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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 13

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Verse 1

2 Corinthians 13:1 . As Paul has expressed himself by μήπως ἔρις κ . τ . λ . in 2 Corinthians 12:20 , and in 2 Corinthians 12:21 has explained himself more precisely merely as regards that μήπως ἐλθὼν οὐχ οἵους θέλω εὕρω ὑμᾶς (see on 2 Corinthians 12:20 ), he still owes to his readers a more precise explanation regarding the κἀγὼ εὑρεθῶ ὑμῖν οἷον οὐ θέλετε , and this he now gives to them . Observe the asyndetic, sternly-measured form of his sentences in 2 Corinthians 13:1-2 .

τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς ] The elaborate shifts of the expositors, who do not understand this of a third actual coming thither , inasmuch as they assume that Paul had been but once in Corinth, [390] may be seen in Poole’s Synopsis and Wolf’s Curae . According to Lange, apost. Zeitalt. I. p. 202 f. (comp. also Märcker, Stellung der Pastoralbr. p. 14), τρίτον τοῦτο is intended to apply to the third project of a journey, and ἔρχομαι to its decided execution: “This third time in the series of projects laid before you above I come .” Linguistically incorrect, since τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχ . cannot mean anything else than: for the third time I come this time , so that it does not refer to previous projects , but to two journeys that had taken place before. On τρίτον τοῦτο , this third time (accusative absolute), that is, this time for a third time, comp. Herod. v. 76: τέταρτον δὴ τοῦτο … ἀπικόμενοι , LXX. Judges 16:15 : τοῦτο τρίτον ἐπλάνησάς με , Numbers 22:28 ; John 21:14 . Bengel correctly remarks on the present: “jam sum in procinctu.”

ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων κ . τ . λ .] On this my third arrival there is to be no further sparing (as at my second visit), but summary procedure. Comp. Matthew 18:16 , where, however, the words of the law are used with another turn to the meaning. Paul announces with the words of the law well known to his readers, Deuteronomy 19:15 , which he adopts as his own, that he, arrived for this third time, will, without further indulgence, institute a legal hearing of witnesses (comp. 1 Timothy 5:19 ), and that on the basis of the affirmation of two and three witnesses every point of complaint will be decided . Not as if he wished to set himself up as disciplinary judge (this power was vested ordinarily in the church , Matthew 18:16 , 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 , and was, even in extraordinary cases of punishment, not exercised alone on the part of the apostle, 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 ), but he would set agoing and arrange the summary procedure in the way of discipline, which he had threatened. Nor did the notoriety of the transgressions render the latter unnecessary, seeing that, on the one hand, they might not all be notorious, and, on the other, even those that were so needed a definite form of treatment. Following Chrysostom and Ambrosiaster, Calvin, Estius, and others, including recently Neander, Olshausen, Raebiger, Ewald, Osiander, Maier, have understood the two or three witnesses of Paul himself , who takes the various occasions of his presence among the Corinthians as testimonies, by which the truth of the matters is made good, [391] or the execution of his threats (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others, comp. Bleek, Billroth, Ewald, Hofmann) is to be decided (Theophylact: ἐπὶ τῶν τριῶν μου παρουσιῶν πᾶν ῥῆμα ἀπειλητικὸν κατασταθήσεται καθʼ ἱμῶν καὶ κυρωθήσεται , ἐὰν μὴ μετανοήσατε · ἀντὶ μαρτύρων γὰρ τὰς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ τίθησι ). But if Paul regarded himself, under the point of view of his different visits to Corinth respectively, as the witnesses, he could make himself pass for three witnesses only in respect of those evils which he had already perceived at his first visit (and then again on his second and third ), and for two witnesses only in respect of those evils which he had lighted upon in his second visit for the first time, and would on his third visit encounter a second time. But in this view precisely all those evils and sins would be left out of account, which had only come into prominence after his second visit ; for as regards these, because he was only to become acquainted with them for the first time at his third visit, he would only pass as one witness. Consequently this explanation, Pauline though it looks, is inappropriate; nor is the difficulty got over by the admission that the relations in question are not to be dealt with too exactly (Osiander), as, indeed, the objection, that the threat is directed against the προημαρτηκότες , avails nothing on the correct view of 2 Corinthians 12:21 , and the continued validity of the legal ordinance itself (it holds, in fact, even at the present day in the common law) should not after 1 Timothy 5:10 have been doubted. Nor does the refining of Hofmann dispose of the matter. He thinks, forsooth, that besides the προημαρτηκότες , all the rest also, whom such a threat may concern, are now twice warned, orally (at the second visit of the apostle) and in writing (by this letter), and his arrival will be to them the third and last admonition to reflect. This is not appropriate either to the words (see on 2 Corinthians 13:2 ) or to the necessary unity and equality of the idea of witnesses , with which, in fact, Paul and, moreover, in application of so solemn a passage of the law would have dealt very oddly, if not only he himself was to represent the three witnesses, but one of them was even to be his letter .

καί ] not in the sense of ἤ , as, following the Vulgate, many earlier and modern expositors (including Flatt and Emmerling) would take it, but: and , if, namely, there are so many. [392] Paul might have put ἤ , as in Matthew 18:16 , but, following the LXX., he has thought on and , and therefore put i.

πᾶν ῥῆμα ] everything that comes to be spoken of, to be discussed. Comp. on Matthew 4:4 .

σταθήσεται ] will be established ( יַקוּם ), namely, for judicial decision. This is more in keeping with the original text than (comp. on Matthew 26:25 ): will be weighed (Ewald).

[390] Most of them, like Grotius, Estius, Wolf, Wetstein, Zachariae, Flatt, were of opinion that Paul expresses here, too, simply a third readiness to come, from which view also has arisen the reading ἑτοίμως ἔχω ἐλθεῖν instead of ἔρχομαι in A, Syr. Erp. Copt. To this also Baur reverts, who explains ἔρχομαι : I am on the point of coming. But this would, in fact, be just a third actual coming, which Paul was on the point of , and would presuppose his having come already twice. Beza and others suggest: “ Binas suas epistolas (!) pro totidem ad illos profectionibus recenset.”

[391] Grotius, in consistency with the view that Paul had been only once there, quite at variance with the words of the passage pares down the meaning to this: “cum bis terve id dixerim, tandem ratum erit.” Compare also Clericus. The explanation of Emmerling: “Titum ejusque comites certissimum edituros esse testimonium de animo suo Corinthios invisendi,” is purely fanciful. The simple and correct view is given already by Erasmus in his Paraphr.: Hic erit tertius meus ad vos adventus; in hunc se quisque praeparet. Neque enim amplius connivebo, sed juxta jus strictum atque exactum res agetur. Quisquis delatus fuerit, is duorum aut trium hominum testimonio vel absolvetur vel damnabitur .”

[392] It corresponds quite to the German expression “zwei bis drei.” Comp. Xen. Anab . iv. 7. 10 : δύο καὶ τρία βήματα . See Krüger and Kühner in loc . In this case καί is atque , not also (Hofmann).

Verses 1-14


2 Corinthians 13:2 . After νῦν Elz. has γράφω , in opposition to decisive evidence. A supplementary addition. Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:10 . 2 Corinthians 13:4 . εἰ ] is wanting in B D* F G K א * min. Copt. Aeth. It. Eus. Dem. Theoph. Bracketed by Lachm. and Rück. Looking to the total inappropriateness of the sense of καὶ εἰ , those authorities of considerable importance sufficiently warrant the condemnation of εἰ , although Tisch. (comp. Hofm.) holds the omission to be “manifesta correctio.” Offence was easily taken at the idea that Christ was crucified ἐξ ἀσθενείας , and it was made problematical by the addition of an εἰ , which in several cases also was assigned a position before καί (Or.: εἰ γὰρ καί ).

καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς ] Elz. has καὶ γὰρ καὶ ἡμεῖς , in opposition to far preponderating evidence. The second καί is an addition, which arose out of καὶ γάρ being taken as a mere for, namque.

ἐν αὐτῷ ] A F G א , Syr. Erp. Copt. Boern. have σὺν αὐτῷ . So Lachm. on the margin. An explanation in accordance with what follow.

ζησόμεθα ] Lachm. Rück. Tisch. read ζήσομεν , in favour of which the evidence is decisiv.

εἰς ὑμᾶς ] is wanting only in B D*** E*** Arm. Clar. Germ. Chrys. Sedul., and is condemned by Mill, who derived it from 2 Corinthians 13:3 . But how natural was the omission, seeing that the first half of the verse contains no parallel element! And the erroneous reference of ζήσομεν to eternal life might make εἰς ὑμᾶς appear simply as irrelevant. 2 Corinthians 13:7 . εὔχομαι ] Lachm. Tisch. and Rück., following greatly preponderant evidence, have εὐχόμεθα , which Griesb. also approved. And rightly; the singular was introduced in accordance with the previous ἐλπίζω . 2 Corinthians 13:9 . τοῦτο δέ ] This δέ is omitted in preponderant witnesses, is suspected by Griesb., and deleted by Lachm. Tisch. and Rück. Addition for the sake of connection, instead of which 73 has δή and Chrys. γάρ .

In 2 Corinthians 13:10 , the position of ὁ κύριος before ἐδωκ . μοι is assured by decided attestation.


Continuation of the close of the section as begun at 2 Corinthians 12:19 . At his impending third coming he will decide with judicial severity and not spare, seeing that they wished to have for once a proof of the Christ speaking in him (2 Corinthians 13:1-4 ). They ought to prove themselves ; he hopes, however, that they will recognise his proved character, and asks God that he may not need to show them its verification (2 Corinthians 13:5-9 ). Therefore he writes this when absent, in order that he may not be under the necessity of being stern when present (2 Corinthians 13:10 ). Concluding exhortation with promise (2 Corinthians 13:11 ); concluding salutation (2 Corinthians 13:12 ); concluding benediction (2 Corinthians 13:13 ).

Verse 2

2 Corinthians 13:2 . Ὡς παρὼν … νῦν is not to be put in a parenthesis, since it is a definition to προλέγω , which interrupts neither the construction nor the sense. I have said before, and say beforehand, as at my second visit (“sicut feci, cum secundo vobiscum essem,” Er. Schmid), so also in my present absence, to those who have formerly sinned, and to all the rest, that, when I shall have come again, I will not spare . Accordingly ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον leaves no doubt as to the temporal reference of προείρηκα . Moreover, from 2 Corinthians 13:2 alone the presence of the apostle, which had already twice taken place, could not be proved. For, if we knew that he had been only once , προείρηκα would certainly refer to the first epistle, and ὡς παρὼν κ . τ . λ . would have to be explained: as if I were present for the second time, although I am now absent (comp. Grotius, Estius, Bengel, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Baur, and others). [393] But, as it is clear from other passages that Paul had already been twice in Corinth, and as here in particular ΤΡΊΤΟΝ ΤΟῦΤΟ ἜΡΧΟΜΑΙ immediately goes before, that view, in which also the ΝῦΝ would simply be superfluous and cumbrous, is impossible. Beza, who is followed by Zachariae and Märcker, connects awkwardly (seeing that ΤῸ ΔΕΎΤΕΡΟΝ and ΝῦΝ must correspond to each other) ΤῸ ΔΕΎΤΕΡΟΝ with ΠΡΟΛΈΓΩ . Hofmann also misses the correct view, when he makes Ὡς serve merely to annex the quality (“as one having been there a second time, and now absent”), in which the apostle has said and says beforehand. In this way ὡς would be the quippe qui from the conception of the speaker, as in 1 Corinthians 7:25 , and παρών would be imperfect. The two clauses of the sentence, however, contain in fact not qualities subjectively conceived, but two objective relations of time ; and hence ὡς , if it is to have the sense given above, would simply be irrelevant (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:3 a ; 2 Corinthians 10:11 ; Philippians 1:27 ) and confusing. Paul would have simply written: προείρηκα παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον καὶ προλέγω ἀπὼν νῦν .

