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2 Corinthians-Detailed Outline
A. Introduction
2 Corinthians 1:1-2 Paul’s Salutation: Traditional Greek and Hebrew greeting: Grace and peace
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Thanksgiving for divine grace. Paul praised God for comfort and compassion in the midst of affliction.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Gratitude for deliverance from previous hardships. Paul did not describe hardship in detail, but refers to it as “great pressure,” “sentence of death,” “deadly peril”. Paul’s point is that just as the Father had delivered him, so he will do likewise for them; their prayers will also be answered.
B. Explanation: Paul the Father
2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11 Concerning his Motives
2 Corinthians 1:12-14 Preface to defending himself against his opponents. Paul had been accused of vacillating and dominating. He appealed to the testimony of his own conscience
2 Corinthians 1:15-22 Paul’s answer to the charge of vacillating. Plan A and Plan B for visiting them had not panned out. Opponents claimed he was being “fickle” and motivated by self-interest. Paul maintained the continuity and trustworthiness of God. He was consistent, both in his message and in his travel plans. Paul acted in accordance with the Spirit, not as a worldly man. God had made him stand firm; God had anointed him, set his seal upon him, and put his Spirit in his heart.
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4 The cancelled visit. Paul cancelled his visit because it would have been too painful. Paul called upon God as his witness. Paul also rejected their accusation that he was dominating them. His only objective was to “serve” them. His purpose was to promote their highest good, saving them from sorrow. If he lost that, he would lose his only joy. Instead of an ugly visit, he wrote them the “letter of tears” (Most likely, all or part of the letter found in chaps 10-13). He hoped for and expected a good outcome. He did not send the letter to be vindictive; he sent the letter to show how much he cared for them.
2 Corinthians 2:5-11 Forgiveness for the wrongdoer. Paul did not name the offender(s) (This is a flashback to the visit that occasioned the “letter of tears” and subsequently, a positive response on the part of the Corinthians). His response was to say that the offender did not “grieve” Paul as much as he “grieved” everyone else. It is possible that they had punished that person in some way. Paul asked that they “stop punishing” him, and forgive and comfort him. In so doing, they would be affirming Paul’s authority. The wrongdoer would know that God had also forgiven him. If they could forgive him, Paul would, too (A strong hint that whatever happened was personally directed at him). Christ would witness forgiveness.
2 Corinthians 2:12-5 Concerning the Ministry
2 Corinthians 2:12-13 Paul had waited in Troas. Obviously, Paul did not feel he would be welcomed in Corinth. Yet he had no peace of mind. When Titus was delayed with news from Corinth, Paul went to Macedonia (Paul might also have been concerned about Titus traveling with a lot of money, i.e. the collection).
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 Paul’s privilege in being an apostle (This perhaps begins the letter of reconciliation when Paul heard from Titus that they had repented and renewed their loyalty to Paul). Paul rejoiced that the advance of the gospel is unstoppable. Again, Paul appealed to the sincerity, consistency of his message
2 Corinthians 3:1-3 Letters of recommendation. Paul was not boasting of himself; he had no need of letters of recommendation. He contrasted this with those who did come with letters and caused havoc. The Corinthians themselves were his “letter” of recommendation. Each one of them was an advertisement for his success. The ink on this “letter” would not fade.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Whatever Paul had done had come from God. Paul was not taking credit for himself, gave the glory to God.
2 Corinthians 3:7-11 A contrast between the old and new covenant. Each had their “glory,” but the new is so superior that it overshadowed the old Moses’ face shone when he gave them the law that condemns men How much more glory will there be for the Spirit of righteousness.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 Moses and the veil. Moses put on a veil after talking with God to protect the people from seeing the radiance of his face fade over time. This was a parable indicating what they had and it was not permanent. Jews still listen with veiled eyes, not hearing full message. Christians, however, see the Lord’s glory with no veil. It is the Spirit that gives this freedom.
2 Corinthians 4:1-6 Various players regarding the gospel. Paul himself had never lost heart. He had been privileged to do the work. His opponents had accused him of deceitful methods. The accusation was without merit; he did not adulterate God’s word. Some people have refused to listen at all. “The god of the world had blinded their eyes” Jesus revealed what God is like. God made his light shine in our hearts in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:7-15 The great paradox: The trials and rewards of his apostolic ministry. The ministry is glorious beyond understanding. The ministers are mortal men, “jars of clay”. Despite their persecutions and hardships, Paul and company should take heart. God has never abandoned them. After every fall, they have been able to rise up again. Anyone who lived in Christ must also be ready to die with him. All this is possible in the memory of God who raised Jesus from the dead. Their trials mean more people are hearing the message. More people will be coming to thanksgiving.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 The secret of endurance. While the body gets weary and aged, the spirit (soul) keeps growing. Nothing that can happen on earth will compare with what awaits. He will fix his eyes, then, not on what is seen but on what is unseen. What is “seen” is temporal; what is “unseen” is eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 Facing death before Christ returns. Paul will embrace the day he is done with his human body. He saw it as a temporary abode; some day he would have a new body. The new body will be spiritual enabling him to continue to serve God. Yet, he will be patient while waiting for that time. For even now, he possessed God’s Spirit. It is a glimpse of what awaits. Then he warned, the end might bring both glory and judgment. All will receive their reward, for good or for bad.
