1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?
2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
commend (v.1) = establish, lit. “stand together” in the sense of “lining up” with each other to support something.
ministered (v.3) = lit. “wait at a table,” particularly of a slave who waits on guests, serve
tablets of stone (v.3) — The 10 Commandments. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them” (Exodus 24:12).
[Paul] did not need, as other preachers did, including Apollos (see Acts 18:27), letters of commendation, for the Corinthians themselves were his letters of commendation; and he affectionately adds that that letter was written in his heart, and that it was written in such large letters that it was known and read of all men. That is, the Corinthians made so public a profession of Christ that they were a large-type letter written by Christ. But the apostle’s ministry (v.3) had won them to Christ, therefore they by their Christian life and testimony commended him as a true preacher of the Gospel. He spoke of Christ sincerely, without adulterating the truth, as being sent by God, and as laboring in the continual consciousness of the presence of God (see 2 Corinthians 2:17).
Not upon dead cold stone but on the living affections of warm hearts, Christ wrote that letter with the Spirit of the Living God. — Williams, pages 898-899.
It was after Christ and His kingdom had been finally rejected and [the Jews] had sent Stephen back to God with the message, “We will not have this man to reign over us,” that God did a wonderful thing. Rather than judging Israel and the world, He saved Saul, the leader of the rebellion and appointed him an apostle to preach to all men “the gospel of the grace of God.” It was through this other apostle that the present dispensation of grace was ushered in. How far out of the way, then, were the recalcitrant Corinthians in implying that Paul was not an apostle because he was not one of the twelve, or that he should have come with “letters of commendation,” indeed, should have asked them for letters of commendation upon leaving them to minister in other areas.
Letters of commendation? What greater letter of commendation could [Paul] have had than the Corinthian Church itself, doubtless the largest of all the churches he had founded. “Need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?” he asks. — Stam, page 60.
The Lord’s people are a letter from Christ, penned by the Holy Spirit, addressed to all the world. Thus we should not only proclaim His grace to all, but live the life as well (see Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 2:6). Remember, we ourselves are the only gospel some people read with any care. — Stam, page 60.