2 Corinthians Bible Study
Slithering through the centuries, the serpent whispers his smooth-tongued promises, beguiling, deceiving, and tempting—urging men and women to reject God and to follow Satan. Satan’s emissaries have been many—false prophets contradicting God’s ancient spokesmen, “pious” leaders hurling blasphemous accusations, and heretical teachers infiltrating churches. And the deception continues. Our world is filled with cults, “isms,” and ideologies, all claiming to provide the way to God.
Paul constantly struggled with those who would mislead God’s people, and he poured his life into spreading the Good News to the uttermost parts of the world. During three missionary trips and other travels, he proclaimed Christ, made converts, and established churches. But often young believers were easy prey for false teachers, who were a constant threat to the gospel and the early church. So Paul had to spend much time warning and correcting these new Christians.
The church at Corinth was weak. Surrounded by idolatry and immorality, they struggled with their Christian faith and lifestyle. Through personal visits and letters, Paul tried to instruct them in the faith, resolve their conflicts, and solve some of their problems. First Corinthians was sent to deal with specific moral issues in the church and to answer questions about sex, marriage, and tender consciences. That letter confronted the issues directly and was well received by most. But there were false teachers who denied Paul’s authority and slandered him. Paul then wrote 2 Corinthians to defend his position and to denounce those who were twisting the truth.
Second Corinthians must have been a difficult letter for Paul to write because he had to list his credentials as an apostle. Paul was reluctant to do so as a humble servant of Christ, but he knew it was necessary. Paul also knew that most of the believers in Corinth had taken his previous words to heart and were beginning to mature in their faith. He affirmed their commitment to Christ.
Second Corinthians begins with Paul reminding his readers of (1) his relationship to them—Paul had always been honest and straightforward with them (1:12–14), (2) his itinerary—he was planning to visit them again (1:15–2:2), and (3) his previous letter (2:3–11). Paul then moves directly to the subject of false teachers (2:17), and he reviews his ministry among the Corinthians to demonstrate the validity of his message and to urge them not to turn away from the truth (3:1–7:16).
Paul next turns to the issue of collecting money for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. He tells them how others have given, and he urges them to show their love in a tangible way as well (8:1–9:15). Paul then gives a strong defense of his authority as a genuine apostle while pointing out the deceptive influence of the false apostles (10:1–13:10).
As you read this intensely personal letter, listen to Paul’s words of love and exhortation, and be committed to the truth of God’s Word and prepared to reject all false teaching.
Life Application Bible Notes (Tyndale, 2007), 1958.