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Getting to Know the Bible: 2 Corinthians Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on 2 Corinthians. But before we get to 2 Corinthians 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of 2 Corinthians. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of 2 Corinthians, as we prepare to behold and discern 2 Corinthians, beginning with 2 Corinthians 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: Third Pauline Epistle; the eighth book of the New Testament; the forty-seventh book of the Bible.

Authors: Paul (w/ assistance from Timothy)

Date of Writing: AD 55—56

Audience: Gentile Christians living in Corinth, & Christians throughout Achaia

Theme: Forgiveness & Charity

Original Language:

Genre: Letter

Purpose of Writing: The church in Corinth began in AD 52 when Paul visited there on his second missionary journey. He stayed one and a half years, accomplishing much for the sake of the gospel. A record of this visit and the establishment of the church is found in Acts 18:1–18.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul expresses his relief and joy that the Corinthians had received his severe letter (now lost) in a positive manner. That letter addressed issues that were tearing the church apart, primarily the arrival of self-styled (false) apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13) who were assaulting Paul’s character, sowing discord among the believers, and teaching false doctrine. They appear to have questioned his veracity (2 Corinthians 1:15–17), his speaking ability (2 Corinthians 10:10; 11:6), and his unwillingness to accept support from the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:7–9; 12:13). There were also some people in Corinth who had not repented of their licentious behavior, another reason he had sent the severe letter (2 Corinthians 12:20–21).

Paul was overjoyed to learn from Titus that the majority of Corinthians had repented of their rebellion against Paul (2 Corinthians 2:12–13; 7:5–9). The apostle encourages them for this in an expression of his genuine love (2 Corinthians 7:3–16). Paul also urged the Corinthians to finish collecting an offering for the poor (chapters 8—9) and to take a harder stance against false teachers (chapters 10—13). Finally, Paul vindicated his apostleship, as some in the church had likely questioned his authority (2 Corinthians 13:3).

Summary: Paul's second letter to the Corinthians discusses some of the things previously addressed but also deals with new issues. While 1 Corinthians called for believers to be unified with each other, in this letter Paul urges the church to be unified with him in his ministry. Paul's opponents were undermining his work, claiming that his suffering (11:24-29) proved he was not a true apostle. Paul responds that his suffering highlights his dependence on Christ, as it points to Christ's strength rather than his own. Second Corinthians includes stirring perspectives on gospel ministry (chapter 2-5), encouragements to holy living (chapters 6-7), and instructions about giving (chapters 8-9). Paul wrote this letter from Macedonia a year after writing 1 Corinthians, about A.D. 56.

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).

Application: Just as Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the wake of their repentance from divisions and quarrels, the message for today is clear: living in unity requires us to humbly forgive one another and to follow our leaders. Second Corinthians reminds us that even as Christians, we hurt each other and need to forgive those who wrong us (2 Corinthians 2:7). That Paul was willing to exhort the Corinthian believers to forgive those who had fallen away and repented, even as he defended his own apostleship against a vocal opposition, illustrates the apostle’s commitment to this way of life among God’s people.

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."

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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