After his conversion at Damascus, Paul went into seclusion in Arabia, in all probability at Sinai, apparently for three years, then back to Damascus, then briefly to Jerusalem to see the apostles, and then - because of the plot on his life - to his home city Tarsus, where he appears to have stayed five or six years, until Barnabas fetches him to help with the work in Antioch.
At Antioch, probably about 46 AD, the Holy Spirit separated Paul and Barnabas for the work of carrying the Gospel to the Gentiles. In this work, Paul made three long journeys before going as a prisoner to Rome.
The first journey was to Cyprus, then throughout Asia Minor (Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe), then back to Antioch.
On the second journey they went westward through Asia Minor and then were directed by the vision of the "man of Macedonia" to carry the Gospel over into Europe. It was on this second journey, after visiting Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and Athens, that Paul established the ecclesia in Corinth in southern Greece, staying there a year and a half. This appears to be around 50-51 AD. It was a large, prosperous, wicked, industrial city, much like our big cities today. From Corinth Paul finally returned again to his headquarters in Antioch.
On the third journey, after again visiting the ecclesias throughout Asia Minor, he stayed three years at Ephesus.
It was toward the end of this period in Ephesus that he wrote the first letter to the Corinthians. This would appear to be about four or five years after he had left them. It is clear from this first letter that in that period serious conditions had developed there. The second letter, which we are now considering, seems to have been a few months after the first.
Bro Growcott - Sorrowful, Yet Alway Rejoicing
These letters of Paul, brethren and sisters, are excellent models of epistolary intercourse. I do not think we can ever do better in writing or speaking than to be practically followers of Paul as he was a follower of Christ. How excellent a beginning he makes of this second letter to the Corinthians. After stating who the the letter is from and to whom it is addressed, he salutes the latter thus:-
"Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."
There is great sweetness about that salutation. It is not an empty form of words; it is a genuine wish on the part of Paul, that grace or favour might rest on those to whom he was writing, and that peace might remain with them; peace from two sources which are yet one: God the Father, the Creator, the supreme head of the universe, and the Lord Jesus, who is the appointed channel of his dealings with our fallen race: peace outflowing from them in the tranquillizing influence of divine favour; a real peace which none can invade, as saith the Scripture.
"When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble, and when He hideth His face, who shall behold Him, whether it be done against a nation or against a man only?"-(Job 34:29.)
There was, of course, another element in Paul's good wishes; an unexpressed principle underlying his benediction, which we do well to recognise, that namely, expressed in the saying of James,
"first pure, then peaceable."
The Christadelphian, Apr 1872