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Summary of The Book of 2 Corinthians:
2 Corinthians was actually Paul's third (some say fourth) letter to the church at Corinth. His first addressed certain issues of church discipline, and his second (our 1 Corinthians) was a more broad corrective for several problems and misunderstandings in that church. He had intended to visit Corinth after 1 Corinthians was written, but decided against it after having heard about recent developments there. The Corinthian church had corrected many of the specific problems which Paul addressed, but their underlying worldliness remained unchanged. They became dazzled by certain traveling evangelists who were preaching a gospel different from Paul's, and discrediting Paul's ministry. 2 Corinthians is Paul's defense of his character and his message in order to keep the Corinthians from following these false apostles in their heresies.
Author and Dates of The Book of 2 Corinthians:
Allowing for the new developments which Paul addresses for the first time in 2 Corinthians, as well as the visits which Paul's ministry partners made to the city after 1 Corinthians was delivered, this letter must be dated at least a year after 1 Corinthians was written -- probably sometime in 56 AD.
Corinth was a very large and wealthy port city throughout its history, being located very strategically in the area that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece. However, it was destroyed by Rome in 146 BC and not rebuilt until 29 BC. It quickly regained its wealth and popularity, but with a completely new class of people. In this growing metropolis stood the church at Corinth. They were a zealous group of Christians, but the glamour of big-city life rubbed off on them and caused a number of recurring problems that Paul dealt with in his letters.
Outline of The Book of 2 Corinthians:
Themes of The Book of 2 Corinthians:
True Leadership: Certain self-styled "super-apostles" had infiltrated the Corinthian church, discredited Paul and his ministry, and began preaching a different gospel. Over and over Paul asserts that apostleship is not a matter of written recommendation, lofty pay scales, or rhetorical skills, but a matter of calling, love, humility, and sacrifice. Paul demonstrates that Christian ministry is to be typified by humble servanthood.