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?
Having received criticism for not coming to Corinth when he said he would (1 Co 16:5-7), Paul now explained why he changed his travel plans to visit them (2 Co 1:15-2:4). He had already clarified how he was straightforward with them (2 Co 1:13). His opponents claimed that he was an illegitimate apostle.
And in this confidence
Paul’s plan to come to Corinth came from his belief that the Corinthians accepted the genuineness of his integrity (2 Co 1:12-14).
I intended to come to you before,
This phrase shows Paul’s original plan to visit Corinth from Ephesus, which he could not fulfill.
that you might have a second benefit [grace]—
Paul planned to visit Corinth twice on his next trip. His original purpose in visiting the Corinthians was to edify them. He bore God’s “grace” to them. His delay in coming to Corinth was an act of God.
to pass by way of you to Macedonia,
The idea was that Paul would first sail from Ephesus to Corinth, a port city on the Aegean Sea, then travel north to Macedonia and then back to Corinth again. His change of plans brought him to Macedonia initially (where he was when he wrote 2 Corinthians).
to come again from Macedonia to you,
Paul would go back to Corinth after visiting Macedonia and then sail to Judea.
and be helped by you on my way to Judea.
He would need the Corinthian church’s help financially to support the church in Jerusalem and his travels.
Paul concluded that he did not make his plans to visit Corinth lightly.
when I was planning this, did I do it lightly?
This is a question that Paul’s opponents asked. His answer was “no” (in the Greek). He never made his plans in a glib or fickle fashion. He always consulted the will of God for his next step. God overrules our plans at times.
Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh,
The apostle did not make his plans outside of the will of God. He was not dishonest about his original plan to visit Corinth. He did not make his arrangements for self-interest. Paul’s preparations rested on the sovereignty of God, not on his measly designs.
that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?
The statement was a charge by some Corinthians that the apostle vacillated in his plans toward them. However, Paul did not say “yes” but mean “no.” His answer to that question was “no” (in Greek). They accused him of not being forthright about his proposal. However, he was straightforward about what he said, but contingencies arose that kept him from coming to Corinth (Mt 5:37). Paul was not self-centered, nor did he waffle in his decision making. He was never inconsistent with what he did but always trustworthy in his plans.
Christians set their sails in the direction of where God’s winds blow.
Paul eventually came to Corinth (Ac 20:1-3). He did not talk out of both sides of his mouth for self-interest. Later he explained his reason for his change of plans (2 Co 1:23-2:2). He was in no way equivocal. His word was reliable.
Long-range plans need modification in submission to God’s will. There are times when Christian leaders make long-range plans in good faith, but God’s sovereign intervention demands a change. Since the circumstances change, the plan must change. There are people in any congregation that will take advantage of a change of plans to accuse the leader of duplicity.
Some leaders make promises that they have no intention to fulfill. These insincere promises undermine leadership. This kind of leadership is unreliable. Forthright leadership is necessary for people to have the confidence to follow.
Jas 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.