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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 7

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

14 7:1 .] Separate yourselves from unbelief and impurity . On the nature of the connexion, Stanley has some good remarks. He now applies to circumstances which had arisen among the Corinthians the exhortation which in 2Co 6:1 he described himself as giving in pursuance of his ministry of reconciliation. The following exhortations are general , and hardly to be pressed as applying only to partaking of meats offered to idols , as Calv., al., or to marriage with unbelievers , as Estius, but regard all possible connexion and participation, all leanings towards a return to heathenism which might be bred by too great familiarity with heathens. Become not (‘ne fiatis , molliter pro: ne sitis ,’ Bengel: rather, perhaps, as expressing, ‘do not enter into those relations in which you must become’) incongruous yokefellows (the word and idea from ref. Levit. Hesych [9] : ἑτερόζυγοι · οἱ μὴ συζυγοῦντες . Grot. explains it, ‘ alteram partem jugi trahere ,’ but this does not give the force of ἑτερο - : Theophyl., μὴ ἀδικεῖτε τὸ δίκαιον ἐπικλινόμενοι κ . προσκλινόμενοι οἷς οὐ θέμις : so making the simile that of an unequal balance: but this could hardly be without more precise notification) with unbelievers (Winer explains the construction, edn. 6, § 31. 10, Remark 4, thus, μὴ γίν . ἑτεροζυγοῦντες , καὶ οὕτως ὁμοζυγοῦντες ἀπίστοις : better, as De W., μὴ γίν . ὁμοζ . ἀπίστοις κ . οὕτως ἑτεροζυγοῦντες ).

[9] Hesychius of Jerusalem, cent y . vi.

μετοχή ] ‘ share in the same thing ,’ community. .

δικαιοσ . is the state of the Christian, being justified by faith: he is therefore excluded from ἀνομία , the proper fruit of faith being obedience .

φωτί , of which we are the children, 1 Thessalonians 5:5 , and not of darkness.

Meyer remarks, that the fivefold variation of the term to express partnership, μετοχή , κοινωνία , συμφώνησις , μερίς , συγκατάθεσις , shews the Apostle’s command of the Greek language. The construction of κοινωνία with a dat. and πρός , is illustrated by Wetst. from Stobæus, S. 28, εἰ δέ τις ἔστι κοινωνία πρὸς θεοὺς ἡμῖν , and Philo, leg. ad Caium, § 14, vol. ii. p. 561, τίς οὖν κοινωνία πρὸς Ἀπόλλωνα , τῷ μηδὲν οἰκεῖον ἢ συγγενὲς ἐπιτετηδευκότι ;

Verses 1-16


Verse 2

2. ] χωρήσ ., see above on ch. 2 Corinthians 6:13 ; δέξασθε ἡμᾶς πλατέως , κ . μὴ στενοχωρώμεθα ἐν ὑμῖν . Theophyl. De Wette, after Bengel, al., renders it, ‘ understand us rightly ,’ referring to ref. Matt.: but even there the meaning is ‘ to take in ,’ and only ‘to understand rightly,’ because τὸν λόγον τοῦτον follows. And as Meyer observes, there could not well be any misunderstanding as to what he here says.

οὐδένα ἠδ ., κ . τ . λ . ] Reasons why they should make room for him in their hearts : We (when he dwelt among them, the aorists refer to a set time, not to his course hitherto) wronged no man (in outward acts, namely, in the exercise of his apostolic authority, or the like), we ruined no man (this probably also of outward conduct towards others, not as Calv., al., of corrupting by false doctrine), we cheated no man . To understand, with Rückert, these verbs as applying to the contents of the former Epistle, is very forced. If ἠδικ . had really referred to the severe punishment of the incestuous person, ἐφθείρ . to the delivering him over to Satan, and ἐπλεον . to the power which Paul gained over them by this act of authority, surely we should have found more express indication of such reference in the text. But no allusion has as yet been made to the former Epistle; and therefore it is much better to understand the words generally of the time when he resided among them. “In how many ways of which history says nothing, may such ruining of others have been laid to the charge of Paul? How easily might his severe visitation of sin, his zeal for eleemosynary collections, his habit of lodging with members of the churches, and the like, have been thus unfavourably characterized!” Meyer: who remarks, that the emphatic position of οὐδένα thrice repeated is no confirmation of Rückert’s view.

Verses 2-4

2 4. ] He introduces the subject by a friendly assurance of his love and bespeaking of theirs , as before in ch. 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 .

