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- 2 Corinthians
by S.R. Driver, A.A. Plummer and C.A. Briggs
A CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS
Master of University College, Durham
T & T. CLARK LIMITED, 59 GEORGE STREET
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of T. & T. Clark Ltd.
ISBN 0 567 05028 9
Since the volume on the First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians appeared, circumstances have arisen, some of which have affected the present volume, while others must affect volumes in this series which still remain unpublished.
The increase of episcopal work which had fallen to the lot of the Bishop of Exeter, and the ill-health from which he suffered for a considerable time, convinced the present writer that, in the interests of the Diocese and of the Bishop himself, he ought to offer to free the Bishop from the promise which he had kindly given of sharing with his former colleague the work of producing the present volume. This offer the Bishop, after much consideration, reluctantly accepted, and the commentary has been written without the advantage of his co-operation. The loss is great, but it is not quite total. The writer who has been left to do the work single-handed knows the Bishop’s mind about most of the important questions which are raised by this perplexing Epistle, and moreover he has had his article on it in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (i. pp. 491-498) to aid him. Readers who miss in the present volume qualities which they valued in its predecessor may find in the above statement an explanation of the difference.
The changes of circumstances which must affect the remaining volumes of this series are more grave. The deaths of Dr. Briggs in June 1913 and of Dr. Driver in February 1914 are a loss, not only to these commentaries, but to Christendom. Wherever learning, acute criticism, and sound judgment are appreciated, the loss of two such scholars within less than a year will be deeply deplored; and it is impossible for their surviving colleague among the original editors of the International Critical Commentary adequately to express his own personal loss. Dr. Briggs and he were almost exactly the same age, and a year or two ago Dr. Briggs expressed to him a doubt whether either of them would live to see the series completed. As regards one of the two persons concerned that doubt has been shown to be only too well grounded.
The survivor must leave it to others to decide whether there is room for any such commentary as the present volume, and (if there is) whether the volume in any particulars fills it. He has no new solutions to offer for any of the numerous problems which this Epistle presents. But he has endeavoured to show that in some cases there is one solution which is so reasonable in itself, and so much more probable than any other, that students who have no time to investigate every point for themselves may be allowed, without discussion, to assume this solution as the right one. There must, however, always remain a considerable number of questions to which no certain answer can be given, because certainty requires a knowledge of details respecting the Church of Corinth which we do not possess and are not likely to acquire. It is hoped that no difficulty of importance has been passed over in silence, and that no untenable explanation of a difficulty has been adopted.
Readers will do well to study the paraphrases prefixed to the sections before consulting the notes. No translations, however accurate, can give the full meaning of any Pauline Epistle, and this is specially true of 2 Corinthians. The only adequate method is to paraphrase; and great pains have been taken in both these volumes to make the paraphrases as luminous and exact as possible.
§ I. Authenticity
The evidence, both external and internal, for the genuineness of 2 Corinthians is so strong that a commentator might be excused for assuming it without discussion. In the present state of criticism there is no need to spend time in examining the captious and speculative objections which have been, during the last sixty years, urged against this and others of the four great Epistles of St Paul by a very small group of eccentric critics,* and various recent commentators not only abstain from doing so, but do not even think it worth while to give so much as a summary of the evidence in favour of the genuineness.
The external evidence does not begin quite so early as that for 1 Corinthians; for we may regard it as certain that the Second Epistle was unknown to Clement of Rome, who was so well acquainted with the First. Much of the Second would have served his purpose much better than the First Epistle; yet, frequently as he quotes the First, he nowhere exhibits any knowledge of the Second, for none of the five or six passages, in which some writers have thought that there may be an echo of something in 2 Corinthians, can be relied upon as showing this. Those who care to verify this statement may compare 2 Corinthians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 1:8:9, 2 Corinthians 1:10:3, 2 Corinthians 1:4, 2 Corinthians 1:10:13, 2 Corinthians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 1:16, 2 Corinthians 1:10:17, 2 Corinthians 1:10:18 respectively with Clem. 2:1, 16:2, 37:1, 1:3, 13:1, 30:6 Clement is writing on behalf of the Church of Rome to rebuke the Corinthians for rebelling against authority, and he tells them to “take up the Epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle” and see how he rebukes them for party spirit. It would have been far more to the point to have referred to the Second Epistle in which St Paul rebukes them far more severely for rebellion. “Yet in the sixty-five chapters of Clement’s epistle there is not a single sentence which indicates that he had ever heard that the Corinthians had before his own time rebelled against those set over them, or that they had ever repented of their rebellion, though he tells the Corinthians that he has handled every argument” (Kennedy, The Second and Third Epistles to the Corinthians, p. 147). The absence of any clear quotation may be regarded as conclusive. “In the whole field of literature it would hardly be possible to adduce a stronger case of proof” (Rendall, The Epistles of St Paul to the Corinthians, p. 91). The inference is that 2 Corinthians in AD 96 was not known in the Church of Rome; it had not yet been circulated through the Churches.
On the other hand, Polycarp seems to show knowledge of both letters. See on 2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 8:21. Irenaeus quotes from chapters 2., 3, 4, 5, 13, sometimes by name; in epistola secunda ad Corinthios (iv. xxviii. 3). Athenagoras and Theophilus of Antioch show knowledge of the Epistle. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Cyprian quote it very frequently. It is named in the Muratorian Fragment, and Marcion accepted it.
Nearly all critics regard the internal evidence as conclusive. Even if the outside testimony were defective, the contents of the letter would completely reassure us.* It is so natural and so vivid; it so evidently deals with a number of details, well known to the writer and to the Corinthians, but not well known, and (in some cases) not particularly interesting, to outsiders; and so much of it refers to a temporary crisis, that it is utterly unlike the artificial product of a forger. What motive could there be for constructing such a fiction? And here one of the great obstacles to a clear understanding of the writer’s meaning becomes an argument for the genuineness of the letter; a forger would at least have taken pains to make his meaning clear to those whom he wished to have as readers. The obscure allusions and insinuations are natural enough, if they were written by one who knew all the circumstances, and knew that they were equally well known to those to whom he was writing. They are quite out of place in the composition of one who was imagining what the Apostle might have said to his Corinthian converts. The items of autobiography, which are among the most precious details in the Epistle, ring true and are not at all like fiction. Moreover, there are frequent links with the other three great Epistles, of St Paul, and it would be beyond the skill of any inventor to forge all these, to say nothing of the general agreement with the characteristic ideas of the Apostle. There is no letter which enables us to see so deeply into the workings of the writer’s mind and heart. Thankfulness, affection, anxiety, entreaty, and indignation come to the surface in successive waves, and the last of these is expressed with a severity and bitterness which can be best understood when we keep in mind his repeated assertion that the attacks on his character and authority have compelled him to break out in what must look like a hateful indulgence in self-praise and self-assertion (10:12, 11:1, 16, 12:1, 11). It is strange criticism that can see in all this the imagination of an anonymous inventor. See Bishop Robertson, Hastings, DB. i. p. 492; Massie, 1 and 2 Corinthians in The Century Bible, Philippians 4:5; Knowling, The Witness of the Epistles, ch. iii., and The Testimony of St Paul to Christ, lect. xxiv. and passim (see Index). With regard to the four great Epistles and 1 Thessalonians, B. W. Bacon says; “No doubt exists to-day among scientific critics regarding the authenticity of any one of them, for indeed 1 Corinthians is referred to in 96 AD as written by Paul to Corinth, and this and others of the group can be traced even further back as employed by Hebrews, 1 Peter, and James. Moreover, the impression of vivid feeling, of intense and close relation to objective fact, produced by the writings themselves is corroborated by the largely contemporary tradition of Acts, which shows just such combination of agreement in essentials and discrepancy in detail as we expect from honest witnesses” (Introd. to N.T. p. 56; see also p. 80).
§ II. Occasion, Problems, and Probabilities
The familar comparison of the transition from the region of 1 Corinthians to that of 2 Corinthians, to the passage from the somewhat intricate paths of a carefully laid-out park to the obscurity of a pathless forest, gives one a fairly correct idea of the difference between the two Epistles. But it needs to be supplemented, and to some extent corrected. The forest is not only obscure, it is thick with roots which trip one up, and with “wait-a-bit” thorns, which continually arrest one’s progress. Moreover, it is not altogether pathless. Three main divisions (1-8, 8 and 9, 9-13) are as clear as any divisions in the First Epistle. It is when we endeavour to interpret numerous details in the main divisions, and to get them into an inteligible and consistent relation to one another and to the First Epistle, that we stumble and stick fast. Over and over again the Apostle seems to be alluding to something which his readers can understand; but we are not always certain that there is any allusion, and we can rarely be certain what the allusion is. For instance, he often states that he is not in the habit of doing, or that he has not done, such and such things. In some cases this may be a mere statement of fact ; he takes the Corinthians into his confidence and acquaints them with his personal conduct. But in some cases he may be alluding to the fact that, although he does not, yet his opponents do, act in this particular way; e.g. 1:12, 19, 2:17, 3:3, 5, 5:16, 10:2, 4, 8, 12, 15. In others he may be alluding to the fact that he has been accused of doing these things; e.g. 1:17, 24, 4:5, 5:13, 7:2, 11:7, 9, 16, 13:6. Or there may be allusion to both these points; e.g. 4:2, 10:15.
The immediate occasion of this perplexing, but most instructive letter is plain enough. Since the writing of 1 Corinthians, St Paul had had to deal with a very serious crisis in the Church of Corinth, in which his Apostolic authority had been opposed, questioned, and by some scornfully denied, and he had sent Titus to Corinth to deal with the difficulty and reduce the rebellious persons to submission (2:13, 7:6, 7, 13-15). About the success of this enterprise of Titus the Apostle was intensely anxious. He left Ephesus for Troas, hoping that Titus would return from Corinth and meet him there, and in Troas he found an opening for missionary work. The suspense at last became so intolerable that he threw up his work in Troas and crossed over to Macedonia, in order to meet Titus the sooner. Here he did meet Titus, whose report of the result of his mission to Corinth was so unexpectedly favourable that St Paul, in a fervour of thankfulness and affection, at once begins to dictate this letter, in order to make the reconciliation between himself and his Corinthian converts complete (1-7.), and stir them up to increased sympathy with their fellow-Christians in Palestine (8., 9.)*
Thus far we are upon sure ground; but there are at least a dozen questions arising out of this Epistle, or connected with it, respecting which great diversity of opinion exists. With regard to a few of them a decided answer may with confidence be given, in spite of diversity of view; but with regard to the remainder we can do no more than adopt what seems to us to be probable, while admitting that there is room for doubt. Not all of the questions are of equal importance, but hardly any of them can be set aside as trivial.
1. Did Timothy, who had been sent to Corinth before I Corinthians was written (see on 1 Corinthians 16:10), and was with St Paul when 2 Corinthians was written (2 Corinthians 1:1.), reach Corinth and was unsuccessful there? Or did he return to St Paul without having reached Corinth? If he reached Corinth, did he leave before 1 Corinthians arrived?
2. How long an interval was there between 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians? See on 2 Corinthians 8:10, 2 Corinthians 9:2.
3. Did the Apostle pay a visit, short and distressing, to Corinth before 2 Corinthians was written? If so,
4. Did this visit take place before or after 1 Corinthians?
5. Was there a letter (other than 1 Corinthians and the letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9) written by St Paul to Corinth before 2 Corinthians? In other words, Does the severe letter mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:4 and 7:8, 9 refer to 1 Corinthians? If it does not refer to 1 Corinthians but to some other letter, two questions arise;—
6. Was this severe letter before or after 1 Corinthians?
7. Is this letter wholly lost, or does part of it survive in 2 Cor. 10-13.?
8. Is the offender mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:5-10 and 7:12 to be identified with the incestuous person of 1 Corinthians 5:1 f.? If not,
9. Who was the offender, and whom did he offend?
10. This offender was punished, not in accordance with a vote of the whole Church of Corinth, but only of a majority of the members (2 Corinthians 2:6). What was the punishment? and was it more severe, or less severe, than that which the minority proposed?
