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(KJV) 2 Corinthians 13:1

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

I believe Paul's first visit to Corinth was in (Acts 18:1) but I have been trying to find out the second visit to no avail. Could Paul have been alluding to his first epistle as his second visit to the Corinthians, or is it cited somewhere else, as he seems to allude to a third visit in the above text?

  • Where did you look? I introduced you before to Wikipedia. You could have answered this question there too. That also gives further references for follow up. When asking a question like this, if you have genuinely attempted to find the answer (as here you claim to do), please include your steps. Otherwise, this looks like a "lmgtfy" question. – Dɑvïd Dec 23 '16 at 16:41
  • @David, there are different commentators with different views that is why I asked the question here – collen ndhlovu Dec 23 '16 at 17:48
  • It is quite possible that Paul never made it to Corinth a third time, but was arrested and kept in Rome till his death. He says 'am coming' but did he make it ? – Nigel J Mar 15 '18 at 14:22
  • I wonder what an 'lmgtfy' question is. I looked at the link but was not enlightened. – Nigel J Mar 15 '18 at 14:23
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Paul's first visit to Corinth was some time prior to writing his First Epistle to the Corinthians. He mentions this visit in 1 Corinthians 1:14-17:

1 Corinthians 1:14-17: I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

In 1 Corinthians 16:5-8, Paul says he plans to visit Corinth and spend the winter there. This would be his second visit to Corinth, occurring some time after Paul sends his first epistle.

Some commentators, such as Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, believe that the intention of 1 Corinthians 16:5-8 is fulfilled in Acts 20:3, where Paul spends three months in Greece (although Corinth is not mentioned). The problem with this is that there is then no third visit to Corinth.

bibleq.net instead sees Acts as not mentioning the second visit, thereby making Acts 20:2-3 the third visit, corresponding to 2 Corinthians 13:1. One problem with this is that the narrative of Acts leaves little room in Paul's itinerary for a second visit to Corinth.

Many scholars and even some theologians no longer see Acts of the Apostles as historically reliable, in which case we should not be surprised with any difficulty in harmonising the epistle with Paul's itinerary as described by Acts. In fact, Raymond E. Brown says in An Introduction to the New Testament, page 433, "The three journeys are only a convenient classification developed by students of Acts."

Given a diversity of opinions about the sequence in Acts of the Apostles, all we can say is that Paul made his second visit to Corinth some time after writing 1 Corinthians and before writing 2 Corinthians.

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Acts 20:1-6 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. These going before tarried for us at Troas. And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

In Acts 20:1 Paul leaves Ephesus, from whence he had tearfully written the reproachful epistle "1 Corinthians", for Macedonia. He had sent Titus to Corinth ahead of his own arrival to discern the Corinthians' response to it. Paul expected Titus to subsequently travel by land through Macedonia to meet and report to him. After meeting Titus in Macedonia, Paul then and from there writes the epistle preserved as “2 Corinthians”.

I. Paul departs necessarily North by land from Ephesus to Macedonia. Consequently, he reaches Troas 2 Corinthians 2:12-13. Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

II. Turning West into and through Macedonia, he necessarily passed Philippi. He then needs travel South to reach Achaia, here called Greece , which includes Corinth and Athens. He spends three months in Greece/Achaia during the Winter . He then returns back through Macedonia reaching Philippi. He sails from there after the days of unleavened bread , in Early Spring, to Troas , apparently having arrived in Philippi either during or immediately preceding the festival Acts 20:6.
This fulfills his stated itinerary in 1 Corinthians 16:5-8

Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. 

So to summarize:

1) Paul first visits Corinth 1 Corinthians 18:1.

2) After a year and a half cf.Acts 18:11 he departs for Syria v.18, eventually settling in Ephesus Acts 19:1. At some point after leaving Corinth he sends his "initial" not preserved epistle mentioned in ! Corinthians 5:9. In this epistle he apparently expressed his desire to revisit Corinth a second time to provide a "second charisma". He claimed he would reach Corinth directly upon leaving Ephesus (so by necessary implication sailing straight across the Aegean) and only subsequently would travel {north} to Macedonia (then back to Corinth and then (by sea) to Syria or directly down to Judea) 2 Corinthians 1:15-16.

