Study Notes—Chapter 1
The Second to the Corinthians: Titles like this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that they were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the letters.—See study note on 1Co, Title.
Paul . . . and Timothy our brother: Or “From Paul . . . and Timothy our brother.” Paul is the writer of this letter to the Corinthians, but he includes Timothy in the opening greeting. Timothy was apparently with Paul in Macedonia when this letter was written about 55 C.E. (Ac 19:22) Paul calls Timothy “our brother,” referring to their spiritual relationship.
an apostle: See study note on Ro 1:1.
the holy ones: See study note on Ro 1:7.
Achaia: See study note on Ac 18:12.
May you have undeserved kindness and peace: Paul uses this greeting in 11 of his letters. (Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:3; Ga 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 3) He uses a very similar greeting in his letters to Timothy but adds the quality “mercy.” (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2) Scholars have noted that instead of using the common word for “Greetings!” (khaiʹrein), Paul often uses the similar sounding Greek term (khaʹris), expressing his desire for the congregations to enjoy a full measure of “undeserved kindness,” or “favor.” (See study note on Ac 15:23.) The mention of “peace” reflects the common Hebrew greeting sha·lohmʹ. (See study note on Mr 5:34.) By using the terms “undeserved kindness and peace,” Paul is apparently highlighting the restored relationship that Christians enjoy with Jehovah God by means of the atonement. When Paul describes where the generous kindness and peace come from, he mentions God our Father separately from the Lord Jesus Christ.
the Father of tender mercies: The Greek noun rendered “tender mercies” (oi·ktir·mosʹ) is here used to describe a feeling of compassion, or pity, for others. God is called the Father, or the Source, of tender mercies because compassion emanates from him and is part of his nature. Such tender feelings move him to act mercifully in behalf of his faithful servants who are suffering tribulation.
the God of all comfort: The Greek noun pa·raʹkle·sis, here rendered “comfort,” literally means “a calling to one’s side.” It conveys the idea of standing next to a person, helping or encouraging him when he is undergoing trials or feeling sad. (See study note on Ro 12:8.) Some have suggested that Paul’s emphasis on comfort from God echoes Isa 40:1, where the prophet writes: “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God.” (See also Isa 51:12.) Additionally, the related Greek term rendered “helper” (pa·raʹkle·tos) at Joh 14:26 refers to Jehovah’s holy spirit. God uses his powerful active force to give comfort and help in situations that from a human viewpoint seem hopeless.—Ac 9:31; Eph 3:16.
comforts: Or “encourages.”—See study note on 2Co 1:3.
trials: Or “troubles; tribulation.” The Greek word used here basically means distress, affliction, or suffering resulting from the pressures of circumstances. It is often used with reference to the affliction associated with persecution. (Mt 24:9; Ac 11:19; 20:23; 2Co 1:8; Heb 10:33; Re 1:9) The tribulation might include imprisonment and death as a result of a course of integrity. (Re 2:10) However, other circumstances, such as famine (Ac 7:11), poverty, and adversities common to orphans and widows (Jas 1:27), even family life and marriage, may bring varying degrees of “tribulation.”—1Co 7:28.
trials: Or “tribulation.”—See study note on 2Co 1:4.
the tribulation we experienced in the province of Asia: The Bible does not specify the occasion that Paul had in mind here. It could have been the riot in Ephesus, described at Ac 19:23-41. Or it might have been his encounter “with wild beasts at Ephesus,” mentioned at 1Co 15:32. (See study note.) Either experience could have cost Paul his life.—2Co. 1:9.
by your supplication for us: Or “by your earnest prayer for us.” The Greek noun deʹe·sis, rendered “supplication,” has been defined as “humble and earnest entreaty.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, this noun is used exclusively to describe addressing God. The Bible regularly stresses the benefit of praying for fellow believers, whether the prayers are said by an individual or by a group. (Jas 5:14-20; compare Ge 20:7, 17; 2Th 3:1, 2; Heb 13:18, 19) Jehovah listens to and acts on sincere, heartfelt prayers that are in harmony with his will. (Ps 10:17; Isa 30:19; Joh 9:31; 1Jo 5:14, 15) A supplication may make a difference in what God does and when he does it.—See study note on Ac 4:31.
in answer to the prayers of many: Or “because of many prayerful faces.” In this context, the literal Greek wording, “out of many faces,” may convey the idea of faces that are turned upward to God in prayer. Paul also suggests that when God responds to prayers offered in Paul’s behalf, many Christians will be moved to give thanks to God. Paul was more interested in the glorification of Jehovah than in his own advantage.
fleshly wisdom: That is, human wisdom of this world.—Compare 1Co 3:19.
what you can read: Or possibly, “what you already well know.” The Greek word a·na·gi·noʹsko may be understood in its more literal sense, “to know well.” However, when used with regard to something written, it means “to recognize” and is most often rendered “read” or “read aloud.” It is used with reference to both private and public reading of the Scriptures.—Mt 12:3; Lu 4:16; Ac 8:28; 13:27.
fully: Lit., “to the end.” In this context, this Greek idiom apparently means “fully; completely.” However, some understand the literal reading as referring to time, meaning that Paul hoped that they would go on understanding “to the end.”
so that you might have a second occasion for joy: Paul visited Corinth for the first time during his second missionary tour. The year was 50 C.E. He established the congregation there and stayed for a year and six months. (Ac 18:9-11) He intended to visit Corinth a second time while he was in Ephesus during his third missionary tour. However, his plan did not materialize. (1Co 16:5; 2Co 1:16, 23) The “second occasion for joy” may refer to the second visit Paul had been hoping to make. Or Paul may be referring to his hope of making a double visit, as he describes in the following verse.—See study note on 2Co 1:16.
joy: In this verse, a number of Greek manuscripts use the word khaʹris, which means “undeserved kindness; favor; benefit,” instead of the Greek word for “joy” (kha·raʹ). Therefore, the latter part of the verse could possibly be rendered “so that you might benefit twice.” A number of English Bible translations convey this idea.
