Though the constitution of the Church cannot change, the Corinthian church is extraordinarily different than the average American parish. An community of converts founded by Paul himself, the factionalism among those Christians in this multicultural trade hub presented the apostle, Timothy, and Titus with a series of daunting pastoral challenges.
The first chapter of Second Corinthians contains many doctrinal nuggets amidst Paul’s response to chaotic situations. One should note contextually that Paul wrote a total of four letters to the Corinthian Church. Additionally, one must bear in mind that Paul traveled north to the Troas in order to determine the outcome of Titus’ mission to Corinth.
Paul’s religious language is not rhetoric, it is the truth expressed through tough love. He explains his reason for the delay in coming to the Corinthian church by way of Macedonia. Seeking to establish his credibility through precise, direct language that is neither flowery nor verbose (at least not for one with a rabbinical education). Although heresy, wild immorality and revolt are almost certainly not the issues Paul addresses here, he is nonetheless a father addressing important issues within his family. He addresses them with a clear conscience, reminding them that he is proud of them and never toiled among them for selfish reasons, perhaps in response to criticisms laid against him.
Paul did not change his mind and postpone his visit to Corinth for any selfish or mixed motives. He knows that the promises of God are absolute and that he who serves Him must have the same integrity. Never one to vacillate on ‘’yes and no,’’ his ‘’yes’’ holds the full weight of an ‘’Amen’’ before God Himself.
Finalizing his argument of his apostolic credibility, he states, ‘’But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. But I call God to witness against me–it was to spare you that I refrained from coming to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith’’ (v. 21-24).
Music: Gerard Satamian’s Chansons sans paroles op. 2 Berceuse, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com