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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
2 Corinthians 13



Verse 1

1. Τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς. See critical note. This is the third time I am coming to you (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:14), or For the third time I am now coming to you. All suggestions about intentions to come, or being willing to come, or letters being counted as visits, may be safely set aside. The plain meaning is, that he has paid two visits, the long one, when he converted them, and the short one, when he rebuked them with so little effect (2 Corinthians 1:23), and that he is preparing to come again: jam sum in procinctu (Bengel). These passages (2 Corinthians 12:14, 2 Corinthians 13:1-2) “seem inexplicable under any other hypothesis, except that of a second visit” (Lightfoot). Hitherto they have found him so forbearing that he has been accused of weakness. This time he will be severe.

ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μ. He will proceed in strictly legal form (Deuteronomy 19:15) against offenders; at the mouth of two witnesses and of three shall every word be established. Those charged with offences will have to meet the charges; those who make charges will have to prove them; and the evidence required will be that which would suffice in a court of law. There had been ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθίαι: but no mere slanders and insinuations (καταλαλιαί, ψιθυρισμοί) will be listened to, unless supported by legal evidence. He perhaps has specially in mind the tactics of the Judaizers. Comp. Matthew 18:16.

καὶ τριῶν. The καὶ in the LXX. is very marked; ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μ. καὶ ἐπὶ στ. τριῶν μ. στήσεται πᾶν ῥῆμα. See critical note: in 1 Timothy 5:19 is unquestioned. Here the Vulgate has vel and in Deuteronomy 19:15 aut. The καί and are almost equivalent in such cases; ‘two witnesses and (if they are to be had) three.’ Calvin, following Chrysostom and Theodoret (ἀντὶ μαρτύρων γὰρ τὰς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ τίθησι), makes the ‘two and three witnesses’ to refer to the two visits already paid and the third which he is about to pay; triplex enim labor tres homines non immerito valebat. But this is strained and unnatural. It is more to the point when Bengel remarks that the Apostle means to rely upon human testimony, and not appeal to a special revelation. If he appealed to his three visits as three witnesses, that would be circumventing the law by a quibble, making the testimony of the same man given three times equal to the testimony of three different persons. The use of the O.T. in 2 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 8:15 is not parallel to such a quibble.

πᾶν ῥῆμα. To be understood literally; every word; not (according to the Hebraistic use) ‘every thing’: comp. Luke 1:37; also Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51, where the R.V. has ‘sayings’ in the text and ‘things’ in the margin; and Acts 5:32, where it has ‘things’ in the text and ‘sayings’ in the margin. Matthew 18:16 is sufficiently decisive for the meaning in this phrase.

Verses 1-4

1–4. The abrupt opening sentences, without connecting particles, mark the sternness of the tone.

Verses 1-10

1–10. The letter hastens to a conclusion. He reminds them, 1. what they have to expect from him in this third visit (1–4); 2. what they owe to themselves, seeing that their estimate of him and his treatment of them depend on their attitude (5–9); 3. why he sends this letter [10].

Verse 2

2. προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον καὶ ἀπὼν νῦν. I have said before, and I do say before, as when I was present the second time, so now being absent. ‘When I was present the second time I gave a warning which still stands (comp. εἴρηκεν in 2 Corinthians 12:9), and now that I am absent I repeat the warning’: but S. Paul changes the natural order of the clauses in order to gain emphasis by putting the two warnings together, and his presence and absence together. See critical note. As in 2 Corinthians 11:8, παρών is imperf. part. The balance between προείρηκα and προλέγω, between παρών and ἀπών, and between τὸ δεύτερον and νῦν is manifest; and to destroy this by taking τὸ δεύτερον with καὶ ἀπὼν νῦν is perverse ingenuity. Comp. Dixi equidem et dico (Hor. Sat. II. v. 23).

τοῖς προημαρτηκόσιν καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν. To those who were in sin before (2 Corinthians 12:21) and to all the rest. Those who deny the second visit have to make the προ- mean ‘before their conversion.’ ‘Before the Apostle’s second visit’ is the meaning; and ‘all the rest’ covers those who have fallen into sin since that visit. Note once more his fondness for repeating words compounded with the same preposition, especially πρό: comp. 2 Corinthians 9:5; Romans 8:29; Galatians 5:21; 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 5:24; 2 Timothy 3:4; κατά, 2 Corinthians 11:20; παρά, Philippians 2:1.

ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν οὐ φείσομαι. If I come again, I will not spare. He does not mean that he is hesitating about coming, but that this time his coming will be accompanied by severity. Comp. ἐὰν ἔλθῃ Τιμόθεος (1 Corinthians 16:10). In both cases what possibly might be prevented is stated hypothetically, the important point being what is to take place when the coming is a fact. As we have seen (2 Corinthians 12:18) Timothy seems to have been prevented. Beyond doubt, εἰς τὸ πἀλιν is to be taken with ἔλθω, not with οὐ φείσομαι. The combination appears to occur nowhere else; but comp. ἐς τὸ ὕστερον (Thuc. II. xx. 4), εἰς τέλος, εἰς ὀψέ, κ.τ.λ.

οὐ φείσομαι. This threat seems to be plainly referred to in 2 Corinthians 1:23 (see note there), where he states that, in order to spare them, he did not come earlier to Corinth. If so, this passage was written before that. What follows is closely connected with οὐ φείσομαι, and only a comma should be placed at the end of 2 Corinthians 13:2.

Verse 3

3. ἐπεὶ δοκιμὴν ζητεῖτε. This is the reason why he cannot spare; they themselves have rendered that impossible, seeing that ye seek a proof (2 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 8:2, 2 Corinthians 9:13) of the Christ that speaketh in me. They had virtually challenged the Christ that St Paul preached, to give a proof of His power. It is a very clumsy arrangement to take ἐπεὶ δοκιμὴν κ.τ.λ. as the protasis to ἑαυτοὺς πειράζετε, and make the whole of 2 Corinthians 13:4 a parenthesis. For ἐπεί both Origen and Theodoret read sometimes εἰ and sometimes : hence the an quaeritis? of the Vulgate and some other Latin texts.

δς εἰς ὑμᾶςἐν ὑμῖν. Note the chiasmus; Who to youward is not weak, but is powerful in you. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 4:3, 2 Corinthians 6:8, 2 Corinthians 9:6, 2 Corinthians 10:11. Although ἀδυνατεῖν is common, δυνατεῖν is used by no one but S. Paul: in 2 Corinthians 9:8 and Romans 13:4 the rarity of the word has produced variants; but here the reading is unquestioned. It makes a specially good contrast to ἀσθενεῖν. By ἐν ὑμῖν is meant ‘among you, in the Church’ (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Corinthians 11:12), not ‘in your hearts.’ Whether in δυνατεῖ S. Paul is thinking of σημεῖα, τέρατα, and δυνάμεις (2 Corinthians 12:10), it is impossible to say: perhaps he is rather thinking of judgments (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:30). With ἀσθενεῖ comp. Romans 8:3 of the powerlessness of the Law. Place at most a semicolon at the end of 2 Corinthians 13:3; what follows is an answer to the supposed objection that a Christ who could not save himself from crucifixion must be a powerless Christ.

Verse 4

4. καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρώθη. See critical note. The καί is either intensive or concessive, while γάρ explains; for he was even crucified (His weakness went as far as that); or, for he was certainly crucified (no doubt that is quite true); see Ellicott on 1 Corinthians 5:7 and Philippians 2:27. There is manifest contrast between ἐξ ἀσθ. and ἐκ δυν. θ., and therefore ἐκ must be rendered alike in both clauses; through weakness, … through the power of God. The ἐκ marks the source in each case; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:26. Note the change from aor. to pres.; ‘He was crucified once for all, yet He lives continually,’ ζῶν ἐστι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων (Revelation 1:18). With ἐξ ἀσθ. comp. Philippians 2:8; with ἐκ δυν. θ. comp. Romans 6:4; Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 2:9 : it was God who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him.

καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς. This expression explains the previous καὶ γάρ sentence, which it rhetorically balances; and both ἀλλὰ and ἐκ must be translated as before; For we also are weak in him, yet we shall live with him through the power of God. See Briggs, The Messiah of the Apostles, p. 123. Comp. the balance between the two ἵνα clauses in 2 Corinthians 11:12; Galatians 3:14; Romans 7:13. The argument here is, that the transition from weakness to life in us, who have such close fellowship with Him, confirms the similar transition in Him. The two cases would be likely to be similar. See critical note. If εἰς ὑμᾶς is genuine, ἡμεῖς must mean ‘we Apostles’; and it probably means that in any case. The εἰς ὑμᾶς might be dropped accidentally, through homoeoteleuton, or deliberately, to make the balance with the previous sentence more exact.

N.T. usage varies as to the fut. of ζάω. If we include συνζάω, the fut. occurs 22 times, 11 with the form ζήσω, and 11 with the later form ζήσομαι. Of the passages with ζήσομαι, 6 are quotations from the LXX. In Galatians 3:11-12; Romans 1:17; Romans 8:13; Romans 10:5 S. Paul uses the later form; Galatians 3:11-12 and Romans 1:17; Romans 10:5 are quotations, and in 2 Corinthians 8:13 he may be thinking of Ezekiel 37:6; Ezekiel 37:14. Here Rec. with D3KL has ζησόμεθα, but אABD have ζήσομεν. In Romans 6:2 the evidence is still stronger; in Galatians 2:19 ζήσω is undisputed.

The fut. here does not refer to a future life beyond the grave, but to future vigorous action in this life, especially in dealing with the Corinthians. non est vivere, sed valere, vita (Mart. VI. lxx. 15). In this sense of ‘to be vigorous’ ζῇν is sometimes contrasted with βιοῦν (1 Peter 4:2; Job 29:18) = ‘to pass time’; βιοὺς μὲν ἔτη τόσα, ζήσας δὲ ἔτη ἑπτά (Dio Cass. lxix. 19): comp. Xen. Mem. III. iii. 11, and the proverb φοίνικος ἔτη βιοῦν. But the expression has nothing to do with ‘the ecclesiastical pomp and splendour which are the ensigns’ of ecclesiastical authority, and ought not to be quoted as a warrant for them.

Verse 5

5. Ἑαυτοὺς πειράζετεἑαυτοὺς δοκιμάζετε. It is your own selves that you must continue to tryyour own selves that you must continue to prove (pres. imperat.). The difference between πειράζειν and δοκιμάζειν is mainly this; that πειράζειν, though sometimes neutral in the sense of ‘try’ or ‘test’ (John 6:6; Revelation 2:2), commonly has a sinister meaning, ‘tempt,’ with a view to causing failure (Matthew 16:1; Matthew 19:3; Matthew 22:18), especially of the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1; Matthew 4:3; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), who is ὁ πειράζων: while δοκιμάζειν, though sometimes neutral (Luke 12:56; Luke 14:19), and never being used in a bad sense, frequently has a good sense, ‘prove with the intention or expectation of approving’ (2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Corinthians 11:28; Romans 2:18; Romans 14:22; Ephesians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). Hence πειράζειν is rarely used of God’s trying men (Hebrews 11:17; Genesis 22:1; Exodus 15:25; Deuteronomy 13:3), and δοκιμάζειν is never used of the devil’s tempting men. In Psalms 26:2 both verbs are used of God; δοκἱμασόν με, κύριε, καὶ πείρασόν με. On the other hand, πειράζειν is often used of man’s tempting God (Acts 15:10; 1 Corinthians 7:9; Exodus 17:2; Exodus 17:7; Psalms 105:14; Sirach 18:23; &c.). The A.V. translates πειράζειν ‘prove,’ ‘try,’ ‘examine,’ ‘tempt,’ ‘assay,’ ‘go about’; δοκιμάζειν ‘prove,’ ‘try,’ ‘examine,’ ‘discern,’ ‘like,’ ‘approve,’ ‘allow.’ The R.V. reduces this variety, but introduces a new word, ‘interpret,’ for Luke 12:56. See Crem. Lex. s. v. and Trench, Syn. § lxxiv. Here S. Paul puts the gentler word second, to show that he hopes that the result of the testing will be good. Note the emphatic position of ἑαυτούς in both places.

εἰ ἐστὲ ἐν τῇ πίστει. Would S. Paul have written this in the same letter in which he had already said, τῇ πίστει ἑστήκατε (2 Corinthians 1:24), and had put faith first among the good things in which they abounded, ἐν παντὶ περισσεύετε, πίστει, καὶ λόγῳ, καὶ γνώσει, καὶ πάσῃ σπουδῇ (2 Corinthians 8:7)? If in an earlier letter he charged them, in their rebellious mood, to make sure that they were really Christians, and then, after they had returned to their allegiance, he expressed confidence in their faith, all runs in logical order. See on 2 Corinthians 12:11. Chrysostom thinks that the faith which works miracles is meant; which is very improbable.

ἢ οὐκ ἐπιγινώσκετε ἑαυτούςἀδόκιμοί ἐστε. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed ye be reprobate. See critical note: א omits the , and earlier English Versions ignore it, although the Rec. has it. With this interrogative comp. 1 Corinthians 6:16; Romans 9:21; Romans 14:10; Matthew 7:4; Matthew 7:9. Wiclif punctuates the Vulgate thus, ipsi vos probate, an non cognoscitis vosmet ipsos, ‘ye your silf preue whether ye knowen not you silf’: which is odd Latin, makes poor sense, and does not fit the Greek. The compound, ἐπιγιν., implies full knowledge: comp. 2 Corinthians 6:9, and see Ellicott on 1 Corinthians 16:12.

