Daily Devotion Text

June 16, 2017

2 Corinthians 1

By carmenhsu In 2 Corinthians, Devotion Text with Comments Off on 2 Corinthians 1

Study through the Book of 2 Corinthians

The apostle Paul is the undisputed author of 2 Corinthians. Although some scholars have questioned whether Paul wrote 6:14–7:1, due to its unique vocabulary and subject matter, these differences are more likely due to the fact that in this passage Paul is quoting a collage of Scripture. Second Corinthians is actually the fourth letter that Paul sent to the church he founded in Corinth (Acts 18:1–17), together with the house churches “in the whole [province] of Achaia,” of which Corinth was the capital (2 Cor. 1:1; 11:10; cf. Rom. 16:5, 23; 1 Cor. 16:15, 19). The four letters are (1) the previous letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9; (2) our 1 Corinthians; (3) the tearful, severe letter mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:3–4; and (4) our 2 Corinthians.

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia around A.D. 55/56, a year or so after writing 1 Corinthians and a year before he wrote his letter to the Romans from Corinth (Acts 20:2–3). [1]

Reading 2 Corinthians is something like turning on the television in the middle of a very complicated play. People are talking and things are happening, but we’re not at all sure who some of the characters are or what the plot is. In fact, in coming to this letter from 1 Corinthians, one has the sense of entering a new wold. Few of the issues raised in the earlier letter appear here, except the concern over the collection (1 Cor 16:1-4/€2 Cor 8-9) and perhaps a return to the matter of idol food in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. But that is a surface view; what holds the two together is the overriding relational tension one senses between Paul and the Corinthians regarding true apostleship.

Four matters that play off against one another in the course of our letter(s) account for all of its parts: (1) Paul’s change of plans regarding visits to Corinth, (2) the collection, (3) his apostleship and ministry, and (4) the presence of the Jewish Christian itinerants.

The first three matters carry over from 1 Corinthians and are dealt with in 2 Corinthians 1-9. A chronological explanation of his immediate past relations with them, apparently touched off by his change of mind about proposed and actual visits, is found in 1:12-2:13 and picked up again in 7:5-16. The long interruption of 2:14-7:4 is the crown jewel of the letter. Here Paul defends his apostleship-in-weakness (recall 1 Corinthians), a matter that has been aggravated by Paul’s opponents (2:14-4:6). The need to have the collection ready before he comes is addressed in chapters 8-9. Chapters 10-13 contain a vigorous attack against his Jewish Christian opponents—comparable to that in Galatians (cf. Phil 3:2)—interspersed with indignation, biting sarcasm, and gentle appeals to the Corinthians to come to their senses.[2]

[1] ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, 2008. 2219.

[2] Fee, Gordon D, and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002. 333-334.


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