An Overview Of The Book Of 2 Corinthians


Writer Of The Second Letter To The Corinthians

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,” 2 Corinthians 1:1a

Paul is clearly the author of 2 Corinthians. This is made evident in the opening verse, as it is also in 2 Corinthians 10:1 where he wrote: “Now I myself, Paul, urge you...”

Paul included Timothy in the opening greeting and address. Timothy had worked at Paul's side in Corinth when Paul started the church there during his second missionary journey (cf. Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19). From Ephesus, where Paul had written his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul sent Timothy on a mission to the churches which would bring him to the church in Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:8,10,11). Paul anticipated that Timothy would arrive in Corinth after Paul's first letter had been received by the congregation. Timothy was then to rejoin Paul in Ephesus. Timothy did rejoin Paul, for he was with Paul when the Second Letter to the Corinthians was written. Timothy brought Paul the latest news of the troubled affairs in the Corinthian congregation. Whatever information Timothy brought to Paul was most likely made use of in writing the second letter. Thus Paul included Timothy in the opening greeting and address as his co-worker, who was well known to the Corinthians and who assisted him in preparing the second letter.

For more information about Paul and his ministry, see An Overview Of The Book Of Acts.

Recipients Of The Second Letter To The Corinthians

“To the church of God which is in Corinth, together with all the saints who are throughout Achaia,” 2 Corinthians 1:1b

The second letter was intended mainly for the eyes of the members of the church in Corinth. The problems Paul was addressing in the letter were problems within that congregation. Yet there were certain matters taken up in the letter, such as the collection for the saints in Jerusalem and the warnings about the false “super apostles”, that Paul also wanted to share with the other churches in the southern province of Achaia, Greece. Thus he included in his address the saints throughout Achaia together with the church in Corinth.

For more information about the church in Corinth and the recipients of the second letter, see An Overview Of The Book Of 1 Corinthians.

Occasion Of The Second Letter To The Corinthians

Problems had arisen within the church in Corinth while Paul was in Ephesus on his third missionary journey. Paul left Ephesus briefly for a short visit to the Corinthian congregation to deal with those problems. His visit, however, failed to resolve them. Paul then wrote a letter, which has not been preserved, to address those problems. This now lost letter also failed to resolve the problems and only raised more questions within the congregation, as well as raise a challenge to Paul's apostolic ministry. Paul responded to the problems and questions by writing the letter we know as Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. Timothy arrived in Corinth after the congregation had received this letter. He then rejoined Paul in Ephesus and reported the latest news on the troubled affairs in Corinth.

Paul concluded his work in Ephesus at Pentecost (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:8). Together with Timothy he set out for the churches in Macedonia. Instead of crossing the Aegean Sea to pass through Corinth on his way to Macedonia, as he had planned to do (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:15,16), he traveled north from Ephesus to Troas in Asia Minor to preach the gospel there (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12). He went to Troas, instead of to Corinth, to also give the Corinthians more time to resolve their problems before visiting them for the third time. Paul expected Titus to meet him in Troas with a report of what happened in the Corinthian congregation after it had received his letter that we know as First Corinthians. Titus was delayed. Feeling anxious and fearful about the affairs in Corinth, Paul left Troas and crossed the Aegean Sea into Macedonia (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:13). There he met Titus, who brought him the good news that the majority of the Corinthians had taken his letter to heart. They had rectified many, though not all, of the problems. This good news lifted Paul's spirit and prompted him to write his Second Letter to the Corinthians. Paul then dispatched Titus back to Corinth to assist the congregation in completing its collection for the saints in Jerusalem (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:6, 16-24). Titus is likely the one to have delivered Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians.

The Place Where The Second Letter To The Corinthians Was Written


The Date When The Second Letter To The Corinthians Was Written

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians is thought to have been written in the spring of A.D. 56. Given the information we have in the Scriptures, such as that under the “Occasion” above, it appears that Paul wrote Second Corinthians within six months of the date of his writing First Corinthians. This would set the date of Second Corinthians around the fall of A.D. 56.

Results Of Paul's First And Second Letters To The Corinthians

After sending his second letter, Paul himself visited the church in Corinth for the third time. He spent the three winter months in Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:5-7; Acts 20:3). While there Paul wrote his Letter to the Romans. In that letter he indicated that he saw his work in the regions where he had been ministering as finished. He stated that it was time for him to move westward to Rome and Spain (cf. Romans 15:23,24). This information, linked together with the tone in which Paul wrote it (cf. Romans 15:25,26), seems to indicate that Paul's letters, plus his visits and those of Timothy and Titus, had resolved the problems in the Corinthian congregation. A God-pleasing order and peace had at last been brought to the church in Corinth.

Purpose Of The Second Letter To The Corinthians

The purpose was threefold, as indicated by the three distinct parts of the letter:

1. To defend his past apostolic ministry to the Corinthians, so the Corinthians' misunderstandings would be cleared up.

2. To urge the Corinthians at the present time to complete their collection for the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.

3. To inform the Corinthians of his future visit, for which his adversaries had better be prepared.

Theme Of The Second Letter To The Corinthians

Paul's Defense Of His Apostleship To Win The Corinthians

Outline Of The Second Letter To The Corinthians

Introduction, 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

A. Address

1. From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 Corinthians 1:1a

2. To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia, 2 Corinthians 1:1b

B. Opening greeting, 2 Corinthians 1:2

C. God the Father comforts us so we can comfort others, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

1. Praise be to God the Father who comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort God has given to us, 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

2. As the suffering that Christ suffered flows into the lives of us Christians, so through Christ our comfort overflows, 2 Corinthians 1:5

3. I, Paul, and my co-workers have been afflicted and comforted in our ministries for the comfort and salvation of you Corinthians, which comfort produces in you patient endurance in what you suffer as we do, 2 Corinthians 1:6

4. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, so you Corinthians also share in our comfort, 2 Corinthians 1:7

D. In the midst of suffering our confidence rests in God, 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

1. My brothers in Corinth, we want you to know that in Ephesus, of the Roman province of Asia Minor, we suffered the ordeal of the rioting silversmiths, which convinced us we would surely be put to death, 2 Corinthians 1:8,9a

2. This life-threatening ordeal served the good purpose of leading us to rely on the power of God, who did deliver us from that peril. Thus our confidence rests on God to continue to deliver us from such perils in response to your prayers for us, which will lead many to thank God on our behalf, 2 Corinthians 1:9b-11

Part 1: The Past--Paul's Defense Of His Apostolic Ministry To The Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 1:12-7:16

A. Paul defends his change of travel plans, 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:17

1. Paul's godly boast in his past dealings with the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

a. Though some among you Corinthians may accuse me, Paul, and my co-workers of not having dealt sincerely and straightforwardly with you in the past, our conscience is clear for having dealt with you in holiness and sincerity from God and according to his grace, 2 Corinthians 1:12

b. Thus, while some among you Corinthians may insinuate that you must read between the lines to really know what we told you in our previous letters, the truth is we wrote the Word of God quite plainly to you for you to read with a full understanding for your spiritual growth, that you might be caused to boast of us on Judgment Day, 2 Corinthians 1:13,14

2. Paul defends himself against the charge of being unreliable and untrustworthy, 2 Corinthians 1:15-22

a. Because I was confident of your boasting of me on Judgment Day, as ones closely attached to me, I desired to visit you twice--on my way to and from visiting the churches in Macedonia. But as I advised you in what is known as my first letter to you, I changed my travel plans and I intend to first go through Macedonia that I may spend an extended period of time with you in Corinth afterwards. This does not mean I made my original plan to visit you twice lightly and insincerely. Nor does it mean I made my plans according to my own self-interests and am therefore unreliable and untrustworthy, 2 Corinthians 1:15-17

b. While some of you Corinthians think I am untrustworthy, as sure as God is faithful, our message of salvation in Jesus Christ has not been untrustworthy. The Jesus, God's Son, whom we preached to you, is not unreliable but is most worthy of trust as always. And in him God's promises are certain and to be fully trusted, 2 Corinthians 1:18-20a

c. God's gospel promises in Christ enable us to say, “Amen,” that is, “It is true.” We say this by faith as ones whom God has established in Christ, anointed to be his own, sealed as belonging to him, and who have had the Spirit put in our hearts as a down payment on our eternal salvation, 2 Corinthians 1:20b-22

3. Paul's explanation for his change of travel plans, 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:17

a. Because some among you Corinthians are trying to undermine this gospel by raising questions about my, Paul's, credibility--with an oath I assure you that I changed my plans to spare you from my having to come to discipline you to straighten out your many problems. Thus I decided not to make another such painful visit that would have grieved you and me. Rather, I decided to delay my coming to you, so as to be able to rejoice in you as one who had to use the law in my previous letter to show you the depth of my love for you, 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4

b. No, I did not write what is known as my first letter to you to grieve you. The truth is: The immoral man who was having sexual relations with his father's wife (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1f) has grieved both me and all of you. Now the punishment of excommunication that the majority of you, but not all of you, inflicted on him is sufficient. Since he has repented of his sin, you ought to forgive him, comfort him with the gospel, and reaffirm your love for him. I want you to know that I had written to you to discipline him so as to test your obedience in everything. Know this also, if you as a congregation forgive him, I also forgive him, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

c. Now I want you to know just how worried I was about you. Instead of coming directly to you by sea, so as to give you time to act upon the instructions in my first letter, I traveled over land northward to preach the gospel in Troas. I found I could not do this, however. I was too distraught, since Titus did not meet me with a report about what you did after receiving my first letter. To hasten our meeting, I pressed ahead to Macedonia, 2 Corinthians 1:12,13

d. Now that I have heard the good news from Titus of how you have conducted yourselves, I can only thank God for the triumph. He leads us ministers of the gospel in a triumphal procession, like that of a conquering general who is leading his captive enemies behind him in his victory parade. Through us God spreads everywhere the knowledge of Christ. We ministers of the gospel are the stench of death to the unbelievers who are perishing, but we are the fragrance of life to the believers who are being saved. Who is equal to this task? Unlike my adversaries, the false teachers and “super apostles” among you Corinthians, we do not peddle the Word for our own profit. We simply speak it as men sent from God, 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

B. The Glory Of The New Covenant Gospel Ministry, 2 Corinthians 3:1-7:4

1. Paul clarifies that the new covenant gospel ministry is superior to the old covenant ministry of the law, 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

a. Because I have said God is leading us ministers of the gospel in Christ in a triumphal procession, my adversaries among you Corinthians may assert that we are again commending ourselves. Surely we don't need letters of recommendation, like my adversaries the “super apostles” need, before you embrace us for what we are. You Corinthians yourselves are our letter of recommendation as a result of our gospel ministry among you, 2 Corinthians 3:1-3

b. Our confidence before God through Christ is that we ministers of the gospel are equal to the task, because our competence to be such comes from God. He had made us competent ministers, not of the old covenant of the law that kills, but of the new covenant of the Spirit who gives life, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

c. The glory of the new covenant gospel ministry of the Spirit exceeds the glory of the old covenant ministry of the law conducted by Moses. This is so, for the new covenant ministry of the Spirit does not bring death, nor condemns, nor fades, but it brings life, righteousness, and lasts, 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

d. Having the confidence that the new covenant ministry conveys the Spirit of life and righteousness, we are very bold in our gospel ministries, unlike Moses had been. Unfortunately, the Jews today, like their forefathers at Sinai before them, have their hardened hearts covered by the veil of the law. They cannot see that the veil of the law was only temporary and is removed in Christ (who is the end of the law for righteousness for all believers) whenever anyone turns to the Lord and is brought to faith by the Spirit, who gives freedom and transforms believers into God's likeness to reflect his glory, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

2. Paul asserts that he sets forth plainly the truth of the new covenant gospel ministry, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

a. Since through God's mercy I, Paul, and my co-workers have this new covenant gospel ministry, we do not lose heart but remain boldly courageous, for we know the power of the gospel will triumph. Therefore, unlike those “super apostles” among you Corinthians, who do not have this confidence in the gospel and peddle the Word for profit, we do not resort to deception and distorting the Word of God to win you over as they do. We simply set the truth of God's Word before you, 2 Corinthians 4:1,2

b. If the plain truth of the gospel we proclaim is concealed from the understanding of some, it is so concealed to those who are perishing because the devil has blinded their minds. Thus they cannot see the light of the gospel that illuminates the glory of Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:3,4

c. In setting forth the plain truth of the gospel, we preach Jesus Christ is Lord and that we ministers of the gospel are your servants for his sake. We preach Jesus is Lord, because God has enlightened our hearts by the gospel to see the glory of God in the person of Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 4:5,6

3. Paul states that the new covenant gospel ministry is a treasure in jars of clay, 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10

a. We ministers of the new covenant have the treasure of the gospel. While it is all-glorious, we ministers are but frail jars of clay. The all-precious gospel of Christ has been given to us weak vessels, so it may be evident that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from us, 2 Corinthians 4:7

b. The frailty of us ministers and the all-surpassing power of God is evident through what we suffer, yet still are enabled to survive. We clay jars share in the persecution and sufferings of Christ. We are given over to death for his sake, that his resurrection life may be revealed in our body. Death is at work in us, so life may be at work in you through our new covenant gospel ministries, 2 Corinthians 4:8-12

c. Though we ministers are constantly facing hardships and death, we continue our ministries because, as it is written in Psalm 116:10, having believed in God's deliverance and salvation, we cannot help but speak of it. For we know God will raise us up from the dead with Jesus to stand in his presence with you. Thus all that we suffer for the gospel ministry is for your benefit now and forever, and to bring thanksgiving and glory to God, 2 Corinthians 4:13-15

d. In conclusion, being frail clay jars, but knowing the all-surpassing power of God that is at work to accomplish his purposes, we do not lose heart. We remain confident. Our body is wasting away, but our spirit is being renewed daily. For the troubles we endure in our ministries are light and momentary in comparison to the eternal glory that awaits us, on which we fix our sight, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

e. We clay jars are not only frail but mortal. We will die. Living in our earthly body is like living in a tent. It is only temporary. Thus we know that when our earthly body dies, we have an eternal dwelling in the glory of heaven. We long for this eternal life in heaven. God has made us for this purpose and given us the Spirit as a down payment on this glorious life everlasting. Thus we always remain confident, live by faith, and make it our goal to please the Lord by whom we will be judged, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

4. Paul proclaims that the new covenant gospel ministry is a ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:13

a. In defense of my apostolic ministry among you Corinthians in the past, I, Paul, point out to you that since we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, we know what it is to fear the Lord in holy awe. In such godly fear my co-workers and I have persuaded you Corinthians to believe Jesus is Lord. What we are God knows, for he knows our motives. I hope what we are, as we have been among you, is evident to you Corinthians as well. No, I am not bragging so as to commend myself to you, as my adversaries there might charge. I am simply giving you the opportunity to take pride in us so you can rebut those adversaries, who boast about externals rather than having the heart of a true apostle and minister, which fears the Lord and is devoted to serving you, the Lord's Christian people. No, I am not crazy either, as my adversaries may charge. I work tirelessly for the sake of God and for your benefit, because Christ's love for us compels us to live, not for ourselves, but for him who died for us all, 2 Corinthians 5:11-15

b. Thus I do not view anyone from the sinful worldly view. Rather, I view the believers in Christ as a new creation. All this is from God, who reconciled the world to himself in Christ and does not hold people's sins against them. To us he has committed this ministry of reconciliation. We are, then, Christ's ambassadors to proclaim his appeal to be reconciled to God. For God laid on the sinless Christ our sins and in exchange gave us Christ's righteousness. As God's fellow worker I urge you to receive God's grace by faith now, for this is the time God has given you to believe the gospel for your salvation, 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2

c. In defense of my apostolic ministry among you Corinthians, I want you to know that as an ambassador of Christ I put no stumbling block in anyone's way that would prevent his believing the new covenant gospel because that offense discredited my ministry. Rather, as a servant of God I commend myself as an apostle and minister of the gospel through all that I suffered and did, 2 Corinthians 6:3-10

d. What I spoke to you Corinthians came from my heart with no hidden agenda or ulterior motive. As an apostle and ambassador of Christ, I am not withholding my affection from you. Rather, I plead for your affection that we may enjoy a close relationship as a spiritual father with his children, 2 Corinthians 6:11-13

5. Paul calls on the Corinthians to separate themselves from unbelievers, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:4

a. Do not be yoked together with the pagan unbelievers there in Corinth. Being God's enlightened people in Christ and the temple of God, you have nothing in common with those pagan idolaters. The Lord calls you to come out from among them and to be separate. Purify yourselves from all that contaminates your body, spirit, holiness, and reverence for God, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

b. Rather make room for me, Paul, and my co-workers to have a close fellowship with us. We have not wronged, corrupted, or exploited you. I know I have reason to be confident about you, to be encouraged, and to be most joyful, 2 Corinthians 7:2-4

C. Paul delights in the good news Titus brought from Corinth, 2 Corinthians 7:5-16

1. Not having met Titus in Troas with his report about affairs in your Corinthian congregation, I, Paul, was most distraught over you when I came into Macedonia. But there God comforted me with the coming of Titus and the comfort he brought from you Corinthians. How happy his report made me, for now I know you long for me, are sorrowful over the sinful problems there, and are most concerned about me, 2 Corinthians 7:5-7

2. I have no regrets over what is known as my first letter to you, for it has led you to a godly sorrow and repentance for your salvation that has brought about your taking the immoral case of incest seriously, and your present eagerness to clear yourselves and your congregation of that evil. And so the aim of my first letter was that, in your being brought to repentance, you would realize your devotion for me as your spiritual father. All this encourages me, 2 Corinthians 7:8-13a

3. I am also delighted to hear how well you received and treated my co-worker Titus. Your doing so lived up to my expectations for you, of which I had boasted to Titus, 2 Corinthians 7:13b-16

Part 2: The Present--Paul's Encouragement For The Corinthians To Complete Their Collection For The Poor Christians In Jerusalem, 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15

A. Paul cites the example set by the Christians in Macedonia, 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

1. I, Paul, want you to know, my brothers in Corinth, about the grace for giving that God has given to his Christians in Macedonia. Out of the depths of their trials and poverty their joy welled up in a rich generosity. They gave beyond their ability to do so, having pleaded to share in this service for the saints as ones who gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

2. So we urged Titus to assist you in bringing to completion your collection for the saints in Jerusalem, that you also may excel in this grace of giving, 2 Corinthians 8:6,7

B. Paul reveals that the collection is a proof of the Corinthians' love, 2 Corinthians 8:8,9

1. I am not commanding you to complete the collection. I am giving you this opportunity to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnest love of others, 2 Corinthians 8:8

2. Your motivation for showing your love through this collection is the love of Christ our Savior. Look at his example of love. He was rich as the Son of God, possessing all things. Yet he made himself poor, humbling himself to even death on a cross, so you may be rich in possessing every heavenly blessing, 2 Corinthians 8:9

C. Paul encourages the Corinthians to complete the collection, 2 Corinthians 8:10-15

1. Here is my advice: A year ago you were the first to start taking the collection and you exhibited the desire to participate in it. Now follow through and complete what you had begun willingly, giving according to your means. Your willingness makes your gift acceptable when you give according to what you have, 2 Corinthians 8:10-12

2. Our desire in taking this collection is not to relieve the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem at your expense so you are hard pressed, but to bring about equality with one supplying what the other needs, 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

D. Paul sends assistance to complete the collection, 2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5

1. We are sending Titus to assist you with two of our brothers. We commend all three to you. The first brother is highly respected in the churches and will help us carry the collection to Jerusalem. We do this so no one can criticize how we are gathering the collection and taking it to Jerusalem. The second brother has proven his zeal many times to us. And Titus, of course, is my partner and fellow worker among you. When Titus and these brothers come to you, show them the proof of your love, 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

2. I know your eagerness to help with this collection. I have been boasting of it to the Macedonians since last year. Now I am sending the brothers to assist you in completing it on time, before I leave for Jerusalem, to avoid our and your being put to shame. The brothers will help you finish the arrangements for your gift, so it will be ready as a generous blessing for the saints in Jerusalem that was not given grudgingly, 2 Corinthians 9:1-5

E. Paul states the collection will be a blessing all around, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

1. Not only will the collection be a blessing for the saints in Jerusalem who receive it, it will be a blessing for you who give it generously. You who give generously will receive God's generous blessings in their varied forms in return, when you give your gift cheerfully as you yourselves have determined, for God loves a cheerful giver. You Corinthians need not fear giving generously. God is able to make his grace in Christ abound to you, so always having all that you need you will abound in every good work, including your generous, cheerful gift. For God will give you what you need so you can give generously, 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

2. The collection will also be a blessing in that it will result in God's being thanked and praised for your obedience of faith that comes from the gospel and for your generosity, 2 Corinthians 9:12,13

3. The collection will further be a blessing in that the hearts of the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem will go out to you in their prayers, thus welding a bond of fellowship between them and you Gentiles, 2 Corinthians 9:14,15

Part 3: The Future--Paul Informs The Corinthians Of His Coming Visit, For Which His Adversaries Had Better Be Prepared, 2 Corinthians 10:1-13:10

A. Paul, the true apostle versus the “super apostles”, 2 Corinthians 10:1-11:15

1. Paul pleads not to have to exert his courage and weapons when he comes to Corinth, 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

a. I, Paul, am slandered by my adversaries as being a timid coward when I am with you Corinthians and only boldly courageous when I am away from you. I appeal to you as one who wishes to be meek and gentle with you. I beg that I will not have to come and be as bold as I expect I will have to be with some among you, who think that I and my co-workers live according to our sinful flesh in what we say and do to take advantage of you, 2 Corinthians 10:1,2

b. We live in the flesh, but we do not wage war with weapons of the flesh to win you over. Our weapons are weapons of divine power--the law and especially the gospel--that demolish our adversaries' strong holds, arguments, and pretensions. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience of my hardened adversaries, once the weak among you, who have been misguided, have their obedience made complete, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

2. Paul urges the Corinthians to look at the obvious facts, 2 Corinthians 10:7-11

a. If any of you think you belong to Christ as a Christian, consider that the fact is: I, Paul, and my co-workers Timothy and Titus belong to Christ as his Christians just as well, 2 Corinthians 10:7

b. Since my adversaries charge me with being too authoritarian, the fact is: If I boast about my authority, it is a godly boast. For I am an apostle who has been given authority by the Lord himself, and it is an authority for building you up spiritually, 2 Corinthians 10:8

c. Since my adversaries charge that I am a forceful authority in my letters but personally I am unimpressive, the fact is: I, Paul, and my co-workers will be in person what we are in our letters, 2 Corinthians 10:9-11

3. Paul clarifies how to measure who really measures up, 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

a. I, Paul, and my co-workers Timothy and Titus will not dare to stoop to putting ourselves in the same class with my adversaries who merely recommend themselves. Nor will we compare ourselves to them, as if they were so great. They are unwise in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, for which reason they then think they are so good and capable. For theirs is a faulty standard of self-measurement that merely boasts in what qualities they supposedly have which I do not have, 2 Corinthians 10:12

b. We, on the other hand, to defend my apostolic ministry among you Corinthians, lest you turn from me and the gospel of Jesus that I preached to you, will confine my boasting to within the measure of the measure of work God has assigned to us. This is a sound standard for measuring one's ministry. My measure of work assigned to me is to be an apostle to the Gentiles, a measure of work that reaches to you Gentiles in Corinth. This measure of work I fulfilled. I am not boasting too much in saying we were the first to bring the gospel of Jesus as far west as you Gentiles in Corinth, 2 Corinthians 10:13,14

c. My adversaries, the “super apostles”, boast of the work done in Corinth, which they were never called to do and only messed up, but which we did as the measure of work assigned to us. Unlike them, we will not boast beyond our measure by boasting in the work actually done by others. Rather, we hope that as you grow spiritually in faith, you Corinthians will assist me in enlarging my area of ministry to regions beyond Corinth. For we do not want, unlike my adversaries, to boast in work already done in another man's territory, 2 Corinthians 10:15,16

d. I, Paul, feel most uneasy about boasting. But as it is written, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” So I boast in the fact that my apostolic ministry has measured up to the measure of work God assigned to me. And the one who stands approved is not the one who commends himself, as my adversaries do, but is the one commended by the Lord for what he has done, 2 Corinthians 10:17,18

4. Paul asks to be permitted to boast, because of his concern about the Corinthians' faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus, 2 Corinthians 11:1-6

a. I, Paul, do not like to boast. I hope you will put up with such foolishness, because of my godly jealousy for you. For like the father of a bride, I, as your spiritual father, betrothed you to Christ, that I may present you to him when he comes in glory, 2 Corinthians 11:1,2

b. For I fear that, as Eve was deceived, so you may be led astray by the “super apostles” from your sincere, pure devotion to Christ. The basis of my fear is that you put up with them, who have come on their own and preach a different Jesus, spirit, and gospel from what I and my co-workers preached to you, 2 Corinthians 11:3,4

c. I am amazed that you put up with those “super apostles”, when I, as an apostle, am not the least bit inferior to them. I may not be a trained professional orator who speaks eloquently such as they are. More important than the delivery, however, is the content of the message. And I certainly have knowledge of the truth of God and the gospel of Christ, which we made perfectly clear to you in every way, 2 Corinthians 11:5,6

5. Paul points out the non-mercenarian nature of his apostolic ministry among the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 11:7-12

a. The “super apostles” find fault with how I conducted my ministry among you Corinthians. But did I commit a sin in humbling myself as an apostle to work as a tentmaker when I first came to you? (cf. Acts 18:1-4) I did so to preach the gospel of God free of charge to lift you up from sin and death. And while I was with you, I preached the gospel at no charge, accepting only the gifts and assistance from my fellow Christians in Macedonia. In this way I kept myself from being a financial burden to you. I will continue to do this, so my preaching of the gospel will not be hindered by the charge that I do so for my own profit at your expense, 2 Corinthians 11:7-9

b. As the truth of Christ is in me, no one in Achaia will stop this boasting of mine that I preached the gospel freely without charge. I will do so even though those “super apostles”, who are trained to speak so eloquently, charge that I take nothing because I am nothing but a lowly tentmaker who has nothing of value to say to you. The truth is, contrary to what some may think: I offer the gospel to you without charge because of my love for you, which God himself can vouch for, 2 Corinthians 11:10,11

c. I will continue to preach the gospel freely to cut the ground out from under those “super apostles”, who want to be considered equals with me and my co-workers. Since they want to be equal with me, then they also should offer their services free of charge rather than take your money, 2 Corinthians 11:12

6. Paul clarifies what his adversaries really are, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

a. I, Paul, tell you that those who oppose me are false apostles and deceitful workmen, who masquerade as apostles of Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:13

b. They are such masqueraders because they are servants of Satan, their master, who disguises himself as a holy angel. Since they do not preach and believe the pure gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ, they will receive in the end what their actions deserve--damnation, 2 Corinthians 11:14,15

B. Paul boasts as a “fool”, 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:13

1. I, Paul, for the second time, appeal to you Corinthians to allow me a little foolish boasting, so as to defend my apostolic ministry to preserve you in the gospel of Christ. I will not talk as the Lord himself would. But since my adversaries, the “super apostles”, indulge you in their boasting, which you put up with as they enslave and exploit you for their own advantage, I also will boast, though to my “shame” I never enslaved and exploited you for my own advantage, 2 Corinthians 11:16-21

2. I boast of what I am and of the hardships I have endured as an apostle and servant of Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:22-29

3. I boast in my weakness of having to escape for my life in Damascus, 2 Corinthians 11:30-33

4. I boast in my vision of Paradise, where I heard inexpressible things of which I am not permitted to speak, 2 Corinthians 12:1-6

5. I boast in my thorn in the flesh that was given to me to keep me from becoming conceited over the surpassingly great revelations I received, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

6. I boast that in my ministry in Corinth I exhibited all the “signs of a true apostle”. And as a true apostle I never treated you as inferior to the other churches by loving you less than I loved them, 2 Corinthians 12:11-13

C. Paul announces his coming third visit to Corinth, 2 Corinthians 12:14-13:10

1. I, Paul, am ready to visit you Corinthians for the third time. When I do come to you, I will not burden you, but I again will preach the gospel at no charge. The reason being, I want you, not your possessions. So as your spiritual father I will gladly spend myself for you, my children in the faith. Surely if I love you in this way, you will not love me less for doing so, 2 Corinthians 12:14,15

2. No, I have not been a financial burden to you. Yet my adversaries, the “super apostles”, charge that I am a crafty fellow who caught you by trickery and pulled the wool over your eyes. Surely I did not exploit you through the men I sent to you. Titus, for example, behaved in the same spirit and way as I did. All we did among you was honest and above board, 2 Corinthians 12:16-18

3. You Corinthians may be thinking that all we have done is defend ourselves for our own sake. No, we have defended ourselves as ones speaking in the sight of God, to whom we must give an account of ourselves as servants of Christ. And we defended ourselves and my apostolic ministry among you, so your faith in the gospel of Christ that we preached to you would be strengthened, 2 Corinthians 12:19

4. I am afraid that when I come, I will find that many of you have not repented of all the sins I had pointed out to you in what is known as my first letter to you. I therefore fear that you will not find me to be the Paul you would like me to be, but a disciplinarian who must put an end to those sinful problems that still exist among you, 2 Corinthians 12:20,21

5. On my coming third visit, in carrying out discipline to lead you to repentance, every matter will be established through the admonition of two or three witnesses. As I warned you on my second visit, so I warn you now in this letter, I will discipline every one who remains impenitent. I will do this to rebut the charge that I am a timid coward when I am with you and only boldly courageous when absent from you. So I will discipline you boldly, since you want proof that Christ is speaking through me. Christ is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful. Likewise, we weak jars of clay will by God's power live with Christ to serve you, 2 Corinthians 13:1-4

6. Since you Corinthians want proof of my apostleship and that Christ is speaking through me, I call on you to examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. If you indeed believe Jesus is your crucified and risen Savior, you know that Christ is in you. In the same way, know that I believe this and so Christ is certainly in me also and is speaking through me. Now we pray you will repent and do no wrong, so though we may not seem to have passed the test of apostleship to some, you will do what is right and pass the test as God's people, 2 Corinthians 13:5-7

7. Know this, Corinthians, we can only do what is for the truth of God's Word. If you don't repent, we will come with the law. If you do repent, we will come with the gospel in what my adversaries call weakness. But we are glad when we are so-called “weak”, because then you are strong spiritually. We pray for your perfection. Thus I write these things to you now, so when I come I will not have to be harsh with the law in using my authority. For my authority is to build you up, not to tear you down, 2 Corinthians 13:8-10

Closing, 2 Corinthians 13:11-14

A. Paul's farewell and closing encouragement, 2 Corinthians 13:11

B. Final greetings, 2 Corinthians 13:12,13

C. Closing benediction, 2 Corinthians 13:14