1Paul, through the divine purpose an apostle of Christ Jesus, and with him Timothy, one of the brethren, salutes the church of God in Corinth, and with that church he includes all those who have been purified by the Christ, wherever they may be living, throughout the province of Achaia. 2To you all be grace and peace from God who is our Father, and from Jesus Christ whom we acknowledge as Lord.
The divine comfort
3How good, how full of blessedness is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Comfort dwells with Him, in all ways His nature awakes the sense of compassion, and with it strength and comfort. 4I am comforted always in the great dangers and trials which now beset me, and that which upholds and sustains me continually throughout these buffetings serves also for your support and comfort. 5I know your trials, but God is comforting us. The sufferings of the Christ have this compensation; though all our lives are included in them and they abound in us, there goes along with them the same divine comfort and strength which comforted him; and just as his sufferings and even his death were not endured for any faults of his own, but because of others, because of those near him, because of all humanity, that is also the case with ours. 6If I suffer, I know that these sufferings are bringing our final victory and safety from evil nearer, and I know that I suffer for your good; and when God fills me with comfort and strength, that victory over my own sufferings enables me to assist you to the same victory over yours. Both you and I endure these sufferings, 7but our hope is absolutely sure. Patience and endurance only are required in order to win the predestined victory, for his comfort, his strength is mine, and is yours without fail, without fear. 8My struggle in Asia has been beyond words; I have been through deep waters; so far as my own powers, my own physical self and will went, I despaired; 9I had the sentence of death in me, but even so, I knew that my trust and faith were in another, in God who raises the dead, to whom belongs the everlasting victory. 10And so He succoured me, He drew me out of this manifest death, and set my feet upon it, and I am persuaded now that so will it ever be, and I shall feel His support for evermore — 11your own work, your prayers and spiritual help assisting — expressed in that gratitude of the many for God's marvellous blessing and succour which He shows to me so abundantly.
Paul boasts of his love for them
12Now the only boast I have in myself for this is simply my pure and free conscience which knows that I live and act in the world not on the lines of man's carnal wisdom, but by His grace, and this is especially the case in my relations with you. 13-14You yourselves are my boast, and I am yours, you know it already; I have no other thoughts, no other motive than that (you have known it always and always will know it), even what I write to you now that I have no boast, no claim to aught in the day of the Lord Jesus but the love that is common to us both, the love we bear one another.
The reason for the change in his plans
15With this deep confidence in my heart, it was my desire on the former occasion to come to you as I wrote, to come for the second time and renew the joy we had before in meeting. 16I wished, as I said, to pass through you to Macedonia, and then to return to you again from Macedonia, and to be sent on my way to Judaea. That was my intention and purpose. 17Did I lightly change my mind? Brethren, I no longer make plans in the human way. I believe in that yea, yea, and nay, nay of the gospel which can only be arrived at by spiritual means, by faith. Otherwise we get the world's yes and no, changeable and doubtful. 18Faith gives us the one “Yea” which cannot change, and God has ever been faithful in His guidance of us. 19He who sent me to preach the one unchanging Gospel has enabled me in His infinite goodness to show it in my life. He has not made my conduct or my plans light and changeable. For I preach the eternal fulfilment of His promises. That was the gospel which I and Silvanus and Timothy brought you — the absolute accomplishment of God's purpose and the promises of Scripture in the person of Christ Jesus. 20Him we proclaimed and declared to the world as being the perfect Son of God, in whom we find the positive instead of the negative, the eternal “Yea” of the gospel, instead of the finite “Nay” of the carnal law; in him is all the word of Scripture fulfilled, for God is in him. Through him all we on earth utter the everlasting Amen, in joyful unison with the gospel “Yea”; 21for it is God who is accomplishing all these things; it is God who is sustaining us, and anointing us with the graces of this Christ, 22placing upon us His own stamp and image, giving us the token and pledge of Himself in the gift of the spirit.
23If this then is the gospel which brought me to you first, do not think that the change in my plans for coming to you the second time was due to the mere changeableness and uncertainty of human things or of my own mind. No, I call in God as witness of my own heart and soul that my set purpose in not coming to you was a kind one. 24I do not claim, remember, to exact from you a mere empty obedience and submission to me. Yet had I come to you when I purposed, I could not have come to you in any other spirit than one of unsparing hostility to those influences which I remarked in my first letter as being still active in your midst — divisions, and the danger of idolatry, and the sins of the heathen, especially fornication. Why should I have come to you again in that spirit? I want your love, I want the joy that we have in common, in our common work. For what is that but to stand in the faith even as you do?