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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

2 Corinthians

- 2 Corinthians

by William Robertson Nicoll







1. In the case of no book of the New Testament is it more essential to a true understanding of its language, that we should have a clear view of the circumstances under which it was composed, than in the case of 2 Corinthians. It is the most autobiographical of all St. Paul’s letters, and it abounds in personal allusions, which it is difficult, at this distance of time, to appreciate, and of which some will probably always remain obscure. It glows with the heat of fervid life, [1] and was evidently written under the influence of strong emotion. And, if we do not assign it to its true place in St. Paul’s life, we are likely to miss a good deal of the force of its earnest and eager words. It is, therefore, desirable to enter into more detail as to the occasion of its composition than was necessary in the case of a treatise like the Epistle to the Romans, the arguments of which are largely independent of the circumstances of the author at the time when it was written.

[1] See Hort, Judaistic Christianity , p. 98.

2. In the nineteenth chapter of the Acts we find that Ephesus has become St. Paul’s headquarters; the centre of interest has been shifted from Jerusalem and Antioch, and the Apostle’s labours are being mainly spent upon Asia Minor. Corinth, however, occupies a considerable share in his thoughts; and, during the period of over two years which he spends at Ephesus, communications with the Corinthian Church are being carried on. It is the sequence of events during this period and the subsequent six months that we have to examine. Such an examination of the order in which events followed one another might be made without any determination of the absolute dates of any; but it is convenient to indicate here the system of chronology which has been adopted. Provisionally, the dates assigned to the principal events of St. Paul’s life by Mr. Turner [2] will be taken as a basis for investigation. It is now pretty generally agreed among scholars that the dates formerly accepted, e.g. , by Wieseler and Lightfoot, are two years too late; but this does not, of course, affect materially the accuracy of Lightfoot’s conclusions as to the order in which the several incidents of the Apostle’s career took place. Indeed, the scheme of reconstruction of St. Paul’s history while at Ephesus, which has approved itself to the present editor, is in the main that put forward by Lightfoot, [3] although his dates have not been followed. This scheme is not without difficulties; but it is dependent on fewer subsidiary hypotheses than any other which has been proposed, and it possesses special claim to consideration from the fact that it is an attempt to explain the documents as they stand without resort to the heroic measures of dissection which some critics have found it necessary to adopt.

[2] See article “Chronology of N.T.” in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary .

[3] See Biblical Essays , pp. 222, 274.

3. I start, then, with the assumption that St. Paul’s sojourn of over two years at Ephesus [4] (Acts 19:10 ) lasted from December, 52, or January, 53, to March or April, 55, and I proceed to examine his communications with Corinth during that period. The Church at Corinth had been founded by the Apostle on his second missionary journey, late in the year 50 (Acts 18:1 f.); [5] but, all too soon after its foundation, it became apparent that the laxity of morals, for which Corinth was notorious, was showing itself in the lives of the Christian converts. Men do not easily shake themselves free from evil traditions and associations; and the power of the new faith took time to establish itself there as elsewhere. When the restraints imposed by the Apostle’s presence were removed, various scandals betrayed the moral weakness of these clever Greeks who had welcomed the new teaching but a short time before. It would appear that while St. Paul was at Ephesus bad news reached him from Corinth as to the morals of his converts; and in consequence of this he paid to that city a brief disciplinary visit, of which indeed no account has been given by St. Luke, but which is alluded to in St. Paul’s Epistles (see especially 2 Corinthians 12:21 , where we are informed that it was in consequence of the lax morality of the Corinthians that he visited them in grief).

[4] It is probable that the “three months” of ver. 8 is to be reckoned in addition to the “two years” of ver. 10; cf. τριετίαν , Acts 20:31 .

[5] On the Church at Corinth, see the first chapter of Prof. Findlay’s Introduction to 1 Corinthians (vol. ii., p. 729 ff.).

4. The reasons for holding that this visit (which we shall call the “Intermediate Visit”) took place are as follows. We have seen that St. Paul’s first visit to Corinth is recorded in Acts 18:0 . Another visit is mentioned in Acts 20:3 , viz. , that which was subsequent to the two Canonical Epistles to the Corinthians, and which was in contemplation while he was writing both. Its date was 55 56. But it appears from 2Co 12:14 ; 2 Corinthians 13:1 , that this was his third visit; [6] and hence a visit to Corinth must have been paid between the years 50 and 55 (probably towards the end of the period, say in the autumn of 54), of which no account is given in the Acts . [7] It is all but impossible to fit in this visit if we do not suppose it to have been paid from Ephesus; and it would have been an easy matter for St. Paul to have undertaken this. Ephesus was only a week or ten days’ sail from Corinth, and on the receipt of ill news it would have been the most natural thing in the world that he should thus cross the Ægean hastily to set matters right. It appears distinctly from 2 Corinthians 2:1 that this visit was a painful one, and such as he would not wish again to have experience of. And, further, the language of 2 Corinthians 12:21 , 2 Corinthians 13:2 , suggests that the trouble which caused this Painful Visit was not faction or schism, but unchastity of life among his converts.

[6] This, indeed, has been denied by Paley ( Horæ Paulinœ , chap. iv., § xi.) and, recently, by Prof. Ramsay ( St. Paul the Traveller , p. 275) and Dr. Robertson (Hastings’ Bible Dictionary , vol. i., p. 494); but I cannot think that their explanations of 2 Corinthians 12:14 ; 2 Corinthians 13:1 , as alluding to a visit intended, but not paid, are satisfactory.

[7] The language of 1 Corinthians 16:7 , οὐ θέλω γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἄρτι ἐν παρόδῳ ἰδεῖν , seems to suggest that his last visit to Corinth had been a brief and hasty one.

5. St. Paul thereafter returned to Ephesus and wrote, probably after no long interval, a letter which is now lost. It is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9 ; and it contained, he tells us, injunctions to the Corinthian Christians “to keep no company with fornicators,” injunctions (probably) suggested to him by what he had seen on his recent visit. That visit had been one of stern rebuke rather than of counsel; and it is quite intelligible that on his return he should desire to put in writing his deliberate advice. There is no indication that anything had happened up to this point which suggested the rise of schisms or of party spirit at Corinth. Indeed it may well have been that his visit, ἐν λύπῃ (2 Corinthians 2:1 ), was the proximate cause of the schisms with which the Church at Corinth was soon to be troubled; for the attempt to enforce discipline for lapses in morality would naturally stir up party opposition, and would stimulate disaffection on the part of the less stable members of the little community. The Lost Letter, then, consisted mainly of rules as to conduct, and was not concerned, so far as we know, with the question of schism, which had probably not yet arisen. [8] Two other topics, however, it may have touched upon, viz. , the Apostle’s plans of travel and the collection for the poor Judæan Christians. We must not lose sight of the fact that St. Paul’s plans were in the main determined during these years by his purpose of making a collection to relieve the needs of the poorer converts in Judæa and of bringing it in person to Jerusalem. Now, as to his plans of travel, it is plain that the route mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:5 , and actually adopted in the sequel (Acts 19:21 ), was not the route which the Corinthians expected him to take. At one time he had wished to travel from Ephesus to Corinth Macedonia Corinth Jerusalem, a route which would twice give them the benefit and the privilege of seeing him while he was in Europe (2 Corinthians 1:15-16 ). This plan seems to have been communicated to them before 1 Corinthians was written; and it is obvious to suggest that it was announced in the Lost Letter. Again, it will appear (see § 7) from a consideration of the structure of the First Canonical Epistle to the Corinthians that the Corinthians in their letter which preceded it had asked for details about the manner in which the collection for the Judæan Christians was to be made. In other words, they had already been informed by St. Paul that such a collection was being organised; and so we are led round to the suggestion that this information also was contained in the Lost Letter.

[8] This is an argument which should not be overlooked for placing the Intermediate Visit before the Lost Letter, or at any rate before the First Canonical Epistle.

6. We now proceed with the history. Some time after the Lost Letter had been despatched bad news again came from Corinth, and this of two kinds. First, members of Chloe’s household ( οἱ Χλόης , 1 Corinthians 1:11 , cf. also 1 Corinthians 11:18 ) reported that factions had arisen, and that a Peter party and an Apollos party were setting themselves up in opposition to the party of Paul. Some indeed went so far as to call themselves, par excellence , the “Christ party” (1 Corinthians 1:12 ). And, secondly, a rumour reached Ephesus that an abominable case of incest had occurred among the Christians at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:1 ). This was much worse than any of the moral lapses which the Apostle had previously rebuked in person or by letter; it was a wickedness which even the heathen did not tolerate. [9] About the same time that these distressing reports reached Ephesus, a dutiful message to St. Paul was brought from Corinth by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17 ). These envoys seem to have brought with them a letter asking for advice on certain points of conduct and discipline, viz. , about Marriage, Celibacy, the use of Idol-meats, the Gifts of the Spirit, and the Collection, [10] with each of which the Apostle deals separately in his reply under a distinct heading, beginning περὶ δὲ … It is interesting, because so natural, [11] that the Corinthians seem to have made no mention in their letter of the schisms and disorders which had arisen among them. [12]

[9] See Cicero, pro Cluentio , 6, 15.

[10] Lewin ( St. Paul , vol. i., p. 386) and Findlay ( Expositor , June, 1900) have tried to reconstruct this letter; but beyond the general fact that it dealt with certain topics we have no data upon which to go.

[11] See Paley, Horæ Paulinœ , chap. iii., § i.

[12] Mention may be made here of an apocryphal letter of the Corinthians to St. Paul and his supposed reply, which are extant in Armenian and in Latin. An English translation by Lord Byron will be found in Stanley’s Corinthians , vol. ii., p. 305. These letters do not correspond in any way to the lost correspondence discussed above (1 Corinthians 5:9 ; 1 Corinthians 16:17 ), and, although they were admitted into the Armenian and Syrian canon, have no claim to authenticity or genuineness. They were originally incorporated in the apocryphal Acts of Paul (see Sanday, Encycl. Biblica , vol. i., p. 907).