Verses 2-16


Verse 3

3. ] I do not say it ( 2Co 7:2 ) for condemnation (with a condemnatory view, in a spirit of blame: there is no ὑμῶν expressed, nor should it be supplied. He means, ‘I do not say 2Co 7:2 in any but a loving spirit’): for (and this shews it) I have said before (viz. ch. 2 Corinthians 6:11 f. see note there) that ye are in our hearts (this was implied in ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν πεπλάτυνται , 2 Corinthians 6:11 . In the qualifying words, εἰς τὸ συν . κ . τ . λ ., Paul, as Meyer says, is his own commentator), to die together and live together . This is ordinarily understood, ‘ so that I could die with you or live with you ,’ as Hor., ‘Tecum vivere amem, tecum obeam libens,’ Od. iii. 9. 24: which Meyer controverts, owing to ὑμεῖς being the subject of the sentence, and renders, ‘in order to die and to live with us:’ i.e. ‘if our lot is to die, in death , and if our lot is to live, in life , never to be torn from our hearts.’ But to this I would reply, that though ὑμεῖς is the subject of ἐν ταῖς καρδ . ἡμ . ἐστε , it is but an accidental and secondary subject as regards the whole sentence ; that they are present in his heart, is a sign, not of their state of mind, but of his : therefore the purpose, εἰς τό , must refer logically to him , the main subject, of whom only the purposes can come into consideration.

Verse 4

4. ] παῤῥησία , as in reff., confidence , which leads to and justifies καύχησις : not here liberty of speech ,’ as Chrys., al.

καύχ ., to others , in speaking of them.

τῇ παρ ., the consolation (which I have received), viz. that furnished by the intelligence from you. Though this is anticipating what follows 2 Corinthians 7:7 ; 2 Corinthians 7:9 , I cannot but believe it to have been already before the Apostle’s mind, and to have been referred to by the articles before παρακλ . and χαρ .

On the construction of πληρόω with an instrumental dative, see reff., and Winer, edn. 6, § 31. 7. So Eurip. Herc. Fur. 372, πεύκαισιν χέρας πληροῦντες , and Bacchæ 18, μιγάσιν Ἕλλησι βαρβάροις θ ʼ ὁμοῦ πλήρεις ἔχουσα καλλιπυργώτους πόλεις .

ὑπερπ .] I am made exceedingly to abound , see Matthew 13:12 . The pres. indicates the abiding of the effect.

τῇ χαρᾷ , with the joy ; see above.

ἐπὶ πάς . τῇ θλ . ἡμ . , in (reff.) all our tribulation : refers to both preceding clauses. What θλῖψις he means, is explained in the next verse.

πάσῃ here not of all tribulation, at all times , which the special reference of παρακλ . and χαρά forbids: but of various sorts of tribulation as specified ( ἐν παντί ) below.

Verse 5

5. ] γάρ gives a reason for θλίψει above: καί connects with ch. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 , where he has spoken of the trouble which he had before leaving Troas. For also, after our coming to Macedonia, our flesh had no rest (there is a slight, but very slight, distinction from οὐκ ἔσχηκα ἄνεσιν τῷ πνεύματί μου , ch. 2 Corinthians 2:12 . Titus was now present , so that that source of inquietude was removed; but the outward ones of fightings generating inward fears (but see below), yet remained. No further distinction must be drawn for ἔσωθεν φόβοι evidently shews that σάρξ must be taken in a wide sense); without, fightings (the omission of ἦσαν renders the description more graphic), within, fears . Chrys., ἔξωθ . μάχαι · παρὰ τῶν ἀπίστων · ἔσωθ . φόβοι · διὰ τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς τῶν πιστῶν . Hom. xiv. p. 539. So Calv., Grot. Wetst. al. slightly varying in their assignment of each class. But it is better, as Paul speaks of ἡ σὰρξ ἡμῶν , to understand ἔξωθεν of the state of things without him [personally], contentions with adversaries either within or without the church, and ἔσωθεν of that within [ him personally], fears, for ourselves, for others, or for you , how you might have received our letter.

Verses 5-7

5 7. ] The intelligence received from them through Titus, and its comforting effect on the Apostle’s mind .

Verse 6

6. ] τοὺς ταπεινούς , generally, those that are low : ἡμᾶς , as belonging to that class.

It was [the] not finding Titus which had given him such uneasiness in Troas, ch. 2 Corinthians 2:12 . ἐν , not ‘ by ,’ but in , as the conditional element or vehicle of the consolation. So also [twice] in next verse.