11. What was the nature of the opposition to St Paul at Corinth? Did it come from those who thought that he paid too much regard to the Law, or from those who thought that he paid too little?
12. Does part of the letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9 survive in 2 Corinthians 6:14, or is it wholly lost?
At least two of these questions can be answered with certainty; two others can be answered with confidence, if not with absolute certainty; and in the case of two others the probability is very decidedly on one side. With regard to the remaining six the probabilities are more evenly balanced. In each case the reader is referred to the notes on the passages in question for a discussion of the arguments ‘for’ and “against.’
5. It ought to be regarded as certain that 1 Corinthians cannot be the severe letter alluded to in 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:4 and 7:8, 9.* Therefore St Paul wrote two letters to the Church of Corinth in addition to the two which have come down to us, viz. the one mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9 and this severe letter.
8. The offender mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:5-10 and 7:12 is not the incestuous person of 1 Corinthians 5:1 f. The identification is untenable, and, like the identification of the sinner in Luke 7:37-39 with Mary Magdalen, it ought to be generally abandoned.*
3. It is almost certain that St Paul did pay a short and distressing visit to Corinth between his first stay there and the writing of 2 Corinthians (2:1, 12:14, 13:1).
9. It is almost certain that the offender in 2 Corinthians 5:5-10 and 7:12 is some one who had behaved in an outrageous manner to the Apostle. But, if Timothy reached Corinth, it is possible that he was the person who was outrageously treated.
7. It is probable that part of the severe letter of 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:4 and 7:8, 9 survives in 2 Cor. 10-13.
12. It is probable that the letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9 is wholly lost. But it is not easy to determine
1. Whether Timothy failed to reach Corinth or reached Corinth and failed to effect any good there.
2. Whether the interval between 1 and 2 Corinthians was somewhat less than a year or somewhat less than two years.
4. Whether the distressing visit took place after or before 1 Corinthians.
6. Whether the severe letter was written after or before 1 Corinthians.
10. Whether the minority wished the offender to receive a more or a less severe punishment than that which was inflicted by the majority, and whether that punishment was excommunication.
11. Whether St Paul was opposed for having too little or too much regard for the Law.
In all these six cases the balance is perhaps in favour of the alternative which is stated first; but it is more easy to adopt a decided opinion than to convince others that it is right; e.g. in the volume on 1 Corinthians (pp. xxi-xxiv) reasons have been given for believing that the second visit of St Paul to Corinth† is an historical fact, and that it took place before the writing of 1 Corinthians; but Professor K. Lake (Earlier Epistles of St Paul, p. 152) has given strong reasons for believing that it took place between 1 and 2 Corinthians, an arrangement which has manifest advantages. How greatly opinions are divided on the subject will be seen from the following statement.
This intermediate visit is doubted or denied by Baur, Davidson, De Wette, Farrar, G. H. Gilbert, Heinrici, Hilgenfeld, Lange, Lewin, Lias, Paley, Ramsay, A. Robertson, Stanley.
It is placed before 1 Corinthians, and in most cases before the lost letter of 1 Corinthians 5:9, by Alford, Beet, J. H. Bernard, Bleek, Conybeare and Howson, Cornely, Denney, Findlay, Klöpper, Hausrath, Lightfoot, McFadyen, Olshausen, Otto, Räbiger, Redlich, Reuss, Sanday, Schmiedel, Waite, B. Weiss, Wieseler, Zahn.
It is placed after 1 Corinthians, and before the severe letter of 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:4 and 7:8, 9, by Adeney, Bachmann, Barth, Bousset, Cone, Drescher, Ewald, Eylau, Godet, Hagge, Jacquier, Jülicher, Kennedy, Krenkel, Lake, Mangold, Massie, Menzies, Moffatt, Pfleiderer, Rendall, Sabatier, Weiffenbach, Weizsäcker. Allen and Grensted incline to this alternative, but doubtfully; so also D. Walker. Belser and Schäfer place the intermediate visit after 1 Corinthians, but they omit the intermediate letter, identifying the severe letter with 1 Corinthians. Völter regards the intermediate visit as a return to Corinth after a missionary excursion during the Apostle’s first stay in the city. His elaborate dissection of both Epistles, as consisting of Pauline material very freely edited on doctrinal grounds, does not merit consideration.
The problems respecting the intermediate letter will be most conveniently studied when the question respecting the integrity of the Epistle is discussed.
The following scheme as to the sequence of events connected with these two great Epistles covers the whole period of the Apostle’s work at Corinth. It is tentative, as all such schemes must be, and the more conjectural items are placed in square brackets. From what has been already stated it follows that no scheme which identifies the severe letter (2:3, 4, 7:8, 9) with 1 Corinthians, and which identifies the great offender (2:5-10, 7:12) with the incestuous man (1 Corinthians 5:1), can be right. St Paul wrote four letters to the Corinthian Church, two of which have come down to us, while two have partly or wholly perished; and there were two great offenders whom he required the Church to punish. This much may be treated as too firmly established to be open to reasonable doubt. A good deal of the accompanying scheme is generally admitted to be correct.
Possible Sequence of Events
1. St Paul spends ‘a year and six months’ at Corinth, ‘teaching the word of God’ (Acts 18:11).
2. He leaves Corinth with Aquila and Priscilla and settles at Ephesus (Acts 18:18, Acts 18:19).
3. Apollos continues the work at Corinth, ‘powerfully confuting the Jews’ (Acts 18:27, Acts 18:28, Acts 18:19:1), and returns to St Paul at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:12).
4. St Paul sends a letter [by Titus], now [wholly] lost, to Corinth condemning fornicators (1 Corinthians 5:9) [and announcing the plan mentioned 2 Corinthians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 1:16]. [A collection for the poor at Jerusalem is started by Titus.]
5. Bad news is brought from Corinth to Ephesus by members of Chloe’s household (1 Corinthians 1:11) [and also by Apollos (1 Corinthians 16:12)].
6. Timothy starts from Ephesus for Macedonia and Corinth, and reaches Macedonia (1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 4:16:10; Acts 19:22; 2 Corinthians 1:1).
7. Letter of the Corinthians to St Paul (1 Corinthians 7:1) [brought by Fortunatus, Stephanas, and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17)].
8. St Paul writes 1 Corinthians at or near Easter [and sends it by Titus and a brother; the collection for the poor is now organized (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:6, 2 Corinthians 12:18), and Titus then returns to the Apostle at Ephesus].
9. [Timothy arrives at Corinth.] Fresh difficulties arise in the Corinthian Church; the Apostle’s authority is questioned, and by some is defied (2 Corinthians 10:7, 2 Corinthians 10:10, 2 Corinthians 10:11:23, 2 Corinthians 10:12:16, 2 Corinthians 10:17). [Timothy leaves, unable to deal with the crisis.]
10. St Paul hears of this [from Timothy] and pays a short visit to Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:1, 2 Corinthians 12:14, 2 Corinthians 13:1), during which he is grossly insulted by some Corinthian Christian (2 Corinthians 2:5-8, 2 Corinthians 7:12).*
11. St Paul sends Titus to Corinth with a severe letter (2:3, 9, 7:8-12), [the greater part of which is preserved in 2 Cor. 10-13.]. Titus is instructed [to press for the collection for the Palestinian Relief Fund and] to return to St Paul through Macedonia and Troas (2:12, 13, 7:5, 6).
12. [Longer stay in Ephesus having become perilous,] St Paul leaves Ephesus for Troas, and being intensely anxious about the effect of the severe letter, he leaves Troas for Macedonia, in order to meet Titus the sooner and get his report (2:12, 13).
13. He meets Titus in Macedonia and receives from him a most encouraging report as to the end of the grave crisis in Corinth (7:6-16).
14. He writes 2 Corinthians [1-9.] and sends it from Macedonia by Titus and two brethren (8:16-24).*
15. St Paul reaches Corinth, and during a stay of three months there (Acts 19:21, Acts 20:3) writes the Epistle to the Romans (see Sanday and Headlam, Romans, pp. xxxvi f.).
The most speculative portions of this scheme are those which are placed in square brackets in the sections numbered 4 and 9. That Titus was the bearer of the first letter written by the Apostle to Corinth, and that he then began to urge the Corinthians to raise money for the poor Christians in Judaea, is not improbable, but there is little evidence for either conjecture. That Timothy reached Corinth and was a failure there is possible, but the silence about his doing anything there is equally well explained by the hypothesis that he never got so far. If he reached Corinth and was contemptuously treated, he probably returned as quickly as possible to St Paul at Ephesus, and his report of the grave condition of things at Corinth would account for the Apostle’s decision to hurry across to Corinth himself. But the bad news from Corinth may easily have reached St Paul in some other way.
§ III. Place, Date, and Contents
Both place and date can be fixed within narrow limits. The country was Macedonia (2:13, 7:5, 8:1, 9:2-4); and it is possible that the subscription of the Epistle, which is certainly early (B2, Syr-Pesh. Syr-Hark. Copt.), is correct in saying that the city was Philippi. It has already been shown (1 Corinthians, p. xxxiii.) that the First Epistle was probably written in the spring of AD 55, and it is probable that the Second Epistle was written in the autumn of the same year. In neither case, however, is the year quite certain. For the First Epistle nearly all modern writers allow some margin; Harnack, AD 50-53; C. H. Turner, 52-55; Ramsay, 53-56; Lightfoot, Lewin, and Wieseler, 54-57. For the Second Epistle, Harnack says 53, Turner 55, Ramsay 56, Lightfoot, Lewin, and Wieseler 57. There is no serious objection to assigning both Epistles to the same year, even for those who believe that between the two letters St Paul paid a brief visit to Corinth. In favourable weather that might be accomplished in less than three weeks. All the events enumerated above, 8-14, might take place in seven or eight months. But Jülicher and others think that we must place about a year and a half between the two Epistles.
With regard to the letter itself it is better to talk of “contents” rather than “plan.” Beyond the three clearly marked divisions (1-7; 8, 9; 10-13) there is not much evidence of plan. In these main divisions the Apostle seems to have dictated what he had to say just as his thoughts and feelings moved him, without much consideration of arrangement or logical sequence. We may conjecture that the last four chapters were dictated at one sitting, without much pause until the last chapter was reached. But between 7 and 8., and between 9 and 10 there were doubtless breaks of some duration, if not between 8 and 9; and it is not likely that the first seven chapters were dictated all at one time. Hence the rapid changes (as they seem to us) of topics and temper; but something more than a break in the time of dictating is required to account for the immense change from 9 to 10. The following analysis of the three main divisions is offered as a help to a study of the Epistle in detail. It is not meant to imply or suggest that the Apostle had any such scheme in his mind as he dictated the various paragraphs. As in the first Epistle, there is a mixture of precept and instruction with personal matter; but the proportion of the two elements is reversed. In 1 Corinthians the personal element is comparatively slight and appears incidentally. In 2 Corinthians the personal element is the main thing, especially in the first and last divisions; what is didactic, however important, is not the leading topic or series of topics. It is the Apostle’s conduct and authority that comes to the front throughout.
Epistolary Introduction, 1:1-11.
A. The Apostolic Salutation, 1:1, 2.
B. Preamble of Thanksgiving and Hope, 1:3-11.
I. Review of his recent Relations with the Corinthians, 1:12-7:16.
A. Defence of his Conduct with regard to his promised Visit and the great Offender, 1:12-2:17.
The postponement of the intended Visit, 1:12-2:4.
The Treatment of the great Offender and the Result of the severe Letter, 2:5-17.
B. The Glory of the Apostolic Office, 3:1-6:10.
The Superiority of the New Ministration to the Old, 3:1-11.
The great Boldness of the New Ministers, 3:12-4:6.
The Sufferings and Supports of an Apostle, 4:7-5:10.
