2 Corinthians 3:1—What were the letters of recommendations for in the early church if Corinth?

What were the letters of recommendations for in the early church if corinth? Like why did one “NEED to” obtain one?


Well actually, Paul’s point was that he didn’t need such letters. He had planted their church - had won many of them to Christ - had spent a year and a half grounding them in the faith. You can read about his ministry in Acts 18.

But now, some church members had become disillusioned with Paul because of the sinister influence of some enemies of the gospel who had snuck in behind Paul and were undermining his reputation.

So Paul is confronting these Corinthian church members. He’s saying, Do I really need to prove myself to you? Do I need reference letters from others to gain your trust? Credentials from some approved university? You’re the last people on earth that I should be needing to prove myself to!

I hope this helps!


That’s interesting, makes sense!

I guess you kind of dove in way more than I needed.

I was more asking what were these actual letters of recommendation?

But yeah I think you answered my question by saying that the purpose of letters were so you can start a church.!? Is that what I understood?


Well, not really letters allowing him to start a church. These would be what are usually called in our day “letters of reference” or “referrals”. They’re like letters of introduction that are meant to open doors for you as you try to establish a relationship with a new person.

If you were interviewing for a job, for example, the person you’re hoping will hire you might be a total stranger - but if you can hand him a letter of introduction from your former employer, it can help “break the ice” so that he won’t view you as a complete unknown.

A diploma from a high school or a college serves the same purpose. It is a trusted institution that is telling potential employers that you’ve been academically equipped to function at a certain level of competence.

In a church context, when a person moves to a new town and they want to change their church membership from where they’ve been to the new church where they are now, they’ll often join the church by “transfer of letter.” The church secretary will contact their former church and ask them to transfer the new member’s “church letter” to the new church. The letter is basically saying that you were a member in good standing - which serves to assure the new church that you’ll be a good member with them too.

Those are the kinds of letters of commendation that Paul is talking about. He says, “I’m no stranger to you - why are you questioning my integrity? Do I really need Peter, James and John to write and tell you to trust me?” And there’s a hint of sarcasm in this - obviously they shouldn’t need such a thing to accept him!


You need to keep in mind that credential were as important in those days as they are today. Think drivers license, SS number or police badge or a preachers certificate or degree or any of the such.
If you look, Paul was asking the question and 2 verse later we answered:

2 You are our letter, inscribed on our hearts, known and read by all people, 3 revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
This is one of the verses that speaks to my heart. If you look at the parallel verse in Jeremiah 31:33.

This verse speaks to my heart and reminded me of a post that I did, maybe 2 yrs. ago. I hope you can make the connection.


Wow that was really good to point out Jeremiah 31:33! It makes even more sense now.

1 Like

Glad you found it helpful.