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1. This Literal Greek, A third this I am coming to you. The obvious meaning is, This is a third intentional coming. The contingency of its becoming a real coming is repeated next verse in the phrase if I come again. The word time is not in the Greek, and the word this can, we think, have strictly no proper reference but to the present writing. St. Paul does not affirm, therefore, three actual comings, or that the completion of his present purpose would make a third coming. That it is only as yet an intentional coming is evinced not only by the present words, but by the parallel passage, 2 Corinthians 12:14, where see note. That there had not been a second actual coming, so as to make the next one a third, is plain from 2 Corinthians 1:15. Then 1 Corinthians 16:5 is quite to the point, where the same Greek word, I do pass, or, I am coming through, expresses an intentional coming only, whether fulfilled or not.
Kling, in Lange, maintains three actual visits, and pronounces the other view “not plausible.” Albert Barnes calls it “trifling and childish in the extreme.” But such peremptory expressions will weigh little against such authorities as Grotius, Wetstein, Bloomfield, Stanley, and Wordsworth.
Two or three witnesses It is impossible for us to imagine that St. Paul was blind to a parallelism between his two or three comings and this two or three witnesses. And if he were not blind to it, he would have avoided it had he not intended it. The parallelism is: Let my three warnings be to you like the three witnesses of the Mosaic law, establishing every word.
II. MEASUREMENT OF THE APOSTLE WITH HIS OPPONENTS, SHOWING HIS OWN SUPERIORITY, 2 Corinthians 11:22 to 2 Corinthians 13:10.
From this long level of preliminary apologies and explanations the apostle now suddenly takes an upward spring, and maintains an eagle flight to the end of the epistle. Claiming to boast not of great talents or grand exploits, and with an occasional flash of irony, he rehearses his sufferings and humiliations for Christ, as well as his revelations and self-sacrifices; and from this elevation comes down in authority upon the infected part of the Corinthian Church.
St. Paul unfolds his equality to, and immense superiority over, his opponents
2. St. Paul now carries out his tri-personal figure by specifying his own threefold testimonies.
I told you before Literal Greek, I have fore-affirmed, and I foretell as present the second [time,] and absent now, to those having before sinned, and to the rest all, that if I come again I will not spare. The three witnesses in St. Paul’s one person are: 1. His fore-affirmation in his first epistle, 1 Corinthians 4:20; 1 Corinthians 2:0. His present epistle, which is the expression of his second intention of visit, 2 Corinthians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 3:0. His actual come again, of which he here expresses the if. Those having before sinned are the incorrigible ones who had stood all the three warnings.
3. Since The 2 Corinthians 13:3-8 must be taken as a separate paragraph, with a period (and not a colon, as in the English version) at close of 2 Corinthians 13:2. The key-word running through the passage, δοκιμη , test, in its different forms, is unhappily translated in our version without due uniformity. The connexion between 2 Corinthians 13:3; 2 Corinthians 13:5 is: Since ye seek a test of me Test your own selves. From which, inclusive to you, 2 Corinthians 13:4, is a parenthesis. The word proof or test, 2 Corinthians 13:3, reappears in prove, 2 Corinthians 13:5, and in reprobates, test-condemned, in 2 Corinthians 13:5-7. The thought running through the whole is, Since you are putting my apostleship to the test, see that your own genuineness, as Christians, can stand the test.
Proof of Christ speaking in me They, the Christine influence in Corinth, were putting St. Paul’s authority from Christ to experiment. Christ speaking in me is a very intense declaration of his own inspiration from Christ. It claims that his own apostolic words are Christ’s words.
Which Who, referring to Christ. The Christ speaking in me… is not weak, but mighty in his announcements, threatenings, and sentences of judgment, toward (not in) you.
4. For The present verse seems to imply that some of the Christines held Christ to have been not only a mere man, but a man without a miraculous resurrection. St. Paul therefore affirms that Christ was not only mighty, as speaking in him, but though crucified through his human weakness, yet he still liveth through divine power. We are humanly weak in him as human.
Live with him… toward you Christ, in his resurrection, is living and ruling over the Church.
We… live with… him Not yet in resurrection, but in apostleship, derived and endowed from the power of God toward you.