Verse 7

7. ἀλλὰ καὶ ] not only … but also with the comfort with which he was comforted concerning you: i.e. ‘we shared in the comfort which Titus felt in recording to us your desire,’ &c. see 2 Corinthians 7:13 . He rejoiced in announcing the news: we in hearing them. There is no inaccuracy of construction, as De W. supposes.

ἐπιπόθησιν , either longing to see me , or longing to fulfil my wishes . The former is the more simple.

ὀδυρμόν , ἐπὶ τῇ ἐπιτιμήσει μου τῇ ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ ἐπιστολῇ , as Œcum.

ζῆλον ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ ] The art. is omitted after ζῆλον , as in τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν συγγενῶν κατὰ σάρκα , because the words ζῆλον ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ cohere in the sense, and form as it were but one, see Colossians 1:4 (2 Corinthians 4:13 , v. r.): and Winer, edn. 6, § 20. 2.

μᾶλλον , viz.‘than before, at the mere coming of Titus.’ The emphasis is on μᾶλλον from its position.

Verse 8

8. ] For (reason of the χαρῆναι ) though I even grieved you in (by means of) my epistle, I do not (now) repent (having written it), though I even did repent it (before the coming of Titus). Erasm. al., take εἰ καὶ μετεμ . for ‘ even supposing I repented it before, which was not the case :’ Calv., al. think ‘verbum pœnitendi improprie positum pro dolorem capere .’ The reason of these departures from grammatical construction and the meaning of words, is, for fear the Apostle should seem to have repented of that which he did under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But there is no difficulty even on the strictest view of inspiration, in conceiving that the Apostle may have afterwards regretted the severity which he was guided to use; we know that Jonah, being directed by inspiration to pronounce the doom of Nineveh, endeavoured to escape the unwelcome duty: and doubtless St. Paul, as a man, in the weakness of his affection for the Corinthians, was tempted to wish that he had never written that which had given them pain. But the result shewed that God’s Spirit had ordered it well, that he should thus write: and this his repentance was repented of again .

βλέπω γὰρ κ.τ.λ. ] For I see that that letter, though but for a time, did grieve you . This seems the only admissible rendering of the words. Chrys. sees in them the reason of οὐ μεταμέλομαι , and adds (Hom. xv. p. 543) τὸ μὲν γὰρ λυπηρὸν βραχύ , τὸ δὲ ὠφέλιμον διηνεκές . It appears then that he would render εἰ καὶ πρὸς ὥραν , ‘ if even for a season ,’ = ‘ scarcely for any time .’ Rinck (lucubr. crit. p. 162) would begin a new sentence with εἰ καὶ μετεμελόμην , and parenthesizing βλέπω .… ὑμᾶς , regard νῦν χαίρω , κ . τ . λ . as the apodosis . But this is very unnatural, with so abrupt a beginning as εἰ καί . It would certainly have been εἰ δὲ καί : and the present , βλέπω , would give no reason for the past , μετεμελόμην , which had passed away. The best sense, as well as the most legitimate rendering, is to regard βλέπω .… ὑμᾶς as the epexegesis of ἐλύπησα , as above.

Verses 8-11

8 11. ] He expresses his satisfaction at the effect produced on them, as superseding his former regret that he had grieved them .

Verse 9

9. ] νῦν , emphatic, as distinguishing χαίρω from μετεμελόμην : now that I know not only of your grief, but of its being grief which worked repentance.

κατὰ θεόν ] as E. V., after a godly sort : ‘ with reference to God ,’ see ref. Rom. and note: “ secundum , hic significat sensum animi Deum spectantis et sequentis,” Bengel. αὕτη γὰρ ἡ καλὴ λύπη , ὡς τό γε κατ ʼ ἄνθρωπον λυπεῖσθαι κακόν . Œcum. Cf. κατὰ ἄνθρωπον , 1 Corinthians 15:32 .

ἵνα , κ . τ . λ .] in order that ye might in nothing be damaged by us : not ἐκβατικῶς , so that ye did not … , as many Commentators: the divine purpose of their grief is indicated; ‘God so brought it about, in order that your grief occasioned by me might have, not an injurious, but a beneficial effect.’

Verse 10

10. ] How ‘grief according to God’ produces such an effect . For grief according to God works (brings about, promotes, see ref.) repentance unto salvation never to be regretted .

