III. Brief annotations
Paying respect to believers (1:1-2)
"Called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God."
(1:1) Timothy, Paul's companion, was sent to Corinth (1 Cor
4:17;16:10) and has returned. Then they were travelling in Macedonia. Both Paul and Timothy are
addressers. Believers who lived in Achaia province are addressees. Greek was
then dominated by the Romans. The Roman government divided Greek into two
parts. The northern province is Macedonia, and the
southern one is Achaia. Corinth is the capital of Achaia. The Corinthian church
is the hub of all churches in Achaia.
Extolling God for his salvation and
"God comforts us in all our troubles." Titus brought good
news to Paul; and he found great comfort in it (7:5-7). "So we can comfort
those who are in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from
God." The persons who go through troubles can comfort those who are in
"If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation."
This sentence lay emphasis on the effects of the above
"And our hope for you is firm." No matter how terrible the
present situation of the Corinthian church is, Paul
won't lose hope.
"About the hardships we suffered in the province of Achaia."
The hardships refer to the disturbance in Ephesus.
"Such a deadly peril" stand for the
disturbance at Ephesus.
third part of Paul's defense (1:12-7:16)
"This is our boast." The word "boast" was usually
adopted in the letter. The meaning of "boast" is not the same as that
in other books; he said it out of good will. As false preachers slander him, he
make clear his attitude.
He writes the letter out of God's
honesty, and he hopes that believers can realize him further. In fact, his
conduct doesn't resemble what the false preachers slander (10:10-11). He loves
them, so he must explain. "The day of the Jesus Lord" means the day
of Jesus' second coming; see 5:12.
reason why Paul changed the route of his journey (1:15-24)
T\hat "I was confident of"
refers to 2 Cor 1:12-14. Before he wrote 1 Corinthian
he mapped his plan out, but afterward he changed it when he was travelling in Macedonia. Because Paul changed his plan,
people who lived in the Corinthian city blamed Paul as changeable. "You
might benefit twice" means that Paul benefited them in his first visit
(Acts 1:18). But when he visited them for the second time, everyone was worried
(2:1), so he could not help them. He hoped that he could help them in his third
visit (Acts 20:2-3). Thus we can see that Paul was going to visit them for the
third time (13:1-2).
Paul aims his explanation at their criticism.
"As surely as God is faithful, our message to you ...." Paul
especially mentions God's faith for the believers suspected what he preached.
God's son, Jesus the Lord, that Paul preached is the only one. "No matter
how many promises God has made, they are 'yes' in Christ. And so through him
the 'Amen' is spoken by the glory of God." Christ will bring about all
God's promises. And God puts his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.
Paul explains that the reason why he
changed the route of his journey is to give them the opportunity to repent
(13:1-2;10). "I call God as my witness." Paul
called God as his witness to prove himself.
"Not that we lord it over your faith, because it is by faith you
stand firm." Paul ever said, "it is in order to spare you ," and he is afraid that believers would feel that
he think he is above others. Paul is always very careful, for believers often
misread what he says.
people to forgive those who were troubled by sin (2:1-11)
When Paul visited the Corinthian church for the second time, the church were thrown into confusion, so believers were
worried. When he was going to see them for the third time (13:1), he made up
his mind that he would not make another painful visit to them.
The believers felt remorseful after they read 1 Corinthian.
What "I wrote as I did" is recorded in 1 Corinthian.
Paul describes his mood when he wrote 1 Corinthian. Some have assumed
that Paul wrote altogether four letters; the first letter was written before he
wrote 1 Corinthian (1 Cor 5:9); the second one is 1
Corinthian; the third one is the Tearful Letter (2:4), and the fourth one is 2
Corinthian. They think Paul visited the Corinthian church after he finished 1
Corinthian and before he wrote the third letter. It's difficult to tell which
"If anyone has caused grief." "Anyone" means those
who commit a crime. It may refer to those who commit adultery (1 Cor 5:1).
"He who committed a crime have repented
his error." Does a person who commit adultery has
the opportunity to repent? "I am afraid that when I come again my God will
humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier
and have not repent of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which have
indulged" (12:21). Thus Paul still hopes that those who committed adultery
would repent, so we should blame him who committed a crime, but we must forgive
him if he repents and turns over a new leaf (Mt 15:18).
At first Paul advocated treating
such person severely (1 Cor 5:1-5; 12-13). Here Paul
exhorts the believers to forgive these people because they have repented.
overlook of his itinerant work (2:12-7)
After leaving Ephesus, Paul travelled to
Troas where he had a favorable opportunity for preaching the gospel. But he
felt so anxious about failing to meet Titus that he took his leave of the
people of Troas and went forth into Macedonia. Finally, he met Titus in
"Thanks be to God, who in Christ always
leads us in triumph." Paul thinks of the parade of the victorious general
and regards himself as the victorious soldier, who is led by God in triumph in
Christ in every places. In other view, he is also like
the parading captive who reflects God's power and his own weakness. In Lu's
Chinese Bible: "Thanks be unto God, who is always
in triumph and leads us to become the captive in victorious parade in
Christ." On the procession of the parade, people burned the incense (or
spread some objects which was fragrant). Paul uses
them to compare himself to the one who was issuing the fragrance. To sum up,
God is always victorious, Paul was the one who spread
"The one" means the person
who has no part in the salvation. "The other" means the one who shares in the salvation.
"So many" means the false apostles. "Peddlers of God's
word", it is said that "peddlers" was used when the trader of
the grape wine mixed water into the wine to gain profit. "As men of
sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in
Christ." This was Paul's attitude for preaching the gospel.
glory of the apostles' ministry
"Are we beginning to commend
ourselves again?" Because of the words in the second chapter verse 17,
Paul is afraid that people will misunderstand him to be self-commending again.
"Do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from
you?" At that time, some people considered that Paul was not an apostle,
because he didn't have the letter of commendation from the great apostles or
from the Jerusalem church. 1 Cor 9:1,2, "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not
seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am
not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in
the Lord." It was said that the false apostles requested letters of commendation
from Jerusalem church to gain access to other churches. And they would require
similar letters on their departure from them. Paul thought that was not
necessary to him.
The letter of commendation is alive and written in Paul's heart. It is
not like the "Ten Commandments" written on the table of stone. At the
very moment, in Paul's mind, he compares himself with the ministry of Moses.
It was the confidence expressed in verses 2-3.
"Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as
coming from us." It was the supplement of the last verse. Another version:
"Not that we are sufficient to account by ourselves". Accounting can
be the explanation of planning, inspecting and judging.
"The letter" means the words in the law.
"Brightness of the face of Moses." (ref: Ex 34:29,30)
"Fading as this was" is the same outcome as the law in the Old
Testament (Heb 8:5-13).
Paul considers that the glory of the apostles in the New Testament is
more than that of the ministry of Moses. Verse 11: "For if what faded away
came with (in the original: "dia" --
through) splendor, what is permanent should have (in the original:
"en" -- in) much more splendor".
"Hope" can be translated
into "firm belief". It's what is written in verses 7 to 11. That
"we are very bold" refers to the attitude of openness, unlike Moses,
who put a veil over his face. Lu's Chinese Bible says "the spirit of
In the Old Testament, there is no
explanation of the reason Moses put a veil over his face (Ex 34:33). Because of
the revelation of the Holy Spirit, what Moses did unconsciously has this
meaning to Paul. (3:14) They were separated from the
Old Testament by the veil. This prevented them from understanding that all
prophecies and prefigure in the Old Testament refer to Jesus Christ and have
been completed in Christ (Rom 10:4; Gal 3:24; Col 2:16,17;
Heb 8:5; 10:1).
The meanings of the veils over the
face of Moses, in the Old Testament and on their hearts are the same.
People in the Old Testament had no
liberty under the bondage of the law and couldn't understand very well under
the coverage of the evil. But people in the New Testament have liberty under
the light of the Holy Spirit.
"Beholding as in a mirror the
glory of the Lord". Because the Lord has not come yet, we can't behold the
glory of the Lord directly, but we can behold it clearly as reflected in a
mirror. "Being changed into [God's] likeness from one degree of glory to
another" means having the image of the Lord first (Col 3:10), later, Jesus
Christ will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body (Phil 3:21).
"This comes from the Lord who is the Spirit", this is like coming
from the Lord of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we know that now it's the
time that the Lord works with the Holy Spirit.
His not losing heart (4:1 - 5:10)
"Having this ministry by the
mercy of God." Paul receives a glorious and liberal ministry as what is
recorded in the last chapter. This is not because of himself but is because of
the mercy of God. "We do not lose heart." It means not being
Here Paul compares
"underhanded" (secret) with "open" (showing). Everything is
in public and honest as the result of unveiling.
In the original Greek text,
"veiled" means covered with the evil.
"The God of this world"
refers to the devil. In the original text, "the world" means the age.
