THE BOOK OF ACTS
PAUL WRITES 2 CORINTHIANS - Part One
From the NKJV Bible - Personal Study Edition - Nelson publishers
1990 and 1995
In 2 Corinthians Paul continues his attempt to correct errors of
unchristian practice, worship, and doctrine which had arisen in
the Corinthian church. The book's major themes are consolation,
glory, generosity, and reconciliation - all from God and in
AUTHOR AND DATE
Second Corinthians was written by Paul in A.D.56, at the end of
his two-to-three-year ministry in Ephesus (see Acts 19:8-10;
20:31). The letter was written perhaps six months to a year after
he wrote I Corinthians (compare 8:10; 9:2 with 1 Cor.16:1).
The Corinthian church required Paul's repeated care. Shortly
after his founding mission in Corinth he sent a letter, now lost,
instructing the church "not to keep company with sexually immoral
people" (1 Cor.5:9). Later, a delegation from Corinth came to
Ephesus asking for Paul's guidance: they returned, possibly
carrying 1 Corinthians with them (see 1 Cor.16:17-19). Timothy
visited Corinth (1 Cor.4:17; 16:10,11) and probably returned to
Paul in Ephesus with news of both opposition to Paul and
continued division in the church. Paul made a "sorrowful" visit
(2 Cor.1:23-2:1), which did not resolve these problems. He then
sent a severe letter by Titus (2:3).
Meanwhile, Paul went to Troas to preach, but anxious to hear from
Titus, he moved on to Macedonia, where he received the joyful
news regarding the Corinthians' contrition and repentance (2:12,
13:7:5-7; 1:3-16). Immediately he sent this reconciling letter
known as 2 Corinthians, possibly by Titus, with instructions to
complete the offering for the church at Jerusalem (8:6-18).
Thus 1 Corinthians appears to be the second letter Paul wrote to
the Corinthians; and 2 Corinthians, the fourth. Some speculate
that the first letter and his third "severe" letter are
a part of 2 Corinthians. But it is much more likely that they
have been lost. (For more information on the church at Corinth
see Introduction to 1 Corinthians: Background).
Paul probably passed through Corinth again when be visited
"Greece" (Acts 20:1-3), the province of Achaia in which Corinth
was located. See 1:1.
Paul was concerned that false apostles were leading the
Corinthians away from the gospel. They were taking selfish
advantage of the Corinthians by claiming apostolic authority and
by boasting of human abilities and achievements. Paul defends his
own authority as God's apostle by referring to what God had done
through him, especially in the conversion of the Corinthians. He
uses his authority as their founder to defend the true gospel.
Yet Paul's primary purpose in the letter is not confrontation but
He would present every man and woman "complete" in Christ (13:11;
The letter contains three clearly defined sections. In chapters
1-7 Paul looks back to the church's refusal to acknowledge his
authority and deal with the flagrant immorality of one of its
members. He tells them of his great relief and joy that the issue
has been resolved by their obedience and the offender's
repentance. He also pleads that they continue to be reconciled to
him and to God.
In chapters 8 and 9 Paul seeks to motivate the Corinthians to be
generous in gifts to an offering that he is sponsoring for the
needy Christians in Jerusalem. Chapters 10-13 deal with teachers
at Corinth who challenged Paul's authority and falsely claimed to
be apostles. Paul defends his authority as Christ's apostle by
showing how God's power has been effective through him.
Because Paul is involved so deeply in all of these issues, the
letter is filled with emotion.
We see the heartbeat of the apostle in his concern for the
struggling churches under his care.
OUTLINE OF 2 CORINTHIANS
1. Salutation and thanksgiving 1:1-11
A. Salutation 1:1,2
B. Thanksgiving to the "God" of all comfort" 1:3-11
2. The integrity of Paul's actions 1:12-2:17
A. A cancelled visit 1:12-24
B. An effective letter 2:1-4
C. Forgiveness for the offender 2:5-11
D. A triumphant ministry 2:12-17
3. The ministry of the Spirit 3:1-4:6
A. Changed hearts 3:1-6
B. Continued transformation 3:7-18
C. Ministers of integrity 4:1-6
4. God's power in earthen vessels 4:7-5:10
A. Strength in our present suffering 4:7-15
B. Assurance of future glory 4:16-5:10
5. The ministry of reconciliation 5:11-7:16
A. A plea for reconciliation 5:11-7:1
1. Be reconciled to God 5:11-21
2. Be reconciled to Paul 6:1-13
3. Be separate from the world 6:14-7:1
B. Joy over Christian reconciliation 7:2-16
6. An offering to demonstrate your conversion and love 8:1-9:15
A. An example of generosity 8:1-7
B. Reasons for generosity 8:8-15
C. Provision for accountability 8:16-24
D. The shame of failing in generosity 9:1-5
E. The blessings of generosity 9:6-11
F. Thanksgiving for generosity 9:11-15
7. A defense of Paul's apostleship 10:1-12:13
A. Objections by the false apostles 10:1-11:15
1. An unimpressive presence 10:1-11
2. Failure to boast in his achievements 10:12-18
3. Failure to collect money from the Corinthians 11:1-15
B. Christ's power in Paul's life 11:16-12:13
1. Attested by his sufferings 11:16-23
2. Shown by his thorn in the flesh 12:1-10
3. Confirmed by signs 12:11-13
8. Preparation for Paul's visit 12:14-13:10
A. Concern for the Corinthians 12:14-21
B. A challenge to self-examination 13:1-10
9. Concluding benediction 13:11-14
End of quotes
Paul talks about suffering and troubles, even to near death,
but that God sees us through, gives us strength to endue and
comforts us as we battle along in the Christian life. Through it
all we learn to trust in God and not in yourselves. He
appreciates the prayers offered for himself and others with him.
