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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.

With myself - rather, 'for myself' to spare myself pain: in contrast to "you" (2 Corinthians 1:23: cf. 2 Corinthians 2:2).

Not come again to you in heaviness - `sorrow.' He had already paid them one visit in sorrow since his coming for the first time to Corinth. At that visit he warned them 'he would not spare if he should come again' (notes, 2 Corinthians 13:2: cf. 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1). See 'Introduction' to the first letter. The "in heaviness" implies mutual pain-they grieving him, and he them (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:2 and 2 Corinthians 2:5). In this verse he accounts for having postponed his visit, following up 2 Corinthians 1:23.

Verse 2

For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?

For. Proof that he shrinks from causing them sorrow ("heaviness").

If I. The "I" is emphatic. Some detractor may say that this (2 Corinthians 2:1) is not my reason for not coming, since I showed uo scruple in causing "heaviness" in my first letter. But I answer, If I have been the one to cause you sorrow, my object was that the grieved one (namely, the Corinthians in general, 2 Corinthians 2:3, but with tacit reference to the incestuous person in particular) should repent, and so "make me glad."

For ... who is he then that ... but the same which is made sorry ... Present; not past: the Greek Reflexive Voice, 'he who permits himself to be made sorry.' Returning sensibility is a sign of repentance, (2 Corinthians 2:7, etc.) Contrast Jeremiah 5:3.

By [ ex (G1537 )] me - owing to me: his own sin is the real cause by [ hupo (G5259)] which he surfers (Jeremiah 2:19).

Verse 3

And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

I wore this same unto you - namely, that I would not come to you then (2 Corinthians 2:1), as, if I were to come then, it would have to be "in heaviness" (causing sorrow both to him and them, owing to their impenitent state). He refers to the first letter (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:7; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 1 Corinthians 5:2-7; 1 Corinthians 5:13).

Sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice - i:e., sorrow from their impenitence, when he ought, on the contrary, to have joy from their penitent obedience. The latter happy effect was produced by the first letter, whereas the former would have been the result, had he then visited them, as he originally proposed.

Having confidence ... that my joy is the joy of you all - trusting that you, too, would feel there was good ground for deferring my visit, with an ultimate view to our mutual joy. He says "ALL," his charity overlooking, for the moment, the small section of his detractors at Corinth (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Verse 4

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

So far from my change of purpose being due to "lightness" (2 Corinthians 1:17), I wrote my letter (2 Corinthians 2:3) "out of much affliction and anguish," etc.

Not that ye should be grieved. Translate, 'be made sorry,' to accord with 2 Corinthians 2:2. My ultimate object was not your sorrow, but that through sorrow the transgressors for whom I was so grieved might be led to repentance, and so to joy, redounding both to you and me (2 Corinthians 2:2-3). I made you sorry before going to you, that when I went it might not be necessary. He is easily made sorry who is admonished by a friend himself, weeping (Bengel).

That ye might know the love - of which it is a proof to rebuke sins openly and in season (Psalms 141:5; Proverbs 27:6).

Which I have more abundantly unto you - who have been particularly committed to me by God (Acts 18:10; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 9:2).

Verse 5

But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.

Grief ... grieved. Translate as before, "sorrow ... made sorry." The "any" delicately refers to the incestuous person.

Not grieved me, but in part - he has grieved me only in part (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:14; Romans 11:25) - i:e., I am not the sole party aggrieved; most of you, also, were aggrieved. Rather punctuate, 'He hath not grieved me (my grief is not the matter for consideration), but in some measure (Fritzsche) you all, that I may not overcharge you' by (ignoring your grief at the scandal). Or else [ pantas (G3956), humas (G5209)] (Billroth), 'but in part (he hath grieved) you, that I may not unduly charge all' with winking at the scandal. Thus, "in part" refers to the better Corinthians: others of them were callous (1 Corinthians 5:2).

Verse 6

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

Sufficient - Greek [ hikanon (G2425)], 'a sufficiency' (since he is repenting, 2 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 2:7) - without continuing it, so as to drive him to despair (2 Corinthians 2:7); whereas the object of the punishment was, 'that (his) spirit might be saved.'

To such a man - implying past estrangement from such a one who had caused such grief to the church and scandal to religion (Acts 22:22; 1 Corinthians 5:5).

This punishment - his being 'delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh:' not only excommunication, but bodily disease (notes, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5).

Inflicted of many - Greek, 'by the majority' of you. Not by an individual priest, as in Rome, nor by the bishops and clergy alone, but by the whole body of the church.

Verse 7

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

With overmuch sorrow - `with HIS [ tee (G3588)] overmuch sorrow.'

Verse 8

Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

Confirm your love toward him - giving effect in act to your love; namely, by restoring him to your fellowship, and praying for his recovery from the sickness penally inflicted.

