For background information and an outline of the entire book, see here.
8:1-9:15 The Collection for the Relief of the Jerusalem Church
8:1-6 Titus’ Return
8:7-15 A Matter of Equality
8:16-24 Commendation of Titus and the Brothers
9:1-5 A Further Appeal on the Collection: Once again the difficulties of interpreting 2 Corinthian’s structure are present. Some believe that chapter 8 and 9 are from two separate letters- chapter 8 to Corinth and chapter 9 to Christians in other places in the province of Achaia. But chapter 9 through verse 15 could also be read as expanding on Paul’s earlier remarks in chapter 8 and serving as a conclusion to them.
9:6-10 On Giving Generously: verse 9 is the Greek translation of Psalm 112:9. The Old Testament we use in our Bibles is the Hebrew translation, but in Jesus’ time, the Greek translation (the Septuagint) was commonly used. There are some differences between the translations and that is why when the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament, the translations don’t exactly match. Paul tells the Corinthians that God will provide for their needs so that they may care for others. God’s provision is to be shared.
9:11-15 A Ministry of Praise: The HarperCollins Bible Commentary says: “It is clear that Paul’s conception of charitable giving has not been shaped by his commitment to some general philanthropic ideal, but by his conviction that every human being is ultimately dependent upon and accountable to God and that God is praised as the neighbor is affirmed and served in love.”
10-13 Vindicating Paul’s Authority There is a change of tone in these chapters and some believe these chapters are part of another letter, perhaps the “painful” letter referred to in 2:3-9 and 7:8-12. These chapters are written in anticipation of Paul’s planned visit to Corinth.
10:1-18 An Appeal for Obedience. Once again, Paul is responding to his critics. We do not know exactly what or who Paul is reacting to.
10:1-6 No Worldly War : Some commentators wonder if the military imagery of verses 3-6 reflect how under attack Paul feels.
10:7-11 Question of Authority: Paul again defends his authority and his style of ministry.
10:12-18 Question of Jurisdiction: One needs to be faithful to what God has called one to do, not compare oneself to another. Likewise, one is not to usurp the work of another but to spread the gospel where it has not been proclaimed.
11:1-12:13 “Fool’s Speech” The necessity to defend himself has put Paul in a awkward spot- he could be accused of doing that which he accuses his rivals of doing.
11:1-15 Paul’s Reply to Opponents: In verses 1-4 Paul likens his relationship with the Corinthians as to father’s concern for his bride daughter. In verses 5-15 Paul defends his methods.
11:16-33 Paul’s Boasting: He recognizes that it is foolish to boast and yet finds it necessary. Paul is somewhat sarcastic through the middle of this section. He then returns to the theme of boasting and weakness.
12:1-13 Further Boastings: Strength in Weakness: Paul could, and obliquely does, speak of special religious experiences. But these do not matter as much as paradox of weakness which reveals God’s power.
12:14- 13:10 Paul Plans to Visit Corinth
12:14-18 The Allegation of Fraud: Paul’s upcoming visit will not cost the Corinthians. Paul will take care of himself.
12:19-21 About Improper Behavior: Paul is worried that the behaviors and attitudes that caused painful difficulties before may still be present.
13:1-9 Warning and Admonition: Paul hopes the church can examine itself and correct itself without Paul needing to step in. However Paul is prepared to act, if the Corinthians do not.
13:10 The Purpose of the Letter
13:11-13 Epistolary Closing: Verse 13 is the fullest of Paul’s benedictions. From the New Oxford Annotated Bible, “The order is significant; the grace of Christ expresses and leads one toward the love of God, and the love of God when actualized through the Spirit, products communion with God and with one another.”
A prayer from early Church father, Gregory of Nazianus (329-389) for your use this week.
Read More About It
Furnish, Victor Paul “2 Corinthians” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary, rev. ed.James L Mays, ed. (New York: Society of Bible Literature) 2000.
Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, rev. ed. (Minneapolis:Fortress Press) 1999. Chapter 12 “The Corinthian Correspondence” and Chapter 16 “The Letter to Philemon”.
Knox, John, John Reumann “2 Corinthians” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Bruce M. Metzger, Roland E. Murphy eds. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.