Survey of 2 Corinthians

Book Type: The New Testament's third Pauline Epistle; the eighth book of the New Testament; the forty-seventh book of the Bible.

Author: Paul, along with Timothy, as noted in 2 Corinthians 1:1. Timothy may have been serving as Paul's amanuensis, writing down words in a manner similar to that of a secretary.

Audience: Paul wrote to Gentile Christians living in Corinth, sending this letter a few years after personally founding the church in that city. Paul had also written at least one other known previous letter to this church: the epistle of 1 Corinthians. It is also possible that Paul wrote at least one other letter to this church, which is no longer in existence (1 Corinthians 5:9). These believers had responded positively to Paul's previous writing, yet appeared to continue to have some problems, particularly in the area of false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13).

Date: AD 55—56, within a year of the completion of 1 Corinthians.

Overview: Second Corinthians includes thirteen chapters which address four major sections. After a brief greeting in 2 Corinthians 1:1¬–11, Paul shifts attention to a discussion of his own ministry (2 Corinthians 1:12—7:16). He addresses his personal plans in chapter 1, followed by addressing a particular "offender" in 2 Corinthians 2:5–11. In 2 Corinthians 2:12—6:13 Paul addresses various aspects of his ministry, especially emphasizing the many trials he had faced (2 Corinthians 4:8–18) and his faithful conduct (2 Corinthians 6:1–13). Paul encourages these believers to live distinctly from unbelievers, including in marriage relationships (2 Corinthians 6:14–18). Paul then discusses the difference between worldly, despairing grief, and "godly sorrow," which ultimately leads a person closer to God (2 Corinthians 7:1–16).

The second section discusses a particular financial gift Paul had previously planned with the Corinthian believers. He began with the pattern of the Macedonian believers (2 Corinthians 8:1–7), including notes on the purpose of the gift and various details regarding how to prepare their gifts (2 Corinthians 8:8—9:5). Second Corinthians 9:6–15 provides encouraging teaching on God's promises concerning their gifts.

The third section transitions toward Paul's authority as an apostle (2 Corinthians 10:1—12:13). Both his authority and life gave him a unique role in the lives of the Corinthian believers. He introduced the gospel to them, founded their church, and had suffered on their behalf (2 Corinthians 11:16–33). He further reminds them of his visions and thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12).

The fourth section briefly notes plans concerning Paul's upcoming visit (2 Corinthians 12:14—13:14). This passage includes various warnings (2 Corinthians 12:19—13:10), as well as a closing prayer of blessing on behalf of the Corinthian believers (2 Corinthians 13:11–14).

Key Verses (ESV):

2 Corinthians 3:5: "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God."

2 Corinthians 3:18: "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this 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 passed away; behold, the new has come."

2 Corinthians 5:21: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

2 Corinthians 10:5: "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."

2 Corinthians 13:4: "For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God."