1:15 And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit— 16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea. 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? 18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
In typical Paul fashion, this section can be a little hard to grasp. Here's what happened. As you may recall from the previous letter Paul had stated that he was coming to visit them in Corinth in his travels. (1 Corinthians 16:5) However he never came. He passed by them in both directions but never stopped. You will also recall that there was controversy in Corinth over leadership. Some favoured Paul. Some favoured Apollos etc... So you can imagine those who weren't fans of Paul seized on his failure to do what he said he would do as a point of attack.
Paul then uses and a yes and no motif to explain that he isn't the kind of person to say one thing and do another. His intention was to come and he didn't take changing his plans lightly. He also reminds them they weren't left alone. Timothy and Silvanus came to them.
It's also important to note and understand that Paul's greatest concern was not his own reputation but the reputation of Jesus. He knew as an apostle that he represented Him and didn't want anyone concluding that Jesus was a yes and no Saviour, that He says one thing and doesn't follow through. He is not and yes then no Lord. He is a yes and yes. He says what He will do and He does it. Paul couldn't come but God still sent others. There was no lack.
However I believe there is something larger at play here and Paul hints at it. He says they have been sealed by God with His Spirit. In other words they are not followers of Paul or Apollos, or Peter, or anyone else. They are God's children. He is their Shepherd. He may send under shepherds to work for Him on our behalf but we must never lose sight of the fact we aren't followers of people. Leaders rise and fall. Some are better than others but none can take His place.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the nailing of the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther. He is often referred to as the father of the Reformation. However the truth is the Reformation had already started by lesser known men and it continued after him. In fact Martin at the height of his influence had to go into hiding. One wise writer later noted that this served a double purpose. It allowed Martin time to write. I had the privilege of being in the small room in a remote castle in Germany where Martin was hidden away.
It also did something else. It made the Reformation about the message, and less about a man. Others rose up to preach the messages. The work spread. Leaders were born. Men like Timothy and Silvanus rose up to replace the "big names". Moses died but Israel went on. Jesus returned to heaven but His Spirit and His followers kept the message moving forward. Men are important but they are never to be worshiped or depended on in an unhealthy way.
God was withdrawing any dependence on Paul from Corinth. He kept changing leaders until they realized God was their King.
This has ever been the struggle of men to want human heroes and in the process forget God. Heaven forbid. He has sealed us and given us His Spirit. He will never leave us nor forsake us no matter who the human leaders are.