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XVI—REPROOF OF SOME MORAL IMPERFECTIONS NOT YET REMOVED, AND ADMONITION TO SPARE HIM THE NECESSITY OF APOSTOLIC DISCIPLINE. CONCLUDING ENCOURAGEMENTS AND BENEDICTION
2 Corinthians 12:19-21. 2 Corinthians 13:1-14
19Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? [For a long time 22 ye are thinking that it is to you that we are excusing ourselves πάλαι δοχεῖτε; ὅτι ὑμῖν ]; we speak before 23 God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, [but all, beloved,] for your edifying. 20For I fear, lest, [haply μήπως] when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest [haply] there be. debates [discord]24, envyings [emulation, ζῆπως], wraths,25 21 strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come 26 again, my God will humble27 me among [with respect to, πρὸς] you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, [before, προημαρτηχότων], and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
2 Corinthians 13:1. This is the third time28 am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write [I have said before, and now say beforehand as I did when I was present the second time, so now also in my absence, om. I write] 29 to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all others, that, if I come again, I will not spare: 3Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in4 me, which [who] to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though 30 he [For He also, και γὰρ] was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also [om. also]31 are weak in him,32 but we shall live33 with him11 by the power of God toward you.34 5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves, Know [or, know] ye not your own selves, how that Jesus6 Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? [to some extend unapproved, τὶ ὰδὁκιμοί?] But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates [unapproved]. 7Now I pray to [yet we pray, εὐχόμεθα δὲ ]35 God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, [excellent], though we be as reprobates [as if unapproved]. 8For we can do nothing against the truth, but [we can do something] for the truth. 9For we are glad, [rejoice, χαίρομεν], when we are weak, and ye are strong: and also 36 we wish, [pray for, εὐχόμἐθα], even your perfection10 [prefect restoration, κατάρτισν]. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to [for, εἰς] edification, and not to [for] destruction. 11Finally, brethren, farewell, [rejoice, χαίρετε] Be perfect [be restored to order, καταρτίζεσθε], be of good comfort, 12 be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you, greet one another with a holy kiss. 13All the saints salute you. The grace of our Lord 14Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. [om. Amen].37
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Corinthians 12:19-21. For a long time ye are thinking that we are excusing ourselves unto you (ver.1).—Paul here guards against the erroneous impression which he anticipated some might receive from his self-defence, that he was standing in judgment before them; he assures them that his only object was to do them good. Nothing was then of more importance to him than their amendment, unless he was willing to have their whole conduct come before him in his judicial capacity. The interrogative form of the sentence would become necessary if we adopt the word πάλιν of the Receptus (a reading perhaps occasioned by 2 Corinthians 3:1); but it would be quite unsuitable if πάλαι be adopted. With this latter reading Paul must be understood to refer to what would take place, when his Epistle should be read or heard at Corinth, especially that part which was of an apologetical character. Ὑμῖν stands at the commencement of the sentence for the sake of emphasis. It is the dative of direction or tendency (with, or before you) as in Acts 19:33. He was about to set before them the positive bearing of his self-defence upon them, i.e., to show them that its true object was to promote their spiritual life (οἰκοδομή). This required that all obstructions to his Apostolical influence, and all prejudices and wrong thoughts against him and his conduct among them, should be removed, and that all dependence upon their false teachers should be broken off. But before he presented this it was of consequence to assure them that he was standing with his apology at the bar of God, to whom alone he was responsible.—we speak before God in Christ, but all things, beloved, for your edification (2 Corinthians 12:19 b).—In these words (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:7) his object was not to affirm the sincerity of his purpose, but to let them know that it was to God that he was accountable, and from God that he expected an acquittal. The words in Christ (ἐν Χριστῷ) point out the sphere in which he was speaking, one far above every human tribunal, as a Christian and an Apostle, conscious of his fellowship with Christ. In connection with the last clause (τὰ δὲ πάντα) we must supply λαλοῦμεν (we speak) from the preceding sentence. Some would join the sentence with the preceding [and unite τὰ and δὲ together] so as to read: λαλοῦμεν ταδε πάντα, etc; but τάδε usually refers to that which follows it, and never is made use of by Paul in any other passage. [It refers here to something definite, and not to all things in general, for it is confined to those matters of which he had been speaking, and especially his apology for himself]. In this last clause also, he makes, by way of conciliation, a direct appeal to them as his beloved ones (ἀγαπητοί), before entering upon a more severe remonstrance. The reason for this is apparent in 2 Corinthians 12:20-21.—For I fear that haply when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not (2 Corinthians 12:20 a).—He here notices the unhappy condition he had reason to fear they were in, and which called for these efforts on his part for their benefit. His first reference to this condition is very tender. He merely mentions the impression which such a state of things would necessarily make upon him when he should come among them, and he alludes to the proceedings which such a state would necessarily call forth from him. Even when he says, I fear lest, etc., he expresses the solicitude of a father, and his earnest desire that his intercourse with them might be free from annoyance; but in μήπως we have something likewise of a conciliatory nature. [The word is used in two successive clauses (anaphora), but in the third (2 Corinthians 12:21) it is exchanged for μὴ, inasmuch as the hesitation to express his thought in decisive terms wears away as he proceeds. The expressions: “such as ye would not,” and “such as I would,” are euphemistic, to avoid a more disagreeable phrase. The use of the verb θέλω for βούλομαι was not uncommon, and yet we may recognize something of the specific meaning of θέλω here, inasmuch as the Apostle meant perhaps to express some determination of the will in the case]. In κᾆγώ—οἶον οὐ θέλετε he shows that he was painfully conscious of an Apostolic power of discipline which he would be obliged to exert; and he now reappears in that triumphant attitude of authority which he had formerly assumed (comp. Meyer). ̓Υμῖν has not the sense of: by you, but to you, or for you, as in Romans 7:10. The position of the second οὐ before the θέλετε is especially emphatic.38 What he meant by such as he would not, he shows in greater detail in the second part of 2 Corinthians 12:20 and in 2 Corinthians 12:21.—lest I shall find, perchance, among you debate, emulation, passions, contentions, slanderings, whisperings, insolences, tumults (2 Corinthians 12:20).—The unpleasant things which he found are arranged under two different relations, according to the two different kinds of moral defect he knew to be in the Church. [Bengel: “That which was not such as he would, is treated of to the end of the chapter, then what was such as they would not, is treated of from 2 Corinthians 8:1 and onwards.” Such vices indicate how great were the difficulties to be met with in churches just emerged from heathenism, but we are not to suppose them prevalent among that portion which Paul had described in chap. 7 as penitent and obedient]. Not, however, until the commencement of the next chapter does he come to speak of the exercise of his Apostolic power to punish offenders (for in the next verse he brings before us another kind of offences). To μήπως ἔρις, etc., must be supplied εὑρεθῶσιν (or ὦσιν) ἐν ὑμῖν. We have ἔρις and ζῆλος in 1 Corinthians 3:3, and ἔρις in 1 Corinthians 1:11; on ἔριδες comp. Winer, § 9 [p. 59, Philad. ed.]. Θυμοί occurs also in Galatians 5:20, and signifies vehement passion, boiling emotion. Θυμός signifies the heart as the seat of passionate emotion, and then this emotion itself—passion, wrath, rage; the plural is found also in the classic writers. ̓Ερίθεια signifies hired work, mercenariness, love of intrigue, a disposition to foment parties. See Romans 2:8; Galatians 5:20; Philippians 1:17; Philippians 2:3; James 3:14; James 3:16 (not of ἔρις) Com. Meyer and Fritzsche on Romans 2:8. Καταλαλιαί signifies, evil reports in general; ψιθυρίσμοί, secret slanderings. The original verb of φυσιώσεις is used with reference to the insolence of faction, an arrogant conceit of knowledge, and arrogance with respect to gifts in general, in 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 13:4. ̓Ακαταστασίαι occurs in 2Co 6:5; 1 Corinthians 14:33. In addition to these moral defects, which had their origin in the factious spirit prevailing at Corinth, and hence called for decisive measures, the Apostle now proceeds (2 Corinthians 12:21) to mention some manifestations of that sensuality for which their city was noted.—Lest again when I come, my God shall humble me with respect to you (2 Corinthians 12:21 a).