εἰ μήτι ἀδόκιμοί ἐστε. This is not a second question, and the τι makes the alternative more hypothetical: unless perhaps you be reprobates (Rheims). Of course they do recognize that Christ is in them; but if perchance they do not, they are ἀδόκιμοι. For εἰ μήτι comp. 1 Corinthians 7:5, where the ἄν doubtful and there is no verb: in Luke 9:13 the verb is subjunctive. By ἀδόκιμος is meant ‘not accepted’ (δέχομαι), as not standing the test: not so much reprobi (Vulgate) as reprobati: comp. 1 Corinthians 9:27; Romans 1:28; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16. In Romans 1:28 is a similar play between δοκιμάζειν and ἀδόκιμος. Except Hebrews 6:8; Proverbs 25:4; Isaiah 1:22, ἀδόκιμος in Biblical Greek is peculiar to S. Paul. Beza has rejectanei; but this spoils the antithesis with probati = δόκιμοι (2 Corinthians 13:7).

Verses 5-9

5–9. ‘Instead of seeking a proof of the Christ that speaketh in me (2 Corinthians 13:3), it is your own selves that you ought to be testing and proving, to see whether you are in the faith and Christ is in you. I shall be able to stand the test; but I pray that I may not have to prove that Christ is in me to exercise severity.’

Verse 6

6. ἐλπίζω δὲ ὅτι γνώσεσθε. But I hope that ye will come to know that we are not reprobate. ‘I trust that your testing of yourselves will show you what we are’; si estis in fide, ex vobis nos cognoscite (Primasius). Or the meaning may be, ‘I expect (2 Corinthians 8:5) that ye will find out that Christ is in us with power to punish’: ἀπειληπτικῶς τοῦτο τέθεικεν, ὡς μέλλων αὐτοῖς τῆς πνευματικῆς δυνάμεως παρέχειν ἀπόδειξιν (Theodoret). The repetition, δοκιμάζετε, δόκιμοι, ἀδόκιμοι (thrice), suggests that this was a favourite expression with his critics. Note the emphatic contrasts in 2 Corinthians 13:6-7 between ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς.

Verse 7

7. εὐχόμεθα. For the rapid changes of number, φείσομαι (2 Corinthians 13:2), ἀσθενοῦμεν (2 Corinthians 13:4), ἐλπίζω (2 Corinthians 13:6), εὐχόμεθα (2 Corinthians 13:7), see on 2 Corinthians 1:4. Some texts read εὔχομαι (see critical note) to harmonize with ἐλπίζω: but then φανῶμεν immediately follows. He prays that he may not have to prove that he has the power of Christ to punish. He would much rather that they should amend, and that this proof should not be given; although that might expose him to the suspicion that he could give no proof. That they should do no evil, but do that which is noble and good, is much more important than that he should seem approved. For εὔχεσθαι πρὸς τὸν θεόν comp. 2 Maccabees 15:27; and πρὸς κύριον, Numbers 11:2; Numbers 21:7; 2 Kings 20:2; and πρὸς αὐτόν, Job 22:27 : also in Xen. Mem. I. iii. 2. In the sense of what is morally beautiful, intrinsically right, τὸ καλόν is a stronger opposition to τὸ κακόν than τὸ ἀγαθόν would be: the latter need not mean more than beneficial, good in its results. Moreover, τὸ καλόν implies that the goodness is perceived. In the philosophers τὸ καλόν is commonly opposed to τὸ αἰσχρόν. This is yet another philosophical expression used in this letter. We have had φαῦλος (2 Corinthians 13:10), προαιρεῖσθαι (2 Corinthians 9:7), αὐτάρκεια (2 Corinthians 9:8), πραότης and ἐπιείκεια (2 Corinthians 10:1), and now τὸ καλόν: χορηγεῖν (2 Corinthians 9:10) probably comes from the LXX. See last note on 2 Corinthians 9:10. For τὸ καλὸν ποιεῖν comp. Romans 7:21; Galatians 6:9. In Biblical Greek the phrase is peculiar to S. Paul: in Jeremiah 4:22 the true reading is καλῶς ποιῆσαι. Comp. τὸ καλὸν κατεργάζεσθαι (Romans 7:18); καλὸν ποιεῖν (James 4:17).

ὡς ἀδόκιμοι ὦμεν. The ὡς makes this equivalent to ἀδόκιμοι φανῶμεν: ὡς = in appearance, hominum judicio.

Verse 8

8. οὐ γὰρ δυνάμεθά τι. For we cannot do anything against the truth. ‘It is morally impossible for one in my position to wish that you should do evil, in order that he might prove that he had the ἐξουσία of Christ: that would be against the whole spirit of the Gospel.’ Chrysostom understands S. Paul to mean that if he were to sentence (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20) the penitent, God would not allow the sentence to be executed. For τῆς ἀληθείας comp. 2 Corinthians 4:2; Galatians 2:5; Galatians 2:14.