The Life of an Apostle, 5:11-6:10.
C. The Restoration of Confidence between the Apostle and the Corinthians, 6:11-7:16.
Appeal of the reconciled Apostle to the Corinthians, 6:11-7:4.
The Reconciliation completed, 7:5-16.
II. The Collection for the poor Christians at Jerusalem, 8:1-9:15.
The Example of the Macedonian Churches, 8:1-7.
The Example of Christ, 8:8-15.
The new Mission to be entrusted to Titus and two others, 8:16-24.
Exhortation to Readiness, 9:1-5.
Exhortation to Liberality, 9:6-15.
III. Vindicating his Apostolic Authority; the great Invective, 10:1-13:10.
A. The Apostle’s Authority and the Area of his Mission, 10:1-18.
Reply to the Charge of Cowardice, 10:1-6.
Reply to the Charge of Weakness, 10:7-11.
The Area of his Mission includes Corinth, 10:12-18.
B. Glorying a Folly which has been forced upon him, 11:1-12:18.
The Reason for this Folly, 11:1-6.
Glorying about refusing Maintenance, 11:7-15.
Glorying about his Services and his Sufferings, 11:16-33.
Glorying about Revelations to his Soul and a Thorn for his Flesh, 12:1-10.
The Credentials of an Apostle; exceptional Signs and exceptional Love, 12:11-18.
C. Final Warnings in view of his approaching Visit, 12:19-13:10.
Concluding Exhortation, Salutation, and Benediction, 13:11-13.
These contents, however we may interpret them in detail, reveal a situation very different from that which is exhibited by the First Epistle. Even with regard to the features which are the same in both letters there is difference. The old relations between Apostle and converts may remain, but they have been, and perhaps still are, severely strained. Some of the old features have vanished and new features have appeared. The Apostle is no longer so serenely sure of the Corinthians, affection and loyalty. They had sometimes criticized him before, and had raised questions as to his being an Apostle (1 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 4:9:1, 1 Corinthians 4:2); but now he has been openly insulted, defied, and laughed at, and his Apostleship has been denied. He says that self-Praise is no recommendation, but they say that he is always singing his own praises and asserting his own importance. Although we hear no more of the four factions of which St Paul speaks with disapproval in 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 1:13, yet faction of a far more virulent kind is manifest, and it threatens the Church of Corinth with ruin. Corinth has been invaded by a band of fanatical Jewish Christians, who have a narrow and bigoted view of the spirit of the Gospel and an intense hatred of St Paul’s free interpretation of it. They did not attempt to enforce circumcision, as similar fanatics were endeavouring to do among the Galatians, for they probably saw that such attempts would have no success in Greece; but they did their utmost, by accusation and insinuation, to undermine and overthrow the influence of St Paul. We can measure the malignity of their attack by the vehemence of the Apostle’s language in repelling it, and indeed we have to attribute atrocious conduct to them in order to understand how he could regard as justifiable all the strong expressions which he uses. This applies specially to 11:13-15. See Menzies, ad loc., and McFadyen, pp. 247, 248.
§ IV. Integrity
Among the many features in which 2 Corinthians differs from 1 Corinthians is that of structure. The First Epistle exhibits an evenness of style so complete that its unity, although disputed by a few eccentric critics, as Hagge and Völter, is not open to serious question. A few words in the traditional text are wanting in authority, as ‘and in your spirit, which are God’s’ (6:20); and a few are open to suspicion, but not well-grounded suspicion, as possible glosses, as 14:34, 35, 15:56. But proposals to treat the Epistle which has come down to us in the familiar form as a conglomeration of several letters, or of portions of several letters, are not worthy of consideration. The same cannot be said of the Second Epistle. There is considerable probability that it is composite, and that chapters 1-9. are the greater part of a conciliatory letter, while chapters 10-13. are the greater part of a sharp and severe letter which was written before the conciliatory letter was sent; and there is a possibility that part of a third letter, written before either of the Epistles which have come down to us, is embedded in it (6:14-7:1). Moreover, doubts have been raised as to whether both 8 and 9 belong to the same letter, some critics regarding 9 as an intruder while a few regard 8 as the intruder. Nor is this all. The verses which tell of the Apostle’s escape from Damascus (11:32, 33) come so abruptly and prosaically in a passage of lofty feeling and language, that they also are suspected of being out of their original position. They may be a fragment from some other letter, or they may have been accidentally omitted from this letter and then reinserted in the wrong place. A less violent conjecture is that St Paul inserted them after the letter was finished, without caring whether they were quite in harmony with the context.
But the large majority of the critics who are inclined to adopt one or more of these hypotheses are agreed that all the passages in question, 6:14-7:1, 8, 9, 11:32, 33, and 10-13, were written by St Paul. This consensus is specially strong with regard to the last four chapters. There are a few wild critics who contend that not one of the Pauline Epistles is genuine, and their criticisms carry no weight. To accept Galatians, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Cor. 1-9 as by St Paul, and reject 2 Cor. 10-13 as spurious, would be an amazing result to reach by any kind of argument.
It must always be remembered that in every one of these four cases the doubts as to their being part of the Second Epistle, as St Paul dictated it, are based entirely on internal evidence. No MS., no version, and no patristic quotation supplies any evidence that the Epistle was ever in circulation anywhere with any one of these four portions omitted.
It will be convenient to take the four shorter passages first, in the order of their occurrence, reserving the more important question respecting the last four chapters for more detailed treatment after the other passages have been discussed.
1. The strength of the case against 6:14-7:1 lies in the facts that (1) the six verses violently interrupt the sequence of thought, and that (2), when they are removed, 7:2 fits admirably to 6:11-13. ‘My lips are unlocked to tell you everything; my heart stands wide open. There is no restraint in my feeling towards you; the restraint is in your own affections. But love should awaken love in return; let your heart be opened wide to receive me. Make room for me; I have never wronged any of you in any way.’ The connexion is excellent between πλατύνθητε καὶ ὑμεῖς and χωρήσατε ἡμᾶς, whereas it is difficult to see what the connexion is between 6:13 and 14, and between 7:1 and 2. These facts justify the statement that, in its present position, the passage “looks like an erratic boulder.” And, when it is pointed out that the letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9 dealt with the same subject as that which is treated in this passage, viz. careful abstention from the pollutions of heathendom, and that the strict charge given in 2 Corinthians 6:14 2 Corinthians 6:1 might be easily misunderstood in the way mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:10, the suggestion that we have here a fragment of that lost letter becomes attractive. This view is accordingly adopted by Dobschütz, Franke, Hilgenfeld, Lisco, Moffatt, Sabatier, Von Soden, and Whitelaw. Others, with less probability, think that the original position of the passage was in 1 Corinthians 6:0. or 1 Cor. 10., an hypothesis which has the additional difficulty of there being no external evidence that it ever occupied that position. Consequently we have two great difficulties,—to account for its being universally omitted there and universally admitted here. Others again regard it as a fragment from another letter without attempting to define the original place. If the passage is an erratic boulder, the conjecture that it comes from the letter of 1 Corinthians 5:9 is the best that can be made as to its origin; Bacon (Intr. to N.T. p. 95) somewhat doubtfully inclines to it.
The least probable hypothesis is that these six verses are not by St Paul, but are an interpolation by another hand. The arguments used in support of this theory are not of great weight.* (a) We have in these six verses six words which St Paul uses nowhere else, and which are found nowhere else in N.T.; ἑτεροζυγοῦντες, μετοχή, συμφώνησις, Βελίαρ, συνκατάθεσις, μολυσμοῦ. That fact counts for very little. The subject of intimacy with the heathen is rarely discussed by St Paul and this topic accounts for some of these six words: and when a writer, in order to vary his language, requires five different words to express ‘intimacy,’ he is likely to employ some that are less usual. Σύμφωνος occurs in 1 Corinthians, and μετέχω is frequent there, as also in Hebrews. (b) It is said that this stringent prohibition is inconsistent with 1 Corinthians 5:9 f. and 10:27 f. But that is not correct. There, the Apostle tolerates the idea of a Christian caring to accept a heathen’s invitation to dinner; here, he strictly forbids intimate combinations with heathen—a very different thing from an exceptional sharing of a meal. (c) It is urged that ‘defilement of flesh and spirit’ is not Pauline. St Paul treats ‘the flesh’ as the seat of sin and defilement, and ‘the spirit’ as the opponent of ‘the flesh.’ The latter statement is true of the Apostle’s common practice, when he is writing theologically. Here he is not doing so. In popular language ‘flesh and spirit’ is an expression which covers the whole of man’s nature. The Apostle says in conclusion that Christians must keep themselves free from what would defile them (as we might say) ‘body and soul.’ St Paul often uses ‘flesh’ in the sense of the weak physical part of man, without any idea of its being the seat of sin and opposed to the spirit (v. 5, 12:7; Galatians 2:20, Galatians 4:13). ‘That life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God’ (Galatians 2:20), shows clearly that with St Paul ‘flesh’ is not always essentially sinful. See Gifford, Romans, in the Speaker’s Commentary, p. 50.
But all these hypotheses as to this passage being no part of our Epistle in its original form, labour under the grave difficulty that there is no MS. evidence to support them. How is it that all our witnesses have the passage, and have it in this place? A fragment of the letter mentioned 1 Corinthians 5:9 might easily survive; but how did it come to be inserted here? Why place it where it does not seem to fit? If it be supposed that a stray leaf from one letter has accidentally got among the leaves of another letter, then we have to suppose that the stray leaf chanced to begin and end with a complete sentence, and that, of the leaves between which it was erroneously inserted, one chanced to end with a complete sentence and the other to begin with one. Such a combination of chances is improbable.
It seems, therefore, safer to abide by the external evidence and regard the passage as being not only Paul’s, but as having been placed by him in this apparently unsuitable place. Abrupt digressions are more possible in dictating than in writing. While he was imploring the Corinthians to be as frank and affectionate towards him as he was towards them, he may have remembered that their refusal to comply with his demand that they should make no compromises with heathendom was one of the chief causes of the constraint which kept them apart from him. In that case he might there and then repeat his demand and the reasons for it, before going on with his tender appeal. Zahn (Intr. to N.T. i. p. 350) goes so far as to suggest that the connexions between 6:13 and 14 and between 7:1 and 2 are better than the connexion between 6:13 and 7:2. While Baljon, Clemen, Pfleiderer, and others favour the excision of the passage, Bachmann, Bousset, and Lietzmann regard the reasons for treating it as an interpolation as inadequate. Adeney (Biblical Intr. to N.T. p. 371) seems to think that the hypothesis does not need to be mentioned. Allen and Grensted (Intr. to the Books of N.T. p. 129) mention it without expressing any opinion of its merits. K. Lake (Earlier Epistles of St Paul, pp. 123, 162) says that, although “to some extent the very strongly supported theory which divides 2 Cor. 10-13. from 2 Cor. 1-9. lends strength to the much more doubtful hypothesis that 2 Corinthians 6:14 is an interpolation,” yet this hypothesis “from its nature can never be regarded as more than a probable guess.”
2. The proposal to separate ch. 8. from 1-7. has met with very little approval, and it may be safely rejected. The sequence is quite natural, and any change in tone is adequately accounted for by the change of subject. One does not ask favours in the same tone as that in which one claims rights.
3. Still less has the proposal of Semler to separate ch. 9. from ch. 8., and make the former a letter to the Christians of Achaia, found favour. The audacious theory of A. Halmel (Der zweite Korintherbrief des Apostles Paulus, Halle, 1904) needs little more than mention. He divides our Epistle into nine portions, of which the largest Isaiah 10:1-10, and this is supposed to be the second of three letters. The first letter contains 8., the last contains 9.* As will be shown in the notes, so far from there being a manifest break between 8. and 9., the division of the chapters is clumsily made. The first verses of 9. are linked to the end of 8. The one thing that is probable in this extreme theory is that 10:1-13:10 ought to be separated from 1-9. “The attempts to isolate 8. as a separate note (Hagge), written later than 9. (Baljon), or as part of the Intermediate Letter (Michelsen), break down for much the same reason as the cognate hypothesis that 9. itself was a subsequent letter sent to the Achaian churches (Semler). The unity of the situation presupposed in 8. and 9. is too well-marked to justify any separation of the chapters either from one another or from the letter 1-9., whose natural conclusion they furnish” (Moffatt).