—There is no need of commencing a new period here, and so of giving this whole verse an interrogative form. The reading ταπεινώσει does not require this, for this word, like the μή (previously μήπως), indicates simply an increased anxiety that such a sad calamity should not come upon him. We may also notice that a question calling for a negative answer (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:17-18) would not be appropriate in this connection (2 Corinthians 12:20). The πάλιν qualifies the whole phrase: ἐλθόντος μου ταπεινώσει με (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:1), and not merely either ἐλθόντος μου or ταπεινώσει. He does not intend to say that he had experienced a similar mortification during some former visit [and yet comp. 2 Corinthians 2:1. We see not how πάλιν can have its force without supposing some reference to a former visit, even if it should be made to qualify ἐλθόντος alone. And yet this could not have been his first visit when he had great success and general joy in spite of his persecutions, but certainly no such humiliations. We are obliged to think of a second unrecorded visit between his first and second Epistle. See on 2 Corinthians 12:1 of the next chapter]. The genitive absolute here is remarkable, and hence the reading in the Receptus. The ταπεινοῦν has reference not to the exercise of discipline among them, as if this would produce a feeling of humiliation on account of his love to the Church and to the Lord, and would be traceable to God because it would take place according to the Divine will, but rather to the mortification the Apostle would experience if he were compelled to see the fruit of his labors among them utterly destroyed, and thus to find all his boasting either much abated or completely wrested from him. Should such a humiliation come upon him, he would trace it to the hand of God, and receive it as a wholesome discipline. He would therefore humbly submit himself to it, and find consolation in the reflection that the God who did it was his God (Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4), the God whom he served, and with whom he was in such intimate fellowship that the interests of one were the interests of both. If we give the word the sense of: to trouble, or to grieve, it will have precisely the same signification with πενθήσω. Πρὸς ὐμᾶς has here the sense, not of: with or among you, for with such a meaning it would be superfluous, but of: in respect to you.—And I shall bewail many of those who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed (2 Corinthians 12:21 b). The word πενθεῖν signifies, to mourn, to lament, lugere, especially for the dead, etc. It expresses the genuine feeling of a spiritual pastor (comp. Calvin), and perhaps it alludes to the idea of a spiritual death. It expresses either the sorrow he would feel on account of their impenitence (Meyer), or the grief he would feel in denouncing punishment or in excommunicating them (De Wette, et al.). [In ancient times sentence of condemnation in the Church was pronounced with outward signs of sorrow and mourning; see 1 Corinthians 5:2; 2Co 7:7; 2 Corinthians 7:9 (Old Paraphrase). Perhaps the customs attending excommunication were derived from an extreme interpretation of such passages]. The objects of this sorrow are mentioned when he says: πολλοὺς τῶν προημαρτηκότων καὶ μὴ μετανοησάντων, etc. This is not an inexact form for designating a general class, instead of saying τοὺς μὴ μετανοὴσαντας; many, i.e., who have not repented. But the Apostle had not in mind all unconverted sinners, in every congregation, among whom he gave especial prominence to those in Corinth by using the word πολλὸυς (Lücke), for nothing in the context warrants us in giving such an extension to- the idea. He unquestionably had his eye upon sinners in Corinth alone, when he used the phrase προημαρτηκότες, etc. But our further explanation must depend upon the answer to the question, whether ἐπὶ τῇ etc., should be connected with μετανοησάντων or with πενθήσω. The first method would be without analogy, so far as the New Testament is concerned, for in every instance there, μεταν. is construed with ἀπό or ἐκ (with ἐπί only in the Old Testament, in Joel 2:13, and Amos 7:3, where the μετανοεῖν in both cases is the act of God). And yet it is probably admissible, even if the idea of a mere change of mind without that of sorrow for sin, be connected with the word. It would then signify, a change of mind in respect to, or on account of, etc. [Osiander draws attention to the contrast of προ: and μετα:] The connection of the words with πενθήσω seems rather unusual and strange, inasmuch as in other places we meet with πενθεῖν ἐπί τινι in the sense of: to lament over something, but not with πενθεῖν τινα ἐπί τινι. It is, however, not altogether unallowable on this account. If we adopt the first mode of connecting the words, we must understand by πολλούς the worst among the class of persons mentioned (De Wette, Osiander), i.e., those whom he would be obliged to punish by excluding them from the Church (πενθεῖν would then be: to mourn for them as dead persons; and it is used with respect to such an act in 1 Corinthians 5:2). If we adopt the other mode, προημαρτηκότες etc., would signify those who had in any manner sinned, etc., and we should make the Apostle say that he feared he should have to mourn over many of these on account of the sins of the flesh, of which they were guilty; and he designs to mention here the other class of sins which were most prevalent at Corinth i.e., besides those mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:20). We prefer the second of the methods, because the reference to the excommunication of the worst contains something unnatural, and 1 Corinthians 5:2 by no means justifies us in referring πενθήσω to such a transaction. Against this second method no objection should be urged on account of the position of πενθήσω, nor of the thought itself, to mourn for one on account of such things. Πενθήσω stands at the commencement of the clause for the sake of emphasis, and ἐπί stands not at a very extraordinary distance from it. The Apostle might very reasonably be understood to mourn over such impenitent persons on account of their sins, even though he does not in this place, as in other places (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), bring prominently before us the consequences of those sins. The προ, however, refers not to the period before their conversion, but to the time preceding his second visit, when misunderstandings had begun to prevail, and when he had admonished them to repent (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2), though with so little success that he found the peculiar faults mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 were still prevalent among them. ̓Ακαθαραία signifies sins of a sensual nature generally, such as defiled both soul and body, Romans 1:24; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19. Πορνεία (1 Corinthians 5:1), and ἀσέλγεια (wantonness, shamelessness, voluptuousness, Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19, et al.), are particular exhibitions of ἀκαθαρσία. Πράσσειν signifies, to bring about, achieve (comp. Passow). We do not (with Meyer and Osiander) make μὴ μετανοησάντων refer to those who should be impenitent at the anticipated coming of the Apostle at Corinth: “and shall not have repented,” but to the fruitlessness of his admonitions when he was among them the second time. [The perfect in προημ. has here a special force and significance, implying that the sins were continued, and were not overcome by a true repentance. The aorist of μὴ μεταν. is in contrast with this, and we see no reason why it may not be taken in the sense of a futur. exact, i.e., those who will not have repented when I shall be with you].
2 Corinthians 13:1-4. This is the third time I am coming to you (2 Corinthians 13:1 a).—Now follows the Apostle’s announcement of his determination to proceed with an unsparing judicial severity, in accordance with what he had said in 2 Corinthians 12:20 : κᾳ̇γὼ εὑρηθῶ ὑμῖν, οἰον οὐ θέλετε. Τρίτον τοῦτο signifies here: this is the third time, as in John 21:14, et al. Ἔρχομαι speaks of his actual coming, and presupposes that he had been at Corinth twice before this (it cannot refer to a mere purpose or plan of such a journey, nor to a coming by letters).
[General note on Paul’s visits to Corinth. It seems to us impossible to interpret 2 Corinthians 13:1, on any other view than that Paul had previously been twice at Corinth. It cannot be made to mean simply, this is the second time Ι have been ready, and if it could it would have been a most unfortunate reference, in which he would rather remind his readers of his failure actually to come. The usual appeal to 2 Corinthians 12:14, is unsatisfactory, not only because our passage should not be a repetition of that, but because the proper idea of that is, I am ready to come the third time. The word διέρχομαι in 1 Corinthians 16:5, is not quite to the point (Wordsworth), since it would only show how the will was taken for the fact, but would not account for his expected coming, being the third of a series of the same kind. Certainly no one, reading 2 Corinthians 13:1, without a previous bias, would ever think of anything but a third actual visit. In 2 Corinthians 2:1, Paul also implies that he had once visited them “in heaviness,” evidently on account of the misconduct of Christians there; in 2 Corinthians 12:21 he intimates that God had then humbled him; and in 2 Corinthians 13:2 (rightly rendered) he implies that he had then given them warning that if he came again he would not spare them. Now when could that visit have been paid? The whole idea is unsuitable to the first visit when the church was formed. Nor could it have been after that which we now call the First Epistle, when he announced his intention to remain at Corinth until Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8), and after “the Epistle” in which he had written to them “not to keep company with fornicators” (1 Corinthians 5:9), and answered the inquiries the Corinthians had made of him (1 Corinthians 7:1). See Introd. § 6. But we know that Paul resided at Ephesus during the whole time between his first visit to Corinth and his journey through Macedonia, during which he wrote our present Second Epistle. There must, however, have been time enough after his departure from Corinth for the springing up of the disorders which were censured in that unrecorded visit, and the subsequent lost Epistle, and for the sending of a letter and perhaps a deputation from the Corinthian Church to Paul (1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 16:17). On the supposition that Paul came to Ephesus late in the year 54, Alford ventures to place the unrecorded journey in the Spring of 55, and the lost Epistle in the Spring of 57, or at least early in the same year in which he left Ephesus for Macedonia (1 Corinthians 16:8). As Ephesus and Corinth were the usual points of transit between Asia and Europe, Paul might easily have made a brief visit of the kind supposed, but as it was attended with no special results, it was not mentioned in the Acts. The shipwrecks and disasters at sea mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, indicate that Paul must have made several voyages during his missionary life, which are not recorded. Comp. Alford, Introd. to Cor. § 5., and Essay on How to use the Epistles in Sun. Mag. for 1867. J. L. Davies, Art. Paul in Smith’s Dict. of the Bible].
