Corinth was a city in Greece on a narrow strip of land between the Peloponnesus and the mainland of Greece. Under the Romans, Athens was still the educational center of Greece. Corinth, however, was the capital of the Roman province called Achaia. It was the most important city in the country. Any traffic traveling overland between the north and south of Achaia had to pass by Corinth and commerce between Rome and areas east was brought to its harbor. Corinth occupied a strategic geographical position in the country. Situated at the southern part of the isthmus at the northern foot of a 2000-foot plane called Acrocorinthus, it was considered impregnable.
In Roman times Corinth was a wealthy city of both luxury and immorality. To “live like a Corinthian,” meant to live a life of profligacy and debauchery. The citizens were devoted to the worship of the Greek god Poseidon and the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Her temple on the Acrocorinthus had more than 1000 priestesses.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth while he was in Ephesus on his third missionary journey. This was probably in 56 or 57 A.D. He had written a letter to the Corinthians prior to that but we have to do not have access to it. The letter we have is a result of a letter to him from the Corinthians in which they ask his opinion on a number of topics.
Several problems were discussed in Paul’s first letter: factionalism in the church, incestuous marriage, disputes among church members, and guidance regarding marriage, standards of worship and proper observance of the Lord’s Supper, the use and abuse of spiritual gifts most notably speaking in tongues, and the resurrection. Perhaps the most famous of all passages regarding spiritual gifts and love occur in chapter 13.
The Second Letter to the Corinthians was written on Paul’s third missionary journey. He was in Macedonia where he met Titus who brought him a report concerning the church at Corinth. This letter deals with false prophets or Judaizers (recent arrivals from Jerusalem), who were trying to discredit Paul. The report from Titus was mostly encouraging. Most of the believers had repented of their bad treatment of Paul and his authority was restored.
The Second Letter to the Corinthians is one of the more personal of Paul’s writings. Paul gives thanks to God for the trials he has endured and shares some thoughts on the church crisis that has just been averted. He also encourages the Corinthians to complete the collection for the poor in Jerusalem, then again returns to a defense of his own ministry.
Paul considered Corinth a church among churches. He had a great love for the people there and showed it through his writings.
Adapted from: Zondervan’s All-In-One Bible Reference compiled by Kevin Green (2008)