2nd Corinthians 1:8 (ESV) For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.
When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.
Let’s start in verse eight of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.
V8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.
In the last article in Second Corinthians we looked at the afflictions that Paul suffered and although we don’t know exactly what he suffered we can be aware that due to the text it was affliction worth writing about and was likely some kind of persecution as we read all throughout Acts and the Epistles of the scrapes and violent persecution that Paul endured because of faith in Christ Jesus.
Whatever it was it was enough to make him “so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” and reading that it makes me despair at the things that travail me and cause me grief. They are but small things compared to what Paul has gone through as no-one is threatening me with my life and no-one is driving me to the point that I wonder whether it is worth even going on anymore.
V9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
Paul was threatened with death and he writes here that “we felt that we had received the sentence of death” and Paul often talks about a “thorn in his flesh” so we also know that Paul was not a well man so he could also have been battling an ongoing illness. He felt a sentence of death as something that was internally imposed on him rather than a sentence being handed down from a Governor or High Priest.
I feel that the real message in this passage though is that Paul’s afflictions made him rely on God even more than he had been doing up until that point. This echoes what he wrote in the third chapter of Philippians…
Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
If we suffer for Jesus sakes we know that we will be blessed in his sufferings and Paul’s faith was not just in the closeness of God but that God would help him and if it was in God’s will deliver him.
V10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
Paul uses three tenses here to describe the delivery of God…
- Past tense – He delivered us
- Present tense – He will deliver us
- Future tense – We have set our hope that he will deliver us again
In layman’s terms Paul is saying “regardless of the timeline God has got this” and Paul touches on the importance of looking at the past and remembering how God has delivered you in the past if you are having a failure of faith in the present or can’t see how God will deliver you in the future. You have to remember that God is a God of truth and keeps his promises.
V11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Paul valued prayer and coveted the prayers of the saints, regardless of where they were from and despite the fact that all through the letter of First Corinthians Paul chided the church in Corinth for its carnal nature; he wanted their help through the power of prayer.
Do not think that a prayer is futile, even if it is a prayer that you are confident is being prayed for by many in your assembly. Paul states that “many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” and behind every Paul the apostle is many more people who were praying for him to be used by God and to be used effectively and despite having such a good repute and was obviously called by God, Paul saw that value in those who labored in praying for him, that it was not just a quick five minute prayer, it was a regular labor of love.
I am challenged on this and who I pray for, often times I pray for Pastors, leaders and missionaries for them to continue to be guided according to God’s plan in their life. I pray for my own walk and that the decisions I take be guided by his will but I do confess that I am probably not laboring as much as I would like. How do you view this area of your Christian walk?
Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at verses twelve through twenty two where Paul explains why he had a change in travel plans and he explains how he plans his missionary journeys. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.