In the mouth of two witnesses and of three shall every word be established (ver. l b).—By a citation from the very letter of the Law in Deuteronomy 19:15, the Apostle lets them see how rigid and precise were to be his disciplinary proceedings when he should come to them this third time. He would so arrange the proceedings that the witnesses should be heard in the presence of the congregation (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; 1 Corinthians 5:3, etc.), for in the trial of notorious offences, it would be necessary to adhere strictly to all legal forms, that he might avoid any appearance of partiality.Ῥῇμα [the word, after the Hebrew manner] stands here for the matter, cause, conduct or charge in dispute.Σταθήσεται, signifies: shall be established, determined or brought to a decision. ̓Επὶ στόματος, i.e., on account of what is spoken. The καί instead of ἤ before τριῶν was designed to imply, and by three, as if there are so many; or, also by three, if he had said, from two to three. The free application which some have made of this citation from the law, (either to his repeated warnings and their certainty and validity; or to those repeated announcements of his coming with the accompanying warnings and threatenings which were equally sure to prove true; or to the various occasions on which he had been or was about to be present among them, as if these were distinct personal witnesses to establish the truth of the matter) seems to us by no means ingenious or plausible, even if we accept the more delicate and profound explanation which Osiander proposes, viz., that his apostolic visits among them were, in consequence of their repetition, not merely means by which he directly saw them, but distinct practical attestations of his faithful testimony among them, deposing against those who should continue impenitent (comp. Matthew 8:4; Matthew 10:18).1—Whether any relation was intended between τρίτον and τριῶν is very uncertain. Inasmuch as he was about to announce in 2 Corinthians 13:2, that he was now determined to proceed in an unsparing manner against them, it is difficult to perceive in what way he can imply that he was especially patient in delaying and in repeatedly warning them.—What is said in 1 Timothy 5:19 shows that the law in such matters was not looked upon as abrogated. [Its validity, however, depended upon its general reasonableness and upon Christ’s recognition and re-institution (Matthew 18:15) and not upon the perpetual obligation of the Mosaic precept].—I have said already and now say beforehand, as when I was present the second time so now also in my absence, to them which heretofore have sinned and to all the rest (2 Corinthians 13:2 a).—The verb προείρηκα (I have said before) has reference to previous announcements which still remained in force (perfect tense), and προλέγω (I foretell) to what he was then writing [in which he probably used precisely the same words, viz.: “If I come again,” etc.] With respect to the former, he says: that he had said when present the second time, i.e., as I did when I was present the second time; and with respect to the latter he says, I say beforehand, now when I am absent (καὶ , comp. 2 Corinthians 13:10). There is a correspondence between the two clauses προείρηκα and προλέγω on the one hand, and τὸ δεὺτερον and νῦν on the other, and hence the τὸ δεύτερον should not be separated from παρών and connected with προλέγω. It is evident from 2 Corinthians 13:1 (τρίτον τοῦτο ἒρχομαι) and other passages, that the Apostle had already been twice at Corinth, and hence there is no need of the interpretation here: “as if I were present the second time, although I am now absent.” The προημαρτηκότες were those in general who had previously sinned (and even then [open perfect] continued to do so), whether before his second visit (ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον), or until his present writing (ἀπὼν νῦν ). The λοιποί were not those who had become impure after those just mentioned, as if προημαρτ. were related to προείρηκα and οἱ λοιποί to προλέγω, for such an expression would be not only forced but indistinct. It means rather the remaining members of the congregation, either such as witnessed his threatenings, or (better) such as should be brought by his warnings and their own reflection to a reformation, and hence such as would not fall under discipline. The substance of what he had thus told them, and now foretold them, was:—that if I come again I will not spare (2 Corinthians 13:2 b).—In the words εἰς τὸ πάλιν the πάλιν which had been used as a noun, is converted by the εἰς back again into an adverb. Why it was that he had been so lenient on his second visit is not told us; it may have been because he had hoped that they would themselves come to a better mind by reflection, or because he had feared that he would only make matters worse, etc. With οὐ φείσομαι is intimately connected what is said in 2 Corinthians 13:3.—Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who toward you is not weak, but is strong among you (2 Corinthians 13:3).—The reason he would not spare them, is introduced by ἐπεί: “I will not spare, since now ye seek, and indeed challenge by your conduct a proof,” etc. Others make ἐπεὶ ζητεῖτε the protasis or conditional proposition to 2 Corinthians 13:5, and regard the words, “Who is not weak toward you—by the power of God toward you,” or at least the whole of 2 Corinthians 13:4, as a parenthesis. Such a construction, however, seems unnecessary and awkward. Δοκιμήν, which stands for emphasis at the commencement of the sentence, signifies: proof, trial, verification by experiment [see on 2 Corinthians 2:9]. The genitive, however, may be either of the object: the proof of the fact, etc., i.e., the proof that Christ is speaking in me; or of the subject: that Christ may give proof that He is in me. That which follows, who is not weak toward you, etc., is rather in favor of the latter interpretation. In the words, Christ speaking in me, he had reference not merely to Christ’s speaking through him (ἐν διά), but to Christ’s being and acting in him. By their impenitent conduct they were putting Him to the proof whether he could carry out what He had threatened against them, and so they challenged Him to make a demonstration of His power to punish them. What is said in the relative sentence, was intended to make them consider how dangerous such a challenge was: “who is not weak with respect to you [εἰς], but is mighty among [ἐν] you.” In this he refers not to earlier manifestations of this power among them by means of spiritual gifts and miracles, etc., but to such an exercise of it among them as would become indispensable to punish them if they continued impenitent. The word δυνατεῖ occurs nowhere else except here and in Romans 14:4, though it is analogous to ἀδυνατεῖ, and was perhaps occasioned by the use of ἀσθενεῖ. The reason for the assertion that Christ was not weak but mighty, he now proceeds to give in 2 Corinthians 13:4 :—For he also was crucified on account of weakness, but he lives on account of the power of God (2 Corinthians 13:4 a). The Apostle here reminds them that Christ was once reduced to an extremity of weakness, but that he now lived by the power of God. That extremity was when He endured crucifixion in consequence of the human infirmity which He had experienced in the season of His (voluntary) humiliation and privation (Philippians 2:7-11). Ἑκ here designates the cause or origin. The ζῇν refers to the life of absolute power (energy) which began with Christ’s resurrection, was derived from God, and was afterwards proved by influences among men (comp. Romans 6:4; Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:9). If we accept the reading: καὶ γὰρ εἰ (which Osiander with Tischendorf adopts as the lect. diffic.), εἰ must be taken as concessive, and by itself it seems not inconsistent with the ἀλλά which follows. But καὶ γὰρ does not correspond with ἀλλά very well, inasmuch as it signifies not merely: for, but: for even. Καὶ γὰρ εἰ would then signify: for even (although) if. But καὶ εἰ indicates that the condition must be looked upon as an extreme one, and not to be expected. On the other hand εἰ καί would have implied that this condition was probable or certain, but that for the argument in hand it was a matter of indifference. We are obliged in this case to suppose that there has been an exchanging of καὶ εἰ for εἰ καί, which must be ascribed to some transcriber having interpolated the εἰ, rather than to Paul. A concessive protasis appears appropriate on account of the ἀλλά. The solution of the difficulty which Osiander proposes, viz., that the καί implies that the case of Christ was similar to that of his ministers, does not seem clear to us, and indeed appears unintelligible. The best way would seem to be, to leave out the εἰ, as it may easily have been inserted. It is evident that the Apostle looked upon this as the actual condition in which Christ was, for he now proceeds to show that he himself was in the same condition of weakness and life through the power of God:—for we also are weak in him, but we shall live together with him through the power of God toward you (2 Corinthians 13:4 b).—It is evident, therefore, that he leaves us to infer what must be the condition of Christ from that of one who stood in fellowship with Christ (ἐν—σὺναὐτῷ); inasmuch as the condition of the former was reflected or was repeated in that of his followers, or was the consequence of it. ̓Ασθενοῦμεν refers not to the Apostle’s sufferings, but to his appearing to lack power when he spared the Corinthians It must be regarded, therefore, as something which was like Christ’s own weakness, voluntarily assumed. He describes it also by the words ἐν αὐτῷ as something which was the consequence of his fellowship with Christ [Winer’s Idioms, § 52, p. 311 note], and therefore like Christ’s own weakness transient and temporary, inasmuch as the Divine power which made Christ alive would necessarily and in that very act make alive all who were connected with him (σὺν ). And indeed, εἰς ὑμᾶς indicates that his being alive would be manifested in the energy by which they would be directed. There is no reference in the word ζῃν, as here used, to the future resurrection, but it means simply to be vigorous, to be full of life. Neander: “In the discharge of our Apostolic authority among you will be manifested the Divine power of a risen and glorified Christ.” [The Apostle, in this passage, surely claims that Christ spoke and acted in him, and we reasonably infer that his Apostolic words, Epistles and acts were those of an infallible Christ within him. It has been said that he never advanced such a claim. Not only in the ἀλλὰ, which occurs in both clauses of 2 Corinthians 13:4, but in the use of the present (ζῇἀσθενοῦμεν) and the future (ζήσομεν) in opposition to (ἐστανρώθη), we have a strong contrast with the resurrection and all its endless and perpetual influences through Christ and His people].
