letter is a combination of three letters by Paul:
'1aCorinthians' (written early 53): 1:10-4:21
'1bCorinthians' (written later in 53): 9:1-27
'1cCorinthians' (written early 55): the rest (except 1:4-9,14:33b-35,15:3-11,15:23-28 added later. See included explanations)
Why is '1Corinthians' made up of three different
a) Different travel plans:
'1aCorinthians' --> 1Co4:17-19 "... but I will come to you very soon ..."; "... I am sending to you Timothy, ..."
'1cCorinthians' --> 1Co16:5-11 "After I go through Macedonia , I will come to you ... But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, ..." ; "... if Timothy comes, ..."
Different relationship between Paul and the
Christians of Corinth:
Paul is partly rejected in '1aCorinthians':
1Co1:11b-12 "... there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ.""
and also in '1bCorinthians':
1Co9:1b-2a "... Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! ..."
However, he appears fully accepted in '1cCorinthians':
1Co16:10-11b "If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should refuse to accept him ..."
totally in control, very confident, feeling free to ramble & reveal his inner thoughts and dealing as a bishop would towards his flock. For example, Paul is judging a sinner (as God would!):
1Co5:3b-5a "... And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit , and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan ..."
and putting himself as equal of the "Lord" in issuing commands:
1Co7:10,12 "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. ... To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her."
'1bCorinthians' (all about Paul's problems) is evidently an insertion in a passage where Paul is rambling about Christian food, idolatry and sexual immorality (1Co5:1-8:13,10:1-11:1).
1Co8:11-13,10:1-3 "And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. [1bCorinthians inserted here]
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food,"
letter is also a combination of three letters
'2aCorinthians' (written late spring 55): 2:14-7:4 (except 5:10,6:14-7:1 added later. See included explanations)
'2bCorinthians' (written late summer 55): 10:1-13:10
'2cCorinthians' (written late 56): the rest (except 1:1-2,13:11-14 added later)
Why is '2Corinthians' made up of three different
'2aCorinthians' is obviously an insertion in a passage dealing with Paul going to Macedonia to meet Titus.
2Co2:12-13,7:5-6 "Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia. [2aCorinthians inserted here] For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn--conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him."
Note: '2aCorinthians' was written from the point of view of Paul and his helpers, using "we", "us" & "ours". The Christian "editor" likely changed the "I", "me" & "mine" in the three verses after the insertion. Afterwards, things become more normal:
2Co7:7-8 "... us ... me ... me ... my ... I ... my ... I ... I ... I ... my ..."
Different relationship between Paul and the
Christians of Corinth:
Almost fully rejected in '2aCorinthians':
2Co6:12-13 "We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange --I speak as to my children-- open wide your hearts also."
2Co7:2-3 "Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you."
and also in '2bCorinthians':
2Co12:20b-21a "... I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you ..."
2Co13:1-3a "This will be my third visit to you. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me."
But Paul is fully accepted (but cautious) in '2cCorinthians':
2Co1:21-22 "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
2Co7:7 "... He [Titus] told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever."
To the same Christians, Paul is imploring for reconciliation in '2aCorinthians' (2Co5:19-20), he is most angry in '2bCorinthians' (2Co11:13-15) but very forgiving (2Co2:5-11,7:8-9) & friendly in '2cCorinthians':
2Co7:16 "I am glad I can have complete confidence in you [the Christians of Corinth]."
The mentioned other letter:
In '2cCorinthians', Paul keeps referring to a letter he wrote earlier:
2Co2:3-4a "I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice ... For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears ..."
2Co2:9 "The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything."
2Co7:8 "Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it -- I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while--"
The letter in question is undoubtebly '2bCorinthians':
2Co12:21 "I am afraid that when I come again ... I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier ..."
2Co13:5-6 "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test."