Paul closes his first letter to the Corinthians with an expressed desire to visit them on his way to Macedonia, and to accept their financial gift for the saints in Jerusalem. However, as Paul’s opponents in Corinth continue to gain in influence, and as Paul’s own influence in this city appears to lessen, he sees the need to write yet another letter to them prior to visiting them. Such is the occasion for Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.
The majority of the 2 Corinthians letter is an attempt on Paul’s behalf to defend his apostleship and to demonstrate to the Corinthians believers that their trusting in Christ through him is not in vain. One might expect that the best strategy to use in attempting to defend one’s apostleship is to list of all ones accomplishments and achievements. Certainly, Paul had quite a resume to which he could have appealed, but he did not use this approach. Instead, he uses this opportunity to make much of Christ. He expresses to them that his own weaknesses and his own experience of suffering serve to demonstrate the sufficiency of Christ in all occasions.
A passage out of chapter 4 illustrates this well:
5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
In other words, it is not about how great we are, it is about how great our God is. Paul expresses to the Corinthians, “Don’t look to me for some demonstration of glory…look to Christ!”. And he goes on to say, that the glory of Christ is best seen in his own weaknesses and shortcomings,
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
We are jars of clay too; hard-pressed on every side by the cares of this world, and the self-centered desires of our flesh. We are jars of clay; broken, distressed, weak. Yet in these jars of clay, we carry around in us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. We boast not in ourselves and in our achievements, but we boast in Christ and His