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2nd Corinthians Series – 2 Cor. 1:1-2

12/05/2013

2nd Corinthians Study 1
Text: 2 Corinthians 1v1-2

I’m told that 2 Corinthians is one of the least studied books in the NT, certainly much less attention is given to it than to 1st Corinthians. The 1st epistle has been described as ‘the layman’s charter’ – in that it involves the apostle in arguments which will address everyday problems in the local church. 2nd Corinthians, on the other hand, is a letter dominated by Paul’s defence of his ministry – and it sometimes reads like a preacher’s discussion, rather than a book of helpful advice for all. Yet, as we shall see, there are profound theological truths contained in the book! There are one or two preliminary points that we need to make:

Corinth was an extraordinary city. A middle class city, around 75,000 inhabitants, very wealthy, a port, a huge population of slaves. It was in an immoral city. Yet in the midst of this place was a Christian Church. Paul had visited the city and had preached the Gospel for 18 months. Acts 18. In this letter he is preparing the Corinthians for another visit.

There were more than two letters.

Letter 1. There was a first letter, which must have preceded 1st Corinthians, in which Paul had warned the Corinthians about the need to separate themselves from immoral believers, while at the same time, to reach out to those who were unsaved, who were living such lives. Paul refers to this letter in 1 Cor. 5:9-10 We do not have this early letter.
Letter 2. The second letter then, would be what we call 1st Corinthians.
Letter 3. 2 Corinthians. In 2nd Corinthians 7:8-9, Paul refers to a ‘severe letter’ or a ‘sorrowful letter’ which he had also written to them.. 2 Cor. 7:8-9. Now where is this letter? Some commentators think that it is lost, like the 1st letter. Other opinion seems to be that Paul is simply referring to 1st Corinthians in these verses, and that seems to be the best of these theories.

So, whether this letter is the third, or the fourth of Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth, only two of those have been preserved in the Word, and thus only two have been preserved for US!

Paul’s apostleship seems to once again, be under attack. Paul has to write, and to defend his apostleship yet again! Paul deals at length with this situation in 2 Cor 2:14-7:4 and again in 2 Cor 10:1-13:10, though the manner of treatment and the thrust of the argument differ in each of these sections.
There is much of the background to the epistle that is unknown to us! Paul addresses issues that the Corinthians know about, without going into much details about their nature. For example, his ‘thorn in the flesh.’ He assumes that the Corinthians know what it is, so he doesn’t reveal its exact nature!

There has been a crisis in the church! A crisis between Paul and the Corinthians, occasioned at least partially by changes in his travel plans (2 Cor 1:12-2:13), and the successful resolution of that crisis (2 Cor 7:5-16);

Paul needs to deal again with the matter of the Jerusalem offerings. Further directives and encouragement are needed. (2 Cor 8:1-9:15).

Because of the interaction between Paul and the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians is the most personal of all of Paul’s writings, and it reveals much about his character. So, with just that little bit of background in mind, let’s explore the first couple of verses of the book:-

1. The Apostle’s Credentials!
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God Now right at the very beginning of the letter, Paul establishes his apostolic credentials. Notice how he does this. This is a similar statement to that made in 1st Cor 9:1
At Paul’s conversion, on the Damascus Road,
The apostle had seen Jesus! 1st Cor 9:1 have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Acts 9:17 Acts 9:27 1 Cor. 15:8 God’s Word says that the last person to see the Lord was Paul! The next time he will be seen by a mortal being is in glory, or at the second coming!
An apostle has a foundational work in the church. To be an apostle in Acts, you had to see the risen Lord. Writing in Ephesians, Paul shows that the apostles were part of the foundation of the church! Ephes. 2:20. There is a structure to the church. Jesus is the chief cornerstone, then there is the foundation stones, then the building. He builds on the foundation already laid.

2. The Apostle’s Companion!
and Timothy our brother, Timothy is the co-author of the epistle, as he is of the other letters.

3. The Apostle’s Church!
unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia The epistle is about events and problems in Corinth, but it is to be read in all the churches of Achaia! That meant it would be read at Athens, and many other smaller churches. This is a local message with a universal application. By extension of that, it’s for us as well! Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and we are gentiles! Peter tells us that Paul’s letter is the Word of God, and so we should obey that Word! So, a true disciple is writing to the Lord’s Church, not just to the local church, but to the wider church, the gathered people of God.

4. The Apostle’s Cordiality!
Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ
Now we see Paul’s standard greeting. To Jew and Gentile alike in this church at Corinth, and in the wider company of Christians, he says, “Greetings!” “This is a friendly, helpful letter which will do you no harm, but which will bless you and help you and encourage you!”

From → 2nd Corinthians

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