Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

2 Corinthians 1


The title of the Epistle exists in different forms, none of which is original. The earliest form is the simplest; πρὸς κορινθίους β (אABK): other forms are πρὸς κορ. δευτέρα ἐπιστολή (121, 123), τοῦ ἁγίου ἀποστόλου παύλου ἐπιστολὴ πρὸς κορινθίους β (L), παύλου ἀποστόλου ἐπιστολὴ καθολικὴ πρὸς κορ. δευτέρα [122]: and other variations.

Verse 1

1. Πυᾶλος ἀπόστολος Χρ. . The Apostle designates himself differently in different Epistles. In 1 and 2 Thessalonians and in Philippians he gives only his name. In Philemon he is δέσμιος Χρ. . Elsewhere he is always ἀπόστολος, with or without amplifications. Χριστοῦ Ἰ. is the poss. gen., stating whose minister he is. The order of these two names differs in MSS. here and elsewhere. But, if we follow the best witnesses, it is clear that in his earlier Epistles (1 and 2 Thes., Gal.) S. Paul always wrote . Χρ., and that in his later ones (Phil., Eph., Col., Philemon 1:1 and 2 Tim.) he nearly always wrote Χρ. . The change appears to have been made during the period in which Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians were written, and it is in these three Epistles that the readings are less certain. Here and in 2 Corinthians 4:5 Χρ. . is probably correct; otherwise 2 Corinthians 13:5. The change is not capricious. Originally Ἰησοῦς was a name, and ὁ χριστός or Χριστός was a title. Then Ἰησοῦς Χριστός was a name with a title added. Then Χριστός became less and less of a title, and the two words in either order were used simply as a name (see Sanday, Bampton Lectures, p. 289 and on Romans 1:1). S. Paul was ‘an Apostle of Christ Jesus,’ not in the stricter sense in which the Lord Himself gave the title to the Twelve (Luke 6:13; Mark 3:14), but in the wider sense in which the title of Apostle was applied to Barnabas (Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), James the brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:19), and others (Ephesians 4:11). But in this Epistle, as in Galatians 1:1, he seems to claim an uniqueness of Apostleship which placed him on an equality with the Twelve.

διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ. There is no self-assertion in this. It expresses his thankfulness for the Divine call, and reminds the Corinthians that what he says deserves attention.

καὶ Τιμόθεος ὁ ἀδελφός. ‘The brother’ means one of ‘the brethren,’ a Christian. In the papyri ἀδελφός occurs to signify a member of a heathen religious association (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 87, 88). The μαθηταί of the Gospels become the ἀδελφοί or the ἅγιοι of the Epistles. In the Gospels μαθητής occurs about 238 times, in the Epistles never. While ὁ Διδάσκαλος was with them, His followers were known by their relation to Him; after His Ascension, by their relation to one another or by their calling. In Acts we have the transition; there both μαθηταί and ἀδελφοί are fairly common, and οἱ ἅγιοι beginning to be used Acts 9:13; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:41, Acts 26:10). This consistent and intelligible usage is indirect confirmation of the early date of the Gospels. We may believe that Timothy had more to do with the composition of 2 Corinthians than the otherwise unknown Sosthenes had to do with that of 1 Corinthians; but after the first few verses he seems to be left out of sight. The coupling of his name with that of S. Paul shows the Corinthians that Timothy retains the Apostle’s confidence. See Origen on Matthew 16:19. When S. Paul writes to Timothy, he calls him, not a ‘brother’ but a ‘son’ (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2).

τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ. Again the poss. gen., marking whose people he is addressing (1 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4). Comp. ἡ συναγωγὴ Κυρίου (Numbers 16:3) and ἐκκλησία Κυρίου (Deuteronomy 23:8). Contrast τοῦ θεοῦ here with the preceding θεοῦ: ὁ θεός “brings before us the Personal God Who has been revealed to us in a personal relation to ourselves: the latter fixes our thoughts on the general conception of the Divine Character and Being” (Westcott on 1 John 4:12). See on 2 Corinthians 12:13.

σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ. With all the saints which are in the whole of Achaia (R.V.). This is no evidence of “a considerable body of believers”: whatever the number may be, the Apostle addresses them all. Nor does it show that this is a circular letter to be sent to other Churches in Achaia. The letter to the Galatians is circular; but that is addressed ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας, each of which was to have the letter. There were Christians outside Corinth, e.g. at Cenchreae, who had heard of the disorders at Corinth, and perhaps taken part in them; and all these are included in the address. ‘Achaia’ is used in a rhetorically general sense. The Roman province included the Peloponnese and North Greece as far as Macedonia, which was a separate province; but S. Paul is thinking of those who were interested in the Corinthian community (2 Corinthians 6:11).

Both οὔσῃ and αὖσιν might have been omitted, as in Colossians 1:2. It is perhaps owing to Hebrew influence that the fuller expression is found here, Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1.

By ἅγιοι is not meant that these Christians have already attained to holiness, but that they are ‘consecrated’ or set apart for a holy purpose,—the service of the Holy One. See Sanday and Headlam on Romans 1:7.

Verse 2

2. χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. A combination of the Greek χαίρειν (Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26; James 1:1) with the Hebrew Shalom (2 Samuel 18:28); in both cases with the meaning enriched: comp. Numbers 6:25-26. The one is the favour of God, the other the blessing of being restored to His favour after being opposed to Him. This is the usual salutation in the Pauline, as in the Petrine Epistles, 1 and 2 Timothy being exceptions. In them and in 2 John we have χάρις, ἔλεος, εἰρήνη, and in Jude ἔλεος, εἰρήνη, ἀγάπη. See Hort on 1 Peter 1:2 and Mayor on James 1:1.

ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The coordination of Jesus Christ as Lord with God as Father under one preposition is evidence, all the more powerful for being indirect, of the hold which the doctrine of the equality of Christ with the Father had on the Apostle’s mind. In the earliest of all his letters (1 Thessalonians 1:1) we find the same phenomenon. Comp. 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 1:3 and the benediction at the end of this letter (2 Corinthians 13:14) and of that to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:23).

In the O.T. God is the Father of the nation (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16; Jeremiah 3:4; Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 31:9; Malachi 1:6; Malachi 2:10). In the Apocrypha individuals begin to speak of God as their Father (Wisdom of Solomon 2:16; Wisdom of Solomon 14:3; Sirach 23:1; Sirach 23:4; Tobit 13:4; 3 Maccabees 6:3). Christ gave His disciples the right to do this (John 1:12, comp. 2 Corinthians 3:3; Romans 8:23; Galatians 4:5).