2 Corinthians 13:5-10.—Examine your own selves whether ye are in the faith, prove your own selves (2 Corinthians 13:5 a).—In opposition to the thought represented in 2 Corinthians 13:3, according to which they desired a proof of Christ in him, the Apostle presents the demand that they should direct their examination to their own selves. For the sake of emphasis ἐαυτούς is put first. Πειράζειν signifies, to make proof or trial of one, to tempt (1 Corinthians 10:9, ἐκπειράζειν Χριστόν which is here the same as δοκιμὴν ζητεῖν, etc.). [On the ordinary distinction to be observed between these expressions, see Trench, Synn. 2d Part, p. 119ff]. He then more particularly defines the point to which that self-examination should be directed, i.e., whether they were in the faith; thus probably intimating that their δοκιμὴυ ζητεῖν betrayed a serious defect in that respect, inasmuch as they would hardly have needed any proof of Christ in him if they had been in the faith. To be in the faith, or, to esteem themselves standing in the faith, were phrases which designated a living Christianity, the original principle of which is a faith laying hold of Christ, surrendering the whole heart to Him, and in this way bringing us into fellowship with Him (not: fides qaæ creditur, in contrast with erroneous doctrines; and also not the faith of miracles). The δοκιμάζειν also is not in this passage equivalent to δόκιμον ποιεῖν but as in 1 Corinthians 11:28, it signifies, to try, to inquire into the worthiness of a thing, with the view of accurately distinguishing between what is and what is not genuine. The word here properly refers back to their seeking a proof of Christ (δοκιμὴν ζηεῖτε). The essential nature of the faith is further pointed out in the succeeding clause.—Or know ye not your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye are to some extent unapproved (ver.5b) ?—(Comp. Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 2:20). The use of the entire name Ἰησοῦς Χριστός indicates more than usual solemnity, and implies that the presence of Christ’s spirit, by faith, in the Church and in the hearts of its members, produces a practical fellowship with the whole person of Christ (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21-22). In ἐαυτούς, ὅτι—ἐν ὑμῖν we have an attraction of a peculiar kind (where the attracted word is not the subject of the succeeding sentence). [Winer’s Idioms, § 63, 3. a. p. 396]. Yourselves (ἐαυτόυς) in this connection is emphatic, since it is contrasted with Christ speaking in you, in 2 Corinthians 13:3. [Our English version entirely overlooks the ἢ at the head of the clause.] There are two ways by which ἢ οὐκ ἔπιγιν. etc., may be connected in sense with that which precedes it; according to the first, the spiritual relation which Christ sustained toward them, and of which indeed they must be conscious if they were Christians, imposed on them the obligation to examine more carefully into their relation to Him and their conduct toward Him, and of course into their faith, in order to ascertain whether it was not wavering (Osiander). According to the second, he appeals to their sense of honor, and implies that for this reason they should not shrink from self-examination; i.e., they surely ought not to be so entirely destitute of a Christian spirit as not to know their own selves (Meyer, deWette). In either case there was a motive for self-examination; but the ἢ ον̓κ argues in favor of the latter method. In εἰ μήτι , he intended to say, that they would find this to be the case with themselves, unless they should prove to be unworthy, spurious Christians (Osiander: He throws out a doubt of that gracious state to which they laid claim, in the same proportion in which they were ignorant of their relation to Christ and did not examine themselves). Ἐι μήτι is used in 1 Corinthians 7:5; and the τι has the effect rather to soften the force of the expression [unless ye are “somewhat reprobates,” or “to some extent abide not the proof”]. Αδόκιμοι has reference to δοκιμάζετε and δοκιμήν which he had previously used.—But I trust ye shall know that we are not unapproved (2 Corinthians 13:6).—This verse is intimately connected with the latter part of 2 Corinthians 13:5. Αδόκιμοι, in this verse, has reference to Paul’s power as an Apostle to punish offenders, and he expresses the hope that (in case he should be compelled to exercise it) they would find him [if they ventured to put him to the proof] (in this respect) not unapproved, i.e., as one who throws out empty threatenings, but is too feeble to execute the but rather one who would make those who perseveringly resisted him feel his power (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:7; 2 Corinthians 13:9). This was the δοκιμή which they sought (2 Corinthians 13:3). His hope, however, was not fixed exclusively upon the punishment in itself, but upon the proper authentication of his office, the maintenance of his Apostolic authority by such means. The interpretation which maintains that γνώσεσθε (ye shall know) is to be understood, not of an experimental knowledge, but of a knowledge gained by their reformation in consequence of his warning, or by an observation of his life and works as an Apostle [i.e., if you put our Apostolical power to the test by appealing to our clemency], is not quite consistent with the general scope of the passage. The same may be said of the view which aims to mediate between the different explanations, and maintains that the knowledge was to be obtained partly by an examination of themselves and partly by their experience of ecclesiastical discipline.—But in 2 Corinthians 13:7 he shows that he would gladly be spared such an authentication of his power:—But we pray God that ye do no evil (2 Corinthians 13:7 a);—His desire is expressed in the form of a prayer. The explanation which makes ὑμᾶς the object and the Apostle himself the subject of ποιῆσαι [that I may do you no evil], is unsatisfactory: 1, because he could not apply such a designation to the punishment he inflicted; 2, because κακὸν ποιεῖν μηδέν has an evident reference to τὸ καλὸν ποιεῖν [the one being what is morally bad or worse, and the other what is morally honorable, beautiful and right].—not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do what is good, though we be as unapproved (2 Corinthians 13:7 b).—He here expresses what was more particularly the purport of his prayer. (We should observe the change which here takes place in the construction: the infinitive and ἵνα, comp. προσεύχεσθαι ἵνα Colossians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11). The prayer was not (I pray or I desire), that he might appear approved (in consequence of the infliction of punishment, or the accomplishment of his threatenings) but that the Corinthians might do well (that which is right), though he should be unapproved (inasmuch as his threatenings would remain unfulfilled, or seem needless and uncalled for). [In this case he would use the word ἀδόκιμος in two different senses: in the one sense he would not be unapproved, since the reformation of the Corinthians would be the best proof of his Apostolic power, but in another sense he would be unapproved, because he would fail in the fulfilment of his threatenings, on account of their reformation. He meant to say that he cared not for being unapproved in the latter sense, since they would be saved and edified. Comp. Stanley]. Another explanation is given by Meyer, who takes ἵνα in the sense of, that, in order that, and understands δόκιμοι of the approbation which would be awarded to him as their spiritual father, if they should conduct themselves well; but he makes ἀδόκιμοι. refer to his failure in exercising and applying his power as an Apostle to inflict punishment. It must be conceded that the idea advanced in this first explanation lies not within the range of thought pursued by the context, and yet it would not be inconsistent with Paul’s manner, to say that the good conduct of his readers might make him seem in one aspect δόκιμος and in another ἀδόκιμος. He certainly gives reason in 2 Corinthians 13:8 for saying that if they did well he would have no occasion for exercising his power as an Apostle to punish them, and therefore would in that same degree appear unapproved, inasmuch as he had laid down the rule by which he would be governed in his course with them:—For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth (2 Corinthians 13:8).—The truth here may be explained either as equivalent to moral truth (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:8) or righteousness (a sense which is not allowable unless it is made necessary by the context); or as signifying that he could do nothing which did not accord with the facts of the case, a meaning very appropriate to a judicial proceeding, but entirely unsuitable when we come to the phrase for the truth. Meyer makes the word mean the truth κατ̓ ἐξοχήν, i.e., the gospel: “If their good conduct had not been his. object (ἀλλ ̓ ἴνα) he would have been working against the Gospel; since that was a system designed to promote morality on Christian principles.” Osiander’s explanation is preferable: “The Divine law was the truth from which we deduce all our rules of discipline; and in Paul’s Apostolic work he could do nothing against this, but every thing he did would finally result in the advancement of that Divine truth which was dispensed in the Gospel.” Κατᾳ̇ against—ὑπέρ, for its interests. In the latter sentence δυνάμεθά τι should be supplied.—For we rejoice when we are weak and ye are strong: this also we pray for, even your restoration to complete order (2 Corinthians 13:9).