Plan of visit

Aim of epistle

Paul is trying to mend his relationship with the Church of Corinth after his painful second visit. In the course, he needs to convince the Corinthians of his heart and apostleship toward them.

Plan of visit

At the epistle end of I Corinthians, Paul is planning to go to Macedonia from Ephesus and pass through Macedonia to Corinth. He will stay in Corinth for a while during winter time and head for Judea. (I Cor 16:5-6)

At the epistle beginning of II Corinthians, Paul reiterated his plan of visiting Corinth (third visit) (he has made a second visit after writing I Cor, see below)—going straight to Corinth and then to Macedonia and return again to Corinth and have the Corinthians send him to Judea. But this plan was not yet carried out for some reason. (II Cor 1:15-17) The reason for the delay of visit was to “spare” the Corinthians. (1:23) He did not want to go there “with sorrow”. (ASV, 2:1) So he decided to write them an epistle (not this one) to give exhortation. And he wrote that letter “with many tears”, not to grieve them but to let them know “the love which I have more abundantly unto you”. (2:3-4)

In that previous epistle, he was hoping that a brother was to be punished of his sin and to be forgiven by the church. He was also hoping that the church would follow his counsel. (2:5-10) He claimed he wrote not to hurt the one that did wrong, nor for the victim, but to show them how much he cared for them. (7:12)

He mentioned that he went to Troas to preach the gospel because a door was opened there. Then he went on to Macedonia to find Titus. (2:12-13) As soon as he saw Titus, he was filled with comfort and was exceedingly joyful in all his tribulation. Not only was Titus comforted in them, but Paul was comforted “when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me, so that I rejoiced the more.” (7:4-7) By this good news, he no longer repented for writing them an epistle that “hath made you sorry”. Though he admitted “I made you sorry with a letter”, the letter made them sorry only “for a season”. (7:8) The reason he rejoiced so much was that “ye sorrowed to repentance, for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing (“you were not harmed in any way by us”, NRSV) ”. (7:9)

At end of this epistle, Paul restates that he is going to make a third visit to the church. (12:14, 13:1) And he said, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.” (12:15) He reconfirms by saying, “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (13:1)

While restating his plan of third visit, he mentioned about his second visit and it was a visit with despair. In the second visit, he mentioned of bewailing “many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” (12:21) He still fears in the third visit, he may find “debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.” (12:20) He hopes he will not see all these in the third visit. Since he has written this epistle in advance to warn those who have sinned, he said he would not spare them in his third visit. (13:2) The purpose of writing this epistle is to avoid using “sharpness” (“to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down” –NRSV) when he comes. (13:10)