The apostle Paul wrote this second inspired epistle to the church at Corinth around 58-59 AD from Macedonia not long after he wrote the first epistle (Acts 20:1). This epistle is in direct contrast to the tone of 1 Corinthians, it is intensely personal and filled with the deep emotions of the dedicated apostle.
Paul had sent Titus to Corinth to see how they would respond to his first letter which was full of rebuke and correction. He had told them that he would visit them himself but circumstances were such that he was delayed along the way (1 Cor. 16:5-7). He had hoped to meet Titus at Troas but that didn’t work out either (2 Cor. 2:12-13). Paul preached at Troas and then made his way to Macedonia (probably Philippi) where he finally met up with Titus and heard the good report that the majority of the church had responded in obedience to his first letter which prompted him to write this second letter (7:5-13). There was still a rebellious and disobedient element in the church (12:20-13:3).
We can glean from the letter itself that Paul had several purposes in mind when he wrote it:
To explain why he had not visited them yet like he planned to (1:15-24)
To commend the church for disciplining the man living in fornication (1 Cor. 5) and encourage them to forgive and receive him since he repented (2:1-11)
To answer those who accused him of wrong motives (4:1-2)
To encourage them to follow through on their promise to participate in the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem (8-9)
To defend his apostolic authority (10-12)
To prepare them for his visit (13)
I. Explanation of Ministry (1-7)
II. Exhortation for Giving (8-9)
III. Vindication of Apostleship (10-13)
It must be vital that we recognize Paul’s distinct message and ministry as the apostle to the Gentiles because the Lord inspired Paul to write much scripture defending his apostleship (see Gal. 1-2 for another example).
This epistle is all about the ministry. It provides a real and honest picture of what a faithful ministry in this present age of grace looks like and it is not glamorous (6:1-10). This epistle emphasizes the suffering Paul endured in the path of OBEDIENCE (1:3-11; 4:7-12; 11:22-33; 12:7-10; Col. 1:24).
Since Paul was persecuted for preaching the doctrines that Christ revealed through him, what should we expect if we are going to follow his doctrine and pattern (2 Tim. 3:10-17)? Yet, most ministries in America seem to think gain is godliness (1 Tim. 6:3-6)! Satan’s focus is always on opposing what God is doing. He is working to blind the lost to the gospel of Christ (4:3-4) and to blind believers to the truth of the mystery (Eph. 1:18). Those who are faithfully working to preach the gospel of the grace of God and ground believers in the truth of the mystery know what spiritual warfare is all about (10:3-5; 11:1-4, 13-15).
This epistle contains the Great Commission of the Body of Christ (5:14-21). Ambassadors are:
1) Sent to a foreign land in time of peace
2) Entrusted with an important message
3) Represent their king and homeland
4) Brought home before war is declared (pre-tribulation rapture)
We are not sufficient for the ministry, our sufficiency is of God (2:14-17; 3:5; 4:7; 9:8; 12:9).