Second Corinthians (2 Corinthians)
After writing the letter we know as First Corinthians, Paul received a report back from Titus about how they received the first letter and the rebuke that it included (2 Corinthians 7:5-9). Written about 2 or 3 years after First Corinthians, it seems to be in response to people questioning Paul's authority as an apostle.
Second Corinthians is the most biographical and least doctrinal of Paul's epistles. It tells us more about Paul as a person and as a minister than any of the others. Much of the letter is a defense of his ministry and his Apostleship.
Paul explains to the Corinthians that Christians will suffer. He acknowledges that this allows Christ's power to be made manifest in our lives.
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.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
However, even though we will suffer, it is important to keep our eyes on the eternal rather than on the now. Paul calls current trials "light and momentary troubles."
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)
Outline of Second Corinthians
|A||Salutation And Thanksgiving||1:1-11|
|B||Paul Explains His Ministry Of Reconciliation||1:12-7:16|
|He Defends His Integrity||1:12-2:11|
|He Describes His Apostolic Ministry||2:12-6:10|
|He Makes His Appeal To Them||6:11-7:16|
|C||The Collection For The Saints In Jerusalem||8:1-9:15|
|The Example Of Macedonia||8:1-5|
|The Basis For His Exhortation||8:6-15|
|The Messengers For This Ministry||8:16-9:5|
|The Encouragement To Give Liberally||9:6-15|
|D||Paul Defends His Apostolic Authority||10:1-13:10|
|Explanation Concerning His Conduct||10:1-18|
|Some Foolish Boasting||11:1-12:13|
|His Final Warnings||12:14-13:10|
|E||Concluding Exhortations And Benediction||13:11-14|
Paul recognizes and stresses our need to follow Christ in His "triumphal procession." This is the way that the gospel is spread and the knowledge of Christ is disseminated. Especially in the midst of our trials, this is an important lesson for us to learn. Let Christ lead you into victory!
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
2 Corinthians 2:14 (NLT)
Our freedom is shown to us when we turn to the Lord. The veil that clouds our reality is taken away by the Spirit of God, revealing the truth of God in our lives.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NIV)
Paul uses a comparison and contrast example to explain how the reality of our life in Christ has changed us. No matter what trials come, we are not overcome. The life of Jesus will be revealed in us.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NIV)
When we accept the gift of God's salvation, we exchange our old self for a new creation. We are in Christ and the old has gone.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
This is an exchange that takes place. God made Jesus, who had no sin, to become sin for us. This allowed the exchange to take place - we could then become the righteousness of God!
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
It is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and His riches that the exchange took place. He exchanged His riches for our poverty.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)
As Paul wraps up the letter, he stresses to his readers the importance of being a Christian. If you want to know if you are a Christian, if you want to know if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then test yourself, "to see if you are in the faith."
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
Then Paul signs off with a prayer of benediction for his readers.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV)