The book of 2 Corinthians

This letter could be Paul’s autobiography. It is almost entirely taken up with Paul and his ministry. Since the writing of 1 Corinthians the landscape in Corinth has evidently changed, especially with regards to their attitude towards him. Paul’s interactions with the Corinthians were strong but full of deep concern and love. But he wasn’t the only person to have influence in this community.

First off, their influences were Apollos and Peter – well regarded men who the people compared each other to, to the point of causing division. Those men left and in came some who claimed to be ‘special apostles’. Their modus operandi was to push down the other apostles, especially Paul, in order to elevate themselves.

2 Corinthians was Paul’s response to his critics. Their attack was thorough and scathing. Some of their insults were:

  • Paul suffered affliction not because of godliness but because of ungodly behaviour.

  • Paul was a fickle leader for continually changing his plans.

  • Paul was a cowardly leader who rather writes than visits.

  • He was criticised for not having letters of recommendation – a type of ‘lone ranger’ who no one else approves of.

  • They accused him of being aloof, insincere and uncaring.

  • His speaking ability was insulted. Apparently he was unpolished and boring to listen to.

  • Paul didn’t charge a fee. No fee meant no self-respect or ministry value. The greater the fee, the greater the value.

What type of letter would you write if you were in this position? How do you deal with critics? Or more deeply, what makes you secure within yourself? On what beliefs do you base your modus operandi?

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