free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!
- 2 Corinthians
by Thomas Constable
First Corinthians did not dispel the problems in the church at Corinth completely. While it resolved some of them, opposition to the Apostle Paul persisted and Paul’s critics continued to speak out against him in the church. One man in particular seems to have been the ringleader of the opposition (2Co_10:7). He had rallied the support of a significant minority. The issue was Paul’s apostolic authority. His critics were claiming authority equal with Paul’s. This was in effect a claim to apostolic authority on their part and or a denial of the full apostolic authority of Paul.
News of continuing problems in Corinth reached Paul in Ephesus during his prolonged stay there during his third missionary journey. He then made a brief visit to Corinth. However his efforts to resolve the conflicts proved unsuccessful (2Co_2:1; 2Co_12:14; 2Co_13:1-2). Paul apparently suffered insult and lost face during that visit (2Co_2:5-8; 2Co_7:12). Consequently this was a painful visit for Paul. He then returned to Ephesus.
Paul’s next step in dealing with the situation in Corinth was to send a severe letter from Ephesus by the hand of Titus and another unnamed brother (2Co_2:3-4; 2Co_7:8-12; 2Co_12:18). He apparently directed this letter, now lost, at the party opposed to him and particularly its leader. Some commentators believe that 2 Corinthians 10-13 contains part of this letter, but the evidence for this is not convincing. [Note: See Richard Batey, "Paul’s Interaction with the Corinthians," Journal of Biblical Literature 84 (1985):139-43.]
Paul evidently intended to receive Titus’ report concerning the effects of this severe letter in Ephesus. However, persecution there made it expedient for Paul to leave that city earlier than he had anticipated (Act_20:1). He found an open door for the gospel to the north in Troas. Eager to meet Titus, who was taking the land route from Corinth back to Ephesus, Paul moved west into Macedonia (2Co_2:12-13). There Titus met him and gave him an encouraging report (2Co_7:6-16). Most of the church had responded to Paul’s directives, and the church had disciplined the troublemakers (2Co_2:5-11). Unfortunately some in the congregation still refused to acknowledge Paul’s authority over them (2Co_10:1 to 2Co_13:10).
Many scholars have tried to explain the different subject matter and tone of chapters 10-13, compared with chapters 1-9. Some believe chapters 10-13 were a separate letter, specifically, Paul’s "severe letter." Others argue that it was originally part of 2 Corinthians, and that Paul wrote the whole book at one time. Most believe chapters 10-13 were originally a different letter from chapters 1-9 and the "severe letter:" a fifth letter from Paul to the Corinthians. Perhaps the best explanation is that chapters 10-13 were originally part of 2 Corinthians, but Paul wrote these chapters after he had written chapters 1-9 and after he had met Titus. [Note: See Donald A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 430-36.]
In chapters 10-13, Paul rejoiced at the repentance of the majority in the church. However his concern for the unrepentant minority and his desire to pick up the money the Corinthians had begun to collect for their poorer brethren in Jerusalem led him to write 2 Corinthians. Along with these primary motives Paul also felt compelled to refute the charge of fickleness leveled at him by his critics. He had changed his travel plans and had not come to see them as he had said he would. The whole situation provided him an opportunity to clarify the nature of Christian ministry. Like 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians is an "occasional" letter: one occasioned by concrete issues.
Paul wrote the Second Epistle to the Corinthians from Macedonia, perhaps Philippi, Thessalonica, or Berea, probably in the fall or winter of A.D. 56. A date a year earlier or later is possible.
