2nd Corinthians – Context

April 27, 2009

The epistle provides a sort of living picture of an apostolic Church. In this particular letter Paul’s passionate words rival only those in Galatians. After a summary of the early apostolic period, one can see that Paul suffered much before meeting the Corinthians.

A proper context for the Corinthian letter makes for a more comprehensive study. One will see that Paul’s fiery ministry, the inclusion of Gentiles into the Church, and many other historical truths are significant factors into the problems that Paul addresses by his second epistle to the community.

He first enters Corinth during the Second Missionary journey, at a time when he was wishing to know only Christ and Him crucified. This city would perhaps seem an unlikely location for Christian mission. The city was renowned for its commerce, government, and sex-industry. Likely five times the population of Athens at this time, in this bawdy city that Paul meets Priscilla and Aquilla as well as a number of other leading members of the synagogue. Full of moxie, Paul sets up his ministerial center in the house next door to the synagogue, a move that loses him friends and alienates him from the Jewish population, to say the least. His ministry takes place over only 18 months.

Trouble with the Jews in Corinth lands Paul in court. Providentially, this shrewd proconsul of Achaia, Gallio, cuts the trial short and Paul escapes without harm. At that point he leaves Corinth and vows to arrive in Jerusalem by early the next year to celebrate the Passover. In April of A.D. 52, he fulfills his vow and then begins his Third Missionary journey, finally reaching Ephesus. It was at this time that Apollos enters the Corinthian Church, an eloquent man who only recently learned Christian doctrine of baptism.

While in Ephesus, Paul hears of the tumult within the Corinthian church, and writes his first letter to the Church. This letter is not to be confused with what we now refer to as the First Epistle to the Corinthians, and scholars continue to debate the exact content of this first letter.

Music: Boismortier’s Sonata 4 in D Minor – Aria-Affettuoso, from the album ‘Six Sonatas for Flute and Violin – Opus 51 – Boismortier’ performed by Duo de Bois. www.magnatune.com

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