A Pastor Bares His Heart: an Outline of 2 Corinthians

Frankie E. Rainey  |  Southwestern Journal of Theology Vol. 32 - Fall 1989

I am honored to have an opportunity to contribute to a volume dedicated to the memory of my friend and teacher, Dr. Virtus Gideon. Dr. Gideon’s willingness to receive and support each person as an individual greatly touched my life. He accepted me as a “very green” graduate student. Later he demonstrated great trust in me by inviting me to preach a series of revival sermons at the church where he was then pastor. Upon the completion of my graduate work, he recommended me to a pastor search committee, and the church called me as pastor. Dr. Gideon opened his home to me as a student and as a former student. I remember him with much appreciation.


The following outline is more topical than logical. 2 Corinthians seems to lend itself more to the topical. There is some overlap in the use of the Scripture passages because some verses relate to more than one topic. Also, at times, passages that are not a part of the immediate context are used to support the topic. The New American Standard Bible translation is the text quoted. Occasionally, explanatory words from the text or other sources are used to explain or illustrate the topics in the outline.
A Pastor Bares His Heart. . .

I. Concerning God and his people (1:1-2)

A. God provides spiritual leaders (Paul and Timothy) for his people (v. 1a) “by the will of God”

B. God calls his people out to worship and to serve (v. 1b) “the church”

1. We belong to him “of God” “saints”

2. We are assigned a territory for which we are responsible “at Corinth”

3. We are a part of a network of called-out people “with”

C. God provides grace and peace (v. 2)

II. Concerning worship (1:3-7)

A. Worship of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 3a)

B. Worship of the Father of mercies (v. 3b)

C. Worship of the God of all comfort (vv. 3c-4)

III. Concerning dealing with depression (1:8-11)

A. Realize that God is using the desperate situation to remind you that your sufficiency is from him and not in you (v. 9)

B. Reflect upon the God with whom you have to do (v. 10) “who delivered . . .will deliver. . . And He will yet deliver”

C. Remember that you are involved in a relationship with the body of Christ that enables you to draw strength from others (v. 11)

IV. Concerning the positive aspect of the Christian life (1:12-20)

A. Boasting of achievement can be “yes” in Jesus (vv. 12-14) Proper boasting includes:

1. The witness of a good conscience (v. 12)

2. Bragging on each other (v. 14)

B. Giving of your money can be “yes” in Jesus (vv. 15-18)

C. Every promise of God is “yes” in Jesus (vv. 19-20)

V. Concerning God’s equipping of the believer for the Christian life (1:21-24)

A. God establishes us (v. 21a)

B. God anoints us (v. 21b)

C. God seals us (v. 22a)

D. God gives us the Spirit as a pledge (v. 22b)

E. God enables us to relate positively with those with whom we disagree (vv. 23-24)

VI. Concerning dealing with those by whom you are offended (1:23-2:11)

A. Use severity but rebuke reluctantly (1:23-24)

B. When you do rebuke, do it in love (1:23) “to spare you”

C. Do not seek to dominate (1:24)

D. Rebuke when it is necessary (2:4)

E. Do not overpunish (2:6-7)

F. Do not take matters personally (2:5, 10-11) “all of you” “for your sakes”

G. The motive should always be correction and not vengeance (2:7) “lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow”

VII. Concerning restlessness in the spirit (2:12-14; 7:5-6)

A. Sometimes restlessness happens in spite of spiritual blessings (2:12)

B. Frequently restlessness comes about when we are waiting on direction from the Lord and no answers are coming (2:13)

C. Often restlessness is related to weariness in the flesh (7:5)

D. At times restlessness happens because of divided loyalties (2:12-13) “a door opened . . .but”

E. Occasionally restlessness is due to inner anxieties (2:13; 7:5) “fears within”

F. Sometimes restlessness is due to resistance from the outside (7:5)

G. Always restlessness can be relieved by a renewed experience with the Lord (2:14, 7:6) “But thanks be to God”  “But God”

VIII. Concerning dilemmas of ministry (2:12-17)

A. The dilemma of what seems to be opposite calls (vv. 12-13) the lost in Troas; the believers in Corinth

B. The dilemma of different moods (v.15) joy; sadness

C. The dilemma of different results (v. 16a) life for some; death for others

D. The dilemma of inadequate resources (v. 16b) “who is adequate”

E. The dilemma of making a living (v. 17a)

F. The dilemma of whom to please (v. 17b)

IX. Concerning confidence in the ministry (3:1-6a)

A. Confidence in the awareness of a job well done as Christ directed (vv. 1-2) “You are our letter”

B. Confidence in the realization that God in Christ is at work in us and through us (vv. 3-6a)

C. Confidence in the anticipation of God’s approval (v. 4)

X. Concerning the ministry of the Spirit (3:6b-18) a contrast between the ministry of the Spirit and the ministry of the law

