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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 2

 

 

Verses 1-17

(b) 2:8-13. The Object and Results of the severe Letter

The Apostle reminds them that to produce this godly sorrow was the object of the letter he wrote before. He then speaks of one man who has caused him pain, asking them to remit the punishment inflicted already and forgive him, and telling them that he had written also to ascertain the extent of their obedience, and that if they were willing to forgive now, so was he. He then relates his anxious desire to hear what had occurred on their receipt of his letter—a desire so great that he had to push southwards to meet Titus and get the news.

3, 4. Paraphrase. 'My reason for writing sternly rather than paying another painful visit was that I wished to have happiness and not sorrow when I came. (4) I wrote the severe rebukes and exhortations with suffering and tears, not that I wished wilfully to grieve you, but that I hoped you would realise the love I bear you.'

3. I wrote] i.e. the painful letter of which 2 Corinthians 10-13 of the Second Epistle are probably a portion (see Intro.). In you all] He speaks thus generously now that he has found his confidence not misplaced.

5-9. Paraphrase. 'Now with regard to the person who has been the occasion of this grief, he has grieved not me only, but to some extent (not to be too harsh) the Church. (6) And the sentence pronounced by the majority is quite sufficient punishment for him. (7) Do not inflict any further punishment, but forgive and encourage him, lest he be driven to despair. (8) Show him that you are actuated by Christian love. (9) For the main purpose of my letter has been accomplished now that you have given proof of your readiness to obey me.'

5. Any] A definite person is meant, but now that punishment has brought him to repentance the Apostle merely hints at him. The same person is indicated in 2 Corinthians 7:12, where see note.

6. Punishment] probably excommunication: cp. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5; (a different case). Of many] i.e. by the majority.

7. Overmuch sorrow] The offender had now realised the heinousness of his offence, and the continuance of punishment would serve no good purpose, and might even do harm.

8. Confirm your love] by restoring him to the Church.

9. The Apostle valued the act of discipline as much for the proof it afforded of the Corinthians' loyalty as for its effect upon the offender.

10-13. Paraphrase. 'I forgive any one whom you forgive; for I have no personal feeling in the matter, and it is only for your sakes that I speak of forgiveness at all, and I forgive in the spirit of Christ. (11) I forgive this man lest he be tempted by Satan to deny the faith, for we know that the adversary seeks to prevail against us. (12) I was so anxious to hear what you had done while I was engaged in successful work for Christ in Troas, (13) that I could not remain there when Titus did not come, but pushed on to Macedonia to meet him.'

10. In the person of Christ] either (1) as in His sight, or (2) as in His place, or (3) as having Christ living in me: cp. 2 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 2:17.

11. Get an advantage] by the man being lost to Christ, or by the estrangement of the Apostle and the Corinthians; perhaps both.

12, 13. St. Paul had gone from Ephesus to Troas on the coast of Asia Minor a short time after dispatching the severe letter to Corinth by Titus. He had expected Titus to meet him there with the news of the condition of the Church and of the way in which his letter had been received; but not finding him he became anxious and hastened on to Macedonia, where, probably at Philippi, he met Titus bringing good news. Troas] for other visits there see Acts 16:8-10; Acts 20:6-12. A door was opened] the preaching of the gospel found ready acceptance.

(c) 2:14-5:21. The Glory, the Joy, the Comfort, and the Inspiration of his Ministry

(c) 1. 2:14-3:6. The Apostle's True Letter Of Recommendation

The return of Titus with joyful news suggests thanksgiving to God, who has made the Apostle the means of spreading abroad the gospel message. St. Paul and his fellow-workers proclaim the gospel both to those who accept and to those who reject it. To the former it is a message of life; to the latter, of death. And no one can bear such a burden of responsibility unless he preaches with a pure purpose, and under a deep sense of accountability to God.

14. Causeth us to triumph] RV 'leadeth us in triumph.' The language is suggested by the triumphal procession of a Roman general. St. Paul thinks of himself as being a willing captive in Christ's train (cp. 2 Corinthians 10:5), and as spreading abroad the knowledge of Him like the pervading scent of the incense scattered as the procession moves onward.

16. The figure of the triumphal procession is continued. 'Some of the conquered enemies were put to death when the procession reached the Capitol; to them the smell of the incense was “an odour of death unto death” to the rest, who were spared, “an odour of life unto life”' (Conybeare and Howson's 'Life of St. Paul'). For the thought suggested in these verses cp. John 1:11-12; John 9:39; 1 Peter 2:7-8; Revelation 22:11. Who is sufficient] the great responsibility of the preacher. The answer to the question is suggested in 2 Corinthians 2:17.

17. Many] RV 'the many'; i.e. those Judaising preachers of whom they had experience. These men had stirred up strife in the Church at Corinth by denying St. Paul's authority, accusing him of personal interest in the collection, and (what he resented most) impugning his doctrine. They insisted on the observance of the Jewish Law, and as St. Paul preached the gospel to the Gentiles without reference to the Law, they carried on a mission against him in the cities he visited, seeking to gain his converts over to their own narrow views and Jewish prejudices. It was a critical period for the Church both in Corinth and in other places (cp. Galatians 1:6-9; Galatians 3:1-4). 'The true question was no less than this: whether the Catholic Church should be dwarfed into a Jewish sect; whether the religion of spirit and of truth should be supplanted by the worship of letter and of form' (Conybeare and Howson). Corrupt] Make the gospel a means of personal gain. The opponents of St. Paul seem to have made personal profit out of the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:20); and at the same time to have charged the Apostle with having a personal interest in the money he was raising for the poor at Jerusalem: cp. 2 Corinthians 8:20; 2 Corinthians 12:17, 2 Corinthians 12:18.

As of God] i.e. as God's true servants. In Christ] i.e. in union with Christ. St. Paul was so entirely submissive to Christ's influence and inspired by His spirit that he spoke of Christ living in him, and of himself as living in Christ: cp. 2 Corinthians 1:21 and ref.

 


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

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