Sketches From The Life of Paul
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 16: Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
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From Ephesus Paul went to Troas, with the same
object which was ever before him, that of making
known to the people the way of salvation through
Christ. It was while visiting this city upon a
former journey that the vision of the man of
Macedonia and the imploring cry, "Come over and [p. 173] help us," had decided him to preach the gospel in
His stay in Troas was thus shortened,
and he was prevented from laboring there as he
had purposed; but he states that a door was now
open to him of the Lord, and he laid the foundation
of a church, which rapidly increased.
Paul had directed Titus, on his return from
Corinth, to rejoin him at Troas, and he awaited
the coming of this beloved fellow-laborer, hoping
to receive some tidings from the Corinthian
church. But week after week passed, and Titus
came not. The apostle's solicitude became almost
insupportable. He says, "My spirit found no
rest, because of Titus, my brother." He left
Troas, and went to Philippi, where he met
Timothy, his son in the gospel.
Here was a church which had proved its love
for the gospel of Christ by its faith and works.
The brethren had not swerved from their confidence
in the Lord's messenger. Paul, in his
epistle to the Philippians, does not censure them,
but speaks words of warm approval. The truth
of the gospel had thoroughly converted them.
This church could not be prevented from making
donations to the apostle for his support while
preaching the gospel, although he had repeatedly
refused to accept their liberality. He was very
persistent in his determination to sustain himself,
lest occasion might be given his enemies to say
that he labored for his personal gain. But the
Philippians would not be denied the privilege of
aiding the Lord's ambassador by bestowing of
their means to meet his necessities. Twice while
he was at Thessalonica, immediately after their
conversion, they urged their gifts upon him.
Again they sent him relief while he was preaching [p. 174] at Corinth, and working for his own support.
Also when the apostle was a prisoner at Rome,
the faithful love of his Philippian brethren was
evinced by their kindly care for his comfort.
The church at Philippi were not wealthy. Paul
says of these brethren: "In a great trial of
affliction, the abundance of their joy and their
deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their
liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea,
and beyond their power they were willing of
themselves; praying us with much entreaty that
we would receive the gift, and take upon us the
fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And
this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave
their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the
will of God."
It had been one object of the apostle, in this
journey, to collect means for the relief of the
poor saints at Jerusalem. He had established in
the Corinthian church, as also in Galatia, a
system of weekly offerings, and had enjoined
upon Titus, in his visit to Corinth, to give special
attention to forwarding this benevolent enterprise.
Not only was the apostle actuated by a desire to
relieve the sufferings of his Jewish brethren, but
he hoped that this tangible expression of the love
and sympathy of the Gentile converts would
soften the bitter feelings cherished toward them
by many of the believers in Judea.
Notwithstanding the poverty of the Philippian church,
they joined readily in the apostle's plan, and
urged him to accept their bounty for the needy
Christians at Jerusalem. They had the utmost
confidence in his integrity and judgment, and
considered him the proper person to take charge
of their gifts. [p. 175]
The Philippians did not hold their small earthly
possessions with a tenacious grasp, but considered
them as theirs only to use in doing good. They thus
experienced the truth of the words of Christ, "It is
more blessed to give than to receive." They felt
that the cause of Christ was one everywhere.
They therefore, in their poverty, felt called out to
help other churches more needy than themselves.
This spirit of unsectional liberality should
characterize the churches of to-day. They should
continually keep the burden on their souls for the
advancement of the cause of God in any and
every place. Benevolence is the very foundation
of the universe. God is a benefactor of the
human family. He is a being of inexhaustible
goodness and love. The love of the Father for
man was expressed in the gift of his beloved Son
to save the race from ruin.
Christ gave his life for man. He was a
monarch in the courts of Heaven, yet he voluntarily
left his riches and honor, and came to earth,
becoming poor and lowly that we might be made
rich and happy in the kingdom of Heaven. The
revelation of the gospel should lead all who accept
its sacred truths to imitate the great Exemplar in
doing good, in blessing humanity, and in living
a life of self-denial and benevolence. The sin of
covetousness is specially denounced in the Scriptures.
Worldliness is at war with the true principles
of Christianity. A life of beneficent labor is the
fruit borne by the Christian tree.
A deep sadness still rested upon the mind and
heart of Paul because of his apprehensions
concerning the Corinthian church. While at Philippi
he commenced his second epistle to them; for they
hung as a heavy weight upon his soul. The [p. 176] depression of spirits form which the apostle suffered
was, however, attributable in a great degree to
bodily infirmities, which made him very restless
when not engaged in active service. But when
working for the salvation of souls, he rose
superior to physical debility. He felt that the
disease under which he suffered was a terrible
impediment to him in his great work, and repeatedly
besought the Lord to relieve him. God did
not see fit to answer his prayers in this respect,
though he gave him assurance that divine grace
should be sufficient for him.
Paul's burden because of the Corinthians did
not leave him until he reached Macedonia, where
he met Titus. He states, "Our flesh had no rest,
but we were troubled on every side; without
were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless,
God that comforteth those that are cast down,
comforted us by the coming of Titus." The report
of this faithful messenger greatly relieved the
mind of Paul. Titus assured him that the
greater part of the church at Corinth had
submitted to the injunctions of the apostle, and had
given proof of the deepest repentance for the sins
that had brought a reproach upon Christianity.
They had immediately separated from their
fellowship the ones who had sinned, and who had
sought to justify their corrupt course. They had
also nobly responded to the appeal in behalf of
the poor saints at Jerusalem.
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