Eight to ten months after Paul had sent Timothy to Corinth with a copy of the letter we call First Corinthians, Paul wrote Second Corinthians from Macedonia in the fall of 56 AD just a few days after he had fled the riot in Ephesus which was instigated by the silversmith named Demetrius (Acts 19:23-41). Paul’s integrity and his message had come under attack in Corinth along with his apostleship. Paul writes Second Corinthians to defend himself, his ministry and, most importantly, defend the apostolic message.
Paul says that he can boast about his conduct because it is based in integrity and sincerity, not manipulation or double-talk.
“Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves …with integrity and godly sincerity.”
Also, Paul is confident his message has transforming power since it is not based in the “worldly wisdom” of the philosophers (for example, researched church growth studies and self-help seminars), but his message is a revelation from God for the church which he had received by grace, not through research or polls.
“We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand.”
Paul was being accused of writing one thing, but really meaning another. The Corinthian church had many speakers with training in rhetoric and backgrounds in philosophy who were competing for leadership and for the loyalty of the people. These professional philosophers needed to discredit Paul who was the founder of the Corinthian church. The people had been presented several false opinions concerning Paul, and one of them was that Paul wrote (and, spoke) in double talk in an attempt to manipulate the people. Paul rejects the charges and says that his letters really do express his intentions when he writes. Paul says:
“For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand.”
In fact, Paul goes on to say that his letters contain information that when fully understood will result in the Corinthians “boasting” about him on the day of judgment in front of Jesus Christ, and likewise, Paul will boast about the Corinthian’s faith, growth, maturity and spiritual production on the day they are evaluated by Jesus Christ if the Corinthians will understand Paul’s message:
“You will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul is saying that his message has power to transform the Corinthians into the people God desires and that if the Corinthians really understood Paul’s message (the apostolic doctrine) they would be proud of Paul today and would not be rejecting his character and his message as the preachers of Greek philosophy were encouraging them to do.