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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 16: Second Epistle to the Corinthians.

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Part:  A  B  C

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 Europe. 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.

Part:  A  B  C

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