A. The ministry of the Spirit excels in glory (vv. 7-11)

B. The ministry of the Spirit excels in confidence (vv. 12-13)

C. The ministry of the Spirit excels in understanding (vv. 14-16)

D. The ministry of the Spirit excels in results (vv. 6b, 17-18)

XI. Concerning the true and living God (4:1-6) a contrast between the false god and the true and living God

A. The enemy is the god of this age; God is the God of all the ages (v. 4)

B. The enemy is the god who brings darkness; God is the God who commands light to shine (vv. 4, 6a)

C. The enemy is the god who produces evil works; God is the God who produces good works (vv. 2, 5)

XII. Concerning the treasure in earthen vessels (4:7-18)

A. The purpose-to keep us dependent (v. 7)

B. The pattern (vv. 8-12)

1. Afflicted, but not crushed (v. 8a)

2. Perplexed, but not in despair (v. 8b)

3. Persecuted, but not forsaken (v. 9a)

4. Struck down, but not destroyed (v. 9b)

5. Dying to self, but life flowing out of death (vv. 10, 12)

6. Endangered, but opportunities for Jesus to be seen (v. 11)

C. The product (vv. 13-18)

1. Life for many (vv. 13-14)

2. Thanksgiving by many (v. 15)

3. Renewal of the inner person (v. 16)

4. Changed perspective (vv. 17-18)

XIII. Concerning refraining from giving up (4:1,16-5:10)

A. Enabled to keep going by reflecting on God’s mercies in the past (4:1)

B. Enabled to keep going by realizing that decline in physical health and strength is inevitable, but that spiritual maturity is possible (4:16)

C. Enabled to keep going by acknowledging that the present suffering cannot be compared with the coming glory (4:17)

D. Enabled to keep going by keeping our eyes on eternal things (4:18-5:10)

XIV. Concerning the magnetic love of Christ (5:6-21) The word sunekei in v. 14 provides the direction. It has at least four meanings-to sustain, to impel, to control, to occupy one’s attention.

A. His love sustains us during times of severe trouble (vv. 6-9)

B. His love impels us (vv. 11, 15)

1. To share the gospel (v. 11)

2. To live for others (v. 15)

C. His love controls us (vv. 12-13, 16)

1. At the point of pride (vv. 12-13)

2. At the point of prejudice (v. 16)

D. His love occupies us (vv. 17-21)

1. In the joy of the new creation (v. 17)

2. In the awareness that all things are from God (v. 18a)

3. In the ministry of reconciliation (vv. 18b-20)

4. In the understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for us (v. 21)

XV. Concerning making sure what God has made sure (6:1-13)

A. Making sure involves watching our witness (v. 3)

B. Making sure involves practicing patience (vv. 4-10) patience-the ability to bear up under; not just passive acceptance and resignation, but transforming circumstances into opportunities to display Christ

C. Making sure involves working on being willing to receive one another (vv. 11-13)

XVI. Concerning building fellowship (6:11-13; 7:2-3)

A. Building fellowship involves transparency   and honesty (6:11a) “our mouth has spoken freely”

B. Building fellowship involves love and acceptance (6:11b) “our heart is opened wide”

C. Building fellowship involves unrestricted hearts (6:12) fully available to all the saints

D. Building fellowship involves a willingness to accept the bad along with the good (7:3) “to die together and to live together”

XVII. Concerning separated living (6:14-7:1)

A. Separated living involves refusing to compromise (6:14-18)

B. Separated living involves ridding yourself of all evil (7:1a)

C. Separated living involves positive attempts at holiness (7:1b)

D. Separated living involves recognizing that personal holiness is an act of devotion (7:1c)

XVIII. Concerning Godly sorrow and Godly joy (7:4-16)

A. Godly sorrow (vv. 10a, 11)

1. Produces true repentance (v. 10a)

2. True repentance produces restitution and changed behavior (v. 11)

B. Godly joy (vv. 6-7, 9, 13-16) Three examples:

1. The joy of reconciliation (vv. 9, 13a)

2. The joy of seeing someone you trust justify that trust (vv. 6, 14, 16) Titus and the Corinthians

3. The joy of seeing someone you love welcomed and well-treated (vv. 7a, 13b, 15)

XIX. Concerning giving (8:1-9:15)

A. What giving is (8:1, 4, 7; 9:1, 5)

1. Giving is grace (8:1, 4, 7) unrestricted giving opposite is grudge giving

2. Giving is fellowship (8:4) participation, sharing

3. Giving is ministering (9:1)

4. Giving is returning thanks (9:5)

B. Manner of giving (8:5, 7, 11-12; 9:2, 6-7, 12)

1. Give yourself first (8:5)

2. Give in recognition of its place as a Christian grace (8:7)

3.Give by being ready ahead of time (8:11-12; 9:2, 7a)

4. Give bountifully (9:6)

5. Give willingly, not grudgingly (9:7b)

6. Give voluntarily, not as a duty (9:7c)

7. Give cheerfully (9:7c)

8. Give proportionately (9:12)

C. Motivation for giving (8:1-5, 7:15; 9:10-14)

1. The example of others (8:1)

2. The example of Jesus (8:9)

3. The need to put “fine feeling into fine action” (9:1-5)

4. God’s grace (8:1; 9:8)

5. Your past record (8:7) “as you abound”

6. Love for others (8:8)

7.The necessity of achieving balance between need and supply (8:13-15)

8: The glory of God (9:10-14)

D. Example of giving (9:15) The Lord Jesus Christ

XX. Concerning defense of one’s reputation (10:1-12:21)

A. Defense involves serving for the Lord’s commendation and not man’s (10:1-18)

B. Defense involves serving for the good of the people and not for one’s own advantage (11:1-15; 12:11-21)

C. Defense involves boasting of weaknesses rather than strengths (11:16-12:10)

XXI. Concerning reassessment of one’s relationship with God (13:1-14)

A. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (v. 5)

B. Become complete (equipped) for any situation (vv. 9, 11a)

C. Be encouraged (v. 11b)

D. Be of one mind with other believers (v. 11c)

E. Live in peace (v. 11d)

F. Learn how to draw on divine resources (v. 14)

1. The grace of Jesus

2. The love of God

3. The fellowship of the Spirit

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