Because preachers often don’t know the Scriptures, they avoid telling you the context in which something’s said, giving out only “sound bites” meant to uplift and motivate.

 

An ever-popular prayer verse for the Purpose Driven-trained clergy is II Corinthians 2:14: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

 

But, as Jordan says, “They never tell you the context from verse 12 and 13 and you think, ‘Well, the preacher has got the joy, joy, joy down in his heart. He’s always got the victory; always on top of the rock. Hallelujah, he never has a bad day!’ ”

 

*****

 

Just as the Book of II Corinthians as a whole reveals the darkest hour of Paul’s ministry, II Corinthians 2:12-13 sheds light on one of the things that had him most anxious and torn up: “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,
[13] I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.”

 

Jordan says, “Notice he leaves the new converts there! Instead of pressing the work forward at this new church he’s started, he leaves because of his personal concerns about Titus. He’s thinking, ‘Where’s Titus?! He didn’t show up! Has something happened to him and our enemies assaulted him? He’s going around with the collection for Jerusalem—has somebody robbed him?! Is he laying dead in a ditch somewhere?!

 

“I mean, he’s wound up in worry, and of course, in chapter 7 he finds Titus and is much encouraged, but here in the midst of all this he doesn’t know what’s going on. There’s been this great stir at Ephesus by the opposition there. The people were worshipping Diana and all that stuff. There’s this constant uncertainty and fear about his own situation and about the situation with Titus and he’s all concerned for Titus’ safety.

 

“I say that to remind you that there are things going on in this passage that are very similar to your life, because when you get to verse 14, everything turns around. You look at verse 12 and 13; do you see any triumph? Not much. Even when you say, ‘Well, a church is getting established!’ . . . yeah, but Paul’s leaving them! I mean, he doesn’t even stay there to finish the job.”

 

*****

 

What’s particularly telling is how Paul expounds on his circumstances in II Corinthians 7:5-6: ‘For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”

 

Jordan says, “Notice the way he describes himself. Cast down. That’s a way of saying he was depressed. If you come back to chapter 4, he describes it in vivid terms. He says, ‘We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; troubled at every hand.’

 

“So he’s troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and he’s cast down. You ever been there? I enjoy II Corinthians frankly because all these things Paul’s experiencing, I’ve known about them first-hand.

 

“Paul’s going through a period of tremendous personal upheaval as well as ministry upheaval. He just got down in the dumps. You ever get punked out? Just tired and ‘take this job and shove it’ kind of thing? Well, that’s the way Paul was. Maybe you don’t think of the great apostle—the great man of God with the power of God working in his life—getting down in the dumps, punked out and wanting to quit?

 

“He’s all tore up inside, internally. Verse 7:5 says he was ‘troubled on every side; WITHOUT were fightings, within were fears.’ You remember how we looked back in Acts 19 about that big stir at Ephesus and all? In chapter 1, he said ‘we had the sentence of death within ourselves.’ Paul literally faced the possibility of being assassinated and murdered at that time, and he said ‘within were fears.’

 

“If you go back to Acts 18 when Paul’s at Corinth the first time, the Lord actually had to appear to him personally and say to him, ‘Be of good cheer—nobody’s going to do you any harm here.’ He wrote (the saints) in I Corinthians 2 that ‘I was with you in much fear and trembling and weakness.’

 

“We usually think of the apostles as people that never met anybody they weren’t the match for. They never were hesitant; they never had their back up. They were always just bold as a lion going through tearing up town, and it really wasn’t that way with Paul. It’s always fascinated me that the Lord had to do this with Paul in Acts 18.”

 

*****

 

As Acts 18:9-10 reports, “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
[10] For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”

 

Jordan says, “Now, the Lord doesn’t appear to you and to me like that today. These are special interventions, but just imagine the Lord looks at Paul and sees the need to come and tell him this. He had to have been in terribly difficult straits and Christ says, ‘Be not afraid.’ Well, obviously he had been afraid! He says, ‘But speak and hold not thy peace.’ Obviously Paul was tempted just to be quiet.

 

“The satanic attack against the Body of Christ is two-fold. Plan A: Attack the message; corrupt the message. Get somebody to mess up the message so the message isn’t clear.

 

“If that won’t work, Plan B: Attack the messenger. Discourage, discredit, get him to quit talking.

 

“Just the fact Christ had to say that to Paul—‘Don’t worry, nobody’s gonna hurt you’—

 obviously people we’re trying to!”

 

*****

 

Even in Paul’s darkest hour personally of his ministry, he never quit preaching the gospel. Remarkably, he was also able to establish a church at Troas.

 

Jordan says, “We’ve seen already that Paul wrote the book of II Corinthians during the time period of Acts 20:1, in which it says,  And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.
[2] And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,
[3] And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.’

 

“It’s this period of time here where he writes II Corinthians. He’s preached in Troas and as he sails back . . .  that’s where he went and preached in the third loft and Uticus falls out and is dead and he raises him from the dead. That’s at Troas.

 

“So in spite of the depression, and the darkness, and the difficulties, and ‘the fightings without and the fears within,’ Paul still stuck at it and preached. He didn’t quit in spite of his own personal feelings of inadequacy and the, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ He kept at it and the result was a church got started. And he visits that church on the return visit.

 

“You know what changed Paul’s attitude from verse 12 and 13—the depression—to the triumph in verse 14? You see those two words “in Christ”? There’s a deliberate contrast put here.

 

“The negative tone of verse 12 and 13 changes to the tone of victory in verses 14-16. You see that second word ‘thanks’ in verse 14? That’s where it came from! You see the thing that changed the negatives to the victories is ‘now THANKS be unto God.’

 

“That’s a mental attitude and the mental attitude changed the fears within. He took his eyes off his problems, took his eyes off his feelings and what was going on around him and he looked away to who he was in Christ and what God was doing in him in Christ. When you take your eyes off of you and you look to Christ, it’s easy to give thanks. There’s a lot there to give thanks for.”