"For what we preach is not
ourselves." Again, in this epistle, people misunderstand easily that what
Paul preaches is himself. In fact, what he preaches is Jesus Christ as the
"For it is the God who said,
'Let light shine out of darkness.'" (ref: Gen
1:3). This verse can be read together with 3:17,18.
"This treasure" refers to
the ministry of the apostles. "Earthen vessels" refers to the humble
and frail body.
In Lu's Chinese Bible,
"perplexed" is translated into "the impasse of the scheme".
"Life in you" means that
Paul's sufferings have been fruitful in bringing the life of Jesus to the
"Have the same spirit of
faith." Paul refers to Psalms 116:10, " I
kept my faith, even when I said, 'I am greatly afflicted'". Paul has the
same spirit of faith as the author of the Psalms had, so, he believes and
speaks even though he is greatly afflicted.
Paul can stand the pain of suffering
because he has this faith.
What Paul has suffered is for the
In the original, "outer
nature" means the visible man outward, including the human body.
"Inner nature" refers to the inner man who is renewed.
"The slight momentary
affliction" is compared with the future glory. In fact, what Paul has
suffered is not light.
"The tent" is compared to
the human body (2 Pet 1:13,14). "A house" is
compared to the body of spirit (the glorious body).
"Naked": it seems to be
naked without the body of spirit and shows the shame of sin (Rev 3:18; 16:15).
unclothed" means the separation of the body from the soul because of
death. "Be[ing] further clothed" means
clothing the body of spirit without the separation of the body from the soul.
It's the mystery of transfiguration (1 Cor 15:51-4).
The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of
We can't behold God yet, so while we
are at home in the body we are away from the Lord and walk by faith, not by
"We would rather be away from
the body and at home with the Lord." Verse 4 is Paul's desire, but, the
one in verse 8 was more desirable to him. Paul said: "I am hard pressed
between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far
better" (Phil 1:23).
Paul made it his aim to please God.
All believers must appear before the judgement seat
of Christ, so that each one may receive the retribution according to what he
has done in his life. Therefore, we should prepare in advance, not to be
satisfied only with being able to go to heaven.
His self-respect and self-consciousness of his
mission (5:11 - 6:10)
"The fear of the Lord" is
the result of the reason in the last verse. In the original, "being
known" is the same word as "appearing"in
the last verse. Lu's Chinese Bible: "clearly visible without being
In Lu's Chinese Bible, "in our
right mind" is translated into "clean and just mind". Paul was
criticized of being mad (Acts 26:24). Therefore, he says that it's for God.
Paul gives this impression as a result of his enthusiasm for his faith and
preaching. Some say that he was impressed with being in the right mind, not
mad. This criticism was right for Paul's enthusiasm is for the believers' sake.
In Lu's Chinese Bible,
"controlling" is translated into "pressing".
In the original, "a human point
of view" is the same as "flesh", including outward appearance,
knowledge, status, property, and so on.
"A new creation" means the
renewed man (Gal 6:15). That "the new has come" means that life,
thought, concept, and observation are greatly different from those in the past
"All this is from God."
All change in the aforesaid is from God (Eph 2:8-10).
"So we are ambassadors for
Christ." From the word "ambassador", we know the ambassador is
not an unusual envoy but the envoy plenipotentiary of Christ.
Ref: Rom 3:25,26
Ref: 1 Cor
Quoted from Is 49:8.
The Paul's self-respect.
In the negative aspect, "no
fault may be found with our ministry." In the positive aspect, "but
as servants of God commend ourselves in every day". From "in honor
and dishonor" and "in ill repute and good repute", we know that
preachers sometimes will suffer dishonor and ill repute for the name of the
Lord (Acts 5:41; 2 Cor 1:17; 10:2,10;
Paul appealed for the return of benignity and
for separation from the world (6:11 - 7:1).
That "our mouth is open to
you" means telling the truth without reservation.
That "you are not restricted by
us" means it's not our responsibility.
"Do not be mismated
with unbelievers." For it stands in scripture: "you shall not plow
with an ox and an ass together" (Deut 22:10). There are many
inconveniences and disadvantages in marriages with a business man or
unbelievers. The reasons are enumerated below: righteousness and iniquity,
light and darkness, Christ and Belial, believer and unbeliever, the temple of
God and of idols. They are all incompatible.
"Belial" is another name
The quotation is from Leviticus
26:11,12 in the Septuagint.
The quotation is probably a
variation of Isaiah 52:11.
