Book of the Week 47: II Corinthians


Human Author: Paul (and Timothy)                                   

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 13

Basic Facts

  1. II Corinthians is the forty-seventh book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, II Corinthians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for II Corinthians is PROS KORINTHIOUS B, which means “to the Corinthians—two” or “for the benefit of the Corinthians—two.”
  4. II Corinthians contains major themes about suffering and comfort for believers.
  5. The epistle of II Corinthians was originally written to both the believers in Corinth and to believers throughout the Roman province of Achaia (II Corinthians 1:1-2).

Story of the Book

Paul begins this letter by greeting the Corinthian church. He then proceeds to assure them that, just as they share in the sufferings of Christ through persecution, they will also share in God’s comfort to them in Christ. Paul continues this theme of comfort from God in the midst of suffering throughout his letter. He explains his change of plans regarding a visit to the Corinthian church. Paul tells the church that they are vessels in jars of clay intended as instruments of God’s glory who have been united to God through the Holy Spirit. He goes on to explain that the church needs an eternal perspective in the midst of suffering in which they see that their eternal home is in heaven with God. Paul defends his ministry to the Corinthians and tries to demonstrate his faithfulness by reminding them of his sufferings with them. He encourages the church in Corinth to be generous in giving to the church in other places though a collection he is putting together for the believers in Jerusalem. Next, Paul warns the church about false apostles and defends his own apostleship of his sufferings, his faith in Christ, and his personal identity as a Hebrew. Paul ends his letter by reviewing his suffering and perseverance and the grace of God expressed to him in Christ even in the midst of a personal ailment. Paul warns the church that he is coming to visit them and that they should heed his warnings about past wrongdoing and, in so doing, prove that they pass the test of being in Christ and part of the ministry of reconciliation. 

Jesus Revealed in II Corinthians

In II Corinthians, Jesus is revealed as the one who reconciles believers to God through His redeeming work on the cross. It is on this basis that believers have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. Paul’s own words summarize this theme best as he writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:17-20). Because of what Christ did in reconciling Paul to God, God appeals to the Corinthian church for reconciliation over a previous misunderstanding or wrong. Paul reveals Christ as the one in whom reconciliation with God is truly possible for anyone who comes to God in faith through Jesus Christ.