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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

2 Corinthians 2

Verses 1-17

Forewarned, Forearmed

2 Corinthians 2:11

'Knowledge is power,' said Lord Bacon; and to know some of the subtleties of that malevolent power that fights against us, is so far to be forearmed. Paul does not tell us what the devices were. But probably the devices of today are very much the same as in Paul's time. We are not ignorant of his devices what, then, are some of these?

I. Firstly, he labels evil things with pleasant names. There is a tendency in all language to do that. No man has ever loved to call the seamier side of things by its right name, or to look the darker facts of life straight in the face. It is this tendency of human speech that is caught up and wrested by the devil into an engine and instrument of ill.

II. He makes his onset on our strongest side. Our characters are complex products, and in every one of us strong elements and weak are strangely blended. The strongest Achilles has his defenceless heel. Thou hast a worst side, and generally men take thee on thy worst side. But thou hast a best side, and God takes thee on that. And Satan, transforming himself into an angel of light, assails on that side too. The Bible has many instances of that.

III. He uses tools. It is one mark of practical genius to choose the right instruments to do its work. Could you conceive a finer choice of instruments than Satan makes, when he is seeking to overthrow a human soul? Out of a hundred gates into your hearts and mine, he passes by those that are barred and chooses one that will open at a touch. His is the plan and his the whole device. But he gets other hands and other hearts to the work; and the whole history of the tempted world, and the whole history of your tempted heart, tells the consummate genius of the choice.

IV. He shams defeat. To sham defeat is a well-known trick in warfare. Our unseen foe is a consummate strategist. Many a soul has been lost because it won won in the first encounter, then said all's well, and laid its arms aside till the old sin crept up again and sprang, and the last state was worse than the first.

V. He lays the emphasis upon tomorrow. We are always prone to put the accent there. In every life, for every start and every noble deed, God says, Today. In every life, for every start and every noble deed, the devil says, To-morrow.

G. H. Morrison, Flood-Tide, p. 230.

References. II. 12. Expositor (5th Series), vol. i. p. 387; ibid. vol. ii. p. 275; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 239; ibid. vol. ix. p. 21; ibid. vol. x. p. 344.

Victories, Not Victors

2 Corinthians 2:14

The text has been read thus: 'But thanks be unto God, which always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savour of His knowledge in every place'.

This is a beautiful picture. The subject ought to be treated pictorially. We should see a great king with a great procession of chariots behind him, and those chariots full of saved men, and the Captain of their salvation at the head pointing to these men as proofs of the reality and energy and beneficence of His redeeming and saving grace. Let the heart keep the picture vividly before its eyes: Christ at the head, miles of chariots, all golden, all filled with living hymns, all wounded men, but wounded to their own salvation; and as they come along they say, We have been taken by Christ at the spear-point; if you want to know what Christ can do, read the record of our experience.

I. This reading of the text does two things: first, it puts Christ in His right position, and, secondly, it puts Christians in their right position, and not Christians only, but Christian apostles and martyrs, the leaders and heads of the visible Church upon earth, appointed by Christ, clothed by Him with some mantle which is the truest honour of the soul. Christ is put in His right position by being put at the head of the great procession. Who is this that cometh up from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah, this that is red in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength? And who are these that follow Him, and sing as they follow? It is the army of the saved, it is the caravan of the blessed, it is the host on every member of which is sprinkled the saving blood, and by these grand trophies of His grace Christ spreads the news of His kingdom over all the waiting earth.

II. We are, then, to be specimens of Christ's victorious grace. What an honour, what a responsibility, yet what a danger! lest we should be self-deceived and be but half-subdued. The argument of Christ is, Believe Me for the work's sake; here is the man, the man is the best argument; personal character is the best defence; remember what the man was, what the man is, to what energy he ascribes the change. He tells you it was the miracle of the grace of God; believe the man. Why should you be keeping outside God's gracious kingdom, chaffering with some fellow-disputant, neither of you being able to discuss the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven with any adequacy of intellectual force or spiritual fitness? why should you be asking hard questions in words? There is the man, the soul, the publican, the thief, the prodigal there! You have not to answer an argument in words, you have to destroy a logic in life, a grand syllogism in fact, in experience, in ascertainable consequence. Look at the instances you yourselves have known of the energy of the grace of Christ; know that Jesus Christ calls you to consider what victories He has already won. Whatever your case or mine may be, there is an analogy, a parallel, an almost identical instance in the record of Christ's victories. Read it, and say, If Christ could conquer that man, He can conquer me.

Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. II. p. 89.

References. II. 14. Bishop Doane, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 385. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 93; ibid. vol. x. p. 274. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Corinthians, p. 296. II. 14-16. C. Moinet, The Great Alternative and other Sermons, p. 279. W. Pulsford, Trinity Church Sermons, p. 198. II. 15. J. G. Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 52. II. 15, 16. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i. No. 26. II. 16. F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 233. H. M. Butler, Harrow School Sermons (2nd Series), p. 80. Morley Wright, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlviii. p. 301. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament, p. 1. A. Goodrich, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 248. J. G. Greenhough, The Mind of Christ in St. Paul, p. 293. II. 17 . Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 300; ibid. vol. iii. p. 94; ibid. (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 456; ibid. vol. viii. p. 75. II. 18. G. Austen, The Pulpit, vol. i. p. 41. III. Expositor (5th Series), vol. x. p. 260. III. 2, 3. A. Rowland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 299. H. Woodcock, Sermon Outlines (1st Series), p. 190.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-corinthians-2.html. 1910.