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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 16: Second Epistle to the Corinthians.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

In this second epistle to the church, the apostle expressed his joy at the good work which had been wrought in them: "Though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent"—when tortured with fear that his words would be despised, and half regretting [p. 177] that he had written so decidedly and severely. He continues: "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of." That repentance which is produced by the influence of divine grace upon the heart, will lead to the confession and forsaking of sin. Such were the fruits which the apostle declares had been manifested by the Corinthian church: "What carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal."

Still there was a small minority of the Corinthians who stubbornly resisted all efforts of the apostle for the purification of the church; but their course was such that none could be deceived in them. They displayed a most bitter spirit, and were bold in denunciation of Paul, accusing him of mercenary motives, and craft in preaching the gospel and dealing with the churches. They charged him with receiving personal advantage from the means contributed by the brethren for various benevolent purposes. On the other hand, some challenged his claims to apostleship, because he did not demand support from the churches which he had raised up. Thus the accusations of his opposers were conflicting, and without a shadow of foundation.

Just such unreasonable persons are to be met in our times, men who set themselves against the progress of the work of God, while professing to believe the truth. They refuse to come into harmony with the body of the church, the burden of [p. 178] their work being to dissect the characters of their brethren, to raise dark suspicions, and circulate covert insinuations. Many honest persons are deceived by these calumniators, whose purpose are not so readily discerned as they would be if the traducer dealt in bare-faced falsehoods.

Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, expresses his faith and hope in that church, that, as they had suffered reproach for Christ's sake, they would not be left in perplexities and trials without consolation. The majority of the church were true to principle, and of firm integrity; they shared in the sorrows and anxiety of their father in the gospel, and greatly deplored the sins of some who professed the Christian faith.

Paul informed the Corinthians of his trouble in Asia, where, he says, "We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life." In his first epistle he speaks of fighting with beasts at Ephesus. He thus refers to the fanatical mob that clamored for his life. They were indeed more like furious wild beasts than men. With gratitude to God, Paul reviews his danger and his deliverance. He had thought when at Ephesus, that his life of usefulness was about to close, that the promise made to him that he should at last die for his faith, was about to be fulfilled. But God had preserved him, and his remarkable to deliverance made him hope that his labors were not at an end.

The apostle mentions his distress because of the burden of the churches. The pressure was sometimes so great that he could scarcely endure it. Outward dangers and inward fears had harassed him beyond his own power to bear. False teachers had prejudiced his brethren against him; [p. 179] they had made false charges against him to destroy his influence among the churches which he had raised up. But, amid all his persecutions and discouragements, he could rejoice in the consolation which he found in Christ.

His conscience did not accuse him of dishonesty or unfaithfulness to his trust. It was a cause of joy to him that he had been enabled, through the grace of God, to labor in the ministry, not using his natural eloquence, to receive the praise of men, but with simplicity and pureness, in the Spirit of God, his only aim being the good of souls. The fear of God had been ever before him; the love of Christ had ever sustained him. He had not dissembled, he had not labored to obtain honor, or a reputation for wisdom. The wisdom given him of God he had exercised to rescue souls from the darkness of error and superstition, and to strengthen and build up the churches in the most holy faith.

He had been watchful for souls as one who must give account to God. He had not been turned from his purpose by opposition, falsehoods, the prejudice of his brethren, or the persecution of his enemies. He had given his disinterested love and labors alike to all parts of the world that he had visited. He had preached Christ with sincerity and simplicity, and the church at Corinth could sustain no charges against him.

He refers to the promise which he made them, to the effect that he would visit them before going to Macedonia. He tells them that God had not permitted him to visit them according to his intention; for his presence at that time would have precipitated a crisis which might have endangered souls. Had he visited them immediately [p. 180] after leaving Ephesus, he could not have withheld the reproof that their course deserved. Had they then resisted him, the power of God, through him, would have been visited upon the evil workers. God saw that this course was not proper at that time, and guided his servant in another direction. He had sent his first epistle to present before them the evil of their course, that they might manifest repentance, and take action against those who were disgracing the church by their lascivious conduct.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

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