Between the first and the second Corinthians many things happened.

  1. To the problem of division (1 Cor 1:11) and immorality of certain members (1 Cor 5:1), there also appeared in the community “super-apostles” (a sarcastic term used by Paul 2 Cor 11:5), who tried to undermine the position of Paul. The things were getting bad.
  2. The passages from 2 Cor 12:14 and 13:1, indicate that Paul make a visit to solve the problems but it did not work out.
  3. After that follow the famous letter in tears (2 Cor 2:3–4.9; 7:8.12) which is lost - although some indicate that 2 Cor 10–13 would be that letter in tears.
  4. The ‘tearful letter’ was brought to Corinth by Titus from Ephesus. Paul was waiting for the news in Ephesus.
  5. While waiting, a disturbance over erupted in Ephesus and Paul had to leave (Acts 20:1–13).
  6. Paul moved to Macedonia and Titus found him there. The news brought by Titus were encouraging (2 Cor 7:5–7).
  7. From Macedonia, Paul writes 2 Cor (around 55 or 56 C.E.).

It seems that our present 2 Cor is a combination of at least two if not more letters. As it was already indicated 2 Cor 10–11 differs in tone from 2 Cor 1–7. In 2 Cor 10–13, Paul is very harsh and passionate, ready to punish any offense (2 Cor 13:1–2), but 2 Cor 1–7 is reconciliatory (2 Cor 2:5–11) and indicating that the major disagreement between Paul and the community (or at least some members is solved). Finally, 2 Cor 8–9 deals with a particular topic of the collection for the saints in Jerusalem (see 1 Cor 16:1–4).

The main topic of this letter(s) is apostolate:

  1. 2 Cor 1:12–7:16 - Paul’s authority as an apostle;
  2. 2 Cor 10–13 - Paul defends his apostleship.

2 Cor is the most personal letter of Paul. From 2 Cor 11:21–28, we learn about the hardship of Paul for the sake of the Gospel. Other important topics of the letter are:

  1. The teaching about redemption (2 Cor 5:14–21);
  2. Apostleship (2 Cor 2:14–17; 3:9–18; 5:18–19);
  3. Eschatology: (a) the judgement (2 Cor 1:14; 5:10); (b) the Lord’s coming and general resurrection (2 Cor 4:14)
  4. The needs for good works: (a) prayer (2 Cor 13:7); (b) almsgiving or financial support for poorer Christian communities (2 Cor 8:5–17); (c) fraternal correction (2 Cor 2:7–11).

Home | Next