Paul rejoices in the simplicity and godly sincerity they had
their conduct in the world and towards them, they (he and those
with him) write to them what they live, and he trusts they will
acknowledge this to the end. They did rejoice in them, just they
rejoice in the Corinthians.
With this in mind Paul was mindful to come to them. He was
quite serious about it all, it was not "I say but do not do."
Paul had told them he would come to them, he was in Christ, and
Christ's word is yes, not yes but no. We do have the seal of
God's Spirit, the "earnest" or "down-payment" of the Spirit. As
God is witness he tells them, he wanted to come to them, but to
spare them from coming with correction and rebuke he did not
come. He wanted to come not as one like a dictator over their
faith, but as a helping servant (verses 1-24).
Paul had determined not to come to them in the heaviness of
attitude and speech. He had written to them so he would not have
to come in a harsh way, so he could rejoice in them for moving
forward into the truth. He had written to them with anguish and
tears. It was not easy for him to have to correct and rebuke, but
he had to do it, yet it was done with great love towards them
Paul has heard that they did obey his judgment concerning
the man who was practicing immoral sexual sin (1 Cor.5), they had
put him away from their fellowship. He had repented. Now Paul
instructs them that they did indeed then have to be willing to
forgive him. If they have forgiven then it really went without
saying, that Paul also had forgiven. The man was to be restored
to fellowship in the church once more (verses 5-11).
Paul speaks about his triumphant ministry in verses 12-17.
To some, those that are perishing, at least in this physical
life, such preaching of the Gospel was like a death to them,
they rejected it or thought of it as something not good, but to
those whom were being called to be saved, as well of course to
God Himself, their teaching of the Gospel, was a sweet cent of
life itself. He finishes by reminding them that he and those with
him like Timothy and Silvanus (chap.1:19), are not like the many
which twist and corrupt the word of God, but in the sight of God
they testify the truth in Christ (verses 12-17).
Paul goes on to confirm their credentials in the ministry of
God and Christ. It is really proven by the fact that the
Corinthian church was founded by themselves, through
the very Spirit of God, not anything physical, or just the
workings of men. Paul's fellow co-workers, all of his company,
were able ministers of the NEW Testament, not of the letter of
the Old Testament, but the very live giving Spirit of the New
Testament (verses 1-6).
The he contrasts the Old from the New. The Old Testament,
even with the glory of the Ten Commandments written in stone, and
which Moses' face shone as he carried them in his arms, has no
comparison in glory, for the magnificent glory of the New
Testament through and by the Holy Spirit that gives LIFE. He
declares the two "glories" - one Old and one New, really have no
comparison, for the glory of the New Testament is so much more
glory than the Old Testament (verses 7-11).
Even the facial glory that Moses had when carrying the Ten
Commandments, the children of Israel could not view. They were
blinded spiritually speaking, they did not have the heart, and in
Romans chapters 9 through 11, Paul makes it abundantly clear that
the vast majority in Israel were never given, never called to
salvation, they were blinded and that by God. We also see this in
the books of Moses, in such passages as Deut. 5:29; 29:4; and
Num.11 where the Spirit of God was only given to but a few, to
the "election of grace" as Paul put it in Romans 9 to 11, while
the rest were blinded, as he also says here in verse 14.
In all this then the Old Covenant was basically an
administration of death. It was not the design of the Old
Covenant to save to salvation the majority. Most under that
administration would live and die their physical life and never
be called to salvation. Just like the majority of the Gentiles
before the Gospel age, had no hope, no calling, were without God
in the world (see Eph.2:11-12), so was the majority in Israel.
The Old Covenant then was, which ever way you looked at it, not
the spiritual Covenant that led to eternal life, for the vast
majority of people. The New Covenant of the Spirit was much
more glorious in that its design was to lead people, both Jew and
gentile, to salvation.
God will grant a chance of salvation to the millions who
were never called to salvation under the old administration, and
those not called under the new administration. We explained a lot
of that when we went through the Gospels. God does have a plan of
salvation for everyone who has ever lived, as Paul made
abundantly clear in Romans chapters 9 through 11.
The working of the New Covenant by the Spirit, is the
working of the Lord, for Paul says "Now the Lord is that Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty" (verse 17).
