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Paul's Second Letter to Corinth






BOOK : 2 Corinthians

Description : In many ways a very personal letter from the apostle Paul, very largely about him defending his ministry in order to continue to work with them.

Author: The apostle Paul

Date written : Probably somewhere about AD55

Chapters : 13



Brief Synopsis:

•  Paul has been to Corinth where he raised up this church and is therefore their spiritual father.
•  He has had cause to bring correction to them and this has caused some to speak out against him. The only reason he is concerned for his own reputation is in order to maintain their relationship with them.
•  Much of the letter, therefore, is given to seeking to maintain his relationship with them so he can continue to exercise his God-sent ministry on their behalf and for their blessing.



Outline :


Ch.1-7 Paul's Explanation of His Conduct and Apostolic Ministry

1:1-2 Salutation
1:3-11 Thanksgiving for Divine Comfort in Affliction
1:12-2:4 The Integrity of Paul's Motives and Conduct
2:5-11 Forgiving the Offender at Corinth
2:12-17 God's Direction in the Ministry
3:1-11 The Corinthian Believers--a Letter from Christ
3:12-4:6 Seeing the Glory of God with Unveiled Faces
4:7-16a Treasure in Clay Jars
4:16b-5:10 The Prospect of Death and What It Means for the Christian
5:11-6:10 The Ministry of Reconciliation
6:11-7:4 A Spiritual Father's Appeal to His Children
7:5-16 The Meeting with Titus
Ch.8 & 9 The Collection for the Christians at Jerusalem
8:1-15 Generosity Encouraged
8:16-9:5 Titus and His Companions Sent to Corinth
9:6-15 Results of Generous Giving
Ch.10-13 Paul's Vindication of His Apostolic Authority
Ch.10 Paul's Defense of His Apostolic Authority and the Area of His Mission
Ch.11-12 Paul Forced into Foolish Boasting
13:1-10 Final Warnings
13:11-14 Conclusion



Some Key Verses:


It is difficult to know what verses to highlight in this letter for it is a strange letter. Below are just a few verses that indicate Paul's defensive approach to these people. When reading it, it is worth reading the entire letter ay one sitting first of all.


Paul appeals for empathy

1:8-9 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia . We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.


He declares his conscience is clear

1:12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God.


His previous corrective letter had not been easy to receive – or send

2:1-4 So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you….. I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice…… For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.


Again he declares their ministry is based on truth and honesty

4:2 we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.


In every way they have sought to do the right thing

6:3-10 We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.


His corrective letter had brought needed repentance

7:8-10 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it--I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while-- yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret


The Macedonians were an example to be followed in their generosity

8:1-4 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.


He would rather not to come and be heavy handed in correction

10:1,2 By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you--I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.


Others have been comparing him and denigrating him

11:5,6 But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.


His boasts of his weaknesses

11:21-28 What anyone else dares to boast about--I am speaking as a fool--I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.


God had to humble him because of the wonder of the revelations he received

12:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


The need not fear hios next intended visit

12:14,15 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.



Concluding Comments


This rather strange letter reveals the difficulties that true apostles can experience:

•  He was the father of this church
•  Yet he did not want to lord it over them
•  When he had to correct wrongs in the church that was never easy
•  It was important that they accepted his apostleship as a channel of God's blessing to them and therefore it was important that he stood up for his ministry.
•  Yet even in that he did it by showing his weakness and the stresses and strains of the ministry.
•  He seeks to win them by gentleness and never heavy handed authority
•  Yet he still has a duty before the Lord to correct that which was wrong – for their good!



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