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2 Corinthians

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Introduction to 2 Corinthians

AUTHOR: Paul, the apostle, along with Timothy (1:1)

PLACE OF WRITING: Somewhere in MACEDONIA, while Paul was on his way to make another visit to Corinth. This would be during his third missionary journey, in a part of which Luke says very little (cf. Ac 20:1-2).

TIME OF WRITING: Possibly in the fall of 57 A.D., making it but a few months after writing First Corinthians (likely written in the spring of 57 A.D.).

MESSENGER: Titus, who was accompanied by two others on his journey (8:16-24)

BACKGROUND OF THE EPISTLE: The church in Corinth began in 52 A.D., when Paul visited there on his second missionary journey. It was then that he stayed one and a half years, the first time he was allowed to stay in one place as long as he wished. A record of this visit and the establishment of the church is found in Ac 18:1-18.

This second letter of Paul to the Corinthian church was occasioned by the report brought back by Titus, who informed Paul of their reception of the first letter, and how they received the rebuke that letter contained (2:12-13; 7:5-9).

PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: Titus' report was encouraging, but evidently it also brought troubling news that some at Corinth were questioning Paul's authority as an apostle. This doubt may have planted by "Judaizing teachers" who seemed to follow Paul and attempted to undermine his teaching concerning the Law. They appear to have questioned his veracity (1:15-17), his speaking ability (10:10; 11:6), and his unwillingness to accept support from the church at Corinth (11:7-9; 12:13). There were also some people who had not repented of their licentious behavior (12:20-21). Paul's primary purpose, then, in this epistle is:

TO VINDICATE HIS APOSTLESHIP AND MANNER OF LIFE

He hopes that by writing in advance of his visit he can get all of the necessary rebuke out of the way (1:23-2:3; 13:10). He also uses the opportunity to encourage them to have the collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem ready when he comes (9:1-5; cf. 1 Co 16:1-2).

This letter is the most biographical and least doctrinal of Paul's epistles. It tells us more about Paul as a person and as a minister than any of the others. Those who would be ministers of the gospel would do well to carefully study it (along with Paul's epistles to Timothy and Titus).

KEY VERSE: 2 Corinthians 7:2

"Open your heart to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have defrauded no one."
Brief Outline

SALUTATION AND THANKSGIVING (1:1-11)

  1. PAUL EXPLAINS HIS MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION (1:12-7:16)
    1. HE DEFENDS HIS INTEGRITY
      1. The Changed Plan (1:12-22)
      2. The Delayed Visit (1:23-2:4)
      3. The Penitent Offender (2:5-11)
    2. HE DESCRIBES HIS APOSTOLIC MINISTRY
      1. Triumphant (2:12-17)
      2. Accredited (3:1-3)
      3. Glorious (3:4-18)
      4. Honest (4:1-6)
      5. Suffering (4:7-18)
      6. Hopeful (5:1-10)
      7. Devoted (5:11-17)
      8. Reconciling (5:18-21)
      9. Approved (6:1-10)
    3. HE MAKES HIS APPEAL TO THEM
      1. To Open Their Hearts (6:11-13)
      2. To Be Separate From The World (6:14-7:1)
      3. The Comfort And Confidence They Have Given Him (7:2-16)
  2. THE COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS IN JERUSALEM (8:1-9:15)
    1. THE EXAMPLE OF MACEDONIA (8:1-5)
    2. THE BASIS FOR HIS EXHORTATION (8:6-15)
    3. THE MESSENGERS FOR THIS MINISTRY (8:16-9:5)
    4. THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO GIVE LIBERALLY (9:6-15)
  3. PAUL DEFENDS HIS APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY (10:1-13:10)
    1. EXPLANATION CONCERNING HIS CONDUCT
      1. He Uses Weapons Mighty In God (10:1-11)
      2. The Contrast Between Him And His Opponents (10:7-18)
    2. SOME FOOLISH BOASTING
      1. The Necessity For Boasting (11:1-21)
      2. The Grounds For His Boasting (11:22-12:10)
      3. His Rebuke For Compelling Him To Boast (12:11-13)
    3. HIS FINAL WARNINGS
      1. Motivated By Love, He Seeks Their Edification (12:14-19)
      2. His Fear Of What He Will Find (12:20-21)
      3. His Coming Will Be In Judgment If Necessary (13:1-6)
      4. But He Hopes To Avoid Sharp Words By Writing In Advance (13:7-10)

CONCLUDING EXHORTATIONS AND BENEDICTION (13:11-14)

Review Questions for the Introduction
  1. On which journey did the apostle Paul establish the church in Corinth?
    • His second journey
  2. Where does one read about the establishment of the church in Corinth?
  3. On which journey did Paul write both of his epistles to the Corinthians?
    • His third journey
  4. From where did Paul write his FIRST epistle to the Corinthians? (cf. 1 Co 16:8)
    • Ephesus
  5. From where did Paul write his SECOND epistle to the Corinthians? (cf. 7:5; 8:1; 9:2-4)
    • Somewhere in Macedonia (perhaps Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea?)
  6. What is the approximate date of writing?
    • The fall of 57 A.D.
  7. Whose arrival likely prompted Paul's writing of this epistle? (7:5-7)
    • Titus
  8. What sorts of things about Paul were questioned by those challenging his apostolic authority? (cf. 1:15-17; 10:10; 11:6; 11:7-9; 12:13)
    • His veracity
    • His speaking ability
    • His refusal to accept financial support
  9. What is the purpose of this epistle?
    • To vindicate Paul's apostleship and manner of life
  10. What other topic does Paul discuss in this epistle? (9:1)
    • The collection for the saints
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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