THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
ST. PAUL's general design in this Epistle was, to lay open to the Corinthians the artifices of false teachers, by whom they had suffered themselves to be led astray; ch. 2 Corinthians 11:13. These were certain Jews, taken from the bosom of the synagogue, and proselyted to Christianity; who, still retaining an inclination toward the Mosaic ordinances, wanted to introduce a part of those observances into the Christian religion, and join the righteousness of Christ with justification by works, to form a full and entire justification. Galatians 2:4; Galatians 5:1, &c. This is what St. Paul calls, in the present Epistle, a corruption of the word of God, 2 Corinthians 2:17 and he combats it with great force throughout the iiid. chapter, wherein he admirably shews the superiority of the gospel over the law, and the ministry of the new dispensation over that of the old. He nearly pursues the same subject in the ivth chapter; and in the vth teaches that Christ has reconciled the world to God by his death, and that he was the sacred victim which atoned for all our sins, 1 Corinthians 16:18-21. In the vith chapter he speaks of the labours of his ministry, testifies his regard for the Corinthians, and exhorts them to avoid any close connections with unbelievers, 1 Corinthians 16:14-18 since it was a snare that had betrayed them into many faults, of which he had already spoken in his former Epistle, 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 10:20. In the viith chapter he touches again on the case of the incestuous person who had been excommunicated, (1 Corinthians 5:1-5.) of whose repentance he had heard with great joy. The viiith and ixth regard the general collection making in the churches of Greece for the faithful at Jerusalem; which not being completed when St. Paul wrote this second Epistle to the Corinthians, it is clear that it was written not long after the first, where he had spoken of the same thing, 1 Corinthians 16:1 and consequently, before he wrote the Epistle to the Romans, at which time the collections were finished, and he was himself carrying the produce to Jerusalem, Romans 15:25-26. All the rest of the Epistle is employed in exposing the pomp and vanity of false teachers, and in vindicating his own ministry by a view of the extraordinary sufferings that he had endured, of his zeal for the churches, and of the visions and extasies with which the Lord had honoured him. The necessity of a legitimate defence obliged him thus to speak of himself in terms painful to his modesty and humility, ch. 2 Corinthians 12:6 but he owed it to his own honour, to the edification of the church, and still more to his religion, which these false teachers thought they never could successfully attack, if they left St. Paul in the full enjoyment of his high reputation.