The thanksgiving is a conspicuous feature in S. Paul’s letters, and its absence in the severe letter to the Galatians is the more remarkable on that account: comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Romans 1:8; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; Philippians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 1:4. This example is perhaps only an outburst of gratitude towards God, and of affection towards his readers. But he may be aiming at giving comfort to others. The word ‘comfort’ (παράκλησις six times, παρακαλεῖν four) occurs ten times in five verses, a fact which the A.V. obscures by substituting, four times, ‘consolation.’ Usually S. Paul thanks God for the condition of those whom he addresses; here for his own rescue from a terrible crisis, which he uses to win the sympathy of the Corinthians.

Verse 3

3. Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χρ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (R.V.), as in the A.V. of Ephesians 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:3. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:31; Romans 15:6. It is He Who is both the God of Jesus (John 20:17) and the Father of Jesus (John 2:16; John 5:17, &c.) that is blessed by the Apostle. The Evangelist who tells us most about the Divinity of Christ tells us that He Himself spoke of the Father as His God, and we need not think that either S. Paul or S. Peter would shrink from expressing the same truth. Had they shrunk from it, they would have avoided language which is most naturally interpreted as meaning ‘the God of Jesus Christ.’ With this expression comp. Ὁ θεός μου (Mark 15:34), ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χρ. (Ephesians 1:17), ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεός, ὁ θεός σου (Hebrews 1:9), τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ (Revelation 1:6), τοῦ θεοῦ μου (Revelation 3:2; Revelation 3:12). The wording here is identical with Ephesians 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:3, where see Hort’s note. S. Paul commonly says εὐχαριστῶ (or εὐχαριστοῦμεν) τῷ θεῷ. Only here and Ephesians 1:3 does he substitute εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεός. In the LXX. εὐλογητός is more often used of God than of men; in the N.T. always (eight times) of God. A benediction of God immediately after the address seems to have been common in Jewish letters. See Bigg, St Peter and St Jude, p. 16.

Not ἐστι, but ἔστω, is to be supplied with εὐλογητός.

ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως. ‘The merciful God who is the Source of all true comfort’ is the meaning: but ‘of mercies’ is perhaps stronger than ‘merciful.’ Comp. ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἐλπίδος (Romans 15:13). ‘Mercies’ (Romans 12:1) for ‘mercy’ is probably a Hebraism. Comp. ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης (Ephesians 1:17) and ὁ π. τῶν φώτων, (James 1:17). See Ellicott on Ephesians 1:8.

Verse 4

4. ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν. In all our affliction. S. Paul repeats θλίψις (4, 8, 2 Corinthians 2:4) and θλίβω (2 Corinthians 1:6) as he repeats παράκλησις and παρακαλεῖν and the repetition should be preserved in translation.

The ἡμᾶς and ἡμῶν are probably not a gentle substitute for με and μου. Where he means himself exclusively he commonly uses the singular (2 Corinthians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 2:1-13, 2 Corinthians 7:4; 2 Corinthians 7:8-12; 2 Corinthians 7:14-16, 2 Corinthians 9:1-2, &c.), sometimes with pronouns added which make the singular more emphatic (2 Corinthians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Corinthians 12:13). Where he uses the plural he perhaps generally includes Timothy or others, according to the context: see Lightfoot on 1 Thessalonians 2:4. But changes of number are frequent and rapid (2 Corinthians 7:3-16), sometimes in the same verse (2 Corinthians 1:13). On the other hand, while the plural prevails 2 Corinthians 1:3-12 and 2 Corinthians 2:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1, in 2 Corinthians 1:15-17 and 2 Corinthians 2:1-10 the singular is constant. It is more certain that the singular is always personal than that the plural commonly includes someone else. In 2 Corinthians 7:5 ἡ σὰρξ ἡμῶν must mean S. Paul only; comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Here ἡμᾶξ may mean all believers.

Θλίψις implies being pressed down or in great straits. The Vulgate has tribulatio here, 2 Corinthians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 4:17, 2 Corinthians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 7:4, 2 Corinthians 8:2; pressura next line, John 16:21; John 16:33; Philippians 1:16; passio Colossians 1:24, where it is used of the sufferings of Christ. It is under the influence of the Vulgate that the A. V. here has first ‘tribulation’ and then ‘trouble.’ In the first case it is affliction as a whole that is meant, in the second, every kind of affliction (Matthew 3:10; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 12:31; Luke 4:13): Blass, Gram. N.T. § 47. 9. The ἐπί expresses the occasion on which the comfort is bestowed.

εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι ἡμᾶς παρακαλεῖν. It is part of the Divine purpose in giving comfort, that it should be communicated to others. Dat ut demus. Community of feeling with others is the note of the Church (John 13:35). It was his intense sympathy which gave S. Paul such power in winning, regaining, and retaining converts. Note the attraction of ἦς for , as in Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 4:1, a form of attraction which is rare: attraction is common in the N.T., but is not so varied as in classical Greek.

Verse 5

5. ὅτι καθὼς περισσεύει τὰ παθήματα τοῦ χριστοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς. ‘The sufferings of the Messiah abound unto us,’ which means ‘in reference to us’ or ‘in our case’; so that the ‘in us’ of the A. V. is substantially correct: comp. Romans 5:15; Romans 8:18. The comfort is given in proportion to the suffering, and this correspondence between comfort and suffering is effected in Christ. The sufferings of Christ’s ministers are identified with His sufferings in that they have the same cause and the same end,—the opposition of evil and the vanquishing of evil. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:10; Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 13:13; 1 Peter 4:13. That Christ, now in glory, still suffers in His members, is a thought which has no place here, and perhaps nowhere in Scripture. For τὰ παθήματα τ. χρ. comp. Luke 24:26, and see Hort on 1 Peter 1:11.

οὕτως διὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ. Even so our comfort also aboundeth through the Christ. The correspondence is exact, καθὼςοὔτως: ‘just as, so’ or ‘as, even so.’ ‘Through the Christ,’ who dwells in us through His Spirit; Ephesians 3:16-19. Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:4.

Somewhat different is Bishop Lightfoot’s interpretation: “the sufferings of Christ are said to ‘overflow’ (περισσεύειν) upon the Apostle.” See his note on ἀνταναπληρῶ τὰ ὑστερήματα τῶν θλίψεων τοῦ χριστοῦ, (Colossians 1:24), a passage which he regards as similar in meaning to this verse, though not identical with it. According to this view the sufferings of the Messiah (τοῦ χριστοῦ) overflow on to those who belong to the Messianic people,—the new Israel,—of which the Apostle was marked out as a representative.

