2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians

2 Κορινθίους

Reading 0,39 - 13 Chapters - 257 verses - 6,092 words

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Paul is the author of this letter (see 1:1; 10:1). It is stamped with his style and contains more autobiographical material than any of his other writings.


The available evidence indicates that the year A.D. 55 is a reasonable estimate for the writ-Date ing of this letter. From 1Co 16:5-8 it may be concluded that 1 Corinthians was written from Ephesus before Pentecost (in the late spring) and that 2 Corinthians may have been written later that same year before the onset of winter. 2Co 2:13; 7:5 indicate that it was probably written from Macedonia.


The opening greeting of the letter states that it was addressed to the church in Corinth and to Christians throughout Achaia (the Roman province comprising all of Greece south of Macedonia.


It seems that Paul wrote as many as four letters to the church at Corinth: (1) the letter referred to in 1 Co 5:9; (2) 1 Corinthians; (3) the "severe" letter (see 2Co 2:3-4; see also below); (4) 2 Corinthians. After writing 1 Corinthians Paul continued his ministry at Ephesus until he heard that his letter had not completely accomplished its purpose. A group of men had come to Corinth who presented themselves as apostles. They were false teachers who were challenging, among other things, Paul's personal integrity and his authority as an apostle (see 11:4; 12:11).

In the face of this serious situation, Paul decided to make a quick trip to Corinth (12:4; 13:1-2) to see whether he could remedy the situation. The visit turned out to be painful and did not accomplish its purpose. So when Paul returned to Ephesus, he wrote the Corinthians a severe letter "out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears" (2:4), probably sending it by Titus (12:8). Some identify this letter with 2Co 10-13. Others think it has been lost.

After writing the severe letter, Paul had second thoughts. He was deeply concerned about how the Corinthians might react to it. So after the riot caused by Demetrius and his fellow silversmiths (see Ac 19:23-41), he left Ephesus and set out for Macedonia by way of Troas. He expected to meet Titus in Troas to get news of the effect of his severe letter on the Corinthian church, but Titus was not there (see 2Co 2:12-13). Still deeply concerned and despite the fact that the Lord had opened up an opportunity to preach the gospel at Troas, Paul said goodbye to the believers there and moved on to Macedonia, where he met Titus. To his relief, the news from the Corinthian church was basically good. The severe letter had brought its intended results (7:5-16). The encouraging report of Titus of the improved situation at Corinth the immediate occasion of the writing of 2 Corinthians.

How, then, does one explain the harsh tone of chs. 10-13, which is so different from the rest ,f the letter? Some think that when Paul had just completed writing the first nine chapters, a report came to him that a strong and vocal minority was still causing trouble at Corinth. So before sending off the letter he added the last four chapters to address this troublemaking Group, Others hold that chs. 10-13 were written some time after Paul had sent the first nine chapters and that they constitute a separate letter. There is, however, no manuscript evidence that warrants splitting 2 Corinthians into two parts.


Because of the occasion that prompted this letter, Paul had a number of purposes in mind:

1. To express the comfort and joy Paul felt because the Corinthians had responded favorably to his painful letter (1:3-4; 7:8-9,12-13).

2.To let them know about the trouble 112 went through in the province of Asia (1:8-11).

3.To explain why he had changed his travel plans (1:12-2:4).

4.To ask them to forgive the offending party (2:5-11).

5.To warn them not to be "yoked together with unbelievers" (6:14-7:1).

6. To explain to them the true nature (its joys, sufferings and rewards) and high calling of Christian ministry.This is the so-called great digression, but it turns out to be in some ways the most important section of the letter (2:14-7:4; 2:14). 7. To teach the Corinthians about the grace of giving and to make sure that they complete the collection for the poor Christians at Jerusalem (chs. 8-9).

8.To deal with the minority opposition in the church (chs. 10-13).

9.To prepare the Corinthians for his upcoming visit (12:14; 13:1-3,10).


The structure of the letter relates primarily to Paul's impending third visit to Corinth. The letter falls naturally into three sections:

1. Paul explains the reason for the changes in his itinerary (chs. 1-7).

2. Paul encourages the Corinthians to complete their collection in preparation for his arrival .chs. 8-9).

3. Paul stresses the certainty of his coming, his authenticity as an apostle and his readiness to exercise discipline if necessary (chs. 10-13).