Some commentators believe Paul wrote 1 Corinthians after his painful visit and after he wrote the severe letter. [Note: E.g., Alford, Bernard, Denney, Hughes, Lenski, Lightfoot, Sanday, Zahn, et al.] Others, and I, believe it is more probable that he wrote 1 Corinthians before these two events. [Note: E.g., Allo, Bachmann, Barnett, Barrett, Bruce, Guthrie, Harris, Kent, Lowery, Plummer, Tasker, Windisch, et al.] It is very difficult to reconstruct the details of Paul’s activities since the data available to us is incomplete.
|Paul’s Corinthian Contacts|
|Paul’s founding visit||His "former letter"||The Corinthians’ letter to him||First Corinthians||Paul’s "painful visit"||His "severe letter"||Second Corinthians||Paul’s anticipated visit|
"2 Corinthians is very different from the letters between which it was written, 1 Corinthians and Romans. Whereas each of those letters is, in its own way, systematic and orderly, 2 Corinthians is, on the face of it, uneven and digressive. It is no surprise, therefore, that many scholars have suggested that 2 Corinthians is really a collection of letters put together later as a single letter." [Note: Paul Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 15.]
"Second Corinthians presents many inspiring texts and passages to the reader and teacher of God’s Word. A quick survey reveals approximately eighty individual verses lending themselves to extended meditation and exposition, apart from the sixty or so constituent paragraphs of the letter. This letter is a rich lode for the edification of God’s people." [Note: Ibid., p. 47.]
I. Introduction 2Co_1:1-11
A. Salutation 2Co_1:1-2
B. Thanksgiving for comfort in affliction 2Co_1:3-11
1. Thanksgiving for comfort 2Co_1:3-7
2. Thanksgiving for deliverance 2Co_1:8-11
II. Answers to insinuations about the sincerity of Paul’s commitment to the Corinthians and to the ministry 2Co_1:12 to 2Co_7:16
A. Defense of Paul’s conduct with regard to his promised visit and the offender 2Co_1:12 to 2Co_2:17
1. The postponement of the intended visit 2Co_1:12 to 2Co_2:4
2. The treatment of the offender and the result of the severe letter 2Co_2:5-17
B. Exposition of Paul’s view of the ministry 2Co_3:1 to 2Co_6:10
1. The superiority of Christian ministry to Mosaic ministry 2Co_3:1-11
2. The great boldness of the new ministers 2Co_3:12 to 2Co_4:6
3. The sufferings and supports of a minister of the gospel 2Co_4:7 to 2Co_5:10
4. The life of a minister of Christ 2Co_5:11 to 2Co_6:10
C. Appeal for restoration of the Corinthians’ confidence in Paul 2Co_6:11 to 2Co_7:16
1. An appeal for large-heartedness and consistency 2Co_6:11 to 2Co_7:4
2. The encouraging response of the Corinthians so far 2Co_7:5-16
III. Instructions concerning the collection for the poor saints in Judea 2Co_8:1 to 2Co_9:15
A. The example of the Macedonians 2Co_8:1-7
B. The supreme motive for giving 2Co_8:8-15
C. The delegates of the churches 2Co_8:16-24
D. The anticipated visit of Paul 2Co_9:1-5
E. The benefits of generous giving 2Co_9:6-15
IV. Appeals concerning Paul’s apostolic authority 2Co_10:1 to 2Co_13:10
A. Replies to charges made against Paul 2Co_10:1-18
1. Reply to the charge of cowardice 2Co_10:1-6
2. Reply to the charge of weakness 2Co_10:7-11
3. Reply to the charge of intrusion 2Co_10:12-18
B. Claims made by Paul 2Co_11:1 to 2Co_12:18
1. Paul’s reasons for making these claims 2Co_11:1-6
2. Freedom to minister without charge 2Co_11:7-15
3. Paul’s service and sufferings 2Co_11:16-33
4. Special revelations Paul received 2Co_12:1-10
5. Paul’s supernatural miracles and paternal love 2Co_12:11-18
C. Exhortations in view of Paul’s approaching visit 2Co_12:19 to 2Co_13:10
1. Paul’s concerns 2Co_12:19-21
2. Paul’s warnings 2Co_13:1-10
V. Conclusion 2Co_13:11-14
A. The exhortation 2Co_13:11-12
B. The salutation 2Co_13:13
The benediction 2Co_13:14
Brommall’s simple, memorable outline is worth noting. [Note: Wick Broomall, "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1262-63.]