τοῖς προηματηκόσι ] See on 2 Corinthians 12:21 . It is self-evident, we may add, that the ΠΡΟ in ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤ . has from the standpoint of the ΠΡΟΛΈΓΩ a greater period of the past behind it than from the standpoint of the ΠΡΟΕΊΡΗΚΑ , and that the ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤΗΚΌΤΕς , whom the present ΠΡΟΛΈΓΩ threatens, were more, and in part other, than those to whom at the second visit the ΠΡΟΕΊΡΗΚΑ had applied. The category , however, is the same; and hence it is not to be said, with Lücke, that from our passage it is clear: “quibus nunc, tanquam προημαρτηκόσι , severiorem castigationem minatur apostolus, eosdem jam tunc, quum olim ( προείρηκα ) minitatus esset , προημαρτηκότας fuisse .” Paul had at his second presence threatened the προημαρτηκότες , and he threatens them also now. On the two occasions the threat referred to the same genus hominum , to those who had sinned before the time at which Paul discoursed to the Corinthians, and were still sinners; but the individuals were not on the two occasions quite the same. Certainly at least there were now ( προλέγω ) not a few among them, who had not been included on the previous occasion (see 1Co 1:11 ; 1 Corinthians 5:1 , comp. with 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 ).

καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν ] Thus ΤΟῖς ΜῊ ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤΗΚΌΣΙ . To these he then said it before, and he says it so now, by way of warning , of deterring. It is the whole other members of the church that are meant, and Paul mentions them, not as witnesses , but in order that they may make the threatening serve according to the respective requirements of their moral condition to stimulate reflection and discipline; hence τοῖς λοιποῖς , even according to our view of ΠΡΟΗΜΑΡΤ . , is not without suitable meaning (in opposition to de Wette).

ΕἸς ΤῸ ΠΆΛΙΝ ] On the ΠΆΛΙΝ used substantially, see Bernhardy, p. 328, and on ΕἸς in the specification of a term of time, Matthiae, p. 1345. Comp. ΕἸς ΑὖΘΙς , ΕἸς ὈΨΈ , Ἐς ΤΛΟς , and the lik.

Οὐ ΦΕΊΣΟΜΑΙ ] The reasons why Paul spared them in his second , certainly but very short, visit, are as little known to us, as the reason why Luke, who has in fact passed over so much, has made no mention of this second visit in the Book of Acts.

[393] To this category belongs also the strange view of Lange, apost. Zeitalt . I. p 203: “This is the second time that I am present among you and yet absent at the same time.” Paul, namely, had, in Lange’s view, the spirit-like gift of transplanting himself with the full spiritual power of his authority during his absence into the midst of the distant church, which had doubtless felt the thunderclap of his spiritual appearing. In Corinth this had taken place the first time at the exclusion of the incestuous person, 1 Corinthians 5:3 , and the second time now. Of such fancies and spiritualistic notions there is nowhere found any trace in the apostle. And what are we to make in that case of the νῦν ? The only correct view of this νῦν and its relation to τὸ δεύτερον is already given by Chrysostom: παρεγενόμην δεύτερον καὶ εἶπον , λέγω δὲ καὶ νῦν διὰ τῆς ἐπιστολῆς , ἀνάγκη με μοιπὸν ἀληθεῦσαι . Comp. also ver. 10.

Verse 3

2 Corinthians 13:3 . I will not spare you; for ye in fact will not have it otherwise! Ye challenge, in fact, by your demeanour, an experimental proof of the Christ that speaks in me. Thus ἐπεί , before which we are to conceive a pause, annexes the cause serving as motive of the οὐ φείσομαι , that was under the prevailing circumstances at work. Emmerling begins a protasis with ἐπεί , parenthesizes ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ ., and the whole fourth verse, and regards ἑαυτοὺς πειράζετε in 2 Corinthians 13:5 as apodosis. So, too, Lachmann, Olshausen, Ewald, who, however, treat as a parenthesis merely 2 Corinthians 13:4 . This division as a whole would not yield as its result any illogical connection, for, because the readers wish to put Christ to the proof, it was the more advisable for them to prove themselves . But the passage is rendered, quite unnecessarily, more complicated and cumbrou.

ἐπεὶ δοκιλὴν ζητεῖτε κ . τ . λ .] That is, since you make it your aim that the Christ speaking in me shall verify Himself, shall give you a proof of His judicial working . To take τοῦ … Χριστοῦ as genitive of the subject (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:13 ; Philippians 2:22 ) better suits the following ὃς καὶ ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ ., than the objective rendering (Billroth and Rückert, following older expositors): a proof of the fact that Christ speaks in me .

ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ κ . τ . λ .] who in reference to you is not impotent, but mighty among you . By this the readers are made to feel how critical and dangerous is their challenge of Christ practically implied in the evil circumstances of the church (2 Corinthians 12:20 f.), for the Christ speaking in the apostle is not weak towards them, but provided with power and authority among them, as they would feel, if He should give them a practical attestation of Himself. A special reference of δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν to the miracles, spiritual gifts , and the like, such as Erasmus, Grotius, [394] Fritzsche, [395] de Wette, and others assume, is not implied in the connection (see especially 2 Corinthians 13:4 ); and just as little a retrospective reference to 2 Corinthians 10:10 (Hofmann).