The quotation is a variation of 2
"This promise" is the
promise in 6:17,18.
narration that Paul rejoices and has confidence because of the report by Titus
Maybe he is accused of this
"I have great confidence in
you." The "confidence" means no mental barrier but trust.
"Our bodies had no rest."
The bodies included the human body and all other feelings (ref: 2:12-13).
"For even if I made you sorry
with my letter." The letter refers to
1 Cor (ref: 2:3-4).
means to reply or defend.
What "the one who did the
wrong" and "the one who suffered the wrong" refer to are
unknown. Maybe no special case was focused on. It is said that the one who did
the wrong refers to people who are immoral; the one who suffered the wrong
refers to his father (1 Cor 5:1). What Paul is
concerned about is the situation in general. Because it would not avail to
concern about personal cases when the situation is irretrievable. "But in
order that your zeal for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God."
It's the primary purpose of Paul to write 1 Cor.
(7:16) "I have perfect confidence in you." Paul has confidence
because of the report by Titus.
To exhort contributions (8:1 - 9:15)
Praising the contributions of the churches in
In the original, the
"grace" is the same word as "favor" in verse 4. In 1 Cor, it has been encouraged to contribute to the church in
Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:1-3).
There has been persecution in the
church at Thessalonica (1 The 1:6; 2:14; Acts 17:4-9).
The significance of contribution (8:6-15)
Ref: 1 Cor
1:5: "that in every way you were enriched in Him with all speech and all
By way of incarnation, the Lord
condescended from extreme richness to extreme poverty to made
us get the richness in heaven.
The spirit which we should have
The contribution may supply the want
of the church in Jerusalem (the church was the poorest one at that time). On
the other hand, it can show the mutual love and help of Jewish churches and
Gentile churches. It has great significance beyond the contribution itself
(Acts 11:27-30; 12:25; Gal 2:9-10; Rom 15:25-27).
A quotation from Ex 16:18.
Introducing the zeal of Titus and the other two
Introducing an unknown brother. Paul
notices that the person who administered financial affairs should have the
attitude of being honorable.
Introducing another brother who was
Among the three men, Titus was the
partner of Paul. Another two brothers were the messengers of the churches, the
glory of Christ.
"Before the churches"
means before the three representatives.
Asking for the preparation for their
"The brethren" refers to
the three aforesaid brothers. Paul sent them to go on to Corinth in advance
"Lest if some Macedonians come
with me." According to the custom then, maybe some Macedonians would
escort Paul to Corinth.
As for the advantages of contribution (9:6-15)
The principles of the Nature can be
applied to the spiritual world (Gal 6:6-10).
The attitude which we should have
The advantages of contribution. The
text in verse 9 is a quotation from the one in Psalms 112:9.
Paul thanks God for the compliance
of the Corinthian church and for God's grace which is mentioned in verses 8-14.
The second defense of Paul (10:1 - 12:18)
Up to now is Paul's teaching to
the good believers. So the tone was suave as an
affectionate father teaching his beloved sons, being tender and delightful. But
from this chapter on, the tone suddenly changed severely to focus on the false
apostles. Paul has to do so in order to expose their plots and protect the
Paul doesn't carry on a worldly war (10:1-18).
The false apostles criticizes Paul's
letter, saying that Paul is so humble and timid at their presence but is so
bold to the believers when he is present.
That "some who suspect us of
acting in worldly fashion" is the criticism from the false apostles. In
the original, "worldly fashion" is the same word as
To "look at what is before your
eyes" means to look at the appearance. In "if any one is confident
that he is Christ's", "any one" refers to the false apostles.
Paul boasts of the authority of his
apostleship. This authority is for the good of others, as stated in 13:10.
Stating that verse 8 is not used to
The criticism by those false
teachers who judge Paul by the appearance (10:7).
"Those who commend
themselves" are the false teachers.
"The land beyond you"
refers to Rome, by way of which Paul wishes to preach the gospel to Spain (Rom
15:28). Unlike those false teachers, Paul has his ambition for the gospel and
doesn't boast of his accomplishment.
Quoted from the summary of Jeremiah
Corinthians 1:29-31 may serve as supplementary reference. Paul's accomplishment
is based on the grace of God (1:12; 3:5; 4:7).
"The man who commends himself"
is the false teacher, while "the man who God commends" is Paul.
Asking the believers to notice about the false
Boasting is foolish (11:17), but
Paul can not but do so (12:1), for he is forced (12:11) to do them good (12:19).
Jealousy, see Song of Songs 4:5;
The false truth preached by the
The "super apostles" are
James, Peter, and John (Gal 2:6-10), not the false teachers.
