The Epistles Outlined (5): 2 Corinthians

The Author of the Epistle

It is evident from the introduction (1.1), his personal appeal (10.1) and the defense of His apostleship in the closing chapters that the author is Paul.

The Place where it was Written

It is clear from the epistle that Paul was in Macedonia when he wrote this epistle (7.5; 8.1; 9.2, 4; cf. also 2.12-13).

The Date of the Epistle

The reference to Titus coming with the report of the assemblys reaction to his first letter (7.6-16) indicates that this epistle was written not long after his first epistle. The period suggested between the writing of the two epistles is six months giving a date of AD 56.

The Reasons for the Epistle

We suggest there are seven reason which in themselves give a division of the epistle:-

1.1-2.5 To Extend their education concerning his purpose.

2.6-17 To Exhort them in regard to restoration.

3.1-7.1 To Enlarge their estimation of divine truth.

7.2-16 To Emphasize his encouragement at their response to his first epistle.

8.1-9.15 To Encourage them in their exercise in giving.

10.1-11.33 To Expose their enemies.

12.1-13.14 To Express the evidence of his apostleship.

Key Expression

“My grace is sufficient for you” (12.9).

Key Chapter

Chapter 5. Trace from salvation to glory; from service to the Judgment Seat.

Key Words

Boast and glory (the same Greek word); Minister, ministry and ministration.


Contrast “afflict, affliction, trouble and tribulation” with “comfort and consolation”. Contrast “sorrow and grief” with “joy and rejoicing”. Trace the references to the devil and what he is called (2.11; 4.4; 6.15; 11.3, 14; 12.7). Also contrast the first epistle with the second and note the apostles concern in writing the first and his joy in writing the second.

The Division of the Epistle

Chapters 1-7 Ministry and its Exposition

1. Chapters 1-2 The Movements and Manner of Paul – The Responsibility of Relationship.

2. Chapter 3 The Ministry of the New Covenant – The Recognition of New Covenant Blessings

3. Chapters 4-5 The Manifestation of Divine Glory – The Radiancy of the Glory of Christ in Earthen Vessels

4. Chapters 6-7 The Moral Appeal for Enlargement of Heart – The Request for Enlargement of Heart and the Rejoicing of Paul at the Response to His Epistle

Chapters 8-9 Material Means and its Expenditure

1. Chapter 8.1-6 The Exceeding Liberality of the Macedonians

2. Chapter 8.7-15 The Exhortation to the Corinthians

3. Chapter 8.16-24 The Evidence of Care

4. Chapter 9.1-5 The Earnest Desire of Paul

5. Chapter 9.6-15 The Emphasis upon Divine Principles.

Chapters 10-13 The Messengers and their Exposure

1. Chapters 10-11 The Exposure of their Enemies

2. Chapters 12-13 The Evidence of Pauls Apostleship.

The Outline of the Epistle

Chapters 1-2

The opening section deals with comfort and its enjoyment in the midst of tribulation and the trials of life. The comfort received in such conditions is intended to be passed on to others (vv.1-11). Paul then deals with his conduct and its exhibition (vv.12-14) and his confidence and its expression (vv. 14-22). Note the fickleness of the flesh (v.17) and the faithfulness of Paul (vv.18-20). Consider anointing, sealing and earnest (vv.21-22). In 1.23-2.4 we have character and its evidence where Paul mentions his purity of motive, tenderness, humility, determination, heartache, and love. He then deals with care and its exercise (2.5-11) showing the importance of the restoration of the repentant believer. Chapter 2 concludes with contemplation and its effect(vv.12-17). Note the five statements in relation to the Word of God in v.17

Chapter 3

The first three verses deal with epistles of commendation. Notice an epistle written with pen (v.1), an epistle written in Pauls heart (v.2) and an epistle of Christ written in the Corinthians hearts. In vv.4-6 we have the expression of confidence indicated in the sufficiency received from God. In the rest of the chapter we have the exposition of the new covenantwhere Paul shows the contrast in ministration (vv.7-9), in glory (v.10), in duration (v.11) and in revelation (vv.12-18).

Chapters 4-5

The opening six verses of chapter 4 gives us the brightness of divine light in contrast to the moral and spiritual darknessdealing with the display of the light (vv1-2), the opposition to the light (vv.3-4), and the source of the light (vv.5-6). In 4.7-12 we have bearing the marks of death yet life manifested, where the treasure is in earthen vessels which are broken to manifest that treasure. Chapter 4.13-18 deals with the bounty grace bestows despite present affliction. Here we have the expression of faith (v.13), the expectation of faith (v.14), The exhortation to the saints (v,15), the experience of renewal (v.16), and the eternal results (vv.17-18). In chapter 5 we have the body eternal in contrast to the earthly house (vv.1-8) then the believers accountability that should govern the life now (vv.9-11). The chapter concludes with the motives of the apostle(vv.12-17) showing his affection for the saints and his ambassadorship.

Chapters 6-7

These chapters can be divided into five sections – The exhortation in view of the ministry – service and its demands (6.1-3); The experience of the apostle – suffering and its approval (6.4-10); The entreaty to a life of separation – separation and its blessing (vv.11-18) – see the desire for an enlarged heart (vv.11-13) and the display of an enlarged heart (vv.14-18) and note the five statements emphasizing the need of separation; The expectation in view of the promises – sanctification and its claim (7.1); and The encouragement at the assemblys response to his first letter – spiritual recovery and its effect (7.2-16) – note the effect upon Paul, Titus, and the assembly.

Chapters 8-9

In 8.1-6 note the reason for, the circumstances of, the earnestness of, the order of, and the result of, their giving. In 8.7-15 note the plea that was made (vv.7-8), the pattern that is given (v.9), and the principles that are stated (vv.10-15). In 8.16-24 note that more than one man should be involved, they should be spiritual and have the confidence of the assembly. Although the Corinthians were both exercised and prepared to give, their exercise had not yet been carried out (9.1-5). In 9.6-15 note the product of giving (v.6), the purpose of heart (v.7), the pleasure of giving (v.7), the provision for giving (vv.8-10), the praise of God (vv.11-13, the prayer for the givers (v.14), and the perfect example (v.15).

Chapters 10-11

These chapters deal with false teachers showing that they judged according to the flesh (10.1-6), but Pauls arms, activities and administration were spiritual; they slandered Paul, boasting in outward appearance (10.7-11); they commended themselves (vv.12-18); they acted in a subtle way (11.1-6); they were the agents of Satan (11.7-15); and they brought into bondage (11.16-33). Notice Pauls authority (10.1-11); the place of his authority (10.12-18); the contrast between him and the false apostles (11.1-33) – his concern for the Corinthians (vv.1-6), his committed service at Corinth and his complete exposure of those who were false (vv.7-15); and his boasting in suffering (vv.16-33).

Chapters 12-13

The first 13 verses of chapter 12 are clearly linked with the last section of chapter 11 and mention Pauls personal experiences – note the special revelation he received (vv.1-6), the specific means of his preservation (vv.7-10), and the signs of an apostle (vv.11-13). Look at the pain that he endured (v.7), the petition he made (v.8), and the provision he received (v.9). In 12.14-3.4 we have Pauls purposed visit to Corinth – note the spirit of Paul (12.14-18) and the solemn possibility he feared (12.19-3.4). Pauls final proof of apostleship is seen in the Corinthians. The epistle closes with salutations (13.11-14).