That recognition remains as strong today as ever. Precision in dating is difficult, if not impossible, by reason of the complicated character of the historical background of the Corinthian correspondence. The most important and yet the most ambiguous element is the interval separating the writing of 1 and 2 Corinthians.
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In trying to determine the length of the interval, it is necessary to allow sufficient time for the activities of Paul which occurred during this period. First Corinthians is most commonly dated during the spring of a. In keeping with this date 2 Corinthians is variously dated from as few as six months to as many as eighteen months later. The usual approach is to keep the interval as minimal as humanly possible.
The starting point is dating 1 Corinthians some time before Pentecost in a. The epistle was written in Ephesus. Paul left Ephesus and spent time in Macedonia and Greece cf. Acts The three months spent in Greece must have been during winter, since he left Corinth and arrived in Philippi in time for the Passover Acts Departing from Philippi, Paul arrived in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost The date for this is presumed to be a.
The most likely time for Paul to have written 2 Corinthians during this period would be October of a. This would allow for his departure from Ephesus some time after writing 1 Corinthians in a. He would have time to be in Macedonia and he could send 2 Corinthians sometime in October of a. Since the new year of the civil calendar began in September, Paul was simply ref erring to the previous year. Second Corinthians could have been written in October prior to his arrival in December to spend the winter months with the Corinthians.
The letter was written prob. With the coming of Titus reporting upon a greatly-improved situation, Paul writes from Macedonia of his joy and of his plans to come to Corinth shortly. In all probability, Paul journeyed to Corinth soon after he sent Titus with the letter. However, this effort to prepare the church should not obscure the influence of the critical situation through which Paul had just passed in his relations with the Corinthians. The complexity of the occasion requires that oversimplification of stating the purpose be avoided.
The letter was written in a period of greatly improved relations between Paul and the Corinthians. With the threatened rebellion no longer troubling Paul to the extent he was troubled at the height of the crisis, he wrote to the Corinthians, communicating to them his thankful relief. Moreover, he wrote to them concerning the collection which he expected to gather for the church at Jerusalem. This project had fallen behind in the critical situation that developed. Furthermore, apparently because there remained residual elements of unrepentant minorities, Paul wrote with extraordinary vigor and vehemence concerning his authority as an apostle.
In anticipation of his coming visit to Corinth, Paul wrote with great force concerning his claim to unequivocal apostolic leadership over the Corinthian congregation. His opponents who had challenged his apostolic authority were, in return, challenged by Paul himself as he marshaled impressive evidence authenticating his apostolic authority and leadership. All of this constrains Paul to write to the Corinthians that he expects to visit them shortly. Content, including outline. This epistle is not as systematically structured as 1 Corinthians.
The most likely explanation is that Paul has more of an emotional rather than a logical order for the letter. The first part reveals a deep emotional outpouring of grateful thanksgiving over the easing of the tense situation. In this part Paul reveals his delicate sensitiveness to the strained relations. He also shows great joy over the restoration of Corinthian loyalty to him. The second section discloses a fervent appeal for liberality in the collection for the church at Jerusalem. Paul informs the Corinthians that Titus and others are coming to help them in this project.
The third section manifests an indignant spirit as Paul vehemently asserts the authority of his apostolic office and ministry. The epistle is outlined as follows:. In utter frankness, he spoke of his bodily presence as weak and his speech as contemptible He shared the weakness of humanity and felt the gusts of emotion, whether in affectionate love or vehement indignation. He wrestled with the problems of human existence. Yet it is unmistakably clear that a newness has come into his life. As a man in Christ, Paul is a new creature He knew this by personal experience.
The self-portrait of Paul is one of the truly fascinating features of this letter. The churches which he founded were his special joy and concern , 3. As a Christian, Paul willingly suffered with Christ and bore in his body the dying of Christ He also shared the risen life of Christ , 11 and his ministry was a continuing triumph in Christ Moreover, he gloried in infirmities and was content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions and calamities for the sake of Christ. Integrity and faithfulness characterize his ministry, with toil and suffering being indelible marks identifying him as a true apostle ; ; Paul treats this theme in terms of a pageant of triumph, followed by a predicament of trial and concluding with a proclamation of a theme.
Describing the work of the ministry as a long triumphant march, Paul gives thanks to God Evidence of this triumph is no less than the Corinthian church. The Spirit of God working through the ministry of Paul has accomplished this , 3. Neither psychological persuasion nor sociological trends adequately explain the phenomenon of the Christian community at Corinth.
The explanation is found in the work of the ministry, which has succeeded because of the triumphant power of the Spirit Next, Paul discusses the work of the ministry in connection with the predicament of trial. This triumphant ministry is committed to earthen vessels subjected to great affliction and tribulation This is the paradox of the ministry. Although it is as a valuable treasure, it is entrusted to vessels of far inferior value. In a vivid series of four contrasts, Paul declared that a constant succession of serious crises afflicting him never defeated him , 9.
Paul willingly served and suffered, even as Jesus did, but he was not overpowered through affliction. Although the tribulations have taken an exhausting toll of the outward man, the power of God has renewed the inner man The glory of the Lord has transfigured the afflictions Finally, Paul describes the theme of the ministry.
It is the ministry of reconciliation In this Scripture he declares that God in love has effected not simply a legal acquittal but more significantly a vital personal relationship to God and an inner transformation of life This is the heart of the apostolic gospel ministry engaged in proclaiming reconciliation. The reconciling work of God through Christ involved a great paradox. It is this: the One who died for all knew no sin, yet it was this One whom God made to be sin for us The theme of the ministry is that reconciliation has been accomplished.
Paul affirmed that he was faithful in the performance of this ministry We have used utter frankness, won't you do the same? Oh, our dear friends in Corinth, we are hiding nothing from you and our hearts are absolutely open to you. Any stiffness between us must be on your side, for we assure you there is none on ours.
Do reward me I talk to you as though you were my own children with the same complete candour! Don't link up with unbelievers and try to work with them. What common interest can there be between goodness and evil? How can light and darkness share life together? How can there be harmony between Christ and the devil? What business can a believer have with an unbeliever?
What common ground can idols hold with the temple of God? For we, remember, are ourselves living temples of the living God, as God has said:. I will be their God, and they shall be my people' Leviticus ; Jeremiah ; Ezekiel Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you' Isaiah ; Ezekiel , With these promises ringing in our ears, dear friends, let us keep clear of anything that smirches body or soul. Let us prove reverence for God by consecrating ourselves to him completely. Not one of you has ever been wronged or ruined or cheated by us.
I don't say this to condemn your attitude, but simply because, as I said before, whether we live or die you live in our hearts. To your face I talk to you with utter frankness; behind your back I talk about you with deepest pride. Whatever troubles I have gone through, the thought of you has filled me with comfort and deep happiness. Not but what God, who cheers the depressed, gave us the comfort of the arrival of Titus in Macedonia with his good news from Corinth. And it wasn't merely his coming that cheered us, but the comfort you had given him, for he could tell us of your eagerness to help, your deep sympathy and keen interest on my behalf.
All that made me doubly glad to see him. For although my letter Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians had hurt you I don't regret it now as I did, I must confess, at one time.
Second Epistle to the Corinthians
I can see that the letter did upset you, though only for a time, and now I am glad I sent it, not because I want to hurt you but because it made you grieve for things that were wrong. In other words, the result was to make you sorry as God would have had you sorry, and not merely to make you offended by what we said. The sorrow which God uses means a change of heart and leads to salvation - it is the world's sorrow that is such a deadly thing. You can look back now and see how the hand of God was in that sorrow. Look how seriously it made you think, how eager it made you to prove your innocence, how indignant it made you, and in some cases, how afraid!
