2 Corinthians Commentary
The purpose of II Corinthians was in Paul defending his apostleship and the gospel, which was given to him directly from Jesus Christ. This Christ-given gospel was authentic and came directly from Jesus as opposed to what the false teacher’s gospel was. These false teachers were claiming to be apostles too. What these “apostles” brought was a man-made gospel that attempted to displace Paul’s gospel and they also wanted to disparage Paul’s apostleship. These false teachers said they were followers and supporters of Moses and also followers of Christ yet they taught that the Jewish laws were still in effect.
David Malick says that the Corinthians were told to separate themselves from the false teachers and hold fast to what they were originally given by Paul (II Cor. 6:11-7:16) and that these false teachers were only interested in building themselves up considering the Corinthian’s naivety.(1) Paul tells the Corinthians that he is worried that these false apostles who he calls the “enemy” are leading them astray (II Cor. 11:3-4) and are actually working for Satan (II Cor. 11:10-15).(1)
Paul also tells the Corinthian church that troubles can prepare them to comfort others in the sense that they too have needed the comforting of others from their own trials and tribulations. These troubles can create in us an eternal perspective and to learn to live with the end in mind. God has been a Christian’s comfort from their troubles and so with this same type of comfort that Christians receive from God, they can comfort others with the same type of comfort they received from God. Troubles remind Christians that God is sovereign in the life of believers and that believers can comfort one another as God has comforted them. God uses other Christians in the process of comforting other believers. Some of this comfort is in our praying for others and telling them that we are praying for them. How many times have we been comforted when we are struggling yet someone who is going through their own difficult circumstances say that they are praying for us?
The Schofield Reference Notes gives a citation of II Corinthians 1:14 to II Corinthians 4:15 which says, “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. (1) The application is that all Christians will experience trouble at one time or another and that the suffering that will come with serving  the Lord should not surprise us. The good news is that this suffering will also be accompanied with God’s comfort. Suffering, distress, and trials are what God uses intentionally in the process of our sanctification. These tests remind me of Joseph’s experience while he was in Egypt. Joseph was going through a sanctification process during his many troubles and unjust sufferings. Greg Herrick says that, “God’s mercy is His pity upon us in our helpless (though not necessarily innocent) state and it results in His comfort being shown to us” (3). Even though we might be ignorant of what troubles are doing for us, God most certainly uses them as a sanctifying process and this will always benefit believers as it did the Corinthian church.(3)
2 Corinthians Summary
Christ’s fulfillment of the law has brought the curse of death  from off of us because Jesus bore it for us. Christ’s atoning death and sacrifice has rent the veil of the Holy of Holies and we now have direct access to the throne of God. Our present troubles can be seen through an eternal perspective of an eternal reward. Since Jesus has reconciled us to God we should not live any longer for ourselves but for Him since He died for us. We owe Him and ought to be living a holy, blameless life. Because God is holy, we should also strive to be holy (Walvoord and Zuck, p 571).
There is a doctrinal teaching on giving that Paul used in II Corinthians. He was speaking of giving in the setting of taking a collection at Corinth for the saints in Jerusalem in which he emphasizes that even if you have given much and lived in poverty, ultimately you will be eternally rewarded and blessed in the present age and in the ages to come. He pointed to the Macedonians who were a good model of stewardship. They selflessly gave while having the faith to know that God would meet their needs and so Paul used them as an example of gracious giving. Paul equated giving with grace because in this analogy God’s free gift of grace was unmerited and undeserved and it was costly to the point of His giving His Own Son Jesus Christ.
Paul told the Corinthians that to excel in their giving was an expressing their love toward God. Love , like giving, should be in all sincerity and was to be proportional to what one has been blessed with. The giver should never feel compelled to give but do so with a joy. The more a person gives, the more enriched they become and the more God is praised.
Second Corinthians also includes some affirmative actions. One was a call for obedience. Knowing Paul’s sensitivity, he must have been grieved to be so stern with the Corinthians but he was following Christ’s model of correction which was done in all meekness (which has been described as strength under control). He knew that the Greeks loathed meekness and gentleness  and saw it as a sign of weakness, but God’s standard is not that of the world. Subjection to Christ is seen as being the same as obedience to God.
Another affirmative action was to directly confront the teachings of the Jewish false prophets who had the audacity to call themselves apostles of Christ. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that these legalistic false prophets were only seeking power and monetary gain. Instead of love and service, which all ministers are called to, they exalted human wisdom and reasoning over Godly wisdom. Godly wisdom is wisdom from above and not earthly wisdom as the Greeks cherished. These false apostles were teaching a false, man-made gospel and Paul clearly told the church that they were actually ambassadors of Satan and not of Christ.
In II Corinthians, you read that Paul had to defend his own apostolic credentials. The false apostle’s credentials and Paul’s credentials were like comparing college diploma mills with accredited colleges and universities except the accreditation was from God and not from man. Paul’s refusal to accept money, even though he had ever right to do so, shows that he was truly motivated by his sovereign calling by God and did not want to burden the Corinthians. This is a far cry from the false apostles who sought fame and financial gain. This was an obvious expression of Paul’s love for the Corinthian church and his overwhelming concern for it.
To establish Paul’s apostleship coming from God, he pointed out that the signs, wonders, and miracles were all indications that Paul truly was an apostle, ordained and sent from Jesus Christ Himself Who also performed many such miracles. Conversely, the false apostles had no such works and that was a sure sign of the absence of God’s power and of His lack of authority behind them.
Paul also addresses marriage as a divine institution and the command to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. It is clear that he means a believer should not marry an unbeliever. The unbeliever could lead a believer into disobedience and away from serving the Lord. Like water and oil do not mix, what business does the Kingdom of God have to do with the Kingdom of Satan? It would be like a good citizen living with a hardened criminal who has a warrant out for their arrest.
2 Corinthians Key Verses
II Corinthians 4:3-4 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
II Corinthians 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
II Corinthians 6:2 “For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
II Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
II Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
II Corinthians 12:7, 9-10 “because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The Holy Bible, New International Version
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1. Malick, David. An Argument of Second Corinthians. http://bible.org/article/argument-second-corinthians (accessed July 9th, 2011).
2. Schofield Reference Notes. Chapter One (1917 Edition). http://www.studylight.org/com/srn/view.cgi?book=2co&chapter=001 (accessed, July 9th, 2011).
3. Studies By. God’s Comfort in Suffering and Our Responsibility (2 Cor 1:1-11) by Greg Herrick. http://bible.org/article/god%E2%80%99s-comfort-suffering-and-our-responsibility-2-cor-11-11 (accessed December 28, 2010).
John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, trans., The Bible Knowledge Commentary – New Testament. (Colorado Springs, CO.: David C Cook, Publisher, 1984).