7. It was in consequence of the reports which had reached him, as well as in reply to this letter of the Corinthian Church, that St. Paul wrote the First Canonical Epistle. Of this the early part is entirely taken up with warnings against schism (chaps. 1 4), and with a stern rebuke for the sins of the flesh into which they had fallen, and of which the Church had not taken cognisance (chaps. 5, 6). The remainder of the Epistle is mainly occupied with the letter of the Corinthians to him, taking up their points in order: περὶ δὲ ὧν ἐγράψατε , καλὸν ἀνθρώπῳ γυναικὸς μὴ ἅπτεσθαι (1 Corinthians 7:1 ); περὶ δὲ τῶν παρθένων (1 Corinthians 7:25 ); περὶ δὲ τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων (1 Corinthians 8:1 ); περὶ δὲ τῶν πνευματικῶν (1 Corinthians 12:1 ); περὶ δὲ τῆς λογίας (1 Corinthians 16:1 ). It thus appears, and it is important to bear it in mind, that chaps. 7 16 of 1 Corinthians are of the nature of an appendix or excursus, and that chaps. 1 6 constitute the letter proper, as containing the Apostle’s special message to the Corinthian Church at this juncture. His language in reference to the party spirit which was manifesting itself is grave and uncompromising (1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ), and he writes about his own position in a spirit of depression (1 Corinthians 4:11-13 ); but when he begins to speak of the bad living of his converts, and to comment on the shocking news which had reached him, his tone is one of severe and unsparing rebuke. He is astounded that such a scandal as has been mentioned to him (1 Corinthians 5:1 ) should be endured for a moment, and he bids them excommunicate the offender at once (1 Corinthians 5:5 ). In the Lost Letter he had warned them against associating with persons who lived impure lives, but now it has actually become necessary to rebuke them for tolerating the company of a man who is living unchastely with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1 ). They must “put away the wicked person” from among themselves (1 Corinthians 5:13 ). It is their duty to “judge them that are within,” and it is a scandalous thing that such wrongs as a Christian father endures when his son has robbed him of his wife should be brought for adjudication before heathen tribunals. [13] The Christian community should exercise its own spiritual prerogative (1 Corinthians 5:4 ), and decide such cases without the interference of heathen lawyers (1 Corinthians 6:1-7 ). The wickedness of sins of the flesh only appears in its true light when judged on Christian principles (1 Corinthians 6:15 ff.), and it is by these that the fitting punishment should be determined.

[13] The Roman law under which a prosecution for adultery would be made was the lex Julia de adulteriis , passed by Augustus, 17 B.C. It is probable, however, that native Greek law would be enforced at Corinth. This also recognised adultery as an indictable offence; the damages allowed in any special case being assessed at the discretion of the judges.

8. Such is the language and the drift of the body of 1 Corinthians . The allusions to the Passover feast (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20 ; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23 ) make it probable that it was written about Easter, and the year was, according to the system we have adopted, 55 A.D. This is a consequence of 1 Corinthians 16:8 , from which it appears that when it was composed it was St. Paul’s intention to leave Ephesus after the ensuing Pentecost. Thus the letter was written during the last months of his stay at that city. [14] Nothing is said as to the bearers of the letter; but 2 Corinthians 12:18 seems to indicate that Titus and an unnamed brother (see note in loc. ) were entrusted with it. This is confirmed by 2 Corinthians 2:13 ; 2 Corinthians 7:6 , passages which explain how St. Paul’s grave anxiety as to the reception which the Corinthians would give to his letter of warning and rebuke was allayed by the news which Titus brought him about it (see notes in loc. ). [15]

[14] The subscription in the received text states that it was written at Philippi; but this is a manifest mistake, probably due to a misunderstanding of the words Μακεδονίαν γὰρ διέρχομαι , in 1 Corinthians 16:5 . Ver. 8 of the same chapter is conclusive as to the place of writing. This subscription further adds that the letter was carried to Corinth by the envoys Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus along with Timothy; but this again seems to be a misapprehension, although there is some justification in 1 Corinthians 16:18 for the supposition that the envoys who had brought the Corinthian letter to Ephesus took back the answer (see above). For Timothy’s movements see § 13 note.

[15] See, on this question, Lightfoot, Biblical Essays , p. 280 f. Titus is mentioned nine times in 2 Corinthians , and evidently had a special interest in and connexion with Corinth. That his name does not appear in 1 Corinthians is no more surprising than that it does not appear in Acts . It is likely that it was the ability with which he conducted himself as the bearer of 1 Corinthians , and as St. Paul’s representative at that critical moment at Corinth, that first marked him out as fit to be a leader in the Church.

9. I have already remarked that the directions about the collection to be made at Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:1 ) were given in answer to enquiries on the subject sent by the Corinthian Christians, and presuppose that his correspondents were already sensible of the obligation which rested upon them of helping the poor brethren of Judæa. It is only the manner in which the collection is to be made that is now prescribed for the first time (Easter, 55). And we have also seen (§ 5) that the information as to St. Paul’s plans of travel given in 1 Corinthians 16:5 was such as to cause the Corinthians keen disappointment. [16] He then announces that he will come viâ Macedonia, and that he may possibly winter at Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:6 ). This plan was carried into effect. He left Ephesus about April, 55, shortly after the riot which was stirred up by Demetrius, and proceeded to Macedonia (Acts 20:1 ) viâ Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12 ). Here he had arranged to meet Titus on the return of the latter from his mission to Corinth; but he was disappointed. We do not know how long he waited for Titus; but after an interval during which “a door was opened unto him” (2 Corinthians 2:12 ) he crossed over to Macedonia in much anxiety of spirit. At last they met at some undefined point in St. Paul’s Macedonian tour of inspection (Acts 20:2 ), not improbably at Philippi, as Neapolis the port of Philippi was the natural place of embarkation for Troas. Thus St. Paul would be likely to meet Titus at Philippi on his way to their rendezvous. Further, Philippi was a place where St. Paul had many good and staunch friends; and it was a suitable centre from which to visit the Christian communities formerly founded by him. [17]

[16] Dr. Robertson says (Hastings’ Bible Dictionary , vol. i., p. 493) that 1 Corinthians 16:5-6 is “a passage totally out of correspondence with the situation presupposed in 2 Corinthians 1:23 . Moreover, in defending his change of plan (2 Corinthians 1:15-23 ) St. Paul would not have failed to appeal to the clear statement of his intentions in 1 Corinthians 16:5 .” I cannot understand where the difficulty comes in. The Corinthians took umbrage at the message of 1 Corinthians 16:5 ; appealing to it would have had no point. St. Paul’s line of defence is quite sound (see § 12 below).

[17] The subscription to 2 Corinthians, Πρὸς Κορινθίους δευτέρα ἐγράφη ἀπὸ φιλίππων τῆς Μακεδονίας διὰ Τίτου καὶ Λουκᾶ , would be a confirmation of this conclusion, if any reliance could be placed on these colophons to the Epistles. See notes on 2Co 8:18 ; 2 Corinthians 13:14 .

10. Titus reported in the first instance that the Corinthians had loyally responded to the appeal made by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:6 as to their treatment of the case of incest. They had taken the case into their own hands, and had punished the offender with extreme severity (2 Corinthians 2:6 ff.). They had gone so far in their zeal to assert the spiritual prerogative of the Church, in which St. Paul deemed himself to have an important share (2 Corinthians 7:12 ; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:4 , συναχθέντων ὑμῶν καὶ τοῦ ἐμοῦ πνεύματος ), that it was now desirable to offer counsels of forbearance (2 Corinthians 2:6 f.). rather than to inflame their indignation against the offender. The really important end which the Apostle had in view when writing 1 Corinthians 5:0 had been gained, viz. , he had convinced the members of the Church that it was their duty to take cognisance of grave moral offences. Quite possibly the civil courts might have decided equitably as to the measure of the penalty to be inflicted for the ἀδικία ; but the primary purpose of his sharp rebuke was not to secure due retribution in this particular instance ( οὐχ εἵνεκεν τοῦ ἀδικήσαντος οὐδὲ εἵνεκεν τοῦ ἀδικηθέντος , 2 Corinthians 7:12 ), although this was doubtless necessary, but to awaken the sleeping conscience of the Church to pass judgment in all cases of moral lapse, as was its inherent right and privilege. The Church at Corinth was an Apostolic Church. It had been founded by St. Paul. Though “absent in body” he was “present in spirit” at the deliberations of its members (1 Corinthians 5:3 ). And to vindicate the spiritual authority of the Church founded by him was, in effect, to vindicate his authority. Thus he can go so far as to say that the main purpose of his stern letter of rebuke (1 Cor.) was ἕνεκεν τοῦ φανερωθῆναι τὴν σπουδὴν ὑμῶν τὴν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ (2 Corinthians 7:12 , where see note). To manifest their zeal for St. Paul’s authority was to manifest their sense that Christian standards of living were widely different from heathen standards, and it was further to recognise that the Church has spiritual authority “to bind and to loose”. In exhibiting their zeal for him, their founder, they had made clear their recognition of this great principle. If it be said that to read this into 2 Corinthians 7:12 is to go beyond the tenor of the words used, it must be replied that St. Paul’s language in the earlier letter sufficiently shows the high spiritual authority which he would have the Corinthians attach to the deliberate decisions of their assembled leaders. “In the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:4 ). The words “and my spirit” indicate not only his sympathy for them, but his assurance that the decisions to which such an assembly would be guided would be even as the decisions promulgated by his own apostolic authority which was “not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father”. [18]

[18] Galatians 1:1 .

