Author:  2  Corinthians 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of 2 Corinthians as the  apostle Paul, possibly along with Timothy.

Date of Writing:  The Book of 2 Corinthians was very likely written approximately A.D.  55-57.

Purpose of Writing: The church in Corinth began  in A.D. 52 when Paul visited there on his second missionary journey. It was then  that he stayed one and a half years, the first time he was allowed to stay in  one place as long as he wished. A record of this visit and the establishment of  the church is found in Acts  18:1-18.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul expresses his  relief and joy that the Corinthians had received his “severe” letter (now lost)  in a positive manner. That letter addressed issues that were tearing the church  apart, primarily the arrival of self-styled (false) apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13)  who were assaulting Paul’s character, sowing discord among the believers, and  teaching false doctrine. They appear to have questioned his veracity (2 Corinthians  1:15-17), his speaking ability (2  Corinthians 10:10; 11:6), and his unwillingness to accept support from the  church at Corinth (2  Corinthians 11:7-9; 12:13). There were also some people who had not repented  of their licentious behavior (2  Corinthians 12:20-21).

Positively, Paul found the Corinthians had  well received his “severe” letter. Paul was overjoyed to learn from Titus that  the majority of Corinthians repented of their rebellion against Paul (2 Corinthians  2:12-13; 7:5-9). The apostle encourages them for this in an  expression of his genuine love (2  Corinthians 7:3-16). Paul also sought to vindicate his apostleship, as some  in the church had likely questioned his authority (2  Corinthians 13:3).

Key Verses: 2 Corinthians 3:5:  “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our  competence comes from God.”

2  Corinthians 3:18: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s  glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which  comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2  Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;  the old has gone, the new has come!”

2  Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in  him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 10:5:  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the  knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to  Christ.”

2  Corinthians 13:4: “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he  lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will  live with him to serve you.”

Brief Summary: After  greeting the believers in the church at Corinth and explaining why he had not  visited them as originally planned (vv. 1:3–2:2), Paul explains the nature of  his ministry. Triumph through Christ and sincerity in the sight of God were the  hallmarks of his ministry to the churches (2:14-17). He compares the glorious  ministry of the righteousness of Christ to the “ministry of condemnation” which  is the Law (v. 3:9) and declares his faith in the validity of his ministry in  spite of intense persecution (4:8-18). Chapter 5 outlines the basis of the  Christian faith—the new nature (v. 17) and the exchange of our sin for the  righteousness of Christ (v. 21).

Chapters 6 and 7 find Paul defending  himself and his ministry, assuring the Corinthians yet again of his sincere love  for them and exhorting them to repentance and holy living. In chapters 8 and 9,  Paul exhorts the believers at Corinth to follow the examples of the brothers in  Macedonia and extend generosity to the saints in need. He teaches them the  principles and rewards of gracious giving.

Paul ends his letter by  reiterating his authority among them (chapter 10) and concern for their  faithfulness to him in the face of fierce opposition from false apostles. He  calls himself a “fool” for having to reluctantly boast of his qualifications and  his suffering for Christ (chapter 11). He ends his epistle by describing the  vision of heaven he was allowed to experience and the “thorn in the flesh” he  was given by God to ensure his humility (chapter 12). The last chapter contains  his exhortation to the Corinthians to examine themselves to see whether what  they profess is reality, and ends with a benediction of love and  peace.

Connections: Throughout his epistles, Paul  frequently refers to the Mosaic law, comparing it with the surpassing greatness  of the gospel of Jesus Christ and salvation by grace. In 2 Corinthians  3:4-11, Paul contrasts the Old Testament law with the new covenant of grace,  referring to the law as that which “kills” while the Spirit gives life. The law  is the “ministry of death, written and engraved on stone” (v. 7; Exodus 24:12) because it  brings only the knowledge of sin and its condemnation. The glory the law is that  it reflects the glory of God, but the ministry of the Spirit is much more  glorious than the ministry of the law, because it reflects His mercy, grace and  love in providing Christ as the fulfillment of the law.

Practical  Application: This letter is the most biographical and least doctrinal  of Paul’s epistles. It tells us more about Paul as a person and as a minister  than any of the others. That being said, there are a few things we can take from  this letter and apply to our lives today. One thing is stewardship, not only of  money, but of time as well. The Macedonians not only gave generously, but “they  gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (2  Corinthians 8:5). In the same way, we should dedicate not only all we have  to the Lord, but all that we are. He really doesn’t need our money. He is  omnipotent! He wants the heart, one that longs to serve and please and love.  Stewardship and giving to God is more than just money. Yes, God does want us to  tithe part of our income, and He promises to bless us when we give to Him. There  is more though. God wants 100%. He wants us to give Him our all. Everything we  are. We should spend our lives living to serve our Father. We should not only  give to God from our paycheck, but our very lives should be a reflection of Him.  We should give ourselves first to the Lord, then to the church and the work of  the ministry of Jesus Christ.

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