ἀλλά. Understand δυνάμεθα.

Verse 9

9. χαίρομεν γάρ. This is not a second justification of 2 Corinthians 13:7, but a justification of 2 Corinthians 13:8. ‘Why, so far from being able to violate the spirit of the Gospel by wishing you to transgress, in order that my authority may be proved, I rejoice when, through your good behaviour, I lose the opportunity of showing my authority.’

ὅταν ἡμεῖς ἀσθενῶμεν κ.τ.λ. Whenever we are weak, through being unable to prove our power, and ye are strong, through having nothing for which you can be punished. Comp. 2 Corinthians 12:10. It would have been like Jonah, lamenting that through the repentance of the Ninevites his prediction of their destruction had been falsified, to wish that through the unrepentance of the Corinthians the Apostle might be able to demonstrate that he possessed the power of Christ. The Clementine Vulgate reads gaudemus quoniam, which represents no Greek text; Cod. Am. has quando.

τοῦτο καὶ εὐχόμεθα. See critical note. This we also pray for, even your perfecting. This is a larger petition than the εὐχόμεθα in 2 Corinthians 13:7. In both places the verb must be rendered ‘pray.’ The καί means that this is a subject not only for joy (χαίρομεν) but for prayer. With κατάρτισιν comp. καταρτίζεσθε (2 Corinthians 13:11) and καταρτισμός (Ephesians 4:12). The verb is common, but neither substantive is found elsewhere in N.T. or LXX. All three have the idea of making fit (2 Timothy 3:17), equipping, remedying defects, rendering complete. ‘Perfecting’ (R.V.) rather than ‘perfection’ (A.V.), because it is the process, and not the result, that is contemplated.

For ὑμῶν between the article and the verb see last note on 2 Corinthians 12:19.

Verse 10

10. He writes in order that, if possible, his fears (2 Corinthians 12:20) and his threats (2 Corinthians 13:2) may not be fulfilled.

Διὰ τοῦτο. For this cause (2 Corinthians 4:1, 2 Corinthians 7:13; 1 Corinthians 4:17; &c.). This should be distinguished in translation from οὖν (2 Corinthians 1:17, 2 Corinthians 3:12, 2 Corinthians 5:6; 2 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 5:20, &c.) ‘therefore,’ and διό (2 Corinthians 1:20, 2 Corinthians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 14:13) ‘wherefore.’ ‘For this cause’ means with a view to their amending and perfecting their way of life.

ταῦτα ἀπὼν γράφω, ἵνα παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμως χρήσωμαι. When absent I write these things, that when present I may not deal sharply. By ταῦτα he means this severe letter (10–13.), and especially 2 Corinthians 12:19 to 2 Corinthians 13:9. For ἀποτόμως comp. Titus 1:13; Wisdom of Solomon 5:22 : in classical Greek it means ‘precisely, absolutely.’ In Romans 11:22 we have ἀποτομία opposed to χρηστότης. Comp. ἀπότομος (Wisdom of Solomon 5:20; Wisdom of Solomon 6:5; Wisdom of Solomon 11:10; Wisdom of Solomon 12:9; Wisdom of Solomon 18:15, and nowhere else in Biblical Greek). Once more we have evidence of S. Paul’s acquaintance with the Book of Wisdom. See on 2 Corinthians 5:9, 2 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Corinthians 6:6, 2 Corinthians 10:5. For χρᾶσθαι with an adv. and no dat. comp. ἐχρήσαντο παρανόμως (Job 34:20): ἀλλοτρίως χρήσεται (Isaiah 28:21): διαφόρως χρώμενον (Daniel 7:7). The conjecture ἀποτόμοις is not needed.

κατὰ τὴν ἐξουσίαν. According to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up (2 Corinthians 10:8) and not for casting down (2 Corinthians 10:4). The κατά depends upon ἀποτόμως χρήσωμαι. With the thought comp. Luke 9:54-55; John 3:17; John 12:47.

Verse 11

11. Λοιπόν. Finally, ‘as to what remains’: not ‘henceforth, from this time forward,’ which would be τοῦ λοιποῦ (Galatians 6:17; Ephesians 6:10). As compared with τὸ λοιπόν (1 Corinthians 7:29; Philippians 3:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:1), λοιπόν (1 Corinthians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:8) is rather less definite, and perhaps more colloquial. See Ellicott on 1 Thessalonians 4:1 and 2 Timothy 4:8.

