Introduction to 2 Corinthians

In order to understand the teachings of the second epistle we must acquaint ourselves with the reasons for the writing of the first letter. There evidently were many errors in this church. Among them were:

1. Divisions, Chapter I, Contentions, I am of Paul etc.

2. There was a display of human wisdom. Ch. I

This wisdom was divisive and made the cross of Christ of no effect. In Ch. 2, Paul despises excellency of speech and enticing words of man’s wisdom when he preached the Gospel. He also ascertains strongly that the natural man cannot receive nor understand spiritual things. Spiritual truths are only revealed to the spiritual through the Spirit.

3. Despite the fact that this church lacked no spiritual gift, it was one of the most carnal churches described in the New Testament. Paul describes threes classes of people: Ch.3: the natural man—the spiritual man—the carnal or fleshly man. Paul equates the carnal beliefs with a babe in Christ. This condition is brought about by lack of spiritual growth, and is evidenced in envying, strife, and divisions.

4. Ch. 5. In this church, immortality was being practiced and there was one instance at least which was so gross that even the Gentiles would not permit it in their base society. To compound the evil, the local church and the elders were indifferent to sin’s awful presence in their midst.

5. Ch. 6 Brethren were taking brethren to court before ungodly judges.

6. After these discourses, Paul reminds them of this heavenly character. You are members of Christ—you are joined unto the Lord—and your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Ch. 6

These things had been reported to Paul by the household of Chloe.

Then this church had written to Paul for advice on certain subjects.

1. Chapter 7: The subject of marriage—divorce—remarriage.

2. Chapter 8: What foods to eat and not to eat—Christian liberty.

3. Chapter 11: Conduct at the Lord’s Supper—hair coverings for sisters.

4. Chapter 12-14: The use and abuse of Spiritual gifts—women’s place in the church.

5. There were problems by some regarding the resurrection. Chapter 15 is one of the greatest discourses on the resurrection. This chapter is called the resurrection chapter.

Over and above all these doctrinal weaknesses, a wave of distrust in Paul swept through the church, no doubt stirred by the false teachers. They doubted his sincerity—they questioned his apostolic authority.

The second letter written some months after the first letter defends his authority and apostleship, giving overwhelming evidence as to his call and commission from God (Chapters 1-7).

Chapters 8 and 9 concern the collection for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem. He also teaches the act of spiritual giving.

In Chapters 10 thru 13, Paul further defends his apostleship and in his boasting under duress, mentions an experience he had fourteen years previously.

Dr. Scofield points out some interesting data found in the epistle. He suggests that this letter is the most revealing of Paul’s heart. He also gathers an unusual collection of words which express excruciating anguish of mind, heart, and body. Here are a few examples: afflictions—anguish—distress—beatings—fastings—labors—perils—persecutions—sorrows—strips—sufferings—tears.

Interestingly enough, another set of words seem to arise. Comfort and comforted are used more frequently in this letter than in any other of Paul’s letters. Then throughout the epistle Paul mentions frequently three other words. Joy—rejoicing—triumph.

These are remarkable words in view of the distress and suffering Paul endured for Christ and the Gospel.

In reading chapters 10 thru 12 I am convinced that no other Christian could have endured such sufferings—rejoicing in them—and triumphing over them. In other words, being more than a conqueror.

The church in Corinth was born in adversity. The apostolic salvation of verse 2 were no idle or repetitious words. To continue for God in the midst of trial and persecution, they required the grace and peace of God.

V. 3-“Blessed be God.” This phrase when mentioned in the N.T. is always applied to the Godhead. It is an acclamation of praise, adoration, and worship.

1. He blesses “God” who “is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2. He is also, “The Father of mercies.”

3. And finally, He is called, “The God of all comfort.”

Two things of which God has the monopoly: “Grace and comfort.”

It is interesting to note that the word comfort or comforter is applied to each person of the Godhead. In this portion, God is the God of all comfort. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as the Comforter in 14, 15, and 16. The Lord Jesus is spoken of as our Advocate—this is the same word.

How wonderfully we are taken care of. The entire Godhead is engaged in comforting, consoling, and sustaining us.

Paul was speaking from experience. V 8-9: These verses describe the pressure and danger in which Paul lived. He was pressed beyond the limits of human endurance, even disposing of his life.

As he endured these afflictions he felt that he was under the sentence of death. This condition was allowed by God to keep him from trusting in himself and to depend rather on God Who raises from the dead.

V. 10: It is He Who delivered us from imminent death, and Who continues to deliver, and we are confident that He will continue to deliver us.

V. 11: Paul ascertains in this verse that comfort and deliverance will come from God through their prayers. Prayer fellowship.