2 Corinthians 1:12-22
Godly Sincerity Founded upon Knowing Our Triune God
The background to this passage is Paul’s change of plans in which he decided not to visit Corinth as he had originally designed. He was going to visit them on his way through Macedonia (what we would call the northern part of Greece), but decided against it after the “painful visit” he paid them upon the poor reception of his first letter (i.e., 1 Corinthians), in which he was treated with contempt. Now the Corinthians are complaining about that, as if he owed them an apology. It’s all too reminiscent of Moses in the wilderness with the Israelites. The fact that Paul continued with this church, seeking to secure their allegiance to the Lord and to be reconciled to them on gospel terms, is a testimony to the Apostle’s patience, humility, and Christlike character.
He begins by speaking of “simplicity and godly sincerity,” the qualities he and his companions sought to exemplify in the world. Duplicity is to act with deceitfulness; simplicity is to do as one says and say as one shall do. It is transparent and upright. Godly sincerity is closely related and speaks to genuineness, honesty, and integrity. Paul is clear that: 1) This is only possible by the grace of God; and, 2) that this is exactly the way they have behaved before these Corinthians. Yes, Paul changed his plans, but it was not out of deceit but, as he will explain in 2:1-4, for their own good. It is the Corinthians who deceitfully and minutely dissect every word Paul says and everything Paul does for the purpose of distorting his intentions.
But what is instructive for us, and even goes unnoticed, is Paul’s reference to our Triune God in his brief apologia to this petulant church. He first asserts the veracity of his intentions by referring them to the “God who is faithful” and in whom there is no “Yes and No.” He then reminds them of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom they proclaimed among them—that in him all of God’s promises are “Yes” and never “No,” as they find their end in him. And finally, the Father having “establish(ed) us in Jesus Christ,” anoints us and seals us with “His Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” Guarantee of what? The guarantee of our ultimate redemption and salvation in which all of God’s promises will have been fulfilled. In short, Paul enlists the doctrine of the Trinity to affirm the promises of the gospel and the sincerity of his own heart regarding his intentions concerning them, and as the one who proclaimed to them the gospel in the first place, changes of plans notwithstanding. And so it is before the Triune God that our words shall be tried (Matthew 12:37). May our sincerity be grounded in Him.