Of the use of the verb ΔΥΝΑΤΕῖΝ no examples from other writers are found, common as was ἈΔΥΝΑΤΕῖΝ . Its use in this particular place by Paul was involuntarily suggested to him by the similar sound of the opposite ἀσθενεῖ . Yet he has it also in Romans 14:4 ; as regards 2 Corinthians 9:8 , see the critical remarks on that passag.

ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ ] not of the internal indwelling and pervading (Hofmann), which is at variance with the context, since the latter has the penal retribution as its main point; but the Christ speaking in Paul has the power of asserting Himself de facto as the vindex of His word and work in the church , so far as it is disobedient to Him and impenitent.

[394] Grotius: “Non opus habetis ejus rei periculum facere, cum jampridem Christus per me apud vos ingentia dederit potentiae suae signa.”

[395] Fritzsche, Diss. II. p 141: “qui Christus χαρίσματα largiendo, miracula regundo, religionis impedimenta tollendo, ecclesiam moderando, ipse vobis se fortem ostendit.” This emphatic ipse is imported, which arose out of Fritzsche’s regarding the apostle , not Christ, as the subject of δοκιμήν .

Verse 4

2 Corinthians 13:4 . Καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρ . ἐξ ἀσθ ., ἀλλὰ ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμ . θεοῦ ] Reason assigned for the previous ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ , ἀλλὰ δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν . for even crucified was He from weakness, but He is living from the power of God . [396] Without μέν after ἐσταυρ . the contrast comes in with the more striking effect. ἐξ ἀσθενείας denotes the causal origin of the ἐσταυρώθη , and is not, with Chrysostom (who complains of the difficulty of this passage), to be interpreted of apparent weakness, but finds its explanation in 2 Corinthians 8:9 ; Philippians 2:7 f. Jesus, namely, had, in the state of His exinanition and humiliation, obedient to the Father, entered in such wise into the condition of powerless endurance as man, that He yielded to the violence of the most ignominious execution, to which He had, according to the Father’s will, submitted Himself; and accordingly it came ἐξ ἀσθενείας , that He was crucified . But since His resurrection He lives (Romans 5:10 ; Romans 6:9 ; Romans 14:9 , al. ), and that from the power of God , for God has, by His power, raised Him up (see on Romans 6:4 ) and exalted Him to glory (Acts 2:33 ; Ephesians 1:20 ff.; Philippians 2:9 ). To make the θεοῦ refer to ἀσθενείας also (Hofmann, who inappropriately compares 1 Corinthians 1:25 ) would yield a thought quite abnormal and impossible for the apostle, which the very οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ , 2 Corinthians 13:3 , ought to have preclude.

καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς κ . τ . λ .] Confirmation of the immediately preceding καὶ γὰρ … θεοῦ , and that in respect of the two points ἐξ ἀσθενείας and ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ . “That the case stands so with Christ as has just been said, is confirmed from the fact, that these two relations, on the one hand of weakness, and on the other of being alive ἐκ δυνάμ . θεοῦ , are found also in us in virtue of our fellowship with Him.” It is an argumentum ab effectu ad causam issuing from the lofty sense of this fellowship, a bold experiential certainty, the argumentative stress of which, contained in ἐν αὐτῷ and σὺν αὐτῷ , bears the triumphant character of strength in weakness. Hofmann wrongly, in opposition to the clear and simple connection, desires to take καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς ἀσθ . ἐν αὐτῷ , which he separates from the following ἀλλὰ κ . τ . λ ., as a proof for the clause ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ , ἀλλὰ δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν , for which reason he imports into ἐν αὐτῷ the contrast: not a weakness of the natural man . This contrast, although in substance of itself correct, is not here, any more than afterwards in σὺν αὐτῷ , intentionally present to the mind of the apostl.

ἀσθενοῦμεν ἐν αὐτῷ ] Paul represents his sparing hitherto observed towards the Corinthians (for it is quite at variance with the context to refer ἀσθ , with Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Grotius, Estius, and others, to sufferings and persecutions) as a powerlessness based on his fellowship with Christ, inasmuch as Christ also had been weak and ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείας . [397] But that is only a transient powerlessness; we shall be alive with Him through the power of God in reference to you . As he is conscious, namely, of that impotence as having its ground in Christ, he is conscious also of this being alive in union with Christ as fellowship with His life ( σὺν αὐτῷ ), and hence proceeding ἘΚ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς ΘΕΟῦ , as Christ’s being alive also flowed from this source, Romans 1:4 ; Romans 6:4 , al.

Εἰς ὑμᾶς , lastly, gives to the ΖΉΣΟΜΕΝ (which is not, with Theodoret, Anselm, and Grotius, to be referred to the future life) its concrete direction and special reference of its meaning: [398] we shall be alive ( vigere , comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:8 ) in reference to you , namely, through the effective assertion of the power divinely conferred on us, especially through apostolic judging and punishing (see 2 Corinthians 13:1-2 ). “Non est vivere, sed valere vita,” Martial, vi. 70. Comp. for the pregnant reference of ζῶ , Xen. Mem. iii. 3. 11; Plato, Legg. vii. p. 809 D; Dio Cass. lxix. 19. Calvin well observes: “ Vitam opponit infirmitati , ideoque hoc nomine florentem et plenum dignitatis statum intelligit.”