11. The second matter which Titus reported was not so satisfactory to St. Paul. Titus explained, as it would seem, that the Corinthians were much distressed at the news that the Apostle’s plans of travel had been changed (2 Corinthians 1:16-17 ), and that they were ready in consequence to impute to him instability of purpose which amounted to fickleness. St. Paul’s answer is found in 2Co 1:23 ; 2 Corinthians 2:4 . He did not carry out his former intention of crossing direct from Ephesus to Corinth because he thought it better that there should be a short interval, during which they might mend their ways, before he again addressed them. His last visit (the “Intermediate Visit”) had been ἐν λύπῃ ; and it was undesirable that his next visit should be of the same character. So instead of visiting them at once, he wrote a severe letter (1 Cor.), and proceeded to Macedonia in the first instance, reserving his visit to Corinth until they should have had time to profit by his written rebukes. In this change of plan there was no display of fickleness; his one desire was to edify them and to do what was best for their true welfare.

12. And, thirdly, Titus had no good news to bring about the factions in Corinth, concerning which St. Paul had already written (1 Corinthians 1:12-18 ; 1 Corinthians 3:1-6 ). When he despatched the First Canonical Epistle he was already aware that his authority had been called in question at Corinth, and that some were passing unfavourable judgments upon his acts (1 Corinthians 4:3-5 ). Already he had bidden the rebellious party not to be too ready to judge by the superficial appearance of things, but to distrust their hasty conclusions about him (1 Corinthians 4:5 ; 1 Corinthians 4:10-14 ). He had written mildly, but with authority, as became an Apostle. “Be ye imitators of me” he had twice repeated (1 Corinthians 4:16 ; 1 Corinthians 11:1 ). And he had assured them that when he came, as he certainly would come (1 Corinthians 11:34 ), to Corinth, those who had ventured to rebel would be treated with severity, if they did not repent (1 Corinthians 4:18-21 ). But Titus seems to have reported that the factious opposition to St. Paul’s authority was even more bitter than it was before 1 Corinthians was written. The Apostle’s postponement of his visit gave the malcontents courage to break out into open defiance (2 Corinthians 10:10-12 ).

13. On learning all these facts from Titus, in part consoling, in part most distressing, St. Paul wrote the Second Canonical Epistle to the Corinthians, associating the name of Timothy with his own in the address at the beginning. [19] The principal person entrusted with the carriage of the letter was, as was natural, Titus (2 Corinthians 8:17 ), whose former mission had been so prudently and honourably discharged (2 Corinthians 12:17-18 ). With Titus were associated two others, possibly Luke and Barnabas, but of their names we cannot be certain ( 2Co 8:18 ; 2 Corinthians 8:22 , where see notes). The Epistle being despatched, St. Paul travelled slowly through Macedonia, arriving at Corinth in due course as he had promised (1 Corinthians 16:5-6 ), and staying there three months (Acts 20:3 ). This period probably covered December, 55, and January and February, 56. In consequence of a Jewish plot he then returned through Macedonia instead of sailing direct for Syria as he had intended to do (Acts 20:3 ); and starting from Philippi “after the days of unleavened bread” (Acts 20:6 ), i.e. , March 18 25, he arrived in Jerusalem in time for the Pentecost festival of the year 56.

[19] It will be convenient to state at this point the view of Timothy’s movements which has been adopted. We learn from 1Co 4:17 ; 1 Corinthians 16:10 , that he was supposed by St. Paul to be on his way to Corinth when the First Canonical Epistle was written, and that the Apostle expected him to return to Ephesus with “the brethren” who were the bearers of that letter (1 Corinthians 16:11 ). It does not appear that he was entrusted with any special mission to the Corinthian Church, the language of 1 Corinthians 4:17 , “who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in Christ,” being suggestive rather of informal conference than of a formal embassy, and that of 1 Corinthians 16:10-11 implying, as it would seem, that Timothy is to be welcomed at Corinth only as a passing visitor on his way back to the Apostle’s side. Now it is natural to identify this journey made by Timothy with that recorded in Acts 19:22 , where St. Paul is said during the last weeks of his stay in Ephesus to have “sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus”. Timothy had been associated with St. Paul on his first visit (about the year 50) to the cities of Macedonia (Acts 17:14-15 ; Acts 18:5 ), and he was evidently a suitable lieutenant to send in advance to prepare the way for the Apostle’s second visit. Most probably the business of the collection in Macedonia was entrusted to him to organise. And the date of this journey of Timothy to Macedonia (January or February, 55) well agrees with the date which must be assigned to the journey referred to in 1Co 4:17 ; 1 Corinthians 16:10 . The plan seems to have been to visit the churches of Macedonia (this, the important purpose of the journey, is all that is mentioned in Acts) and then to return to Ephesus by sea from Corinth (this, as the only point in the journey interesting to the Corinthians, is alone mentioned in 1 Cor.). Erastus, Timothy’s fellow-traveller on this occasion, bore the same name as the city treasurer at Corinth, whom we find there about February, 56 (Romans 16:23 ), as well as at a later period (2 Timothy 4:20 ); and it is highly reasonable to identify him with this important member of the Corinthian Church, and to suppose that when we find him with Timothy he was on his way home. Timothy is also found at Corinth in St. Paul’s company when the Epistle to the Romans was written (Romans 16:21 ); but we have nothing to show us whether or no he had got so far during the preceding spring. It is on the whole probable that he found so much to do in Macedonia that he stayed there during the whole spring and summer of 55 (so Lightfoot, Biblical Essays , p. 276 f.). At any rate we meet with him next in Macedonia (and probably, as we have seen, at Philippi) in St. Paul’s company about the month of November, 55, when 2 Corinthians was despatched (2 Corinthians 1:1 ).

14. The account which has been given above of the sequence of events during St. Paul’s sojourn at Ephesus assumes that the First Canonical Epistle to the Corinthians is the “Painful Letter” to which the Apostle alludes in 2Co 2:4 ; 2 Corinthians 7:8 ; 2 Corinthians 7:12 ; and it has been urged by several critics that it does not answer to the description there given. [20] The two allusions are as follows: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you” (2 Corinthians 2:4 ); and “For though I made you sorry with my epistle, I do not regret it although I did regret; for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season.… So although I wrote unto you, I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that your zeal on our behalf might be made manifest unto you in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 7:8 ; 2 Corinthians 7:12 ). It is said that “from beginning to end of 1 Corinthians there are no traces of anguish of heart and much affliction, either in utterances expressing these feelings or in the style of the Epistle itself”. [21] I believe that the passages which have been quoted in § 8 demonstrate the inaccuracy of any such assertion. Critics have strangely overlooked in this connexion the fact that chaps. 7 16 of 1 Corinthians are mainly taken up with answering the queries which his correspondents had put to St. Paul; and that the body of the letter proper is contained in chaps. 1 6 It is in these earlier chapters that we are to look for traces of mental anguish and depression, and I hold that they are plainly there to be found, and that the note of identification afforded by 2 Corinthians 2:4 is answered by such passages as 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ; 1 Corinthians 4:11-13 ; 1 Corinthians 5:1-6 ; 1 Corinthians 5:13 ; 1 Corinthians 6:5 ; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 . Had the structure of 1 Corinthians been sufficiently attended to, I cannot think that this objection would ever have seemed forcible. And so with 2 Corinthians 7:8 . It has been urged against the identification of the “Painful Letter” with 1 Corinthians that “it is scarcely comprehensible that St. Paul should have said, even in a moment of strong excitement, of so costly a monument of Christian truth as the First Epistle is, that he repented for a while of ever having written it”. [22] But this is to exaggerate the measure of the Apostle’s regret. He merely says (2 Corinthians 7:8 ) that for a moment he regretted having given them pain by what he had written, i.e. , he regretted the severe sentences which he had penned; but not that he lamented the composition of the whole Epistle. The earlier part of the Epistle, which is, I repeat, the core of the letter, is extremely severe, and especially chaps. 5 and 6. [23] In the phrase “the Painful Letter” there is, in fact, a latent fallacy. The language of 2 Corinthians 2:4 ; 2 Corinthians 7:8 , would be sufficiently accounted for if any part of the letter to which he refers seemed to St. Paul (for the moment) to be unduly severe, or if any section of it had caused unexpected grief to the Corinthians.

[20] E.g. , this objection was raised by Klöpper (1870) and has been repeated by Waite in the Speaker’s Commentary , by Robertson (Hastings’ Bible Dictionary , vol. i., p. 494) and by Kennedy (2 and 3 Corinthians , p. 64 f.), as well as by others.

[21] Kennedy, loc. cit. , p. 65.

[22] Waite, Speaker’s Commentary , p. 383.

[23] Compare also the great severity of the incidental remark in 1 Corinthians 15:2 ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῆ ἐπιστεύσατε . That he should suggest such a possibility shows how much he is depressed as he writes.

15. An objection of a somewhat similar character is that the language used in 2 Corinthians 2:6-11 cannot be taken as referring to the punishment of the offender of 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 , inasmuch as the mild treatment suggested by St. Paul in the later Epistle would be quite inadequate to the offence. [24] Not to dwell on the fact that unrelenting severity is not a Christian virtue, and that Titus may have reported some extenuating circumstances of which we know nothing, I believe that the considerations brought forward above in § 10 go a long way to break the force of this objection. The intimate connexion between the fifth and sixth chapters of 1 Corinthians has not been sufficiently recognised by commentators, and thus the primary purpose of St. Paul’s message of rebuke has been misconceived. He was more anxious to awaken the sleeping conscience of the Church at Corinth, and to prevail upon its members to exercise their powers of spiritual discipline, than to adjudicate between the wronged father and the offending son. Excommunication was the only suitable penalty for the latter’s grave offence, but St. Paul had never meant to convey (although the Corinthians had misunderstood his counsel) that the ban could not be taken off by the same authority which had imposed it, if evidence of penitence were forthcoming. Indeed the identification of ὁ ἀδικήσας in 2 Corinthians 7:12 with the offender of 1 Corinthians 5:1 seems to be not doubtful when the language and purport of the earlier passage are considered. I have already pointed out (§ 10) that the aim of the Apostle in writing 1 Corinthians 5:6 was not merely that the offender should be excommunicated, but that the scandal of such a case being brought by Christians before a heathen court should be avoided. Consider, further, St. Paul’s language. Some persons, he says (1 Corinthians 4:18-19 ), “were puffed up” ( ἐφυσιώθησαν ) as though he were not coming; i.e. , they made little of his authority in his absence. The same word ( πεφυσιωμένοι ) is used (1 Corinthians 5:2 ) of the action, or rather the inaction, of the Christian community in reference to the case of incest; and in this matter he declares “Your boasting is not good” ( οὐ καλὸν τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν , 1 Corinthians 5:6 ). That is to say, their καύχημα consisted in their resistance to his apostolic authority; they were “puffed up,” and so they had not dealt with the offender as they would have done had they followed his teachings (1 Corinthians 5:2 ). It is with reference to this that he says in the later letter, εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ ἔγραψα , ἵνα γνῶ τὴν δοκιμὴν ὑμῶν , εἰ εἰς πάντα ὑπήκοοί ἐστε (2 Corinthians 2:9 ). Again, the sentence which he directs to be pronounced upon the offender is παραδοῦναι τὸν τοιοῦτον τῷ Σατανᾷ εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκός (1 Corinthians 5:5 ); but when he bids them be merciful and forgive, his reason is ἵνα μὴ πλεονεκτηθῶμεν ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ (2 Corinthians 2:11 ). The man was only “delivered over to Satan,” εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκός (1 Corinthians 5:5 ); but care must be taken lest Satan rob the Church of his soul (2 Corinthians 2:11 ). The reference to Satan in the later Epistle is pointless, unless we bear in mind the tenor of the sentence in the earlier one. And there is another phrase perhaps worthy of attention. The offender is called ὁ ἀδικήσας in 2 Corinthians 7:12 , and the injured person is ὁ ἀδικηθείς . If we turn back to 1 Corinthians 6:0 we find that the words ἀδικεῖν and ἄδικος (1 Corinthians 6:8-9 ) are specially used of the carnal offences which St. Paul has there in view. The point of his rebuke in that chapter is that it would have been better for the offended father to have suffered wrong ( ἀποστερεῖσθε ; cf. for the force of this 1 Corinthians 7:5 ) than to have brought the matter before the heathen tribunals. And when St. Paul speaks of the Corinthians as having proved themselves in the end to be ἁγνοὺς τῷ πράγματι (2 Corinthians 7:11 ), the last words recall the ἐν τῷ πράγματι of 1 Thessalonians 4:6 , where the reference is to adultery, the language used being strikingly like that of 1 Corinthians 6:8 . There are also some other links connecting the “Painful Letter” with 1 Corinthians which should not be overlooked. In 2 Corinthians 2:4 St. Paul is careful to explain that the letter which was written with tears was written οὐχ ἵνα λυπηθῆτε , ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀγάπην ἵνα γνῶτε ἣν ἔχω περισσοτέρως εἰς ὑμᾶς . It might be expected therefore that the Painful Letter should exhibit some trace of this overflowing ἀγάπη . And such a trace is conspicuously present in the last words of 1 Corinthians, ἡ ἀγάπη μου μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (1 Corinthians 16:24 ). No other letter of St. Paul’s has so affectionate a farewell. It was plainly added for some special reason. But if we identify this letter with the “Painful Letter,” 2 Corinthians 2:4 gives an excellent reason for its addition. And, once more, the reference in 2 Corinthians 3:1 f. to a former self-commendation which the Apostle had indited finds its best and simplest explanation if we bring it into connexion with 1 Corinthians 9:1 f.

[24] This is urged by Schmiedel and Jülicher amongst others.

16. Something must now be said about other schemes of reconstruction of the history which have been proposed by recent writers. It is unnecessary to rehearse them all, [25] but the discussion of one or two of the most plausible may serve to bring the difficulties of the problem into clearer relief, and to supply tests by which the adequacy of the solution that has been adopted may be estimated. In England, the editor of 1 Corinthians in this Commentary, Professor Findlay, [26] and Professor Sanday [27] (not to speak of German writers) interpolate a second lost letter from St. Paul to the Corinthians between the First and Second Canonical Epistles. They hold it probable that the embassy of Timothy to Corinth viâ Macedonia (Acts 19:22 , 1 Corinthians 4:17 ; 1 Corinthians 16:10 ) succeeded so far as this, that Timothy reached Corinth, but that his mission was not a success as regards the healing of disorders there. In consequence of the bad report brought back by Timothy, St. Paul wrote a second lost letter and sent it by the more capable hands of Titus. [28] It is the return of Titus from this mission which St. Paul awaited with such anxiety at Troas (2 Corinthians 1:13 ), and the missive which Titus bore was the Painful Letter to which the Apostle alludes in 2 Corinthians 2:4 ; 2 Corinthians 7:8 . Another scheme agreeing with this, in so far as it refuses to identify the Painful Letter with 1 Corinthians , has recently been expounded by Dr. Robertson. [29] This writer holds that after the despatch of 1 Corinthians by the hands of Titus, St. Paul changed the plan of travel announced in that letter (1 Corinthians 16:5 ) and decided to take the route Ephesus Corinth Macedonia Corinth, which would give the Corinthians a δευτέρα χαρά ; that painful news having been brought back by Titus from Corinth, the Apostle reverted to the plan announced in 1 Corinthians 16:5 , as he was unwilling to visit Corinth so soon under the circumstances; that he wrote a severe letter, now lost, of which Titus was again the bearer; and that it was on Titus’ report of the result of this second mission that 2 Corinthians was written and entrusted to the same capable messenger.

[25] An elaborate account of the various theories which have been propounded will be found in an article by Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie (1899), and a comparative table is given by Schmiedel in the Hand Kommentar , pp. viii, ix. Cf. also Jülicher’s Einleitung for a good discussion.

[26] See vol. ii., p. 736 f., and Hastings’ Bible Dictionary , vol. iii., p. 711 ff., s.v. “Paul”

[27] Encycl. Biblica, vol. i., p. 901 f.

[28] On this hypothesis Titus was not the bearer of 1 Corinthians .

[29] Hastings’ Bible Dictionary , vol. i., p. 495, s.v. “2 Corinthians”.

17. On both these theories the same observation may be made at the outset. They are highly complicated. Quite apart in the one case from the assumption (for which there is no evidence) that Timothy reached Corinth and that his mission there was a failure, and from the assumption in the other case [30] that the language of 2 Corinthians 1:15 cannot be explained unless we suppose St. Paul to have changed his mind as to his route twice after the despatch of 1 Corinthians , both theories presuppose events and documents of which no historical trace has survived. Doubtless we must not assume that all the facts have been recorded; it may be necessary to introduce some hypotheses in order to co-ordinate the fragments of history at our disposal. Nevertheless, the theory which depends on the fewest hypotheses has the best claim to acceptance, provided that it covers the facts. Now the writers whose theories have been indicated in § 16 agree in interpolating a letter between 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, which has utterly vanished out of knowledge. Such an interpolated letter was suggested by Bleek as long ago as 1830, and its actuality has been assumed by many critics since in Germany as well as in England. No doubt the phenomena may be accounted for by an artifice of this sort. We may put anything we please into a letter of which we know nothing; there is no way of proving our speculations to be wrong. But the necessity for so large an hypothesis must be glaringly evident before the hypothesis can be justified. And it has not been proved, as we have seen (§§ 14, 15), that the “Painful Letter” of 2 Corinthians 2:4 ; 2 Corinthians 7:8 , cannot have been the First Canonical Epistle to the Corinthians. It is upon this supposed impossibility that the whole edifice of theory rests, and the base does not appear to the present writer at least to be broad enough to bear the superstructure.

[30] Dr. Sanday seems also to favour this idea of a double change of intention as to his route on the part of St. Paul ( Encycl. Biblica , vol. i., p. 903). See § 16 above.



1. Our discussion has hitherto taken for granted the unity of the Epistle (2 Cor.) with which we have to do. But this has been repeatedly questioned, and the arguments alleged in support of the composite character of the document require to be considered in detail. So far back as 1767 Semler urged that the Epistle could be resolved into three parts: (1) chaps. 1 8 + Romans 16:1-20 + chap. 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 ; (2) chaps. 10 13:10; (3) chap. 9; of which he held (2) to be posterior to (1). After a struggling existence the analysis attracted fresh interest when Hausrath in 1870 took it up in part and advocated the distinctness of chaps. 10 13 from chaps. 1 9 Schmiedel (in the Hand Kommentar ) defended this view in 1890, and Clemen has since adopted it, and indeed regards it as an established result of criticism. [31] The theory has not had many advocates in England, but it has been vigorously supported by Dr. J. H. Kennedy in his work entitled The Second and Third Epistles to the Corinthians (1900). By no writer has the matter been more carefully and acutely investigated, and his arguments demand attention.

[31] See Theologische Literaturzeitung , 22nd Dec., 1900; and cf. Clemen’s work entitled Die Einheitlichkeit d. paulin. Briefe .

2. Dr. Kennedy’s view of the sequence of events during St. Paul’s stay at Ephesus is as follows: 1. Titus was sent on a mission to Corinth to preach and to continue St. Paul’s work (2 Corinthians 12:18 ) at some period after the Apostle’s first visit (Acts 18:1 ). 2. Lost Letter to the Corinthians. 3. Mission of Timothy to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17 ; 1 Corinthians 16:5 ). 4. 1 Corinthians written from Ephesus about April, 54. 5. St. Paul stayed at Ephesus because of the greatness of the opportunity there (1 Corinthians 16:8 ). 6. He formed a fixed purpose of visiting Jerusalem with the offerings which were being collected (Acts 19:21 ). 7. Bad news came from Corinth. 8. St. Paul accordingly paid a brief disciplinary visit to that city. 9. On his return he wrote from Ephesus the Painful Letter, of which the end is preserved to us in 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10 . Mission of Timothy to Macedonia (Acts 19:22 ). 11. Mission of Titus to Corinth to subdue the rebels there. 12. On Titus’ report of the success of his mission St. Paul wrote from Macedonia about November, 55, a letter of which we have the beginning preserved in 2 Corinthians 1-9, the rest being lost. 13. This letter was forwarded to Corinth by Titus and two unnamed companions, the bearers being entrusted also with the business of the collection (2 Corinthians 8:6 ). It will be recognised at once that this is a highly complicated scheme. Dr. Kennedy has to assume three missions of Titus to Corinth instead of two, the number which commentators have generally recognised; and he has, in like manner, to find room for two missions of Timothy, one to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17 ) and a second, quite distinct from this, to Macedonia (Acts 19:21 ). In addition, he has to push back the date of 1 Corinthians by a year, in order to give time for all the incidents of which he finds traces in the Epistles; and he splits up 2 Corinthians into two fragmentary letters. We shall consider these points separately.

3. First, then, as to the missions of Titus. Dr. Kennedy takes in close connexion the two verses 2 Corinthians 8:6-7 , and translates (p. 122), “I summoned (? exhorted) Titus that as he had made a beginning, so he might accomplish in you this grace also; yea that as ye abound in everything, in faith and utterance, and in all diligence, and in your love towards us, so ye may abound in this grace also”. This translation is probably right (see note in loc. ); but the inference which its author derives from it is by no means inevitable. Dr. Kennedy holds that the words prove that the furtherance of the collection for Jerusalem was the purpose of Titus’ later visit only, and formed no part of his commission in the earlier visit. But this cannot be maintained. Such an interpretation will harmonise with Dr. Kennedy’s scheme of Titus’ visits (see above); but the passage is quite consistent with the other view that Titus’ two visits to Corinth were made as the bearer of the two Canonical Epistles. For in what St. Paul says, the emphasis is on the contrast between προενήρξατο and ἐπιτελέσῃ . A beginning had been made by Titus in the matter of the collection; he is now to finish his work, that the Corinthians may be as conspicuous for their liberality as they already are for other graces. Dr. Kennedy objects to this that it is inconceivable that St. Paul when sending Titus with a strong message of rebuke should also have instructed him to obtain money contributions. “Such a course,” he says, “would have been as inconsistent with wise diplomacy as with the self-respect which formed so marked a feature in St. Paul’s character.” [32] But to argue thus is to overlook the fact that St. Paul’s instructions about the collection in 1 Corinthians 16:1-5 were given in answer to queries addressed to him on the subject by the Church of Corinth. The first part of the letter which Titus carried was taken up with rebuke; but there was nothing undiplomatic in the fact that St. Paul sent his answers to these queries by the same hand. In fact to have withheld his answer would have only given offence. [33]

[32] Loc. cit. , p. 124.

[33] These considerations also break the force of Dr. Kennedy’s main argument for the early date of 1 Corinthians . It is plain that the business of the collection had been set on foot before the date of that letter, in which counsel is given as to the best method of carrying it on; and thus the phrase ἀπὸ πέρυσι (2 Corinthians 8:10 ; 2 Corinthians 9:2 ), in which so much difficulty has been found, receives adequate explanation. The Corinthians would truly be said in November, 55, to have “made a beginning” a year ago, and St. Paul’s boast to the Macedonian Christians that Achaia had been “prepared for a year past” was quite justifiable (see note in loc. ).

4. We have now to consider the evidence adduced for the dissection of 2 Corinthians. First, it is urged that there is not only a change of tone at 2 Corinthians 10:1 , but that the way in which the chapter opens shows that something has been lost which immediately preceded it. Αὐτὸς δὲ ἐγὼ are the first words, and δέ (it is said) marks an antithesis. The passage “contains an allusion to an objection which had been brought against the Apostle, which it brings before us not as if the subject were now for the first time introduced, but as if it had been already mentioned”. [34] Rather should we say that δέ marks the transition to a new subject, a usage to which we have an exact parallel in 2 Corinthians 8:1 of this very Epistle; where after the words which conclude chap. 7, χαίρω ὅτι ἐν παντὶ θαρρῶ ἐν ὑμῖν , St. Paul passes to his next topic with the words γνωρίζομεν δὲ ὑμῖν . Another parallel is found at 1 Corinthians 15:1 , where in like manner a new subject is introduced by the words γνωρίζω δὲ ὑμῖν . It is unnecessary to assume, as some have done, that the change of tone here was caused by the arrival at this point of a messenger from Corinth bringing tidings later and less favourable than that brought by Titus. This may, indeed, be so; but the hypothesis is not needed. It is hardly likely that any of St. Paul’s more important letters were written or dictated at a single sitting; and the change of tone is sufficiently accounted for by a change of mood such as every busy and over-burdened man is subject to, especially if his health is not very robust ( cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 ; 2 Corinthians 12:7 ). The Second Epistle to the Corinthians is not a formal treatise like the Epistle to the Romans; it is a personal letter, and in such letters we have no reason to expect either systematic arrangement of topics or pedantically uniform treatment.

[34] Kennedy, loc. cit. , p. 96.

5. This consideration helps us, too, to dispose of the difficulty that the last four chapters contemplate an openly rebellious minority at Corinth, the existence of which is not emphasised in the first nine chapters. It was entirely natural that Titus’ report being of a mixed character, partly good and partly bad, St. Paul’s letter based upon it should show traces at once of his gratification and of his grief. And, indeed, chaps. 1 9 are not without indications that his authority was not cheerfully accepted by all the Corinthian Christians. His defence against the charge of fickleness (2 Corinthians 1:15-17 ) shows that the charge had been made; the mention of οἱ πλείονες in 2 Corinthians 2:6 ( cf. 2 Corinthians 4:15 ) shows that a minority did not heartily concur in the sentence which was inflicted, although, as a matter of fact, all had acquiesced in his view that the Church should take cognisance of the moral scandal which had occurred; [35] he more than hints in 2 Corinthians 2:17 that οἱ πολλοί make merchandise of the word of God, and his remark loses point if none such were to be found at Corinth; that τινες , “some persons,” make use of commendatory letters (2 Corinthians 3:1 ) is brought up to their disparagement; the comparison between the ministries of the Old and New Covenants in 2 Corinthians 3:6 f. is indirectly aimed at the Judaising party (2 Corinthians 11:22-23 ); so, too, those who boast ἐν προσώπῳ καὶ οὐ καρδίᾳ (2 Corinthians 5:12 ) are his Corinthian opponents; and, lastly, the force of the antitheses in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 depends on the fact that corresponding statements to his discredit were being made at Corinth. The situation was simply this. The Church as a whole (and, indeed, unanimously, cf. 2 Corinthians 7:15-16 ) had taken the action he desired in the case of the offender; but there remained a turbulent minority who resisted his authority in other matters. The evil of unchastity does not here need special consideration; it was always present at Corinth.

[35] I cannot think that Dr. Kennedy’s view ( loc. cit. , p. 102) that the “minority” here indicated were out-and-out supporters of St. Paul who were anxious to go farther even than he, will commend itself to many minds.

6. It is time to adduce the passages upon which defenders of the theory that chaps. 10 13 constitute a part of the Painful Letter mainly depend. The case is best put by Dr. Kennedy, [36] who produces three pairs of parallels between the first nine and the last four chapters of the Epistle. ( a ) In 2 Corinthians 13:10 the Apostle wrote διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα ἀπὼν γράφω , ἵνα παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμως χρήσωμαι ; and to this it is said that 2 Corinthians 2:3 , καὶ ἔγραψα τοῦτο f1αὐτὸ , ἵνα μὴ ἐλθὼν λύπην ἔχω , refers. But this reference is by no means inevitable; it is quite as natural to suppose that the effect of the Painful Letter (which I take to be 1 Corinthians ) having been so salutary, as is indicated in 2 Corinthians 2:3 , the Apostle would again try the effect of a written threat of severe dealing. ( b ) In 2 Corinthians 13:2 we have προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον καὶ ἀπὼν νῦν τοῖς προημαρτηκόσιν καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν , ὅτι ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν οὐ φείσομαι , to which 2 Corinthians 1:23 corresponds well if we suppose it written at a later date, viz. , φειδόμενος ὑμῶν οὐκέτι ἦλθον εἰς Κόρινθον . On the other hand, it is plain that the texts may be taken up by another handle; and we may understand their sequence to be that the Apostle having said at 2 Corinthians 1:23 that he had not come to Corinth before as he wished to spare them, he explains at 2 Corinthians 13:2 with plain sternness that when he does come he will not spare. There is nothing gained in lucidity or in force by the hypothesis that 2 Corinthians 13:2 represents the earlier statement and 2 Corinthians 1:23 the later. ( c ) Again, in 2 Corinthians 10:6 , St. Paul says of himself: ἐν ἑτοίμῳ ἔχοντες ἐκδικῆσαι πᾶσαν παρακοήν , ὅταν πληρωθῇ ὑμῶνὑπακοή , while at 2 Corinthians 2:9 he writes, εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ ἔγραψα ἵνα γνῶ τὴν δοκιμὴν ὑμῶν , εἰ εἰς πάντα ὑπήκοοί ἐστε . Here it is not to be gainsaid that an excellent sense emerges from counting 2 Corinthians 10:6 to be prior to 2 Corinthians 2:9 , which seems, when taken in connexion with 2 Corinthians 7:15-16 , to speak of unanimous obedience on the part of the Christians at Corinth. But the character of this obedience has been indicated above in § 4. So far as the specific case as to which St. Paul had written the Painful Letter was concerned, the “obedience” had been that of “all”; but there remained a faction which was disobedient at heart, and until they should have yielded to his authority it could not be said that their “obedience” was “fulfilled”. As to these three pairs of parallel passages, then, it is not the case that a satisfactory explanation can be provided only by the expedient of recognising chaps. 10 13 as prior to chaps. 1 9; on the contrary, they yield a consistent sense when the Epistle is interpreted as a continuous whole. A remarkable commentary upon the danger of relying too much on coincidences of language of this sort is afforded by the fact that exactly an opposite inference to that with which we have been dealing has been drawn by another critic, Drescher. This writer, like Schmiedel and Clemen and Kennedy, regards chaps. 10 13 as distinct from chaps. 1 9; but he is led from internal evidence, as it appears to him, to count the Nine Chapters as earlier in date than the Four. [37] When internal evidence leads competent scholars to such entirely divergent conclusions, it is a natural inference that the arguments on which they rely do not amount to demonstration.