ἀδελφοί. This affectionate address (2 Corinthians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 8:1), so frequent in 1 Corinthians, occurs here only in 10–13: ἀγαπητοί occurs once in each division (2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Corinthians 12:19). S. Paul more often says simply ἀδελφοί, S. James (2 Corinthians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 3:12, 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 5:19) more often ἀδελφοί μου.

χαίρετε. “This word combines a parting benediction with an exhortation to cheerfulness. It is neither ‘farewell’ alone, nor ‘rejoice’ alone” (Lightfoot on Philippians 4:4). Lightfoot compares the dying words of the messenger who brought the news of the victory at Marathon, who expired on the first threshold saying, χαίρετε καὶ χαίρομεν (Plut. Mor. p. 347 c). The present imperative points to a continual and progressive state. The Vulgate has gaudete in all places (Philippians 2:18; Philippians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). Beza has valete here, elsewhere gaudete; Calvin the same; and here the meaning of ‘farewell’ seems to prevail. Immediately after such stern words as φοβοῦμαι (2 Corinthians 12:20) and οὐ φείσομαι (2 Corinthians 13:2), he would hardly say ‘rejoice’: χαίρετε is not so much a part of the exhortation as a prelude to it. For the asyndeton comp. 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Corinthians 11:20, 2 Corinthians 12:10.

καταρτίζεσθε. Be perfected (Luke 6:40; 1 Corinthians 1:10); this seems to be placed first with special reference to 2 Corinthians 13:9. If χαίρετε is the first exhortation meaning ‘rejoice,’ there is a strange want of connexion between ‘rejoice’ and ‘be perfected.’ For καταρτίζειν, which is often a surgical word, of setting a joint or a bone, see the illustrations in Wetstein on Matthew 4:21 and in Suidas s.v. Chrysostom paraphrases, τέλειοι γίνεσθε καὶ ἀναπληροῦτε τὰ λείποντα: Corn. a Lapide, integri estote, corrigite priora vitia, stringite vitae licentiam, resarcite discissam amicitiam, unionem, concordiam.

παρακαλεῖσθε. Be exhorted: exhortamini (Vulgate); ‘attend to my exhortations and intreaties.’ This fits the context much better than ‘be comforted’ or ‘comfort one another.’ Had S. Paul meant the latter, he would probably have written παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). In Hebrews 3:13 we have παρακαλεῖτε ἑαυτούς: comp. Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 we have the same three ideas combined, exhortation, being perfected, and being united: παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, … ἵναμὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοΐ. This exhortation to peace and unity is, therefore, the first in the First Epistle, as it is the last in the Second. In that Church of factions and divisions no change was more needed.

τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖτε. The same phrase is found Romans 12:16; Romans 15:6; Philippians 4:2. In Philippians 2:2 the Apostle expands the meaning of the expression, as including harmony of the affections as well as agreement in thought. The renderings, Farewell. Go on to perfection; follow my exhortations; be of the same mind, make a better connected series than, Rejoice, be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind.

εἰρηνεύετε. Excepting Mark 9:50, this verb in the N.T. is confined to S. Paul; Romans 12:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:13. In the LXX. it is common, especially in Job and Ecclus. In 1 Maccabees 6:60 it means ‘to make peace.’ The middle is sometimes used as the active is here; ὄπως πρὸς τοὺς κρείττους εἰρηνεύηται (Arist. Rhet. I. iv. 9).

καὶ ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ εἰρήνης. The promise is closely connected with the two preceding exhortations: ‘Be one in heart and soul, and the God of love will be with you; be at peace, and the God of peace will be with you.’ Comp. ‘If a son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him’ (Luke 10:6). The expression ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἀγάπης occurs nowhere else: comp. θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως (2 Corinthians 1:3). Here only in this Epistle does the Vulgate render ἀγάπη dilectio; elsewhere caritas. ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης occurs Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; Philippians 4:9; Hebrews 13:20; comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:16. Hence the inversion in the δ-text: see critical note.

Verses 11-14


Assuming that 10–13:10 is part of a letter written before 1–9, we may safely regard 2 Corinthians 13:11-14 as the conclusion of this earlier and severe letter, rather than of the later letter, of which 1–9 is the main part. [1] καταρτίζεσθε, the first exhortation in 2 Corinthians 13:11, is a strong link of connexion τὴν ὑμῶν κατάρτισιν. Perhaps παρακαλεῖσθε looks back to the opening words of the severe section Αὐτὸς δὲ ἐγὼ Παῦλος παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς (2 Corinthians 10:1). More certainly τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖτε, εἰρηνεύετε looks back to the fears of ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθίαι, κ.τ.λ. (2 Corinthians 12:20). No such links can be found with the concluding portion of 1–9. [2] It is much more probable that the whole of the last part of the severe letter should have accidentally been combined with the whole of the first part of the letter which followed it, than that a section of the severe letter should have been inserted between the main portion of the subsequent letter and the concluding words of this subsequent letter. The change from a stern to a more affectionate tone is quite natural at the close of the Epistle, and is similar to that at the end of 2 Thessalonians, where contrast the severity of 2 Corinthians 13:10-14 with the gentleness and affection of 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18. As Bengel remarks here, Severius scripserat Paulas in tractatione; nunc benignius, re tamen ipsa non dimissa.