Verse 6

6. Respecting the text see critical note. It is possible that τῆς σωτηρίας is a gloss, which has got into the text in two different places; but no authority omits it in both places. 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 endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer. But rather than ‘and’ for δέ, because the connexion is that the Corinthians are gainers whichever be considered, the affliction or the comfort. So far from being a self-seeking and domineering pretender, as the Apostle’s enemies said, both his suffering and his consolation were for the good of his flock. Whenever the sufferings of the Christ abound in them, i.e. when they have to suffer in the conflict with evil, the Apostle’s afflictions will be a help to them. This is a real communio sanctorum. For ὑμῶν see on 2 Corinthians 12:19.

The alternative εἴτεεἴτε … is common in all the groups of the Pauline Epistles, excepting the Pastorals; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:13, 2 Corinthians 8:23, 2 Corinthians 12:2-3; 1 Cor. twelve times; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 6:8; Philippians 1:18; Philippians 1:20; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 1:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; elsewhere in N.T. 1 Peter 2:13 only. The passive of ἐνεργεῖν does not occur in the N.T., the middle only in S. Paul (2 Corinthians 4:12; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7) and S. James (2 Corinthians 5:16). Which worketh means ‘which makes itself felt in the patient enduring (R.V.) of the same sufferings.’ Mere enduring of what cannot be avoided may be barren pain or worse. It is endurance without rebellion or reproach that is meant by ὑπομονή (2 Corinthians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 12:12). Comp. ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῆ ὑμῶν κτήσεσθε τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν (Luke 21:19), and τὴν ὑπομονὴν Ἰὼβ ἠκούσατε (James 5:11). And there is no endurance without affliction (Romans 5:3).

Verse 7

7. καὶ ἡ ἐλπὶς ἡμῶν βεβαία ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν. The ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν belongs to the whole clause, not to ἐλπίς alone; And our hope is sure concerning you: comp. Philippians 1:7.

εἰδότες. Because we know. See Ellicott on Ephesians 6:8. This knowledge gives the sure hope that, when affliction comes, the Corinthians will take it in the right spirit and have their full measure of comfort; ἐστέ is the timeless present, and is not to be understood of the moment of the Apostle’s writing.

Verse 8

8. Οὐ γὰρ θἐλομεν ὑμᾶς ἀγονεῖν. A frequent expression with S. Paul; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; Romans 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Comp. γνωρίζομεν ὑμῖν (2 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1; Galatians 1:11), and θέλω ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι (1 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 2:1). These phrases introduce what is regarded as of special importance.

ὑπὲρ τῆς θλίψεως ἡμῶν τῆς γενομένης ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ. Concerning our affliction which came to pass in Asia. The Roman province of Asia, which had been bequeathed to the Romans by Attalus III. in B.C. 133, is meant. In popular language ‘Asia’ meant the coastlands of Asia Minor on the Aegean (see Hort on 1 Peter 1:1). It included the Seven Churches (Revelation 1:4). Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:19; Romans 16:5; 2 Timothy 1:15.

ὅτι καθʼ ὑπερβολὴν ὑπὲρ δύναμιν ἐβαρήθημεν. That beyond measure (Galatians 1:13), above strength, we were weighed down. The load in itself was an excessive one, and it was more than there was strength to sustain. Or καθʼ ὑπερβολήν may qualify ὑπὲρ δύναμιν, exceedingly above our strength, so that we utterly despaired even of life. In the N.T. ὑπερβολή is peculiar to this group of Epistles, where it occurs eight times; in the LXX. only once, in the phrase καθʼ ὑπερβολήν (4 Maccabees 3:18), which S. Paul uses 2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 12:31; Galatians 1:13; Romans 7:13. Note the strong compound ἑξαπορηθῆναι (here and 2 Corinthians 4:8 only).

What is the terrible affliction which befell S. Paul (and Timothy?) in Asia? Not the outcry against the Apostle raised by Demetrius at Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41), for S. Paul’s life was scarcely in danger then; and, as soon as the uproar was over, he peacefully followed Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia (Acts 20:1). And perhaps neither a shipwreck nor a severe illness would have been classed as ‘sufferings of the Christ.’ More probably he refers to the crushing news, which had been brought to him in Asia, of the state of things in Corinth, especially as regards repudiation of the Apostle’s teaching and rebellion against his authority. As he does not specify what it is, it must be something well known to the Corinthians. All that he tells them here is how severe it was. To the highly sensitive and tender-hearted missionary, this revolt of the Church which he had founded in one of the most important centres in the world, and which he loved so well, was overwhelming. He did not expect, and perhaps he hardly wished, to survive it. The news of it may well have produced an amount of suffering such as is here described. Nor is there any improbability in his letting the Corinthians know how their conduct had affected him, especially after Titus, who would tell them the nature of S. Paul’s affliction, had left him. It is part of the strong appeal which in this letter he makes to them; for it proves his intense interest and affection, and may convince them of the gravity of their conduct. It might well be counted among ‘sufferings of the Christ.’ Like those, it was the outcome of the conflict with evil, and (to a large extent) of conflict with Jewish hostility. When all the circumstances are considered, the language of 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 does not seem extravagant for such a trial. But a combination of personal and official troubles may be meant.

Verse 9

9. ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὸ ἀπόκριμα τοὺ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν. Nay, we ourselves within ourselves have got the answer of death. ‘When we asked whether it was to be life or death for us, our own presentiment said, death.’ The ἀλλά does not mark opposition, but confirms what precedes: ‘you may disbelieve this, but more than this is true’: comp. 2 Corinthians 8:7, 2 Corinthians 10:2; John 16:2. The A.V. has ‘sentence’ in the text and ‘answer’ in the margin; the R.V. transposes. Josephus and Polybius use ἀπόκριμα for a decision of the Roman Senate; and in an inscription dated A.D. 51, and therefore about the time of this letter, it is used of the decisions of the Emperor Claudius (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 257). Therefore ‘sentence’ or ‘verdict’ is admissible, although ‘answer’ is perhaps correct. Chrysostom gives as equivalents, τὴν ψῆφον, κρίσιν, τὴν προσδοκίαντὴν ἀπόφασιν. The Vulgate has responsum. The word occurs nowhere else in Biblical Greek. With the perfect, ἐσχήκαμεν, which vividly recalls the situation and prolongs it into the present, comp. 2 Corinthians 2:13 and 2 Corinthians 7:5.

ἵνα μὴ πεποιθότες ὦμεν ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς. This was God’s purpose in sending the presentiment of death: comp. 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 1:15. For the periphrastic perfect comp. John 16:24; John 17:19.

