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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Opponents.

There has been extensive discussion concerning the identity of Paul's opponents in 2 Corinthians (e.g. Barrett 1971; Thrall 1980; Georgi 1986 ). The consensus is that the problems concerning opponents in 2 Corinthians must be distinguished from the factions and opposition apparent in 1 Corinthians, even though there may have been some connection between the two. In contrast to 1 Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians it is clear that the opponents were intruders, that is, they came from outside the community (2 Cor 10:13–16; 11:4, 19–20 ). It is also clear that they were Jewish (2 Cor 11:22 ). But there has been no general agreement on the nature of their Jewish teaching (Murphy-O'Connor 1990: 817). Some have viewed the opponents as Judaizers who were connected to the Jerusalem church (Barrett 1971 ). Others have understood their spirituality in light of diaspora Judaism and their mission as based in the demonstration of ecstatic experiences and the performance of miracles. Hellenistic Jewish missionaries may have propounded notions of Jesus as the ‘divine man’ (Georgi 1986: 246–83). There are several difficulties associated with extracting information concerning these opponents and their influence in the community. It is sometimes difficult to know whether Paul is responding directly to new problems created by the opponents who have penetrated the community from the outside, or to more general tendencies in Corinth which have been exacerbated by his rivals. How one interprets the evidence is determined to a significant extent by what one makes of possible thematic connections between 1 and 2 Corinthians (Matthews 1994: 199–200). In addition, although Paul sometimes quotes his rivals directly, his polemical stance makes it difficult to extract accurate information concerning their teaching. The apostle's use of various labels for his opponents, such as ‘super-apostles’ (2 Cor 11:5; 12:11 ) and ‘false apostles’ (2 Cor 11:13 ), has also led to discussion of whether one or more groups of opponents are in view (see 2 COR 11:5–15 ).

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