The apostle here vindicates himself from the imputation of levity and inconstancy, in that he did not hold his purpose of coming to them at Corinth. His adversaries there sought all occasions to blemish his character, and reflect upon his conduct; and, it seemed, they took hold of this handle to reproach his person and discredit his ministry. Now, for his justification,
I. He avers the sincerity of his intention (2 Cor. 1:15-17), and he does this in confidence of their good opinion of him, and that they would believe him, when he assured them he was minded, or did really intend, to come to them, and that with the design, not that he might receive, but that they might receive a second benefit, that is, a further advantage by his ministry. He tells them that he had not herein used lightness (2 Cor. 1:17), that, as he aimed not at any secular advantage to himself (for his purpose was not according to the flesh, that is, with carnal views and aims), so it was not a rash and inconsiderate resolution that he had taken up, for he had laid his measures thus of passing by them to Macedonia, and coming again to them from Macedonia in his way to Judea (2 Cor. 1:16), and therefore they might conclude that it was for some weighty reasons that he had altered his purpose; and that with him there was not yea yea, and nay nay, 2 Cor. 1:17. He was not to be accused of levity and inconstancy, nor a contradiction between his words and intentions. Note, Good men should be careful to preserve the reputation of sincerity and constancy; they should not resolve but upon mature deliberation, and they will not change their resolves but for weighty reasons.
II. He would not have the Corinthians to infer that his gospel was false or uncertain, nor that it was contradictory in itself, nor unto truth, 2 Cor. 1:18, 19. For if it had been so, that he had been fickle in his purposes, or even false in the promises he made of coming to them (which he was not justly to be accused of, and so some understand his expression, 2 Cor. 1:18; Our word towards you was not yea and nay), yet it would not follow that the gospel preached not only by him, but also by others in full agreement with him, was either false or doubtful. For God is true, and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is true. The true God, and eternal life. Jesus Christ, whom the apostle preached, is not yea and nay, but in him was yea (2 Cor. 1:19), nothing but infallible truth. And the promises of God in Christ are not yea and nay, but yea and amen, 2 Cor. 1:20. There is an inviolable constancy and unquestionable sincerity and certainty in all the parts of the gospel of Christ. If in the promises that the ministers of the gospel make as common men, and about their own affairs, they see cause sometimes to vary from them, yet the promises of the gospel covenant, which they preach, stand firm and inviolable. Bad men are false; good men are fickle; but God is true, neither fickle nor false. The apostle, having mentioned the stability of the divine promises, makes a digression to illustrate this great and sweet truth, that all the promises of God are yea and amen. For, 1. They are the promises of the God of truth (2 Cor. 1:20), of him that cannot lie, whose truth as well as mercy endureth for ever. 2. They are made in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20), the Amen, the true and faithful witness; he hath purchased and ratified the covenant of promises, and is the surety of the covenant, Heb. 7:22. 3. They are confirmed by the Holy Spirit. He does establish Christians in the faith of the gospel; he has anointed them with his sanctifying grace, which in scripture is often compared to oil; he has sealed them, for their security and confirmation; and he is given as an earnest in their hearts, 2 Cor. 1:21, 22. An earnest secures the promise, and is part of the payment. The illumination of the Spirit is an earnest of everlasting life; and the comforts of the Spirit are an earnest of everlasting joy. Note, The veracity of God, the mediation of Christ, and the operation of the Spirit, are all engaged that the promises shall be sure to all the seed, and the accomplishment of them shall be to the glory of God (2 Cor. 1:20) for the glory of his rich and sovereign grace, and never-failing truth and faithfulness.
III. The apostle gives a good reason why he did not come to Corinth, as was expected, 2 Cor. 1:23. It was that he might spare them. They ought therefore to own his kindness and tenderness. He knew there were things amiss among them, and such as deserved censure, but was desirous to show tenderness. He assures them that this is the true reason, after this very solemn manner: I call God for a record upon my soul—a way of speaking not justifiable where used in trivial matters; but this was very justifiable in the apostle, for his necessary vindication, and for the credit and usefulness of his ministry, which was struck at by his opposers. He adds, to prevent mistakes, that he did not pretend to have any dominion over their faith, 2 Cor. 1:24. Christ only is the Lord of our faith; he is the author and finisher of our faith, Heb. 12:2. He reveals to us what we must believe. Paul, and Apollos, and the rest of the apostles, were but ministers by whom they believed (1 Cor. 3:5), and so the helpers of their joy, even the joy of faith. For by faith we stand firmly, and live safely and comfortably. Our strength and ability are owing to faith, and our comfort and joy must flow from faith.