2 Corinthians

These are all of the chapters of the book of 2 Corinthians. Clicking on a chapter will show you the text of that chapter of 2 Corinthians in the Bible (New International Version).

Bible open to 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians summary

Who Wrote the Book of 2 Corinthians?

External and internal evidence confirms that this letter was written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. This authorship has never seriously been in question, as it is quoted by early church fathers Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian. Second Corinthians is a personal, emotional, and at times painful letter was written by Paul to the church at Corinth. As we read this letter, it is clear that some in Corinth rejected what Paul wrote to them in 1 Corinthians, to their own detriment.

Context and Background of 2 Corinthians

Paul makes reference to an earlier sorrowful, or severe letter in 2 Corinthians 2:3–4 and 7:8. Since that letter is not likely referring to 1 Corinthians, this may be referring to a separate letter written between 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. It is believed that Paul then made a “painful visit” to directly address these issues (2:1, 12:14) and afterward wrote this second letter. Many of the believers in Corinth wanted to reconcile and follow the teachings given by Paul, but there remained a group that was hostile to his leadership.

The letter can be divided into three major sections, Paul’s explanation and defense of his ministry (1-7), Collection for the Saints (8-9), and Paul’s vindication of his Apostleship (10-13). Paul spends a great deal of this letter simply defending his ministry.

Main Theme and Purpose of 2 Corinthians

Paul’s Apostolic Authority
This speaks to the heart of any pastor or church leader honestly and prayerfully serving yet finding themselves faced with rebellion and dissent. The church in Corinth was planted by Paul, and yet there are many who doubted his authority and his words. His first letter and visits proved to be mostly unsuccessful, and he was criticized for what they perceived as weakness. The church seemed almost ashamed of Paul, as he was poor (6:10), and did not appear in person as powerful as he sounded in his letters (10:10). Paul explains that his hope and strength are in Christ, and in those to whom he ministers.

Our Tendency to be Impressed with What is False
It is difficult to believe that the Apostle Paul had trouble convincing people of his qualifications. Yet that is exactly what he has to do in this letter. In this letter, Paul placed his own apparent weakness, in which he proclaims that Christ becomes his strength, against the boastings of the ‘super-apostles.’ Unlike them, he brags no in his own strength, but in Christ. It is confidence in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection that produces glory for the Gospel message and final reward and recognition for the Apostle.

What Can We Learn from 2 Corinthians Today?

Unity
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 trust in Godly 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).

Thorns in the Flesh
It is in this letter that we learn of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” We still do not know exactly what this hindrance was, but we know that it was an annoyance and trouble to Paul that hindered him in his ministry and caused him emotional and/or physical pain. Yet he learns to use even this as an asset to who he is in Christ, and a means to keep him from becoming conceited: “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).

Just as Paul finds that his strength in Christ is found in personal weakness, we will also see Christ at work in the ‘weak’ areas of our lives. In the places where we feel overwhelmed or simply in over our heads, that is where we learn to trust and lean on Christ at work in us, and not what we can accomplish in our own strength. Paul brags not in his own accomplishments, though there are many, but instead brags in his weaknesses because that is what honors and points us to Christ.

Giving
Paul gives one of the most concise discussions of Christian giving in chapters 8 and 9. Contained in this passage are the principles for giving, the purposes for giving, the policies to be followed in giving, and the promises to be realized in giving. Paul encourages them (and us) to give sacrificially, just as Christ gave sacrificially for us (8:9). Paul does not give a specific monetary amount but instead states that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” and “each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (9:6-7). Likewise, we should consider nothing as our own, but as resources to be used to the glory of God.

Our Favorite Verses from 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 3:17 – “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

2 Corinthians 4:17 – “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We live by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 8:9 – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

2 Corinthians 9:7 – “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 – “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”

Sources

  • Bible.org. 2020. 8. 2 Corinthians: Introduction, Argument, And Outline.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. 2020. Biblical Literature - The Second Letter Of Paul To The Corinthians.
  • Insight.org. 2020. Book Of Second Corinthians Overview - Insight For Living Ministries.
  • The New Open Bible. (1990). Nashville: T. Nelson, p.1329

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Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and author of A Journey to Bethlehem: Inspiring Thoughts for Christmas and Hope for the New Year. He serves as worship pastor and in Colorado and spends his weekends exploring the Rocky Mountains with his family. Connect on TwitterInstagram, or at JasonSoroski.net.