Sunday School Bible Survey:      II CORINTHIANS

Theme: Ministry

Key verse: "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not"
(II Cor. 4:1).

From the Scofield Study Bible:

WRITER: The Apostle Paul

DATE: A.D. 60; probably from Philippi, after the events of Acts 19:23—20:1-3.

THEME: The Epistle discloses the touching state of the great apostle at this time. It was one of physical weakness, weariness, and pain. But his spiritual burdens were greater. These were two kinds—solicitude for the maintenance of the churches in grace as against the law-teachers, and anguish of heart over the distrust felt toward him by Jews and Jewish Christians. The chilling doctrines of the legalizers were accompanied by detraction, and by denial of his apostleship.

It is evident that the really dangerous sect in Corinth was that which said, "and I of Christ" (I Cor. 1:12). They rejected the new revelation through Paul of the doctrines of grace; grounding themselves, probably, on the kingdom teachings of our Lord as "a minister of circumcision" (Romans 15:8); seemingly oblivious that a new dispensation had been introduced by Christ's death. This made necessary a defense of the origin and extent of Paul's apostolic authority.

The Epistle is in three parts:

  1. Paul's principles of action (1:1—7:16).
  2. The collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem (8:1—9:15).
  3. Paul's defense of his apostolic authority (10:1—13:14).


  1. J. Vernon McGee said, "Shortly after Paul had written 1 Corinthians from Ephesus, where he was in grave danger (II Corinthians 1:8), he wrote II Corinthians from Philippi. Paul was in Ephesus approximately three years. He had sent Titus to Corinth because he could not personally go there at that time. Timothy was with Paul in Ephesus, and these two proceeded to Troas to wait for Titus to bring word from Corinth (II Corinthians 2:12, 13). When Titus did not come, Paul and Timothy went on to Philippi where Titus brought good news from Corinth (II Corinthians 7:5-11). Any breach between Paul and the Corinthian church was healed. This epistle is difficult to outline, as it is less organized than any of Paul's other letters — but it contains more personal details...First Corinthians deals with conditions and corrections in the church. Second Corinthians deals with conditions of the ministry within the church."
  2. Timothy did not assist Paul in writing this epistle, but was with him when he wrote it (II Cor. 1:1).
  3. Achaia (1:1) was the name of the southern portion of what we now call Greece. Macedonia was the northern section.
  4. Second Corinthians is the most autobiographical of all of Paul's epistles.
  5. Merrill F. Unger said, "It lays bare the life and ministry of Paul. In intensity of emotion, expression of the writer's idiosyncrasies, and individuality of style it stands in the forefront of Paul's letters" (Unger's Bible Handbook).
  6. The strongest commandment regarding separation is found in II Corinthians 6:14--7:1.
  7. The longest passage on Christian giving is found in this epistle (chapters 8 and 9).
  8. Second Corinthians contains a strong warning about religious deception (11:1-4, 13-15).
  9. Second Corinthians 12 contains the apostle Paul's description of a man (probably Paul himself) being "caught up to the third heaven" (12:2), and Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (12:7).
  10. A.T. Pierson said the Lord Jesus Christ is represented in I & II Corinthians "as the sphere of sanctification and personal holiness. Being in Him, we have in Him unity with God by the Holy Spirit, which Spirit becomes the new element or atmosphere of that life of which Christ is the sphere. We have thus a new knowledge of God and a new indwelling of God in us; we thus possess God and are possessed by Him, separate and subject unto Him, so that even our bodies partake of His life and immortality. As Romans deals largely with what we are by our entrance into God, in Corinthians we are confronted with what we are by God's entrance into us. There, it was the new sphere of life; here, it is the new atmosphere of life. There, we in Him; here, He in us" (In Christ Jesus).
  11. "In Second Corinthians, the same great thought is further expanded and enlarged. Take, for instance, the first chapter, from the twentieth to the twenty-second verses, where we are taught that in Him we are established, anointed, sealed, and have the earnest or foretaste of our future inheritance. The dominant thought here is the privilege we have in and through Christ. Paul makes very emphatic and prominent our transformation into His image (3:18); our new creation in Christ Jesus (5:17); our separation unto Him (6:14—7:1); our unselfish liberality as the fruit of our union with Him (chapters 8 and 9); our abundance of revelation in Him (chapter 12), etc." (In Christ Jesus).

Outline from the Ryrie Study Bible:

  1. Introduction (1:1-11)
  1. Salutation (1:1, 2)
  2. Paul's Gratitude for God's Goodness (1:3-11)
  1. The Apostle's Conciliation with Respect to the Problem at Corinth (1:12—2:13)
  1. The Change in Paul's Plans (1:12—2:4)
  2. The Change in the Offender's Punishment (2:5-11)
  3. The Meeting with Titus (2:12, 13)
  1. The Apostolic Ministry (2:14—6:10)
  1. The Confidence of the Ministry: Victory (2:14-17)
  2. The Commendation of the Ministry: Changed Lives (3:1-3)
  3. The Covenant for the Ministry: The New Covenant (3:4-18)
  4. The Character of the Ministry: Supernatural (4:1-6)
  5. The Circumstances of the Ministry (4:7-18)
  6. The Compulsions of the Ministry (5:1-21)
  1. The assurance of resurrection (5:1-9)
  2. The judgment seat of Christ (5:10-13)
  3. The love of Christ (5:14-21)
  1. The Conduct of the Ministry (6:1-10)
  1. The Apostle's Exhortation to the Corinthians (6:11—7:16)
  1. Be Open Toward Him (6:11-13)
  2. Be Separated From Evil (6:14—7:1)
  3. Be Assured of His Joy Over Their Repentance (7:2-16)
  1. The Apostle's Solicitation (or Collection) for the Judean Saints (8, 9)
  1. Principles for Giving (8:1-6)
  2. Purposes for Giving (8:7-15)
  3. Policies in Giving (8:16—9:5)
  4. Promises in Giving (9:6-15)
  1. The Apostle's Vindication of Himself (10:1—12:18)
  1. The Authority of His Apostleship (10)
  2. The Marks of His Apostleship (11:1—12:18)
  1. Paul's conduct (11:1-15)
  2. Paul's sufferings (11:16-33)
  3. Paul's vision (12:1-10)
  4. Paul's unselfishness (12:11-18)
  1. Concluding Remarks (12:19-13:14)
  1. Appeal for Repentance (12:19-21)
  2. Statement of Plans (13:1-10)
  3. Greetings and Benediction (13:11-14)

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —