The book of 2 Corinthians is one of the few books in the New Testament about which
there is absolutely no controversy on the authorship. Not even the destructive higher
critics doubt the authorship of the apostle Paul. As J.W. McGarvey states:
The genuineness … of both of those [epistles] to the Corinthians is conceded, as we
have already stated, by all modern skeptics. There is no internal evidence in conflict
with that which we have presented … not even in the estimation of the most
destructive critics of the present age …” (Evidences of Christianity, Part 1. Integrity of
the New Testament Text; p. 156).
There has never been the slightest suspicion of un-authenticity cast on those four
epistles [Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians], and they bear so incontestably
the character of Pauline originality, that there is no conceivable ground for the
assertion of critical doubts in their case. (Life of Paul, I.; p. 246).
Even Renan places 2 Corinthians among the “epistles unquestioned and
unquestionable” (Life of Paul; p. 10).
The date of composition of this 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians is generally reported to
be the last part of 57 ad. Conybeare and Howson give these reasons for this date:
1. He had been exposed to great danger in Proconsular Asia, i.e. at Ephesus (2
Cor. i.8). This happened Acts xix.23-41.
2. He had come thence to Troas, and (after some stay there) had passed over to
Macedonia. This was the route he took, Acts xx.1.
3. He was in Macedonia at the time of writing (2 Cor. ix.2, the verb is in the
present tense), and intended (2 Cor. xiii.1) shortly to visit Corinth. This was the course
of his journey, Acts xx.2.
4. The same collection is going on which is mentioned in 1 Cor. See 2 Cor. viii.6,
and 2 Cor. ix.2; and which was completed during his three months’ visit to Corinth
(Rom. xv.26), and taken up to Jerusalem immediately after, Acts xxiv.17.
5. Some of the other topics mentioned in 1 Cor. are again referred to, especially
the punishment of the incestuous offender, in such a manner as to show that no long
interval had elapsed since the first Epistle. (p. 440)
The canon of the New Testament is the catalogue, or list, of book which are accepted
as being inspired of God, therefore authoritative for the teaching and practice of
The principle on which the canon of the New Testament is determined is … Those
books, and those only which can be proved to have been written by the apostles, or to
have received their sanction, are to be recognized as of divine authority. The reason
of this rule is obvious. The apostles were the duly authenticated messengers of Christ;
of whom He said, “He that heareth you heareth me.” (Charles Hodge; Systematic
Theology, Vol. I; p. 153)
The books did not become authoritative by Church decision or as a result of the
veneration attaching to things of antiquity. They were authoritative, inspired, and
canonical by the generations to which they were addressed because of the position of
the authors as acknowledged spokesmen of God. In the ancient times the succession
of writing prophets following Moses, the great prototype, gave us our Old Testament.
In the times of the founding of the Christian Church the apostles were God’s chosen
instruments appointed expressly by Christ for the purpose and endued by Him with the
Holy Spirit for their revelational activity. They were conscious of such a holy gift, and
as they write to us the Word of God they attach to it a suitable blessing for all who
receive it in faith and practice it: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the
words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is
at hand” (Rev. 1:3). [R. Laid Harris; Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible; p. 294]
Their right to a place in the canon does not depend on the vote of any council, or the
decision of any bishop, but upon the fact that they were given by inspiration; and this
was known by the character of the men who wrote them. The appeal to testimony,
therefore, is not to obtain the judgment of the Church that these books were
canonical, but to ascertain the fact that they were indeed the productions of the
apostles, to whom our Lord promised plenary inspiration. [John Calvin; Institutes of the
Christian Religion; p. 267]
Realizing that the test of canonicity of New Testament books is apostolicity (not age,
but authorship and authority), there is no question of the place of 2nd Corinthians in
the canon of the New Testament since there is no question as to the authorship of the
Marcion, a heretic from around 140 ad, includes it in his canon, as does Justin Martyr
in 140 ad. In 150 ad Polycarp, the Muratorian Canon, and the Syriac Peshitta (the
Simple Version) include 2nd Corinthians. All other following these include 2nd
Corinthians as a canonical book of the New Testament, with the exception of Papias,
whose references to the New Testament are fragmentary and mentions only Matthew,
Mark, John, I Peter, I John and Revelation.
What Martin Luther said of all of Paul’s epistles is true of 2nd Corinthians: “His words
are not dead words, they are living creatures with hands and feet.” For the word of
God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to
the diving asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner
of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Paul by his letters still lives in the mouth of men throughout the whole world; by them
not only his own converts, but all the faithful even until this day, yea, and all he saints
who are yet to be born, until Christ’s coming again, both have been and shall be