[396] The Recepta καὶ γὰρ εἰ ἐσταυρ . would yield the quite unsuitable sense: for even if , i.e. even in the event that, He has been crucified , etc. Καὶ εἰ should not, with the Vulgate and the majority of expositors, be taken as although , for in that case it would be confounded with εἰ καί . Καὶ εἰ means even if , so that the climactic καί applies to the conditional particle. See Hartung, I. p. 140 f.; Haack. ad Thuc . p. 562 f.; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Ap. S . p. 32 A, Gorg . p. 509 A. De Wette wrongly rejects my view of the Recepta , making καὶ γάρ signify merely for . It always means for even . See Hartung, I. p. 148; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Gorg . p. 467 B. So, too, immediately in the καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς that follows. Hofmann quite erroneously takes the Recepta in such a way, that Paul with καὶ εἰ merely expresses a real fact conditionally on account of his wishing to keep open the possibility of looking at it also otherwise . In that case ἐξ ἀσθενείας would really be the point of consequence in the protasis, and the apostle must at least have written καὶ γὰρ εἰ ἐξ ἀσθενείας ἐσταυρώθη . Besides, the leaving open a possible other way of regarding the matter would have no ground at all in the text. A mistaken view is adopted also by Osiander, who has taken καί as the also of comparison , namely, of Christ with His servant (consequently, as if καὶ γὰρ αὐτός had stood in the text).

[397] This impotence is not to be conceived as involuntary (de Wette, following Schwarz in Wolf), but as voluntary (comp. οὐ φείσομαι , ver. 2), as Christ’s weakness also was voluntary, namely, the impotence of deepest resignation and self-surrender, and this was its very characteristic. Comp. Hebrews 12:2 .

[398] Hence εἰς ὑμᾶς is not, with Castalio and Rückert, to be joined to δυνάμ . θεοῦ .

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 13:5 . Now he brings the readers to themselves. Instead of wishing to put to the proof Christ (in Paul), they should try themselves ( πειράζειν , to put to the test, and that by comparison of their Christian state with what they ought to be), prove themselves ( δοκιμάζειν ). Oecumenius and Theophylact correctly estimate the force of the twice emphatically prefixed ἑαυτούς ; δοκιμάζειν , however, is not, any more than in 1 Corinthians 11:8 , equivalent to δόκιμον ποιεῖν (Rückert); but what Paul had previously said by πειράζετε , εἰ ἐστὲ ἐν τ . π ., he once more sums up, and that with a glance back to 2 Corinthians 13:3 , emphatically by the one word δοκιμάζετε .

εἰ ἐστὲ ἐν τῇ πίστει ] dependent on πειράζετε , not on δοκιμάζετε : whether ye are in the faith , whether ye find yourselves in the fides salvifica (not to be taken of faith in miracles, as Chrysostom would have it), which is the fundamental condition of all Christian character and life. The εἶναι ἐν τῇ πίστει stands opposed to mere nominal Christianit.

ἤ οὐκ ἐπιγινώσκετε κ . τ . λ .] not ground of the obligation to prove themselves the more strictly (“si id sentitis, bene tractate tantum hospitem,” Grotius, comp. Osiander, Maier, and others); for the ἐπιγινώσκειν already presupposes the self-trial, not the converse (Hofmann). On the contrary, Paul lays hold of the readers by their Christian sense of honour , that they should not be afraid of this trial of themselves. Or does not this proving of yourselves lead you to the knowledge of yourselves, that Christ is in you? Are you then so totally devoid of the Christian character, that that self-trial has not the holy result of your discerning in yourselves what is withal the necessary consequence [399] of the εἶναι ἐν τῇ πίστει : that Christ is in you (by means of the Holy Spirit) present and active? Comp. Galatians 2:20 ; Ephesians 3:17 . The construction ἙΑΥΤΟῪς ὍΤΙ . Χ . ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ ἘΣΤΙΝ is not a case of attraction, since in ὍΤΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . , is not the subject (see on Galatians 4:11 ), but ὍΤΙ defines more precisely ( that, namely ). And the full name Ἰησοῦς Χριστός has solemn emphasi.

ΕἸ ΜΉΤΙ ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΊ ἘΣΤΕ ] After this a mark of interrogation is not to be repeated, but a period to be placed. That Christ is in you, you will perceive, if you are not perchance ( ΕἸ ΜΉΤΙ , comp. 1 Corinthians 7:5 ) spurious Christians. In such, no doubt, Christ is not! Romans 8:9 f. To attach it merely to the predicated clause itself ( . Χ . ἘΝ ὙΜ . . ) as a limitation (Hofmann), is at variance with the very ΓΝΏΣΕΣΘΕ , ὍΤΙ that follows in 2 Corinthians 13:6 , in keeping with which that exception ΕἸ ΜΉΤΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . is to be included under the ὍΤΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . attached to ἘΠΙΓΙΝΏΣΚ . ἙΑΥΤΟΎς . In ΕἸ ΜΉΤΙ the ΤΙ serves (like forte ) “incertius pronuntiandae rei,” Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 496. According to Ewald, εἰ μήτι ἀδ . ἐστε depends on ΔΟΚΙΜΆΖΕΤΕ , and Οὐ ἘΠΙΓΙΝΏΣΚ .… ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ ἘΣΤΙΝ is to be a parenthesis a construction which is harsh and the less necessary, seeing that, according to the usual connection, the thoughtful glance in the ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΊ ἘΣΤΕ back to ἙΑΥΤΟῪς ΔΟΚΙΜΆΖΕΤΕ is retained.

[399] The εἶναι ἐν τ . πίστει and the Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν are not equivalent, but are related to each other as cause and effect. Comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol . p. 348.

Verse 6

2 Corinthians 13:6 . The case of the ἀδόκιμον εἶναι , however, which he has just laid down as possible perhaps in respect of the readers , shall not, he hopes, occur with him: you shall discern (in pursuance of experience) that we are not unattested, ungenuine, that is, “ non deesse nobis experimenta et argumenta potestatis et virtutis, qua in refractarios uti possimus ,” Wolf. Comp. 2Co 13:7 ; 2 Corinthians 13:9 . Not without bitterness is this said. But the object of the hoping is not the desert of punishment on the part of the readers, but the δοκιμή of the apostolic authority in the event of their deserving punishment. Ἀπειλητικῶς τοῦτο τέθεικεν , ὡς μέλλων αὐτοῖς τῆς πνευματικῆς δυνάμεως παρέχειν ἀπόδειξιν , Theodoret. According to others (Beza, Calvin, Balduin, Calovius, Bengel), Paul expresses the hope that they would amend themselves and thereby evince the power of his apostolic influence. This, as well as the blending of the two views (Flatt, Osiander), is opposed to the context in w. 3 f., 7, 9. Not till 2 Corinthians 13:7 does Paul turn to the expression of gentle, pious love.

