Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

2 Corithians Ch.1 / 13 Ch.s


** The second epistle to the Corinthians probably was written
about a year after the first. Its contents are closely connected
with those of the former epistle. The manner in which the letter
St. Paul formerly wrote had been received, is particularly
noticed; this was such as to fill his heart with gratitude to
God, who enabled him fully to discharge his duty towards them.
Many had shown marks of repentance, and amended their conduct,
but others still followed their false teachers; and as the
apostle delayed his visit, from his unwillingness to treat them
with severity, they charged him with levity and change of
conduct. Also, with pride, vain-glory, and severity, and they
spake of him with contempt. In this epistle we find the same
ardent affection towards the disciples at Corinth, as in the
former, the same zeal for the honour of the gospel, and the same
boldness in giving Christian reproof. The first six chapters are
chiefly practical: the rest have more reference to the state of
the Corinthian church, but they contain many rules of general

* The apostle blesses God for comfort in, and deliverance out of
troubles. (1-11) He professes his own and his fellow-labourers'
integrity. (12-14) Gives reasons for his not coming to them.

#1-11 We are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of
need. The Lord is able to give peace to the troubled conscience,
and to calm the raging passions of the soul. These blessings are
given by him, as the Father of his redeemed family. It is our
Saviour who says, Let not your heart be troubled. All comforts
come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him. He speaks
peace to souls by granting the free remission of sins; and he
comforts them by the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit,
and by the rich mercies of his grace. He is able to bind up the
broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and also to
give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows. The favours God
bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also that
we may be useful to others. He sends comforts enough to support
such as simply trust in and serve him. If we should be brought
so low as to despair even of life, yet we may then trust God,
who can bring back even from death. Their hope and trust were
not in vain; nor shall any be ashamed who trust in the Lord.
Past experiences encourage faith and hope, and lay us under
obligation to trust in God for time to come. And it is our duty,
not only to help one another with prayer, but in praise and
thanksgiving, and thereby to make suitable returns for benefits
received. Thus both trials and mercies will end in good to
ourselves and others.

#12-14 Though, as a sinner, the apostle could only rejoice and
glory in Christ Jesus, yet, as a believer, he might rejoice and
glory in being really what he professed. Conscience witnesses
concerning the steady course and tenor of the life. Thereby we
may judge ourselves, and not by this or by that single act. Our
conversation will be well ordered, when we live and act under
such a gracious principle in the heart. Having this, we may
leave our characters in the Lord's hands, but using proper means
to clear them, when the credit of the gospel, or our usefulness,
calls for it.

#15-24 The apostle clears himself from the charge of levity and
inconstancy, in not coming to Corinth. Good men should be
careful to keep the reputation of sincerity and constancy; they
should not resolve, but on careful thought; and they will not
change unless for weighty reasons. Nothing can render God's
promises more certain: his giving them through Christ, assures
us they are his promises; as the wonders God wrought in the
life, resurrection, and ascension of his Son, confirm faith. The
Holy Spirit makes Christians firm in the faith of the gospel:
the quickening of the Spirit is an earnest of everlasting life;
and the comforts of the Spirit are an earnest of everlasting
joy. The apostle desired to spare the blame he feared would be
unavoidable, if he had gone to Corinth before he learned what
effect his former letter produced. Our strength and ability are
owing to faith; and our comfort and joy must flow from faith.
The holy tempers and gracious fruits which attend faith, secure
from delusion in so important a matter.