I intended to visit you on my way to Macedonia: In 55 C.E. while Paul was in Ephesus during his third missionary tour, he intended to cross the Aegean Sea to Corinth and from there travel on to Macedonia. Then, on his way back to Jerusalem, he intended to visit the Corinthian congregation again, evidently to collect the gift for the brothers in Jerusalem, which he had previously written about. (1Co 16:3) While this had been Paul’s intention, he had valid reasons for changing his plan.—See study note on 2Co 1:17.
I did not view the matter lightly, did I?: Apparently, in a letter that was written before 1 Corinthians (see study note on 1Co 5:9), Paul informed the Christians in Corinth of his plan to visit them on his way to Macedonia. Later, in his first inspired letter to the Corinthians, he informed them that he had changed his itinerary and would not visit them until after his visit to Macedonia. (1Co 16:5, 6) Consequently, it seems that some, perhaps the “superfine apostles” in that congregation (2Co 11:5), accused him of not keeping his promises. In his defense, Paul said that he “did not view the matter lightly.” The Greek word translated “lightly” conveys the sense of fickleness. It describes a person who is unreliable and irresponsibly changes his mind. Paul, however, was not fickle and did not plan things in a fleshly way, that is, with selfish motives or according to imperfect human reasoning. He had delayed his visit for a valid reason. At 2Co 1:23, he said that it was “to spare” them that he changed his original plan. He wanted to give them time to apply his written counsel so that when he eventually arrived, his visit could be more encouraging.
“yes” and yet “no”: Or “yes and no in one breath.” Lit., “yes and no.”—See study note on 2Co 1:17.
Silvanus: This coworker is also mentioned by Paul at 1Th 1:1 and 2Th 1:1 and by Peter at 1Pe 5:12. In the book of Acts, he is called Silas. Luke’s account shows that he was a leading member of the first-century Christian congregation in Jerusalem, a prophet, and a companion of Paul’s on his second missionary journey. Silvanus was apparently a Roman citizen, which may explain why his Roman name is used here.—Ac 15:22, 27, 40; 16:19, 37; 17:14; 18:5.
they have become “yes” by means of him: That is, God’s promises have become affirmed, fulfilled, realized in Jesus. It is by means of him—by all that he taught and by what he did—that all the promises recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures were fulfilled. Jesus’ flawless integrity while on earth cleared up all possible cause for doubt concerning Jehovah’s promises.
through him is the “Amen” said to God: The word rendered “Amen” is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “so be it,” or “surely.” At Re 3:14, Jesus refers to himself as “the Amen.” This is because when he was on earth, he fulfilled all that was prophesied about him. Also, as a result of his faithful course and sacrificial death, he is the personal guarantee, or the “Amen,” that all of God’s declarations will be brought to reality. This assurance adds meaning to the “Amen” said at the close of prayers to God through Christ.—See study note on 1Co 14:16.
his seal: In Bible times, a seal was used as a signature to prove ownership, authenticity, or agreement. In the case of spirit-anointed Christians, God has figuratively sealed them by his holy spirit to indicate that they are his possession and that they are in line for heavenly life.—Eph 1:13, 14.
the token of what is to come: Or “the down payment; the guarantee (pledge) of what is to come.” The three occurrences of the Greek word ar·ra·bonʹ in the Christian Greek Scriptures all deal with God’s anointing of Christians with the spirit, that is, God’s holy spirit, or active force. (2Co 5:5; Eph 1:13, 14) This special operation of holy spirit becomes like a down payment of what is to come. Spirit-anointed Christians are convinced of their hope because of this token that they receive. Their full payment, or reward, includes their putting on an incorruptible heavenly body. (2Co 5:1-5) It also includes receiving the gift of immortality.—1Co 15:48-54.
me: Or “my soul.”—See Glossary, “Soul.”
Not that we are the masters over your faith: Paul was confident that as faithful Christians, his brothers wanted to do what was right. It was their faith that made them steadfast, not Paul or any other human. The Greek verb rendered “are the masters over” (ky·ri·euʹo) can have the nuance of domineering others or being overbearing. In fact, Peter used a related term when he urged elders not to be “lording it over those who are God’s inheritance.” (1Pe 5:2, 3) Paul appreciated that any authority he had as an apostle did not give him license to exercise it in a domineering way. Furthermore, in stating we are fellow workers for your joy, Paul showed that he viewed himself and his companions, not as superiors, but as servants who were doing all they could to help the Corinthians worship Jehovah with rejoicing.