—His object here was to confirm what he had said an 2 Corinthians 13:8, by assuring them that he would rejoice, even if he were weak, i.e., powerless, so far as relates to the exercise of discipline among them (from want of occasion); and they were strong, i.e., should conduct themselves so wisely as to disarm him of all judicial authority against them. If this were so, how could he do anything in opposition to the truth, and to those rules of action which the truth prescribed? He furthermore assures them that it was the object of his constant prayer, that they might in this way be made strong. As in 2 Corinthians 13:7 εὔχεσθαι signifies not merely to wish, for it is an advance beyond the thought expressed in χαίρομεν. Τὴν κατάρτισιν ὑμῶν is added after τοῦτο epexegetically, and signifies your restoration to complete order, i.e., perfection. The verb is used in 2 Corinthians 13:11 and in 1 Corinthians 1:10, and καταρτισμός in Ephesians 4:12. It contains a reserved hint that their condition at that time was disorderly.—For this cause being absent I write these things, lest being present I should use sharpness according to the power which the Lord gave me for edification and not for destruction (2 Corinthians 13:10).—In this he adds an explanation of his design in writing this Epistle: “I have written because my joy and my great anxiety before God is, that ye may be strong and restored to your proper state.” In this expression he had reference to the whole Epistle, but especially to the latter part of it.—lie here uses the singular number, because he begins to treat of conduct and purposes which belonged only to himself. Ἀποτόμως (Titus 1:13, the noun is in Romans 11:22) signifies roughly, rigorously, with strict severity (from a verb signifying to cut or tear off). Κρῆσθαι is here used absolutely, and signifies to proceed, to act; in other places it is used with the dative of the mode of proceeding or acting, but here, with an adverb, there is no need of supplying ὑμῖν. The reason for his wishing not to act thus, he gives when he says that his power was given him for edification and not for destruction (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:8). [He had no power or authority for the injury of men: it was all for their edification. Except for the latter purpose therefore it was not only null and void as to authority, but it was actually powerless in result. By a beautiful figure he conceives himself as a builder intrusted with no right or means to do anything except for the welfare of his fellow-men, to advance the true interests of humanity. Such were the Apostle’s views of the limits of ecclesiastical power with respect to οἰκοδομὴν Comp. on 2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 10:8. Also J. S. Howson, on Paul’s use of Metaphore in Sund. Mag., 1867].
2 Corinthians 13:11-13. Finally, brethren, rejoice. Be perfectly joined together, be comforted, be of one mind, be at peace (2 Corinthians 13:11 a).—Having in the previous verses resumed his original mildness of manner, he now concludes with some friendly admonitions, though without relaxing anything in the earnestness of his purpose. [The word ἀδελφοὶ, which he so often uses in his other Epistles and especially in his First Epistle but so seldom (only four times) in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, indicates here the importance of what he was about to say, and his transition to a new section, in which his affectionate spirit breathes forth with especial power.] In 2 Corinthians 13:11, λοιπόν does not signify: for the future, henceforth, but it is a concluding particle in the sense of, as for the rest (ceterum), as in the Ephesians 6:10 etc.; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. Osiander: “His object was to say, that he had something of importance to them, still upon his heart.” This was addressed not exclusively to those whose minds were best disposed toward him, but like the preceding verses, to the whole congregation. Χαίρετε is not here a parting salutation, for that is given afterwards in 2 Corinthians 13:13; but an exhortation to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4), very appropriately pressed upon them after all that he had said in this Epistle to grieve them. But this χαίρειν could take place only on condition of the καταρτίζεσθαι and the τέλειον γίνεσθαι i.e., on condition of their complete restoration to order and to their perfection. These are here urged upon them as acts which they must themselves perform [middle voice and reflexive] under the power of the χαίρειν, which again is conditioned by the καταρτίζεσθαι W. F. Besser: “In the alarm cry: Be perfect, (prepare yourselves)! hear the call of your commander, to form into rank and file, and to get into order of battle” (Colossians 2:5). But both the χαίρειν and the καταρτίξεσθαι were the conditions on which the παρακαλεῖσθαι was dependent. This παρακαλεῖσθε is here not an admonition or an exhortation that they should make progress in spiritual things (give attention to it among you), but that they should be comforted (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:4-7; 2 Corinthians 7:7-13) with respect to all those things which had grieved them. An exhortation to mutual comfort (to comfort one another) would have been differently expressed: παρακαλεῖτε ἑαυτούς or ἀλλήλους (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13). Finally he calls upon them to be of one mind (τὸαὐτὸ φρονεῖτε), which may be regarded as implying an humble estimate of each one’s own self, a love for one another, and a tender interest in each other’s welfare, on the ground that they had a community of interests in the Christian life (Philippians 3:15-16; Philippians 4:2; Romans 12:16; Romans 15:5; Beck See lenl. p. 61), and to live in peace, i.e., to maintain unity of action in the outer life (Mark 9:50; Romans 12:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:13). To these admonitions he attaches yet further a promise:—And the God of love and peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11 b)—i.e., if ye do these things, the God who is the author of love (τὸαὐτὸ φρονεῖν) and of peace (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:33; Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20) will be with you, will be near you o bless you, and to grant you the enjoyment of His gracious communion. That God from whom love and peace proceeds, makes those who yield to His influences in these respects, and are faithful in such things, experience how rich is His grace, and how abundant are His blessings.—Salute one another with a holy kiss (2 Corinthians 13:12).—On this verse comp. 1 Corinthians 16:20. [With respect to the φίλημα ἁγ. see on 1 Thessalonians 5:26; Romans 16:16, and 1 Corinthians 16:20. Among the Greeks the kiss had only an erotio signification, but among the Jews and Oriental nations it was generally a token of affection among kindred and friends. The Jews refused it to all except the holy seed of Israel. Thence it passed into the Christian community, and Justin says, (Apol. II. p. 37), “After the prayers, are ended (in the church), we greet one another with a kiss.” Cyril (Hier.) says that before the ‘sursum corda,’) a deacon proclaimed to the communicants in the words of this verse: “Salute” etc. In the Eastern, churches it was given before, and in the Western after the consecration of the sacramental emblems, and before their distribution, as a sign of reconciliation and love. In the Apost. Constt. it is said: “Let the men salute one another, and the women also one another, with a holy kiss in the Lord.” Paul anticipated that his Epistle would be read before the whole Church, and he, therefore, connected with it this ecclesiastical or hieratic usage, as a sign of the common covenant by which they were all members one of another and the body of Christ. Bingham, Chr. Antt. B. XII. Ch. IV. § 5. Smith’s Dict, of the Bible, Osiander and Wordsworth, on 1 Thessalonians 5:26].—All the saints salute you (2 Corinthians 13:13).—The words οἱ ἅγιοι πάντες refer to those saints who lived in the region from which he was writing (Macedonia), but a more comprehensive sense of the words is not excluded (comp. Osiander, who very thoroughly discusses the meaning of this whole verse). In place of his own salutation, he gives us finally that precious Benediction which has acquired such a liturgical importance in every age and in every part of the Christian world:—The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14).—[It is the most formal and solemn of all Paul’s forms of benediction, and accordingly has been universally selected as the one to be used by the Church in its worship. It ascribes to each Person of the Trinity a special but not an exclusive part in the work of redemption. Each of those Persons share in the work of grace and love and communion, but each of them is distinguished for a peculiar prominence in one of these departments. Each of them are mentioned with equal, but with a distinct honor and efficiency. They are presented, not according to their ontologic or metaphysical nature, but to their economic relation to sinful men in the work of salvation. That salvation comes to us “from (ἐκ) God the Father, through (διὰ) God the Son, and by God the Holy Ghost.”] The Benediction itself is divided into three parts in accordance with the relations of the sacred Trinity. We have first, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (comp. 