Paul feared that he would find quarreling among the Corinthian believers. We know that there was quarreling, because he mentioned it earlier in these letters. He also feared discovering among them jealousy, outbursts of anger, and factions (dividing up into exclusive groups). We know from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians that factions had indeed occurred in Corinth. There he wrote, "My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ' " (1 Cor. 1:11-12).

As Paul thinks ahead to this third visit, he wonders if this one might turn out like the second. It is a great concern to him. Paul said in verse 14 that his real objective was different from that of the false prophets, who were there to gather a following, or to make money, or to acquire a reputation. He was speaking spiritually when he said that what he wanted was not their possessions but them. Here is the heart of a true pastor who is concerned with the life, and soul, and destiny of the people to whom God sent him. He said he was not interested in wealth, but rather, in the people themselves. He is interested in whether they are going to turn from their sin and follow the Lord Jesus Christ in a wholehearted way.

In 2 Corinthians 2:13 Paul went on to remind the Corinthians that he had not taken any money from them on his previous visit. That is an interesting thing because there were places in which Paul did take it. As a matter of fact, there are other places in his writings where Paul set up ground rules for the churches, which included paying those who minister the Word.

I think there are two things that made Paul’s situation so difficult at this point. One is the hardship he had been through. I talked about opposition in another lesson; Paul had plenty of that. But it was not only opposition from without, from enemies; Paul experienced all kinds of physical difficulties as well. When we studied 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, we saw that Paul had been flogged, beaten, and imprisoned. He also underwent natural calamities, such as shipwrecks. Paul had gone without sleep and without food. When we read that list, we are likely to say, "We go through tough times, but we have never lived through anything as bad as that!"

It has struck me that there are many practical evidences for the power of God in Christianity. One of them is, in my judgment, in what we in theology call the perseverance of the saints. Perseverance is evidenced when believers in Christ do not give up in the Christian life even though there are many arguments in favor of giving up on many occasions.