The conciliation 2Co_1:1 to 2Co_7:16
The collection 2Co_8:1 to 2Co_9:15
The credentials 2Co_10:1 to 2Co_13:14
Alford, Henry. The Greek Testament. 4 vols. Reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n. d.
Bailey, Mark L., and Thomas L. Constable. The New Testament Explorer. Nashville: Word Publishing Co., 1999. Reprinted as Nelson’s New Testament Survey. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999.
Balge, Richard D. "Exegesis of 2Co_9:1-7." Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly 85:3 (Summer 1988):220-29.
Barclay, William. The Letters to the Corinthians. 2nd ed. The Daily Study Bible. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1962.
Barnett, Paul. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament series. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997.
Barrett, C. K. A Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Harper New Testament Commentaries series. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.
Batey, Richard. "Paul’s Interaction with the Corinthians." Journal of Biblical Literature 84 (1965):139-46.
Baxter, J. Sidlow. Explore the Book. 6 vols. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1965.
Broomall, Wick. "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians." In The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, pp. 1261-82. Edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison. Chicago: Moody Press, 1962.
Brown, Perry C. "What Is the Meaning of ’Examine Yourselves’ in 2Co_13:5?" Bibliotheca Sacra 154:614 (April-June 1997):175-88.
Bruce, F. F., ed. 1 and 2 Corinthians. New Century Bible series. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, Oliphants, 1971.
Carson, Donald A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. 8 vols. Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948.
Chitwood, Arlen L. Judgment Seat of Christ. Norman, Okla. The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 1986.
Dahms, John V. "Dying with Christ." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36:1 (March 1993):15-23.
Dalton, William J. "Is the Old Covenant Abrogated (2Co_3:14)?" Australian Biblical Review 35 (1987):88-94.
Darby, John Nelson. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. 5 vols. Revised ed. New York: Loizeaux Brothers Publishers, 1942.
Decker, Rodney J. "The Church’s Relationship to the New Covenant." Bibliotheca Sacra 152:607 (July-September 1995):290-305; 608 (October-December 1995):431-56.
Dictionary of the Apostolic Church. Edited by James Hastings. 1915 ed. S. v. "Corinthians, Epistles to the," by G. H. Clayton.
Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by James Hastings. 1910 ed. S. v. "Corinthians, Second Epistle to the," by Archibald Robertson.
Dillow, Joseph C. The Reign of the Servant Kings. Miami Springs, Fla.: Schoettle Publishing Co., 1992.
Doty, W. G. Letters in Primitive Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973.
Flanagan, James L. "The Relief Offering for the Saints in Jerusalem." Luther Rice Theological Journal 3 (Spring 1985):17-27.
Forbes, Christopher. "Comparison, Self-Praise and Irony: Paul’s Boasting and the Conventions of Hellenistic Rhetoric." New Testament Studies 32:1 (January 1986):1-30.
Fung, Ronald Y. K. "The Nature of the Ministry according to Paul." Evangelical Quarterly 54 (1982):129-46.
Furnish, Victor Paul. II Corinthians. Anchor Bible series. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1984.
Gaebelein, Arno C. The Annotated Bible. 4 vols. Reprint ed. Chicago: Moody Press, and New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1970.
Garrett, Duane A. "Veiled Hearts: The Translation and Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 3." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 53:4 (December 2010):729-72.
Gaventa, Beverly R. "Apostle and Church in 2 Corinthians." In Pauline Theology. Vol. II: 1 & 2 Corinthians, pp. 182-99. Edited by David M. Hay. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.
Gleason, Randall C. "Paul’s Covenantal Contrasts in 2Co_3:1-11." Bibliotheca Sacra 154:613 (January-March 1997):61-79.
A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. By C. H. Wilke. Revised by C. L. Wilibald Grimm. Translated, revised and enlarged by Joseph Henry Thayer, 1889.
Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction. 3 vols. 2nd ed. London: Tyndale Press, 1966.
Harless, Hal. "The Cessation of the Mosaic Covenant." Bibliotheca Sacra 160:639 (July-September 2003):349-66.
Harris, Gregory H. "Satan’s Work as a Deceiver." Bibliotheca Sacra 156:622 (April-June 1999):190-202.