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 5:15), that grace which is continually bestowed upon, intercedes for (Romans 8:34), and strengthens (2 Corinthians 12:9) those whom he has redeemed, and by means of which they come into the possession and enjoyment of the love of God. The communion of the Holy Ghost, the participation in Him and in His gracious influences, is the product of that grace and this love, and is His continual direction and application of them to believers (comp. Romans 8:9-27; Romans 7:6; Romans 8:11; Galatians 4:6; Galatians 6:8. Κοινωνία, as in Philippians 2:1, and 1 Corinthians 1:9, signifies not communication merely, for τοῦ πνευμ. is the gen. subj.). He thus desires that the whole Church [even that portion which he had been obliged in some respects to censure] may enjoy all the blessings of God’s salvation, as they are shed forth by the Lord of the Church, including that Spirit which is the bond of its fellowship and the source of its organic life. Neander: “We have in this passage the practical doctrine of the Trinity, the Father revealing His love in Christ; Christ, in and through whom he reveals Himself, and by whom the work of redemption (grace) is accomplished; and the fellowship of Divine life, which proceeds from Christ.”—Ewald: “We cannot but feel an intense interest in knowing what was the effect of a letter containing such an unusual amount of severity. Fortunately we have some reason to conclude from Romans 15:25-27, and Acts 20:2, that the result was all that could be wished. Paul actually returned to Corinth soon after sending this Epistle, and remained there for some time in peace, as he certainly could not have done, if this letter had not smoothed the way for him there, and enabled him to return to his beloved Church in triumph.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Where an impenitent spirit which disregards all warning and admonition becomes manifest in a congregation, there is no other way than to administer discipline with severity. And yet the minister of Christ should always be careful to produce the impression that he is by no means proud of his official authority, but that he rather feels humbled under the hand of God when he finds that he is compelled to administer discipline with severity. He must indeed never spare, when he is called to act in behalf of Christ’s authority, if it is evident that his forbearance will be imputed to a want of power in that Lord whom he represents, and whose organ he is known to be. Every one should be made to see not only that a minister, in imitation of his Divine Master, may for awhile lay aside his power and oven appear feeble as he bears and forbears with his brethren, but that through the same Divine power which raised his Lord from the weakness of the cross to the might of an absolute and all-sufficient life, he possesses a living power for the accomplishment of those objects which are essential to the office he has received, and to his-triumph over all who oppose him in his lawful work. But the same love which, on suitable occasions, refrains from all assertions of authority, will also incline him to make every exertion to avoid any necessity for its exercise. He will admonish, entreat and implore God that every thing which insolently puts Christ in him to the proof whether His threatenings are seriously intended, and whether He will venture to execute them, may disappear; that all who have been refractory and disorderly may have their attention turned rather to themselves to see whether they are in the faith and whether Christ is in them, and that so they may be reëstablished in Christian fellowship, may do that which is good, and may be saved from the necessity of discipline. It will be a pleasure to him when he is able to exchange severity for gentleness, even though he may thus have the appearance of weakness. His only care will be so to conduct himself that Divine truth may be vindicated, that complete order may be secured, and that practical religion may be promoted.
2. Where Jesus Christ causes His grace to abound, and abundantly forgives, blesses and saves men, the love of God is revealed, and God Himself is freely and powerfully communicated to our souls. When this is the case and our souls are sealed by His grace, this love will be shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, we shall be of one mind, we shall seek for the things that make for peace, we shall rejoice in the Lord, we shall earnestly aspire after perfection, and never want consolation when we are in trouble. In this manner the Church will be built up; and it is a blessed work to co-operate in the production of such a result by praising this grace and love, by bringing men into the communion of the Holy Ghost and by confirming them in it. No one, however, can perform such a work unless he knows by experience what it is to rejoice in this grace, love and communion, and regards it as his highest privilege to continue to do so.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Starke:—2 Corinthians 12:19. That no impediments may be thrown in the way of our work, we must, though with humble diffidence, repel those assaults which may be made upon it; but we must be especially careful lest we use such means of defence as will only make matters worse. Those who truly servo God, speak as though they were conscious of being ever before God in Christ, as though they were in communion with Him, and were under His direction.
2 Corinthians 12:20. Where love is wanting, hatred will be found, and will break forth into every kind, of discord, though all its forms will show a family likeness to one another.
Hedinger: 2 Corinthians 12:21. How distressing to look upon such disorders! Those whose hearts are still bleeding from the wounds which former sins, especially those of lewdness and impurity, have left upon the conscience, should be careful that those wounds be properly healed, and that the old sore is not liable to break out afresh. Isaiah 38:15.—Spener:
Chap. 13. If. Even when we conclude that spiritual discipline does not call for a public judicial process, it should not be entered upon without reflection. If sinners have no fear of punishment, they will flatter themselves with the hope of impunity in sin.—Hedinger:—To bear long is not necessarily to bear always. Even Elisha finally called for the bears, Samuel grasped the sword, and Elijah invoked fire from heaven, when time and patience were exhausted. Scoff not at God, who will surely give testimony in behalf of His servants.
2 Corinthians 13:3. Let us see to it, that we do not so conduct ourselves that Christ is obliged to put forth His hand to punish rather than to assist us. The threatenings of God’s faithful ministers will not be found empty words.—Hedinger:
2 Corinthians 13:4. Rejoice, for the Lord is King, and reigns in the midst of His enemies! Let no one be intimidated when the powers of darkness seem to prevail! If we would be exalted, we must humble ourselves and cheerfully bear Christ’s cross.—Spener:
2 Corinthians 13:5. Many know not their own selves; for while some think too well of their own goodness, others are faint-hearted. A faithful self-examination would rectify all such errors. Most of us by nature have the bad habit of trying our neighbors and seeking a proof of what is in them, but of neglecting the same thing with respect to ourselves, Matthew 7:1-3.—Hedinger:—“Thou sayest: I am a Christian, a child of glory!” But hast thou proved this? Art thou really sure of it? Is it not possible that thou hast taken up with a vain conceit and received base coin for gold? Let every one search his own heart diligently, and if he finds Christ and the graces of Christ’s Spirit there, if Christian love and a fraternal spirit reigns there, all is well.—Spener:—While we examine ourselves, we almost invariably are led to pray that the Lord also would search and make us know our hearts, Psalms 139:23-24.—If we have a faith which works by love, we have good evidence of our gracious state and of our salvation. Such an examination of ourselves is of great importance: 1, because our hearts are naturally so corrupt and our self-love is so inordinate that we never discover evil in ourselves without great difficulty; 2, because in the midst of so many cares and so much intercourse with our fellow-men, we are in danger of neglecting to watch over our thoughts, words, etc.; 3, because of the injury which is sure to follow the omission of this duty, in our continuance under delusive fancies, or our relapse into them; 4, because of the benefits which a frequent self-examination must bring, in the increase of faith, in assurance of salvation, in our security against apostasy, in our growing union and intimacy with God, in our better acquaintance with our faults, and in our purification from them by Divine grace. But the object or this trial is, to ascertain: 1, whether we have been truly converted, believe in Christ, and are united to Him, and whether we have the comforts and put forth the fruits of faith, such as the love of God and of our neighbor, delight in spiritual things, an inclination to every form of obedience, earnestness in prayer, lively hope, patience, etc.; 2, how successful we have been in following Jesus. The result will be, that we shall recognize what is good in ourselves with humility and thankfulness to God, and what is wrong with contrition, and prayer for forgiveness; we shall lay hold upon Divine grace with greater eagerness; and we shall arouse ourselves to walk before God with increased earnestness. It should be a special object of such an examination to discover what sins most easily beset us, and to what extent we have succeeded in laying them aside.
2 Corinthians 13:7. Preachers will find it better to use their staff of office with gentleness, than to put forth the power given them so as to give pain.
2 Corinthians 13:10. Think it not for thy injury that thy spiritual guide has touched thee rather roughly, for proud flesh needs a corrosive plaster.
