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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-24


Introductory Section

2 Corinthians 1:1-11. Salutation and Thanksgiving

After the usual epistolary introduction, St. Paul makes pointed reference to a severe trouble he has lately endured, and gives thanks to God for deliverance from it.

1. By the will of God] He asserts his divine call to office in presence of opposition: cp. 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1, and contrast Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, in cases where his relations to the Church were happy. Saints] A common designation of the Christian converts. It reminded them of the life to which they were consecrated at baptism. Achaia] probably used in a loose popular sense for the country around Corinth: cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2.

2. Grace.. and peace] i.e. all good wishes for spiritual blessings.

3-7. Paraphrase. 'We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Fount of all blessing and comfort, (4) for the comfort and courage He gives us in our trials, whereby we are enabled to comfort and encourage others. (5) For as we are brought into union with Christ by our sufferings for His sake, so are we brought into union with you by the comfort we receive from Christ. (6) And all our experiences both of trial and of comfort are for your spiritual benefit. (7) And we are confident that as ye now suffer as we did, so you will receive the blessing we received.'

5. The sufferings of Christ] Because they are met in Christ's service and borne in Christ's spirit: cp. Philippians 3:10.

6. And whether, etc.] RV 'But whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer.' His sufferings caused them to repent (cp. 2 Corinthians 7:7-9), and his joy at their repentance gave them courage to persevere.

8-11. Paraphrase. 'For it is right, my friends, that you should know that I had to undergo very severe suffering in Ephesus, and was even at death's door. (9) This great danger taught me that my life is in the hand of God, (10) for He saved me from the danger, as He saves me continually, (11) even while you prayed for me, that you and many might give thanks for my preservation.'

8. Pressed, etc.] RV 'weighed down exceedingly.' Our trouble.. life] The nature of this trouble is not exactly known. A serious illness in Ephesus, aggravated at a critical stage by the startling news of the defection at Corinth, seems best to explain the hints and allusions in this passage.

9. The sentence of death] RV 'the answer of death.' When he wondered whether the issue would be life or death, his own heart answered, 'Death.' That we should not trust] His recovery taught him a stronger faith in God.

10. So great a death] i.e. death with the consciousness that his work in Corinth had been a failure. Doth deliver] RV 'will deliver': i.e. in future dangers which he already foresaw.

11. You also helping by prayer. St. Paul asks the prayers of the Corinthians, and tells them that they will thus help in his recovery. The Apostle always attached great importance to the prayers of others on his behalf (Romans 15:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1), and made a practice himself of praying for others (1 Corinthians 1:3; Philippians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:2). He knows, too, that, when praying for him, the Corinthians will be furthering the work he has at heart.

Thoughts Suggested by the Recent Crisis

(a) 2 Corinthians 1:12 to 2 Corinthians 2:2. The Sincerity of St. Paul's Intention to visit the Church 12-16. Paraphrase. 'The Apostle bases his expectation of receiving their prayers on the purity and sincerity of his conduct, especially in respect of his treatment of them. (13) He asserts that he writes nothing to them but what is common property, namely, that they mutually understand and glory in one another. (14) Some of them have acknowledged this all along, and he trusts that they will increasingly understand and sympathise with one another until their relations be perfected at the coming of Christ. (15) With this purpose in view he had planned at one time to make two visits to Corinth, (16) one on his way to Macedonia, and the other on his return to Asia by the same route.'

12. Simplicity] RV 'holiness.' Fleshly wisdom] mere cunning. Had our conversation] RV 'behaved ourselves.'

13. None other things] St. Paul seems to have been suspected of writing to individual members of the Church that he was not so satisfied with their conduct and attitude as he professed to be in his public letters. Read or acknowledge] or, perhaps, 'acknowledge and even maintain,' i.e. that he was now perfectly satisfied with them, and they with him.

14. In part] Some had been faithful all the time.

The day of the Lord Jesus] the second coming (cp. 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:19), which the Christians believed to be at hand.

15, 16. The Apostle after his second visit to Corinth (the visit in sorrow, 2 Corinthians 2:1) had intended to pay another visit to Europe from Ephesus, in the course of which he would come to Corinth twice. His plan had been to sail from Ephesus to Corinth, and from there to go N. to Macedonia, then to turn and retrace his steps back to Corinth, and sail thence to Palestine in charge of the collection in time for the Passover. The Corinthians would thus have received a second benefit, i.e. two visits in the same journey.

17-24. Paraphrase. 'When you find me now writing from Macedonia before you have had a visit at all, you may think me changeable and capricious. (18) But I assure you solemnly I am not easily turned from my purposes. (19) You know that the Christ I preach is true and faithful, (20) for the promises of God which He brought to the world are unchangeable and sure. (21) Well, then, it is God who has appointed us to proclaim these promises (22), and has marked us for his own by the gift of His Spirit. (23) As He is steadfast in purpose, so are we His messengers. (24) For I have no desire to lord it over you, but only to help your Christian life.'

17. Lightness] RV 'fickleness.' According to the flesh] deceitfully. Two charges had been brought against the Apostle: (1) that in changing his plans he showed himself fickle, and (2) that he had said one thing while he purposed another. 18, 19. His word was not deceitful, but was as trustworthy as his gospel.

18. Yea and nay] i.e. the use of words with a double meaning.

19. He appeals to his solemn preaching of Christ as the pledge of his sincerity. Silvanus] Silas (Acts 18:5).

20. In him are yea and.. Amen] Christ is the affirmation (the yea) and the fulfilment (the Amen) of God's promises. Amen] For the general Amen see 1 Corinthians 14:16. By us] as the instruments.

21. Paraphrase. 'Well, then, it is God who is continually strengthening the spiritual bond which unites both us and you to Christ, and who has set us apart to declare His message.'

21. The fact that St. Paul (like the Corinthians) was consecrated to God was the guarantee that he would be faithful in all his dealings with them. Stablisheth us with you in Christ] The underlying thought is that of the union of Christ and the Christian: cp. Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:3-5, and Intro. Anointed] sacramentally set apart to office.

22. Sealed] marked us for His own. Given the earnest of the Spirit] bestowed the gift of the Spirit as the pledge and sample of all spiritual blessings to come: cp. Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:14.

23. Moreover.. Corinth] Another reason for the Apostle's change of plan was consideration for their feelings. Record] RV 'witness.' To spare you] i.e. from censure. This refers to 2 Corinthians 13:2, 'If I come again, I will not spare'; 2 Corinthians 10-13 being the earlier severe letter (see Intro.). Came not as yet] RV 'forbare to come.'

24. Dominion] probably refers to an accusation made by the Judaisers that St. Paul was lording it over them. By faith ye stand] A difficult phrase; perhaps it means, 'You need no master over you, for you are grounded in the faith,' or, 'Your faith is a sufficient strength, security, and support.'

2 Corinthians 2:1-2. Continuation of explanation regarding his proposed visit.

1, 2. Paraphrase. 'It was therefore because I desired to spare your feelings that I resolved not to pay you another visit. (2) For such a visit would be painful to us both, because my joy could only be attained through your sorrowful repentance.'

1. Again.. in heaviness] a clear reference to a visit to Corinth, which gave him much pain, subsequent to his writing the First Epistle (see Intro.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/2-corinthians-1.html. 1909.

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Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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