A message of Hope to a Church with Many Problems

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A Message of Hope to a Church with Many Problems

An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians


Les Painter

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

This commentary has yet to go through Advanced Theological Checking.


Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth less than a year after the first one. After he had sent the first letter, Paul went to Troas. There he hoped that he would meet Titus. Then Titus would be able to speak to Paul. A previous letter from Paul had contained strong words. These words might not have been welcome to the Corinthians. So, Titus would tell Paul how the words had affected the church. However, Titus was not in Troas, so Paul went to Macedonia.

He found Titus there. Titus then told him what he wanted to know. Some of the news was good and some was bad. When Paul first came to Corinth, he taught the true *gospel. But now some *believed a different *gospel. However, some had changed their behaviour. Paul had requested this in his first letter. But some of them opposed Paul’s authority and teaching.

This second letter explains Paul’s reasons for writing in such a severe way. Paul thinks that it was right for him to write like that. He tells them why he thinks that. He tells them too that God gave him the authority to write these things. He tells them also of all the work that he has done. He speaks too of the many dangers that he has met on his travels. The letter also gives advice. It is about having a *collection for the poor people in Jerusalem.

The letter is about how people should live together as a family. The Corinthians were not perfect people. But they wanted to live better lives. Paul had started the church in the first place. But the people had left him. Now they did not want to know him as a friend. Paul showed them the kind of person that a leader should be. He did not use his own strength and power. He knew that he was weak. He knew that he needed God’s help. But there was a great danger in this teaching. The people could have said, ‘You are a weak person. We do not want a weak person as our leader’. But Paul was not afraid of what they thought. Paul was able to show how God used his weakness. God used it to show his own *glory.

Plan of 2 Corinthians

Part 1: Paul introduces himself (1:1-11)

1:1-2 Greeting

1:3-11 *Thanksgiving

Part 2: Paul’s answer to a problem (1:12-7:16)

1:12-2:4 Paul’s change of travel plans

1:12-14 Paul defends his good name

1:15-2:4 Paul defends his change of travel plans

2:5-11 The Christians at Corinth should forgive the man who *sinned

2:12-13 Paul waits for Titus

2:14-17 The march that tells that Christ is the winner

3:1-3 Does Paul need to send a letter to approve himself?

3:4-6 *Ministers of the new *covenant

3:7-18 Two different *ministries

3:7-11 Paul explains Exodus 34:29-32

3:12-18 Paul explains Exodus 34:33-35

4:1-6 Paul describes his work

4:7-12 Things of great value in pots of *clay

4:13-15 The spirit of *faith

4:16-5:10 The purpose of *faith

4:16-18 We are not anxious

5:1-10 The house in heaven

5:11-7:4 Paul works for the return of healthy *fellowship

5:11-15 Paul replies to those who do not agree with him

5:16-21 God makes us right with himself through Christ

6:1-13 A request to the Corinthians to be friends again with each other

6:14-7:1 An appeal for holy lives

7:2-4 A further appeal to be friends again with each other

7:5-16 Paul’s joy that the trouble is over

Part 3: A *collection for the poor (8:1-9:15)

8:1-6 The example of the Macedonians

8:7-15 Paul asks the Corinthians to be the best they can

8:16-24 Paul desires that those who receive the *collection will approve

9:1-5 Be ready and avoid shame

9:6-15 Paul asks the Corinthians to give as much as they can

Part 4: Paul’s answer to new trouble (10:1-13:14)

10:1-6 A strong request

10:7-11 Paul replies to those who do not approve of his actions

10:12-18 The right and wrong way to speak with pride

11:1-6 The Corinthians should not *believe everything without question

11:7-15 Why Paul refuses payment for his work

11:16-12:13 The ‘fool’s talk’

11:16-21a Accept me as a fool

11:21b-33 Paul’s *Jewish parents and his troubles as an *apostle

12:1-10 Dreams and *visions

12:11-13 The evidence of a true *apostle

12:14-18 Paul refuses to put a load on the Corinthians

12:19-21 The purpose of the ‘fool’s talk’

13:1-10 Paul will come again with strong action

Part 5: The end (13:11-14)

13:11-13 Final requests and greeting

13:14 The *blessing

Part 1: Paul introduces himself (1:1-11)

1:1-2 ~ Greeting

Verses 1-2 This is the way that they used to write letters in Greece. First, came the name of the writer. Then came the name of the one who would receive the letter. Then followed a greeting.

Paul calls himself ‘an *apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God’. An *apostle was one who had seen the risen *Lord (1 Corinthians 15:3-10). That was how Paul understood it. God told Paul to *preach the *gospel (Galatians 1:11-12; 2:7). This happened when Paul was on the road to Damascus. Paul met with Jesus then (Acts 9:1-9). So Paul became an *apostle. Paul did not choose this himself. It was by God the Father’s will. The purpose of this choice was that Paul should *preach to the *Gentiles (Galatians 1.12, 16).

Other *ministers had come to Corinth. They did not agree with Paul’s teaching. So, Paul needs to tell the Corinthians that God had chosen him. Paul was a true *apostle. But this was only by the will of God.

Paul includes ‘Timothy our brother’ in this greeting. Paul met Timothy at Lystra. It was while he was on his second *missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy’s mother was a *Jew and his father was a Greek.

Paul sends the letter ‘to the church of God that is at Corinth’. The Greek word for church means a gathering of people. This is the word used for a meeting of the people of Ephesus (Acts 19: 39, 41).

A church in the *Old Testament was a large gathering. It was a large gathering of the people of God. They met to hear God’s word (Judges 20:2). The Christians of Corinth would have understood the word ‘church’ in this way. A church is a group of people. They know God in a special way. Paul often tells us that churches belong to God. Paul wants the best for them because they belong to God.

Paul refers to his readers as ‘*saints’. The word ‘*saints’ means ‘holy ones’. They may not have been very good people. This is how we would think of the word today. The truth was that they were not good people. They were not good in their *sexual behaviour. Even so, Paul addresses them as God’s ‘holy ones’. That is how God sees them. They should behave as God sees them. That is Paul’s desire. Achaia would be the larger area of country surrounding Corinth.

Paul wishes health and happiness to his readers. This was the usual practice in those times. Paul writes like this in six other letters. He changes the common Greek word for ‘greetings’ to a Greek word like it - ‘*grace’. ‘Peace’ is the same as the common *Jewish greeting ‘*shalom’. Paul brings the two together as a *blessing and a prayer. *Grace is free. We cannot earn it. It is not a reward for all the good things that we do.

Paul prays that his readers may know the free *blessing of God the Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ. This peace is with God and with each other. We have this peace with God through the death of Christ (Ephesians 2:13-18). Those who *believe then feel healthy and well. Peace is not just the absence of trouble. That is how the Greeks understood it. However hard our life might be, we can still know God’s peace. We have this peace when we do right and not wrong.

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