2 Corinthians 13:11. We must not be surprised that believers should not unfrequently be depressed with internal as well as external afflictions, notwithstanding the seeds of spiritual joy they always possess. The admonition therefore can never come amiss, that they should be of good cheer and be joyful in the Lord.—Many heads, many minds! Look therefore continually to Christ or thou canst never come to Him. God dwells in souls exercised to good works through faith in Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:13. Every minister should reflect whether such a salutation could go forth from him to his hearers in the spirit of the Apostle, with an earnest desire for their salvation and with a sincere faith in God; but it equally becomes these hearers to consider carefully whether they are prepared to appropriate such a salutation to themselves, and to confirm it with an earnest prayer and a hearty amen before God.—There are many who are unreasonable enough to long for the grace of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father, but are unwilling to be directed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost.—Let every one who reads and desires a part in the blessings promised in God’s word, unite in applying this benediction to all, and add his hearty amen!
Berlenb. Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:20 :—Such are the disorders which follow a removal from the simplicity of the Gospel.—How much reason has a sincere child of God for sorrow and humiliation when he thinks of the abomination of desolation in the holy places of the Church at the present time, and when he finds that everything there is disordered, that self-conceit, false wisdom, and confusion so generally prevails, and that almost every man’s hand is turned against his brother!—2 Corinthians 13:2 : We must never connive at wickedness. But if it is willing to come to the light it should be freely forgiven.
2 Corinthians 12:4. It is God’s way sometimes to seem very small in His servants, but if they are despised, He manifests Himself in His greatness.
2 Corinthians 12:5. There is no point on which men are so liable to be deceived as with reference to their own faith. On no point therefore should they be more careful to examine themselves. Unconverted men and hypocrites never prove their own selves. And yet no one can enjoy communion with God without it, for such a communion requires us to give up self-love for God’s love, and to pass an impartial judgment upon ourselves.—Those who pay no attention to their condition, and never reflect whether they are prepared for another world, will surely be unable to abide the fiery trial of God’s justice and will be cast away and dashed in pieces as worthless vessels.—The human heart is a fathomless abyss; we only need closely and properly to observe it to find in it every day some new thing to humble us before God and to make us willing to be judged by God and man. We must not, however, be insensible of the good which God has wrought in our hearts, for we shall never have courage to fight against our sins, if we know not our interest in Christ.—Especially should we examine whether we have that peace with God through Jesus Christ, which excites us to pray, to strive against sin, to praise God, to walk before Him, and to hunger and thirst after righteousness; and whether all our hope is built upon a consciousness of faith in Christ and love to God. Nor should we be satisfied unless we find these evidences during the whole course of our lives.—No one will become free from sin unless he is willing truly to know himself.
2 Corinthians 12:11. Where love and peace reign, the heart becomes a temple in which God is adored and praised in spirit and in truth.
2 Corinthians 12:13. Such is the order in which God conveys His blessings to men. Christ and His grace must precede everything else, or our evil consciences will prevent us from trusting to the love of God. Both are united together in our hearts by the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, This three-fold band encircles all who are willing to be the Lord’s, and makes them children of the Father, members of the Son, and temples of the Holy Ghost. Amen!
Rieger:—2 Corinthians 12:20 f. We are sometimes too careful to conceal those sins which take place in our own hearts and in our Christian community, and the consequence is they are not thoroughly removed. Where we do not bring what has been done in former times with sufficient honesty into the light of Divine truth, and to the forgiving and sanctifying grace of God, great mischief will afterwards spring from them.—2 Corinthians 13:1. In matters of conscience we should hold ourselves to the strictest method of proceeding. Even those remarks and judgments which Christians pass upon one another, should be so thoroughly considered that they will bear an examination like that which is given to the most suspected witness in a judicial process.
2 Corinthians 12:4. From His advent into the world until the close of His earthly career, Christ made Himself so weak that sinners thought they could do with Him as they pleased. But He now possesses through Divine power a life, in which He not only has life in Himself, but He gives life to the world, and sends His Spirit to make even the word of His cross the power of God unto salvation. A life of faith in the Son of God is even now a life of Divine power. Those who are troubled about their infirmities, will find that in losing life they receive a life eternal.
2 Corinthians 12:5. A faith which does not bring us into communion with God, nor bring Christ and His Spirit into the heart, will never abide the test.
2 Corinthians 12:7. Our threatenings and punishments must have the unction of prayer, or they will accomplish no good results. We not unfrequently find that we can get no access to men until we have found access to God.
2 Corinthians 12:11. Even where considerable faults are known to exist among brethren, we must come back to the common relation in which we all stand to one another, that by its means all may be awakened to joy without giving up their faith.
2 Corinthians 12:13. Every good thing we have or hope for from God, must come to us through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The love of God can be exercised only toward those who find pardon and access to him through Jesus Christ. And it is only through the fellowship of the Holy Ghost that God will have or maintain any union with those whom he loves (John 14:23).—May we all be justified by grace, as pardoned sinners be the objects of Divine love, and as temples of the triune God be restored and glorified by Spiritual communion. May every soul have a part in this faith and in this prayer. Amen.
Heubner:—2 Corinthians 12:20 f. Every Church should be always ready to let any of Christ’s ministers examine carefully into its affairs. —Chap. 13. If. There are certain limits beyond which Christian meekness cannot go, whether in the use of gentle or severe measures. But whatever change circumstances may call for in our outward action, our hearts should always be animated by the same benevolent spirit. The Christian should always act with energy.
2 Corinthians 12:3. God not unfrequently disciplines His people with severity, and they should not be unwilling to be severe with themselves. What is a single preacher against an army of soldiers? And yet he has mighty power with them. Christ will live forever and will hold His sceptre over the world. Few worldly men imagine how completely He is their Lord.
2 Corinthians 12:5. To be displeased with Christ’s word shows plainly that faith is dying or dead. Only those who examine themselves can truly know whether they have this faith, for no other one can determine this for them. Then the only evidence which can prove that we possess it is Christ living and working in our hearts, and our hearts burning with love at the thought of Him. How few tried Christians would be found, if this only true test were faithfully applied!
2 Corinthians 12:7. A faithful minister thinks only of the interest of souls, and not of his own authority or reputation among men.
2 Corinthians 12:9. A genuine teacher always rejoices to see his pupil become wiser than himself.
2 Corinthians 12:10. The church which gives heed to gentle and kind suggestions is much more advanced than one which can be moved only by harsh measures. The object of all spiritual power is the salvation of the Church.
2 Corinthians 12:11. God is never in a church except where the conditions required in this verse are fulfilled. Where these are complied with, God’s Spirit reigns.
2 Corinthians 12:13. Through the Son we become children of the Father and temples of the Holy Ghost.
W. F. Besser:
2 Corinthians 12:4. We may derive much benefit and comfort from contemplating the form of weakness which Christ endured during His life and on the cross, since it is the form of One who has been invested with Divine power, having entered into His glory by the power of that Father who has raised him from the dead, and of that Son who was raised from the dead, and of that Holy Ghost who declared and demonstrated that this Son of God and this Son of Mary was the Prince of life (Romans 6:4; Romans 1:4). The same Divine power which raised up Christ from the dead and set Him upon the throne of heaven, is the source of all faith in the hearts of believers (Ephesians 1:19-20), and is concerned in the whole work of the ministry for the consolation of the penitent and the punishment of the impenitent.
2 Corinthians 12:5. We learn two things here: a. that we may imagine ourselves to be in the faith when we are not; and b. that whoever deceives himself in this matter, so essential to his everlasting salvation, is criminally guilty for it; for God has made it the privilege and the duty of every man by faithful self-examination to ascertain with confidence whether he is in the faith.
2 Corinthians 12:7. A minister’s fitness for his work will appear in two ways: a. from the good results of his labors (2 Corinthians 3:3); b. from his seasonable punishment of evil conduct.
2 Corinthians 12:11. This friendly admonition: Live in peace, throws the peaceful bond of brotherly love around the whole body of believers (Ephesians 4:3), and is like a lock which holds together the whole chain of exhortations running through both these Epistles. Oh, that the peace which breathes here these Apostolic words might be imparted to all men! To all sons of peace, who rest in peace as on a mother’s bosom, belongs the promise: “The God of love and peace shall be with you!”
2 Corinthians 12:13. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God will not be far off, but pervadingly nigh the assemblies of God’s saints; for among them the Holy Spirit’s communion has its especial habitation and sphere of action (1 Corinthians 3:16). As the Holy Spirit communicates Himself to them through the word and sacraments, He produces and maintains in them a holy fellowship with the Triune God and with each other. As often as we hear these words of Apostolic benediction, it is only as the spirit of that faith which has for centuries communicated so many blessings to those who have received it, awakes within us, that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, is with us and with all saints!
