Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary

Godly Integrity
2 Corinthians 1:12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus. 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. (NKJV)

On his third missionary journey, after ministering in Ephesus for two years and three months, the Apostle Paul left for Macedonia in May, A.D. 56. In Macedonia he visited churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

Paul was in Macedonia from June to November of A.D. 56. It was there that he wrote the letter of 2nd Corinthians, likely in September and October of A.D. 56.

This letter was written to the church at Corinth, Greece, in response to events happening in the church there. While Paul was in Macedonia Titus came to him from Corinth with news from the church.

Titus reported that the church in Corinth was beset by false teachers. These false teachers were undermining Paul’s teachings and questioning his apostolic authority, and so Paul responded with this letter. He began the letter by attempting to reaffirm his apostolic authority.

Some of the criticism directed towards Paul was that he had changed his travel itinerary. Initially Paul intended to travel to Corinth from Ephesus, but here he is now in Macedonia and writing them a letter instead of actually being there with them in Corinth.

So, in this passage, Paul is attempting again to reaffirm his apostolic authority with the Corinthian Christians. The false teachers had attempted to undermine his teachings.

Apparently, they pounced again, this time upon his Godly integrity, when he did not travel directly to Corinth as he had planned. Therefore, Paul now attempts to not only reaffirm his apostolic authority but also to affirm his Godly integrity.

Paul begins by assuring them that he always relates with them in Godly integrity by writing: “that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God” (v. 12a). And this Godly integrity is expressed even “more abundantly toward you”, the Corinthian Christians (v. 12b).

Here, Godly integrity is expressed as “simplicity and godly sincerity…by the grace of God”. It is simply following God through His strength, and not our own.

Next, Paul adds that they should not read more into the letter than his actual words (v. 13a). They do not need to read between the lines. And they should always be assured of this regarding Paul’s writings and words, for the rest of their lives (v. 13b).

Paul acknowledges that some of them, not all of them, will boast of Paul and his helpers’ influence upon them, just as Paul and his helpers boast in them (v. 14a). This is a reference to “the day of the Lord Jesus”, specifically at the Judgment Seat of Christ when all believers receive their rewards (v.14b).

After reminding them of his integrity and esteem for them, Paul addresses why he changed his travel itinerary (v. 15a). His initial intention was for him to come to the church in Corinth upon leaving Ephesus (v. 15b).

In this way they would have a “second benefit” of his presence when he returned back through Corinth on his way back to Jerusalem (v. 15c). The change in itinerary meant that he would only visit them once, prior to returning home (v. 16).

Paul assures the Corinthian Christians that he did not make his initial itinerary “lightly” (v. 17a). When he makes plans, he does not plan as those of the world who do not first submit their plans to God (v. 17b).

His plans are not “Yes, Yes, and No, No?” (v 17c). They are not subject to his personal whims, to be changed as the wind blows.

Instead his plans are like his preaching, through our “faithful” God (v. 18a). The preaching of Paul and his helpers, Timothy and Silas, to the Corinthian Christians was from the never changing God who is faithful to His Word (v. 19).

All of God’s promises are faithful to be honored, “and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (v. 20). And it is God Himself who has established Paul’s ministry and anointed him and his helpers (v. 21).

Also, God has sealed them with the Holy Spirit as a “guarantee” of what is to come, the full heritance of God (v. 22). The blessings of God upon all Christians today will be even more full in the future.

Paul lived his life with Godly integrity. He always sought for his “yesses” to be yes and his “nos” to be no.

However, as Christians, we understand that we also are human, and we make mistakes. We always seek to be in the center of God’s will but we sometimes misunderstand the path toward that goal.

We make decisions that we think are God’s will, only to find out later that we are being led in a different direction. That was the case with Paul. He thought that the Lord wanted him to minister directly to the Corinthians at this time, only to find out that the Lord wanted him to first write a letter.

Paul was open to the Lord’s leading even though it required a change in plans that made some people unhappy. Such is the Christian life.

Our goal should always be to follow the Lord, the best as we know how. Sometimes that requires us to change our plans.

For example, us ministers can prepare a sermon that we believe is perfect for the congregation. And yet, when we get before the congregation, we are to follow the Holy Spirit, who sometimes gives us different words or even a different direction for our sermon at that time. We must always be open to the Holy Spirit speaking through us.

Our plans are not always God’s plans, even if we think we have submitted them to Him first. Ours is only to follow. That is Godly integrity.