Verse 12

12. Ἀσπάσασθε. 13. Ἀσπάζονται. These concluding salutations are a feature in all groups of S. Paul’s Epistles; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Corinthians 16:19-20; Romans 16:3-23; Philippians 4:21-22; Colossians 4:10-15; Philemon 1:23; Titus 3:15; 2 Timothy 4:19; 2 Timothy 4:21.

ἐν ἁγίῳ φιλήματι. This is the right order here (אBDKP), which in some texts (AFGL) has been altered to ἐν φ. ἁγίῳ, to produce agreement with 1 Corinthians 16:20; Romans 16:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:26, where the order ἐν φ. ἁγίῳ is undisputed. After what has just been said respecting the ἀκαθαρσία of many at Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:21), the ἁγίῳ is emphasized. S. Peter (1 Peter 5:14) says ἐν φ. ἀγάπης. Justin Martyr (Apol. i. 65) says simply φιλήματι. The ἐν marks that, in and by which the salutation was expressed. The kiss was a solemn token of that ἀγάπην ἔχειν ἐν ἀλλήλοις (John 13:35), by which Christ’s true disciples were to be known; of τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾷν (Romans 13:8), which is the Christian’s ceaseless debt. It was one of the earliest of ritual observances. Tertullian, who calls it osculum pacis, regards it as essential to the perfection of Christian worship. It is signaculum orationis, and quae oratio cum divortio sancti osculi integra? (de Orat. 18). Afterwards he speaks of it simply as pax, and this became a usual name for it in the West, as ἀσπασμός in the East. But in the Church Order known as The Testament of the Lord it is called simply ‘the Peace’ (i. 23, 30, ii. 4, 9). Originally the kiss in public worship was perhaps general; but certainly later, to avoid abuses, the clergy kissed the bishop, laymen kissed laymen, and women women (Const. Apost. ii. 57, viii. 11; Canons of Laodicea, 19; comp. Athenagoras Legat. 32; Clem. Alex. Paed. iii. 11, p. 301, ed. Potter). For details see Suicer s.v.; Smith and Cheetham, D. of Chr. Ant. p. 902.; Scudamore, Notitia Eucharistica, pp. 434–438, 592, 593; Kraus, Real-Enc. der Chr. Alt. p. 543. Conybeare (Expositor, 1894, i. 461) has shown that the ‘kiss of peace’ may have been a custom in the synagogue: there, of course, men would kiss men and women women. Chrysostom explains the kiss by a custom which is probably of later origin, viz. that of kissing the entrances of churches. “We are the temple of Christ. We kiss the porch and entrance of this temple in kissing one another. See now how many kiss the porch of this temple in which we are met, some stooping down on purpose, others touching it with their hand and applying their hand to their mouth.”

Verse 13

13. Ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς οἱ ἅγιοι πάντες. The Revisers have followed the A.V. and earlier English Versions in making this a separate verse, 2 Corinthians 13:13, so that the last verse becomes 2 Corinthians 13:14. For other instances of a similar kind see Gregory, Prolegomena, pp. 181, 182. By οἱ ἅγιοι πάντες would be meant at least all the Christians in the place from which these words were written. If these words are part of the severe letter, intermediate between 1 Cor. and 2 Corinthians 1-9, the place would be Ephesus. But, if these words belong to the same letter as 2 Corinthians 1-9, the place would be in Macedonia. In 1 Corinthians 16:20 he says ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς οἱ ἀδελφοὶ πάντες: in Romans 16:16, αἱ ἐκκλησίαι πᾶσαι τοῦ χριστοῦ. It is possible that here the Apostle wishes to include all Christendom as sending a greeting to Corinth (Theodoret). It does not follow from this salutation from οἱ ἅγιοι πάντες that S. Paul had the Corinthian letter read to the local Christians before sending it to Corinth, but only that the local Church, whether Ephesian or Macedonian, knew that he was writing to Corinth.

