Introduction to 2 Corinthians
2 Cor. 1:1-2
The First Epistle to the Corinthians were written by Paul in Ephesus. The messengers from Corinth,
Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Titus (1 Cor. 16:17, 18; 2 Cor. 8:6) delivered the epistle to the
church at Corinth.
After that, Paul nearly lost his life in the Ephesian riot (Acts 19:23-40). He was anxious to know how
the Corinthians had received his Epistle. He left Ephesus and went to Troas where he expected to
meet Titus. When Titus did not come, Paul crossed over into Macedonia (2 Cor, 2:13, 14; 7:5-7).
While in Macedonia in the summer and fall of 57 A. D. he visited churches in Philippi and
Thessalonica. These visits were in the midst of many anxieties and sufferings. After long waiting to
hear from Corinth, he met Titus returning from Corinth with the word that Paul’s 1 Corinthian letter
had accomplished much good. (2 Cor. 7:6.) However, there were still some of the leaders in the
Corinthian Church who were denying that Paul were a genuine apostle of Christ.
As we have read, after Paul’s departure from Corinth, the church has been “contaminated” or
“spoiled” by the immorality by one of its members, but also by the divisions within the church. Several
false teachers are now claiming to be apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 10:7; 11:13) and are undermining his
teachings. Paul here in this letter is defending himself and rebuking the false teachers with great
severity never seen before (2 Cor. 10:7-12:13).
Lots of Bible Expositors says that this letter is the most personal of all Pauline Epistle. I agree with
them. However, we must not forget that Paul have written also to Philemon personally. Though very
personal, this letter also contains major theological doctrines outlined below.
I. Important Theological Doctrines:
A. It portrays God the Father as a merciful comforter (1:3; 7:6)
a. portrays God the Father as the Creator (4:6)
b. The one who raised Jesus from the dead (4:14), who will raise believers as well
B. Jesus Christ is the one who suffered (1:5).
a. Jesus Christ is the one who fulfilled God’s promises (1:20).
b. He was proclaimed Lord (4:5)
c. Manifested God’s glory (4:6)
d. In His incarnation become poor for the believers (8:9, Phil. 2:5-8)
C. This letter also portrays the Holy Spirit as God (3:17,18)
a. The guarantee of believer’s salvation (1:22; 5:5).
D. Satan is identified as the “god of this world” (4:4, 1 Jn. 5:19)
a. A deceiver (11:14).
b. The leader of human and angelic deceivers (11:15).
E. The End Times includes the believer’s glorification (4:16-5:8)
a. His judgement (5:10).
F. The glorious truth of God’s sovereignty in salvation (5:14-21)
a. Man’s response to God’s offer of salvation – genuine repentance (7:9-10)
G. This letter also presents the clearest and most concise summary of the substitutionary
atonement of Christ found in the Scriptures (5:21, Isa. 53).
H. Tells of the mission of the church to proclaim reconciliation (5:18-20)
Illustration 1: Illustration: Much Grace
It does not matter where He places me or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me. For the
easiest positions, He must give grace; and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient. So, if God places
me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance? In positions of great difficulty, much
grace? In circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? As to work, mine was never so
plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. His resources are mine,
for He is mine! – J. Hudson Taylor
II. The Greeting (2 Cor. 1:1)
A. Apostle – this refers to Paul’s official position as a messenger sent by Christ. Further
reading of the Scriptures reveal also several verses that supports this. (1Cor. 15:7-9;
2Cor. 12:11-12; Gal. 1:1). What Paul wants to assert here is that he has no need to
be approved by the other apostles or from the church at Jerusalem of his Apostleship.
B. “by the will of God” it was not man, but God, that called him to the apostleship. He
did not appoint himself.
C. Timothy our brother – Timothy was not with Paul when he wrote the first epistle
Corinthians. He is now with Paul, having been sent ahead into Macedonia from
Ephesus by the apostle (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17). He was not co-author of the epistle
any more than Sosthenes was in 1 Cor. 1:1. Paul was emphasizing the brotherhood of
all believers. This young preacher was very close to Paul and Paul was telling that
Timothy is a brother to all
D. “Unto the church… saints… in all Achaia”: The Romans divided Greece into two
provinces, Achaia and Macedonia (northern Greece, which included Illyricum, Epirus,
and Thessaly). All countries south of Macedonia are “Achaia.” Corinth was the capital
where the proconsul resided (Acts 18:12).
E. “Saints in Corinth?” Carnal as they are, they repented from their sins and received
Christ as their personal saviour. Christians are not saints because they are sinless; they
are saints because they have a sinless Savior and He has removed their sin from before
God (Rev. 1:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9-10).
III. Grace and Peace (2 Cor. 1:2)
A. “Grace be to you and peace…” This was the apostle’s common salutation, Rom. 1:7. 1
Cor. 1:3; where it is observable, that not the Father only, but the Lord Jesus Christ is
invoked, and made the Author of grace, which is the free love of God, and of peace,
which signifieth either reconciliation with God upon the free pardon of our sin, or
union with men, and brotherly love amongst themselves. The heathens used to begin
their epistles with wishing one another health and prosperity; but the apostle hath
shown us a more Christian way, and more suited to the faith of Christians, who believe
the love and favour of God the greatest and most desirable blessings. (Matthew
Illustration 2: Unmerited Favor
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage.
When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a
prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements,
that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and
deserves no award—yet receives such a gift anyway—that is a good picture of God’s unmerited
favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God. Clip-Art Features for Church
Newsletters, G.W. Knight, p. 53
B. Peace – is that comfort and encouragement and tranquillity of mind and heart which
He gives obedient saints (Col. 3:15). Jesus gives peace and comfort to His followers
as they faithfully serve Him (Jn. 14:27; 16:33). The believer enjoys this peace only as
he casts his care upon God in prayer (Ph. 4:6-7). Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit
(Gal. 5:22), and is enjoyed by believers who allow the Spirit of God to rule their lives
(Col. 3:15). Peace comes to a person’s heart when he meditates upon God’s love
and protection (Isa. 26:12).
Illustration 3: Lord, Take My Hand!
Ralph Sockman told the story of a New York lawyer who, when he first came to the city, would take
his young son on long walks. In order to keep up, the small fellow would hold his father’s little finger.
By and by the lad would grow weary, and his steps would lag. At last he looked into the benign face
of his father and asked, “You’ll have to take hold of my hand now, Daddy, for I can’t hold on much
Is not this a picture of ourselves? We have been holding onto the little fingers of security so long that
we are losing our grip on things that matter. Now we must ask God to take our hand and lead us.
“Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, /whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isa. 26:3).
1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching.
1 and 2 Corinthians are Epistles that are full of spiritual and doctrinal truths. Sins and
heresy are exposed and rebuked. Clear instruction for practical Christian living also can be
seen. Join us again next week and in the following weeks as we continue our study in these