ἀμεταμέλητον best belongs to σωτηρίαν , as Vulg., Theophyl., Aug [10] , Est., Fritzsche, Meyer, De Wette; not to μετάνοιαν , as most Commentators: not necessarily however from the position of the words, as Meyer and De Wette maintain: for what more common than for the predicate of a substantive ( εἰς σωτηρίαν ) to be placed between it and a qualifying adjective? but on account of the sense , and the fact that not ἀμετανόητον , but ἀμεταμέλητον is chosen, so that the play in E. V., ‘ repentance not to be repented of ,’ does not seem to have been intended. De W. well explains σωτηρία ἀμεταμέλητος ‘ salvation which none will ever regret ’ having attained, however difficult it may have been to reach, however dearly it may have been bought.

[10] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

ἡ τ . κόσμου λύπη ] τί δέ ἐστι , κατὰ κόσμον ; ἐὰν λυπηθῇς διὰ χρήματα , διὰ δόξαν , διὰ τὸν ἀπελθόντα . Chrys. ib. τοῦ κόσμ . is subjective : ‘ the grief felt by the children of this world .’

θάνατον ] Death eternal , as contrasted with σωτηρίαν : not ‘ deadly sickness ,’ or ‘ suicide ,’ as Theophyl. (in part, πάντως μὲν τὸν ψυχικόν , πολλάκις δὲ καὶ τὸν σωματικόν ), al. The grief which contemplates nothing but the blow given, and not the God who chastens, can produce nothing but more and more alienation from Him, and result in eternal banishment from His presence. So that ἐργάζ . is rather works , ‘ contributes to ,’ and κατεργάζ ., works out , ‘ results in .’

Verse 11

11. ] The blessed effects of godly grief on themselves, as shewn by fact .

αὐτὸ τοῦτο , this very thing , of which I have been speaking .

σπουδήν , earnestness , as contrasted with your former carelessness in the matter.

ἀλλά ] nay, not σπουδήν merely, that is saying too little; but

ἀπολογίαν ] viz. to Paul by means of Titus, asserting their innocence in the matter; see below.

ἀγανάκτησιν ] πρὸς τὸν πεπορνευκότα . Theophyl.

φόβον ] ‘ne cum virga venirem,’ Bengel: fear of Paul : not here of God . The context is brought out well by Chrys. and Theophyl. The latter says, on ἐπιπόθησιν , πρὸς ἐμέ . εἰπὼν δὲ φόβον , ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ αὐθεντεῖν , συντόμως διωρθώσατο , ἐπιπόθησιν εἰπών · ὅπερ ἐνδεικτικὸν ἀγάπης , οὐκ ἐξουσίας .

ζῆλον ] on God’s behalf, to punish the offender; ἐκδίκησιν being the infliction of justice itself .

Bengel remarks, that the six accusatives preceded by ἀλλά fall into three pairs: ἀπολογ . and ἀγανάκτ ., relating to their own feelings of shame, φόβ . and ἐπιπόθ . to Paul, ζῆλ . and ἐκδίκ . to the offender.

ἐν παντί must be understood only of participation of guilt : by their negligence, and even refusal to humble themselves ( 1Co 5:2 ), they had in some things made common cause with the offender. Of this, now that they had shewn so different a spirit, the Apostle does not speak.

συνεστήσατε ] have commended yourselves by proving that ye are; a pregnant construction.

τῷ πρ ., the dat. of regard: see Romans 6:20 , and Winer, edn. 6, § 31.1. k , the matter , perhaps, as in ref., not only, ‘of which I have been speaking,’ but with allusion to the kind of sin which was in question.

ἁγνούς , pure of stain.

Verse 12

12. ] He shews them that to bring out this zeal in them was the real motive of his writing to them, and no private considerations.

ἄρα , accordingly , ‘in accordance with the result just mentioned.’

εἰ καὶ ἔγραψα ὑμ . is parallel with εἰ καὶ ἐλύπησα ὑμᾶς , 2 Corinthians 7:8 , though (i.e. assumed that ) I wrote (severely) to you.

The ἀδικηθείς would be the father of the incestuous person, who γυναῖκα τοῦ πατρὸς εἶχεν , 1 Corinthians 5:1 .