Verse 9

For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

For. Additional reason why they should restore him-namely, as a "proof" of their obedience "in all things;" now in love, as previously in punishing (2 Corinthians 2:6), at Paul's desire. Besides other reasons for deferring his visit, he wished to make an experiment of their fidelity. Hence, he deferred to give, in his first letter, the reason for his change of plan (resolved on before writing it). The full discovery of his motive comes naturally from him now, in the second letter, after he had seen the success of his measures, but would not have been seasonable before. All this is as remote as possible from imposture (Paley). The interchange of feeling is marked (2 Corinthians 2:4), "I wrote unto you ... that ye might know the love," etc.: here "did I write, that I might know the proof of you."

Verse 10

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

Another encouragement to their restoring the offender. They may be assured of Paul's apostolic sanction.

For if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it. 'Aleph (') A B C G f g, Vulgate, read 'for even what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven any thing.' He uses the perfect tense, as of a thing determined on; as in 1 Corinthians 5:3, or as speaking generally:

It is for your sakes I have forgiven, and do forgive, that the church (of which you are members) may suffer no hurt by the loss of a soul, and that ye may learn leniency as well as faithfulness.

In the person [ en (G1722 ) prosoopoo (G4383 )] of Christ - representing Christ; acting by His authority: answering to 1 Corinthians 5:4. Wahl translates, 'in the sight of Christ' [Hebrew, lipneey (H6440): Septuagint, en (G1722) prosoopoo (G4383) autou (G846)]; 'before Him' (Proverbs 8:30: cf. Greek, Acts 3:13).

Verse 11

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Literally, 'That we may have no advantage gained over us by Satan'-namely, by letting one member be lost to us through despair, we ourselves furnishing Satan with the weapon, by repulsive harshness to one now penitent. The loss of a single sinner affects all. Paul had 'delivered' the offender 'to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved' (1 Corinthians 5:5). Satan sought to destroy the spirit also: to let him do so, would be to let him overreach us.

Not ignorant of his devices. "Ignorant" and "devices" are akin in sound and root [ noeemata (G3540) agnooumen (G50)]: we are not without knowledge of his knowing schemes: here to trip up one by excessive grief, as before by licentiousness: to make not only men's lusts, but their very repentance, his instrument of destruction, under the guise of religion (Ephesians 6:11).

Verse 12

Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

Paul expected to meet Titus at Troas to receive the tidings as to the effect of his first letter on the Corinthians; but, disappointed in his expectation there, he passed on to Macedonia, where he met him at last (2 Corinthians 7:5-7). The history (Acts) does not record his passing through Troas in going from Ephesus to Macedonia; but it does in coming from that country; also, that he had disciples there (Acts 20:6-7), which accords with the letter (2 Corinthians 2:12). An undesigned coincidence, marking genuineness (Paley). Doubtless, Paul had fixed a time with Titus to meet him at Troas; and had desired him, if detained so as not to be able to be at Troas at that time, to proceed at once to Macedonia, to Philippi, the next station on his own journey. Hence, though a wide door of Christian usefulness opened to Paul at Troas, his eagerness to hear from Titus the tidings from Corinth led him not to stay longer there, when the time fixed was past, but he hastened on to Macedonia to meet him there (Birks).

To (preach) - literally, 'for (unto) the Gospel.' He had been at Troas before; but the vision of a man from Macedonia, inviting him to come over, prevented his remaining there (Acts 16:8-12). On his return to Asia, after the longer visit mentioned here, he stayed seven days (Acts 20:6).

And - i:e., though Paul would, under ordinary circumstances, have gladly stayed in Troas.

A door was opened ... of the Lord - Greek, in the Lord; i:e., in His work, and by His gracious Providence.

Verse 13

I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

No rest in my spirit - rather 'no rest for my spirit' (Genesis 8:9). As here his "spirit" had no rest, so in 2 Corinthians 7:5, his "flesh." His "spirit" - not from mere human impulse, but under the Holy Spirit-hence concluded that it was not necessary to avail himself of the "door" of usefulness at Troas any longer.

Taking my leave of them - the disciples at Troas.

Verse 14

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Now - Greek, 'But.' Though we left Troas, disappointed in not meeting Titus there, and in having to leave so soon so wide a door, "thanks be unto God," we were triumphantly blessed in both the good news of you from Titus and in the victories of the Gospel everywhere in our progress. The cause of triumph cannot be restricted (as Alford) to the former; for "always," and "in every place," show that the latter also is intended.

