A L O O K I N T O T H E A P O S T L E ' S H E A R T
Welcome to the first post in our new II Corinthians Study. Before we dive into the book of II Corinthians, it’s important to try and wrap our minds around the era and background surrounding the letter so that we can better understand the situation, circumstances, and significance of what Paul wrote. So to start out, let’s travel back almost two thousand years and picture Corinth as it was in the fall of circa A.D. 50.
At that time, Corinth was a bustling port city with great commerce and business due to its important position on the narrowest strip of land separating the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Corinth was also home to the worship of the pagan god Aphrodite which resulted in a completely immoral, licentious culture. So unrestrained and shameless were the Corinthians that they were renowned around the known world for their immorality and sensuousness.
Into this environment entered Paul, who, despite the ungodliness of the city, planted a growing church and over a year, left behind a stable yet fledgling congregation. However, fast forward seven years to A.D. 57. The church of Corinth had weathered a series of storms as the opposing forces of God’s Word and secular culture collided, resulting in compromised believers and issues within the church.
Paul dealt head on with the issues via the powerful letter of I Corinthians and a visit that from all accounts didn’t seem to go so well. And just as all discipline is unpleasant for the moment, the Corinthians didn’t take too kindly at first to Paul’s intervention and quickly became inclined to believe the proposition of traveling teachers that Paul wasn’t really an Apostle after all. All this drama continued to build until Paul finally sent Titus to Corinth. He went into the church and restored truth, order, and balance to this young congregation.
In A.D. 57, Paul finally receives news from Titus that the Corinthian church was back on track and was ready to receive the famous Apostle once again. Upon hearing this news, Paul is overjoyed, broken, and filled with tender love. He pens a heart-filled, sincere appeal to the Corinthians, sharing his heart, his authority in God, and his deepest desire for restoration.
“Your restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.”
~II Corinthians 13:9b-10
So as we get ready to begin an in-depth study of this wonderful book, let’s consider the context surrounding the situation in Corinth and compare our lives and culture with that of the Corinthian Christians. Do we live in a time and place where God’s Word and culture are colliding? Are there areas which are easy to compromise in? Have we recently experienced the painful but important role of discipline? In what areas and ways can we relate with the experiences, background, issues, struggles, and strengths of the Corinthians?
We live in a culture and era very similar to the Corinthians. Ungodliness is rampant and sin is normalized; however, we must not compromise on what we believe or what God’s Word says nor should we doubt the authority of God’s messengers just because we don’t like their message! So I know that II Corinthians is a timely book for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing what God has for us in this book, and I hope you are too! But until next time, prayerfully read through II Corinthians and see what themes, messages, and topics pop out to you.