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Just as we open our letters today with the conventional "Dear John," so Paul begins his letters in the way that was characteristic of the casual Greek letter of his day: A to B, greetings. How he elaborates this typical opening provides us with insight into his uppermost concerns at the time of writing (see the introduction). In 2 Corinthians Paul's concerns are three in number: (1) his apostleship, (2) God's ownership of the Corinthian congregation and (3) the church as the family of God.
It was common in Paul's day to include others beyond the immediate readers as independent witnesses of a letter's content and reception--somewhat like the function of our notary today. In the case of 2 Corinthians, all the saints throughout Achaia are called on to verify Paul's claim of apostleship--a claim that has been challenged from both inside and outside the Corinthian church and which, as we will see, Paul is at pains to defend throughout the letter.
So Paul in these opening verses seeks to highlight both his apostolic and his family relationship to the Corinthians by calling on the witness of the broader community of Achaian believers and pointing to the filial bonds he and the Corinthians share. By making this most personal of letters "public," Paul holds the Corinthians accountable to the church at large.
Praise for Divine Encouragement in Times of Trouble
About this commentary:
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.