τῷ ἐγείροντι τοὺς νεκρούς. Present participle: He continually raises the dead, and a fortiori can rescue from death (Romans 4:17). Thus the ἐξαπορηθῆναι of 2 Corinthians 1:8 becomes the οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι. of 2 Corinthians 4:8. This passing mention of the doctrine of the resurrection (2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 5:10), which had been impugned at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:12), is perhaps intentional.

Verse 10

10. ἐκ τηλικούτου θανάτου. Placed first with emphasis: out of so great a death delivered us and will deliver, on whom we have set our hope that He will also still deliver us. If we omit ὅτι, on whom we have set our hope; and He will still deliver us, while ye also help together, &c. See critical note. ‘Will still deliver’ intimates that the peril is not entirely over, or that it may return. This is against the uproar at Ephesus and shipwreck. It fits severe illness; but it fits anxiety about Corinthian loyalty or a combination of troubles still better. In Biblical Greek τηλικοῦτος is rare; here only in S. Paul.

Verse 11

11. συνυπουργούντων καὶ ὑμῶν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τῇ δεήσει. Ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication (R.V.). For different words for ‘prayer’ see Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1 : δέησις is often used of intercession; 2 Corinthians 9:14; Romans 10:1; Philippians 1:4; Philippians 1:19; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 5:7. See Trench, Synonyms of the N.T. § li. The misconduct of the Corinthians had nearly killed the Apostle: but, now that he has the good news brought by Titus, he feels sure of their help; and he tells them that his future deliverance from similar danger depends upon their intercessions cooperating with his own prayers. The participle means ‘while ye help’ rather than ‘if ye help.’

ἴνα ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων. The general meaning of this clause is evident, however we may explain the details. Thankfulness for their deliverance is not to be confined to Paul and Timothy: their preservation will be recognized as a blessing by many, who will thank God for it. The ἵνα depends upon συνυπουργούντων ὑμῶν rather than upon ῥύσεται. If διὰ πολλῶν is neuter, it means ‘by many words’; but it is probably masculine, and yet is not the same group of persons as ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων. Rather, the latter refers to those who by their intercessions won the gift for the Apostle, while διὰ πολλῶν refers to those who give thanks for it (A. V., R.V.). Probably πρόσωπον is here ‘person’ rather than ‘face,’ like persona = [1] ‘mask’; [2] ‘person.’ See on 2 Corinthians 2:10. But it is possible to keep the literal meaning in the sense of the expression of gratitude beaming ‘out from many faces.’ In that case ‘the many faces,’ or mouths, are those of the many by whom thanks are given: that out of many lips thanks may be given by many on our behalf for the blessing bestowed upon us. It is unlikely that the first πολλῶν is the genitive after προσώπων, although the Vulgate takes it so: ut ex multorum personis ejus quae in nobis est donationis per multos gratiae agantur pro nobis. In the N.T. χάρισμα is peculiar to S. Paul, excepting 1 Peter 4:10. Here, as there, it is used of an external blessing. It commonly means an internal gift of grace, especially some extraordinary power; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:31, &c. For πρόσωπα comp. ὀλίγα πρόσωπα (Clem. Rom. i. 1), and ἐν τοῖς προγεγραμμένοις προσώποις (Ign. Magn. vi., where see Lightfoot’s note.) Chrysostom twice reads ἐν πολλῷ προσώπῳ with FGM, d g.

εὐχαριστηθῇ. This passive has two uses; [1] of the person thanked (Philo, Quis rer. div. heres § 36), and [2] of the thing for which thanks are given (here only in the N.T. Comp. Just. Apol. i. 65).

2 Corinthians 1:12 to 2 Corinthians 7:16. APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA

This is the first of the two (or three?) main divisions of the letter. In it he reminds the Corinthians of his relations with them, and enters into a variety of explanations of his conduct. He vindicates his apostolic walk and character, shows what the office, sufferings, and life of an Apostle are, and what claims he has upon them. Titus has convinced him that the Corinthians now recognize these claims, and that he may consider himself to be entirely reconciled to them.

For convenience we may break up this first division into three sections; 2 Corinthians 1:12 to 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 3:1 to 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 6:11 to 2 Corinthians 7:16.


Verse 12

12. Ἡ γὰρ καύχησις ἡμῶν αὕτη ἐστίν. For our glorying is this. The triplet, καύχησις (2 Corinthians 7:4; 2 Corinthians 7:14, 2 Corinthians 8:24, 2 Corinthians 11:10; 2 Corinthians 11:17), καύχημα (2 Corinthians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 5:12, 2 Corinthians 9:3), and καυχᾶσθαι (20 times), occurs more often in 2 Corinthians than in all the rest of the N.T. Outside the Pauline Epistles none of the three occurs more than twice. The A.V. is capricious; ‘glorying,’ 2 Corinthians 7:4; ‘boasting,’ 2 Corinthians 7:14, 2 Corinthians 8:24, 2 Corinthians 11:10; 2 Corinthians 11:17; ‘rejoicing,’ here. ‘Rejoicing’ is wrong, and ‘boast’ is wanted for αὐχεῖν (James 3:5). The Apostle’s repetition of the word must be preserved by a uniform translation. The γάρ closely connects this section with the preceding Thanksgiving. ‘I feel sure of your intercessions, for my conscience tells me that I have done nothing to forfeit them.’

τὸ μαρτύριον τῆς συνειδήσεως ἡμῶν. Here, as in Romans 1:15; Romans 9:1, the conscience is distinguished from the self as a power giving separate testimony. Συνείδησις is ‘co-knowledge’ (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:4): consciousness of one’s acts is one knowledge; reflexion on their merit is another. Neither word nor thing was known to Plato or Aristotle; the use of the term seems to begin with the Stoics. Comp. Wisdom of Solomon 17:10. In N.T. the word occurs only in the Pauline Epistles, S. Paul’s speeches in Acts (Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16), Hebrews, 1 Peter, and [Jn] 2 Corinthians 8:9. See Westcott on Hebrews 9:9 and Bigg on 1 Peter 2:19; also Cremer, Lex. p. 233.

ἐν ἁγιότητι καὶ εἰλικρινίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ. In holiness and God-given sincerity. See critical note. ‘Sincerity of God’ is that which has its source in God, as is seen from what follows; but ‘pleasing to God’ and ‘Godlike, Divine’ are also possible. For ἁγιότης, which is very rare in Biblical Greek, comp. Hebrews 12:10; 2 Maccabees 15:2. For εἰλικρινία comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 5:8. Its derivation is a problem: it means ‘freedom from deceit and fraud, purity of intention.’ See Lightfoot on Philippians 1:10. On the shortening of -εια to -ια see WH. II. p. 154.

