Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians

Discovery for Students

Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians


2 Corinthians 1:1 through 13:14

“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” (2 Corinthians 2:4)


The church at Corinth was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey (see Acts 18:1-11). He ministered to this assembly for about a year and a half, but after his departure, problems emerged in the infant congregation. The church at Corinth was weak and its members struggled with their Christian faith and lifestyle. They were surrounded by idolatry and immorality, and false teachers were a constant threat. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus during his third missionary journey, in order to deal with moral problems in the church and to answer specific questions on several issues. That letter, however, did not produce the desired results.

Paul made a brief and painful visit to Corinth to confront some who were creating division in the church. Upon his return to Ephesus, Paul was so distressed that he wrote a severe letter (which is now lost) to the assembly, urging discipline for those who had risen up in arrogant defiance of Paul. This letter was delivered by his associate Titus.

It was with relief that Paul, while on his third missionary journey, received the report from Titus that the majority of the Corinthians had been genuinely grieved by his letter. Yet, there were still issues to deal with. The challenges against Paul’s apostolic authority had increased and attempts were being made to discredit him. Paul wrote the Book of 2 Corinthians to express his relief at hearing Titus’ message, but also to set forth his credentials as a true Apostle of Jesus Christ and to denounce those who were attacking his integrity.

The Book of 2 Corinthians is the least methodical and most personal of Paul’s epistles. One of the key words in this letter is comfort, or encouragement. The Greek translation of this word means “called to one’s side to help.” The verb form, “to comfort,” is used eighteen times in this letter, and the noun form, eleven times. In spite of all the trials Paul had experienced and was still experiencing with this church, he was able by God’s grace to write a letter threaded through with encouragement.


  1. What was Paul’s secret for victory in the midst of tribulations? (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) What truths are revealed about God in these verses?
  2. In 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Paul began to address the specific problems that were troubling the Corinthian church. Seemingly, an individual in the assembly had undergone discipline by the Church for his sinful actions, and had subsequently repented. How did Paul instruct the Corinthians to treat this individual, and what godly principle is brought out through Paul’s instructions?
  3. Legalists who had already created problems in Antioch and Jerusalem (see Acts 15) had infiltrated the believers in Corinth and persuaded some to live by the Law of Moses. Paul refuted these false teachings by contrasting the New Covenant ministry to the Old Covenant Law. Name at least three differences between the old Law and the New Covenant. 2 Corinthians 3:3-18
  4. We all face problems in our Christian lives. Paul had learned that the secret of endurance was inner strength from the Holy Spirit. He said, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). What are some ways that affliction can bring about “glory” or blessing in our lives?
  5. Paul appealed to the Corinthians to separate themselves for God, and not to form binding relationships with nonbelievers. What three arguments did he present to try to convince these believers that they must separate from that which is contrary to the will of God? 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
  6. Chapters 8 and 9 deal primarily with benevolent giving. Paul saw the members of the Gentile congregation as debtors to the Jews for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, and he encouraged the Corinthians to help the Jerusalem Christians financially in their time of need. What principles regarding giving did he establish?
  7. Certain members of the Corinthian church had resorted to discrediting Paul, while boasting of their own qualifications. Paul boldly rejected the idea that he was inferior to these men, who claimed divine authority but whose claims were false. He intentionally mimicked them by providing details of his own “résumé,” which was far superior in the Gospel. What personal experiences did Paul list that proved his authority? 2 Corinthians 11:23-33
  8. Paul was planning another trip to Corinth, and he was concerned he might find that ungodly practices had infiltrated the Corinthian congregation. He wrote sternly to the group, hoping they would deal with such issues before he arrived. What particular problems did he name? How can we guard against such problems creeping into the church today? 2 Corinthians 12:20-21


In Paul’s closing words to the believers at Corinth, he gave a parting plea in the form of a series of exhortations. He encouraged them to seek reconciliation, to share a common purpose, and to live in harmony with one another. His admonition is still fitting for the church today. Like the Corinthians, we must apply the principles of God’s Word in order to have God’s blessing upon our fellowship!