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2 Corinthians

General

What is stated in the previous section regarding the general information about the first Corinthian letter also applies to the second.

The believers at Corinth, the capital of the Roman province of Achaia, lived in an important port and commercial city. As a result, the local culture was partly influenced by outside influences. In addition to worldly entertainment, the Corinthians also engaged in the worship of all kinds of gods.

Writer and origin

Where Paul wrote the first letter to Corinth with Sosthenes, he wrote this second letter with "Timothy the brother" (chap. 1:1).

We know from Acts that Paul also visited the city of Corinth himself (Acts 18:1-17). At the same time in this second letter he writes about a second visit to his readers (chap. 1:15 and 16), while in chapter 12:14 he says: "Behold, it is already the third time that I am ready to to come ...". Also in chapter 13:1 and 2 we read about a third time: "...the third time that I came to you (...) when I was with you the second time."

It seems - at first sight - contradictory, but probably we should see it all this way: Paul went from Ephesus for a short visit to Corinth, but did not arrive in Corinth itself, but in Achaia. (For he writes this letter to the church of God in Corinth and to all the saints in all Achaia). That was Paul's purpose (see 2 Cor. 1:16, where he refers to a second visit to Corinth, "your city" in the sense). 2 Corinthians 1:23 says, however, that he was no more at Corinth; chapter 13:1 and 2, however, does speak of a "second time." So here we must assume that he was in Achaia, but not in Corinth. The words "with you" from 2 Corinthians 13:2 then refer to saints in Achaia, but not to the believers in Corinth. After this short visit (of which we do not read directly about anything), he arrives (probably after some time in Ephesus) in Troas (chap. 2:12), where he (apparently by convention) hoped to see Titus. If Titus is not there, he continues to Macedonia (chap. 2:13). There in Macedonia they meet again (chap. 7:5 and 6). Titus now has good tidings (chap. 7:5-16).

Thus Paul can say in 2 Corinthians 12:14 and 13:1 and 2 that he is ready for the third time to go to them, of which the first time he was in Corinth itself (Acts 18:1) the second time in Achaia (the area in which Corinth is located) and the third time again in Corinth for a period of three months (Acts 20:2 and 3, "Greece"). So he is writing this letter from Macedonia; this was probably in the fall of 57.

Structure

A. 1:1, 2 Introduction.
B. 1:3-11 Thanksgiving.
C. 1:12 The character of Paul's ministry.
D. 1:13 and 14 This letter.
E. 1:15 and 16 Paul's intended visit.
F. 1:17-2:2 Defense of his actions.
G. 2:3-11 Earlier letter. Intention.
H. 2:12 and 13a No rest for his spirit.
I. 2:13b Journey to Macedonia.
B. 2:14-17 Thanksgiving.
C. 3:1-7:4 The character of Paul's ministry.
H. 7:5-7 No rest according to the flesh.
G. 7:8-16 Earlier letter. Elaboration.
I. 8:1-9:15 Churches in Macedonia.
F. 10:1-12:13 Defense of his actions.
E. 12:14-13:1 Paul's intended visit.
D. 13:2-10 This letter.
A. 13:11-14 Closing.

Purpose and content

Again Paul writes about his ministry and the disposition in which he carries it out, albeit in a somewhat milder tone. Perhaps this was because the Corinthians had somewhat heeded his admonitions in the first letter.

Particularly in the early chapters he writes about his ministry and ministry (chap. 2:16b, "task"; 3:8, "ministry of the Spirit"; 4:1, "this ministry" and 5:18, "ministry of the Spirit"; reconciliation"). From chapter 3 in particular, it is clear that this ministry had everything to do with the new covenant (that of the Spirit), which had begun with the outpouring of the spirit (Acts 2). Also at the end of 2 Corinthians 6 we find another reference to Jeremiah 31, the chapter which foretells the conclusion of the new covenant (vv. 31-33). The new covenant is a covenant between Man (the LORD) and woman (Israel). That is why Paul later writes in this letter: "...I have bound you to one man, that I may present you as a chaste virgin before Christ" (chap. 11:2).

In chapters 10-12 we find further details about Paul's disposition and the circumstances and opposition in which he had to carry out his task. In particular, the eleventh chapter (vs. 21-28) describes what the apostle had to go through. Things that made him weak besides his "thorn in the flesh". However, the key text that follows shows how Paul was able to endure all this; these words may also be an encouragement for us!

core text

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient unto thee: for the power is first made fullest in weakness" (chap. 12:9).