Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

- 2 Corinthians

by Daniel Whedon



A FEW weeks after despatching the first epistle to Corinth by Titus, Paul left Ephesus, upon what proved to be his third missionary tour, for account of which see our Outline History, commencing this volume. On his way to Macedonia, he arrived at Troas, on the Hellespont, where, although a door was opened for preaching an effective gospel, such was his reduced state of health, and such his anxiety at the non-arrival of Titus to report how the Corinthians had accepted his first letter, that he had no repose, and felt impelled to cross the Hellespont to Philippi. Here, by his own vivid description, his “flesh had no rest; without were fightings, within were fears.” The “fears” were, that the Corinthian Church, rejecting his apostleship, should apostatize from Christ. While in Macedonia, at Philippi, or some one of the Churches of that region, Titus at length arrived. His report was life and health to our apostle. Corinth had well received his letter; the incestuous sinner had been disciplined to repentance; and Paul was still acknowledged as founder-apostle of Corinth. Yet, while the apostle was thus triumphant, he was not discharged from war. There was still a small, though relentless and bitter, faction, that would task for awhile his energies. The Judaizers had been reinforced by a set of leaders who had come from Palestine with letters of recommendation from some high authority. They were bold and inventive in charges and imputations upon Paul as a spurious apostle. He had no authentic commission; his rhetoric, however powerful his letters, was weak and contemptible; he was light and fickle, as evinced by his change of purpose to visit Corinth; his assumption of miraculous power to punish delinquents was a baseless despotism.

All this report required this Second Epistle. It is a re-assertion of his gospel and his apostleship; first, in a mild and dissertatory style, as to loyal Corinth; and then, in a severe and menacing tone of comparison and measurement of character, intended for the recusant faction. Between these two parts of the epistle Paul inserts, as an appendage and practical conclusion of his dissertation to his loyal friends, an earnest exhortation in behalf of his great scheme of contributing a pecuniary gift to the Jerusalem Church. So that our epistle consists of three parts, as presented in the following scheme.

Written under earnest excitement, at a period when the apostle’s “thorn” was very poignant, this epistle is marked often by abrupt transitions and sententious style. It is, with the exception of that to the Galatians, the most polemic of all his epistles. Traces of the combat of both epistles are found in the later literature of the Church. See notes on 1 Corinthians 10:1, and Galatians 2:21. But though the discussions of this epistle touch points less fundamental, and with an argument less profound, yet the greatness of the Corinthian Church, its central position, and its apostolic history, rendered this contest the more momentous of the two.

Of the genuineness of the epistle there has never been any dispute among scholars. Renan, following his Tubingen masters, places it among the unquestionable books of the New Testament.

Click image for full-size version



St. Paul’s Maintenance of his Genuine Apostleship 2 Corinthians 1:15 to 2 Corinthians 11:17


1. That change not from fickle will, but from divine motive 2 Corinthians 1:15-22

2. His motive was, a wish not to come to their grief 2 Corinthians 1:23 to 2 Corinthians 2:4

3. Which brings up the case of the repentant incestuous sinner 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

4. His own lingering by the way at Troas and Macedonia, to hear from them, described 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

II. HIS APOSTOLIC OFFICE 2 Corinthians 3:1 to 2 Corinthians 6:10

1. It is above commendation, above the Mosaic ritualism 2 Corinthians 3:1 to 2 Corinthians 4:6

2. Antithesis of apostolic trials and triumphs resulting in glory 2 Corinthians 4:7 to 2 Corinthians 5:5

3. Consequent apostolic transparency and confidence before Christ and before men 2 Corinthians 5:6-13

4. His apostolic doctrine of Christ’s death, of renewal and reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:14-19

5. Consequent style of apostolic appeal to men to be reconciled 2 Corinthians 5:20 to 2 Corinthians 6:2

6. Such appeals sustained by a living example of purity amid calumny 2 Corinthians 6:3-10


The Exhortation to Unite in his Collections for Jerusalem 2 Corinthians 6:11 to 2 Corinthians 9:15

1. Direct exhortation of them to largeness, separateness, and sanctification 2 Corinthians 6:11 to 2 Corinthians 7:1

2. And to acceptance of himself 2 Corinthians 7:2-16

a. From his purity and affection 2 Corinthians 7:2-4

b. As instanced by his anxiety until he heard from them, and his joy in learning of their loyalty 2 Corinthians 7:5-16

3. And to furnishing liberal donations for Jerusalem 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15

a. By the Macedonian example 2 Corinthians 8:1-8

b. By Christ’s example, and by their own willing mind 2 Corinthians 8:9-12

c. By assurance of fair proportionment 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

d. And trusty conveyers 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

e. By need of their sustaining his boasts of them 2 Corinthians 9:1-5

f. By the rich reward accruing 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

g. And by the gratitude of the benefitted parties 2 Corinthians 9:12-15


The Measurement of the Apostle with his Detractors and his Chief Opposer 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10

I. PRELIMINARIES TO THE MEASUREMENT 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 11:21

1. Insinuations of his foes; his weapons, and his readiness for the issue 2 Corinthians 10:1-11

2. Their false and self-deceiving mode of measuring; his mode 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

3. Apology for self-commendation, and exculpation from detailed charges 2 Corinthians 11:1-12

4. Unmasking of the hypocrites, and apologetic announcement of the measurement 2 Corinthians 11:13-21


1. By his genuine Hebraism 2 Corinthians 11:22

2. By incomparably greater sufferings for the Gospel 2 Corinthians 11:23-33

3. By revelations, divine infliction, and miracles 2 Corinthians 12:1-12

4. By disinterestedness 2 Corinthians 12:13-18

5. By apostolic intimations, and judicial warnings, of apostolic inflictions 2 Corinthians 12:19 to 2 Corinthians 13:10