2 Corinthians 5:11-19 The fear of the Lord. This is not piety or terror, but awe and reverence. He has no need to persuade them of his sincerity. His only concern is how God sees him. His motives have been pure – serve God and help them. If he looked silly to them, he was prepared to do whatever it took. He no longer used the world’s standards but relied on Christ’s. He was impelled to do this because Christ died for all. Through Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself.
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 Ambassadors for Christ (the message of reconciliation). God had sent his invitation to the Corinthians through Paul and company. He implored them to be reconciled to God. Quoted scripture: “Now is the accepted time”.
C. Exhortation: Paul the Father
2 Corinthians 6-7 Concerning Spiritual Matters
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 Litany of hardships. Paul reviewed all the stumbling blocks that had been put in his path. Internal conflicts had included pressures, weights against his spirit. External conflicts included “stripes,” prison, tumults. Responsibilities of Christian living included fasting, sleepless nights. Against all these, Paul weighed the benefits. God-given qualities of the mind included purity, knowledge, and patience. God-given qualities of the heart included kindness, the Holy Spirit, love. These allowed him to do the work of the gospel. He spoke truthfully and in the power of God with weapons of righteousness. He concludes with a series of contrasts showing how the “world” might have deterred him or destroyed him, but was powerless against him.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13 A plea for affection. The breach has been healed; the discord has ended. Paul appealed for their affection.
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 A call to holiness (This is quite a digression amidst the joy of everything surrounding it): Most scholars think this section is out of place.) Paul urges them not to be yoked with unbelievers. It appears to go well beyond church life and would have had profound implications for church members in society and family life.
2 Corinthians 7:2-4 Paul’s pride and joy. Paul continues his plea for his or her affection, saying he has wronged no one. His comfort in them is complete; his joy in them knows no bounds.
2 Corinthians 7:5-16 Reconciliation between Paul and the Corinthians
2 Corinthians 7:5-7 Report of Titus when he met Paul in Macedonia. He described how worried he was while waiting to hear from them. He essentially tied the success of his future apostleship to this church. The actual arrival of Titus with his positive message brought great joy.
2 Corinthians 7:8-13 More on the severe letter (letter of tears). He learned that his letter had, indeed, caused them pain. They had responded by repenting, leading them to salvation. At every point, they had proved themselves innocent. He had written only so they could see before. God how devoted they actually were to their spiritual father.
2 Corinthians 7:14-16 Treatment of Titus: They had put Titus at ease. Paul had told him of their good qualities; they had lived up to them. Paul expressed his complete confidence in them.
2 Corinthians 8-9 Concerning Material Matters
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 Macedonian Churches were very generous. Paul uses their generosity as an example for the Corinthians. They gave more generously than expected. They had pleaded with Paul to allow them to share in the privilege. First, they gave to the Lord, then to the disciples
2 Corinthians 8:6-12 The Corinthians should also give generously. Paul sent Titus to complete this task. He commended the Corinthians for being first in many areas. He hoped they would also be first in this area. He reminded them how eager they were initially to do this. Now he hopes they will complete the process.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15 Paul’s aim is for equality, not to burden any Church over another. They have plenty to spare and giving cannot impoverish them. Paul concluded with a passage from Exodus. Each had enough manna every day, regardless how much they gathered.
2 Corinthians 8:16-24 Practical considerations: Paul is grateful for Titus; he volunteered of his own accord to do this. He shared Paul’s affection and devotion for them. Unnamed companions would accompany him. Paul did not want any impropriety relating to the collection.
2 Corinthians 9:1-5 Their readiness to give. Paul had been bragging to the Macedonians about the Corinthians. He had been bragging to the Corinthians about the Macedonians. Now he’s worried that the Corinthians might let him down. Despite their words of willingness, he wanted the task completed.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Benefits to the giver. He who gives bountifully will reap bountifully and vice versa. God loves a cheerful giver. God will reward with an overflowing measure of grace. Quotes from Psalm 112, description of a good, generous man. God gives both the substance of the gift and the spirit in which to give it. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift”. Men will see and give even more glory to God.
