This excellent commentary on 2 Corinthians by Paul Barnett illumines the historical background of the church at Corinth and clarifies the meaning of Paul’s passionate letter both for those first-century Christians and for the church today.
Assuming the unity of the letter, for which extensive argument is offered, Barnett takes the view that Paul is, in particular, addressing the issue of triumphalism in Corinth. This triumphalism is expressed by the newly arrived missionaries who portray Paul as “inferior” to themselves; it is also endemic among the Corinthians. According to Barnett, the recurring theme of the letter is “power-in-weakness,” based on the motif of the Resurrection of the Crucified, which lies at the heart of the Gospel of Christ. Also fundamental to the letter is the theme of fulfillment of the “promises of God” by Christ and the Spirit under the New Covenant.
Written for scholars, pastors, and laypeople alike, this commentary on 2 Corinthians will be a lasting reference work for those interested in this important section of Scripture.
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This Pauline letter is rightly regarded by Paul Barnett as a favorite with scholars, having generated a wealth of literary studies in recent times. It also remains an epistle full of problems—historical, textual, and interpretive—for modern readers, especially those who use 2 Corinthians for preaching. Yet it is a rich mine of Gospel truths and a valuable resource for understanding Paul’s teaching on proclamation, ministry, and the Christian life. Barnett is well qualified to handle all these complexities with a sure touch, a scholar’s expertise, and a pastor’s concerns. Above all, he does so with a deft style that makes this new volume accessible to all. A warm welcome awaits this commentary.
—Ralph P. Martin, professor emeritus of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary
Barnett has lived with Paul and the Corinthians for a number of years. His well-known expertise as a New Testament historian comes to the fore in his insightful illumination of the historical background to this Pauline epistle. His detailed exegesis in the commentary is clear, rigorous, and sane, and I found his tracing of the rhetorical movement of the arguments through the letter to be invaluable. Readers will also appreciate the helpful distinctions drawn between what was uniquely Pauline and what of Paul stands as a model for pastors, missionaries, and Christians.
—Peter T. O’Brien, head, New Testament Department, Moore Theological College
Paul Barnett is a visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University, and teaches at Moore College in Sydney and Regent College in Vancouver. His other books include The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years.