The "Spirit" is not a separate bodied being walking around
heaven, the Holy Spirit is the Lord, that is it emanates, flows
out from the Lord, like an invisible electrical power, hence can
be in all the universe at the same time, doing the Lord's will.
And Paul ends his thought by saying it is the very Spirit of the
Lord that had CHANGED us from the type of glory under the Old to
the type of glory (which is far mare glory) under the New
Covenant (verses 7-18).
The ministry of Christ, the Gospel of Christ, is not of men,
it is not something Paul and others made up, but it is the very
truth of Christ, and God commanded that light and that truth to
be proclaimed, by men, who preach then not about themselves but
about Jesus the Lord. And if many do not understand the truth of
the Gospel, it is because the god of this world (we know him by
the names Satan the Devil) has blinded their minds to the light
of the Gospel.
Of course we know from other passages like, Romans 9 to 11,
that it is God who allows all this blindness to continue, and so
we here find that Paul says that blindness is in a large part
having to do with Satan (and his demon helpers), who go about
blinding the minds of so many (verses 1-6).
Then Paul tells them that the Gospel has been commissioned
to be preached by himself and others, who at times have to endure
many hardships, troubles, trials, persecutions, but not forsaken,
cast down, even to close to physical death, but not destroyed or
killed. They are often as Jesus was, physically mistreated, but
as they go through all this that brings them closer to death,
life eternal is brought to them and others that accept the Gospel
of Jesus. Through it all they all know that He which raised
Christ from the dead will also raise us up by Jesus, and shall
present all of us together with Jesus.
Paul talked, as we have seen, all about the glorious
resurrection of the saints to the Corinthians in the fifteenth
chapter of 1 Corinthians. Here it is time he believes to mention
it once more. The great sure hope for the Christian is the
resurrection, the raising up of life from death, just as Jesus
was raised to life from death, and so it will be for Paul, his
companions, the Corinthians, and for all saints of all ages.
And though life can have its trials, tests, and troubles, it
is really only for a short, very short, time span, when looked at
from the point of all eternity. So as Paul said to them, "We look
not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not
seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things
which are not seen are eternal" (verses 7-18).
Paul continues his thought of the resurrection and being
raised to immortal life. We are now physical, our body is
physical, but we shall have in that resurrection day, a new
body, one from heaven. Paul had explained all this in some detail
to them in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, yet he feels he needs to
expound it again.
The body we now have will not be the body we shall have. We
long for, he said, that time when we shall be clothed with our
new body, the time when our mortal body will be swallowed up with
eternal life, glorified immortal life as he said to them in his
previous epistle. While we are in this earthy physical body we
cannot be with the Lord. He had told them that in 1 Corinthians
15, when he told them that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
Kingdom of God, and that a change was needed, a change from moral
to immortal, from corruption to incorruption.
Paul said there was a want to be with the Lord, verse 8. He
had a desire to die this physical death for then in his resting
in sleep, the very next instant he would be with Christ in his
glorified form (something like you and me going to sleep say at
10 p.m. and the next second it seems to us, we are awake at 6 ot
7 a.m. to start a new day). So it is with physical death and the
resurrection. There is no knowledge of the time from death
to the resurrection at Christ's coming.
With all that Paul had to go through in the way of trials,
troubles, and physical persecutions at times, it is no wonder he
often wanted to be out of this world in death, and so the next
second for him would be the resurrection and so he would be with
But he would do God's work as long as he was present in this
physical life and in this physical world. There was work to do in
this life, and it had to be done, for there was coming a day that
all would have to give an accountability as to what they did in
this physical body of life. And doing God's work, in truth, had
little to do with the physical outward appearance of people,
though some wanted to try and say it was of some importance, it
was not. And so the Corinthians could stand up against those who
would make outward appearance something to take into account. It
is the heart that is important, the true mind-set, not the
outward form of some who brag about their showy spectacular
Paul tells them he is not trying to give a pat on the back
to himself and those with him, but he's giving them the truth as
to their presentation of the Gospel, not outwardly "showy" but
truth in sincerity. We work as Christ's love controls us. And it
was Jesus who died for us, so those who accept him as Lord and
Savior will live to please God, not themselves.
He tells them that he once thought of Jesus as just a
"person" like all other persons. But not any more, he thinks of
Him now MUCH differently. And those who think like he now thinks,
will become a new person. They will have put away the old sinful
life and will be living God's way - the life that is pleasing to
God bought us back to Himself through Jesus, and has given
us the responsibility and task to bring others into
reconciliation to Himself. God was in Christ reconciling the
world to Himself. And that massage He has given to us so we can
tells others about it.
Paul tells them that God is using himself and those with him
to speak to them, and he urges them to be reconciled to God, to
admit their errors and sins, for God made Christ, who never
sinned, to be our sin bearer, so we can be forgiven, be at one
with God through Christ (verses 1-21).
Paul proceeds now to PLEAD with them, and not to receive the
grace of God in vain.
TO BE CONTINUED