At the writing of 2 Corinthians, the Christians in Judea were struggling economically. There had been a famine. Also, by accepting Christ, they had been cut off from family and friends, and likely even had their businesses shunned. Paul believed that Christians from other churches could, and should, help. There was a spiritual dimension to this idea as well: If gentile churches would help Jewish churches, that would further reinforce the intent of Jesus that all God’s people regard themselves as one – free from ethnic, social and political boundariesl barriers.
At the end of First Corinthians Paul asked the Christians there to take up collections for this cause. They weren’t the only ones he asked. He also petitioned churches in Asia Minor, as well as other churches throughout Greece.
Everywhere Paul asked, the response was overwhelming; everywhere except Corinth. At first, they responded favorably. But then, they lagged in getting it done. The Corinthian Christians objected to Paul telling them what to do. He did not, after all, fit their notion of a successful person. He was not the sort of polished speaker they were accustomed to. And what gave him the right to speak so boldly to them about how they should be living and conducting their worship assemblies? He wasn’t even one of “the twelve” disciples of Jesus!
Paul had written to them intending to meet his co-worker Titus in Troas and then come straight to Corinth. But Titus didn’t show. Worried about him, Paul changed his travel plans to go look for Titus in Macedonia. The Corinthians, not knowing the whole story, mistakenly construed this to mean Paul wasn’t very organized and couldn’t follow through on his plans, further alienating him from them.
Second Corinthians can be divided into parts:
1) Paul’s reminder to them of what it means to live the Christian life Chapters 1-7
2) Paul’s explanation of the collection for the poor in Judea Chapters 8-9
3) Paul’s defense of his ministry Chapters 10-13
This letter is a reminder to Christians in all times that our perspective should be different from the world’s. Our’s is not a “surface” perspective, and our standards are not those of the world (2 Corinthians 10:2,7). We must purge our lives of everything that keeps us from seeing with the perspective of God.
How did the Corinthians respond? My opinion is, not well. When Paul finally delivers the collection to Jerusalem, there are representatives from every contributing church . . . with the exception of Corinth.