Theodoret imagines it to mean the stepmother, who was the adulteress; and thinks that the father was dead. But there is no ground for this in 1 Corinthians 5:0 , and the masculine participle, though not decisive against it, is at least more naturally explained on the other view. Others (as Wolf, Bleek, al.) suppose Paul himself to be meant, which however would be in direct contradiction to ch. 2 Corinthians 2:5 ; Bengel, al., the Corinthians, ‘singularis pro plurali, per euphemiam,’ which is forced: Theophyl., al., both the persons concerned ( ἀμφότεροι γὰρ ἀλλήλους ἠδίκησαν ): and Neander, al., take τοῦ ἀδικηθέντος as = τοῦ ἀδικήματος , ‘the fault committed: ’ which however would not be true, for the Apostle certainly did write on account of the committal of the fault.

It would be easy for any of the Apostle’s adversaries to maintain that the reproof had been administered from private and interested motives.

ἀλλ ʼ ἕνεκεν …] But he wrote, in order to bring out their zeal on his behalf (i.e. to obey his command), and make it manifest to themselves in God’s sight. The other reading, ἡμῶν τὴν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν , has been an alteration owing to not understanding τ . σπουδ . ὑμ . τ . ὑπ . ἡμ ., and is inconsistent with the fact: it was not to exhibit to them his zeal for them that he wrote, but to make manifest to ( πρός ‘among,’ ‘chez’ them, to bring out among them, their zeal to regard and obey him.

Verse 13

13. ] On this account (on account of the fulfilment of this purpose) we are comforted: but in addition to (or, on the occurrence of) our comfort, we rejoiced very much more (reff.) at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. A similar declaration to that in 2 Corinthians 7:7 , where not only the arrival of Titus, but his comfort wherewith he was comforted by them, is described as the ground of the Apostle’s joy. According to the received reading, the sense is: ‘ Therefore we are consoled on account of your consolation (either gen. subj., ‘that which you feel on account of the good issue of the affair,’ or gen. object., ‘the consolation received from you’): but we rejoiced very much more ,’ &c. This however would hardly represent the real state of things.

Verse 14

14. ] This increased joy was produced by the verification which my former boasting of you to Titus now received.

εἴ τι …] see one particular in which he boasted of them, ch. 2 Corinthians 9:2 .

οὐ κατῃσχ .] I was not put to shame, viz. by being shewn, on Titus’s coming to you, to have boasted in vain.

ἀλλ ʼ ὡς …] ‘But truthfulness was shewn to be my constant rule of speech, to whomsoever I spoke.’ But as we spoke (generally, not merely in our teaching, as Theodoret, al.) all things in truth (truthfully) to you, so also our boasting concerning you (gen. obj.: the rec. ἡμῶν agrees better with the comparison, of ‘our words’ in general, with ‘our boasting’ in particular: but on that very account it is probably an alteration: and this is the implied meaning at all events) before Titus was (was proved to be: was, as shewn by proof) truth . De W. suggests that the Apostle had described (by anticipation) to Titus in glowing terms the affection and probable prompt obedience of the Corinthians, as an encouragement to his somewhat unwelcome journey.

Verse 15

15. ] enlarges ἀλήθεια ἐγενήθη . And his heart is more abundantly (turned) toward you, remembering as he does the obedience of you all, how (i.e. which was shewn in the fact, that) with fear and trembling ye received him. ‘Fear and trembling,’ i.e. ‘lest ye should not pay enough regard to my injunctions, and honour enough his mission from me.’

Verse 16

16. ] I rejoice (more expressive than with a connecting particle) that in every thing I am ( re )- assured by you; ‘am of good courage, in contrast to my former dejection, owing to your good conduct.’ The ordinary rendering, ‘ I can have confidence in you ,’ is wrong in not giving the indic. θαῤῥῶ , and still more, in making θαῤῥεῖν ἐν mean ‘ to have confidence in ,’ which is unexampled. Meyer, who remarks this, does not notice, that the strongest reason against it is not mere want of usage, but the psychological meaning of θαῤῥεῖν , which is not like πεποιθέναι , descriptive of a relative, but of an absolute state of mind, to be of good courage: and this admits only of qualification as to the ground of that good courage; thus we have θαῤῥεῖν ὑπέρ περί , ἐπί , in the sense of ‘rejoicing at,’ ‘feeling confident concerning:’ but θαῤῥεῖν ἐν for ‘to trust in,’ as πεποιθέναι ἐν , would, I think, be inadmissible. Meyer quotes ἐν σοὶ πᾶσ ʼ ἔγωγε σώζομαι , Soph. Aj. 519, where, as here, ἐν gives the ground of the verb as in the person spoken of.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/2-corinthians-7.html. 1863-1878.
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