[36] Loc. cit. , p. 81 f.

[37] Studien und Kritiken , Jan., 1897. Krenkel takes the same view, and holds that chaps. 10 13. form a letter later in date than chaps. 1 9. This was also Semler’s view.

7. It is further to be borne in mind that the theory which regards chaps. 1 9 and chaps. 10 13 as parts of distinct letters which have been joined together by mistake depends on the concurrence of several improbable hypotheses. We have to suppose not only that chaps. 1 9 are a fragment of a longer letter which has lost its concluding pages, and that chaps. 10 13 are a fragment of a longer letter which has lost its opening pages, but that in each case the mutilation happened to come at a point where a new sentence began a new page. This is a most unlikely thing to happen. Take any book or manuscript at random and count the number of places where the tearing away of pages does not leave a clause incomplete. The number will be small indeed. [38] But the measure of the improbability of this happening must be twice repeated before we reach the improbability of 2 Corinthians 1-9 and 2 Corinthians 10-13 being both fragments. For neither 2 Corinthians 9:15 nor 2 Corinthians 10:1 is an incomplete sentence. It has been argued indeed (see above, § 4) that 2 Corinthians 10:1 , αὐτὸς δὲ ἐγὼ …, points to some preceding argument which is not to be found in 2 Corinthians 9:0 . The argument is unconvincing; but what is here dealt with is the improbability that a tearing of the MS. should have left no trace on the grammatical coherence of the sentence which followed the mutilation. In fact, it is not too much to say that the phenomena of the existing document cannot be explained as resulting from the mere juxtaposition of two fragments of other letters. We have to postulate, in addition, an editor who trimmed the ragged edges and brought the end of chap. 9 and the beginning of chap. 10 into grammatical sequence by emendation of the texts which the two fragments presented. And beside all this we have yet to reckon with the improbability, be it great or small, that the two fragments belonging to distinct letters should have become joined together under the mistaken impression that they were parts of one whole. Under these circumstances we fall back on the primâ facie case, which is that the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is an ens integrum , and we proceed to bring forward some of the positive data which point to its unity.

[38] A good illustration is afforded by the end of St. Mark’s Gospel. It is generally (though not universally) believed that a page has been lost at the end, and that the present conclusion is by another hand. But one of the strongest arguments for this view is that ver. 8 is incomplete, and that it ends ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ , i.e. , “for they were afraid to …”. There is no such incompleteness apparent at 2 Corinthians 9:15 .

8. First, attention should be directed to passages in chaps. 10 13 which point back to passages in chaps. 1 9 ( a ) In 2 Corinthians 11:15 St. Paul writes that the false apostles, whom he calls Satan’s διάκονοι , are trying to pass themselves off as διάκονοι δικαιοσύνης , i.e. , as ἀπόστολοι Χριστοῦ (ver. 13). Now there is nothing in the context to suggest such a phrase as διάκονοι δικαιοσύνης , and it does not, as a matter of fact, occur in any other of St. Paul’s letters or in the N.T. outside this Epistle or in the LXX. The one passage which explains it is 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 , where the Ministry of the Old Covenant is declared to be less glorious than that of the New, and where ἡ διακονία τῆς δικαιοσύνης is set over against ἡ διακονία τῆς κατακρίσεως . Unless the readers of 2 Corinthians 11:15 were aware that St. Paul used the phrase “the ministry of Righteousness” as descriptive of the ministry of the Gospel, the title διάκονοι δικαιοσύνης would have had no special meaning for them. Thus we conclude that the discussion of 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 is presupposed by the use of the title in 2 Corinthians 11:15 . ( b ) The charge which his opponents brought against St. Paul at Corinth is thus described by him in 2 Corinthians 12:16 , ὑπάρχων πανοῦργος δόλῳ ὑμᾶς ἔλαβον . They had called him a πανοῦργος , “a crafty man,” and suggested that his dealings in the matter of money were full of guile ( δόλος ). At 2 Corinthians 4:2 he refers to the same charge, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον f1τοῦ Θεοῦ . The meaning of the latter clause, “handling deceitfully the word of God,” is fixed by the parallel in 2 Corinthians 2:17 , καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ , which shows that the δόλος repudiated by him was crooked dealing in regard to money, “making a traffic” of the Gospel. ( c ) The passages just cited from the earlier part of the letter have other echoes in the later part. In 2 Corinthians 2:17 those who make merchandise of the word of God at Corinth are οἱ πολλοὶ , and he speaks of his opponents again as πολλοί in 2 Corinthians 11:18 . His declaration in 2 Corinthians 2:17 is that he preaches ἐξ εἰλικρινείας ( cf. 2 Corinthians 1:12 ), and in 2 Corinthians 4:2 that it is τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας ; so in 2 Corinthians 11:6 he says of himself, ἐν παντὶ φανερώσαντες ἐν πᾶσιν εἰς ὑμᾶς . And, lastly, the asseveration of his sincerity in 2 Corinthians 2:17 , κατέναντι Θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν , is repeated in 2 Corinthians 12:19 , the only other place where it occurs in his Epistles. ( d ) In 2 Corinthians 10:5 he speaks of bringing every thought into captivity, εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ , and of his readiness to avenge all disobedience, ὅταν πληρωθῇ ὑμῶνὑπακοή . Seven verses before, in 2 Corinthians 9:13 , he had written of the ὑποταγὴ τῆς ὁμολογίας ὑμῶν εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ; and the language is sufficiently similar to suggest that 2 Corinthians 10:5 was written while the phrases of 2 Corinthians 9:13 were still in his mind, ( e ) The concluding summary of the Epistle (2 Corinthians 13:11 ) is important (see note in loc. ). The exhortations χαίρετεπαρακαλεῖσθε are specially noteworthy, for they exactly reproduce the two leading thoughts of its earlier part, Rejoice … be comforted . It is difficult to understand how the words are to be explained on the hypothesis that they sum up the message of the Painful Letter. They are entirely harmonious with chaps. 1 9, but not harmonious at all with chaps. 10 13. “Comfort in affliction” is (as Dr. Plummer points out [39] ) the keynote of the first part of the Epistle, “boasting in weakness” being the keynote of the second part. παρακαλεῖσθε is an appropriate summing up of much that is contained in chaps. 1 9, but is irrelevant as regards chaps. 10 13. [40] And thus, as we find in 2 Corinthians 13:11 a summary of 2 Corinthians as a whole, we conclude that it is a single document, and is not made up of parts of two letters which have been joined together by mistake.

[39] Smith’s Bible Dictionary , vol. i., p. 657.

[40] Semler seems to have had some suspicion of this, for he joins on chap. 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 to the first part of the Epistle in his scheme of dissection.

9. In the next place the linguistic parallels between chaps. 1 9 and chaps. 10 13 are in many instances so close as to render it difficult to believe that the Epistle is not an ens integrum. ( a ) The phrase ἑαυτὸν συνιστάνειν only occurs once in the N.T. outside 2 Corinthians, viz. , at Galatians 2:18 , and there the meaning is quite different ( παραβάτην ἐμαυτὸν συνιστάνω = “I prove myself a transgressor”) from anything in 2 Corinthians. Not only does the phrase occur in both parts of this Epistle ( 2Co 3:1 , 2 Corinthians 5:12 , 2 Corinthians 10:12 ; 2 Corinthians 10:18 ), but it always implies a bad kind of self-commendation, as contrasted with the similar phrase συνιστάνειν ἑαυτὸν (2 Corinthians 4:2 , 2 Corinthians 6:4 , 2 Corinthians 7:11 ), which is used throughout in a favourable sense, ( b ) ὑπόστασις only occurs twice in St. Paul, and each time in the same phrase, ἐν τῇ ὑποστάσει ταύτῃ [ s.c. , τῆς καυχήσεως ], which is found once in the earlier (2 Corinthians 9:4 ) and once in the later (2 Corinthians 11:17 ) part of 2 Corinthians. ( c ) St. Paul uses ταπεινός of himself in 2 Corinthians 7:6 and 2 Corinthians 10:1 ; the word only occurs once again in the Pauline letters (Romans 12:16 ). ( d ) νόημα occurs five times in 2 Corinthians and in both parts of the Epistle ( 2Co 2:11 , 2 Corinthians 3:14 , 2Co 4:4 , 2 Corinthians 10:5 , 2 Corinthians 11:3 ), and is always used in a bad sense. In the only other place of its occurrence in the N.T. (Philippians 4:7 ) there is no suggestion that νοήματα must be bad. ( e ) ἀγρυπνία occurs in 2 Corinthians 6:5 and 2 Corinthians 11:27 , but nowhere else in the N.T. ( f ) προσαναληροῦν occurs in 2 Corinthians 9:12 and 2 Corinthians 11:9 , but nowhere else in the N.T. ( g ) ἕτοιμος occurs both in 2 Corinthians 9:5 and 2Co 10:6 ; 2 Corinthians 10:16 ; only once again in St. Paul (Titus 3:1 ). ( h ) δυνατεῖν is found in 2 Corinthians 9:8 and 2 Corinthians 13:3 ; only once again in St. Paul (Romans 14:4 ). ( i ) θαρρεῖν occurs in 2 Corinthians 5:6 ; 2 Corinthians 5:8 , 2 Corinthians 7:16 and 2 Corinthians 10:1-2 , but not elsewhere in St. Paul. It is true that in 2 Corinthians 10:1-2 it is used to express stern confidence in himself ( θαρρῶ εἰς ὑμᾶς ), and in 2 Corinthians 7:16 to express hopeful confidence in his correspondents ( θαρρῶ ἐν ὑμῖν ); but this does not alter the fact that he does not use the word in any sense in any other Epistle. ( j ) πλεονεκτεῖν occurs in 2 Corinthians 2:11 , 2 Corinthians 7:2 and 2 Corinthians 12:17-18 ; only again in St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 . ( k ) παρακαλεῖν occurs thirteen times in chaps. 1 9 and four times in chaps. 10 13; that is, with unusual frequency in both parts of the Epistle. It is the word used throughout of the Apostle’s directions to Titus ( 2Co 8:6 ; 2 Corinthians 8:17 , 2 Corinthians 9:5 and 2 Corinthians 12:17 ). Other words and phrases occur with marked frequency in both parts of the Epistle, such as ἐν παντί , καυχάομαι , περισσότερος (- ως ), etc.; but while such phenomena fall in with the conclusion we have already reached, they are hardly significant enough to be registered as supplying independent arguments. But, on the whole, the linguistic facts powerfully support the traditional view, viz. , that the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is a single document and not a patchwork of two or more detached pieces.

