The church in Corinth began as a result of the apostle Paul’s activities during his second missionary journey (c. 51 – 54 AD 2 Corinthians 1:19; see comments on 1 Corinthians). The spiritual state of the Corinthians was so bad that Paul had to write a further letter following his first, very stern one.
The first letter is addressed to all Christians in every place, but the second one Paul addresses to the assembly of God which is in Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia, the Greek area in the northern part of the Peloponnesus.
Thus the salutation already signals the different character of these two epistles.
Paul mentions his own name eight times in his first epistle to the Corinthians but only twice in the second one (1:1; 10:1). Paul’s authorship of both letters has been and still is nearly unanimously accepted even by critical researchers but some think that 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1 and chapters 10 to 13 (the “four-chapter-letter”) have been written by Paul at different points of time and then later inserted.
Allusion to this letter is made early on by Polycarp (c. 70 – 155); in the second half of the second century Athenagoras cites the letter as being apostolic; amongst others Irenaeus (c. 140 – 202) and Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – 215) quote the letter by name.
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians is considered one of the most difficult letters of the New Testament.
It is one of the most personal testimonies of the Apostle Paul in conjunction with the Epistle to the Philippians. Unlike the First Epistle to the Corinthians it contains next to no instructive passages but many expressing the personal feelings of Paul.
While the first letter is characterised by authority and doctrine the second letter shows much more the inner motives of Paul’s service for the Lord (e.g. 2 Corinthians 1:12 ff; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 2 Corinthians 12:19) and his deep desire to have this oneness in spirit with the Corinthians restored (e.g. 2 Corinthians 2:1 ff; 2 Corinthians 6:1 ff; 2 Corinthians 7:2 ff).
The word “service” therefore is to be found twelve times in this letter, the words “encourage” and “encouragement” 16 times together — much more frequently than in Paul’s other epistles.
The apostle Paul calls Titus “my own child according to the faith common to us” (Titus 1:4), i.e. Titus would have found faith in the Lord Jesus through Paul. He became a close co-worker of the apostle.
However, it is peculiar that Luke does not mention his name in Acts at all. But nine times out of thirteen the name Titus is found in the New Testament occur in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (2:13; 7:6; 7:13; 7:14; 8:6; 8:16; 8:23; 12:18 twice).
Titus is first mentioned in Galatians 2:1-3. Paul and Barnabas took Titus with them from Antioch to Jerusalem when they met there with the other apostles and elders for discussions concerning the law.
Here we learn that Titus was of Greek origin. After the first letter was sent to the Corinthians from Ephesus Paul sent Titus to Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:18) to look into things.
Shortly after they meet again in Macedonia after Paul had waited in vain for Titus at Troas (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 7:13-14). Then Titus with two other brothers travelled once more to Corinth bringing them the second letter (2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23).
A few years later Paul wrote a letter to Titus which bears Titus’ name. At that time Titus dwelled in Crete and he received several instructions concerning the order in those local assemblies.
Finally, Titus is mentioned once more in Paul’s last letter (2 Timothy 4:10). Titus had by then gone to Dalmatia. Until the end he was a faithful servant of the apostle Paul.