Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of 2 Corinthians is unique in that it has a very long introduction. This Epistle contains thirteen chapters, and the first one and a half chapters are the introduction. No other book in the Bible has such a long introduction.
The introduction to 2 Corinthians is long because the background of this book is quite complicated. In 1 Corinthians Paul dealt with the Corinthian believers regarding many things. He argued with them and rebuked them. Because of this background, it was necessary for 2 Corinthians to have a lengthy introduction.
This introduction is actually a word of comfort. Paul realized that, because he had disciplined the Corinthians in the first Epistle, he needed to bind up their wounds in this Epistle. The first one and a half chapters of 2 Corinthians are related to this binding up of wounds. What Paul was doing here is similar to the comfort a parent may give to a child after the child has been disciplined. Suppose a child misbehaves and is seriously disciplined by his parents. After the child repents, the parents will spend time to comfort the child. In the first chapter and a half of 2 Corinthians, Paul pours oil into the wounds of the Corinthians, wounds caused by his discipline.
Another reason for this lengthy introduction is that Paul was a very emotional person. He was a person strong in his emotion in a proper way. Although he was restricted by the Spirit when he was rebuking the Corinthian believers, he was still strong. For example, in 1 Corinthians 4:21 he asks, “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of meekness?” These words indicate that he was strong in his emotion. When Paul was pouring oil into the wounds and binding them up, he exercised his emotion and released it in a very positive way. Thus, he needed a longer time to express his emotion.
Verse 3 reveals Paul’s emotion: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassions and God of all encouragement.” Paul’s reference to affliction, suffering, and encouragement in verses 4 and 5 also indicates that he was emotional. It seems to me that Paul could have condensed these three verses into one sentence and said, “Dear Corinthian brothers, since I have been encouraged by God, I would now encourage you.” But because Paul was very emotional, he wrote in a way that seems repetitious. In verses 6, 7, and 8 he continues to speak of suffering, affliction, and encouragement. Because Paul was emotional, he needed the opportunity to release his emotion positively.
Another reason for this long introduction is that the Corinthians were very complicated. On the one hand, they liked Paul; on the other hand, they were somewhat unhappy with him. He used this long introduction to resolve their complications and calm them down so that they could receive his word.
In this long introduction we can see Paul’s person. I very much love Paul. He can be emotional, sympathetic, and tender. He can also be strong and even tough. He is honest, simple, and sincere. Sometimes he may be polite, but he is never political. I have learned a great deal from Paul. Throughout my life I have learned the most from two persons: the first is Paul; the second is Watchman Nee.
Verse 1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy the brother, to the church of God which is in Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia.” Achaia was located south of Macedonia. A province of the Roman Empire, it formed the major part of today’s Greece. The city of Corinth was in this province. The writers of 2 Corinthians were Paul and Timothy; the receivers were the church of God in Corinth with all the saints in the whole of Achaia.
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