New Defender's Study Bible Notes
Introduction to II Corinthians
Paul’s second canonical epistle to the church he founded at Corinth (there probably were at least two other letters he wrote to Corinth, but these have not been preserved—see I Corinthians 5:9 for a specific reference to one of them) was probably written less than a year after the first. It is uncertain whether it was written while he was still at Ephesus (Acts 19:10) or later at Philippi (Acts 20:1-6).
In any case, there is almost complete unanimity among scholars that II Corinthians was indeed written by Paul. Like I Corinthians, it is cited by numerous church leaders in the second century (Clement, Irenaeus, Polycarp, etc.).
After Paul’s departure from Corinth, the church had been injured spiritually, not only by the divisions and immorality discussed by him in I Corinthians but also by certain of the “Christ party” (I Corinthians 1:12), who were now falsely claiming to be apostles of Christ (II Corinthians 10:7; 11:13), and trying to undermine Paul’s teachings. They were corrupting God’s Word (II Corinthians 2:17), and Paul was forced both to defend himself and to rebuke these false teachers with great severity (II Corinthians 10:7–12:13).
The epistle also notes with approval that the immorality condemned in the first epistle had been effectively disciplined (II Corinthians 2:1-11). Paul’s definition and defense of the ministry and true ministers of God in II Corinthians 3–6 is especially noteworthy, as is his discussion of the Christian grace of giving in II Corinthians 8–9.
In summary, the two Corinthian epistles are filled with rich spiritual and doctrinal truths and also with stern rebuke against sin and heresy, and also as abundant instruction for practical Christian living.
1:1 Corinth. Paul’s previous epistle to the Corinthians had been written from Ephesus; this was written only a year or so later, probably from Philippi (Acts 20:3-6).
1:3 God of all comfort. The “Father” is thus our “Comforter.” The word “comfort” in these verses (also note II Corinthians 1:4,6-7, a total of ten times), is either parakaleo or paraklesis, in some cases translated “consolation.” Its meaning is essentially “be called alongside.” It is related also to parakletos, translated “Comforter” in John 14:26, speaking of the Holy Spirit, and “advocate” in I John 2:1, speaking of Jesus Christ. Thus, each Person of the Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—can be the One who comforts us, however and whenever we have need for comfort, consolation, or advocacy.
1:7 consolation. The same wonderful promise is repeated often in the New Testament epistles (e.g., Romans 8:18; II Corinthians 4:17; I Peter 4:13).
1:8 pressed out of measure. Since Paul’s first visit to Corinth, he had suffered many other perils and persecutions. See also II Corinthians 11:16-33.
1:12 conversation. Instead of our current use of “conversation” as “talking together,” this word is used here and several other places in the New Testament in its older meaning of “behavior” or “life-style.”
1:14 your rejoicing. Compare I Thessalonians 2:19. “A crown of rejoicing” awaits those who will be greeted by people won to Christ in part through their witness, in the day when Christ returns.
1:20 in him Amen. God does not speak in uncertain sounds (I Corinthians 14:8), and neither should we (Matthew 5:37). All His promises will be fulfilled, and all His warnings mean exactly what they say.
1:22 earnest. The “earnest” is “earnest money,” the deposit paid in part now in assurance that the whole will be fulfilled in the proper time. See II Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14. On the sealing of the Spirit, see note on Ephesians 1:13.