Some have questioned the unity of this letter (see above), but it forms a coherent whole, as the structure above shows. Tradition has been unanimous in affirming its unity (the early Church fathers, e.g., knew the letter only in its present form). Furthermore, none of the early Greek manuscripts breaks up the book.

How to read 2 Corinthians

Cell phone conversations go on around us all the time; you can tell how someone feels about what they’re talking about, even though you can only hear one side of the conversation! Reading 2 Corinthians is something like that. We may not know all the details, but the feelings come through loud and clear as Paul lays out his joys, sorrows, ambitions, and frustrations for the believers at Corinth. His vulnerability gives us deep insight for our own relationships with God.

The letter divides nicely into three sections. In the first seven chapters, Paul describes both the glory of the gospel message and his experiences as a minister of Jesus Christ. In the next two chapters, Paul undertakes a fund-raising campaign for the poverty-stricken church in Jerusalem. In the last four chapters, he defends himself against church members who refused to recognize his authority as an apostle and leader. In the midst of it all, a powerful lesson shines through: In your weakness, you discover God’s power!

Be especially alert for practical examples and advice on resolving conflict: personality conflicts between church members, theological conflicts over false teachings, and cultural conflicts between the church and the world.

2 Corinthians Interpretive Challenges

The main challenge confronting the interpreter is the relationship of chaps. 10-13 to chaps. 1-9. The identity of Paul's opponents at Corinth has produced various interpretations, as has the identity of the brother who accompanied Titus to Corinth (8:18, 22). Whether the offender mentioned in 2:5-8 is the incestuous man of 1Co 5 is also uncertain. It is difficult to explain Paul’s vision (12:1-5) and to identify his “thorn in [the] flesh,” the “messenger of Satan [sent] to torment [him]” (12:7).


I. Apologetic: Paul’s Explanation of His Conduct and Apostolic Ministry (chs.1-7)

II. Hortatory: The Collection for the Christians at Jerusalem (chs. 8-9)

III. Polemical: Paul’s Vindication of His Apostolic Authority (chs. 10-13)

A. Greetings (1:1-2)

B. Thanksgiving for DIvine Comfort in Affliction (1:3-11)

C. The Integrity of Paul’s Motives and Conduct (1:12-2:4)

D. Forgiving the Offending Party at Corinth (2:5-11)

E. God’s Direction in Ministry (2:12-17)

F. The Corinthian Believers - a Letter from Christ (3:1-11)

G. Seeing the Glory of GOd with Unveiled Faces (3:12-4:6)

H. Treasure in Clay Jars (4:7-16a)

I. The Prospect of Death and What It Means for the Christian (4:16b-5:10)

J. The Ministry of Reconciliation (5:11-6:10)

K. A Spiritual Father’s Appeal to His Children (6:11-7:4)

L. The Meeting with Titus (7:5-16)

A. Generosity Encouraged (8:1-15)

B. Titus and His Companions Sent to Corinth (8:16-9:5)

C. Results of Generous Giving (9:6-15)

A. Paul’s Defense of His Apostolic Authority and the Area of His Mission (ch.10)

B. Paul Forced into Foolish Boasting (chs.11-12)

C. Final Warnings (13:1-10)

D. Conclusion, Final Greetings and Benediction (13:11-14)

2 Corinthians Horizontal

God's character in 2 Corinthians

  1. God is comforting - 1:3; 7:6

  2. God is glorious - 4:6

  3. God is loving - 9:7; 13:11

  4. God is merciful - 1:3

  5. God is powerful - 6:7; 9:8; 13:4

  6. God is a promise keeper - 1:20; 6:18; 7:1

  7. God is reconciling - 5:18;, 19

  8. God is spirit - 3:17

  9. God is true -1:20

Christ in 2 Corinthians

Paul's second letter to the Corinthians revels Jesus Christ as the One who comforts the persecuted (1:5; 12:9), fulfills the promises of God (1:20), remains Lord over humanity (4:5), and perfectly reconciles believers to God (5:19). Paul declares believers to be a new creations reconciled by Christ's atonement for sin "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (5:21).