Verse 14

14. This is the fullest and most instructive of the benedictions with which S. Paul concludes his Epistles; and for this very reason it has been adopted from very early times (Const. Apost. viii. 5, 12) as a form of blessing in the services of the Church. It is remarkable that the most complete form of benediction should be found at the close of what, with the possible exception of the Epistle to the Galatians, is the most severe portion of the writings of S. Paul. The only benediction which rivals this one in fulness is the one at the end of Ephesians. The common form, with slight verbal variations, is ἡ χάρις τ. κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μεθʼ ὑμῶν. Sometimes ἡμῶν is omitted (1 Corinthians 16:23; Philippians 4:23), sometimes Χριστοῦ (1 Corinthians 16:23; (?) Romans 16:20), as by B here. Sometimes πάντων (2 Thessalonians 3:18), sometimes τοῦ πνεύματος. (Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; Philemon 1:25) is inserted before ὑμῶν. And it is this usual type of benediction which accounts for the order of the clauses here. The Apostle began to write the usual form, and then made it more full. Thus ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’ came to be placed first. The suggestion of Bengel, that ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus’ is mentioned first, because it is through the grace of Christ that we come to the love of the Father, is not needed. And would it not be equally true to say, that it is through the love of the Father that we have received the grace of Jesus Christ? In the absolute order ‘the love of God’ stands first (John 3:16); but in our apprehension ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’ stands first (Romans 5:8). We may conjecture that it was the condition of the Corinthian Church which prompted the more complete form of benediction. A Church which had been so full of strife and enmities and factions (2 Corinthians 11:20; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17) had a special need of the indwelling of the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

It is with this verse, the text of which (with the possible exception of the word Χριστοῦ) is absolutely established, and which forms the solemn ending to one of the Epistles which criticism assigns with unshaken confidence to S. Paul, that the historical treatment of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity begins. These words were written, at the latest, within thirty years of the Ascension, and perhaps within twenty-six years of that event; and the writer expects those to whom he writes, who live far away from the earliest centres of Christian teaching, to understand and appreciate this form of benediction. Moreover, whether this benediction belongs to the letter written from Macedonia, or to an intermediate letter written from Ephesus, it was not sent from one of the earliest centres of Christian teaching. The writer was not in an atmosphere in which he might naturally use language that would be scarcely intelligible to imperfectly instructed Christians. And the verse is evidently not meant to convey instruction in doctrine: it assumes that the doctrine which it implies has already found a home in the hearts of those to whom the benediction is sent. From these facts it seems to be a legitimate inference, “that S. Paul and the Church of his day thought of the Supreme Source of spiritual blessing as not single but threefold—threefold in essence, and not merely in a manner of speech” (Sanday in Hastings’ DB. ii. p. 213). The facts show that even a very young Church is assumed to be familiar with this mode of thought; and they ought to caution us against a hasty assumption that the baptismal formula attributed to Christ in Matthew 28:19 cannot really have been spoken by Him. Certainly S. Paul’s language here becomes more intelligible if it was known that Christ Himself had uttered such a charge. It should be added that in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 we have similar phenomena; ‘the same Spirit … the same Lord … the same God.’ (See Goudge, 1 Corinthians, pp. 29. ff.) Comp. Ephesians 4:4-6; ‘one Spirit … one Lord … one God and Father of all’: also Clem. Rom. Cor. xlvi. 3; ‘one God and one Christ and one Spirit of grace’; and lviii. 2; ‘as God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit.’

Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου. The genitive in all three cases is probably subjective; the grace which is of the Lord, which comes from Him; the love which is of God; the fellowship which is of the Spirit. Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:2, and ἡ χάρις μου (2 Corinthians 12:9). Yet this is not certain: 2 Corinthians 8:9.

ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ. if this is the objective genitive, comp. Romans 5:8. But ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἀγάπης (2 Corinthians 13:11) makes it probable that this means the love which He inspires in the hearts of men. That is what the quarrelsome Corinthians need.

ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit, viz. “the true sense of membership which the One Spirit gives to the One Body” (J. A. Robinson in Hastings’ DB. i. p. 460): communicationem ergo eis optat, quae Corinthiorum schismata tollat (Corn. a Lapide). In all three cases the subjective genitive makes good sense, and in some makes the best sense. In Philippians 2:1 εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος may mean, ‘if there be any Spirit-given sense of fellowship’: but Lightfoot prefers ‘communion with the Spirit of love.’ The absence of the articles there makes the two passages not quite parallel. See on 2 Corinthians 6:14, and contrast the use of κοινωνία in 2 Corinthians 8:4, 2 Corinthians 9:13.

μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. As in 2 Thessalonians 3:18, the addition of πάντων is prompted by the preceding severity of tone respecting those who have given offence. “The benediction is invoked upon all, the slanderers and gainsayers, the seekers after worldly wisdom, the hearkeners to false doctrine, as well as the faithful and obedient disciples” (Lias).


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Sunday, September 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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