οὐκ ἐνἀλλʼ ἐν. The repetition of the ἐν must be preserved: not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God. By σοφία σαρκική is meant unscrupulous human cleverness, the very opposite of ‘God-given sincerity.’ There was plenty of it at Corinth, in trade, in politics, and in philosophy. S. Paul has suffered from it grievously; but he had never thought it right ‘to fight the devil with his own weapons,’ or allow his good to be evil-spoken of (Romans 14:16). Chrysostom paraphrases, οὐκ ἐν κακουργίᾳ οὐδὲ πονηρίᾳ, οὐδὲ ἐν δεινότητι λόγων ἢ ἐν συμπλοκῇ σοφισμάτων. Comp. 1 Corinthians 2:1.

ἀνεστράφημεν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. We behaved ourselves in the world. ‘Conversation’ in the sense of manner of life has unfortunately gone out of use, and the R.V. drops it here and Ephesians 2:3 for ἀναστρέφεσθαι, and also Galatians 1:13 and Ephesians 4:22 for ἀναστροφή, as well as Philippians 3:20 for πολίτευμα, and Hebrews 13:5 for τρόπος. See Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 88, 194, where it is shown that this use of ἀναστρέφεσθαι and ἀναστροφή of moral conduct is common in secular language. By ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ a contrast is drawn between the holiness of life and the sphere in which it was exhibited,—the heathen world in which the Apostle laboured. See Hort on 1 Peter 1:15, and Suicer, Thes. s.v.

περισσοτέρως δὲ πρὸς ὑμᾶς. More abundantly towards the Corinthians, because of the perils of the situation. Holiness and sincerity, with reliance on God’s grace rather than upon worldly craft, were specially necessary in dealing with such a Church. Moreover he had been there a long time, and they had had more abundant opportunities of observing him.

Verse 13

13. οὐ γὰρ ἄλλα γράφομεν. ‘Do not say, Ah, but your letters are not sincere, for I write nothing that is inconsistent with what you read in my other letters, or with your experience of my life and conduct.’ The present, γράφομεν, does not refer to this letter exclusively, and perhaps does not include it. He is appealing to what they already know of him. ‘My letters are consistent with one another and with my behaviour, as you have known it in the past, and (I hope) as you will know it to the end.’ The Corinthians had previously received three letters from him, the lost letter of 1 Corinthians 5:9, 1 Corinthians, and a third letter, very severe in tone, which is either lost or preserved in part in 10–13. So they had enough of his written words to judge him by. See on 2 Corinthians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 2:9.

ἀλλʼ ἣ ἃ ἀναγινώσκετε ἣ καὶ ἐπιγινώσκετε. Than what you read or even acknowledge. Note the present tense: ‘my meaning lies on the surface. You read it at once; you read it and you recognize it.’ For the characteristic play upon words comp. 2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 6:10, 2 Corinthians 7:10, 2 Corinthians 10:6; 2 Corinthians 10:12. In classical Greek ἀναγινώσκετε might mean ‘recognize, admit’; and it has been proposed to go back to that meaning here: ‘we write none other things than what ye recognize or even acknowledge,’ or (imitating the play on words) ‘than those things to which ye assent and even consent.’ And it is proposed to adopt a similar rendering in 2 Corinthians 3:2. But ἀναγινώσκειν occurs more than thirty times in the N.T., and seems always to mean ‘read’ (Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27, &c.). In this Epistle it must mean ‘read’ in 2 Corinthians 3:15, and almost certainly in 2 Corinthians 3:2. It is safer to retain the usual N.T. meaning here, as Chrysostom does. Indeed the use of the word in connexion with the recipients of a letter, in contrast to the writer, seems to be decisive.

There is perhaps a mixture of constructions in ἀλλʼ , between οὐκ ἄλλα ἤ and οὐκ ἄλλα, ἀλλά: comp. Luke 12:51; Job 6:5; Sirach 37:12; Sirach 44:10. It is common in classical Greek, and Hdt. I. 49. 1 and IX. 8, 3 seem to show the origin of it. See Winer, p. 552, Stallbaum on Phaedo 81 B.

ἐλπίξω. He is not quite confident: I hope you will acknowledge to the end. ‘Even to the end’ (A.V.) is from the false reading καὶ ἕως τέλους (D3KLMP). As in 1 Corinthians 1:8, ‘to the end’ means to the end of the world. The expectation of Christ’s speedy return was then so vivid that the difference between ‘till I die’ and ‘until the day of the Lord Jesus’ was not great.

Verse 14

14. ὅτι καύχημα ὑμῶν ἐσμέν. Ye acknowledged us in part, that we are your glorying, or, because we are your glorying: the former is better. See on 2 Corinthians 3:14. As distinct from καύχησις (2 Corinthians 1:12, 2 Corinthians 7:4, &c.), καύχημα is that which is gloried in, the thing boasted of: but S. Paul is not careful to distinguish the two words. By ἀπὸ μέρους he means that not all had been completely won over: comp. Romans 11:25; Romans 15:15; Romans 15:24.

καθάπερ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἡμῶν. Exact reciprocity of feeling between himself and his converts is one of the keynotes of this letter: comp. 2 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 1:11, 2 Corinthians 4:15 : ἐν ἴσῃ τέθεικα τάξει ἑαυτὸν καὶ τοὺς μαθητάς (Theodoret).

τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τ. κ. ἡμ. . Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 5:5; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:10; Philippians 2:16. The words may be taken either with the whole sentence or with the last clause only. They solemnly close the paragraph: comp. 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Verse 15

15. ταύτῃ τῇ πεποιθήσει. Stronger than ἐλπίζω (2 Corinthians 1:13). The word is of late origin (Hatch, Biblical Greek, p. 13) and is exclusively Pauline in the N.T. (2 Corinthians 3:4, 2 Corinthians 8:22, 2 Corinthians 10:2; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:4). Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:9, 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 10:7.

