Between the first and the second Corinthians many things happened.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The ‘tearful letter’ was brought to Corinth by Titus from Ephesus. Paul was waiting for the news in Ephesus.
- While waiting, a disturbance over erupted in Ephesus and Paul had to leave (Acts 20:1–13).
- Paul moved to Macedonia and Titus found him there. The news brought by Titus were encouraging (2 Cor 7:5–7).
- 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:
- 2 Cor 1:12–7:16 - Paul’s authority as an apostle;
- 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:
- The teaching about redemption (2 Cor 5:14–21);
- Apostleship (2 Cor 2:14–17; 3:9–18; 5:18–19);
- Eschatology: (a) the judgement (2 Cor 1:14; 5:10); (b) the Lord’s coming and general resurrection (2 Cor 4:14)
- 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).