Lectionary Year B
June 22, 2003
2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - II Corinthians 5 records "Confidence in facing death", according to the footnotes in the NRSV. It credits God with enabling believers to anticipate death with joy at being with the Lord more so than when we are earthbound, i.e., being bound here by the body. Judgment before Christ is anticipated at death, too. He died for us and for all others, as well, so that they and we might live for Him rather than for them/ourselves. That chapter concludes with the classical, "We knew Him from the human point of view, but no longer, . . . all in Christ are new creations, . . . and God reconciled us and we are to reconcile as ambassadors for Christ who knew no sin yet became sin for our sakes.

Post - II Corinthians 6:14-18 seems to change the subject considerably, if not actually reverse some of the points made heretofore. It puts distance between believers and non-believers, between the righteous and the lawless, between light and darkness and between Christ and Beliar (intertestamental designation for evil and/or Satan). These verses say the author is exclusivistic, which the Apostle Paul usually is not. Then several Old Testament passages are quoted emphasizing such separations just mentioned. Is Paul reverting to his almost passť past of Pharisee-status?

B. Organization of Compositional Whole

(JFC) After the heading of common style, II Corinthians deals, from 1:12 through 7:16, with the community's distress and discontent (II Corinthians 1:15-23) that Paul failed to come for a visit as he had intended and announced, I Corinthians 16:5ff. His eventual visit was what he termed, "painful" (2:1), so he delayed from making another one (12:14 and 13:1) while he admitted his own discomfort in such anticipations. Finally, he got better news of their appreciations of him. He then wrote his gratitude and his appreciation at how they managed that he grieved them with his scolding them for their mistrust. Then, he contends, that their grief motivated them to repent regretfully en route to salvation. Therefore, he found comfort. Chapters 8f are about their generosity for the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 10-13 might be the "scathing letter" he says he wrote, yet it might be lost. Here, we read much of the author's feelings, re: churches he established (4:5, 5:20, 6:1-10, 11:22-33 and 12:2-10).

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) Scholars find as many as 5 or 6 different letters in II Corinthians, most of which are genuinely Pauline. Only 6:14-7:1 seems non-Pauline to some. James L. Price, in the Interpreter's One Vol. Com. of the Bible, attributes the "abrupt shifts in thought and mood" to natural interruptions in the ancient chore of dictating such lengthy epistles. "This letter was written from Macedonia (2 Cor. 7:5) . . . (and) can be dated approximately to 55 or 56, some five years after the founding of the congregation," according to Victor Paul Furnish in Harper's Bible Commentary.



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