Refuting the criticism of the false apostles
When Paul was at Corinth, he worked
as a tent-maker (Acts 18:1-3), which was known to all (1 Cor
4:12; 9:6). Besides, the church at Philippi in Macedonia also supported his
life expense (Phip 4:15, 16).
The false teachers received money
for their living from the church (11:20), so Paul doesn't want to take the
money offered by the church, least the false teachers would say that Paul and
they are alike.
Paul accuses them as false apostles
who are deceitful and disguising.
Paul is more laborious than others (11:16-33)
A repetition of 11:1. Paul is forced
to be foolish (12:11).
It means that the words below are
not said according to the Lord's command. Yet Paul also says that "it is
in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ" (12:19), not
telling lies (11:31). We also know that what Paul has said is inspired by the
Spirit (2 Pet 3:15,16).
Those who boast of worldly things
are the false teachers. The
"worldly things" refer to the flesh in the original text.
persecution by the false teachers in the law, in the food, in the property, and
to their personal dignity.
We are too weak to do the evil that
the false teachers do. Since the false teachers boast of themselves, Paul also
"The Hebrew" is used to
term the race, while "the Israelites" is used to refer to the Chosen
People. "Descendants of Abraham" may inherit the Lord's blessing to
Abraham (Gal 3:14,29).
In order not to violate the command
in Deuteronomy 25:3 that no more than forty stripes should be used, the Jews get rid of one stripe and use thirty-nine
stripes as the upper limit. This is nearly a death penalty.
The rod-beating punishment is used
by the Romans. Acts 16:22 has one such record, and the other two are unknown.
At Lystra Paul was stoned (Acts 14:19). The three
shipwrecks were not recorded in Acts.
Paul's thirty years of preaching the
gospel were filled with hardships.
The church at Corinth is one of the
churches that make Paul anxious.
Feeling sympathetic for other's
weakness, Paul is aware of his own weakness.
The hardships described above
indicate that Paul has neither high standing nor power in this world. Therefore
he says he is weak.
God is his witness that he is not lying.
The hardships of Paul when he was
first converted. It constitutes a strong comparison with the condition before
he was converted (Acts 9:1:2).
Paul's spiritual experience (12:1-10)
"The man in Christ" is
Paul himself. The "forty years ago" was about 43 AD, when Paul was at
Antioch or Tarsus (Acts 11:25). "The third heaven" is believed by the
Jews to be the heaven, which is also named paradise where those who were saved
would go after death (Lk 23:34; Rev 2:7).
The "thorn" is probably
his physical sickness which is a messenger of Satan.
Demonstrating the signs of a true apostle by
miracles and wonders (12:11-3)
Cf. Acts 14:3; Romans 14:17-9.
Paul and his company are never greedy (12:14-8)
Paul is willing to spend all he has
and spend his whole self.
Somebody attacks him.
They are inspired by the same spirit
to take the same step.
The purpose of his defense is to benefit the
Paul speaks the truth before God
(11:31; 12:6) in order to benefit the Corinthians.
On repentance (12:20-13:10)
Exhorting them to repent before he comes
Paul's expectation, which shows
Paul's tolerance towards them (1:23).
Paul will not tolerate anymore when he comes
Cf. Dt 19:15; Mt 18:16.
for the second visit. The second visit is not found in Acts, and the date is not
The "proof that Christ is
speaking in me[Paul]" is the proof that Paul has
the authority of an apostle, which is already mentioned (12:12; 1 Cor 4:18-21). 13:3,4 mean that
Paul would use the authority God gives him to deal with those who seek proofs.
Advising them to examine and test
their own faith.
Paul's purpose when praying that
they do no evil is for their own sake, not for Paul.
The truth is the principle,
therefore they do everything only for the truth. That they "cannot" means they have no ability.
When the Corinthians
obey the truth and be strong and when Paul does not have to use his authority,
Paul will be glad.
Paul puts off the date to go to
Corinth (1:23) and writes this letter in order to tolerate them and not to use
his authority. He considers that this authority is to benefit others, not to
destroy others (10: 8). Therefore, he takes great care to use this authority,
and he will be glad when he doesn't need to use it and is thus considered weak.
It is because of his love for the believers that many people's souls and the
Corinthian church are able to remain in Christ.
The last words (13:11-4)
Paul's expectation towards them.
On behalf of the believers in others
The fullest of Paul's benedictions
at the end of his letters. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the
love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit" are necessary to every believer.