And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.

3) While in Ephesus , Paul changes his plan after he hears from the house of Chloe 1 Corinthians 1:11 of all the dissensions etc in Corinth and so sends his letter "with many tears" cf.2 Corinthians 2:4 now preserved as "1 Corinthians".

4) He subsequently sends Titus to perceive their response to the brusquely critical epistle's condemnations and exhortations. 2 Corinthians 12:18 I desired Titus, and with [him] I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? [walked we] not in the same steps?

5) When he receives from Titus the account of their zealous repentance, as Titus and Paul meet in Macedonia cf. Acts 20:2 , he writes "2 Corinthians". 2 Co 7:6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.

Paul considers this latter epistle to substantiate the second visit to Corinth 2 Corinthians 13:2 "προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον..." "I had told you before hand , and am foretelling you, as if present the second time...".

6) When he subsequently spends three months in Greece Acts 20:3 he apparently stays in Corinth so constituting the predicted third visit cf.2 Corinthians 13:1.

A.In Paul's initial second visit itinerary (reiterated in 2 Corinthians 1:15-16) he would come to Corinth before visiting Macedonia.

B.In the subsequent second visit itinerary in 1 Corinthians 16:5 he insists that he will [instead] go through Macedonia before visiting Corinth.

C. But in 2 Corinthians he defends this change of his second visit plans and speaks of meeting Titus in Macedonia en route to Corinth.

D. Ergo, the logic of his defense in 2 Corinthians 1:15-16 of passing through Macedonia to reach Corinth to fulfill his second visit's 1 Corinthians 16:5-6 changed from the initial "second charisma" planned itinerary rests on his not having as yet passed through Macedonia to reach Corinth for a second visit.

If he had already visited Corinth between 1 and 2 Corinthians whether through Macedonia or nay his arrival would have given literal conclusion to the entire controversy of his planned itinerary for a second visit.

He has not imparted a second benefit and his stated means for which (a visit) necessarily implies it requires his physical presence i.e. he has not made a second visit. He has not by the time of 2 Corinthians 1:15-17 visited them by (sic) by passing Macedonia for he defends in those verses his purposing the opposite (to come to them through Macedonia) and he writes while in the midst of passing through Macedonia , thus fulfilling his itinerary as stated in 1 Corinthians 16:5.

Conclusion: A trip, either a brief or a substantial stay, by Paul whether or not through or by passing Macedonia to Corinth between 1 and 2 Corinthians would render the 1 Corinthians 16:5-6 itinerary defense in 2 Corinthians 1:15-17 anachronistic and superfluous. 2 Corinthians 13:2 Greek unambiguously in context states that the epistle of "2 Corinthians" itself constitutes the second visit.

  • Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the site tour to see how the exchange works. And please edit this answer. It's a long runon sentence, and that detracts from readability. – Frank Luke Aug 21 '17 at 20:23
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    You could probably structure this answer as a timeline using an ordered (numbered) list of events or stops. That would make it easier to read. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Aug 22 '17 at 7:42
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Answer to the question (which differs from the previous two answers):

Paul’s second visit to Corinth occurred in late 57 AD or early 58 AD and was a relatively short sea trip he made to the early Corinthian church during his three-year stay at Ephesus.

Main source: ‘The Life and Epistles of St. Paul’, Rev W J Coneybeare & Very Rev H S Howson (1898), pp. 361-418 & 474-537.

According to what I understand to be the generally accepted time-line of Paul’s missionary journeys:

Late 52 AD to spring 54 AD – Paul’s First visit to Corinth, where he writes 1 & 2 Thessalonians

54 AD – Paul travels to Jerusalem and then to Antioch, then begins his Third Missionary Journey and eventually arrives at Ephesus

54 AD to summer 57 AD – Paul resides at Ephesus. In the spring of 57 AD, he writes 1 Corinthians. In the summer of that year he leaves for Macedonia
Late 57 AD to spring – Pauls’ Third visit to Corinth, where he writes Galatians and Romans

Summer 57 – Travels to Jerusalem, where he is arrested.

