Recommended video: Read Scripture: 2 Corinthians by The Bible Project.
Recommended memory verses: 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Inductive Bible study: Track the word “glory.” Use your pen to draw a box around each occurrence.
Reading & Summaries
READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 1-3
1:1-11, God of All Comfort: Paul praises God who comforts us in our affliction so that we may comfort others and learn to rely on God.
1:12-2:11: Paul explains his decision not to visit Corinth after his last painful visit and the tearful letter that assured the Corinthians of his love. In his absence, Paul encourages the Corinthians to forgive a repentant offender.
2:12-3:18, Ministers of the New Covenant: Paul explains that he and the other apostles spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus everywhere” and boldly proclaim the glory of the new covenant; this sets men free from bondage to the letter of the law, because the Spirit brings about their transformation.
READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 4-6:13
4:1-6: Paul defends his honest, straightforward ministry that draws men’s attention to “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6) instead of himself.
4:7-18: The glorious treasure of the gospel is carried by men with weak vessels—frail physical bodies, subjected to suffering for the gospel’s sake. But this is an example of the suffering of Christ himself, and will be rewarded with eternal life and glory.
5:1-10: Christians groan as they wait for their heavenly dwelling—glorified bodies. To be away from the earthly body is to be at home with the Lord. Since both the living and the dead will stand before Christ’s judgment seat, “we make it our aim to please him” in all circumstances.
5:11-6:13, The Ministry of Reconciliation: By dying to sin on the cross, Jesus made it possible for all to escape the judgment; therefore, we should urge men to be reconciled to God through Christ. Those who turn to Christ “no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised”; “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Since the apostles were God’s coworkers in the ministry of reconciliation, and had demonstrated integrity in that ministry, Paul urges the Corinthians to stop holding back their affections.
READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:16
6:14-7:1: Believers are the temple of the living God; therefore, they should not marry unbelievers or have intimate relationships with those who walk in darkness. God has promised to be our God and Father if we separate from the world and “touch no unclean thing.” Paul concludes, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
7:2-16: Paul rejoices that, when confronted with their sin, the Corinthians showed godly sorrow leading to repentance. Their obedience was confirmed by humbly receiving Paul’s fellow worker Titus.
READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 8-10
Ch. 8-9: Paul encourages the Gentile Corinthians to generously give (of their own freewill) to a fund for the relief of poor, suffering saints in Jerusalem. Jesus is our example, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Paul commends Titus, who is coming to them soon.
Freewill giving not only provides the needs of others, but leads to thanksgiving which glorifies God. “God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul ends with a burst of praise, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” Since God has given us the gift of Christ, we should give to others.
Ch. 10: Paul begins a defense of his authority that will continue through chapter 12. While others were trying to discredit Paul because of his bodily weakness, he refused to boast in the flesh: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Paul spoke of his integrity and chose to boast in the Lord.
READ: 2 CORINTHIANS 11-13
Paul defends his authority as an apostle against the so-called “super-apostles”—“false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ”—who threaten to lead the Corinthians astray. Although Paul’s credentials surpass the “super-apostles,” he boasts of the things that show his weakness, because through his weakness the power of God is evident. Paul expresses his love for and willingness to be spent for the good of the Corinthians.
Paul shares his plans to visit the Corinthians a third time, but fears he will find some of them still in sin. He warns them to examine themselves and be sure they are in the faith, so that when he comes, he may not be severe.
When exercises require a written response, record your answers in a journal or email them to a pastor or class leader who will provide you with feedback.
- According to 2 Cor. 1:19-20, “the Son of God, Jesus Christ…was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Cor 1:20). List three promises that find their Yes (fulfillment) in Jesus.
- Use Clarke’s commentary, available at biblehub.com, to study the imagery that Paul uses in 2 Cor. 2:14: “Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” Write down one or two insights about triumphal processions in Roman culture as they relate to the triumph of the gospel.
- According to 2 Cor. 3:18, how are we transformed into God’s image from one degree to another? Where do we see the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:6)?
- According to 2 Cor. 5:14 and 5:21, how does Christ make it possible to be reconciled with God? Highlight these verses in pink.
- In light of 2 Cor. 6:14-18, is it right for a believer to date an unbeliever? To marry an unbeliever?
- According to 2 Cor. 7:1, how thorough does God intend for his work of sanctification (holiness) to be in our lives? Highlight this verse in green.
- What is one motivation for freewill giving (2 Cor. 9:6-7)? Highlight these verses in green.
- How does Satan present himself, according to 2 Cor. 11:14? How does this compare to popular ideas about the devil?
- Why does God give authority (2 Cor. 10:8)? What are the implications for church leaders? Husbands? Men in the church?
- Search for the words “affliction” and “suffering” (e.g. in Bible Gateway). Read each verse in its context. Write down six insights about suffering from 2 Corinthians. For example, “God allows us to go through hard times ‘to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead’ (1:9).”