4. The case of 11:32, 33 is somewhat similar to that of 6:14-7:1. We have a violent transition in the vein of thought; and if we omit the verses which produce this abrupt change, we have a good sequence of thought. But the two cases are very different. Here the transition is not nearly so violent as there; and, when the verses which seem to interrupt the flow of idea are omitted, we do not obtain so good a junction of thought and language as in the former case. Indeed, those who propose to excise the sentences which seem to cause a difficulty are not agreed as to how much ought to be cut out in order to make a good junction. Some would omit only 11:32, 33. Some would omit these two verses and the first half of 12:1; others, these two and the whole of 12:1. But it is by no means incredible that St Paul dictated just what has come down to us. No one always writes letters that are perfectly consecutive in thought. Certainly St Paul does not; and those who habitually dictate their letters are apt to make sudden digressions from which they return with equal suddenness. How often, when we read a letter over, we note that the omission of a sentence or two would have made it read more smoothly. It is possible that the story of the Apostle’s escape from Damascus had been embroidered, in order to make his descent in a basket laughable. Therefore, when he is recounting τὰ τῆς Acts 9:23-25.
The Last Four Chapters
5. We come now to the much larger, more important, and more interesting question, whether the four concluding chapters, 10-13., or at any rate 10:1-13:10, ought not to be separated from the first nine chapters and regarded as the main portion of a very different letter, which probably preceded the first nine chapters.
We may at once set aside the second alternative. If the theory is true in any shape, it must include the whole of the last chapter. To say that no one could write 13:10, and then immediately afterwards write v. 11, is dogmatic assumption. The sudden change of tone, so far from being incredible, is natural, especially in one who was so full of shifting emotions as St Paul. The most unwelcome task of denouncing malignant enemies and threatening impenitent offenders is accomplished. He will not utter another word in that strain. He ends with a few words of exhortation, a few words of affection, and his fullest benediction.
Moreover, if we assume that the whole of the last four chapters form one piece, viz. the middle and conclusion of a different letter, which had lost its beginning, we can more easily understand how this came to be joined to the main portion of another letter, which had lost its end. It is much less easy to understand how a large portion of a letter, without either beginning or end, came to be inserted between the main portion of another letter and its conclusion. As a conclusion, 13:11-13(14) belong to the last four chapters and not to the first nine. In the discussion which follows, that point is assumed. We are dealing with the supposed conjunction of a letter that has lost its conclusion with a letter that has lost its beginning, not with the insertion of a large fragment of one letter into a break near to the conclusion of another letter. See p. 385.
The hypothesis that 10-13. ought to be separated from 1-9. is almost always combined with the hypothesis that 10-13. is part of the severe letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 2:7:8), as to the effect of which the Apostle was so anxious when he left Ephesus for Troas, and still more so when he left Troas for Macedonia in order to meet Titus as soon as possible and receive his report of the state of Corinth (2:12, 13, 7:6). This is a convenient place, therefore, for considering the problem of this severe “intermediate” letter. Although scholars of great eminence have declared that it is not impossible that 1 Corinthians is the letter which was written ‘out of much affliction and anguish of heart … with many tears’ (2 Corinthians 2:3), the sending of which he at one time regretted (7:8), that hypothesis may once for all be abandoned as untenable. On the other hand, we may well believe that much of 2 Cor. 10-13. was written in anguish, and that there are things in these scathing criticisms, especially in 10. and 11., which he sometimes regretted having written. As in the case of the intermediate visit, there is great difference of opinion respecting this intermediate letter.
Its existence is doubted or denied by Alford, Beet, J. H. Bernard, Conybeare and Howson, Denney, Lias, McFadyen, Meyer, B. Weiss, Zahn; in fact by all who would identify the letter of 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:9 and 7:8 with 1 Corinthians.
It is regarded as wholly lost by Bachmann, Barth, Bleek, Bousset, Credner, Drummond, Ewald, Farrar, Findlay, Godet, Heinrici, Klöpper, Jacquier, Jülicher, Lietzmann, Menzies, Neander, Olshausen, Sabatier, Sanday, Weizsäcker, Ziegler.
It is regarded as probably preserved in part in 2 Cor. 10-13. by Adeney, Bacon, Clemen, Cone, Cramer, Hausrath, Kennedy, König, K. Lake, Lipsius, Lisco, McGiffert, Massie, Michelsen, Moffatt, Paulus, Peake, Pfleiderer, Rendall, Schmiedel, R. Scott, Seufert, Völter, Von Soden, Wagenmann, Weisse. G. Milligan inclines to this view.
There is yet another theory respecting these four chapters. Drescher, Krenkel, and Weber regard them as constituting a separate letter, which, however, they place after 2 Cor. 1-9. So also in the main does Schnedermann.* The supposition is that, after 2 Cor. 1-9. had been despatched to Corinth, bad reports of the state of the Corinthian Church reached the Apostle, and that he then wrote and sent 10-13. Drescher places the intermediate visit between the sending of 1-9. and the sending of 10-13.
It is plain from these facts that there is a very large consensus of opinion in favour of there having been a severe letter of the Apostle to Corinth which cannot be identified with 1 Corinthians, and that among those who hold this opinion, which is doubtless correct, not a few favour the hypothesis that a great deal of this severe letter survives in 2 Cor. 10-13. Thus far, however, the case for the latter hypothesis is not a strong one. St Paul tells us that before writing 2 Cor. 1-9. he had in affliction and anguish written a letter to Corinth which was so severe that at times he wished that he had not sent it, and that for weeks he was intensely anxious about the result; and in 2 Cor. 10-13. there is a good deal that harmonizes with those statements. But there are stronger reasons for the identification than this general harmony. We have to take into account (1) the extraordinary change of tone which is manifest when we pass from 9. to 10.; (2) the apparent inconsistency between passages in 1-9. and passages in 10-13., which make it difficult to believe that statements so inconsistent can have been penned in one and the same letter; (3) the fact that there are passages in 1-9. which seem to refer to passages in 10-13., and therefore indicate that 10-13. was written and sent to Corinth before 1-9. was written; (4) the fact that 10:16 is expressed naturally, if the writer was in Ephesus, where the severe letter was written, but not naturally, if the writer was in Macedonia, where 1-9. was written. All these points added to the general harmony between 10-13. and the Apostle’s statements about his severe letter make a really strong case.
(1) The extraordinary change of tone which begins at 10:1 and continues to 13:10 is generally admitted, and is sometimes described in adequate language by those who nevertheless maintain the integrity of the whole Epistle. K. Lake, who surrenders the integrity, says tersely and truly enough; “There is not only no connexion between 2 Cor. 1-9 and 2 Cor. 10-13, but there is an absolute break between them. … There never has been, and indeed there never can be, any dispute as to the fact that the whole tone of the Epistle changes suddenly at ch. 10:1, and that, if 2 Cor. 10-13. had existed in a separate form, no one would ever have dreamt of suggesting that it was the continuation of 2 Cor. 1-9” (pp. 155, 157). There is not only logical inconsistency, as will be seen in the next section, there is psychological maladroitness. The change is not only surprising in its intensity, it is in the wrong direction. When one wishes to re-establish friendly relations with persons, one may begin by stating one’s own grievances frankly and finding fault freely, and then pass on to say all that is conciliatory, showing a willingness to forgive and a desire for renewed affection. But here the Apostle does the opposite. Having written in tender language of his intense longing for reconciliation and his intense joy at having been able to establish it, he suddenly bursts out into a torrent of reproaches, sarcastic self-vindication, and stern warnings, which must almost have effaced the pacific effect of the first seven chapters. Nor is this all. In between these strangely inharmonious portions there is placed a delicate and somewhat hesitating, yet eager, petition for increased interest in the collection for the poor Christians at Jerusalem. This follows naturally enough after affectionate relations have been reestablished by the first seven chapters. But it is strange policy, immediately after imploring freshly regained friends to do their duty, to begin heaping upon them reproaches and threats.
(2) The logical inconsistency is not so conspicuous as the psychological, and it might escape observation; but in certain particulars it is striking enough. A writer might say first one and then the other of two inconsistent statements, if each was in a different letter, especially if the less pleasing statement was sent first; but he would hardly put them in the same letter, writing first what was pleasing and then what was the reverse. At any rate he would not act thus towards people with whom he wished to be on good terms. The contrasts will be best seen if the inconsistent passages are placed side by side.
2 Cor. 1-9. 2 Corinthians 1:2 Cor. 10-13.
8:7. As ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness, and in your love to us.
1:24. By your faith ye stand; i.e. as regards belief, ye are sound. 13:5. Try your own selves, whether ye be in the faith.
7:16. I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you. 12:20, 21. I fear lest by any means there shoud be strife, jealousy, wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults; lest I should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and repented not of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they committed.
2:3. My joy is the joy of you all. 10:2. I beseech you, that I may not when present show courage with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some, which count of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
7:4. Great is my glorying in your behalf; I am filled with comfort.
7:11. In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter. 11:3. I fear lest by any means your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and purity that is toward Christ.
3:2. Ye are our epistle, written in our heart. 13:10. I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply.
The hypothesis that 10-13. is part of a stern letter, which was sent to Corinth before the conciliatory first chapters were written, puts these divergent statements in their logical order. Fears and warnings are expressed while a very rebellious spirit is prevalent in the Corinthian Church. Joyous commendation is expressed after the rebels have submitted and shown regret.
(3) Let it be admitted that divergent statements such as the above would be not impossible in a letter written, as 2 Corinthians must have been, at intervals, in some cases of hours, and possibly of days; for the thirteen chapters cannot have been dictated at one sitting. There are, however, passages in 1-9 which appear to make a reference to things in 10-13 As in the case of the previous argument, the effect of these passages is cumulative. One or two might be accidental; but if all of them are mere coincidences, we have here a literary phenomenon which is very remarkable. As before, we will place the passages in question side by side, but in the reverse order, in order that the probability of the second being an allusion to the first may be judged.
2 Cor. 10-13. 2 Corinthians 10:2 Cor. 1-9.
10:1. I have confidence against you (θαρρῶ ὑμᾶς). 7:16. I have confidence in you (θαρρῶ ὲν ὑμῖν).
10:2. With the confidence (πεποιθήσει) wherewith I count to be bold. 8:22. By reason of much confidence (πεποιθἠσει) to youward.
In both of these cases St Paul seems to be purposely repeating in a friendly sense an expression which in the former letter he had used in a stern and unpleasing sense.
10:6. Being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience (ὑπακοή) shall be fulfilled. 2:9. To this end also did I write, that I might know the proof, whether you are obedient (ὑπήχοοι) in all things.
12:16. But being crafty (πανοῦργος) I caught you with guile. 4:2. Not walking in craftiness (πανουργίᾳ).
12:17. Did I take advantage ἐπλεονέκτησα) of you? 7:2. We took advantage (ἑπλεονεκτήσαμεν) of no one.
13:2. If I come again I will not spare (οὐ φείσομαι). 1:23. To spare you (φειδόμενος) I forbore to come to Corinth.
13:10. I write these thing while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply. 2:3. I wrote this very thing that I might not by coming have sorrow.
The last two examples are very remarkable, and they come very near to one another, especially in what seems to be the later letter. It is also to be noted that, when the severe letter was written there was some doubt about St Paul’s returning to Corinth (If I come again). When 1-9 was written there was no such dount. It is quite true that even when 1-9 was written, the Apostle might say ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν: but such an expression would be more suitable in the earlier letter.
