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- 2 Corinthians
by Joseph Benson
SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
IT was observed in the preface to the former epistle to the Corinthians, that it was written from Ephesus, and probably a little time before the riot of Demetrius, about A.D. 57. Near the conclusion of that epistle, the apostle mentioned his intention of tarrying at Ephesus till the pentecost following. This he doubtless did; but soon after left that city, and went to Troas, in expectation of meeting Titus there on his return from Corinth, and receiving from him an account of the state of the Corinthian church. But Titus not meeting him there as he expected, the apostle proceeded to Macedonia, where Titus came to him, and gave him a satisfactory account of the state of affairs in the church at Corinth, and of the effect which his epistle had produced on the minds of the Corinthians. From some place of this country he wrote this second epistle to the Corinthians, and probably within a year after his writing the former. For if the former, as has been observed, was written only a little while before the riot at Ephesus, there could only be a short interval between the dates of the two epistles, namely, the time of the apostle’s abode at Ephesus after writing the first letter, and at Troas after leaving Ephesus, and the weeks which he spent in Macedonia before the arrival of Titus; all which united could not make above a year.
It was also mentioned in the preface to the first epistle, that the design of it was twofold; first, to correct certain corruptions and abuses which had crept into the church at Corinth; and secondly, to answer some important queries which they had proposed to him. Now the intention of this second letter was more fully to illustrate some of the same points on which he had discoursed in the former, according to the farther information which Titus had given him of the circumstances of that church, and the temper of its members. But at the same time he intersperses and enforces such occasional reflections and advices upon various subjects as he judged would be most conducive to their instruction and edification. Two reasons seem especially to have urged the apostle to write this second epistle so soon after the former: 1. The case of the incestuous person that lay under censure, whom, as he was truly penitent, it was desirable with all speed to restore to the communion of the church. Concerning this, therefore, he gives directions, (chap. 2.;) and afterward (chap. 7.) declares the satisfaction which he had upon the information he had received of their conduct in that affair. 2. He had proposed, at the close of the former epistle, their making a contribution to the relief of the poor saints in Judea; and as, it seems, they delayed this business, and the apostle judged it expedient that it should be proceeded with and accomplished as soon as possible, he thought it proper to write immediately to them to that purpose, urging them withal to be liberal, after the example of the churches in Macedonia. There are, however, divers other things still more worthy of consideration in this epistle; as, 1. The account which the apostle gives of his labours and success in preaching the gospel in several places, 2 Corinthians 2:2. The comparison which he draws between the Mosaic and Christian dispensation, and his illustration of the superior glory of the latter to that of the former, chap. 3. 3. The manifold sufferings which he and his fellow-labourers met with, and their motives and encouragements to patience and diligence in their work, chap. 4., 5. 4. The caution he gives the Corinthians against associating with unbelievers, chap. 6. 5. The way and manner in which he justifies himself and his apostleship from the injurious insinuations and accusations of false teachers, who endeavoured to ruin his reputation at Corinth, chap. 10., 11., 12., and in other parts of the epistle.
It must be observed, the thread and connection of this whole letter are historical; other things being interwoven only by way of digression; and in every part of it the apostle beautifully displays the most tender affection toward the Corinthians, who had been greatly moved by the seasonable severity of his former address; and directs, encourages, and comforts them with various admonitions and considerations.
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