Paul establishes both his apostolic leadership and the Church’s universality in the first verse of his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. What he writes to Corinth will be read not only in that city, but also in the various churches throughout Achaia.
The second item within the epistle is a prayer of thanksgiving and an exposition of physical suffering, the comforts Christ provides, and the comfort and compassion present among Christians. Genuine Christian life is one of plentiful crosses and frequent tribulations, for these sufferings are a requisite for entrance into the Kingdom (cf. Mark 8:35, Acts 14:22, 1 Pt 5:9). Suffering conforms one to the life of Christ more than any other spiritual exercise and deepens the bonds of true fellowship within the Church.
Using testimony from his apostolic travels, he reveals the comfort of Christ in the midst of extreme trial by stating, ”For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (v. 8-9). Possibly the riot in Ephesus (cf. Acts 19:24 ff.), Paul’s response to the event here mentioned is instructive for every reader.
Second Corinthians is an exceedingly noteworthy epistle that is often overlooked or merely skimmed. If the spiritual implications of this letter do not challenge the Christian, it is likely he is not reading the text with any proper, prayerful depth.
Music: Gerard Satamian’s Chansons sans paroles op. 2 Elegie, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com