10. It is further to be borne in mind that neither MSS. nor versions lend any countenance to these disintegrating theories. They all, from the earliest times, treat the Epistle as a whole, as Irenæus explicitly does more than once. He quotes 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ( Hær. , IV., xxviii., 3) and 2 Corinthians 13:7 ; 2 Corinthians 13:9 ( Hær. , V., iii., 1) as alike contained in the secunda ad Corinthios . No doubt the union of fragments is supposed to have taken place long before his time. Nevertheless the fact that there is no trace of it in literature is significant. “The attestation of the N.T. text is so varied and so early that a displacement of this magnitude could hardly fail to bear traces of itself.” [41]

[41] Sanday, Encycl. Biblica , vol. i., p. 906.

11. One section of the Epistle (2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1 ) has been regarded as an interpolation by many writers who accept the Epistle in other respects as a complete document from the hand of St. Paul. And it is not to be denied that this section comes in awkwardly in its present place. It is much more like what we would expect a fragment of the Lost Letter (1 Corinthians 5:9 ) to be than a genuine part of the Epistle before us. Nevertheless, I am not satisfied that a case has been made out for its rejection; and I have given (in the notes in loc. ) the reasons which seem to me to justify the Pauline authorship of the section, and plausibly to explain its insertion at this particular point. It is not impossible (though for the hypothesis there is no external authority) that the section is a marginal gloss which has crept into the text at a very early period, or a postscript written in the margin by St. Paul or his amanuensis. But, on the whole, I believe that it ought to be retained.



1. The external tradition as to the circulation and authority of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is abundant from the year 175 onward. It is quoted by Irenæus of Gaul repeatedly ( e.g., Hær. , iii., 7, “aperte Paulum in secunda ad Corinthios dixisse,” etc.); by Athenagoras of Athens ( de resurr. morte , xviii.); by Theophilus of Antioch ( ad Autol. , i., 12, iii., 14); by Tertullian of Carthage ( de Pudicitia , 13 et passim ); by Clement of Alexandria (frequently, e.g., Strom. , iii., 14, iv., 6), witnesses representing Churches widely separated from each other. Again, the Epistle is mentioned in the Muratorian Fragment; it was in Marcion’s Canon, and there is no evidence that it was absent from any list of N.T. books or any collection of Pauline letters. Before 175 A D. the evidence is not copious, but it is distinct. The letter to Diognetus (v. 12) quotes chap. 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 ; and the elders cited by Irenæus, who represent (at latest) the generation preceding him, quote chap. 2 Corinthians 12:4 ( Hær. , V., v., 1). Finally, Polycarp ( ad Phil. , ii., 4, and vi., 1) quotes chap. 2 Corinthians 4:14 and 2 Corinthians 8:21 , thus providing proof of the use of the Epistle before the year 120. That it seems to have been used by the Sethites and and Ophites would point to a similar conclusion. [42]

[42] It is somewhat remarkable that the Epistle is not quoted by Clement of Rome when writing to the Church at Corinth. He cites (§ xlvii.) the First Epistle, and the Second, if known to him, would have supplied him with many apposite texts, powerfully supporting his appeal for unity. But no solid argument can be based on Clement’s silence, especially when it is remembered that we should look in vain in his letter for traces of Galatians, Colossians, Philippians , , 1 and 2 Thessalonians, as well as of 2 Corinthians. These letters may not have been known in Rome at the time; or Clement may have been personally unacquainted with them; or he may not have been familiar enough with their contents to quote from them. Any of these explanations is adequate, without resorting to the hypothesis ( cf. Kennedy, 2 and 3 Corinthians , p. 142 ff.) that Clement does not quote the canonical 2 Corinthians because it was not yet in existence as a whole, but only survived in the form of fragments of the great Apostle’s correspondence with Corinth.

2. External evidence is, however, of little importance in the case of a letter which so clearly betrays its authorship as 2 Corinthians does. It is unmistakably Pauline, in the tone and character of its teaching, no less than in its style and vocabulary. No Epistle lets us see more of the working of the Apostle’s mind, or gives us a clearer view of his personality (see above, chap. i., § 1). It is distinctively a letter rather than an epistle ; that is, it was written to meet an emergency that had arisen at Corinth, and there is no trace that the writer was conscious that it would take a permanent place in literature. Herein lies at once its charm and its difficulty; and herein, too, is the explanation of the absence of systematic and consistent arrangement, such as might fairly be expected in a formal treatise. It reflects the varying moods of the writer; and the broken constructions and frequent anacolutha show that it was written at a time of mental agitation and excitement.

3. We count it unnecessary to produce here the proofs of the Pauline character of the style and diction of the Epistle. [43] They are apparent throughout, and the marginal references to the text have been specially prepared with a view of bringing out the linguistic parallels between 2 Corinthians and the other Pauline letters. [44] Among the words peculiar in the N.T. to this Epistle are the following: ἀβαρής , ἀγανάκτησις , ἁγκότης , ἀγρυπνία , ἁδρότης , ἄμετρος , ἀνακαλύπτειν , ἀνεκδιήγητος , ἀπαρασκεύαστος , ἀπειπεῖν ἀπόκριμα , ἄρρητος , αὐγάζειν , αὐθαίρετος , βελίαρ , δίψος , δόλιος , δυσφημία , ἐγκρίνειν , ἐκδαπανᾶσθαι , ἐκδημεῖν , ἐκφοβεῖν , ἐλαφρία , ἐντυποῦν , ἐπενδύεσθαι , ἑτεροζυγεῖν , εὐφημία , ἱκανότης , καθαίρεσις , κάλυμμα , καπηλεύειν , καταβαρεῖν , κατάκρισις , καταναρκεῖν , κατάρτισις , κατοπτρίζεσθαι , μετοχή , μολυσμός , μωμεῖσθαι , νυχθήμερον , ὀχύρωμα , παραυτίκα , παραφρονεῖν , πεντάκις , πέρυσι , προαμαρτάνειν , προενάρχεσθαι , προκαταρτίζειν , προσαναπληροῦν , προσκοπή , πτωχεύειν , σαργάνη , σκῆνος , σκόλοψ , στενοχωρεῖσθαι , συγκατάθεσις , συλᾷν , συμπέμπειν , συμφώνησις , συναποστέλλειν , συνυπουργεῖν , συστατικός , ὑπερέκεινα , ὑπερεκτείνειν , ὑπερλίαν , φειδομένως , φωτισμός , ψευδαπόστολος , ψιθυρισμός .

[43] Those who desire to learn what has been urged against the Pauline authorship may be referred to Dr. Knowling’s Witness of the Epistles , chap. 2., “Recent Attacks upon the Hauptbriefe”; see especially p. 192. But it is quite outside the plan of this commentary to take notice of every extravagance of criticism. (See also vol. ii., p. 753. above.)

[44] Note that in the marginal references the LXX numbering of the Psalms and of the other O.T. books has been followed; and that “here only” means that the word so designated does not occur again in the N.T.

4. That the Epistle falls of itself into three parts is evident to the most casual reader. (1) From 2 Corinthians 1:1 to 2 Corinthians 7:16 the writer is occupied with the reflections which are suggested by the report brought by Titus as to the response of the Corinthian Church to the injunctions of the First Epistle in the matter of the incestuous man. In this section there is a digression of great doctrinal importance on the Ministry of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:7 to 2 Corinthians 4:15 ), followed by some profound thoughts about the life after death (2 Corinthians 4:16 to 2 Corinthians 5:10 ); and a minor digression (2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1 ) about the dangers of intermarriage with the heathen; but the main topic of these chapters is his thankfulness at the news he has received, which consoles him in his many troubles. Again and again he bids them be sure of his sincerity and single-mindedness. (2) Chapters 8 and 9 deal with the collection which was being made for the poor Christians in Judæa, a subject which had been much in his thoughts during the preceding year. (3) The last four chapters are taken up with a vindication of his apostolic authority, which was necessary to put forward plainly before his next visit to Corinth. There was a party in that city calling themselves by the name of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:7 ), who made light of St. Paul’s apostolic claims and were trying to undermine his authority. The Church as a whole had acquiesced in St. Paul’s directions given in 1 Corinthians 5:0 ; but a minority of malcontents were troublesome and calumnious, and needed repression. A detailed analysis of the letter is subjoined.


I. The obedience of the Corinthians to the instructions of the First Epistle.


Address (2 Corinthians 1:1-2 ).

God’s consolations and the sympathy of sorrow (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ).

His recent peril (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ).

His sincerity of purpose

They must acknowledge it (2 Corinthians 1:12-14 ).

His change of plan was not due to fickleness (2 Corinthians 1:15-22 ).

The real reason of the postponement of his visit (2 Corinthians 1:23 to 2 Corinthians 2:4 ).

