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2 Corinthians Bible Companion

The Christian life can feel like taking one step forward, then two steps back. In 2 Corinthians, the church is challenged to “grow up” in Christ, and we are reminded of God’s unfailing grace, even in the face of sin and failure. These eight lessons from Dr. J. Vernon McGee will encourage you to keep walking forward in the right direction as you grow in your faith.



The author of the epistle is Paul. Paul had written First Corinthians from Ephesus where he had been engaged in a great ministry. He had written, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9). I believe that Paul had his greatest ministry in Asia Minor—Ephesus being the springboard and the sounding board for the gospel. I believe that the gospel covered that area in a manner that was probably more effective than it has ever been in any other place at any other time. That is what Paul meant—“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me.”

Because of that ministry, Paul just couldn’t leave and go over to Corinth. In Corinth was that baby church which he had started. That church was filled with carnal Christians. They acted like babies. They wanted Paul to come, because they wanted attention. They wanted food and they wanted a change of garments—I guess you could say they were all wet. They were crying as babies cry. Paul couldn’t come, and they were a little miffed and a little hurt by it. So Paul had written his first letter and had told them that he would be coming later.

Paul remained in Ephesus approximately three years. He didn’t get to Corinth, and the Corinthians were still disturbed. He had sent Titus to Corinth because he could not personally go there at that time. Timothy had been with Paul in Ephesus, and these two left Ephesus and proceeded to Troas to wait for Titus to bring word from Corinth (see 2 Cor. 2:12–13). When Titus did not come, Paul and Timothy went on to Philippi. It was there that Titus met them and brought Paul word about the Corinthians. He brought good news from Corinth—that the Corinthians were obeying the things that Paul had told them to do in his first answer to their questions; that is, in First Corinthians.

At Philippi Paul sat down to write this second epistle. The Corinthians still wanted the great apostle to come and be with them. However, any breach between Paul and the Corinthian church was healed. In this epistle Paul opens his heart in a very wonderful way. To tell the truth, Paul lets us come to know him better personally in this epistle than in any other letter.

Second Corinthians deals with conditions of the ministry within the church. (First Corinthians dealt with conditions and corrections in the church.)

(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 45: 2 Corinthians. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)

Poems & Quotes

2 Corinthians 1:4-20

I Needed the Quiet

I needed the quiet so He drew me aside,
Into the shadows where we could confide,
Away from the bustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.
I needed the quiet though at first I rebelled.
But gently, so gently, my cross He upheld
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things.
Though weakened in body, my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when active and gay.
He loved me so greatly He drew me away.
I needed the quiet. No prison my bed,
But a beautiful valley of blessings instead—
A place to grow richer in Jesus to hide,
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside.
          –Alice Hansche Mortenson

2 Corinthians 3:11-18

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion –
For more than conquerors we are!
His word shall not fail you – He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
          –Helen Lemmel

2 Corinthians 4:3-18

Sir Isaac Newton, when asked this question, “Sir Isaac, I do not understand. You seem to be able to believe the Bible like a little child. I have tried but I cannot. So many of its statements mean nothing to me. I cannot believe; I cannot understand,” replied:

“Sometimes I come into my study and in my absentmindedness I attempt to light my candle when the extinguisher is over it, and I fumble about trying to light and cannot; but when I remove the extinguisher then I am able to light the candle. I am afraid the extinguisher in your case is the love of your sins; it is deliberate unbelief that is in you. Turn to God in repentance; be prepared to let the Spirit of God reveal His truth to you, and it will be His joy to show the glory of the grace of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

President John Adams, when asked how he felt after he had become an old man, replied, “I feel fine. This old house that I live in is really getting feeble. The shingles are coming off the top and the foundation seems to be coming out from underneath, but Mr. Adams is just fine, thank you.”

2 Corinthians 6:1-11

“Shepherds do not produce sheep. Sheep produce sheep.”
          –Dr. Earl Radmacher