiety about results. The preacher is not responsible for the effect of his message; he is responsible only for faithfully declaring it.

The word Christ was originally an adjective, meaning, as did “Messiah” in Hebrew, “anointed.” It was used as a title of Jesus; He was “the anointed one” promised by God to His people as their redeemer and leader. But the word soon became, as here, a proper name equivalent to Jesus.

Paul’s extensive training in the Law under the well-known teacher Gamaliel made him a skilled apologist for Christianity. In all of Paul’s letters, however, including this one, Paul never relied on his credentials or his education for his authority as an apostle. Instead, he relied on the testimony of changed lives and the power of the Spirit in his teaching. It was the Spirit of God who had established a network of Christian churches throughout Asia Minor and Greece within a few decades. It was the Spirit’s message—not Paul’s own—that Paul preached.

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