LETTERS OF ST. PAUL: 2 Corinthians
Whomever you forgive anything, so do I. For indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for you in the presence of Christ. 2 Cor 2:10
This letter of St. Paul is the closest we can come to intrigue. It brings us to the in’s and out’s of an early Christian church in Greece. Paul had sent the church at Corinth, located on the isthmus connecting mainland Greece and the Peloponessian Peninsula, the letter known as 1 Corinthians in 54 A.D. Paul wrote 2 Corinthians probably a year later. However, it seems that either Paul composed this letter over several sessions or that 2 Corinthians is actually a composite of two letters (chaps. 1-9 and 10-13) or as many as four letters (yes, a crafty editor’s hand!). This speculation is driven by how Paul jumps around in the discussion: he talks about being in Troas and journeying to Macedonia in 2:12-13 and then awkwardly resumes this narrative in 7:5-7. Was material inserted between these two sections? That’s a question!
In this composition, Paul revisits an issue he dealt with before: his authority to preach. His solution is similar: this authority is God-given (3:5; compare 1 Cor 1:17; 3:5). Yet authority is not an end in itself. Rather, it gives him confidence in the face of difficulties and anguish. Paul views his afflictions as preparing him for “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (4:17). The message about Christ’s death and resurrection affects Paul in every which way: his perspective on life (5:16), his view of other people (5:17), and his desire to be involved in the ministry of Christ (5:20).
Paul shifts his focus in 7:5 and begins to promote giving: Paul wants to test the Corinthians’ love (see 1 Corinthians 13) and asks them to give out of their own abundance to those who lack (8:1-9:15) in Jerusalem (Rom 15:25-26).
The end of this letter takes us right back to what is Paul’s constant challenge with the Corinthians: the issue of his authority as an apostle (10:1-13:10)! Somehow, the warring factions in Corinthian were even deeper in conflict than at the time of Paul’s earlier letter. Yet, this did not stop Paul from returning there. In 58 A.D. he composed his most theological work from Corinth, that is the letter to the Romans. And then he set off to take the funds collected for the needy to Jerusalem.