2 Corinthians 12:13. How happy is our lot if our souls are united by a perpetual bond of living faith to the Triune God! This thought—a. keeps before us every day the great object that we should seek for ourselves, viz.: forgiveness through Christ, assurance of God’s love, and strength by means of the Spirit’s power; b. makes us see that in every event of life we should strive to confirm and strengthen our fellowship with God; c. gives us strong consolation in every affliction in the consciousness that Almighty aid is always at hand; and d. instructs us with respect to the true wisdom, the true reason, the spirit, the object, and the proper range of all our prayers.
[Stanley (with whom Wordsworth agrees) thinks it unlikely that Paul would express himself so formally and yet so imperfectly if he merely intended to speak of the usual legal process. He therefore contends that “the journeys of the Apostle, accomplished or intended, occupy throughout the Epistle a prominent place in his mind; and now they seem to him to assume almost a distinct personal existence, as though each constituted a separate attestation to his assertion. He, as it were, appears to himself, a different person, and, therefore, a different witness in each journey accomplished or proposed. The first witness was that which he had delivered during his first visit, or in his first Epistle (1 Corinthians 4:20); to which he refers in the words: ‘I have said before’ (προείρηκα). The second witness was that which he now bore on his present journey and through his present Epistle, which was intended to supply the place of the journey once intended (2 Corinthians 1:15; 1 Corinthians 16:7) but now abandoned by him. To this he refers in the word προλεγω ‘I speak beforehand,’ i.e., before my next visit; and he strengthens this witness by representing himself as in a manner present on that second visit which had really been postponed (ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον). It is by thus reckoning his second Epistle as being virtually a second visit, or at least a second witness, that he was enabled in the first verse, to call the visit which was now about to be actually accomplished, his third visit. And this hird visit would be reckoned as the third witness, if it were necessary that the words quoted from Deut. were to be literally complied with.” We have thought it fair that this view (which had so general a support in ancient, and until recent, times), should be thus fairly presented, but we agree with Barnes when he says, that “with all respect due to such great names, it seems to us that this is trifling and childish in the extreme.” Hodge: “Three visits are not the testimony of three witnesses.”]
2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Corinthians 12:19.—Rec. has πάλιν [with D. E. K. L. Sin. (3d hand), many cursives, versions, and Greek Fathers], but the preponderating evidence is in favor of πάλαι [with A. B. F. G. Sin. the Vulg. and several ancient Lat. versions. The latter word standing at the beginning of a sentence is without an example in the N. T., and is in itself so difficult a reading as to seem improbable; inasmuch as it makes the whole sentence refer to past instead of present time (Hebrews 1:1); but this only makes it more likely to have been altered. Bloomfield and Wordsworth and Conybeare still adhere decidedly to πάλιν, but Tisch., Lachm., Alford, Stanley, and most recent editors are equally decided in behalf of πάλαι, and are disposed to regard πάλιν either as the mistake of transcribers, or as a conjectural emendation and reminiscence of the parallel 2 Corinthians 3:1.]
2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Corinthians 12:19.—Rec. has κατενώπιον for κατέναντι, as it had also in 2 Corinthians 2:17.
2 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Corinthians 12:20.—Lachmann has ἔρις for ἔρεις, but it has no sufficient authority. [That of Sin. has since been added to that of A. a number of cursives, Syr. Arm.verss., and Chrys. and Theophyl. in favor of Lachmann’s reading. B. D. E.F. G. K. L., et al., the Ital. Syr. (later) Copt. Goth. versions, Theodt. Damasc. Tert. Ambrosiast. have ἔρεις.]
2 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Corinthians 12:20.—Rec. has ζῆλοι. but ζῆλος has better evidence in its favor. [The plural never occurs in classical nor Septuagint Greek. This, as well as the preceding ἔρεις may have been a correction to conform to the other plurals in the verse and to usage. Bloomf. thinks they were a provincialism, and probably genuine. Tisch. has ζῆλος with ἔρεις, while Sin. has ζῆλοι with ἔρις].
2 Corinthians 12:21; 2 Corinthians 12:21.—Rec. has ἐλθόντα με.; but it is the lectio facilior, and it has the least authority. [Ἐλθόντος has A. B. F. G. Sin. and many Fathers in its favor. Most MSS. which have the accus. omit also the subsequent με before ὁ θεός. This suggests that both must have been attempted corrections.]
2 Corinthians 12:21; 2 Corinthians 12:21.—Rec. has ταπεινώσῃ, but ταπεινώσει is better authenticated. The former was an attempt to make the word conform to the preceding subjunctive; [and yet it has A. K. Sin. and many Fathers. It may have been as Alford suggests, an itacism. The latter word has been adopted by Lachm. and Tisch.]
2 Corinthians 13:1; 2 Corinthians 13:1.—Cod. A.reads Ἰδοὺ τρίτ. τοῦτ. ἐτοίμως ἔχω ἐλθεἴν. Ἰδοὺ has in its behalf also Sin. (3d hand), many cursives (some omit τουτο), the Vulg. and Ethiop. verss., and Damasc. Theophyl. and Aug.; but it was doubtless borrowed from 2 Corinthians 12:14. The ἐτοίμ. ἔχω ἐλθ. has also for it the Syr. and Copt. verss., but it was probably taken from the same passage. Sin. also has ἵνα. before ἐπὶ with some less important authorities, and ἤ instead of καὶ, with the Vulg. and Arm. versions. Such authority, however, is hardly sufficient for either.]
2 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Corinthians 13:2.—Rec. has γράφω after νῦν. It appears to have been an addition to conform to 2 Corinthians 12:10. The best MSS. [A. B. D. F. Sin.] are against it.
2 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4.—After the first καὶ γὰρ the Rec. has εἰ, but it is not found in the best MSS. [B. D. F. G. K. Sin. (3d hand inserts εἰ, as do also the Syr. Vulg. Goth. and several Greek Fathers). It appears to have been a correction on account of the doctrinal offence which the text without it gave]. See Exeget notes.
2 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4.—The second καὶ of the Rec. [after καὶ γὰρ and before ἡμεισ], has only feeble authority.
[2 Corinthians 13:4.—For ἐν before αὐτῷ A. F. Sin. have σὺν, and for σὺν before the last ὰὐτῷ some less important MSS. have ἐν, by an obvious interchange].
2 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4.—Much better authority [A. B. D. F. Sin. Damasc.] is found for ζήσομεν than for ζησόμεθα of the Rec. [D. (3d hand) E. K. L. Chrys. Theodt].
2 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4.—Lachmann puts εἰς ὑμᾶς in brackets, but it has ample authority in its favor. [The only important authorities for its omission are B. and Chrysostom].
2 Corinthians 13:7; 2 Corinthians 13:7.—Rec. has εὔχομαι so as to conform to ἐλπίζω. Εὐχόμεθα has decidedly better evidence.
2 Corinthians 13:9; 2 Corinthians 13:9.—Rec. has δὲ καὶ. The best MSS. leave out the δὲ.
2 Corinthians 13:14; 2 Corinthians 13:14.—The ἀμήν is not critically well established. It is wanting in the best MSS. [A. B. F. L. Sin. et al.]
[The whole comment of Chrysostom on this verse is so characteristic a specimen of his discrimination and acuteness, that I cannot resist the inclination to transcribe it:—“It was not hiere out of arrogance, nor the authority of a teacher, hut out of a father’s tender concern, when he is more fearful and trembling than the sinners are themselves at that which is likely to reform them. And not even so does he run them down (κατατρέχει), nor make an absolute assertion, but says doubtingly (ενδοιάλων): “lest perchance when I come” etc. Nor does he call them not virtuous or wicked (ἐναρἐτους), but: ‘I shall not find you such as I would;’ everywhere employing terms of affection. And the words: ‘I shall find,’ are those of one who would express what is out of natural expectation (τὸ παρὰ προσδοκίαν δηλοῦντός ἐστίν), as are also those: ‘I shall be found by you:’ For the thing is not of deliberate choice, hut of a necessity originating with you. Wherefore he says: ‘I shall be found such as ye would not.’ He said not here: such as I would not, but with more severity: ‘such as ye wish not’ for it would in that case become his own will, not indeed what he would first have willed, but his will nevertheless. For he might indeed have said again, ‘such as I would not,’ and so have shown his love; but he wishes not to relax (ἐκλῦσαι) his hearer. Yea, rather, his words would in that case have been even harsher (τραχύτερος), but now he has at once dealt them a smarter blow, and showed himself more gentle. For this is the characteristic of his wisdom (τὸ βαθύτερον τέμνοντα, ἠμερώτερον πλήττειν), cutting more deeply, to strike more gently”].
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25