Harris, Murray J. "2 Corinthians." In Romans-Galatians. Vol. 10 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. 12 vols. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.
Hay, David M. "The Shaping of Theology in 2 Corinthians: Convictions, Doubts, Warrants." In Pauline Theology. Vol. II: 1 & 2 Corinthians, pp. 135-55. Edited by David M. Hay. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.
Hodge, Charles. An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Thornapple Commentaries series. Robert Carter & Brothers, 1859; reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980.
Hodges, Zane C. Absolutely Free! A Biblical Reply to Lordship Salvation. Dallas: Redencion Viva, and Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, Academie Books, 1989.
_____. Grace in Eclipse. Dallas: Redencion Viva, 1985.
Hoyt, Samuel L. "The Judgment Seat of Christ and Unconfessed Sins." Bibliotheca Sacra 137:545 (January-March 1980):32-40.
_____. "The Negative Aspects of the Christian’s Judgment." Bibliotheca Sacra 137:546 (April-June 1980):125-32.
Hughes, Philip Edgcumbe. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament series. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by James Orr. 1957 ed. S. v. "Corinthians, Second Epistle to the," by R. Dykes Shaw.
Ironside, Harry A. Addresses on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Publishers, n.d.
Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whiston. Antiquities of the Jews and The Wars of the Jews. London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1866.
Keener, Craig S. 1-2 Corinthians. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Kent, Homer A., Jr. A Heart Opened Wide. New Testament Studies series. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982.
Kinnebrew, Jim. "The Gospel of Affluence." Mid-America Theological Journal 9:2 (Fall 1985):49-65.
Kraftchick, Steven J. "Death in Us, Life in You." In Pauline Theology. Vol. II: 1 & 2 Corinthians, pp. 156-81. Edited by David M. Hay. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.
Lange, John Peter, ed. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. 12 vols. Reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960. Vol. 10: Romans and Corinthians, by J. P. Lange, F. R. Fay, and Christian Friedrich Kling. Translated by J. F. Hurst, Daniel W. Poor, and Conway P. Wing.
Lenski, Richard C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians. Reprint ed., Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961.
Lieu, Judith M. "’Grace to You and Peace’: The Apostolic Greeting." Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 68:1 (Autumn 1985):161-78.
Lindars, Barnabas. "The Sound of the Trumpet: Paul and Eschatology." Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 67:2 (Spring 1985):766-82.
López, René A. "A Study of Pauline Passages with Vice Lists." Bibliotheca Sacra 168:671 (July-September 2011):301-16.
Lowery, David K. "2 Corinthians." In Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament pp. 551-86. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1983.
_____. "A Theology of Paul’s Missionary Epistles." In A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, pp. 243-97. Edited by Roy B. Zuck. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.
MacArthur, John F., Jr. Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993.
_____. The Gospel According to Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, Academie Books, 1988.
Machen, J. Greshem. The Origin of Paul’s Religion. New York: Macmillan, 1921.
Martin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians. Word Biblical Commentary series. Waco: Word Books, 1986.
_____. "The Setting of 2 Corinthians." Tyndale Bulletin 37 (1986):3-19.
Mason, Clarence E., Jr., "The Day of Our Lord Jesus Christ." Bibliotheca Sacra 125:500 (October-December 1968):352-59.
McCaughey, J. D. "The Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ." Australian Biblical Review 35 (1987):95-98.
Morgan, G. Campbell. The Corinthian Letters of Paul. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1946.
_____. Living Messages of the Books of the Bible. 2 vols. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1912.
Moulton, James Hope. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament. 4 vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. 1908-76. Vol. 3 (1963): Syntax, by Nigel Turner.
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. "’Being at Home in the Body We Are in Exile from the Lord’ (2Co_5:6 b)." Revue Biblique 93:2 (April 1986):214-21.
_____. "Paul and Macedonia: The Connection Between 2Co_2:13-14." Journal for the Study of the New Testament 25 (October 1985):99- 103.
