Background to 2 Corinthians
The apostle Paul wrote 2 Corinthians in response to Titus’ report. The first section of the epistle addressed the issues that Paul wrote in his first epistle. In obedience to Paul’s instructions, the Corinthian Church had disfellowshipped the immoral offender (1 Corinthians 5:1–5; 2 Corinthians 2:6). Following that, the apostle instructed the church how to win him back to the fold. He wrote, “it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:7, 8).
Contributions to the poor
In 2 Corinthians, Paul had made special efforts in to gather contributions from the churches of Macedonia and Greece for the Jewish poor (ch. 8; 9). For these contributions would tie the hearts of Jewish and Gentile Christians in a loving relationship. By giving to the Jews, the Gentile Christians would show gratitude to the sacrifices that the Jewish Christians did in bringing them a knowledge of the gospel. And the Jews, in turn, would see the transforming power of God in the lives of the Gentiles.
Unfortunately, the Corinthian Church was late in collecting their contribution, and far behind the churches of Macedonia, perhaps due to the issues that troubled them. Therefore, Paul invited them again to set their issues aside and speed up the gathering of the contributions. He wrote, “Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it … Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly” (2 Corinthians 8: 10-12)
The Judaizing group
The Corinthian Church had been having divisions, some favoring one spiritual leader over another. Much of the distress that resulted from this division had been corrected. For most of the Corinthian Church believers accepted the counsel given by Paul and his helpers.
But some showed open and evil opposition. This was probably from the Judaizing group which was similar to the one in Galatia. The goal of this opposition was to weaken Paul’s ministry. These challengers charged Paul with inconstancy for not coming to Corinth as he had originally promised. And they contended that he lacked apostolic authority. They saw him as a weak person directing the church through letters and not being there in person.
Paul’s response to the challenges
The first nine chapters of 2 Corinthians revolve around gratitude and appreciation to the majority of the members who accepted the apostle’s council and criticism. The last four, have been characterized by discipline and self-defense that were given to a minority who continued in opposing the advice for unity.
In large, Paul message shows his authority and justifies his behavior among them. He presents a clear evidence of his apostleship, by sharing his visions, revelations from the Lord, his great sufferings, and the Lord’s favor that is shown in the success of his labors. The sternness of Paul’s message in 2 Corinthians in dealing with the false apostles and possibly a minority of its members who are still under their influence, is not seen in his epistles to the other churches.
The differences between 1 and 2 Corinthians
The message in 1 Corinthians is objective and practical. In style, it is calmer. By contrast, the content of 2 Corinthians is mainly subjective and personal. It shows Paul’s concern for news from Corinth, his comfort and joy with Titus’ efforts, and his fixed goal to deal effectually with those who still troubled the church. It reveals the love of the apostle for the Corinthian Church. And although the main concern of 2 Corinthians is not doctrinal, as with Galatians and Romans, it does introduce important doctrinal truths.
In His service,