Introduction to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians
The apostle Paul (1Cor. 1:1; 10:1);
According to the records of the Scriptures, Paul
was originally named Saul (Acts 13:9) and was an Israelite, of tribe of Benjamin
(Rom. 11:1), Hebrew of Hebrews according to the blood relationship (Phil. 3:5).
He was born in Tarsus of Cilicia, at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according
to exactness of the law of fathers (Acts 22:3). Later, according to the
strictest sect of our religion he lived a Pharisee (Acts 26:5) and was zealous
for the law of his fathers and persecuted the church (Phil. 3:6). However, Paul
did it ignorantly, in unbelief (1Tim. 1:13). One day, when he went to seize
believers of the Lord Jesus to
II. The Time and Location the Book was Written
was approximately wrote in AD
Epistle to the Corinthians was written at least one
year after the first book (see 9:2). Probably, Paul went to Troas in summer
(see 2:12) and came to
III. The Recipients
assembly of God which is in
had dwelt in
The city of
IV. The Purposes of Writing this Book
we desire to know why Paul wrote this epistle, we should firstly know the
background of this epistle. When Paul was still in
messages brought back by Titus were mostly good news, that is, most of
In accordance with the background mentioned above, we can find that Paul writes this epistle for reasons as follows:
1) To explain why he promised to go there but did not do it;
2) To introduce the principles of his walking and service;
exhort believers in
encourage believers in
exhort believers in
6) To show his apostleship and the possession of the authority of apostle though various proofs;
7) To let those who disobeyed repent, lest Paul should treat them with power when he went there the third time;
V. The Importance of this Book
Though the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is en epistle that expresses personal feeling, it still contains many important truth and examples, which makes the book not only carry great value in Theology but also provide important principles for the walking and service of the Lord’s servants and all Christians:
1) This book gives very clear revelation of the nature, character, mind and words of the Holy Trinity (see 1:10, 18-22; 4:6; 5:18-21 and etc.)
2) This book provides materials worthy of reference concerning the features and excellence of the New Testament (see chap.3).
3) This book presents clear reference concerning the importance, contrast and relationship of the flesh and the spirit (see 4:7-5:10).
4) There are good examples and explanations in this book about the responsibilities of God’s workers, principles of walking as well as the right attitude and heart they should have (see 5:11-7:16; 10:1-11:12; 12:6, 13-21; 13:1-10).
5) The book also mentions the spiritual principles of the sacrifices of money and the way of dealing with money in the church (see chap.8-9).
6) He gives good examples of the proof and authority of the apostle as well as the principles of performing authority (see 11:23-13:10).
VI. General Description
Christ and him crucified are the experience and ministry of the ministers of the New Testament. Paul dealt with the difficulties in the church with Christ and him crucified in the first book, and testified by himself in the second book that how he himself live in the reality of Christ and him crucified. He had become a minister of the New Testament and had received a ministry of glory before God because of the deep work, breaking and constitution of Christ and him crucified on him. Therefore, we can know from the First Epistle to the Corinthians and the Second Epistle to the Corinthians that what the great servant of God had done and what he was were consistent, namely, the crucified Christ.
VII. Special Points
There are special points of this book as follows:
1) Paul showed himself, and yet he still preached Jesus Christ, not himself. When the authority of the apostle of Paul was challenged by those “greatest apostles”, we can see the inner condition of him that had never been revealed and many moving things in his life and service. Therefore, this book is a book of the least theoretical color but the most personal color among all the epistles of Paul, thus making us thoroughly know the saint “in Christ”.
2) Paul’s happiness and sufferings are presented before us and his condition can be imagined from this book. Sometime, he was in the peak of joy, and sometimes in the valley of sorrow. Therefore, we know even Paul who was so strong might also be discouraged or disappointed. However, what encourages us is that the Lord Christ always gives him ample power so that he can even overcome death.
We can also see from
this epistle that how Paul dealt with his relation with the church. He loved
the church as that parents love their children. He disciplined and rebuked and
mourned them on account of their strife and division. He was concerned about
the poor saints in
4) The devices and opinions of Paul’s enemies can clearly be seen from this epistle. They are deceitful workers who transform themselves into apostles of Christ. Firstly, they gain the recognition of believers and then occupy the thoughts of believers. Besides, they slander Paul in many ways and make believers turn to doubt and despise Paul.
5) The perfect blessing words that are continually used (13:4);
VIII. It’s Relations with Other Books in the Bible
It is the dispute, rebuke and condemnation in the
to the Corinthians so that believers
1) The first book deals with various problems in the church, and the second one solves many problems inside believers.
2) The first book corrects believers’ opinions upon and working of gifts and the second one corrects believers’ opinions upon ministry.
3) The first book helps the church to be preserved from the influence of the world and the heresy, and the second one helps the church to resist the influence of the false apostles and the heresy.