ἐβουλόμην. I was wishing (Acts 25:22; Acts 28:18; Philemon 1:13). He does not say, ‘I promised.’ It is possible to take πρότερον with ἐβουλόμην: ‘I was formerly desirous.’ But it goes better with what follows: to come first unto you, viz. before going to Macedonia, where he is when he writes this letter. To this ‘first’ (πρότερον) the δευτέραν χαράν refers: that ye might have a second joy; the first on his way to Macedonia, the second on his way back. The reading χάριν may be correct; the two words being sometimes confused in MSS., as in 3 John 1:4. An Apostle’s visit would bring grace (Romans 1:11; Romans 15:29) and produce joy (Philippians 1:25). In explaining δεντέραν we must not count the first long visit, during which S. Paul founded the Corinthian Church, or the second short visit, in which ἐν λύπῃ (2 Corinthians 2:1) he spoke sharply about some of the disorders. This second visit may be regarded as certain (Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, p. 274); but it is not alluded to here. The language here is simple and intelligible, if we interpret it of the Apostle’s intended double visit to Corinth, before and after the visit to Macedonia. For other instances in which he tells his readers of intended visits, which he has not been able to carry out, comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Romans 1:13; Romans 15:22. See also Acts 16:6. Atto of Vercelli understands the first grace of the Apostle’s letter, the second of his visit, Epistola ejus imago fuit; praesentia corporis, veritas.

Verses 15-24

15–24. The rest of this chapter and part of the next are taken up with the Apostle’s defence of himself against a charge of ‘lightness’ (ἐλαφρία), i.e. of not caring for the Corinthians or for his engagements to them. That he is disproving a charge of faithlessness, in having failed to visit them after promising that he would do so, is perhaps not correct. He tells them here that, at the very time when they were suspecting him of neglecting them and treating them lightly, he was intending to pay them a double visit. There is nothing to show that he had promised two visits, or that, until they read this letter, they had ever heard of his project of paying them two visits, although they had heard of his purpose of paying them one.

Verse 16

16. διʼ ὑμῶν διελθεῖν εἰς ΄ακεδονίαν. ‘To pass by you into M.’ (A.V.) suggests ‘pass by without visiting you,’ which is the opposite of the meaning. ‘By you to pass into M.’ (R.V.) suggests ‘by your help to pass on to M.’ which is not the meaning. The meaning is, through you to pass on unto M., and again from M. to come to you, and by you to be set forward on my way unto Judaea. The changes, εἰςπρόςεἰς should be marked in translation; ‘unto … to … unto,’ or ‘into … unto … into’: not ‘into … unto … toward’ (A.V.), nor ‘into … unto … unto’ (R.V.).

Verse 17

17. βουλόμενος. This recalls ἐβουλόμην (2 Corinthians 1:15). As this, then, was my wish, did I at all exhibit lightness? The article is probably generic and may be omitted in English (A.V., R.V.): but it may mean ‘the levity of which you accuse me.’ Comp. τῇ ὑποταγῇ (Galatians 2:5). Like πεποίθησις (2 Corinthians 1:15), ἐλαφρία (here only in Biblical Greek) is of late formation from ἐλαφρός (2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 11:30), as πικρία from πικρός, &c. As always, μήτι = num, and expects a negative reply: 2 Corinthians 12:18; James 3:11; John 4:29; John 8:22; John 18:35, &c.

κατὰ σάρκα. Comp. ἐν σοφίᾳ σαρκικῇ (2 Corinthians 1:12). It means, according to the unprincipled motives of a worldly man, which have no unity, no seriousness, and so are ever shifting; and not according to the guidance of conscience and of the Holy Spirit: 2 Corinthians 10:3; Galatians 5:16. Chrysostom defines the σαρκικός as ὁ τοῖς παροῦσι προσηλωμένος καὶ ἐν τούτοις διαπαντὸς ὤν, καὶ τῆς τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐνεργείας ἐκτὸς τυγχάνων, so that he follows his own fancies and desires.

τὸ Ναί ναὶ καὶ τὸ Οὔ οὔ. The article may again be either generic, and be omitted in English, or mean ‘that with which you charge me.’ In the latter case it corresponds to our inverted commas; comp. Ephesians 4:9; Galatians 4:25. The repetition is for emphasis, as in ἀμήν, ἀμήν; and the meaning possibly is that, in his levity of character, what he says cannot be relied upon. There may be allusion to something in his letters. In 1 Corinthians 16:5-8 he promised to come to them. In the second lost letter, between our First and Second, he may have said something different. See notes on 2 Corinthians 2:3 and 2 Corinthians 7:8. The conjectural reading, τὸ ναὶ οὔ καὶ τὸ οὔ ναί (Baljon, Markland, Michaelis, Naber), has no authority.

Some commentators, both ancient and modern, interpret the ‘yea yea’ and ‘nay nay’ as meaning ‘that out of proud self-will, when I decide to do a thing, I do it, and when I decide not to do a thing, I refuse to do it, without considering the will of God.’ Even if the words can mean this, it does not fit the context. He was not charged with obstinacy, but with want of steadfastness: and there is no hint of an opposition between his will and God’s will. Rather, he asks them, whether they think that, like an unscrupulous man of the world, he says Yes and No in the same breath. ‘Do I follow mere whims, that there should be in my life a perpetual variation,—a decision to-day, an alteration to-morrow, refusal following on consent?’

Verse 18

18. πιστὸς δὲ ὁ θεός. But (whatever you may think of me) God is faithful, in that our word toward you is not yea and nay. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3. Neither Wiclif, following the Vulgate, nor Tyndale, nor Cranmer takes the words as an adjuration (A.V., R.V.), ‘as God is faithful.’ Romans 14:11 is urged in support of this; but there we have a known form of adjuration, which this is not. It is safer not to turn either this or 2 Corinthians 11:10 into an adjuration. By ὁ λόγος ἡμῶν he means the message of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 1:19): hence he quite naturally returns from the singular (2 Corinthians 1:15-17) to the plural (18–22). ‘Our doctrine is plain enough. The faithfulness of God is reflected in it, and you can find no inconsistency there. If, then, we have been faithful in the greater things, why do you distrust me in the less?’ He says ἔστιν, not ἐγένετο or ἦν (see critical note), because the doctrine is still before them; they all know what he taught month after month: αὐτοὺς καλῶν εἰς μαρτυρίαν (Theodoret). Possibly there is the further thought, ‘This is more than my Judaizing opponents can say. They make God to be not faithful. He has promised salvation to all. They say, Yea, He has to the Jews; to the Gentiles, nay.’

Verse 19

19. ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ γὰρ υἱός. The position of γάρ throws great emphasis on to τοῦ θεοῦ: for God’s Son: Blass § 80. 4. ‘There was no inconsistency in our doctrine, for what we preached was One in whom inconsistency is impossible.’ It is perhaps in order to show “the impossibility of His connexion with any littleness or levity” (Stanley) that he gives the full title, ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ υἱὸς Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς. On S. Paul’s “Names for Christ” see Stead in the Expositor, 1888, pp. 386–395.