D. Vindication: Paul the Apostle
2 Corinthians 10-11:15 The Critics and Their Pretensions
2 Corinthians 10:1-6 A response to his critics. Paul is not speaking from personal anger but from the gentleness of Christ. Clearly, the Corinthians had charged Paul with being fickle. He was timid when face-to-face, but bold when apart. Paul responded by saying he hoped he wouldn’t have to chastise them like he is capable of doing. Whatever he has written, he would say to their faces. They also seemed to have charged his motives…based on his self-interest. Paul responded by saying that God motivated everything he did. God guides and strengthens him. Paul declared he was equipped to deal with cleverness of human wisdom. He had heartfelt sincerity on his side. He was also equipped to deal with disobedience. He brought every intention into captivity to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:7-18 Further arguments. Some of his critics claimed he did not belong to Christ in the same way they did. They also taunted him about his appearance. They also disparaged his authority in Corinth. Paul responded by saying in every way he is the same in person as he is in his letters. He then accused them of measuring themselves against other men. Paul, on the other hand, measured himself against the Christ. Their measures have no weight. Self-praise means nothing; only the Lord will commend.
2 Corinthians 11:1-6 Paul’s concern for the Corinthians. He has established that self-praise and boasting is distasteful to him. Yet he has been compelled to do this over and over. He does not like it. Yet, it is not his integrity that is at stake, but rather that of the Lord. He uses a metaphor of a Jewish wedding. The bride and groom are like the Church and Jesus. Paul is like the best friend of the groom, the one who makes all the arrangements, makes sure everything is as it should be. “Outsiders” are preaching own form of Christianity. Since the Corinthians have listened to the outsiders, they should now listen to Paul. They might be better orators, but Paul has the better message.
2 Corinthians 11:7-12 Financial independence: Paul had not accepted financial support from the Corinthian Church (He had, however, allowed the Philippian Church to support him). Some might have been saying that this was the measure of a true apostle. Paul waived his apostolic right; he did not preach the gospel for profit. Indeed, Paul preached the gospel free of charge. This was not because he did not love them; God knew his heart. He hoped this would give them something to think about.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Those who masquerade as Christians. Paul accused the opponents of being “false Christians”. He likened them to Satan who masqueraded as an angel of light. In the end, they would get what they deserved.
2 Corinthians 11:16-12:18 The Apostle and His Credentials
2 Corinthians 11:16-33 The qualifications of an apostle. Against his better judgment, Paul compared himself to the opponents. They were trying to makes slaves of Corinthians (Possibly Jewish. Christians who insisted on following every aspect of the law, but there were several other opposing groups as well). Whatever claims they had made, Paul could exceed. He is a Hebrew, an Israelite, and a descendant of Abraham extraordinaire. Paul ushered in a catalog of hardships he had endured. Three times the Romans had beaten him; five times he’d been flogged by the Jews (Much of what he describes is unknown to us). He ended the discussion by recounting his escape from Damascus.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Humility guaranteed by a “thorn in his flesh”. Paul writes of himself in the third person. He looks at his own experience with a sense of wonder. He speaks of having a vision 14 years earlier (The timing of this would coincide with his “silent” years (35-45CE). Lest he ever get arrogant about his vision, he also had a “thorn” (Speculations about the nature of this have not been convincing). He prayed about this several times, but could not heal it. Yet his prayer had been answered – “My grace is enough for you”. The thorn had not been taken away; Paul was given strength to bear it “In weakness, there is strength”.
2 Corinthians 12:11-18 Paul wraps up his defense. He claims he is every bit the apostle as the “super apostles”. He knows this because his ministry has been effective. His ministry was realized by people’s changed lives. He again reiterates that he accepted no money from them. He didn’t want money; he wanted them. Perhaps some had accused him of misusing the collection money. Yet he had sent Titus, who was innocent. Therefore, so was Paul.
E. Conclusion
2 Corinthians 12:19-21 Paul’s concerns about the unrepentant. All in all, his defense was not for them; it was for God. He only cared what God thought about him, not what people think. Everything he had said was for their edification. He planned to visit and hoped he wouldn’t find them, as he would not want them to be; if he did, he would respond in kind. He also listed various qualities that were present in the Church; envy, anger, strife, whisperings, deceit, conceit, and disorder. If these were present, he would grieve when he came.
2 Corinthians 13:1-10 A warning. Paul ends his letter with four main points. He will visit again, and will not spare them, if need be. Time for talking will be over. He wishes that they examined themselves to see if they are in the faith. Ultimately they should all do the right thing. He hopes they can go forward. Each day they should make forward progress and live in peace. Lastly, he blesses them. He prays for them.

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