As many of you have asked, rightly understanding Paul’s relationship to the Corinthian church is crucial for understanding 2 Corinthians. Below is my best attempt to reconstruct his correspondence through his letters and visits.
-Second missionary journey (Ac. 18:1-18), spring 51 AD.
-Planted the church and stayed 1 1/2 years in Corinth (Ac. 18:11).
-First worked as a tent-maker with Priscilla and Aquila (Ac. 18:2-3) and then devoted himself completely to the Word when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia (Ac. 18:5).
-Left for Cenchrea, then Ephesus (Ac. 18:18-19).
-Third missionary journey, Paul stayed 3 years in Ephesus (Ac. 20:21).
-From Ephesus, Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians (mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9) which was misunderstood and lost.
-Paul learned of the misunderstandings from the first letter and further problems in the church from Chloe’s people (1 Cor. 1:11). Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Cor. 16:17) also brought Paul specific questions on issues that were dividing the church (the “now concernings”).
-1 Corinthians was written from Ephesus to address these matters between 54 or 55 AD.
-Paul decided to visit the church because his letter apparently didn’t solve the problems. The news was possibly brought to him from Timothy (1 Cor. 4:17, 16:10).
-Paul sailed directly from Ephesus to Corinth and then back to Ephesus.
-Paul called this visit the “painful visit” (2 Cor. 1:15, 2:1).
-It was painful because of the action of the man referred to in 2 Cor. 2:5.
-After the “painful visit”, he wrote the “severe letter” (2 Cor. 2:3-4, 9), which grieved Paul to write (apparently because of its disciplinary nature – 2 Cor. 7:8-9).
-It was sent to Corinth via Titus.
-The letter is also lost.
-Paul left Ephesus after the riot provoked by the silversmiths (Ac. 20:1) and was bound for Troas to meet Titus, knowing Titus would pass that way on his return from Corinth.
-Paul couldn’t find Titus there, so he went to Macedonia with concern (2 Cor. 2:12-13).
-In Macedonia he met Titus (2 Cor. 7:5-6) who brought the good news about the majority in the Corinthian church – their repentance (2 Cor. 1-9), but bad news about a group still opposed to Paul (2 Cor. 10-13).
-Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia.
-On the final leg of his third missionary journey, Paul visited Corinth (Ac. 20:1-4) for the third time (2 Cor. 12:14, 13:1) in the winter of 56 or 57 AD.