It is possible that in 5:13, ‘Whether we were beside ourselves’ (ἐξέστημεν), we have a reference to the earlier letter, especially to the account of his being ‘caught up even to the third heaven’ (12:2). He may have anticipated that this and other things would lead the Corinthians to say, “The man must be mad.” In connexion with this it may be noticed that only in the chapters which we are assuming to be part of the severe letter does he use the strong words ἄφρων (11:16, 19, 12:6, 11) and
2 Cor. 1-9. 2 Corinthians 1:2 Cor. 10-13.
10:7. Even as he is Christ’s, so also are we. 3:1. Are we beginning again to commend ourselves?
11:5. I am not a whit behind those pre-eminent apostles.
11:18. I will glory also. 5:12. We are not again commending ourselves to you.
11:23. Are they ministers of Christ? I more.
12:12. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you. 8:8. I speak not by way of commandment.
(4) In 10:16, St Paul looks forward to an extension of his missionary labours beyond Corinth; ‘so as to preach the gospel even unto the parts beyond you’ (εἰς τὰ ὑπερέκεινα ἑμῶν). We know that soon after writing 2 Corinthians, St Paul had thoughts of visiting Rome and Spain (Romans 15:24, Romans 15:28), and we may suppose that ‘the parts beyond you’ mean Italy and Spain. 2 Cor. 1-9 was written from Macedonia (2:13, 7:5, 8:1, 9:2-4), and a person in Macedonia would hardly use such an expression as ‘the parts beyond you’ in reference to Corinth, if he was thinking of Italy and Spain. But the severe letter was written from Ephesus, and a person in Ephesus might well say ‘the parts beyond Corinth,’ and by this mean Italy and Spain. Here again, therefore, we seem to have another indication that 10-12 is part of the severe letter which had preceded the letter written from Macedonia after Titus had brought the good news of the Corinthians’ return to loyalty and obedience.
These arguments, when taken together, do constitute a strong case for the theory that 2 Cor. 1-9 and 10-13 are the main portions of two different letters, and that 10-13 is part of the severe letter which St Paul sent to Corinth before he wrote 2 Cor. 1-9. The theory cannot be set aside as gratuitous and superfluous. It solves in a reasonable and complete manner a grave difficulty by supplying a satisfactory explanation of the extraordinary change of tone which begins suddenly at 10:1. Nevertheless, this useful theory, supported though it be by a remarkable amount of corroborative evidence drawn from the documents themselves, is doubted or rejected by a considerable number of critics of the first rank, and it is necessary to weigh what is urged on the other side.
1. It is said that the taunt which the Apostle quotes in 10:10, ‘His letters, they say, are weighty and strong,’ includes the severe letter, and indeed is a direct reference to it. Therefore it is impossible that ch. 10. can be part of the severe letter; and no one has proposed to separate 10 from 11-13.
That, of course, is conclusive, if it is correct. But there is little reason for believing that it is correct. The letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9 would be weighty and strong, and 1 Corinthians is certainly of that character. There is no need to bring in the severe letter of 2:3 and 7:8. The painful visit, from which the Apostle returned insulted and defeated, explains the second part of the taunt.
2. It is urged that this theory cannot be brought into harmony with the plan of the promised double visit to Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:15).
We have no reason, however, to suppose that the double visit was promised. The Apostle says that he ‘was wishing’ to make it. How soon the Corinthians were aware of this wish, we do not know; still less do we know of his sending them a promise about it. See notes on 1:15.
3. Nor has the argument that the severe letter must have included some notice of the case of the incestuous person of 1 Cor. 5., whereas it is not alluded to in 10-13, any force; and that for two reasons. Perhaps no one now maintains that 10-13 is the whole of the severe letter; and the case of incest may have been mentioned in the part that is lost. Secondly, there is no difficulty in supposing that the severe letter contained no allusion to this case. St Paul had recently been in Corinth (the short and unsuccessful visit), and during that he would have said all that need be said about that painful matter.
4. Still less force has the argument that there are more than 20 words, some of which are not common in the Pauline Epistles, which occur both in 1-9 and 10-13, the inference being that both are parts of the same letter; e.g. ἁγνότης,
(c) It is suggested that “the change of tone is sufficiently accounted for by a change of mood such as every busy and overburdened man is subject to, especially if his health is not very robust (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 1:9 and 12:7).” Lietzmann thinks that a sleepless night might account for it. Such explanations are strangely inadequate.
(d) It is suggested that grave news had come from Corinth after 1-9 had been written, news so serious that it made a radical change in the attitude of the Apostle to the Corinthian Christians. This might be an adequate explanation, but in 10-13 there is no mention of such news having arrived. The excellent news brought by Titus is spoken of with affectionate enthusiasm (7:6-16), but there is no hint of a more recent report totally different in character.
(e) Perhaps the best argument is that we are so very much in the dark as to the details of the situation at Corinth, that we are hardly competent to say what St Paul might or might not write in the circumstances; the change of tone would seem more intelligible, if we knew what St Paul knew. Yet in any case we have to explain how he came to write so vehemently severe an attack as 10-13:10, after being so intensely anxious about the effect of his former severe words.
6. By far the strongest argument in favour of the integrity of the Epistle as it has come down to us is that the proposal to make 1-9 and 10-13 parts of two different letters rests entirely upon internal evidence and receives no support whatever from MSS., versions, or quotations. That is solid ground; and so long as no documentary evidence can be found in favour of the proposal, those who reject it can do so with reason. But the internal evidence in favour of this hypothesis is so cogent in detail, and so coherent as a whole, and the difficulty from which it frees us is so great, that there will probably always be some who prefer it to the traditional view.The case is not parallel to that of the more recent hypothesis that in Mark 13:5-37 we have a Christian Apocalypse, in which a few genuine Sayings of Christ are embedded, but which was “composed to meet a definite crisis”; its main purpose being “to encourage the despondent by showing that the delay of the Parousia and the intervening events had been foretold by the Master, and especially to warn believers against the false Christs who were expected to precede the Parousia” (Studies in the Synoptic Problem, p. 165). This hypothesis is gratuitous. It solves no difficulty, unless it be a difficulty that in this one place Mark gives us a discourse of Christ as distinct from short Sayings. There is nothing in the discourse which is unworthy of Christ, and nothing which is unlike Mark; on the contrary, the characteristics of his style are rather abundant. The one thing in which the two cases resemble one another is that neither is supported by any documentary evidence. But in the one we have an hypothesis which is based on weak internal evidence, and which is not of any service to us; while in the other we have an hypothesis based on evidence which not a few regard as convincing, and one which frees us from a perplexing difficulty of great magnitude.
§ V. The Opponents
In the Second Epistle we find no traces of the four factions which were disturbing the Church when the First was written (1 Corinthians 1:12). That evil appears to have been not very grave; it did not amount to rebellion: but in principle it was quite wrong, as tending to schism. Enthusiasm for one’s teacher may be a good thing; but championship for one leader as against another is not, for it is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel and may end in disaster. To cry up Paul or Apollos or Kephas as rivals, if not opponents of one another, was wrongheaded enthusiasm; and to bring the name of Christ into such a connexion was to degrade Him who bore it. St Paul thinks that it is enough to point out and condemn this error. He does not use severe language, and he does not come back to the subject. In the interval between the two Epistles the evil appears to have passed out of sight, driven under perhaps by other causes of excitement.
In the Second Epistle, however, we do find traces, if not of the earlier ‘Christ’ party, yet of one which was akin to it, and which had perhaps absorbed the ‘Christ’ party together with some of the more fanatical members of the party of Kephas. It seems to have continued the exclusive claim to the name of the Master. People who say ‘We are Christ’s,’ when the whole Church is included (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:23), use language which is right enough. But the Corinthian cry, ‘I am of Christ,’ had implied ‘I am His, and you are not,’ or ‘He is mine and not yours.’ There seems to have been something of the same spirit, but a good deal intensified, in the new party with which St Paul is in actual conflict some months later. ‘If any man trusteth in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again with himself, that even as he is Christ’s, so also are we’ (2 Corinthians 10:7; cf. 11:3, 4).
Among the obscurities of 2 Corinthians there are various stray hints which enable us to conjecture with considerable probability the genesis of this new ‘Christ’ party, if such it may be called. The Corinthian Church had been invaded by a band of teachers who perhaps were making a missionary tour through various Churches. St Paul sarcastically calls them, or their leaders, ‘the super-eminent apostles’ (11:5, 12:11), apparently because they falsely claimed the honourable title of ‘apostle’ (11:13), while they denied it to him (12:12). They said that they were true Jews, and he was not (11:22). They were ‘ministers of righteousness’ (11:15), who insisted on the Law, while he ignored it and even declared it to be obsolete. They were ‘ministers of Christ’ (11:23), and he was not. It is possible that some of them said, and not untruly, that they had been actual hearers of Christ, which he had not been; but it is perhaps more probable that in saying that they were ‘ministers of Christ’ they claimed that their teaching was much nearer to that of Christ, who had kept the Law, than was St Paul’s. Quite certainly their teaching about Jesus was very different from his (11:4).
It would appear that these invaders had come with ‘letters of commendation’ (3:1), and this is sometimes thought to point to their having come from Jerusalem; but we cannot assume this with any certainty. They must have been Greek-speaking Jews, or they could not have preached to Corinthian Christians, nearly all of whom were Gentiles; and they may have been Hellenists, like St Paul himself. Their ‘letters of commendation’ may have been from the Churches which they had recently visited in their tour. But if they had letters of commendation from some members of the Church at Jerusalem, we may be sure that they had none from any of the Twelve, although they would no doubt wish it to be believed that the Twelve sanctioned their mission to Corinth. In the Apostle’s prolonged and vehement attack on these invaders, there is not a hint that he supposes them to have the support of the Twelve or of the Church at Jerusalem. His friendly relations with the Twelve remain as they were; he and they teach the same thing (1 Corinthians 15:11). The letters of commendation would come from Jewish Christians who wished the Law to be made as binding as the Gospel (Acts 15:5, Acts 15:24).
We know that when these new missionaries arrived in Corinth they found Gentile converts who continued the practice of heathen vices (12:21). If they came to Corinth for the purpose of attacking St Paul, this feature in the lives of many of his converts would intensify them in their desire to oppose a preacher whose teaching had had such results; and if they came without any such definite purpose, this feature would be likely to turn them into opponents, for it would seem to show that there must be something radically wrong in his teaching. It is probable that they were prejudiced against him before they arrived; and it is evident that they soon became malignant assailants, who seem to have regarded any weapon as admissible in the effort to defeat so dangerous a teacher. They were not content with trying to prove that he was no true Apostle, and that as a preacher he was miserably ineffective, but they bitterly assailed his private character. He was altogether, as in public, so also in his private life, a despicable person. He never knew his own mind, or at any rate he would never declare it clearly; he was always trying to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in the same breath (1:17, 18). He was a tyrant, lording it over his converts (10:8); and, like many tyrants, he was a coward, who said that he would come to Corinth, and yet did not dare to show himself there (1:23, 13:2). He could be very brave on paper, but he was utterly ineffective face to face (10:10). At the beginning of his career he had run away from Damascus in quite a ludicrous fashion (11:32, 33); and now quite recently he had run away from Corinth, unable to stand up against determined opposition (2:1, 13:2). During his stay he would not accept the maintenance of an Apostle, because he knew that he was not a true Apostle; this was his real reason, but he made a great parade of this refusal, as if it was a proof of great generosity (11:7-9, 12:14). And all the while, although he accepted nothing openly or directly, yet he was getting support in an underhand way through his agents (7:2, 12:17, 18). Indeed it was by no means certain that he did not appropriate some of the money collected for the poor Christians at Jerusalem (8:20, 21). And yet the man who was capable of this despioable behaviour was never tired of asserting himself as a person of exceptional authority (3:5, 4:5), and praising himself as a person of exceptional merit and success (3:1, 10:8, 11:16-18, 12:1, 11). The only reasonable explanation of his conduct was that he was mad (5:13). There is, however, no reason for believing that even thesewild and unscrupulous assailants ever insinuated that, in spite of all his strong words against impurity, Paul was himself a man of impure life. That is not the meaning of 10:2.