Paul’s Second visit to Corinth, say Coneybeare and Howson, drawing on the Scriptures and a number of other authorities, was probably late 57 AD or early 58 AD.

The heading of Chapter XV of Coneybeare and Howson reads: ‘St. Paul pays a short visit to Corinth’.

The commentary begins:

“We have hitherto derived such information as we possess, concerning the proceedings of St. Paul at Ephesus, from the narrative in the Acts; but we must now record an occurrence which St. Luke has passed over in silence, and which we know only from a few incidental allusions in the letters of the Apostle himself. This occurrence, which probably took place not later than the beginning of the second year of St. Paul’s residence at Ephesus, was a short visit which he paid to the church at Corinth”.

Coneybeare and Howson go on to list the Scripture references that allude, however tangentially, to this Second visit:

2 Corinthians 1 vv 15 & 16 2 Corinthians 2 v 1 2 Corinthians 12 v 14 2 Corinthians 12 v 21 2 Corinthians13 v 1 & 2.

I will now continue by briefly summarising what Coneybeare and Howson say (pp. 375-379) about this visit:

• They say that it was a short visit, probably only a few days, or a week or two, but possibly a bit longer

• They say that Paul would have travelled by boat from Ephesus to Corinth

• They point out that there was relatively heavy commercial traffic between the ports of Ephesus and Corinth

• They show that there were regular trips by some of the early Christians between the two places: Aquila & Priscilla (Acts 18 vv 18 & 19) and Apollos

• They suggest that it was a visit by Apollos from Ephesus to Corinth, reporting on major concerns about the state of the church at Corinth, that led Paul to make a hasty visit to the church to attempt to restore proper doctrine, order and conduct to the Corinthian church

• They date his visit probably at the end of 56 AD or the beginning of 57 AD. This would be shortly before he wrote 1 Corinthians

• They suggest Luke omitted all mention of this visit because it was a short visit during Paul’s 2½-year stay at Ephesus

• His visit was one of sorrow and pain for the things he learnt about the church (2 Corinthians 2 v 1, 2 Corinthians 12 v 21, 2 Corinthians 13 v 2)

• He then wrote what was his true first letter to the Corinthians – but is now lost (1 Corinthians 5 vv 9-12)

• Soon after Paul wrote this ‘lost’ letter, Timothy and Erastus left Paul in Ephesus and travelled to Macedonia.

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If by visit you only mean when Paul was physically present in the area that would have been known as the city of Corinth it seems Acts 18:1 is the only time Paul was there. However, I would not preclude the concept that to Paul visiting or coming to those at Corinth was inclusive of when he believed he was accurately with Jesus and other leaders pronouncing judgements upon Corinth for not separating from and identifying the errors of false teachers and even how that produces sin within them that otherwise would not be there. See 1 Corinthians 5:3. When Paul became aware that this concept of physically being present vs. spiritual being present accurately pronouncing judgements was too confusing he promised not the come any more. Most likely both because he knew it was a rhetorically confusing concepts and also because he knew he had no intention whatsoever of trying to save or help the false teachers there. That is why 2 Corinthians 1:23 should convey in English and other languages what the Greek so clearly conveyed and that was that he was not going to go there again. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3765&t=KJV

I would encourage you to think through how to ask your questions regarding this. There are many bad ideas out there are preclude the concept and rhetorical ideas behind the concept that providing an accurate judgement with a Lord is a type of coming whether or not the person writing the judgement is physically present or the Lord is physically present that are massive Biblical themes.

  • I cannot see how Paul could possibly be stating anything other than a real visit. And I think you may have misunderstood the meaning of 'rhetorical'. – Nigel J Dec 4 '18 at 15:07
  • @NigelJ, I'm sorry, were you asking for clarification regarding my answer or the original post? I do not have any misunderstandings about the meanings of rhetorical but if you thought I was implying a meaning only related to the context of a rhetorical question perhaps in some answers but not mine unless you asked to original question in the post then that may be part of your confusion. Anyways, you may want to study a little about what words than end in -al typically mean in English. It may help you not make accusations that expose your ignorance. – Ryan Root Dec 5 '18 at 16:52

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