Causeth us to triumph. So Winer. The Greek may be, as in Colossians 2:15, 'maketh us a triumph.' Paul regarded himself as a trophy of God's victorious power in Christ. His Almighty conqueror was leading him about, through all the world, a sample of His triumphant power at once to subdue and to save. The foe of Christ was now the servant of Christ. As to be led in triumph by man is the most miserable, so to be led in triumph by God is the most glorious lot (Trench). Our only true triumphs are God's triumphs over us. His defeats of us are our only true victories (Alford). The image is from the triumphal procession of a victorious general. The additional idea is included, which distinguishes God's triumph from that of human generals, that the captive is brought into willing obedience (2 Corinthians 10:5) to Christ, and so joins in the triumph: God 'leads him in triumph' as one not merely triumphed over, but also as one triumphing over God's foes with God (which last will apply to the apostle's triumphant missionary, progress under the leading of God). So Bengel, 'who shows us in triumph,' not as conquered, but as the ministers of His victory. Not only the victory, but the open "showing" of it is marked; for there follows, 'who maketh manifest.'

Savour - retaining the image. As the approach of the triumphal procession was known by the odour scattered far and wide by the incense-bearers, so God 'makes manifest by us' (his now at once triumphed over and triumphing captives: cf. Greek, Luke 5:10, "catch," so as to save alive), the sweet savour of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. As the triumph strikes the eyes, so the savour the nostrils; thus every sense feels the power of Christ's Gospel. This manifestation (a word frequent in his letters to the Corinthians, cf. 1 Corinthians 4:5) refutes the Corinthian suspicions of his dishonestly hiding anything from them (2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 4:2).

Verse 15

For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

The Greek order is, 'For (it is) of Christ (that) we are a sweet savour unto God:' the "for" justifies his previous (2 Corinthians 2:14), "the savour of HIS (Christ's) knowledge." We not only scatter, but 'we are the sweet savour' (Song of Solomon 1:3: cf. Ephesians 5:2, which suggests that the image in "savour" here is not that of incense, but of Christ's sacrifice. God accepts (Leviticus 1:9-17) my Gospel service in making it known, whether I convince men through His grace or fail through my hearers' fault.

In them that are saved - rather (not referring to two unalterable states, but to men's different ways of treating the Gospel offer), 'that are being saved ... that are perishing' (note, 1 Corinthians 1:18). As the light, though it blinds the weak, is for all that still light; and honey, though it taste bitter to the sick, is in itself still sweet; so the Gospel is of a sweet savour, though many perish through unbelief (Chrysostom) (2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 4:6). As some of the conquered in a triumph were put to death when the procession reached the capitol, and to them the incense was the "savour of death," while to those saved it was the "savour of life," so the Gospel was to the different classes respectively.

Verse 16

To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

The savour of [ ek (G1537 ), from] death unto death ... of, [ ek (G1537), from: 'Aleph (') A B C. Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit it, as Received Text, in both places]

Life unto life - an odour arising out of death (an announcement of a dead Christ, and a virtually lifeless Gospel, as unbelievers regard our message), ending (as the just and natural consequence) in death (to the unbelievers); (but to the believer) an odour arising out of life (i:e., the announcement of a risen and living Saviour), ending in life (to the believer) (Matthew 21:44; Luke 2:34; John 9:39).

Who is sufficient for these things? - namely, for diffusing aright the savour of Christ, so diverse in its effects on believers and unbelievers. He here prepares the way for one purpose of his letter-namely, to vindicate his apostolic mission from the deniers of its sufficiency at Corinth. The Greek order puts prominent the momentous task assigned to him-`For these things, who is sufficient?' He answers his own question, 2 Corinthians 3:5 - "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves ... but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able [ hikanoosen (G2427), sufficient] ministers," etc. It is not a profession of his insufficiency, through false humility, but of his sufficiency through God, as contrasted with those who falsely arrogate it to themselves (2 Corinthians 2:17).

Verse 17

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Not as many (2 Corinthians 11:13-18; Philippians 2:21) - rather, 'the many;' namely, the false teachers (2 Corinthians 10:1-18; 2 Corinthians 12:1-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:3). Which corrupt, [ kapeeleuontes (G2585)] - 'adulterating, as hucksters do wine for gain' (2 Corinthians 4:2; Isaiah 1:22; 2 Peter 2:3).

As of sincerity, but as of God - as becomes one speaking from (out of) sincerity, as from (i:e., with a mission and spiritual life emanating from) God the Father.

In the sight of God - the Holy Spirit, who hovers over the Church, witnessing and guiding its movements ['Aleph (') A B C read katenanti (G2713) for katenoopion (G2714)]. The Trinity is here (cf. Romans 11:36).

In Christ - united to Him in living membership (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:19). The whole Gospel must be delivered as it is, without concession to men's corruptions, without selfish aims, if it is to be blessed with success (Acts 20:27).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-corinthians-2.html. 1871-8.
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