"The Suffering in His Ministry" Page 3 of 3 (series: Lessons on 2 Corinthians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

The thought takes a sudden turn. Paul has said that both death and life are at work in him as he works in close union with the crucified and risen Jesus. He has said that he accepts this suffering for Jesus sake. Now he says that while death is at work in Christ’s ministers, it is for the good of others that they suffer. The result is life in you Corinthians. This is not ironical; it is deep spiritual truth that one suffers for another; this truth is embodied in Jesus’ cross that the followers of Jesus takes up and caries. Only by the great cost that Christ paid and by the voluntary suffering of Paul and his fellow workers do the Corinthians have the gospel and continue in its blessings (1:6{7]). Jesus Himself was Paul’s model. Although Jesus had all the glories of heaven—all its power and privilege—He gave it all up to suffer humiliation, insults, and finally death (Phil. 2:5-11{10]). Paul had been specifically called by Jesus to suffer for His name (Acts 9:15-16{11]). He considered his many sufferings as a badge, or proof, of his authority as an apostle of Christ (Gal. 4:12-15{12]).

It is interesting to note here, and this is very important to see, that Paul did not consider death to be the end. He is looking beyond death. Death is merely one of the experiences we will have.


{1] (2 Co. 1:8) For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.

{2] (1 Co. 1:12) Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."

{3] (1:8-11) For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 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.

{4] (Eph. 2:12) in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

{5] (Col. 1:24) I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

{6] (Phil. 3:10-11) 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.

{7] (2 Co. 1:6) Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

{8] (Luke 1:51-55) He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever."

{9] (1 Co. 2:3-4) I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

{10] (Phil. 2:5-11) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

{11] (Acts 9:15-16) 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. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

{12] (Gal. 4:12-15) Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.

{13] (Acts 14:19) Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

{14] (Ge. 2:7) And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

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