When the Christians in Corinth wanted Paulís help to deal with problems in their church, Paul did not come to them. That caused some of them to think that he was not acting in a sincere manner towards them.
Paul insisted very strongly that he had acted properly. God knew the truth about these things, and Paul was responsible to God.
Paul explained why he had not come at that time. If he had come, he would have had to deal with them very strictly. There would have been arguments, and perhaps people would have left the church. Everywhere, Paul desired to encourage Christians and to make them stronger*, and not to cause them pain. So Paul considered it better to deal with these things by letter. He also sent Timothy, and later Titus, to help the Christians in Corinth.
Then Paul added an important statement about the kind of authority that a church leader has. Church leaders sometimes have to advise people, or to warn them, or even to deal strictly with them. However, the church leader must never try to control another personís relationship with God. God alone is that personís master; he never gives that kind of authority to any church leader.
So, the Christians in Corinth were wrong to imagine that Paul could deal with all their problems. What Paul could do was to work with them. Paul could teach them from the Bible and he could advise them; he could encourage them and he could pray for them. However, it was the personal responsibility of each Christian to make sure that his own relationship with God was strong. Only a Christian with a strong relationship with God will stand firm when there are troubles.
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.