2 Corinthians 1:21-22 And it is God who strengthens us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
The opening statement of v. 21 is significant because it makes several important connections. First, God provides all we need to make it through this life victoriously. God “strengthens” and “confirms” us. In the context of this letter, Paul particularly refers to God’s sustaining grace through various trials. God helps us stand strong, firm, and committed to his plan and will. This does not mean that we will never have problems or experience pains and sorrows. God does not keep us from trials but helps us through these. Suffering is part of the experience of being human. The word “God” comes last in this verse, showing emphasis and Paul’s firm faith that God is the one who keeps him going in all of his ministry.
Second, the phrase “us with you” shows how joining with others on this journey of life is so important. The Corinthians were a source of God’s sustaining strength for Paul. They were part of God’s answer for the suffering Paul experienced. This reflects back on Paul’s earlier statements in vv. 3-7 how God comforts us so that we can comfort others. The third element in this equation, the Corinthians, are essential to Paul’s experience of comfort, as he is the third element in their comfort. Christian fellowship is a powerful source of strength when people experience challenges.
Third, this all happens “in Christ.” It is in this deep and profound fellowship with Christ experienced through the abiding Holy Spirit that any of this strength comes. This strength is not established through human effort alone but by relying on the grace of Christ (see 12:9-10).
Fourth, the result or perhaps purpose of God’s strengthening is the anointing God has given the Corinthians and all who believe in Christ. To be anointed in the Bible means to be set aside for a special task. All believers are set aside through sanctification for God’s special use as instruments of God’s grace, love, and peace in this world.
Verse 22 adds further insights into what this anointing means. This anointing is confirmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit who is the seal and guarantee of God’s strengthening. The Holy Spirit works within us to transform us into the image of Christ (3:18) and gives us the strength to endure suffering by strengthen our faith and providing deeper fellowship with other believers. The strengthening is in our “hearts,” the deep place within where we think and choose how we will Iive and act. Thus, we are not alone to face suffering. God gives us one another, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee to us of eternal life (see Ephesian 1:13-14).
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