In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 we have a marvelous example of the Divinity of God and the power of prayer. In the opening chapter of Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians he tells of dire straits unto death and how the prayers of the people affected his salvation. This should inspire us all to pray to God for others under any and all circumstances.
8) For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
We do not know what trouble Paul encountered in Asia. The word trouble or the Greek, “thlipsis” is a metaphor for some type of oppression, affliction, tribulation or distress. The 1599 Geneva Bible makes an interesting observation. “He witnesseth that he is not only not ashamed of his afflictions, but that he desireth also to have all men know the greatness of them, and also his delivery from them, although it be not yet perfect”.
Although Paul was criticized for his maladies he never tried to hide them. Instead he brought them forefront so as to show his humanity and God’s supremacy.
God which raiseth the dead
9) But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
Paul had no hope of life. Whatever it was that he encountered in Asia was so great and terrible that all hope and trust in self and life was gone. This is exactly where all Christians should be. No hope or trust in self, but in God. The more we try to hang on to our life the more we lose it. The more we lose our life to God the more we are victorious.
Many believe that verse 9 is a reference to the stoning of Paul at Lystra.
10) Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
Who else but God could deliver one from a stoning? Who else but God could deliver someone without hope and no trust in self? Who else but God delivers us from every oppression, affliction, tribulation or distress and turns it into our very good?
“That God, in his great deliverances of his people, useth to suffer them first to be brought to the greatest extremities; that in the mount of the Lord it may be seen, and that they may learn to know that their salvations are from him; more from his Almighty power, than from the virtue of any means they can use, though yet it be our duty to use what lawful means his providence affordeth us” (Matthew Poole).
Helping together by prayer
11) Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
Here we have the active participation of the Church involved in the power of prayer for Paul. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Prayer works. Praying for other people is the sacrifice of prayer that God desires. It is putting others above self in evoking divine power for the benefit of our neighbor, our fellow man.
Paul gave himself as an example of a victim to the people of some dramatic and traumatic event. Something happened unto death that was beyond human abilities. Did he, as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God try to hide it? Was he embarrassed that someone such as him, a high and holy follower of Christ was placed in such a predicament? No! He brought it to the people as a testament of God and His Divinity.
Paul also edified and encouraged the Church by highlighting the fact that what he called a “gift” by there, “helping together by prayer” was part and parcel of his salvation from the certain death in Asia. Prayer works!
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