In the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:1-7) Paul indicated that he would stop in Corinth on his-way to Macedonia and, after he had finished his business in Macedonia, he would come back to Corinth and spend a long time with them. Although these were his plans, the Lord ordered otherwise and Paul did not visit them. This change of plans caused many problems. Some accused Paul of levity, unfaithfulness, going back on his word and several other things. The enemies of Paul and the false teachers tried to capitalize on this and destroy Paul's influence with the Corinthian church.
(Vs. 12.) Paul answers the charge that he had falsified his word in not coming to Corinth as he had promised, by appealing to his own conscience, integrity in the faith and sincerity towards the glory of God and his church. "I rejoice to inform you and all others that my conscience and conduct, my heart and mouth behave together in simplicity (not double-mindedness) and Godly sincerity (as opposed to hypocrisy); not with fleshly wisdom (craftiness to accomplish selfish ends) but by the grace of God dwelling in me, I have acted in the world and especially towards you in sincerity and truth."
(Vs. 13.) "There is no double meaning to what we say or write. The things which I write are what you know and must acknowledge to be truth (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20,21). I hope you will acknowledge them to be true to the end of your lives."
(Vs. 14.) "In part" may refer to persons or things. "A part of you have owned us to be sincere ministers of God and have rejoiced and blessed God that you heard us, though others of you have abused us." Or, "You have in part (at one time) owned us and had cause to thank God for us. When the Lord Jesus shall come to judge the world in righteousness, I shall rejoice that my labour among you has not been in vain." What a blessing when ministers and people rejoice in each other here, and their joy shall be complete in that day!
(Vs. 15, 16.) "Therefore, being persuaded of your affection for me and my rejoicing in you and your love for Christ, I fully intended and promised to come to visit you on the way to Macedonia. The benefit you received from my first visit was to hear the gospel and be converted to Christ, so a second benefit would be your edification and growth in grace! I planned to visit you on the way to Macedonia and on my return, and to have you help me on my way to Judea." Yet, for some reason, Paul changed his plans. He deals with the matter further in verse 23 and chapter 2:1-3.
(Vs. 17.) "When I originally planned to come to you and put it in writing, did I do it lightly and carelessly, with no regard to God's will and your good? Did I not say, "If the Lord permit"? (l Cor. 16:6,7.) Do I purpose according to the flesh? Do I consult my own interest and advantage? Do I say, "Yes," when I may mean, "No"? Do my lips say one thing and my heart another?"
(Vs. 19.) The false teachers and enemies of grace had suggested that since Paul had not kept his word in. coming to them as he promised, then he was not to be depended upon in his ministry. Paul declares that as God was true to his promises, so he had taught Paul to be true to his words to them. He calls the Lord to be his witness that his words preached among them and his personal words to them were true, honest and sincere - not "yes" and "no". "Our intentions and plans are subject to the will and providence of the Lord; his promises in Christ are not subject to change (Mal. 3:6; Rom. 11:29). For the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ our Surety, Redeemer, Mediator, Prophet, Priest and King, whom we preached to you and in whom we have life through his person and work, is not "yes" and "no", but all of God's promises in him are "yes"!'
(Vs. 20.) God has made many promises to believers. These promises are all in Christ, since only he existed when they were made and since he has fulfilled all conditions by his obedience and death. Therefore, these promises are all "yes" and in him "amen" or "so be it". "Christ fulfilling, our preaching and your believing are all for the glory of God" (Eph. 1:6, 12).
(Vs. 21, 22.) Now it is God who chose us in Christ, redeemed us in Christ, called us in Christ and secures us for ever together in Christ. It is God who anoints us with his Spirit and presence in regeneration and in ministerial gifts. It is God who has owned us as his own, putting his seal upon us (Phil. 1:6). It is God who has given us the Holy Spirit himself as an earnest or pledge of the heavenly inheritance (2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14).
(Vs. 23.) Paul gives a hint as to the reason why he did not come to visit them. "I call upon God as my soul's witness; it was to avoid hurting you that I refrained from coming to Corinth. With all the disorders among you, I would have had to come with the rod of correction. I am hoping for a reformation among you that when I do come, it may be with joy."
(Vs. 24.) "Not that I have dominion over you or your faith; Christ is the author and object of faith." The minister can neither give faith nor sustain it. We are but helpers, or means and instruments, which God uses to preach the gospel and to instruct believers (1 John 1:3, 4; 1 Cor. 3:5-9).