4) The first book points out the truth and principles of the true love of Christians, and the second one expresses the examples and practices of the true love of Christians.
5) The first book mainly deals with the problems among believers, and the second one solves the problems between believers and the workers.
IX. Key Verses
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit (3:5-6)”.
“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us … always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body (4:7-10)”.
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God (5:20)”.
X. Key Words
“Consolation” (twenty-two times in the whole book);
“Boast” (twenty-two times in the whole book);
“Ministry” (3:7, 8, 9; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3…);
XI. Outlines of the Book
A. Introduction and explanation (1:1-2:11):
1. Greeting (1:1-2);
2. Be thankful for the consolation in tribulations (1:3-11);
a. The consolation to us is for the purpose of comforting others (1:3-7).
b. Man can only rely on God rather than man himself in tribulations (1:8-11).
3. Explain his journey (1:12-2:13):
a. We conducted ourselves in the world not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God (1:12-14).
b. Paul intended to go but did not go. However, it was not because he did it lightly (1:15-17).
c. Their word to believers was not Yes and No (1:18-22).
d. His delay was for the purposing of sparing them (1.23-24).
e. He determined that he would not come again in sorrow (2:1-3).
f. He wrote so that believers might know the love which he had so abundantly for them (2:4).
g. He urged the church to reaffirm her love to the one who had repented (2:5-11).
h. His heart was shown when he waited for Titus (2:12-13).
B. The examples of Paul’s serving the Lord (2:14-7:16):
1. Diffuse the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ in every place (2:14-17);
2. Make believers an epistle of Christ by the Spirit of God (3:1-6);
3. Let the glory of Christ be filled in us (3:7-4:6):
a. The ministry of the Spirit is of the glory that excels (3:7-11).
b. Be transformed into the same image from glory to glory (3:12-18);
c. Preach Christ only so that the glory of Christ can be shone in our hearts (4:1-6);
4. Do not look at the earthen vessels which are seen, but at the treasure which is not seen (4:7-5:17):
a. Be delivered to death for Jesus' sake so that others may receive the risen life (4:7-15).
b. Though the outward man is perishing, the inward man is being renewed day by day (4:16-18).
c. Though the earthly house is destroyed, we will be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven (5:1-5).
d. Walk by faith, not by sight (5:6-8).
e. Make it our aim to be well pleasing to Him and to live for Him (5:9-15).
f. Regard no one according to the flesh, but according to the new creation (5:16-17).
5. We have received the ministry of reconciliation and fulfilled it (5:18-7:16):
a. We are ambassadors for Christ, so we implore men on Christ's behalf be reconciled to God (5:18-21);
b. In all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God (6:1-10).
c. Implore men be reconciled to us with wide open heart (6:11-13; 7:2-4).
d. Be separated so as to have good fellowship with God (6:14-7:1).
e. Be exceedingly joyful on account of the good news reported by Titus (7:5-16).
C. Encouragements for believers to have part in the gift of love (8:1-9:15):
1. To imitate the example of the churches of
2. To imitate the example of Jesus Christ that He became poor for us (8:9-15).
3. To imitate the example of the earnest care and walking in light of Titus and etc. (8:16-24).
4. One shall give cheerfully, not grudgingly (9: 1-5).
5. One shall sow more in order to increase more the fruits of the righteousness (9:6-15).
D. To speak in defense of his apostle authority (10:1-12:21):
1. He declares the principles of his working (10:1-18):
a. The weapons of his warfare are not carnal but mighty in God (10:1-5).
b. The authority he performed was for edification and not for destruction (10:6-11).
c. He boasts within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us, not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors (10:12-18).
2. He declares his mental attitudes as an apostle (11:1-15):
a. Be jealous for believers whose minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (11:1-3);
b. Manifest the knowledge of the apostle in everything not through words (11:4-6);
c. Humble oneself in order to exalt believers (11:7);
d. Be careful in things concerning money so as not leave any chances for men to slander (11:8-12);
3. He receives him
as a fool so that believers
can differentiate between the true and false apostle (11:13
a. The false apostles are deceitful workers who transform themselves into apostles of Christ (11:13-15).
b. The false apostles boast according to the
flesh, he also will boast (11:16
4. He declares the proofs of him as an apostle (11:23b-12:21):
a. The first proof: experiencing many tribulations (11:23b-33);
b. The second proof: having the Lord’s manifestation and revelation (12:1-10);
c. The third proof: all perseverance, and signs and wonders and mighty deeds (12:11-13);
d. The fourth proof: love like parents (12:14-18);
e. The fifth proof: all things are for edification (12:19-21);
E. Exhortations and conclusion (13:1-14):
1. Exhort believers not to let him use sharpness according to the authority (13:1-10):
2. Final exhortations (13:11);
3. Greeting (13:12-13);
4. Blessings (13:14);
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou