OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF 2 CORINTHIANS
AUTHOR: Paul, the apostle, along with Timothy (2 Cor. 1:1)
PLACE OF WRITING: Somewhere in MACEDONIA, while Paul was on his way to make another visit to Corinth. This would be during his third missionary journey, and Luke only mentions it in passing (cf. Acts 20:1-2).
TIME OF WRITING: Possibly in the fall of 57 A.D., making it but a few months after writing First Corinthians (likely written in the spring of 57 A.D.).
MESSENGER: Titus, who was accompanied by two others on his journey (2 Cor. 8:16-24)
BACKGROUND OF THE EPISTLE: The church in Corinth began in 52 A.D., when Paul visited there on his second missionary journey. It was then that he stayed one and a half years, the first time he was allowed to stay in one place as long as he wished. A record of this visit and the establishment of the church is recorded in Acts 18:1-18.
This second letter of Paul to the Corinthian church was occasioned by the report brought back by Titus, who informed Paul of their reception of the first letter, and how they received the rebuke that letter contained (2 Cor. 2:12-13; 7:5-9).
PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: Titus' report was encouraging, but evidently it also brought troubling news that some at Corinth were questioning Paul's authority as an apostle. This doubt may have planted by "Judaizing teachers" who seemed to follow Paul and attempted to undermine his teaching concerning the Law. They appear to have questioned his veracity (2 Cor. 1:15-17), his speaking ability (2 Cor. 10:10; 11:6), and his unwillingness to accept support from the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:7-9; 12:13). There were also some people who had not repented of their licentious behavior (2 Cor. 12:20-21). Paul's primary purpose, then, in this epistle is:
TO VINDICATE HIS APOSTLESHIP AND MANNER OF LIFE
He hopes that by writing in advance of his visit he can get all of the necessary rebuke out of the way (2 Cor. 1:2-2:3; 13:10). He also uses the opportunity to encourage them to have the collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem ready when he comes (2 Cor. 9:1-5; cf. 1 Cor. 16:1-2).
This letter is the most biographical and least doctrinal of Paul's epistles. It tells us more about Paul as a person and as a minister of the gospel than any of the others. Those who would plan to be ministers of the gospel would be advised to carefully study it (along with Paul's epistles to Timothy and Titus).