διʼ ἡμῶν. The Apostles were instruments, through whom (2 Corinthians 1:20, 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 3:5) the Gospel was proclaimed. Comp. διὰ τοῦ προφήτου, not ὑπό (Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:5; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 3:3; Matthew 4:14, &c.). They were not independent agents.

διʼ ἐμοῦ καὶ Σιλουανοῦ καὶ Τιμοθέου. Not only was his own teaching consistent with itself, it was also harmonious with that of his fellow-missioners. It was one and the same Christ that was preached always by all three.

There is not much doubt that the Silvanus of the Pauline Epistles (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) is the Silvanus of 1 Peter 5:12 and the Silas of Acts 15:22; Acts 15:27; Acts 15:32 [not 34], Acts 15:40, Acts 16:19-29, Acts 17:4-15, Acts 18:5. As in the case of Saul and Paul, the relation of the name Silas to the name Silvanus is doubtful. Abbreviated names often ended in -as, as Epaphras, Hermas, Nymphas, Zenas. But the usual abbreviation of Silvanus would be Silvas (Joseph. Bel. Jud. VII. viii. 1); and, if Silas be the original name, the common enlargement of that would be Silanus. But this is not conclusive, for experience shows that great freedom exists as to the modification of names. Silas may be the Aramaic Sili with a Greek termination. Silas was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), and as such, and in connexion with the Roman family of the Silvani, he may have got the name Silvanus. A Silvanus may have manumitted Silas or one of his forefathers. In that case neither name is derived from the other. See Bigg, St Peter and St Jude, pp. 84, 85. We know nothing more of Silvanus or Silas after his working at Corinth with Paul and Timothy, except that he was the bearer or draughtsman of 1 Peter (2 Corinthians 5:12). It is at Corinth that we lose sight of him. The agreement of Acts 18:5 with the mention of Silvanus and Timothy here is an undesigned coincidence which confirms both writings. The identification of Silvanus with Luke maybe safely rejected: see Lightfoot’s article on Acts in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, 2nd ed.

οὐκ ἐγένετο Ναί καὶ Οὔ, ἀλλὰ Ναί ἐν αὐτῷ γέγονεν. The Christ whom we preached did not prove to be yea and nay, but in Him yea has come to be. He did not show Himself to be one who said both Yes and No to the promises of God, but in Him the fulfilment of them has come to pass. It is simplest to make ἐν αὐτῷ refer to Christ.

Verses 19-22

19–22. Closely connected with what precedes, as is shown by the γάρ, extending and confirming the argument.

Verse 20

20. ὅσαι γὰρ ἐπαγγελίαι θεοῦ, ἐν αὐτῷ τό Ναί. For how many soever be the promises of God, in Him is the yea (R.V.), or possibly, in Him is their yea, i.e. their fulfilment. Numerous as they have been, Christ has fulfilled them all, not merely those which affect the Jews. For here again ἐν αὐτῷ probably means ‘in Christ.’ S. Paul says promises, not prophecies. He is not thinking of such fulfilments as S. Matthew (Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:5; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23, &c.) and S. John (John 12:38; John 13:18; John 19:24; John 19:36) love to suggest, but of such as he points out Romans 9:25; Romans 9:33, Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:22. Both ἐπαγγελία and ἐπαγγέλλομαι are used in the N.T. in two main senses: [1] the promises of the O.T. which are fulfilled by the Gospel (Acts 13:32; Acts 26:6; Romans 4:13-20; Romans 9:4, &c.); [2] the promises made by Christ (Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:13). Ἐπαγγελία is one of the words which links the disputed passage, 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1, to the rest of the letter.

διὸ καὶ διʼ αὐτοῦ τό Ἀμήν. See critical note. Wherefore also through Him is the Amen (R.V.), viz. the Amen in public worship (1 Corinthians 14:16; Deuteronomy 27:15 ff.; Nehemiah 5:13; Nehemiah 8:6; Psalms 41:13). By uttering the Amen in the public services the Corinthians had given their assent to this preaching of Christ. It was through His (or God’s) fulfilment of the promises that their Amen came to be uttered. Or perhaps better, the Ναί refers to Christ’s promise, the Ἀμήν to the response of the disciple: comp. Revelation 22:20. The other reading seems to make ‘the Amen’ a mere repetition of ‘the yea,’ like ‘Abba, Father.’

τῷ θεῷ πρὸς δόξαν διʼ ἡμῶν. To the glory of God through us, His instruments, as in 2 Corinthians 1:19. The emphasis is on τῷ θεῷ. The sequence runs thus: God made promises; Christ fulfilled them all; the Apostles preached Him as the fulfilment; the Corinthians said Amen to this; God was glorified (2 Corinthians 8:19) through this effectual preaching.

Verse 21

21. ὁ δὲ βεβαιῶν ἡμᾶς σὺν ὑμῖν εἰς Χριστὸν καὶ χρίσας ἡμᾶς θεός. The ἡμᾶς may be the same throughout 2 Corinthians 1:21-22,—‘us teachers, us Apostles.’ The σὺν ὑμῖν need not be carried to the clauses which follow. Teachers and taught alike are continually being ‘confirmed unto Christ’ by God, and in this blessed fact he eagerly couples the Corinthians with himself; but the anointing and sealing may here refer to those who are set apart for a special office. No doubt there is a sense in which all Christians are anointed and sealed; but that is perhaps not what is meant here. The change of tense, and the omission of σὺν ὑμῖν although ἡμᾶς is repeated, point to a distinction; and the aorists may refer to the definite occasion when the ministers were consecrated to their work, and should not, as in the A.V., be rendered as perfects. See Waite in the Speaker’s Commentary. In Luke 4:18 and Acts 10:38 ἔχρισεν and ἔχρισας are used of God’s sending Jesus as the Preacher of the good tidings; and here χρίσας may be meant to refer to Χριστόν: ‘who confirmeth us unto Christ and made us christs (anointed ones).’ The anointing is with the Holy Spirit. Elisha is anointed (1 Kings 19:16), and receives the spirit of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9; 2 Kings 2:15). If σὺν ὑμῖν be carried on, and χρίσας and σφρ. be understood of the whole body of believers, the change of tense may be explained as meaning that those whom God once for all consecrated and made His own, these He ever stablisheth. The closely parallel passages, Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30, favour the application of σφρ. to all Christians. With the pregnant construction βεβαιῶν εἰς Χρ. comp. Ephesians 4:15 and Ellicott’s note; and with χρίσας comp. 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27.

