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- THE TITLE
This book is called II Corinthians because it is the second of two letters addressed to the church at Corinth (II Corinthians 1:1). Suggestions found in I Corinthians 5:9 and elsewhere cause some scholars to assume that Paul wrote another letter to the Corinthians, but only two have come down to us. It is possible that we have in I and II Corinthians everything that Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.
- THE WRITER
From II Corinthians 1:1 we learn that Paul, "an apostle of Jesus Christ," was the writer. Elsewhere in these outlines we have given a brief summary of his life.
- TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING
It was written from some point in Macedonia, probably in the fall of A.D. 57. Some name Philippi as the exact place of writing.
- OCCASION OF THE LETTER
Shortly after Paul wrote I Corinthians, Demetrius and his guild of silversmiths stirred up a riot in Ephesus and Paul nearly lost his life (Acts 19; II Corinthians 1:8-10). At the urging of the brethren, the apostle departed on his journey to visit the churches of Europe. He had hoped to meet Titus at Troas with good news from Corinth. When Titus failed to show up, Paul became anxious and proceeded immediately into Macedonia (II Corinthians 1:15,16; 2:12,13). Somewhere in Macedonia he met Titus and in response to the good news wrote this second letter (II Corinthians 7:5-7).
- CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LETTER
Second Corinthians is both didactic and appreciative. Paul rejoices that the church reacted favorably to his first letter (II Corinthians 1:13,14; 7:9,15,16), and now proceeds to convey further counsel on needful matters. It contains a medley of emotions-joy, grief, indignation. The letter is the least systematic and perhaps the most personal of all Paul's epistles. It is invaluable as a source book on the life and character of the apostle. Solicitude for the Corinthians, defense of Paul, warnings against error, instructions in matters of duty and joy over spiritual triumphs make the letter an interesting treatise. The keynote is loyalty to Christ. The extreme emotion of the writer's mind is expressed in the following words: tribulation, consolation, boasting, weakness, simplicity, manifest, manifestation, folly. The predominant word is tribulation, although in the English version it occurs in various synonyms.
- SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
- Paul's account of the character of his spiritual labors (Chs. 1-7). Here the apostle portrays his feelings over the condition of the Corinthian church, and shows his relief after the coming of Titus. The central theme is consolation in tribulation, with an undercurrent of apology and suppressed indignation.
- Instructions concerning collections for the poor saints (Chs. 8,9). The apostle appeals for and tells of the blessedness of liberality.
- Paul's defense of his apostolic authority (Chs. 10-13). Judaizing teachers everywhere were trying to destroy Paul's influence as an apostle and bring churches under bondage to the Jewish law. In this division of the book Paul tells what his apostolic labors had cost him in earthly sufferings.
- TOPICS FOR SPECIAL STUDY
- The inner man vs. the outer man (4:16-18; 5:1-10).
- The grace of giving (Chs. 8 and 9; also I Corinthians 16:1,2).
- Paul's thorn in the flesh (II Corinthians 12:7-9; Galatians 4:13; Acts 9).
- Personal attacks on Paul (2:17; 4:3; 10:10; 11:6).
- When, how, why and of what things did Paul boast? (11:16 to 12:13).
- Discuss the attitude that Christians should have toward erring church members (I Corinthians 5:1-13; II Corinthians 2:1-11).
- Using the Corinthian letters as your source, prepare a paper on "The Man Who Would Preach," a study of the gospel preacher and his work.
- Under what conditions should Christians defend themselves?
- Study Paul's vision of the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:1-4). Did the vision have any connection with his thorn in the flesh? (II Corinthians 12:5-10).
- Study the history of Corinth as given in unabridged Bible encyclopedias.
Published in The Old Paths Archive