5. Examine… prove your own selves As above stated the prove here refers back to the proof of 2 Corinthians 13:3. They should prove or probe, or put to prob -ation, their own genuineness to decide that they were not re- prob -ates. Reprobates are those that cannot bear the probe, proof, or test, but are thereby condemned. The word must be entirely cleared of the Calvinistic doctrine of “reprobation,” according to which God is made eternally to decree that some men shall be wicked, and then damned for the wickedness he has decreed. It simply means men who profess to be Christians, or other good things, but who, when tested, are dis- proved to be such.
Whether… in the faith Look into your own consciousness, and scrutinize whether you are in possession of the faith which justifies, which unites to Christ, and which finally saves.
Your own selves Not so much somebody else as your own selves. And leave not the proving to be done by somebody else, but perform it yourselves, and for yourselves.
Know ye not Very emphatic, as putting a point of infinite importance to be realized.
Christ is in you By his Spirit animating and actuating you; and by the witness of his Spirit testifying to and assuring you. Hereby you have a sure test.
Except ye be reprobates Either an animating, witnessing Christ is in you, or ye are test-condemned, proved by the experiment to be spurious, reprobates.
6. But However it may be as to your genuineness as Christians.
I trust that By ample and powerful proofs, if necessary.
Ye shall know that we Myself, as apostle, are not spurious or reprobates.
7. Now But, qualifying the trust of last verse by wish for something better.
Ye do no evil And so require no proof from me of apostolic power.
Not This wish for your good conduct is not for my own sake, in order that I should appear approved as a genuine apostle by your obedience and acknowledgment without putting me to test.
But… honest Rather, but that ye should do well; even though it should follow that from want of miraculous proof we be as reprobates; that is, be held as spurious. Their salvation, from well-doing, was his supreme object. If by such well-doing he was proved a true apostle, very good; if it rendered him as a no-apostle, still may they do well!
8. For Reason for this conclusion.
The truth Equivalent to the faith in 2 Corinthians 13:5. If they are in the true faith his apostolic thunders cannot touch them. On the contrary, whatever the result may be as to his apostolic standing, he has no power but for the truth.
9. And he rejoices in his powerlessness save for the truth alone.
Glad… weak He rejoices that his apostleship thus loses force by their being strong in Christian truth.
Perfection Your completion as Christians. The image is drawn from a structure, where all the parts are exactly adjusted so as to make it complete and perfect in its kind. Be ye possessed of a complete symmetry of Christian character.
10. Therefore In consequence of this wish.
These things Especially the severe rebukes from 2 Corinthians 10:1, to this point.
Sharpness Severity of reproof. His letter would prepare their minds for his presence.
Edification… destruction So 2 Corinthians 10:8. For the very reason that his power was given for building up, not tearing down, he wrote severely, in order to forestall his being obliged to act severely. They might compel him to tear down in order to build up.
11. Farewell Literally, rejoice. The spirit of the gospel message is joy. Who has so true a reason for joy as the man who possesses its blessed hopes?
Be perfect Let your Christian character be perfect and symmetrical. In doctrine, be evangelical; in spirit, consecrated; in practice, conscientious.
Good comfort Literally, be consoled. There is trouble and sorrow enough in the world; but there is, too, a consolation from above the world.
Of one mind Centred together in the one Christ.
God of… peace If we drive him not away with our own contentious spirit.
6. Affectionate conclusion, 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.
The transition from severity to affection is made in language, because his severity truly arose from affection. This tender conclusion includes the whole Church, even those who were truly doubtful and even unsound, in order to win them to a faithful and united condition. So also his rebukes have been addressed to the whole Church, knowing that the faithful would approve their severity and the unfaithful recognise themselves in the picture.
12. Holy kiss Note, Romans 16:16.
13. All the saints A salute probably from the Church at Philippi to the Church at Corinth, two noble bodies of the young Christian republic.
14. The benediction, flowing in sacred beauty from the mind of St. Paul. Like the baptismal sentence of our Lord, it implanted the impress of the Holy Trinity on the mind of the early Church. It proceeds in the order of Christian life. First, grace from Christ, bringing justification; second, love from God as to an adopted child; then the witness and the abiding impartation of the Spirit. Such is the blessed climax of our gospel inheritance.
All No exclusion, no decreed reprobation. A universal atonement, a universal love, a universal sanctification, a conditional universal salvation, breathe forth from the universal gospel.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16