Verse 7

2 Corinthians 13:7 . Yet we pray to God that this, my apostolic attestation, which I hope to give you means of discerning, may not be made necessary on your part. On εὐχόμεθα (see the critical remarks), compared with the ἐλπίζω used just before, observe that, as often in Paul and especially in this Epistle of vivid emotion, the interchange of the singular and the plural forms of expressing himself has by no means always special grounds by which it is determine.

μὴ ποιῆσαι ὑμᾶς κακὸν μηδέν ] that ye may do nothing evil , which, in fact, would only keep up and increase your guilt. Others incorrectly take it, [400] “that I be not compelled to do something evil to you ,” How could Paul have so designated his chastisement? For that ποιεῖν κακόν stands here, not in the sense: to do something to one’s harm , but in the ethical sense, is shown by the contrast τὸ καλὸν ποιῆτε in what follows. But even apart from this, in fact, because ΕὐΧΌΜΕΘΑ receives through ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ΘΕΌΝ (comp. Xen. Mem . i. 3. 2; 2Ma 9:13 ; 2Ma 15:27 ; Numbers 21:8 , al. ) the meaning we pray , the words, in the event of ποιῆσαι ὑμᾶς not being held to be accusative with infinitive, would have to be explained: we pray to God that He may do nothing evil to you which would be absurd. But the accusative with the infinitive occurs as in Acts 26:19 .

οὐχ ἵνα ἡμεῖς κ . τ . λ .] Statement of the object, for which he makes this entreaty to God, first negatively and then positively; not in a selfish design, not in order that we may appear through your moral conduct as attested (in so far, namely, as the excellence of the disciple is the attestation of the teacher, comp. 2 Corinthians 3:2 f., Philippians 4:1 , 1 Thessalonians 2:20 , al. ), but on your account , in order that ye may do what is good, and thus the attestation may be on your side and we may be as unattested, in so far, namely, as we cannot in that case show ourselves in our apostolic authority (by sternness and execution of punishment). That he should with δόκιμοι and ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ refer to two different modes of his ΔΟΚΙΜΉ , is quite a Pauline trait. Through the moral walk of the readers he was manifested on the one hand as ΔΌΚΙΜΟς , on the other as ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟς ; what he intended in his ΕὐΧΌΜΕΘΑ ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ΘΕΌΝ Κ . Τ . Λ . was not the former, for it was not about himself that he was concerned, but the latter, because it was simply the attestation of the readers by the ΠΟΙΕῖΝ ΤῸ ΚΑΛΌΝ that he had at heart. According to Olshausen, there is meant to be conveyed in ΟὐΧ ἽΝΑ ἩΜΕῖς ΔΌΚ . ΦΑΝῶΜ . : not in order that the fulfilment of this prayer may appear as an effect of my powerful intercession . But Paul must have said this, if he had meant it. Others [401] hold that after οὐχ there is to be supplied ΕὔΧΟΜΑΙ , or the idea of wish implied in it, and ἽΝΑ expresses its contents ; “I do not wish that I should show myself as standing the test (that is, stern), but rather that ye may do what is good and I be as not standing the test (that is, may appear not standing the test, and so not stern),” Billroth. Certainly the contents of εὔχεσθαι might be conceived as its aim, and hence be expressed by ἽΝΑ (James 5:16 ; Colossians 1:9 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ); but in this particular case the previous infinitive construction, expressing the contents of the prayer, teaches us that Paul has not so conceived it. Had he conceived it so, he would have simply led the readers astray by ἵνα . The explanation is forced , and simply for the reason that the fine point of a double aspect of the δοκιμή was not appreciated. From this point of view Paul might have said in a connection like 2 Corinthians 6:8 f.: Ὡς ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ ΚΑῚ ΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ .

Ἑς ἈΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ ] Beza aptly says: hominum videlicet judicio . By way of appearance. Comp. already Chrysostom.

[400] So Billroth, Ewald, Hofmann, and previously Flatt and Emmerling, as in the first instance Grotius, who says: “Ne cogar cuiquam poenam infligere, quae malum , dicitur, quia dura est toleratu.” On ποιεῖν τινά τι , comp. Matthew 27:22 ; Mark 15:12 . Elsewhere always in the N. T. ποιεῖν τινί τι .

[401] So Billroth and Osiander and others, as well as previously Flatt, Zachariae, Estius, Menochius, al .

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 13:8 . Reason assigned for the relation just expressed as aimed at by ἵνα ὑμεῖς τὸ καλὸν ποιῆτε , ἡμεῖς δὲ ὡς ἀδόκιμοι ὦμεν . That we really have this design, is based on the fact that we are not in a position to do anything against the truth, but for the truth. The ἀλήθεια is to be taken in the habitual sense of the N. T.: the truth κατʼ ἐξοχήν , the divine truth, i.e. the gospel ; comp. 2Co 4:2 , 2 Corinthians 6:7 . If Paul, forsooth, had not had the design that the readers should do what is good, and he himself appear without punitive power and consequently as unattested, he would have counteracted the gospel, in so far as it aims at establishing Christian morality, requires penitence, announces forgiveness to the penitent, etc.; but he is not in a position to do so. To take ἀλήθεια , with Flatt and older expositors, [402] as moral truth (see on 1 Corinthians 5:8 ), uprightness , is a limitation of it, which the context all the less suggests, seeing that ἀλήθεια in the above sense embraces in it the moral element. The taking it in the judicial sense would be accordant with the context ( ἵνα ἀληθῆ φέρωμεν τὴν ψῆφον , Theophylact, so Chrysostom, Theodoret, Grotius: “quod rectum justumque est;” Cornelius a Lapide, Bengel, de Wette: “the true state in which the matter finds itself;” so, too, Räbiger); yet, in that case, there would result an inappropriate contrast, since ὑπὲρ . τ . ἀλ . can only mean “ for the benefit of the truth,” which presupposes a more comprehensive idea of ἀλήθ . (de Wette: “to further the truth”).

ἀλλʼ ὑπὲρ τ . ἀλ .] sc. δυνάμεθά τι , we are able to do something .

[402] So Photius in Oecumenius, p. 709 D: ἀλήσθειαν τὴν εὐσέβειαν καλεῖ ὡς νόθου ὄντος τοῦ δυσσεβοῦς βίου , and previously Pelagius: “ Innocentiae enim nostra sententia obesse non poterit;” as also Erasmus, Mosheim, and others.

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 13:9 . Not reason assigned for 2 Corinthians 13:7 (Hofmann), but confirmation of what is said in 2 Corinthians 13:8 from the subjective relation of the apostle to the readers, in which χαίρομεν has the emphasis. This joy is as the living seal of the heart to that axio.

ἀσθενῶμεν ] according to the connection, quite the same as ἀδόκιμοι ὦμεν in 2 Corinthians 13:7 , of the state in which the apostle is not in a position to exercise punitive authority on account of the Christian conduct of his readers. Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:4 .

δυνατοί ] correlative to the ἀσθενῶμεν , consequently: such as (on account of their Christian excellence) one can do nothing to with the power of punishment. The latter is powerless in presence of such a moral disposition. The context does not yield more than this contrast; even the thought, that the δυνατοί guard themselves against all that would call forth the punitive authority (Hofmann), is here foreign to i.

τοῦτο καὶ εὐχόμεθα ] this , namely, that ye may be strong, we also pray ; it is not merely the object of our joy, but also of our prayers. On the absolute εὔχεσθαι , used of praying (for after 2 Corinthians 13:7 it is not here merely wishing ), comp. James 5:16 ; often in classic writers. There is no reason for taking the τοῦτο adverbially: thereupon, on that account (Ewald).

τὴν ὑμῶν κατάρτισιν ] epexegesis of τοῦτο : namely, your full preparation , complete furnishing, perfection in Christian morality. Comp. καταρτισμός , Ephesians 4:12 . Beza and Bengel think of the readjustment of the members of the body of the church that had been dislocated by the disputes (see on 1 Corinthians 1:10 , and Kypke, II. p. 290) a special reference, which is not suggested in the context. See 2 Corinthians 13:7 .

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 13:10 . This , namely, that I wish to have you δυνατούς or κατηρτισμένους and pray accordingly, this is the reason why I write this when absent, in order not to proceed sharply when present , etc. He wishes that he may be spared from the οὐ φείσομαι , threatened in 2 Corinthians 13:2 , and that he may see the earnest anxiety, which he had already expressed at 2 Corinthians 12:20 f., dispelled. In virtue of this view of its practical bearing, ταῦτα is to be referred, not to the whole Epistle, but (comp. Osiander and Hofmann) to the current section from 2 Corinthians 12:20 onwar.

ἀποτόμως ] literally, curtly , that is, with thoroughgoing sternness, the same figurative conception as in our schroff, scharf [English, sharply ]. In the N. T. only recurring at Titus 1:13 . Comp. Wis 5:22 , and Grimm in loc. ; ἀποτομία , Romans 11:22 . More frequently in classical writers. See, in general, Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 508; Hermann, ad Soph. O. R. 877.

On χράομαι without dative, with adverb, to deal with , comp. Esther 1:19 ; Esther 9:27 ; Esther 9:12 ; 2Ma 12:14 ; Polyb. xii. 7. 3.

ἣν ὁ Κύριος ἔδωκέ μοι εἰς οἰκοδ . κ . τ . λ .] contains a reason why he might not proceed ἀποτόμως , as thereby he could not but act at variance with the destined purpose for which Christ had given to him his apostolic authority, or at least could serve it only indirectly (in the way of sharp chastening with a view to amendment). Comp. 2 Corinthians 10:8 . If we connect the whole κατὰ τ ἐξουσίαν κ . τ . λ . with γράφω (Hofmann), the ἵνα παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμ χρήσωμαι is made merely a parenthetic thought, which is not in keeping with its importance according to the context (2 Corinthians 13:7 ff.), and is forbidden by the emphasized correspondence of ἀπών and παρών (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2 ). This emphasis is all the stronger, seeing that ἀπών in itself would be quite superfluous.

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 13:11 Closing exhortation. Bengel aptly observes: “Severius scripserat Paulus in tractatione, nunc benignius, re tamen ipsa non dimissa.”

λοιπόν ] See on Ephesians 6:10 . What I otherwise have still to impress on you is, etc.: “Verbum est properantis sermonem absolvere,” Grotiu.

χαίρετε ] not: valete (for the apostolic valete follows only at 2 Corinthians 13:13 ), as Valla, Erasmus, and Beza have it, but gaudete (Vulgate). Encouragement to Christian joy of soul, Philippians 3:1 ; Philippians 4:4 . And the salvation in Christ is great enough to call upon even a church so much injured and reproached to rejoice. Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:24 .

καταρτίζεσθε ] let yourselves be brought right , put into the right Christian frame; τέλειοι γίνεσθε , ἀναπληροῦτε τὰ λειπόμενα , Chrysostom. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:10 ; and see Suicer, Thes. II. p. 60.