Some of these supposed accusations or insinuations are inferences from what St Paul says about himself, and in one or two cases the inference may be erroneous; but about the majority of charges made against the Apostle by these opponents there is no doubt, and they form a consistent whole. They are just the kind of things which exasperated controversialists have in all ages been apt to say about those whose teaching they regarded as heretical and poisonous. In a similar way we can gather the other side of the picture. The invaders evidently had a very bad opinion of St Paul; we may now look at the estimate which he had formed of them. Like the fraudulent seller who adulterates his wares, these men corrupted the Gospel which they preached (2:17, 4:2, 11:3, 13). Their Gospel was utterly different from St Paul’s (3:5-10, 11:4); indeed it was little better than a diabolical caricature of it (11:14). They lowered the spiritual standard down to their own moral level, and then they lauded themselves and one another for having reached that low standard (10:12). They professed to have a great zeal for religion, but they did not go among the heathen and labour to win converts; they followed in the footsteps of genuine workers and tried to take the credit for what had been done before they came (10:15, 16). And wherever they obtained influence they used it in a tyrannical and grasping manner, not only accepting maintenance (11:12), but exacting it by brutal and violent means (11:20). In a word, they were ‘Satan’s ministers’ (11:15).
One sees what monstrous distortion there is in the description which these invaders gave of the Apostle’s character and teaching. Is there no exaggeration in the picture which he draws of them? A teacher who was so absolutely absorbed in his work as was St Paul, who had seen his work so marred, and for a time almost wrecked, by the intrusion of these bigoted propagandists, and whose personal character had been so venomously assailed by them, would have been almost superhuman, if he had been able to form and state a perfectly just estimate of such opponents. We are not competent to decide whether the estimate which he gives us is just or not. We must leave the matter in the obscurity which blurs so many of the details of this tantalizing Epistle.
Reitzenstein and K. Lake think that the opponents of St Paul at Corinth were not Judaizers, but ‘spirituals.’ They accounted themselves as πνευματικοί, and were “inspired by a desire to go still further than St Paul in the direction of freedom from the Law, and to lay even greater stress on the spiritual nature of Christianity” (Earlier Epp. of St Paul, p. 219). In favour of this view appeal is made to 2 Corinthians 10:2, 2 Corinthians 10:12:2 Corinthians 10:11-15; and it is suggested that 10:3-18 is not a reply to an vulgar attack on St Paul’s personal appearance (5:10), but to an argument that he “had not got the impressive powers which resulted from the gift of the Spirit” (p. 224). It is also contended that the right interpretation of the difficult passage 5:16 (see notes there) confirms the view that St Paul’s opponents were πνευματικοί. Saul of Tarsus had once known Christ as a teacher of lawlessness and falsehood, who was rightly put to death and had never been raised: but that was long ago, and now he had a lofty and spiritual conception of Him. In this matter he had long been as ‘spiritual’ as his opponents claimed to be.
It may be doubted whether the passages in question will bear the interpretation thus put upon them. At the outset it is almost startling to be told of Jewish Christians who assailed St Paul as a dangerous teacher because he did not go far enough in throwing off the yoke of the Law. In that case would it have been necessary for him to declare so passionately that he was just as much a Hebrew, an Israelite, the seed of Abraham, as any of them? Would he have spoken of them as false apostles? In all his vehement language about them he nowhere accuses them of being libertines who by their antinomian doctrines were undermining the moral law and opening the door to licentiousness. When he expresses a fear that many of the Corinthian Christians have not repented of their former uncleanness and lasciviousness (12:21), he gives no hint that they have been led astray by the false teachers. On the other hand it is easy enough to believe that Judaizing Christians, coming to Corinth and finding much licentiousness among the converts there, would assail St Paul as a cause of the evil, owing to his abrogation of the Jewish Law. On the whole there does not seem to be sufficient reason for abandoning the usual view that these Jewish teachers were Judaizers who insisted on the Law to an extent which was fatal to Christian freedom. The contrast drawn in ch. 3 between the transient character of the old dispensation and the permanence of the new, looks like an indirect condemnation of the teaching which Judaizers had, with much success, been giving to the Corinthians. If it be asked why St Paul does not make the Judaizing character of his opponents more clear, we may reply that the Corinthians did not need to have it made clear to them; they knew what these men taught. That is the puzzle all through the Epistle; allusions which were perfectly obvious to the Corinthians then are obscure and perplexing to us now, because we do not know the details of the situation.
§ VI. Doctrine
As already stated, in 2 Corinthians the didactic element is secondary; doctrine and instruction are found in it, but they are incidental: the primary element is a personal one, viz. the vindication of the Apostle’s authority and character. The First Epistle is not a doctrinal treatise; only one great doctrine is discussed in it, that of the Resurrection, because it had been denied at Corinth. But there is far less instruction as to either doctrine or rules of life in the Second Epistle. Nevertheless there are some topics which need consideration.
With regard to the writer’s own relation to the Master there is the same position as before. He is ‘an Apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will’ (1:1), and this position is strenuously asserted as one which can be demonstrated in the face of all who question or deny it. Its proof lies in the Corinthians themselves (3:2, 3), i.e. in the existence of the Church at Corinth, and in the ‘signs and wonders and mighty works’ which he had wrought among them (13:12). It is by God that he was made sufficient as a minister (3:5, 6, 4:7), and not by any commission received from man.
The Christology is the same. Jesus Christ is the ‘Son of God’ (1:19), and it is ‘ in Him’ that all Christians live (1:21, 2:14, 17, etc.). His pre-existence is implied in the statement that ‘for your sakes he became poor’ (8:9), which refers to the Word becoming flesh. In His human life Jesus did not make any sacrifice of wealth; He was poor from His birth. But by taking on Himself human life He sacrificed more than man can understand. He died for all (5:15), and through Him God has reconciled us to Himself (5:18-21), a statement of deep import. * He has been raised from the dead, and with Him we also shall be raised (4:14). Statements made in O.T. of Jehovah are often transferred to Christ.
In neither Epistle is there any clearly defined Trinitarian doctrine, but in the Benediction at the end of 2 Corinthians we are nearer to such definite doctrine than in ‘the same Spirit … the same Lord … the same God’ (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). See notes on 1:2, 22 and 3:17 for other evidence.
In one particular it has been thought by some that we have a development in St Paul’s thought amounting to a change of view, viz. with regard to the manner of our resurrection. Certainly he expresses himself very differently in each Epistle. See Additional Note on 5:1-10. It may be said of his theology generally, that there is no system in it, and that to suppose that out of his various statements we can construct the theological system which was in his mind when he delivered his various statements about God, Christ, the Spirit, redemption, etc., is utterly to misunderstand him. This is specially true of what is commonly spoken of as his “Eschatology.” What distinguishes it and his theology generally is its want of system. In each utterance his object is to make his meaning clear to those to whom he is writing; and he does not stop to think whether what he says is logically coherent with what he may have said elsewhere. Hence the frequent occurrence of what have been called “the Antinomies of St Paul.” Like Ruskin and Westcott, he is not afraid of a verbal contradiction. Deissmann goes so far as to contend that “what is called the ‘Eschatology’ of Paul has little that is ‘Eschatological’ about it. … Paul did not write de novissimis. … One must be prepared for a surging hither and thither of great thoughts, feelings, expectations” (Theol. Lit. Zeit., 1898, Sp. 14; cited by Milligan, Thessalonians, p. lxix, and by Kennedy, St Paul’s Conceptions of the Last Things, p. 21 n.). Sometimes there is a Judgment (5:10), sometimes there seems to be no room for one (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Sometimes God is the judge (Romans 14:10), Sometimes Christ (1 Corinthians 14:4; 2 Corinthians 5:10). “We must keep the two categories of passages together, without attempting any artificial reconciliation of apparent discrepancies in order to attribute to the Apostle a complete system of Eschatology” (Weinel, St Paul, the Man and His Work, p. 49). The Jewish Apocalypses are full of contradictory notions on a variety of points. St Paul in this matter was a man of his age, and it is not improbable that at different times he was under the influence of different Jewish ideas, which, however, were always tested by his own penetrating thought.
In the somewhat crude picture which is put before us in 1 and 2 Thessalonians nothing is said about the nature of the resurrection-body. In 1 Corinthians 15:0 he deals with this question, not perhaps because he himself regarded it as of very great moment, but because there were Christians at Corinth who thought it incredible that a body which had been dissolved in the grave should be restored, and who therefore denied that the dead could be raised. The Apostle had to answer this objection, and in doing so he would naturally think of answers which were prevalent among Jews with regard to a resurrection. We can distinguish four views.
1. The Book Ecclesiasticus says that the soul of man is not immortal (17:30), but that the wise man’s name will never die, τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ζήσεται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (37:26). This is not very different from the old idea that Sheol is the end of man, for existence in Sheol is hardly to be called life. St Paul would be familiar with this idea, whether he knew Ecclesiasticus or not.
2. Almost certainly he knew the Book of Wisdom (Sanday and Headlam, Romans, pp. 51, 52, 267; Gregg, Wisdom, pp. lvi-lix), and in that we have not only the immortality (1:15, 2:23, 3:1, 4:7) but the pre-existence of souls (8:20). This, however, is immortality for the soul alone; it is the spirit that is raised from sleep, and there is no resurrection of the body (Enoch 91:10, 92:3, 103:3, 4; Jubilees 23:31). We cannot with any certainty get the idea of a return to a golden age on earth from the picturesque language in Wisd. 3:7-9 and 5:16-23 (Gregg, p. xlviii).
3. In 2 Macc. 9-11, 14:46 we have the resurrection of the body in the most literal sense. The very limbs in which men die are to be restored, according to the popular idea that bodies will come out of their graves at the resurrection, as out of their beds every morning during life,—an idea which is certain to prevail wherever the resurrection is represented in sculpture or painting (2 Esdr. 7:32). Even Rabbis taught that the righteous after resurrection would beget children and feast on the flesh of Leviathan, the latter being a gross misunderstanding of Psalms 74:14 (see Briggs, ad loc.). In the Apocalypse of Baruch we have both this view (50:1) and the next (see below). It was this idea which seemed to the sceptics at Corinth to be quite incredible, and St Paul does not ask them to believe it.
4. In Enoch 51:4, 104:6, as in the Apocalypse of Baruch 51:5, 10, there seems to be some idea that the resurrection-body will be the material body transfigured into a spiritual body, such as Angels have. This is not a creation of a new body, in which case there would be no resurrection; it is a marvellous transfor mation of the earthly body. This is the idea which the Apostle adopts (see on 1 Corinthians 15:35). When is the spiritual body received by the person who dies? It is on this point that St Paul’s view appears to have undergone a change. When 1 Corinthians 15:0 was written he seems to have thought that the spiritual body was received at the resurrection. When 2 Corinthians 5:0 was written he seems to have thought that it was received at death. Some such change as the following may have taken place. Formerly he expected that he and nearly all Christians would live to see the Coming of Christ, and the brief interval between death and the Coming in the case of the few who died before the Coming did not impress him. But since writing 1 Corinthians he himself had been in great and prolonged peril of death,* other Christians had died, and it was still uncertain when Christ would come. Were the dead to wait till the day of resurrection for the spiritual body which fits them for eternal life with the Lord? Surely not. At death we are immediately clothed upon with this glorified body, in which we at once enter into full communion with the glorified Christ. Comp. the words of the dying Stephen (Acts 7:59), words which St Paul had heard.
