7. The Parts of the Epistle are two: I. A narration of the journey of Saint Paul, and what things befell him here and there, with various digressions interspersed (2 Corinthians 1-9). II. Saint Paul’s Apology, in which he defends the Apostleship and power committed to him (2 Corinthians 10-13). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
The order of the Epistle, on account of various digressions, and those altogether salutary, in which he defends himself, and comforts, exhorts, and teaches others; is not able to be established with precision. Nevertheless, it is able to be described not incommodiously in two parts. First, he narrates not a few things concerning his journey through Asia and Macedonia, and what happened to him there, with various digressions interspersed, Chapters 1-9. Second, he takes pains to defends his Apostleship, comparing himself with other teachers, Chapters 10-13.
I. Narration of the journey of Saint Paul, and what things happened to him along the way, with various digressions interspersed, Chapters 1-9. See:
1. His narration of those things that happened in Asia: chapter 1:1-14. In which, with thanks given to God, who is present with His own in affliction (verses 1-7), he relates what great things he suffered in Asia (verses 8, 9), with God mercifully defending him (verse 10), and declares his hope concerning the prayers of the Corinthians for himself, and their efficacy, on account of a good conscience, because he has treated sincerely with them (verses 11-14): chapter 1:1-14.
2. His narration of the reasons on account of which he did not come to the Corinthians: chapter 1:15-2:11.
a. Not because he acted lightly, by not standing to his promises, while his preaching among the Corinthians was perfectly stable (verses 15-22), but so that he might spare the Corinthians, as one who would not exercise dominion over their faith, but rather as one helping their joy (verses 23, 24): chapter 1:15-24.
b. Lest sorrow afflict them (verses 1-5), when he instructs them to receive unto favor the penitent incestuous man (verses 6-11): chapter 2:1-11.
3. His narration of the journey begun into Macedonia: chapters 2:12-7:4. In which:
a. Is narrated the reason on account of which, with Troas left behind, he advanced his journey into Macedonia, because he does not find Titus in Troas (verses 12, 13): chapter 2:12, 13.
b. Is undertaken a digression, in which Saint Paul:
α. Gives thanks to God, that he everywhere spreads in his labor the savour of his knowledge (verses 14-16), and protests his own sincerity in his preaching (verse 17): chapter 2:14-17.
β. Confirming the sincerity of his speech by the testimony of the Corinthians themselves (verses 1-3), refers that to the esteem of God (verses 4-6), and asserts that the ministry of the New Testament entrusted to him, compared with the ministry of the Old Testament (verses 7-11) confers upon him liberty of speech, otherwise than the law had done to Moses (verses 12-18): chapter 3.
γ. Teaches that the method of his preaching consists in the sincerity and clarity of truth (verses 1-6), yet not without manifold infirmity and patience, unto the glory of God and the salvation of the Church (verses 7-18): chapter 4.
δ. Magnifying the hope of heavenly glory, prepared for faithful Ministers enduring adversities (verses 1-11), shows that glorying in appearance has nothing in common with the glory of the Gospel, but rather glorying in the heart, and a new creature in Christ (verses 12-17), of whom, reconciling us to God, they are ministers, who preach the Gospel (verses 18-21): chapter 5.
ε. Exhorting to embrace the grace of God, which the ministers preach (verses 1, 2), forbids the ministers of the word to give occasion of offence (verse 3), and instructs them to commend themselves as ministers of God in all things by patience, labor, virtue, the word of the truth, and the power of God, which he demonstrates in arms, and in the effects of the word among others and themselves in adversities (verses 4-10); he also exhorts the Corinthians in turn, that they show consideration for his ministry, lest they draw an alien yoke (verses 11-18): chapter 6.
ζ. Exhorting to flee all inquity, he clears himself from all suspicion of tyranny, and testifies of his affection towards them and joy (verses 1-4): chapter 7:1-4.
4. The narration of his coming into Macedonia: chapters 7:5-9:15. In which:
a. Is set forth his coming into Macedonia, and in it the joy derived from the presence of Titus (verses 5, 6), and from his renewed consolation over the Corinthians (verses 7-12), and also the joy of Titus himself felt over the affection of the Corinthians toward himself (verses 13-16): chapter 7:5-16.
b. With the Macedonians’ alacrity of soul in afflictions, and liberality toward poor saints, lauded (verses 1-5), he incites the Corinthians themselves to the imitation of liberality, with the example of Christ set forth (verses 6-9); and, after commending the preservation of equality (verses 10-15), he commends Titus and certain other brothers to the Corinthians (verses 16-24): chapter 8.
c. With the Corinthians’ disposition toward liberality commended (verses 1, 2), he advises and urges, that they be prepared against his coming (verses 3-5), and, inviting them resplendent liberality by exceedingly powerful arguments (verses 6-14), ends in thanksgiving (verse 15): chapter 9.
II. The Apology of Saint Paul, in which he defends his Apostleship and the power committed to him, Chapters 10-13. In which:
1. Beseeching, lest, when present, he be obliged to make use of boldness against those that keep saying that he walks according to the flesh (verses 1, 2), he denies that his Apostleship was carried on by carnal weapons (verses 3-6); refutes those making a fair appearance that they are Christ’s (verse 7); asserts the authority granted to him by the Lord (verses 8-11); sets against them his Divine mission confirmed by Divine cooperation (verses 12-16); and urges glorying in the Lord alone (verses 17, 18): chapter 10.
2. Exhorting them not to allow themselves to be deceived by the False Apostles, and to be led away from Christ, their husband (verses 1-4), he shows that there is not just cause of their contempt (verses 5-12); draws the mask off the False Apostles (verses 13-15); and, comparing himself with them in those matters in which they were able to glory and commend themselves, proves himself to excel them by far (verses 16-33): chapter 11.
3. Relating his heavenly revelations, trials, and afflictions (verses 1-9), he acknowledges his infirmity (verse 10); insinuates the signs of an Apostle (verses 11, 12); shows that he was not a burden to the Corinthians (verses 13-18); expresses his fear concerning their disorder and impenitence (verses 19-21): chapter 12.
4. Warning the defiant Corinthians of a more severe retribution, unless they repent against his coming (verses 1-4), he instructs that each one should examine himself, whether he be in Christ, and that all should be zealous to be found honest and upright, whatever might be made of their reputation (verses 5-10); and thus closes with exhortation, farewell, and prayer (verses 11-13): chapter 13.