Look how it made you long for my presence, how it stirred up your keenness for the faith, how ready it made you to punish the offender! Yes, that letter cleared the air for you as nothing else would have done perhaps suggesting Paul decided to defer his planned visit so the letter would have time to do its work. Now I did not write that letter really for the sake of the man who sinned probably not just the man guilty of incest, but others, including false teachers, who had attacked Paul , or even for the sake of the one Paul?
That is why we now feel so deeply comforted, and our sense of joy was greatly enhanced by the satisfaction that your attitude had obviously given Titus. You see, I had told him of my pride in you, and you have not let me down. I have always spoken the truth to you, and this proves that my proud words about you were true as well.
Introduction to the Epistles to the Corinthians - Study Resources
Titus himself has a much greater love for you, now that he has seen for himself the obedience you gave him, and the respect and reverence with which you treated him. I am profoundly glad to have my confidence in you so fully proved. Somehow, in most difficult circumstances, their joy and the fact of being down to their last penny themselves, produced a magnificent concern for other people. I can guarantee that they were willing to give to the limit of their means, yes and beyond their means, without the slightest urging from me or anyone else. In fact they simply begged us to accept their gifts and so let them share the honours of supporting their brothers in Christ.
Nor was their gift, as I must confess I had expected, a mere cash payment. Instead they made a complete dedication of themselves first to the Lord and then to us, as God's appointed ministers. Already you are well to the fore in every good quality - you have faith, you can express that faith in words; you have knowledge, enthusiasm and your love for us. Could you not add generosity to your virtues? I don't want you to read this as an order. It is only my suggestion, prompted by what I have seen in others of eagerness to help, and here is a way to prove the reality of your love.
Do you remember the generosity of Jesus Christ, the Lord of us all? He was rich beyond our telling, yet he became poor for your sakes so that his poverty might make you rich. I merely suggest that you finish your original generous gesture. Here is my opinion in the matter. I think it would be a good thing for you, who were the first a year ago.. Finish it, then, as well as you can, and show that you can complete what you set out to do with as much efficiency as you showed readiness to begin.
After all, the important thing is to be willing to give as much as we can - that is what God accepts, and no one is asked to give what he has not got. Of course, I don't mean that others should be relieved to an extent that leaves you in distress. It is a matter of share and share alike. At present your plenty should supply their need, and then at some future date their plenty may supply your need. In that way we share with each other, as the scripture says,. He accepts the suggestion outlined above, and in his enthusiasm comes to you personally at his own request.
We are sending with him that brother number 1 whose services to the Gospel are universally praised in the churches.
He has been unanimously chosen to travel with us in this work of administering the gifts of others. It is a task that brings glory to God and demonstrates also the willingness of us Christians to help each other. Naturally we want to avoid the slightest breath of criticism in the distribution of their gifts, and to be absolutely above-board not only in the sight of God but in the eyes of men. With these two we are also sending our brother number 2 , of whose keenness we have ample proof and whose interest is especially aroused on this occasion as he has such confidence in you.
As for Titus, he is our colleague and partner in your affairs, and both the brothers are official messengers of the Church and shining examples of their faith. So do let them, and all the churches see how genuine is your love, and justify all the nice things we have said about you! The two brothers - Surprisingly Paul does not name these obviously important members of the church. Some sources suggest they were subsequently expelled from the church; others, they may have been Luke, or Apollos, or Timothy, who were not identified for some unknown reason. Indeed I have told the Macedonians with some pride that "Achaia including Corinth was ready to undertake this service twelve months ago" again reflecting the "lost" letter of 1 Corinthians Your enthusiasm has consequently been a stimulus to many of them.
I am, however, sending the brothers Titus and the two unidentified Christians just to make sure that our pride in you is not unjustified. For, between ourselves, it would never do if some of the Macedonians possibly including Sopater from the city of Berea, and Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Acts were to accompany me on my visit to you and find you unprepared for this act of generosity!
We not to speak of you should be horribly ashamed, just because we had been so proud and confident of you. This is my reason, then, for urging the brothers to visit you before I come myself, so that they can get your promised gift ready in good time. But, having let you into my confidence, I should like it to be a spontaneous gift, and not money squeezed out of you by what I have said. All I will say is that poor sowing means a poor harvest, and generous sowing means a generous harvest.
After all, God can give you everything that you need, so that you may always have sufficient both for yourselves and for giving away to other people. As the scripture says: "He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever. He God who gives the seed to the sower and turns that seed into bread to eat, will give you the seed of generosity to sow, and, for harvest, the satisfying bread of good deeds well done. The more you are enriched by God the more scope there will be for generous giving, and your gifts, administered through us in this case, Paul and his companions collecting for the church in Jerusalem , will mean that many will thank God.
For your giving by the church in Corinth to the church in Jerusalem does not end in meeting the wants of your fellow-Christians. It also results in an overflowing tide of thanksgiving to God. Moreover, your very giving proves the reality of your faith, and that means that men thank God that you practise the Gospel that you profess to believe in, as well as for the actual gifts you make to them and to others. And yet further, men will pray for you and feel drawn to you because you have obviously received a generous measure of the grace of God.
Thank God, then, for his indescribable generosity to you! Otherwise it is part of the earlier "stern" letter - the third in a possible series of four listed in the introduction to 1 Corinthians Various Bible commentaries give complex pros and cons for these alternatives:. Yes, I, Paul, the one who is "humble enough in our presence but outspoken when away from us", and begging you to make it unnecessary for me to be outspoken and stern in your presence.
For I am afraid otherwise that I shall have to do some plain speaking to those of you who will persist in reckoning that our activities are on the purely human level. The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God's warfare for the destruction of the enemy's strongholds.
Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defence that men erect against the true knowledge of God. We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ. Once we are sure of your obedience we shall not shrink from dealing with those who refuse to obey. So-and-so considers himself to belong to Christ.
All right; but let him reflect that we belong to Christ every bit as much as he. You may think that I have boasted unduly of my authority which the Lord gave me, remember, to build you up not to break you down , but I don't think I have done anything to be ashamed of. Yet I don't want you to think of me merely as the man who writes you terrifying letters. I know my critics say, "His letters are impressive and moving but his actual presence is feeble and his speaking beneath contempt. All they are doing, of course, is to measure themselves by their own standards or by comparisons within their own circle, and that doesn't make for accurate estimation, you may be sure.
No, we shall not make any wild claims, but simply judge ourselves by that line of duty which God has marked out for us, and that line includes our work on your behalf. We do not exceed our duty when we embrace your interests, for it was our preaching of the Gospel which brought us into contact with you. Our pride is not in matters beyond our proper sphere nor in the labours of other men.
No, our hope is that your growing faith will mean the expansion of our sphere of action, so that before long we shall be preaching the Gospel in districts beyond you, instead of being proud of work that has already been done in someone else's province. It is not self-commendation that matters, it is winning the approval of God. I am afraid that your minds may be seduced from a single-hearted devotion to him by the same subtle means that the serpent used towards Eve.
For apparently you cheerfully accept a man either a specific false teacher, or a number of them who comes to you preaching a different Jesus from the one we told you about, and you readily receive a spirit and a Gospel quite different from the ones you originally accepted. Yet I cannot believe I am in the least inferior to these extra-special messengers of yours. Perhaps I am not a polished speaker, but I do know what I am talking about, and both what I am and what I say is pretty familiar to you.
As a matter of fact I was only able to do this by "robbing" other churches, for it was what they paid me that made it possible to minister to you free of charge. Even when I was with you and very hard up, I did not bother any of you. It was the brothers who came from Macedonia who brought me all that I needed. Yes, I kept myself from being a burden to you then, and so I intend to do in the future. By the truth of Christ within me, no one shall stop my being proud of this independence through all Achaia! Does this mean that I do not love you? God knows it doesn't, but I am determined to maintain this boast, so as to cut the ground from under the feet of those who profess to be God's messengers on the same terms as I am.