Commentators differ as to whether the way in which St Paul expresses himself in 2 Corinthians 5:0 amounts to a change of view from 1 Corinthians 15:0. Lightfoot (on Philippians 1:23) simply says; “The one mode of representation must be qualified by the other.” Vincent (on Philippians 1:23) holds that “the assumption that Paul’s views had undergone a change” is “beside the mark.” Kennedy (St Paul’s Conceptions of the Last Things, p. 163) is convinced of “the futility of postulating schemes of gradual development in St Paul’s Eschatology.” On the other side see Cohu, St Paul and Modern Research, pp. 320-324. Alford (on 2 Corinthians 5:1) thinks that the question need not be raised at all, but quotes a variety of opinions.
§ VII. Mystery Religions
The theories that St Paul is the real founder of Christianity by bringing into prominence doctrines which went far beyond, and at last almost eclipsed, the simple teaching of Christ, and that in so doing he borrowed a great deal from the Mystery Religions which were in vogue in his own day, would seem to be finding their proper level. Criticism has shown that only in a very limited and qualified sense is there truth in either of them. No doubt there are differences between the teaching of St Paul as we have it in his letters, and the teaching of Christ as we have it in the Synoptic Gospels. That was inevitable, seeing that the personal experiences of each were so different, and the requirements of their hearers were so different also. But with this controversy we need not concern ourselves here, for it has no special connexion with 2 Corinthians. The reader who desires to consider it may turn to Cambridge Biblical Essays, to Knowling’s The Testimony of St Paul to Christ, and to Maurice Jones’ The N.T. in the Twentieth Century. The other controversy lies somewhat more in our path, not only because some of the words which are thought to be technical terms in Mystery Religions are used in this Epistle, but also because of the ‘revelation’ in 12:1-7, which is supposed to mark some affinity with Mystery Religions. Among these technical expressions are ranked
As literature the Second Epistle does not rank so high as the First. Powerful as is the language of the Great Invective in the last four chapters, which sometimes has a rhythmical and rhetorical swing that sweeps one along in admiration of its impassioned intensity,* there is nothing in the whole letter which rises to the sustained beauty and dignity of 1 Corinthians 13:0 and 15. The ease and smoothness and orderly arrangement of the earlier letter are wanting, and the rapid changes in the series of conflicting emotions are not conducive to literary excellence. The mixture of human weakness with spiritual strength, of tenderness with severity, of humility with vehement self-vindication, of delicate tact with uncompromising firmness, produces an impression of intense reality, but at the same time bewilders us as to the exact aim of this or that turn of expression. The Greek is harder to construe than that of the First Epistle, owing to the ruggedness which results from dictating when the feelings are deeply stirred.
Sanday and Headlam (Romans, lvii f.) have shown that there is much resemblance, both in style and vocabulary, between the four great Epistles of this period of the Apostle’s life. The resemblance is stronger when Romans is omitted from the comparison, and it is strongest of all when only Galatians and 2 Corinthians are compared. One reason for this resemblance is that all four letters were written during the time when the brief but bitter conflict between Gentile and Judaistic Christianity was at its height. Traces of this conflict come to the surface in 1 Corinthians and Romans, but other topics keep it in abeyance in Galatians and 2 Corinthians one is in the thick of the battle. The personal element is least prominent in Romans, the latest of the four great Epistles, rather more so in 1 Corinthians, much more so in Galatians, and most of all in our Epistle. The feature which is specially characteristic of all four letters is intense sincerity, to which we may perhaps add sureness of touch. In common with other Pauline Epistles they have a marked argumentative form. See Introduction to 1 Corinthians, pp. xlviii, xlix, for other features.
The use of such words as αὐτάρκεια (9:8), ἐπιείκεια (10:1), τὸ καλόν (13:7), πραότης (10:1), προαιρέομαι (9:7), συνείδησις (1:12, 4:2, 5:11), and φαῦλος (5:10) may be taken as indicating some knowledge of Greek philosophical language.
Words Peculiar to 2 Corinthians in N.T.
In this list it will be of some interest to separate the words which are found only in the first nine chapters from those which are found only in the last four; but, as has been pointed out already, no sure inference can be drawn from such statistics. An asterisk indicates that the word is not found in the LXX.
The following words occur in 1-9:
4:13 = Psalms 116:10 [115:1]. 9:9 = Psalms 112:0.  9.
6:2 = Isaiah 49:8. Isaiah 49:9:10 = Isaiah 55:10.
8:15 = Exodus 16:18 (slight change of order).
In five cases the agreement is close.
8:21 = Proverbs 3:4.Proverbs 3:10; Proverbs 3:10:17 = Jeremiah 9:24.
9:7 = Proverbs 22:8. Proverbs 22:11:3 = Genesis 3:13.
13:1 = Deuteronomy 19:15.
In one place, 6: 16-18, it is possible that recollection of the Hebrew may have influenced the composite quotation of Leviticus 26:11, Leviticus 26:12 and other passages: cf. Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 11:17, Ezekiel 11:20:33, 34, 37:21, 27; 2 Samuel 7:8, 2 Samuel 7:14; Zephaniah 3:20; Zechariah 10:8. But the remarkable expression ἐνοικήσω ἐν αὐτοῖς, which is stronger than ‘walk among them’ or ‘tabernacle among them,’ is not found in any of the passages; and this seems to be a case in which the Apostle has changed the wording in, order to make the quotation more suitable to his purpose. Cf. the substitution of σοφῶν for 1 Corinthians 3:20 = Psalms 93:0  11, and the substitution of 1 Corinthians 1:19 = Isaiah 29:14.
§ IX. The Text
There is no special problem in determining the text of 2 Corinthians. In the Pauline Epistles, as elsewhere, B is the most constant single representative of the ‘Neutral’ text, but it occasionally admits readings of the ‘Western’ type. The term ‘Western’ is misleading, for this type of text seems to have originated in the East and thence to have spread in the West. But the term holds its place against the proposed substitutes, ‘Syro-Latin,’ which better describes it, and ‘δ-text,’ which suggests connexion with codex D and yet commits one to no theory as regards origin. א admits Western elements more often than B does, but in the Pauline Epistles א does this less often than elsewhere. Western readings are found chiefly in D E F G, in the Old Latin and the Vulgate, and in ‘Ambrosiaster,’ among which E, as a copy of D, and F, as the constant companion of G, are comparatively unimportant. An examination of the texts of d and g side by side with that of Ambrosiaster shows what divergence there was in the Old Latin texts, and how much need there was of revision. Perhaps it may also to some extent explain the surprising inadequacy of Jerome’s revision, especially in the Epistles. Jerome may have thought that, if he made all the changes that were required, his revision would never be accepted. In the notes in this volume the imperfections of the Vulgates are often pointed out. It is clear that Jerome not only left many times uncorrected, but also sometimes corrected unsystematically. See Index IV.
In his valuable Atlas of Textual Criticism, p. 43, Mr. E. A. Hutton remarks that the combinations B D and B F in the Pauline Epistles are by no means always to be condemned off hand.† Yet even B D F G may be rejected when א A C are ranged on the other side, for the latter group may represent the Neutral text, while the former may be Western. But in 2 Corinthians, A is defective from iv. 13 to 12:6, and C is defective from 10:8 to the end, so that only from 1:1 Timothy 4:13 is the combination א A C possible. This fragment of the Epistle, however, yields at least two examples of the weight of this combination. In 3:1 συνιστάνειν (א A C K L P) is to be preferred to συνιστᾶν (B D) and in 3:7 ἐν γράμμασιν (א A C K L P) is to be preferred to ἐν γράμματι (B D F G). Perhaps we may add 3:5, where ἐξ ἑαυτῶν (א A C D E K L P) may be preferable to ἐξ αὐτῶν or ἐξ αὑτῶν (B F G). Even when A or C is absent, א C or א A (especially when supported by other witnesses) may be preferable to B D F G. In v. 5:3 εἴ γε (א C K L P) is perhaps to be preferred to εἴπερ (B D F G), in 9:5 εἰς ὑμᾶς (א C K L) is to be preferred to πρὸς ὑμᾶς (B D F G), and in 9:10 σπέρμα (א C K L P) is to be preferred to σπόρον (B D F G). The transfer of K L P to the other side does not turn the scale. In 3:16 ἡνίκα δὲ ἐάν (א* A 17) may be preferable to ἡνίκα δʼἄν (B D F G K L P), where C has neither ἐάν nor ἄν. In 5:10 we may adopt φαῦλον (א C 17, 37 and other cursives) rather than κακόν (B D F G K L P) ; in 12:15 we may adopt
Authorities for This Epistle
Greek Uncial MSS
א (Fourth century). Codex Sinaiticus; now at Petrograd, the only uncial MS. containing the whole N.T.
A (Fifth century). Codex Alexandrinus, now in the British Museum. All of 2 Corinthians from ἐπίστευσα 4:13 to ἐξ ἐμοῦ 12:6 is wanting.
B (Fourth century). Codex Vaticanus.
C (Fifth century). Codex Ephraemi, a Palimpsest ; now at Paris, very defective. Of 2 Corinthians all from 10:8 onwards is wanting.
D (Sixth century). Codex Claromontanus ; now at Paris, A Graeco-Latin MS. The Latin (d) is akin to the Old Latin. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS.
E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant.
F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau) ; now at Trinity College, Cambridge.
G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minuscules). The Greek text is almost the same as that of F, but the Latin (g) shows Old Latin elements.
H (Sixth century). Codex Coislinianus, very valuable, but very incomplete. The MS. has been used in bindings and is in seven different libraries; 2 Corinthians 4:2-7 is at Petrograd, and 10:18-11:6 at Athos.
I2 (Fifth century). Codex Muralti vi. Fragments at Petrograd. Two leaves contain 2 Corinthians 1:20.
K (Ninth century). Codex Mosquensis; now at Moscow.
L (Ninth Century). Codex Angelicus; now in the Angelica Library at Rome.
M (Ninth century). Codex Ruber, in bright red letters; two leaves in the British Museum contain 2 Corinthians 10:13.
O (Ninth century). Two leaves at Petrograd contain 2 Corinthians 1:20.
P (Ninth century). Codex Porfirianus Chiovensis, formerly possessed by Bishop Porfiri of Kiev, and now at Petrograd.
R (Eighth century). Codex Cryptoferratensis. One leaf at Grotta Ferrata contains 2 Corinthians 11:9-19.
Minuscules or Cursive MSS
About 480 cursives of the Pauline Epistles are known. Very few of them are of much weight in determining readings, but others have some interest for special reasons. Excepting No. 17, very few are mentioned in the critical notes in this volume.
7. At Basle. Used by Erasmus for his first edition (1517), but not of special weight.
17. (Evan. 33, Acts 13:0. Ninth century). Now at Paris. “The queen of the cursives” and the best for the Pauline Epistles; more than any other it preserves Pre-Syrian readings and agrees with B D L.
37. (Evan. 69, Acts 69, Revelation 14:0. Fifteenth century). The well-known Leicester codex; belongs to the Ferrar group.
47. (Eleventh century). Now in the Bodleian. Akin to A and B, which are nearer to one another in the Epistles than in the Gospels.
67. (Eleventh century). At Vienna. Has valuable marginal readings (67 * *) akin to B and M; these readings must have been copied from an ancient MS., but not from the Codex Ruber itself.
73. (Acts 68). At Upsala. Resembles 17.
80. (Acts 73. Eleventh century). In the Vatican. Akin to the Leicester codex; used by John M. Caryophilus (d. 1635) in preparing his edition of the Greek Testament.
The Old Latin text is transmitted in d e f g, the Latin companions of the bilingual uncials D E F G. But in no MS. is the Latin text always an exact translation of the Greek text with which it is paired; in some passages the Latin presents a better text than the Greek. This is specially the case with d, which often agrees with the quotations in Lucifer of Cagliari (d. AD 370), while e f g approximate more to the Vulgate. Besides these four witnesses we have also
x (Ninth century). Codex Bodleianus; at Oxford. The text often agrees with d. The whole Epistle.
m (Ninth century). Speculum pseudo-Augustinianum; at Rome. Fragments.
r (Sixth century). Codex Frisingensis; at Munich. Fragments. Respecting the Vulgate, Egyptian, Syriac, Armenian, and Gothic, the reader is referred to Sanday and Headlam, Romans, pp. lxvi f. No MS. of the Old Syriac is extant. The Harkleian revision (seventh century) preserves some ancient readings.
§ X. Commentaries
These are not so numerous as in the case of the First Epistle, but they abound, as the formidable list in Meyer shows; and that list has continued to increase. See also the Bibliography in the 2nd ed. of Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, i. pp. 658, 659; Hastings, DB. 2 pp. 491, 498, iii. p. 731. In the selection given below, an asterisk indicates that information respecting the commentator is to be found in the volume on the First Epistle, pp. lxvi f., a dagger that such is to be found in Sanday and Headlam on Romans, pp. xcviii f.
Patristic and Scholastic: Greek
*† Chrysostom (d. 407). Tr. Oxford, 1848.
*† Theodoret (d. 457). Migne, P.G. lxxxii.
*† Theophylact; (d. after 1118). Migne, P.G. cxxv.
Patristic and Scholastic: Latin
*† Ambrosiaster or Pseudo-Ambrosius (fl. 366-384).
Pseudo-Primasius. Migne, P.L. lxviii. An anti-Pelagian edition of Pelagius. This has been established by the investigations of Zimmer (Pelagius in Irland), C. H. Turner (JTS. Oct. 1902, pp. 132-141), and above all of A. Souter (The Commentary of Pelagius on the Epistles of Paul: The Problem of its Restoration). Turner suggested that Pseudo-Primasius is the commentary on the Pauline Epistles evolved out of Pelagius and Chrysostom by Cassiodorus and his monks of Vivarium, and Souter has proved that this surmise is correct. The original commentary of Pelagius was anonymous. Apparently the symbol P was wrongly interpreted by Gagney (1537) to mean ‘Primasius,’ and hence the error, which has continued to the present time, of quoting this commentary as ‘Primasius.’ It is an authority of great importance for determining the Vulgate text of the Pauline Epistles.
Bede (d. 735). Mainly a catena from Augustine.
* Atto Vercellensis (Tenth century). Migne, P.L. cxxxiv.
* Herveius Burgidolensis (Twelfth century). Migne, F.L. clxxxi.
Peter Lombard (d. 1160).
† Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274).
Faber Stapulensis, Paris, 1512.
Cajetan, Venice, 1531.
† Erasmus (d. 1536).
*† Calvin, Geneva, 1539-1551.
* Estius, Douay, 1614.
*† Grotius, Amsterdam, 1644-1646.
*† Bengel, Tübingen, 1742; 3rd ed. London, 1862.
*† Wetstein, Amsterdam, 1751, 1752.
R. Comely, S.J. Roman.
*† H. Hammond, London, 1653.
† John Locke, London, 1705-1707.
Edward Burton, Oxford, 1831.
T. W. Peile, Rivingtons, 1853.
† C. Wordsworth, Rivingtons, 4th ed. 1866.
F. W. Robertson, Smith and Elder, 5th ed. 1867.
† H. Alford, Rivingtons, 6th ed. 1871.
* A. P. Stanley, Murray, 4th ed. 1876.
E. H. Plumptre in Ellicott’s Commentary, a.d.
J. Waite in the Speaker’s Commentary, 1881.
* W. Kay (posthumous), 1887.
J. Denney in the Expositor’s Bible, 1894.
J. A. Beet, Hodder, 6th ed. 1895.
J. Massie in the Century Bible, n.d.
J. H. Bernard in the Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder, 1903.
G. H. Rendall, Macmillan, 1909.
J. E. McFadyen, Hodder, 1911.
A. Menzies, Macmillan, 1912.
The more recent commentaries are, in general, the more helpful; but Alford and Waite retain much of their original value.
New Translations into English
The Twentieth Century New Testament, Part II., Marshall. 1900. R. F. Weymouth, The New Testament in Modern Speech, Clarke, 2nd ed. 1905.
A. S. Way, The Letters of St Paul, Macmillan, 2nd ed. 1906.
W. G. Rutherford (posthumous), Thessalonians and Corinthians, Macmillan, 1908. Ends at 2 Corinthians 9:15.
J. Moffatt, The New Testament, a New Translation, Hodder, 1913.
E. E. Cunnington, The New Covenant, a Revision of the Version of AD 1611, Routledge, 1914.
Billroth, 1833; Eng. tr., Edinburgh, 1837.
Olshausen, 1840; Eng. tr., Edinburgh, 1855.
† De Wette, Leipzig, 3rd ed. 1855.
Kling, 1861; Eng. tr., Edinburgh, 1869. Maier, Freiburg, 1857. Roman.
† Meyer, 5th ed. 1870; Eng. tr., Edinburgh, 1877. Reedited by B. Weiss, and again by Heinrici, 1896 and 1900; again by J. Weiss, 1910.
Schnedermann, in Strack and Zöckler, Nördlingen, 1887.
* Schmiedel, Freiburg, i. B., 1892.
* B. Weiss, Leipzig, 2nd ed. 1902; Eng. tr., New York and London, 1906. Also his Textkritik d. Paul. Briefe (xiv. 3 of Texte und Untersuchungen), 1896.
Lietzmann, Tübingen, 1907.
Bousset, in J. Weiss’s Die Schriften des N. T., Göttingen, 1908
Bachmann, in Zahn’s Kommentar, Leipzig, 1909.
The last five are of great value.
The literature on the life and writings of St Paul is enormous and is rapidly increasing. In the volume on the First Epistle, p. lxx, a selection of modern works is given, to which the following may be added:—
O. Pfleiderer, Hibbert Lecture, 1885.
Das Urchristentum, 3nd ed. 1902; Eng. tr., 1907.
G. Matheson, The Spiritual Development of St Paul, 1890.
G. B. Stevens, Pauline Theology, 1892.
A. Hausrath, History of N. T. Times; Time of the Apostles, 1895.
E. L. Hicks, St Paul and Hellenism, 1896.
A. B. Bruce, St Paul’s Conception of Christianity, 1896.
A. Sabatier, L’ Apoôtre Paul, 3rd ed. 1896.
O. Cone, Paul, the Man, the Missionary, and the Teacher, 1898.
P. Faine, Das gestzfreie Evang. des Paulus, 1899.
H. A. A. Kennedy, St Paul’s Conception of the Last Things, 2nd ed. 1904.
C. Clemen, Paulus, sein Leben und Wirken, 1904; much information in the foot-notes.
B. Lucas, The Fifth Gospel, being the Pauline Interpretation of The Christ, 1907.
W. Sanday, Paul, Hastings’ DCG. ii, 1908.
B. W. Bacon, The Story of St Paul.
A. B. D. Alexander, The Ethics of St Paul, 1910.
P. Gardner, The Religious Experiences of St Paul, 1911.
K. Lake, The Earlier Epistles of St Paul, 1911.
A. Deissmann, St Paul, a Study in Social and Religious History, 1912.
A. Schweitzer, Paul and his Interpreters, 1912.
S. N. Rostron, The Christology of St Paul, 1912.
W. Ramsay, The Teaching of St Paul in Terms of the Present Day, 1913.
A. C. Headlam, St Paul and Christianity, 1913.
E. B. Redlich, St Paul and his Companions, 1913.
The Apocryphal Correspondence
The apocryphal letters between St Paul and the Corinthians are of some interest as illustrating the clumsiness with which forgers sometimes execute their work, and the uncritical spirit which allows such work to pass muster as genuine. Stanley gives a translation of the letters in an appendix to his commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, and he exposes various blunders. Harnack has edited them in his Geschichte d. altchrist. Literatur, 1897; and there is a convenient edition of them in Lietzmann’s excellent Materials for the use of Theological Lecturers and Students, 1905. Other literature on the subject is mentioned in Moffatt, Intr. to the Literature of the N. T. pp. 129f.
* Bruno Bauer, Bruins, Havet, Loman, Mayborn, Naber, Pierson, Steck, Van Manen.
* Bachmann, p. 6.
* The whole letter, as Bengel remarks, resembles an itinerary, interwoven with noble instruction. The main points of narrative are found 1:8, 15, 16, 2:1, 12, 13, 7:5, 6, 8:1, 6, 9:1, 2..
* It is little use to point to 1 Corinthians 4:8-13, 1 Corinthians 4:18-21, 1 Corinthians 4:5:1 Corinthians 4:1-7. It is of the letter as whole that St Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:4 and 7:8, 9.
* “To identify this offender 1 Corinthians 5:0. would be almost as monstrous, when we consider the mildness with which Paul treats him, as to identify the First Epistle with the stern letter described in the Second“ (Jülicher, Intr. N.T. p. 91). After writing 1 Corinthians 5:5 how could the Apostle say that he had not written “for his cause that did the wrong’?
† Sometimes called “the intermediate visit,” i.e. intermediate between the first visit, during which he founded the Church, and the visit which followed soon after the writing of 2 Corinthians.
* This visit ought possibly to be placed earlier, either between 3 and 4 or between 4 and 5. If the former, then it would be mentioned in the lost letter of 1 Corinthians 5:9, and this would account for its not being mentioned in 1 Corinthians.
* This is at least the third mission of Titus to Corinth (8, 11), and may be the fourth, if Titus was the bearer of the first letter, now lost (4).
B B (Fourth century). Codex Vaticanus.
* “Neither the language nor the ideas justify a suspicion of the genuineness of the passage” (Moffatt).
* We may say with C. R. Gregory (Einl. in das N.T. p. 666): das ist alles völlig aus der Luft gegriffen..
* Such a theory requires us to believe that Titus had been utterly mistaken in the excellent report which he had just brought from Corinth.
* “This memorable passage is the culminating point of the Apostle’s teaching in this Epistle, and is perhaps the profoundest and most important uttefrance in the whole of his writings” respecting the mystery of the Atonement (C. R. Ball, Preliminary Studies on N.T. p. 143).
* This fact might influence him in opposite ways. It might make him think that another such crisis would probably kill him. Or it might lead him to hope that, as he had been preserved through this, be would be preserved till the Coming.
* See F. B. Westcott, A Letter to Asia, pp. 122, 123 n.; Ramsay, The Teaching of Paul in Terms of the Present Day, pp. 283-305; Maurice Jones, The N.T. in the Twentieth Century, pp. 144-149.
* See especially the paraphrase of 11:16-33.
* information respecting the commentator is to be found in the volume on the First Epistle, pp. lxvi f.
D D (Sixth century). Codex Claromontanus; now at Paris. A Graeco-Latin MS. The Latin (d) is akin to the Old Latin. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS.
אԠא (Fourth century). Codex Sinaiticus; now at Petrograd, the only uncial MS. containing the whole N.T.
E E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant
F F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau); now at Trinity College, Cambridge.
G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). The Greek text is almost the same as that of F, but the Latin (g) shows Old Latin elements.
d d The Latin companion of D
g d The Latin companion of G
† In xi. 4
17 17. (Evan. 33, Acts 13:0. Ninth century). Now at paris. “The queen of the cursives” and the best for the Pauline Epistles; more than any other it preserves Pre-Syrian readings and agrees with B D L.
37 37. (Evan. 69, Acts 69, Revelation 14:0. Fifteenth century). The well-known Leicester codex; belongs to the Ferrar group.
M M (Ninth century). Codex Ruber, in bright red letters; two leaves in the British Museum contain 2 Corinthians 10:13.
67 67. (Eleventh century). At Vienna. Has valuable marginal readings (67 * *) akin to B and M; these readings must have been copied from an ancient MS., but not from the Codex Ruber itself.
e d The Latin companion of E
f d The Latin companion of F
† information respecting the commentator is to be found in Sanday and Headlam on Romans, pp. xcviii f.
the Fifth Week after Easter