2 Corinthians 1:18-22
See the Introduction to 2 Corinthians
Paul opened this book with a greeting in which he describes himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God” (1:1).
He spoke at length about afflictions and the comfort that God provides (1:3ff). He spoke particularly about severe affliction that he suffered in Asia (probably modern-day Turkey)––an unspecified affliction that caused him to despair of life (1:8).
He expressed appreciation to the Corinthian church for their prayers and gift, which contributed to his comfort. He solicited additional prayers of intercession and thanksgiving (1:11).
Paul defended his integrity (1:12-14) and spoke of his plans to visit Corinth (1:15-17). He had planned to visit Macedonia (north of Corinth) and then to visit Corinth. However, he revised those plans to visit Corinth, Macedonia, and then Corinth again “that you might have a second benefit” (1:15).
Apparently some of the Corinthians criticized him for this change of plans, so he asked, “When I therefore was thus determined, did I show fickleness? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be the ‘Yes, yes’ and the ‘No, no?'” (v. 17). His questions obviously expected a negative answer. He is not fickle. He does not “purpose according to the flesh.”
2 CORINTHIANS 1:18-20. IN HIM IS “YES”
18 But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not “Yes and no.” 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not “Yes and no,” but in him is “Yes.” 20 For however many are the promises of God, in him is the “Yes.” Therefore also through him is the “Amen,” to the glory of God through us.
“But as God is faithful, our word toward you was not ‘Yes and no'” (v.18). Paul is stating that he was not being fickle with his change of plans. He had not stated his plans and then changed his mind without good cause.
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, Silvanus, and Timothy, was not ‘Yes and no,’ but in him is ‘Yes'” (v. 19). If the Corinthians questioned Paul’s decision to change his travel plans, perhaps that might cast doubt in their minds on his proclamation of the Gospel. Paul thus says that he and his co-workers were never “Yes and no” with regard to Christ. They were always “Yes” with regard to Christ.
“For however many are the promises of God, in him is the ‘Yes'” (v. 20a). There are many promises and Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. All are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
“Therefore also through him is the ‘Amen,’ (Amen) to the glory of God through us” (v. 20b). The word amen is Hebrew. In the New Testament, it is transliterated into Greek. In other words, Greek letters are used to make the sound of the Hebrew word. Amen means “steady” or “trustworthy” or “so be it,” and was used in the Old Testament to confirm what had been said. In worship, congregations used amen as a response to choral music.
If Jesus is the “Yes” to the promises of God (v. 20a), then he is also the “Amen” to the worship of the church.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:21-22. HE WHO ESTABLISHES US
21 Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; 22 who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts.
“Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God” (v. 21). Paul is further defending the credentials of him and his co-workers. God has established them with the Corinthian church and has anointed them for their work there.
In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil as a sign of their being set apart to their respective offices. Their anointing was a commissioning in which they were (1) authorized to act in behalf of God––in service to God and (2) empowered by God to meet the requirements of their office. Paul says that, in like manner, God has commissioned him and his co-workers to work with the Christians at Corinth.
“who also sealed us” (v. 22a). In Biblical times, seals were used to authenticate ownership or authority––in much the same way as we use signatures or branding irons today. A typical seal would have an image engraved in it. The owner of the seal would press it into clay or wax, leaving an impression that would signify ownership or authority.
Seals could also be used to protect documents––to prevent unauthorized people from using or misusing the documents.
When Paul tells these Corinthian Christians that God has “sealed us,” he most likely intends them to associate all three meanings––ownership, authority, and protection––with the word “sealed.” We are subject to God’s ownership. We serve with Godly authority. We live under God’s protection.
“and gave us the down payment (Greek: arrabon) of the Spirit in our hearts” (v. 22b). The word arrabon was used in commercial transactions to mean earnest money––something paid in advance to insure the integrity of a transaction. In this instance, God has given Paul and his co-workers the Holy Spirit to guarantee that they will be able to do the work that God sent them to do.
Copyright 2017, Richard Niell Donovan