Church conflict is never pleasant—whether the issue is theological or practical, whether it is over the character of the gospel or over how to spend church funds. Though few church squabbles today come close to matching the intensity and seriousness of what Paul faced in the commercial and hedonistic hotbed of Corinth, his strategies and pastoral wisdom in confronting the problems there can still serve as a helpful model for us in responding to a culture marked by individualism and materialism. In this careful study of 2 Corinthians, readers will find an introduction that discusses the letter's occasion and purpose, authorship, and other background information, as well as its important theological themes. Passage-by-passage commentary follows that seeks to explain what the letter means for us today as well as what it meant for it original hearers.
“The basic sense of synechō (to compel) is to hold something together so that it does not fall apart. From this we get the meanings to ‘hold fast’ (that is, to not allow to slip through one’s fingers) and to ‘surround’ or ‘hem in’ (that is, to not let escape; Köster 1971:883). The idea is that Christ’s love completely controls and dominates Paul so that he has no option but to preach.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–17)
“The term skolops denoted something pointed and was used of everything from a stake or thorn to a surgical instrument or the point of a fishhook. Paul’s mention of a skolops in my flesh (teµ sarki) is commonly taken to be a physical (epilepsy, a speech impediment, malaria, an ophthalmic malady, leprosy, attacks of migraine) or emotional (hysteria, periodic depressions, inability to reach his own people) ailment of some kind. The difficulty is that sarx can also refer to what is mortal, flawed, worldly or even human (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich 1979). So the list can legitimately be expanded to include such possibilities as persecution, troublesome people, spiritual snares and carnal temptations.” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10)
“First, this provision of comfort is not self-serving but is intended to equip for service to the church.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–6)
“The most plausible alternative is to understand all died as a death to our old way of life.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–17)
“Theos is emphatic: ‘God was reconciling to himself.’ God is the initiator, not the recipient, of reconciliation. The recipient is the world. Kosmos (world) is the world of human beings, not the cosmos. Reconciliation occurs because ‘God does not count their sins against them’” (2 Corinthians 5:18–21)