Chapter two best starts with 2 Corinthians 1:23, where Paul began to explain his reason for not visiting them as he had planned. Due to some issues within the church (especially factions and immorality; see 1 Corinthians 3 and 5), Paul’s previous visit had been “painful” for all of them, and he did not want to do that again (2 Corinthians 2:1-4). Instead, he chose to write this letter to “test the waters” and see if they had responded to his correction appropriately. 2 Corinthians 2:5-9 reveals that they had obeyed his instruction, disciplining one of their own members (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). However, upon his repentance, they had not forgiven him, so Paul urged them to extend grace and forgiveness, so he would not be “overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair” in his spiritual life.
Interestingly, Paul noted that this was obeyed “by the majority” (2 Corinthians 2:6). This is an early hint that there were still those in the Corinthian church who refused to acknowledge Paul’s apostolic authority (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-4). Later parts of this letter show that to be true.
Paul was desperate to hear from Titus about the situation in Corinth (their obedience or rejection of him), that even preaching the gospel, which was his driving passion (1 Corinthians 9:16-23), could not ease his mind about them. It seems he cut short his ministry in Troas so that he could find Titus and hear from Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:10-13).
In the final few verses Paul reminded them again of his love for them and for the gospel, even though he was being charged with greed and preaching only for money (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). This self-defense will continue into chapter three.