The NET (New English Translation) Bible. First beta printing. Spokane, Wash.: Biblical Studies Press, 2001.
The New Scofield Reference Bible. Edited by E. Schuyler English, et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.
O’Neill, John. "The Absence of the ’In Christ’ Theology in 2 Corinthians 5." Australian Biblical Review 35 (1987):99-106.
Page, Sydney H. T. "Satan: God’s Servant." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50:3 (September 2007):449-65.
Patterson, Richard D. "Metaphors of Marriage as Expressions of Divine-Human Relations." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51:4 (December 2008):689-702.
Phillips, J. B. The New Testament in Modern English. New York: Macmillan, 1958.
Plummer, Alfred. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Reprint ed. The International Critical Commentary series. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1966.
Pyne, Robert A. "Antinomianism and Dispensationalism." Bibliotheca Sacra 153:610 (April-June 1996):141-54.
Pyne, Robert A., and Matthew L. Blackmon. "A Critique of the ’Exchanged Life.’" Bibliotheca Sacra 163:650 (April-June 2006):131-57.
Robertson, Archibald Thomas. Word Pictures in the New Testament. 6 vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1931.
Ryrie, Charles C. "The End of the Law." Bibliotheca Sacra 124:495 (July-September 1967):243-44.
Sarles, Ken L. "A Theological Evaluation of the Prosperity Gospel." Bibliotheca Sacra 143:572 (October-December 1986):329-52.
Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. 8 vols. 1858; 3rd rev. ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1966.
Shultz, Gary L., Jr. "The Reconciliation of All Things in Christ." Bibliotheca Sacra 167:668 (October-December 2010):442-59.
Tasker, R. V. G. The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. London: Tyndale Press, 1964.
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Edited by Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich. Translated and edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. 1964-74. S. v. "apostolos," by Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, 1 (1964):407-47.
Thompson, James W. "Ministry in the New Testament." Restoration Quarterly 27:3 (Third Quarter 1984):143-56.
Thorsell, Paul R. "The Spirit in the Present Age: Preliminary Fulfillment of the Predicted New Covenant According to Paul." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 41:3 (September 1998):397-413.
van Unnik, W. C. "The Christian’s Freedom of Speech in the New Testament." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library of the University of Manchester 44 (1961-62):466-88.
_____. "’With Unveiled Face,’ and Exegesis of 2 Corinthians iii 12-18." Novum Testamentum 6:2-3 (1963):153-69.
Wall, Joe L. Going for the Gold. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991.
Walvoord, John F. "The Church in Heaven." Bibliotheca Sacra 123:490 (April-June 1966):99-103.
_____, ed. Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology. 2 vols. Abridged ed. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1988.
Ware, Bruce A. "The New Covenant and the People(s) of God." In Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition, pp. 68-97. Edited by Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.
Warren, Rick. The Purpose-Driven Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002.
Waters, Larry J. "Paradoxes in the Pauline Epistles." Bibliotheca Sacra 167:668 (October-December 2010):423-41.
Webb, William J. "What Is the Unequal Yoke (hetepozygountes) in 2Co_6:14?" Bibliotheca Sacra 149:594 (April-June 1992):162-79.
_____. "Who Are the Unbelievers (apistoi) in 2Co_6:14?" Bibliotheca Sacra 149:593 (January-March 1992):27-44.
Wenham, John. "The Identification of Luke." Evangelical Quarterly 63:1 (1991):3-44.
Whiteley, D. E. H. The Theology of St. Paul. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1964.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. 2 vols. Wheaton: Scripture Press, Victor Books, 1989.
Wilkin, Bob. "Test Yourselves to See If You Are in the Faith: Assurance Based on Our Works? 2Co_13:5." Grace Evangelical Society News 4:10 (October 1990):2.
Woodcock, Eldon. "The Seal of the Holy Spirit." Bibliotheca Sacra 155:618 (April-June 1998):139-63.
Wright, N. T. "On Becoming the Righteousness of God." In Pauline Theology. Vol. II: 1 & 2 Corinthians, pp. 200-208. Edited by David M. Hay. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30