The offender has been sufficiently punished (2 Corinthians 2:5-11 ).

He rejoices to hear that his reproof has been loyally received (2 Corinthians 2:12-17 ).

The Corinthians are his “Letter of Commendation” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3 ).

His success, however, is due to God (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ).

Digression on the Ministry of the New Covenant

It is more glorious than that of the Old (2 Corinthians 3:7-11 ).

It is more open (2 Corinthians 3:12-18 ).

He, accordingly, delivers his message plainly (2 Corinthians 4:1-6 ).

His bodily weakness does not annul the effects of his ministry (2 Corinthians 4:7-15 ).

He is sustained by a glorious hope (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ).

His expectation of a glorified body hereafter, and his desire to survive until the Second Advent (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ).

In any case to be with Christ is best (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 ).

We must remember the Judgment to come (2 Corinthians 5:9-10 ).

He reiterates his sincerity of purpose (2 Corinthians 5:11-13 ).

The constraining power of his ministry (2 Corinthians 5:14-16 ).

In Christ all is new (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ).

As Christ’s ambassador he prays them to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20 to 2 Corinthians 6:3 ).

The conditions and characteristics of his ministry (2 Corinthians 6:4-10 ).

He affectionately declares his sympathy and claims the same from them (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 ).

[Parenthetical warning against familiar association with the heathen (2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1 ).]

He claims their sympathy again (2 Corinthians 7:2-4 ).

He repeats his joy that his reproof has been loyally received (2 Corinthians 7:5-12 ).

Titus also rejoiced to bring such tidings (2 Corinthians 7:13-16 ).

II. The Collection for the Judæan Christians.

The liberality of the Macedonian Churches (2 Corinthians 8:1-7 ).

He counsels, though he will not command, the imitation of it (2 Corinthians 8:8-15 ).

The mission of Titus and his two companions (2 Corinthians 8:16-24 ).

Its purpose, that the collection may be made ready (2 Corinthians 9:1-5 ).

Liberal giving is ( a ) blessed of God (2 Corinthians 9:6-11 ), and ( b ) calls forth the blessings of the recipients (2 Corinthians 9:12-15 ).

III. The Vindication of his Apostolic Authority.

He entreats them not to force him to use his authority (2 Corinthians 10:1-6 ).

Despite all appearances it is weighty and is Divinely given him (2 Corinthians 10:7-18 ).

He begs them to bear with the statement of his claims at length (2 Corinthians 11:1-4 ).

He is in no way inferior to his adversaries (2 Corinthians 11:5-15 ).

His Apostolic labours and trials (2 Corinthians 11:16-33 ).

His vision, of which he could boast, if he chose (2 Corinthians 12:1-6 ).

His “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ).

This testimony should have proceeded from the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:11-13 ).

That he did not claim maintenance was disinterested (2 Corinthians 12:14-18 ).

The purpose of this “glorying” is their edification (2 Corinthians 12:19-21 ).

If he comes again, he will not spare (2 Corinthians 13:1-2 ).

Christ is his strength: let them see to it that He is theirs also (2 Corinthians 13:3-10 ).


Final exhortations (2 Corinthians 13:11 ).

Salutations and benediction (2 Corinthians 13:12-13 ).



1. The uncial manuscripts whose readings are cited, in all important cases, in the critical notes are the following:

א . Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862. The symbol [45] [46] is used to indicate the corrections introduced by a scribe of the seventh century, [47] [48] denoting the autograph of the original scribe.

[45] Corrections of א introduced by a scribe of the seventh century.

[46] Corrections of א introduced by a scribe of the seventh century.

[47] Autograph of the original scribe of א .

[48] Autograph of the original scribe of א .

A. Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879); it is defective from chaps. 2 Corinthians 4:13 to 2 Corinthians 12:7 of our Epistle.

B. Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

C. Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843. The text of our Epistle is wanting from chap. 2 Corinthians 10:8 to the end.

D. Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852. [49] [50] and [51] [52] denote the readings introduced by correctors of the seventh and ninth centuries respectively. The Latin text is represented by d; it follows the Old Latin version with modifications.

[49] A reading of Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852 introduced by correctors of the seventh centuries respectively.

[50] A reading of Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852 introduced by correctors of the seventh centuries respectively.

[51] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852 introduced by correctors of the ninth centuries respectively.

[52] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852 introduced by correctors of the ninth centuries respectively.

E. Codex Sangermanensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., now at St. Petersburg, formerly belonging to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Its text is largely dependent upon that of D. The Latin version, e (a corrected copy of d), has been printed, but with incomplete accuracy, by Belsheim (18 5).

F. Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of [53] , and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[53] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis ( δ ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

G. Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis ( δ ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

H. Codex Coislinianus (sæc. vi.), fragments of which survive in several libraries. Of our Epistle chap. 2 Corinthians 4:2-7 is at St. Petersburg, and chaps. 2 Corinthians 10:18 to 2 Corinthians 11:6 and 2 Corinthians 11:12 to 2 Corinthians 12:2 at Mount Athos. These latter fragments were edited by Duchesne in 1876; the readings of the former are given by Tischendorf.

K. Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

L. Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

M. Codex Ruber (sæc. ix.), at the British Museum; it derives its name from the colour of the ink. It contains of this Epistle chaps. 2 Corinthians 1:1-15 and 2 Corinthians 10:13 to 2 Corinthians 12:5 .

O. This is a fragment (sæc. vi.), at St. Petersburg, containing chaps. 2 Corinthians 1:20 to 2 Corinthians 2:12 .

P. Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. 2 Corinthians 2:13-16 .

R. Codex Cryptoferratensis (sæc. vii.), a palimpsest fragment containing chap. 2 Corinthians 11:9-19 , edited by Cozza in 1867, and cited by Tischendorf. [54]

[54] The following uncial authorities for our Epistle are as yet inedited:

S. At Mount Athos (sæc. viii.?), contains, inter alia , chaps. 2 Corinthians 1:1 to 2 Corinthians 11:23 .

ψ . A ninth-century Codex at Mount Athos. It is said to be complete.

ב . Codex Patiriensis (sæc. v.), at Rome (Vat. Gr. 2061). It contains chaps 2 Corinthians 4:7 to 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 2 Corinthians 7:15 to 2 Corinthians 10:6 of our Epistle

The tendency of these MSS. to fall into groups will be apparent on a cursory inspection of the apparatus criticus . The readings of DEG are, as a rule, “Western”; while [55]56] represent (as usual) a weight of authority that cannot be rejected without much hesitation. The lacunæ in [57] and [58] prevent the affinities of the “Alexandrian” group [59] [60] [61] [62] [63] from being as apparent here as in other Epistles ( cf. Sanday-Headlam, Romans , p. lxxi).

[55] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[56] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[57] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[58] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[59] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[60] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[61] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[62] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[63] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. 2 Corinthians 2:13-16 .

2. The minuscule or cursive manuscripts are very numerous, and only a few of special interest are occasionally cited in the critical apparatus. 17, the “queen of cursives” (sæc. ix.), is at Paris; 37 (sæc. xv.) is the well-known Leicester Codex = Ev. 69; and 73 (sæc. xi.) is at Upsala.

3. Versions . Of these the Latin claims special attention. The versions d, e, f, g have been described above. We have also of the Old Latin the fragmentary Codex Frisingensis (r) of the sixth (?) century, containing of our Epistle chaps. 2 Corinthians 1:1 to 2 Corinthians 2:10 , 2 Corinthians 3:17 to 2 Corinthians 5:1 , 2 Corinthians 7:10 to 2 Corinthians 8:12 , 2 Corinthians 9:10 to 2 Corinthians 11:21 , 2 Corinthians 12:14-21 , 2 Corinthians 13:2-10 . The symbol m marks the readings found in the Speculum , which represents the text of the Spaniard Priscillian. The Vulgate (vg) of the Pauline Epistles differs but little from the præ-Hieronymian Latin.

In Syriac we have the Peshitto (sæc. iii.?) and the Harclean version (sæc. vii.). The margin of the latter often preserves better readings than are found in its text.

Of Egyptian versions we have the Bohairic or the North Coptic, and the Sahidic or South Coptic, the language of Upper Egypt. These versions are to be dated probably about the third century.

It has not come within the scope of this edition to cite the patristic authorities for the variants recorded; for a full conspectus the student must be referred to Tischendorf’s Novum Testamentum Grœce (8th edit.), on which the following apparatus criticus is based.

4. In accordance with the general plan of the Expositor’s Greek Testament the “received text” (see vol. i., p. 52) is printed at the head of the page; but the commentary follows the reading, which has appeared to the editor to be, on the whole, most probably original.

Among the Patristic Commentaries on the Epistle perhaps the most important are those of Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster and Primasius. Modern commentaries are very numerous. Stanley’s notes are often illuminating and picturesque; Alford is careful and thorough, as usual; and Waite (in the Speaker’s Commentary ) provides a useful discussion of the main questions which the Epistle suggests. Of German commentaries Schmiedel’s (in the Hand Kommentar ) is by far the most complete. It is a brilliant and scholarly piece of work, and is indispensable to the student who wishes to have detailed information as to the various schemes by which St. Paul’s history has been reconstructed for the years 53 55 A.D. Schmiedel’s general view (see p. 19 above) that chaps. 10 13 constitute part of a letter distinct from and later than chaps. 1 9 has not commended itself to the present editor; but his notes are full of learning and suggestiveness. Schnedermann’s edition of the Epistles to the Corinthians (in Strack-Zöckler’s Kommentar ) has also been found useful at some points. Bengel’s Gnomon and Field’s detached Notes have, of course, been diligently consulted. [64]

[64] See also Prof. Findlay’s account of the Commentaries on 1 Corinthians (vol. ii., p. 752 above).

In this edition the interpretation which has seemed on the whole the best has been set down, without (as a rule) discussing at length the rival theories. It would have been easy to crowd the notes with references to other editors; but it has seemed better to economise space in this direction, and so to find room for a larger number of references to St. Paul’s other writings.

September , 1900.