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(B) Chapters 10-13. St. Paul’s Defence of his Ministry
As explained in the Introduction, this section is regarded as part of the intermediate letter, referred to in 2 Corinthians 2:3-4 and 2 Corinthians 7:8, in which the Apostle rebuked his converts, and sought to bring them to repentance. It is, therefore, to be taken as earlier in time than 2 Corinthians 1-9, which were written as the result of the Corinthians’ reception of the intermediate or ’severe’ letter.
Here the Apostle answers the charges of weakness and cowardice that have been brought against him, defends his preaching and his independence, points to the proofs of his apostleship in suffering and service, and finally warns them against evil and exhorts them to live a pure and holy life.
The Apostle announces a third visit, and exhorts them to repentance. He expresses his desire for their growth in grace.
Paraphrase. ’(1) This is the third visit I am about to pay you. On this occasion I shall proceed to punish these gross sinners after hearing all the evidence. (2) I repeat now what I said on my second visit, that those who persist in sin will find me stern in punishment. (3) And why am I thus severe? Because you demand proof that I possess Christ’s authority, though that proof should be found in your own experience. (4) Christ indeed as a helpless man submitted to the death of the Cross, but in the power of God He still lives; and in the same way, in the Spirit of Christ, we have shown a forbearance which you mistook for weakness; but in the power of God we shall exhibit our strength when we come.’
1. The third time] see on 2 Corinthians 12:14. Two or three witnesses] Quoted from Deuteronomy 19:5. It seems to mean ’in accordance with the principles of justice I will act.’ But some think the three witnesses mean the Apostle’s three visits, and that he is interpreting the quotation allegorically, in accordance with his custom elsewhere: cp. Deuteronomy 3:12-18; Galatians 4:22-31. Thus Prof. Stevens paraphrases: I shall visit you a third time, and thus I shall have concerning you a threefold testimony, such as the Law requires to establish a cause.’
2. Which heretofore have sinned] i.e. old offenders still impenitent. All other] RV ’all the rest.’
3. Which to you-ward is not weak] Christ’s power had already been made manifest among them: cp. 1 Corinthians 1:5-8.
4. Through weakness] i.e. in the human weakness he assumed of his own accord: cp. Philippians 2:6-8.
5. Paraphrase. ’Do not be so anxious to test me. Test yourselves. Do you not know that Christ’s Spirit is in you, guiding your life, unless you are false disciples? I hope, at any rate, that you will learn that I am no false Apostle.’
5. Examine yourselves] i.e. not me. Reprobates] counterfeits.
7-10. Paraphrase. ’We pray to God that you may lead a pure and holy life, not to do us credit, but because it is right, even though we be like false apostles. (8) For our authority is given us to advance what is right, and not to hinder it. (9) We rejoice when we have no need to reprove you, for then your Christian life is healthy; and this is what we most earnestly wish, that you become more and more perfect in all Christian graces. (10) It is, believe me, for this reason that I have written to you these earnest remonstrances, because I do not wish to visit you in anger and severity. I have no desire to use the authority that Christ has given me in degrading and punishing you; for its true purpose is to strengthen my hands in helping you to become increasingly pure and holy in spirit and character.’
7. As reprobates] i.e. as if we had no authority, because we shall not need to show it.
8. Against the truth] He has no pleasure in their evil-doing, although it gives him opportunity to exercise his authority.
9. When we are weak] i.e. when our authority is in abeyance: cp. 2 Corinthians 13:4.
10. To edification, and not to destruction] RV ’for building up, and not for casting down.’
(e) 13:11-14. Conclusion and Benediction
The Apostle gives them his parting greeting, and bids them try to live a pure and holy life. He sends greetings from their Christian brethren, and invokes the blessing of God upon them.
11. Farewell] RM ’rejoice.’ A cheerful parting message.
12. An holy kiss] the token of brotherhood in the early Church: cp. Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14.
14. The grace, etc.] the fullest of St. Paul’s benedictions. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ] see 2 Corinthians 8:9. The love of God] Perhaps including both the sense of His love for us and the love which He inspires in us. The communion of the Holy Ghost] the sense of His presence and guidance. Be with you all] The prayer is for all, those who rebelled as well as those who continued faithful.
The subscription in AV, ’The second Epistle.. was written from Philippi,’ etc., is of no authority whatever. For the places where the two parts were written see Intro.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany