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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
2 Corinthians 12

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 12

2 Corinthians 12:1. καυχᾶσθαι δή] So also Tisch., following K M and most min. Arm. and the Greek Fathers. But B D** E F G I, and many min., also Syr. utr. Arr. Vulg. It. Ambrosiast. have the reading καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ, which Griesb. has recommended, and Scholz, Lachm. Rück. have adopted. D* א* 114, Copt. Slav. codd. Lat. Theophyl. have καυχᾶσθαι δέ, which Fritzsche, Diss. II. p. 122 f., prefers. The testimonies for καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ preponderate so decidedly that we are not entitled to derive δεῖ from 2 Corinthians 11:30. On the other hand, the apparent want of connection in καυχ. δεῖ οὐ συμφ. was sufficient, occasion, partly for changing δεῖ into δέ, or by means of itacism into δή (the latter Reiche defends and Ewald follows, also Hofm.), partly for prefixing an εἰ to the καυχ. from 2 Corinthians 11:30 ( א** 39, Lect. 17, Vulg. Pel.).

οὐ συμφέρει μοι, ἐλεύσομαι γάρ] Lachm. and Rück. read οὐ συμφέρον μὲν, ἐλεύσομεν δέ (Lachm.: δὲ καί, after B), supported by B F G א, and in part by some min. vss. and Fathers. But μὲνδέ betrays itself as a correction by way of gloss of the difficult γάρ, in which μοί was supplanted by μέν, and γάρ by δέ. The question whether συμφέρον is original instead of συμφέρει, is decided by the circumstance that, according to the codd., the reading συμφέρον is connected with the reading μὲνδέ, and hence falls with it.—2 Corinthians 12:3. ἐκτός] B D* E* א, Method. in Epiph. have χωρίς. So Lachm. Tisch. and Rück. Rightly; ἐκτός is from 2 Corinthians 12:2. The subsequent οὐκ οἶδα is deleted by Lachm., but only on the authority of B, Method.—2 Corinthians 12:6. τί] is doubtless wanting in B D*** E** F G א* 37, 67** Arm. Boern. Tol. Harl.** codd. Lat. Or., and is deleted by Lachm. and Rück. But how easily it was left out, being regarded as utterly superfluous, and even as confusing!—2 Corinthians 12:7. Before the first ἵνα Lachm. has διό, following A B F G א 17, Boern. An insertion for the sake of connection, occasioned by the not recognising the inverted order of the words, so that καὶ τῇ ὑπερβ. τῶν ἀποκαλ. was attached in some way to what goes before (with some such meaning as this: in order that no one may get a higher opinion of me … even through the abundance of the revelations).

The second ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι is wanting in A D E F G א* 17, and several vss. and Fathers (bracketed by Lachm.); but the emphasis of the repetition being overlooked, the words have been passed over as having been used already.—2 Corinthians 12:9. δύναμίς μου] μου is wanting in A* B D* F G א*, and several vss. and Fathers. Deleted by Bengel, Lachm. Tisch. Considering, however, the no small weight of the testimonies for μου (A** D*** E K L א** and almost all min. vss. Or. Chrys. Theodoret), and seeing that the syllable μου might easily be passed over after the syllable μις, the Recepta is to be preserved, its sense also being necessary according to the whole contex.

τελειοῦται] A B D* F G א* have τελεῖται. So Lachm. Tisch. and Rück. Rightly; the former is an interpretation.—2 Corinthians 12:11. After ἄφρων Elz. has καυχώμενος, against decisive evidence. An exegetical addition.—2 Corinthians 12:12. ἐν σημείοις] ἐν is wanting in A B D* א17, 39, 71, al. Vulg. ms. Clar. Germ. Tol. and Fathers; while F G, Boern. Syr. Chrys. Ambrosiast. have καί. ἐν is mechanically repeated from what precedes, and with Lachm. Tisch. and Rück. is to be deleted.—2 Corinthians 12:13. ἡττήθητε] B D* א* 17 have ἡσσώθητε (so Lachm.), which is nothing but a copyist’s error, and in D and א is rightly corrected; F G have ἐλαττώθητε, which is a gloss.—2 Corinthians 12:14. After τρίτον Griesb. Scholz, Lachm. Rück. Tisch. read τοῦτο, following doubtless a preponderance of authorities, among which, however, D E 93, Copt. Syr.? put it before τρίτον. An addition from 2 Corinthians 13:1.

ὑμῶν] is wanting after καταναρκ. in A B א 17, 71, al. Aeth. Damasc., while D* F G have ὑμᾶς. Both have been supplied, and are rightly deleted by Lachm. Tisch.—2 Corinthians 12:15. εἰ καί] καί is wanting in A B F G א* Copt. Sahid. Deleted by Lachm. An addition from misunderstanding; see the exegetical remarks.—2 Corinthians 12:19. πάλιν] Lachm. Tisch. and Rück. read πάλαι on preponderating evidence. Rightly; the πάλαι not understood was erroneously glossed.

In what follows κατέναντι is to be adopted instead of κατενώπιον, with Lachm. and Rück., on preponderating evidence. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17.—2 Corinthians 12:20. Instead of ἔρεις, Lachm. and Rück. read ἔρις, but against preponderating evidence. The latter might easily originate through itacism. Instead of ζῆλοι, Lachm. Tisch. and Rück. read ζῆλος, following A B D* F G, Goth. Syr. Arm. Dam. Rightly; the plural crept in from the surrounding forms.—2 Corinthians 12:21. ἐλθόντα με] Lachm. Rück. and Tisch. read ἐλθόντος μου, following A B F G א* 39, 93. Rightly; the Recepta is a grammatical emendation, which brought with it the omission of the subsequent με.

ταπεινώσῃ] Lachm. and Tisch. read ταπεινώσει, following B D E F G L, min. Oec. The subjunctive is a mechanical alteration in accordance with the preceding and usual form.

CONTENTS.

Breaking off from what precedes, Paul passes over to the revelations which he has had, narrates one of them, and says: Of this he would boast, not of himself, except only of his weaknesses; for he will perpetrate no folly by self-glorying, but abstains from it, in order not to awaken too high an opinion of himself (2 Corinthians 12:1-6). And in order that he might not plume himself over those revelations, there was given to him a painful affliction, on account of which after a thrice-repeated invocation he had been referred by Christ to His grace; hence he preferred to glory in his weaknesses, in order that he might experience the power of Christ, for which reason he had pleasure in his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

He had become a fool, compelled thereto by them; for he ought to have been commended by them, since in no respect did he stand behind the fancied apostles, but, on the contrary, had wrought amongst them the proofs of his apostolic dignity (2 Corinthians 12:11-12). This leads him, amidst bitter irony, again to his gratuitous working, which he will continue also on his third arrival (2 Corinthians 12:13-15). But not only had he not by himself and immediately taken advantage of them, but not even through others mediately (2 Corinthians 12:16-18). Now begins the conclusion of the whole section: Not before them, but before God, does he vindicate himself, yet for their edification. For he fears that he may find them not in the frame of mind which he wishes, and that he may be found by them in a fashion not wished for (2 Corinthians 12:19-21).


Verse 1

2 Corinthians 12:1.(349) Scarcely has Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:32 f., begun his καυχᾶσθαι τὰ τῆς ἀσθενείας with the incident in Damascus, when he breaks off again with the thought which, in the instantaneous, true tact of his consciousness (comp. on 2 Corinthians 11:32 f.), as it were bars his way: καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ, οὐ συ΄φέρει ΄οι (see the critical remarks): to boast of myself is necessary, not beneficial for me. Let it be observed that οὐ συμφ. is the antithesis of δεῖ (necesse, non utile est), and that a comma only must therefore stand after δεῖ; further, that ΄οι belongs not merely to συ΄φ., but also to δεῖ (Tobit 5:14; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. iii. 3. 10, Anab. iii. 4. 35; Mätzner, ad Antiph. p. 257);(350) lastly, that συμφ. means the moral benefit as opposed to the ethical disadvantage of the self-exaltation (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:7, and see Theophyl.): “saluberrimum animo τῆς οἰήσεως συστολή,” Grotius. Comp. Ignat. Trall. 4 : πολλὰ φρονῶ ἐν θεῷ, ἀλλʼ ἐμαυτὸν μετρῶ, ἵνα μὴ ἐν καυχήσει ἀπόλωμαι. The δεῖ arose out of the existing circumstances of the Corinthians, by which Paul had seen himself necessitated to the καυχᾶσθαι; but the οὐ συμφέρει prevails with him to pass on to something else and far higher, as that in which there lay no self-glory (2 Corinthians 12:5). With the reading δή (see the critical remarks) the δή would only make the notion of καυχᾶσθαι more significantly(351) prominent, like the German eben or ja [certainly, or indeed] (see Krüger, § 69, 19. 2; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 392; Bäumlein, Partikell. p. 98), but could not, as Hofmann (with an inappropriate appeal to Hartung) assumes, denote glorying “simply and absolutely,” in contrast with a καυχᾶσθαι τὰ τῆς ἀσθενείας. This Paul would have known how to express by something like ἁπλῶς δὴ καυχᾶσθαι.

ἐλεύσο΄αι] not: I would (to which Hofmann practically comes), but: I will (now) come to speak. See Wolf, Curae; Dissen, ad Pind. Ol. ix. 83, p. 119.

γάρ] He might also have said οὖν, but his conception is, that by his passing over to something else the οὐ συ΄φέρει ΄οι is illustrated and confirmed. See Klotz, ad Devar. p. 235; Bäumlein, Partik. p. 86.

εἰς ὀπτασίας καὶ ἀποκαλ. κυρίου] i.e. to facts, in which Christ imparted to me visions and revelations.(352) The genitivus subjecti κυρίου is the characteristic definition, which both words need (not simply the second, to which Hofmann limits it). Theophylact remarks that in ἀποκαλ. there is added to ὀπτασ. something more, μὲν γὰρ μόνον βλέπειν δίδωσιν, αὕτη δὲ καί τι βαθύτερον τοῦ ὁρωμένου ἀπογυμνοῖ. This distinction, however, keeps the two ideas apart contrary to their nature, as if the apocalyptic element were not given with the ὀπτασία. ὀπτασία (“species visibilis objecta vigilanti aut somnianti,” Grotius) is rather a special form of receiving the ἀποκάλυψις (comp. Lücke, Einl. in d. Offenb. Joh. I. p. 27, ed. 2), which latter may take place by means of such a miraculous vision (Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:1; Daniel 10:16); see also Luke 1:22; Acts 26:19. This is the meaning of ὀπτασία here, and ἀποκαλ. is a wider idea, inasmuch as revelations occur also otherwise than in the way of visions beheld, although here ensuing in that way; comp. 2 Corinthians 12:7, where ἀποκαλ. stands alone.

That Paul by what follows wishes to prove, with a polemic object against the Christine party, that external acquaintance with Christ was superfluous (so Baur; see also Oecumenius), is not to be assumed, just because otherwise the mention of his having had a vision of Christ would be necessary for its bearing on the sequel. Nor can we from this passage infer it as the distinctive feature of the Christines, that they had claimed to stand by visions and revelations in a mystical connection with Christ (Schenkel, Dähne, de Wette, Goldhorn; comp. also Ewald, Beyschlag), since Paul is contending against specifically Judaistic opponents, against whom he pursues his general purpose of elucidating his apostolic dignity, which enemies obscured in Corinth,(353) from the special distinctions which he, and not his opponents, had to show (comp. Räbiger, p. 210; Klöpper, p. 99 ff.).


Verse 2

2 Corinthians 12:2. He now quotes instar omnium a single event of such a nature, specially memorable to him and probably unique in his experience, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.

οἶδα ἄνθρωπον κ. τ. λ.] I know a man … who was snatched away. Paul speaks of himself as of a third person, because he wishes to adduce something in which no part of the glory at all falls on the Ego proper. And how suitable in reality was the nature of such an event to the modest mode of representation, excluding all self-glory! In that ecstasy the Ego had indeed really ceased to be the subject of its own activity, and had become quite the object of the activity of others, so that Paul in his usual condition came before himself as other than he had been in the ecstasy, and his I, considered from the standpoint of that ecstasy, appeared as a he.

ἐν χριστῷ] a man to be found in Christ (as the element of life), 1 Corinthians 1:30, a Christian; not: “quod in Christo dico, i.e. quod sine ambitione dictum velim,” Beza, connecting it with οἶδα (comp. Emmerling).

πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων] belongs to ἁρπαγέντα, from which it is separated by the parenthesis. We may add that this note of time is already decisive against those, who either find in this incident the conversion of the apostle (or at least something connected therewith), as Damasus, Thomas, Lyra, L. Capellus, Grotius, Oeder, Keil, Opusc. p. 318 ff.; Matthaei, Religionsgl. I. p. 610 ff., and others, including Bretschneider and Reiche, and quite recently Stölting, Beitr. z. Exeg. d. Paul. Br. 1869, p. 173—or identify it with the appearance in the temple, Acts 22:17 ff., as Calvin (but uncertainly), Spanheim, Lightfoot, J. Capellus, Rinck, Schrader, and others; comp. also Schott, Erört. p. 100 ff.; Wurm in the Tüb. Zeitschr. 1833, 1, p. 41 ff.; Wieseler, p. 165, and on Gal. p. 591 ff.; Osiander. The conversion was upwards of twenty years earlier than this Epistle (see on Acts, Introd. § 4). See, besides, Estius and Fritzsche, Diss. I. p. 58 ff.; Anger, rat. temp. p. 164 ff. In fact, even if the definition of the time of this event could be reconciled with that of the appearance in the temple, Acts 22:17 ff., still the narrative of this passage (see especially 2 Corinthians 12:4 : ἤκουσεν ἄῤῥητα κ. τ. λ.) is at any rate so essentially different from that in Acts 22, that the identity is not to be assumed.(354) The connection which Wieseler assumes with the Damascene history does not exist in reality (comp. on 2 Corinthians 11:32 f.), but with 2 Corinthians 12:1 there begins something new. The event here mentioned, which falls in point of time to the stay at Antioch or to the end of the stay at Tarsus (Acts 11:25), is to us quite unknown otherwise. The reason, however, why Paul added the definition of time is, according to Chrysostom, Pelagius, Theodoret, and others, given thus: “videmus Paulum ipsum per annos quatuordecim tacuisse, nec verbum fuisse facturum, nisi importunitas malignorum coëgisset,” Calvin. But how purely arbitrary! And whence is it known that he had been so long silent regarding the ecstasy? No; the specification of time flowed without special design just as naturally from the pre-eminently remarkable character which the event had for Paul, as from the mode of the representation, according to which he speaks of himself as of a third person, in whose case the notice of an already long past suggested itself spontaneously; for “longo tempore alius a se ipso quisque factus videtur” (Bengel).

εἴτε ἐν σώματι] sc. ἡρπάγη from what follows. Regarding εἴτεεἴτε, whether … or, see Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 202 f., also Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 224. He puts the two cases as quite equal as respects possibility, not the first as more probable; hence with the second εἴτε no καί is added; see Dissen. In that ecstasy his lower consciousness had so utterly fallen into abeyance, that he could not afterwards tell (according to Athan. c. Ar. Serm. 4 : dared not tell) whether this had taken place by means of a temporary withdrawal of his spirit out of the body, or whether his whole person, the body included ( ἐν σώματι), had been snatched away. By this alternative he expresses simply the utter incomprehensibleness for him of the manner of the occurrence. It is to him as if either the one or the other had taken place, but he knows neither the former nor the latter; hence he is not to be made responsible for the possibility or eventual mode of the one or other. “Ignoratio modi non tollit certain rei scientiam,” Bengel. Following Augustine, Genes. ad lit. xii. 5, Thomas and Estius explained ἐν σώματι: anima in corpore manente, so that Paul would say that he does not know whether it took place in a vision ( ἐν σώματι) or by an actual snatching away of the spirit ( ἐκτὸς τοῦ σ.). But if he had been uncertain, and had wished to represent himself as uncertain, whether the matter were only a seeing and perceiving by means of the spiritual senses or a real snatching away, it would not have had at all the great importance which it is held to have in the context, and he would only have exposed to his rivals a weak point, seeing that inward visions of the supernatural, although in the form of divinely presented apparitions, had not the quite extraordinary character which Paul manifestly wishes to ascribe to the event described. This also in opposition to Beyschlag, 1864, p. 207, who explains the alternative εἴτε ἐν σώματι only as the bestowal of a marvellous “range” and “reach” of the inward senses—in spite of the ἁρπαγέντα. Moreover, we must not ascribe to the apostle the Rabbinical opinion (in Schoettgen, Hor. p. 697) that he who is caught into paradise puts off his body and is clothed with an ethereal body; because otherwise he could not have put the case εἴτε ἐν σώματι.(355) So much, however, is clear, that for such a divine purpose he held as possible a temporary miraculous withdrawal of the spirit from the body without death.(356) The mode(357) in which this conceived possibility was to take place must be left undetermined, and is not to be brought under the point of view of the separability of the bare πνεῦμα (without the ψυχή) from the body (Osiander); for spirit and soul form inseparably the Ego even in the trichotomistic expression of 1 Thessalonians 5:23, as likewise Hebrews 4:12 (see Lünemann in loc.). Comp. also Calovius against Cameron. Hence also it is not to be said with Lactantius: “abit animus, manet anima.”

The anarthrous ἐν σώματι means bodily, and that his own body was meant by it, and τοῦ σώματος with the article is not anything different, was obvious of itself to the reader; σῶ΄α did not need the article, Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaed. p. 83 C.

ἁρπαγέντα] the stated word used of sudden, involuntary raptures. See Acts 8:39; Revelation 12:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The form of the 2d aorist belongs to the deteriorated Greek. See Thomas Mag. p. 424; Buttmann, I. p. 381.

τὸν τοιοῦτον] summing up again (Kühner, II. p. 330): such an one, with whom it was so. Comp. 1 Corinthians 5:5.

ἕως τρίτου οὐρ.] thus, through the first and second heaven into the third.(358) As the conception of several heavens pervades the whole of the O. and N. T. (see especially, Ephesians 4:10; Hebrews 4:14); as the Rabbins almost unanimously (Rabbi Juda assumed only two) reckon seven heavens (see the many passages in Wetstein, Schoettgen, Hor. p. 718 ff.; comp. also Eisenmenger, Entdeckt. Judenth. I. p. 460; Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 247); and as Paul here names a definite number, without the doctrine of only three heavens occurring elsewhere; as he also in 2 Corinthians 12:4 specifies yet a higher locality situated beyond the third heaven: it is quite arbitrary to deny that he had the conception of seven heavens, as was done by Origen, contra Celsum, vi. p 289: ἑπτὰ δὲ οὐρανοὺς, ὅλως περιωρισμένον ἀριθμὸν αὐτῶν, αἱ φερόμεναι ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις οὐκ ἀπαγγέλλουσι γραφαί. The rationalistic explanations of more recent expositors, such as that of Billroth (following Schoettgen): that he only meant by this figurative (?) expression to express the nearness in which his spirit found itself to God, have as little exegetical warrant as the explanation of Calvin, Calovius, and others, that the holy number three stands κατʼ ἐξοχήν pro summo et perfectissimo, so that τρίτου denotes “the highest and most perfect sphere of the higher world” (Osiander);(359) or as the assertion of others (Estius, Clericus, Bengel, and others), that it is a doctrine of Scripture that there are only three heavens (the heaven of clouds, the heaven of stars, and the empyrean; according to Damascenus, Thomas, Cornelius a Lapide, and others, “coelum sidereum, crystallinum, empyreum;” according to Grotius: “regio nubifera, reg. astrifera, reg. angelifera”), or the fiction of Grotius and Emmerling, that the Jews at that time had assumed only these three heavens. It is true that, according to the Rabbins, the third heaven was still no very exalted region.(360) But we do not know at all what conception of the difference of the seven heavens Paul followed (see below), and are therefore not at all justified in conjecturing, with Rückert, in opposition to the number seven, that Paul was not following the usual hypothesis, but another, according to which the third heaven was at least one of the higher;(361) but see on 2 Corinthians 12:4, where a still further ascent from the third heaven into paradise is mentioned. Even de Wette finds the usual view most probable, that by the third heaven is meant the highest; “in such things belonging to pious fancy nothing was established until the Rabbinical tradition became fixed.” But the third heaven must have been to the readers a well-known and already established conception; hence we are the less entitled to depart from the historically attested number seven, and to adopt the number three (nowhere attested among the Jews) which became current in the church only on the basis of this passage (Suicer, Thes. II. p. 251), while still in the Test. XII. Patr. (belonging to the second century) p. 546 f., the number seven holds its ground, and the seven heavens are exactly described, as also the Ascensio Jesaiae (belonging to the third century) has still this conception of Jewish gnosis (see Lücke, Einl. in d. Offenb. Joh. I. p. 287 f., ed. 2). How Paul conceived to himself the several heavens as differing, we cannot determine, especially as in those Apocryphal books and among the Rabbins the statements on the point are very divergent. Erroneously, because the conception of several heavens is an historical one, Hofmann (comp. also his Schriftbeweis, II. 1, p. 535) has regarded ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ as belonging to the vision, not to the conception (in connection with which he lays stress on the absence of the article), and spiritualizes the definite concrete utterance to this effect, that Paul in the vision, which made visible to him in a spiritual manner the invisible, “saw himself caught away beyond the lower domains of the supermundane and up into a higher region.” This is to depart from the clear literal meaning and to lose oneself in generalities. It is quite unwarranted to adduce the absence of the article with τρίτου, since with ordinal numbers the article is not at all required, Matthew 20:3; Mark 15:25; Acts 2:15; Acts 23:23; John 1:40; Thuc. ii. 70. 5; Xen. Anab. iii. 6. 1; Lucian, Alex. 18; 1 Samuel 4:7; Susann. 15; see Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. vii. 7. 35; Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 292, ed. 3.


Verse 3-4

2 Corinthians 12:3-4. And I know such a man … that he, namely, was caught away, etc. The expression is here the well-known attraction οἰδά σε τίς εἶ. Most expositors consider the matter itself as not different from what is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:2, so that τρίτος οὐρανός and παράδεισος would be one and the same. But it is decisive against this view, that τρίτος οὐρανός cannot without arbitrariness be taken otherwise than of a region of heaven comparatively low (see on 2 Corinthians 12:2). Besides, the whole circumstantial repetition, only with a change in designating the place, would not be solemn language, but battology. This also in opposition to Hofmann, who imports the modification: “The one time emphasis is laid only on the surroundings, into which he found himself transported away from the earth; the other time on the contrast of the fellowship of God, into which he was transported away from the church of God here below.” Clemens Alexandrinus, Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, and several Fathers and schoolmen (see Estius and Bengel on the passage), also Erasmus(362) and Bengel,(363) have rightly distinguished paradise from the third heaven. Comp. also Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 246; Osiander, Hilgenfeld, and others. Still we are not, with Bengel (comp. de Wette), to regard (see on 2 Corinthians 12:2) paradise as interius quiddam in coelo tertio, quam ipsum coelum tertium (comp. Cornelius a Lapide); but Paul relates first how he was caught up into the third heaven, and then adds, as a further point in the experience, that he was transported further, higher up into paradise, so that the ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ was a break, as it were, a resting-point of the raptus. Thus, too, the repetition of the same words, as well as the repetition of the parenthesis, obtains its solemn character; for the incident is reported step by step, i.e. in two stages.

The paradise is here not the lower, i.e. the place in Sheol, in which the spirits of the departed righteous are until the resurrection (see on Luke 16:23; Luke 23:43), nor as Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 489, substitutes in place of this historical conception the abstraction: “the present communion of the blessed dead with God, as it is on this side of the end of things;” but the upper, the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7; Enoch 35:1) in heaven, where God’s dwelling is. This distinction is one given historically, and necessary for the understanding of the passage, and is rightly maintained also by Osiander, Hahn, and others. Comp. the Rabbinical passages in Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. I. 296 ff., and generally, Thilo, ad Ev. Nic. 25, p. 748 ff.; Gfrörer, Jahrh. d. Heils, II. p. 42 ff. The idea, however, that Christ has carried the believing souls out of Hades with Him to heaven (Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 414) goes beyond Scripture, and is not presupposed even in this passag.

ἄῤῥητα ῥήματα] an oxymoron:(364) dicta nefanda dictu, speakings, which may not be spoken (Dem. 1369. 25, 1370. 14; Soph. O. R. 465; Eur. Hel. 1370; and Pflugk in loc.), i.e. which may not be made the subject of communication to others. The revelations which Paul received were so sublime and holy, that the further communication of them would have been at variance with their character; what was disclosed to him was to be for him alone, for his special enlightenment, strengthening, comforting, with a view to the fulfilment of his great task; to others it was to remain a mystery, in order to preclude fanatical or other misuse; comp. Calvin. That ἄῤῥητα here does not mean quae dici negueunt (Plato, Soph. p. 238 C), as Beza, Estius, Calovius, Wolf, and many others, including Billroth and Olshausen, hold (Rückert is not decided), is shown by the solemn epexegetical οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπῳ λαλῆσαι, in which ἐξόν means licet, fas est, and is not—as Luther and many older and later commentators, including Billroth and Olshausen, wish to take it, quite at variance with the signification of the word—equivalent to δύνατον. The Vulgate aptly renders: “et audivit arcana verba, quae non licet homini loqui,” i.e. which a man may not utter aloud. Lucian, Epigr. 11 (Jacobs, Del epigr. VII. 66): ἀῤῥήτων ἐπέων γλώσσῃ σφρηγὶς ἐπικείσθω, Soph. El. 1000, Aj. 213. Comp. Revelation 10:3 f.

ἀνθρώπῳ] for they are reserved only for divine communication; a man, to whom they are revealed, may not utter them.

As to what it was that Paul heard for himself, the Fathers and schoolmen made many conjectures after their fashion. See Cornelius a Lapide and Estius. Theodoret well says: αὐτὸς οἶδεν ταῦτα τεθεαμένος.(365) From whom as the organ of communication he heard it, remains veiled in apocalyptic indefiniteness. Revealing voices (comp. Rev. l.c.) he did hear.


Verse 5

2 Corinthians 12:5. On behalf of the one so constituted I will boast, but on behalf of myself, etc. Paul abides by his representation begun in 2 Corinthians 12:2, according to which he speaks of himself as of a third person. The reader understood him! to the effect, namely, that apart from that difference of persons underlying the mere representation, the essential meaning of ὑπὲρ τοῦ τοιούτου καυχήσομαι was the same as if Paul had written: τὸ τοιοῦτο (or ἐν τῷ τοιούτῳ) καυχήσομαι. But this may not mislead us, with Luther, Mosheim, Zachariae, Heumann, Schulz, Rosenmüller, Rückert, to take τούτου as neuter; for in favour of the view that it is masculine (so after Chrysostom, most expositors, including Flatt, Fritzsche, Billroth, Olshausen, de Wette, Ewald, Osiander, Hofmann) we may decisively urge not merely τὸν τοιοῦτον, 2 Corinthians 12:2-3, as well as the personal contrast in ἐμαυτοῦ, and the otherwise marred symmetry of the whole mode of representation (see Fritzsche, Diss. II. 124), but also ὑπέρ, which with καυχᾶσθαι denotes the person for whose advantage (see on 2 Corinthians 5:12), not simply in regard to whom (Hofmann), the boast is made; the thing is afterwards by ἐν expressly distinguished from the person. The objection of Rückert, that Paul might not push the conception so far! is quite invalid, since, in fact, the readers, if they once knew that from 2 Corinthians 12:2 onward he meant himself, could not at all misunderstand hi.

εἰ μή is not for ἐὰν μή (Rückert), but it introduces an actually existing exception to that principle(366) ὑπὲρ ἐμαυτοῦ οὐ καυχήσομαι. It is, however, neither necessary nor justifiable to supply with ὑπ. ἐ΄. οὐ καυχ.: “of the visions and revelations which I have had,” so that εἰ ΄ή would form an inexact contrast (de Wette), since Paul, quite in harmony with 2 Corinthians 11:30, absolutely denies that he wishes to boast on behalf of his own self otherwise than only of his weaknesses (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:30). Self-glorying otherwise is only then to take place on his part, when his own Ego (his work, toil, merit, etc.) does not come at all into consideration, but he is merely the dependent, receptive instrument of the Lord, and appears as a third person, on behalf of whom the καυχᾶσθαι takes place. The plural ἀσθεν. denotes the various situations and manifestations, in which his feebleness presents itself.


Verse 6

2 Corinthians 12:6. γάρ] is not indeed or however (Flatt and others), nor are we, with Rückert, to supply a μέν after ἐάν; but the thought, for which γάρ assigns the reason, is—by a frequent usage very natural with the lively train of thought (see especially, Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 464 ff.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 83 f.)—as resulting of itself, not expressly set forth; it is implied in the οὐ καυχήσομαι εἰ μὴ κ. τ. λ., in so far as these words presuppose that Paul could boast, if he would. In reference to this he continues: for in case I possibly shall have wished, etc. Comp. Winer, p. 422 [E. T. 568]. Osiander wrongly refers γάρ to the first half of 2 Corinthians 12:5; for the second half contains the leading thought and the progressive point of the passage. According to Ewald, Paul means the time of judgment, when he shall wish really to glory, whereas now he refrains. In this case he must have subsequently at least written νῦν δὲ φείδομαι in order to be understood, and even then the reference of the θελήσω to the day of judgment, in the absence of any express designation of the latter, would only be very indirectly indicate.

ἐάν] does not stand for κἄν any more than at 2 Corinthians 10:8 (in opposition to Rückert).

οὐκ ἔσομαι ἄφρων] glancing back to 2 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:16 ff., but spoken now in entire seriousness, expressing the folly of the vaunting which injures the truth.

φείδομαι δέ] sc. τοῦ καυχᾶσθαι, i.e. but I keep it back, make no use of it. Comp. Xen. Cyr. i. 6. 35, iv. 6. 19; Soph. Aj. 115; Pind. Nem. ix. 20. 47; LXX. Job 33:18; Wisdom of Solomon 1:11; Dissen, ad Pind. p. 488; Porson, ad Eur. Or. 387.

