So look for statements about God’s promises as we read these verses [2 Cor 1:17-22]
Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Do I make my plans like so many people, saying “Oh, yes, I’ll do that for you!” but then changing my mind and saying “No, I won’t do that!” when I think that will be better for me? No! God is faithful – and before God we are faithful as His agents. For Jesus Christ does not change His mind regarding you, saying “Yes” and then “No.” Rather, just as we proclaimed and lived out Christ among you, in Him every promise of God is “Yes!” Think about the way He has fulfilled His promises: He has strengthened us together with you, He has anointed us, He has sealed us, He has given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. That is why through Christ we give our “Yes! Yes! All right! Oh, good!” to the glory of God.
Paul says, “Every promise of God is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. If you are in Christ – and I am confident that you are – you will be the recipient of every one of those promises. God will not say ‘No’ to anything that is not both for your good and for His glory.
This is another way of expressing what Paul says in Romans 8:28:
And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Verses 21 and 22 detail some of those promises, some of the things that are working toward their good. What does Paul describe here? Does he say, “See how God fulfills His promises! Look at that new fishing boat he gave you! Think of how you were healed of your disease! Think of the wonderful marriage you have!” No! These all may be good gifts from God – but they are not the fulfillment of His promises. God never promises His people an abundance of material possessions, healing from disease, or wonderful marriages.
But the promises He does make are much better – “everything we need for life and godliness” as we read in 2 Peter 1:3. What specific promises does he highlight in our passage?
First, “He has strengthened (or ‘established’) us.” We stand firm in Christ because of God’s power. And we will continue to stand firm to the end, protected by the power of God. As we sang earlier,
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand!
Till he returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!
Second, “He has anointed us.” This is an Old Testament image. Remember how the prophet Samuel anoints David for special service, for being the king. He pours oil on his head, as a picture of the Holy Spirit coming upon him. Just so, says Paul, God has anointed His people for special service. We understand through other passages such as 1 Corinthians 12 that one way God does this is through giving spiritual gifts to believers.
Third, He has sealed us as a mark of ownership and protection.
Fourth, He has given us His Spirit in our hearts as a down payment. Note that Paul holds that every Christian has the Spirit. For the Spirit Himself is the one who brings about the first three items on this list – strengthening us, anointing us, sealing us. So here the emphasis is not so much on Spirit’s actual presence but on what that presence guarantees: the “down payment” of our eventual life with Him. Paul says, “You know we have the Spirit now – and anyone who has the Spirit now has the promise of spending eternity in God’s presence, face to face with Him!”
These are the promises that are “Yes!” in Christ Jesus – and they are much better than new fishing boats, healing from physical disease, and good marriages!