Some history behind 2 Corinthians

As you probably know, our series at the start of 2013 is the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians. On the first Sunday of the series, I tried to outline the background to the book, but it is a bit complex. So I've put the summary here, for those who want a reminder:

  1. Paul goes to Corinth, Acts 18:1-18 (at least 1½ years)
    • Next door to the synagogue, synagogue leader baptised.
    • Paul is determined to preach only Christ crucified and the power of God, no worldly cleverness. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
    • He goes on to Ephesus (Acts 18:19ff)

  2. Paul writes to the Corinthians, we don’t have this letter but it is referred to in 1 Corinthians (5:9-11)
  3. Paul writes again to the Corinthians, which we have as 1 Corinthians to:
    • Clarify some things he said in the previous letter
    • Respond to (not entirely good) news he has heard about what’s going on in Corinth
    • Answer some questions that had been sent to him (quite possibly in one or more letters replying to his previous letter
    • Head of some (unfounded) criticism that was being levelled against him.
    • Tell them when he plans to next visit (1 Corinthians 16:5-9)
  4. Timothy goes to Corinth (perhaps taking the letter, or maybe after the letter has gone there) and brings back to Paul some disturbing news.
  5. Paul changes his travel plans to get to Corinth sooner, and so he can visit it twice rather than once, to and back from Macedonia. (2 Corinthians 1:15-16)
  6. Paul has a torrid time at Corinth (at least one individual making painful person attacks on him – 2 Corinthians 2:5; 7:12) and skips the second visit (2 Corinthians 1:23; 2:1)
  7. Paul writes a third “severe” letter (we don’t have it, it is referred 2 Corinthians 2:3, not exactly surprising it wasn’t kept)
  8. Titus brings a very positive report of the letters reception to Paul
  9. Paul writes again (chapters 1-9), gets bad news about “false apostles” and writes again (chapters 10-13) – quite possibly one letter, quite possibly two put together later, just can’t tell. This is what we have as 2 Corinthians.
  10. Paul visits Corinth again, probably (He certainly planned to: 2 Corinthians 13:1; Acts 20:2-3 is probably when this happened)
Neil Townsend
Wantage Pastor

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