Verse 22

22. ὁ καὶ σφραγισάμενος ἡμᾶς. The is omitted in א1Acts 1 KP and some versions. The sealing is not a mere change of metaphor; it continues and extends what has just been stated. Seals have had an enormous use in the East, and without a seal no document was valid. This may be part of the meaning here; ‘God stamped us as a guarantee of genuineness, especially by the signs of His power which we manifested’ (2 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 15:18-19; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30 : comp. 1 Corinthians 9:2). The middle voice introduces another idea; ‘He stamped us as His own property, sealed us for Himself. And the proximity of βεβαιῶν and ἀρραβῶνα suggests the further thought of the confirmation of a bargain: He confirms us along with you unto Christ, in as much as He put His seal upon us. Comp. John 6:27 and esp. Revelation 7:3. See Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 108, 109.

τὸν ἀρραβῶνα τοῦ πνεύματος. The expression occurs again 2 Corinthians 1:5, and the remarkable word ἀρραβών, Lat. arrhabo and arrha, Scotch ‘arles,’ is found Ephesians 1:14, ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, where see Ellicott’s and Lightfoot’s notes. It is said to be of Phoenician origin. It is more than a pledge (pignus); it is a part of what is to be handed over, which is delivered at once, as a guarantee that the main portion will follow. It is an instalment paid in advance, e.g. a coin from a large sum, a turf from an estate, a tile from a house. See on 2 Corinthians 2:6. The genitive is one of apposition, the Spirit being the earnest of the eternal life, which is hereafter to be given in full. Comp. Romans 8:23. God confirms His ministers, and with them those to whom they minister, unto Christ; and as a security that they will become Christ’s fully and for ever, He gave the Spirit. Or, the reference may be to the bestowal of the Spirit at the beginning of the Christian life; Acts 2:38; Acts 19:6; Titus 3:5.

Verse 23

23. Ἐγὼ δὲ μάρτυρα τὸν θεὸν ἐπικαλοῦμαι ἐπὶ τὴν ἐμὴν ψυχήν. But I call God for a witness upon my soul. Ἐγώ and τ. θεόν are emphatic; ‘God is faithful (2 Corinthians 1:18), and it is God who sealed us (2 Corinthians 1:22), and I call Him as a witness.’ As the order shows, ἐπὶ τ. ἑμ. ψ. belongs to ἐπικαλοῦμαι, ‘I invoke upon my soul God as a witness’: not, ‘against my soul, on which will come the penalty if I lie.’ He appeals to God, τὸν τῶν ἐννοιῶν ἐπόπτην (Theodoret), to investigate his soul, and see whether he is not true in what he says, as in Esther 5:1, ἐπικαλεσαμένη τὸν πάντων ἐπόπτην θεόν. The middle voice shows that God is invoked as a witness on his side (Antipho 114, 32; Plato, Laws 664 c). Comp. ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸν κύριον or τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου (Acts 22:16; Romans 10:13; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:17, where we have a similar predicate), and Καίσαρα ἐπικαλοῦμαι (Acts 25:11; Acts 26:32; Acts 28:19). ‘As my life shall answer for it’ is as incorrect as ‘against my soul.’

φειδόμενος ὑμῶν. With emphasis: it was to spare you, and not out of levity or carelessness. Had he come, he must have used great severity, ἐν ῥάβδῳ (1 Corinthians 4:21), and this he did not desire to do or think wise. In making this personal declaration he naturally falls into the singular; Timothy and others are not concerned. But, as Chrysostom points out, he was not acting κατὰ σάρκα in this. It was not merely because he did not like to be severe, that he abstained from visiting them: he was acting under the guidance of the Spirit, as in Acts 16:7.

οὐκέτι ἦλθον εἰς Κόρινθον. I came no more (2 Corinthians 5:16; Galatians 3:25; Ephesians 2:9; Philemon 1:16, &c.), i.e. after his former visits. After the long stay, during which he had founded the Church, he had paid the Corinthians a short and painful visit. This short visit probably took place before he wrote the letter mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 2:9 and 2 Corinthians 7:8, part of which we seem to have in 10–13, where the visit is alluded to several times (2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 12:21, 2 Corinthians 13:12). But it is not alluded to in 1 Corinthians, because, when that was written, the visit had not taken place. The hypothesis that 10–13 is part of the otherwise lost letter is confirmed by this verse. In 2 Corinthians 13:2 he says, ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν οὐ φείσομαι. Here he says, φειδόμενος ὑμῶν οὐκέτι ἦλθον εἰς Κόρινθον. The latter statement looks like a clear reference to the former threat. Chrysostom makes it refer to 2 Corinthians 12:21, which supports the hypothesis equally well; but the reference to 2 Corinthians 13:2 is much clearer. We have similar correspondences between 2 Corinthians 13:10 and 2 Corinthians 2:3, and between 2 Corinthians 10:6 and 2 Corinthians 2:9. See Kennedy, Second and Third Corinthians, pp. 79 ff.

Verse 24

24. An example of the Apostle’s tact and caution, to avoid giving offence to his flock and a handle to his accusers: κολάζει τὸ τραχὺ τῶν εἰρημένωντοῦτο δὲ ὡς ὑφορμοῦν τέθεικεν (Theodoret). ‘When I speak of sparing you, do not think that I claim to domineer over your faith; not even an Apostle has a right to do that. On the contrary, I want you to have joy in what you believe; and if I had come to you in that painful crisis, I could not have helped you to joy. That is what I mean by sparing you.’ Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:5.

οὐχ ὅτι κυριεύομεν. Not that we have (or are exercising) lordship (R.V.). For οὐχ ὄτι comp. 2 Corinthians 3:5, 2 Corinthians 7:9. Having made his personal protestation, he returns to the first person plural. By συνεργοί he does not mean cooperating with God in promoting their joy, but helping them to have joy in believing: helpers with them, not lords over them. Apostolic authority is ministerial, not despotic.

τῇ γὰρ πίστει ἑστήκατε. For by faith, or by your faith (comp. 1 Corinthians 16:13), or, in your faith, ye stand. The emphasis is on τῇ πίστει: precisely by that. The Apostle is not making the comprehensive statement that it is in faith that salvation is to be found, which would not fit the context. He is merely saying, that, so far as their faith is concerned, the Corinthians are in a sound position. In 2 Corinthians 8:7 their faith is mentioned first. As regards that he is not anxious about them: οὐκ ἐν τούτοις εἶχόν τι μέμψασθαι ὑμᾶς· ἐν ἄλλοις δὲ ἐσαλεύεσθε (Theodoret). He is glad to praise all that he can in them. But could he write 2 Corinthians 13:5 after this? See notes there.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.