Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-17

II 1. ’Not to come’, etc., may either mean ’not to pay another sorrowful visit’ or ’not to pay another visit if it was going to be sorrowful’. ’Only the first interpretation would indicate that there had been already one sorrowful visit, § 884g.2. It would grieve him to punish beloved friends who should be his joy and delight.

2 and 3 are a grand expression of true spiritual love, wounded by its own severity, like our Lord weeping over Jerusalem.

3. ’For this very reason I wrote to you’, i.e. wrote the First Epistle. ’That my joy’, etc.: a touching appeal to the undutiful to repent in order to spare him.

4. ’Affliction’: now that the letter has done its work, he admits the anguish it cost him to write so many harsh words. ’That you might know’, etc.: one of his marvellous unexpected endings. We should have expected: ’that you might repent’, but he boldly says that they would understand that his severity was a proof of love.

5-11 Reconciliation of the Incestuous Man—The man who had married his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 notes) had at once been excommunicated as Paul had directed. He had quickly repented and separated from her, but the sentence had been allowed to stand till St Paul could be consulted, and therefore the sinner had been excluded from the church for weeks.

Paul protests that not he but they are the party chiefly injured, and begs them to receive him back at once. Many modern scholars however think that this passage refers to another person, §884c.

5. ’Whoever has caused sorrow has not caused it to me (only) but to all of you to some extent—that I may not be too hard’. The last part is difficult and uncertain.

6. ’Rebuke’: ’penalty’,i.e. the excommunication. ’Many’: ’the many’—the Corinthian church in general.

7. ’swallowed up’, etc.: he might despair of pardon and relapse into the same sin or worse.

8. ’Confirm’, etc.: ’give him an assurance of your love’. He evidently means that they were to welcome him back to the church. The sole object of the sentence (his penitence) had been attained.

9. ’Know’, etc. ’put you to the test’. In 7:8-12 the same statement is made about the same letter. Obviously it cannot mean that he was indifferent to the particular faults condemned in it, but that they were overshadowed by the question: Would the Corinthians in a body desert him when they read his severe criticisms and his many demands on them, and attach themselves altogether to the False Apostles?

10. ’The one whom you pardon, I also pardon’. ’In the person’, etc.: or perhaps ’in the presence of Christ’, cf.1 Corinthians 5:4, where he tells them to excommunicate the man ’in the name of the Lord Jesus . . . with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ’.

11. ’Satan’: another echo of 1 Cor 5 ’to hand such a man over to Satan’; see note. He must no longer be left in Satan’s power, i.e. cut off from the Sacraments.

12-13 The Journey to meet Titus—first part —The subject changes abruptly. He begins to tell how Titus brought him the good news that the majority of Corinthians had remained loyal to him. 12. ’Troas’, the port near the entrance to the Dardanelles. He travelled there from Ephesus, and apparently he had arranged to meet Titus there. ’For the gospel’: ’To preach the gospel’. ’Door’, i.e. an opportunity, cf.1 Corinthians 16:9. He means that he was gaining many converts. 13. He was in such suspense about events at Corinth that he sailed to Europe, probably to Philippi, knowing that Titus would travel that way.

14-17 God’s Power as seen In his Apostles —Just when we expect to hear of his meeting Titus, he breaks off, and we have to wait till 7:5 (nearly four chapters) for the continuation. Nothing could show better that Paul’s mode of writing is unique: he is a law unto himself, and it is dangerous to argue about him from the analogy of other writers. He again praises God for manifesting his power through such weak instruments as himself, cf. 1:8-10; 7:5-7. 14. ’Maketh us to triumph’: more likely: ’Leads us (as captives) in his triumphal procession’; a daring image: God’s conquering love seems almost to overstretch human capacity and to drag his apostle after him. ’The odour’, etc.: ’The perfume apostle knowledge of Himself’, i.e. the Gospel. 15. ’In the nostrils of those who are saved and of those who are lost we are a sweet perfume of Christ rising up to God’. The next verse makes the meaning clearer. The image in his mind seems to be that of the incense smoke which accompanied the daily sacrifice in the Temple. The saved are those who have accepted the Gospel and are in a state of grace.

16. ’To some (we are) a perfume (which operates) from death to death, i.e. becomes more and more deadly, cf. 3:18; Romans 1:17. Christ often says the same, e.g. To him that hath shall be given’, etc. Nobody who hears the Gospel can remain where he was. He is either better or worse, and so on progressively. ’These things’: i.e. this task (of an apostle). It requires an extraordinary grace. Paul knows he has received it, but says’ Our sufficiency is from God’ (3:5). Omit the ’so’ in DV.

17. ’adulterating’: or perhaps: ’Making a trade of’— using the Gospel to gain profit or influence (an allusion to the False Apostles at Corinth). ’From God’: ’inspired by God’. ’In Christ’: ’In union with Christ’.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/2-corinthians-2.html. 1951.
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