God's messengers? They are counterfeits of the real thing, dishonest practitioners, "God's messengers" only by their own appointment.
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Nor do their tactics surprise me when I consider how Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is only to be expected that his agents shall have the appearance of ministers of righteousness - but they will get their deserts one day. Yet if you do, then listen to what this "fool" has to boast about.
I am not now speaking as the Lord commands me but as a fool who must be "in on" this business of boasting like the false teachers are doing. Since all the others are so proud of themselves, let me do a little boasting as well. From your heights of superior wisdom I am sure you can smile tolerantly on a fool.
Introduction to the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians
Oh, you're tolerant all right! You don't mind, do you, if a man takes away your liberty, spends your money, makes a fool of you or even smacks your face? I am almost ashamed to say that I never did brave strong things like that to you. Yet in whatever particular they enjoy such confidence I speaking as a fool, remember have just as much confidence. Are they ministers of Christ? I have more claim to this title than they. This is a silly game but look at this list:. Only some of the following incidents are reported in the Acts of the Apostles.
Most of them must have happened during Paul's earlier years as a Christian:. I have faced the dangers of death again and again.
I have been beaten the regulation thirty-nine stripes by the Jews five times a punishment described in Deuteronomy - one less than the maximum 40 in case there is a miscount and the victim is unintentionally degraded in the eyes of the punishers. I have been stoned once at Lystra, Acts I have been shipwrecked three times none of which are recorded in Acts.
The shipwreck on Malta, Acts , was some years in the future. I have been twenty-four hours in the open sea presumably adrift in a small boat after his ship sank. In my travels I have been in constant danger from rivers and floods, from bandits, from my own countrymen, and from pagans. I have faced danger in city streets, danger in the desert, danger on the high seas, danger among false Christians.
I have known exhaustion, pain, long vigils, hunger and thirst, going without meals, cold and lack of clothing. Apart from all external trials I have the daily burden of responsibility for all the churches. Do you think anyone is weak without my feeling his weakness? Does anyone have his faith upset without my longing to restore him?
Oh, if I am going to boast, let me boast of the things which have shown up my weakness! I escaped by climbing through a window and being let down the wall in a basket. That's the sort of dignified exit I can boast about. His daughter was the first wife of Herod Antipas. Antipas divorced her for his niece Herodias, the mother of Salome who was responsible for the death of John the Baptist.
King Aretas avenged his daughter's treatment by going to war against Antipas, who only survived with Roman help. I know a man in Christ Paul himself who, fourteen years ago c AD , had the experience of being caught up into the third Heaven or Paradise. I don't know whether it was an actual physical experience, only God knows that.
All I know is that this man was caught up into paradise. I repeat, I do not know whether this was a physical happening or not, God alone knows. This man Paul heard words that cannot, and indeed must not, be translated into human speech. I am honestly proud of an experience like that, but I have made up my mind not to boast of anything personal, except of what may be called my weaknesses. If I should want to boast I should certainly be no fool to be proud of my experiences, and I should be speaking nothing but the sober truth.
Yet I am not going to do so, for I don't want anyone to think more highly of me than his experience of me and what he hears of me should warrant. So tremendous, however, were the revelations that God gave me that, in order to prevent my becoming absurdly conceited, I was given a physical handicap also referred to in Galatians , and possibly a painful eye disease, epilepsy, or malaria - one of Satan's angels - to harass me and effectually stop any conceit.
Three times I begged the Lord for it to leave me, but his reply has been, "My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ's sake.
For my very weakness makes me strong in him. If only you had had a better opinion of me it would have been quite unnecessary. For I am not really in the least inferior, nobody as I am, to these extra-special messengers. You have had an exhaustive demonstration of the power God gives to a genuine messenger of his in the miracles, signs and works of spiritual power that you saw with your own eyes.
What makes you feel so inferior to other churches?