The authorship of 2 Corinthians by the Apostle Paul is without question Extra-biblical sources indicate that July, A.D. 51 is the most likely date for the beginning of Gallio’s proconsulship (cf. Acts 18:12). Paul’s trial before him at Corinth (Acts 18:12–17) probably took place shortly after Gallio assumed office.
Leaving Corinth (probably in A.D. 52), Paul sailed for Syria (Acts 18:18), thus concluding his second missionary journey. Returning to Ephesus on his third missionary journey (probably in A.D. 52), Paul ministered there for about two and one-half years (Acts 19:8, 10). The apostle wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus toward the close of that period (1 Cor. 16:8), most likely in A.D. 55. Since Paul planned to stay in Ephesus until the following spring (cf. the reference to Pentecost in 1 Cor. 16:8), and 2 Corinthians was written after he left Ephesus. Therefore, the most likely date for 2 Corinthians is late A.D. 55 or very early A.D. 56.
As we previously noted in our survey of I Corinthians, Paul’s relationship with the city of Corinth began on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1–18), when he spent 18 months (Acts 18:11) ministering there. After leaving Corinth, Paul heard of immorality in the Corinthian church and wrote a letter (since lost) to confront that sin, referred to in 1 Cor. 5:9. During his ministry in Ephesus, he received further reports of trouble in the Corinthian church in the form of divisions among them (1 Cor. 1:11). In addition, the Corinthians wrote Paul a letter (1 Cor. 7:1) asking for clarification of some issues. Paul responded by writing the letter known as 1 Corinthians. Planning to remain at Ephesus a little longer (1 Cor. 16:8–9), Paul sent Timothy to Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10–11). Disturbing news reached the apostle (possibly from Timothy) of further difficulties at Corinth, including the arrival of self-styled false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13).
To create the platform to teach their false gospel, the false apostles began assaulting Paul’s character. They had to convince the people to turn from Paul to them if they were to succeed in preaching demon doctrine. Temporarily abandoning the work at Ephesus, Paul went immediately to Corinth. The visit (known as the “painful visit,” 2:1) was not a successful one from Paul’s perspective; someone in the Corinthian church (possibly one of the false apostles) even openly insulted him (2:5–8, 10; 7:12).
More to follow in our brief survey of 2 Corinthians.
Soli deo Gloria!