2 Corinthians Part Two Deep Dive
2 CORINTHIANS – PART 2
| Dr Adam White
In the last blog, we saw that Paul and the Corinthians had had a major falling out, to the extent that Paul felt the only solution was to depart from the church. He had been accused of embezzlement over his handling of the offering for Jerusalem and general doubts had been raised over his status as an apostle. He dealt with the issue through a painful letter delivered by Titus. The letter was mostly successful in that it brought about repentance, reconciliation, and punishment of the wrongdoer. But there were still some lingering doubts about Paul’s choice to send a letter instead of visiting as he had originally promised. These issues were being exacerbated by some self-styled “super-apostles”. Replacements that had been brought in to the church who were actively undermining Paul’s authority and no doubt eroding the newly reached reconciliation. In response to this news, Paul writes a fourth letter, our 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians is far and away the most passionate and raw of Paul’s letters. His heart is well and truly on his sleeve in every sentence, and the depth of emotion is almost tangible. This is pretty much his last shot at winning back the Corinthians, particularly with these new opponents working to separate the church from him, so he pulls out all the stops.
The letter can be fairly simply divided into three distinct sections. The first, chapters 1–7, addresses the majority of the Corinthians who are still having doubts about his status as an apostle. He has made up and changed his mind a couple of times by this point, so he needs to spend some time giving an account of the recent events that have happened (1:8–2:13; 7:5–16). He needs to answer questions as to why he didn’t carry letters of recommendation as the intruders did (3:1–4:6). And generally, he needs to explain why he acted so harshly towards them, where does he think he gets that sort of authority.
The second section, Chapters 8–9, is an attempt to restart the offering that had come to a grinding halt amidst accusations of embezzlement. It had been a year since he wrote our 1 Corinthians and with all the fall out that that letter brought, the Corinthians were not inclined to make much effort to raise money for a suspect apostle. Just recently, Titus had been in Corinth with the letter of tears and had kick-started it again (2 Cor 8:6), but now it was time to bring it to completion. These chapters also act as a letter of recommendation for Titus, just in case, there were still thoughts that he was in cahoots with Paul in ripping off the church.
Finally, chapters 10–13 addresses the elephant in the room—literally. We have to remember that this letter was read to the whole congregation and that the false apostles that are corrupting the church are in the room listening.