παρακαλεῖσθε ] is by most, including Billroth, Schrader, Osiander, correctly understood of consolation; become comforted over everything that assails and makes you to need comfort, consolationem admittite! ἐπεὶ γὰρ πολλοὶ ἦσαν οἱ πειρασμοὶ καὶ μεγάλοι οἱ κίνδυνοι , Chrysostom. Rückert no doubt thinks that there was nothing to be comforted; but the summons has, just like what was said at 2 Corinthians 1:7 , its good warrant, since at that time every church was placed in circumstances needing comfort. Rückert’s own explanation: care for your spiritual elevation , is an arbitrary extension of the definite sense of the word to an indefinite domain. Others, following the Vulgate ( exhortamini ), such as Rosenmüller, Flatt, Ewald, Hofmann, render: accept exhortations to what is good , which, however, in the connection is too vague and insipid; while de Wette, following Pelagius, Cornelius a Lapide, and others (exhort ye one another ), imports an essential element, which Paul would have expressed by παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους (1 Thessalonians 4:18 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ) or ἑαυτούς (Hebrews 3:13 ).

τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖτε ] demands the being harmonious as identity of sentiment. See on Philippians 2:2 .

εἰρηνεύετε ] have peace (one with another), Romans 12:18 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:13 ; Mark 9:50 ; Plat. Theaet . p. 180 A; Polyb. v. 8. 7; Sir 28:9 ; Sir 28:13 . It is the happy consequence of the τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ; with the δίχα φρονεῖν it could not take plac.

καὶ ὁ θεὸς κ . τ . λ .] This encouraging promise refers, as is clear from τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ εἰρήνης , merely to the two last points especially needful in Corinth to the harmony and the keeping of peace; hence a colon is to be put after παρακαλεῖσθε . And then, if ye do that ( καί , with future after imperatives, see Winer, p. 293 [E. T. 392]), will God, who works the love and the peace (Romans 15:13 ; Romans 16:20 ; Php 4:9 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ; Hebrews 13:20 ), help you with His presence of grace. The characteristic genitival definition of God is argumentative , exhibiting the certainty of the promise as based on the moral nature of God.

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 13:12 . As to the saluting by the holy kiss , see on 1 Corinthians 16:20 .

οἱ ἅγιοι πάντες ] namely, at the place and in the vicinity , where Paul was writing, in Macedonia. It was obvious of itself to the readers that they were not saluted by all Christians generally (Theodoret). It by no means follows from this salutation that the Epistle had been publicly read at the place of its composition (possibly Philippi) in the church (Calovius, Osiander), but simply that they knew of the composition of the Epistle. Nor is any special set purpose to be sought as underlying the current designation of Christian ἅγιοι (“utpote sanguine Christi lotos et Dei Spiritu regenitos et sanctificatos,” Calovius). According to Osiander, the higher value and blessing of the brotherly greeting is meant to be indicated; but comp. 1 Corinthians 15:20 , οἱ ἀδελφοὶ πάντες .

Paul does not add salutations to individuals by name; these Titus might orally convey, and the apostle himself came, in fact, soon after (Acts 20:2 ).

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 13:13 . Concluding wish of blessing whether written by his own hand (Hofmann) is an open question full and solemn as in no other Epistle, tripartite in accordance with the divine Trinity, [403] from which the three highest blessings of eternal salvation come to believers.

The grace of Christ (comp. Romans 5:15 ; Romans 1:7 ; 1 Corinthians 1:3 ; 2 Corinthians 1:2 ; 2 Corinthians 8:9 ; Galatians 6:18 ; Ephesians 1:2 ; Php 1:2 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:2 ; Philemon 1:25 ), which is continuously active in favour of His own (Romans 8:34 ; 2 Corinthians 12:8 ), is first adduced, because it is the medians , Romans 5:1 ; Romans 8:34 , between believers and the love of God , that causa principalis of the grace of Christ (Romans 5:8 ), as it also forms the presupposition of the efficacy of the Spirit , Romans 8:1-2 . The fellowship of the Holy Spirit that is, the participation in the gracious efficacy of the Holy Spirit [404] is named last, because it is the consequence of the two former (Romans 8:9 ; Galatians 4:6 ), and continues (Romans 7:6 ; Romans 8:4 ff., Romans 8:26 f.) and brings to perfection (Romans 8:11 ; Galatians 6:8 ) their work in me.

μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν ] sc. εἴη . Seal of holy apostolic love after so much severe censure, one thing for all .

[403] On the old liturgical use of this formula of blessing, see Constit. apost . viii. 5. 5, viii. 12. 3.

[404] Estius, Calovius, and Hammond understand κοινωνία . of the communicatio activa of the Holy Spirit, which, doubtless, as τοῦ πνευμ . ἁγ . would be genitivus subjecti , is in accordance with the preceding clauses, and not at variance with the linguistic usage of κοινωνία in itself (Fritzsche, ad Rom . III. pp. 81, 287), but is in opposition to the usage throughout in the N. T. (see on Romans 15:26 ; 1 Corinthians 10:16 ), and not in keeping with passages like Philippians 2:1 ; 1Co 1:9 ; 2 Peter 1:4 , passages which have as their basis the habitually employed conception of the participation in the divine, which takes place in the case of the Christian. Hence also not: familiaris consuetudo with the Holy Spirit (Ch. F. Fritzsche, Opusc . p. 276). Theophylact well remarks: τὴν κοινωνίαν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος , τουτέστι τὴν μετοχὴν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν μετάληψιν , καθʼ ἣν ἁγιαζόμεθα , τῇ ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς ἐπιφοιτήσει τοῦ παρακλήτου κοινωνοὶ αὐτοῦ γενόμενοι καὶ αὐτοὶ , οὐκ οὐσίᾳ , ἀλλὰ μεθέξει ὄντες .

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/2-corinthians-13.html. 1832.
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