Titus brought Paul a favorable report. The first letter to the Corinthians had awakened in them sadness in a godly way, repentance, earnestness, a desire to clear themselves, indignation, fear, and a righting of the wrong. Paul responded in his second letter commending them for their favorable reception and application of counsel, urging them to “kindly forgive and comfort” the repentant man they had evidently expelled from the congregation. Paul also wanted to encourage them to proceed further with the relief work for their needy fellow believers in Judea. Then, too, there were persons in the congregation who continued to challenge Paul’s position and authority as an apostle, making it necessary for him to defend his apostolic position; really, it was not for himself, but “it was for God,” that is, to save the congregation that belonged to God, that Paul spoke very strongly in his letter and ‘boasted’ of his credentials as an apostle.
Light on Scriptures Previously Written.
Paul fortified his arguments by use of the Hebrew Scriptures in his inspired letters to the Corinthians. When exposing the foolishness of worldly wisdom as displayed by the false apostles, he proved the importance of getting the superior wisdom of God. This he did by pointing out what the psalmist had said to a generation centuries before, that “the thoughts of men . . . are as an exhalation” (Ps 94:11; 1Co 3:20), and by asking what Isaiah had asked the rebellious Jews: “Who has taken the proportions of the spirit of God, and who . . . can make him know anything?” Paul proved that the Christian minister has a right to receive material aid by showing that Deuteronomy 25:4, “You must not muzzle a bull while it is threshing,” really was written primarily for the ministers’ sakes. He demonstrated that God had long ago promised a resurrection, by calling on the statements at Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14, about the swallowing up of death. Additionally, he shed much light on the Lord’s Evening Meal by his detailed discussion of Jesus’ words spoken at the time He established the observance.
Paul demonstrated what God’s attitude had always been as to spiritual cleanness by quoting from or alluding to Deuteronomy 17:7; Leviticus 26:11, 12; Isaiah 43:6; 52:11; and Hosea 1:10. He showed that the matter of material giving had not been overlooked by God’s servants in the past and that the generous Christian is viewed favorably by Jehovah. And he indicated that the principle in the Law of establishing every matter at the mouth of two or three witnesses applies in the Christian congregation. These and other references to scriptures written beforehand illustrate these texts and clarify their application for us.