Thanksgiving: Part 4 of 4 (series: Lessons on 2 Co.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

God will deliver his people immediately from imminent danger. In whom we trust that He will still deliver us refers to the continuation of God’s delivering help in the future, but it may also indicate that the danger mentioned in verses 8 and 9 is still not over, and so he asks the Corinthians to help by praying. When those prayers are answered, they will be able to share in the thanksgiving (cf. 1 Cor. 4:15; 9:11). Thus in Christian fellowship, God can use us to involve and enrich one another, to His own greater glory.

The Christian life was certainly no bed of roses for Paul. Some suggest that this near-death experience which He only touches on in this passage, may have irrevocably altered Paul’s perspective on his own destiny. Before this, he expressed the hope that he might be numbered among those who would be alive at the coming of Christ Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:51-52). Now his focus was on the resurrection that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11). What was certain was Paul’s trust that God would deliver him from the peril of death (cf. 2 Cor. 4:8-14) until his course was run (2 Tim. 4:7), and his task completed. Then later, God, he knew would deliver him from the dead "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55).

In dark moments when the light of God’s presence is removed and feeling has dried up, the memory of past experiences keeps hope alive. The Bible itself

is a storehouse of such recollections on which the Christian mind can feed. God can never cease to be in the future what He has been in the past Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).

11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

Helping together in prayer for us conveys the idea of helping by your prayers on our behalf. Paul generously assumes that the Corinthian Christians had been praying for him while he was going through this time of deep testing. Actually, many of the believers had become critical of the great apostle, and there could have been a serious question of whether they were remembering him before the throne of grace at all. However, he is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. They must help Paul by their prayers as he goes through trials in the future, so that when God has answered their prayers by delivering Paul, many, not only Paul, may give thanks to God on his behalf. For the gift—lit., “That on the part of many persons the gift (lit., gift of grace; the mercy) bestowed upon us by means of (i.e., through the prayers of) many may be offered thanks for (may have thanks offered for it) on our behalf.” In this instance, the gift was probably the blessing or favor Paul would receive in the divinely answered prayer in being delivered from death. Intercessory prayer is crucial to the expression of God’s power and purpose. In this regard, Paul wanted the faithful Corinthians to know that he needed their prayers then and in the future praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Eph. 6:18).

The purpose of prayer is not to change God’s plans, but that thanks may be given and that He may be glorified. Paul was certain that God’s sovereign purpose would be accomplished, balanced by the prayerful participation of believers.

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