μή τις εἰς ἐμὲ λογίσηται κ. τ. λ.] Purpose of the φείδομαι δέ: in order that no one may judge in reference to me beyond that, as which he sees me (i.e. supra id quod vidit esse me, Beza), or what he possibly hears from me (out of my mouth), i.e. in order that no one may form a higher opinion of me than is suggested to him by his being eye-witness of my actions, or by his being, it may be, an ear-witness of my oral ministry. Many in Corinth found his action powerless and his speech contemptible (2 Corinthians 10:10); but he wished still to call forth no higher judgment of himself than one consonant to experience, which could not but spontaneously form itself; hence he abstains from the καυχᾶσθαι, although he would speak the truth with it. On λογίσηται, comp. 2 Corinthians 11:5; Philippians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 4:1, al. Ewald takes it: in order that no one may put to my account. This, however, would be expressed by μή τις ἐμοὶ λογίσ.

The τί (possibly) is to be explained as a condensed expression: si quid quando audit. See Fritzsche, Diss. II. p. 124; Schaefer, ad Dem. IV. p. 232; Bremi, ad Aesch. II. p. 122 f. On ἐξ ἐμοῦ, comp. Herod. iii. 62, and the Latin audio ex or de aliquo. See Madvig, ad Cic. Fin. p. 865.


Verse 7

2 Corinthians 12:7. καί] is the simple copula, not even (Fritzsche). The course of thought, namely, is: For this reason I abstain from καυχᾶσθαι (2 Corinthians 12:6), and—to return now to what I said in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5—as concerns those revelations which I, though without self-glorifying, leave not unmentioned (2 Corinthians 12:5), care is taken of this, that I do not vaunt myself on this distinctio.

τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῶν ἀποκαλ.] Dativus instrumenti: because the revelations imparted to me have a character so exceeding,—a nature transcending so utterly all the bounds of what is ordinary. The order of the words is inverted, in order to make the whole attention of the reader dwell on τῇ ὑπερβ. τ. ἀποκαλ., to which the discourse here returns.(367) Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:4; Galatians 2:10, al. See on Romans 11:31.

ἐδόθη μοι σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκὶ κ. τ. λ.] “Ex alto habuit revelationem, ex profundo castigationem,” Bengel. It is not to be connected so as also to take in ἵνα ἄγγελος σατ. με κολαφ. (Knapp), nor is σκόλοψ to be considered as a prefixed apposition, and ἄγγελος σατ. as subject (Tertullian, and probably also Chrysostom, see Fritzsche, Diss. II. p. 127). For it may be urged against the former, that an inappropriate relation of meaning would result from it; and against the latter, which Hofmann has again preferred, that there is no reason whatever for departing from the usual order of the words, since even with it the ἵνα με κολαφ. applies to the angel of Satan. The ordinary construction is to be retained as the simplest and most natural; according to this, ἄγγελος εατ. appears as an appositional more precise definition of σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί: there was given to me a thorn for my flesh, an angel of Satan.

ἐδόθη] by whom? The usual answer, given also by Rückert, Olshausen (“the educating grace of God”), Ewald, is: by God. See especially, Augustine, de nat. et grat 27: “Neque enim diabolus agebat, ne magnitudine revelationum Paulus extolleretur, et ut virtus ejus proficeretur, sed Deus. Ab illo igitur traditus erat justus colaphizandus angelo Satanae, qui per eum tradebat et injustos ipsi Satanae.” Certainly ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι is the purpose not of the devil, but of the divine will, without which the suffering in question inflicted by the devil on the apostle could not affect him; but just because the latter has thought of the devil as the one from whom that suffering proceeded, he must have conceived him also as the giver, because otherwise his mode of representation would be self-contradictory. Doubtless Satan is only the mediate giver,(368) who thereby is to serve the divine final aim ἵνα μὴ ὑπαιρ.; but the explanation, that Paul had wished to say (?) that God had permitted (so also Chrysostom and Theophylact) Satan to torment him (Billroth) is a quite arbitrary alteration of what Paul actually says. His meaning is rather, and that expressed in an active form: Satan has given to me a thorn for the flesh, in order to torment me with it—which has the moral aim ordained in the divine counsel, that I should not vaunt mysel.

σκόλοψ] only here in the N. T. It may mean stake, ξύλον ὀξύ, Hesychius (Homer, Il. viii. 343, xv. 1, xviii. 177; Herod. ix. 97; Xen. Anab. v. 2. 5), but also thorn (Lucian, Merc. cond. 3; LXX. Hosea 2:6; Ezekiel 28:24; Numbers 33:55; Sirach 43:19, and Fritzsche in loc., Dioscor. in Wetstein), as, indeed, it may also denote anything pointed, splinters, ridges, etc. The Vulgate has stimulus. It is here commonly taken as stake, many, like Luther, thinking of a penal stake.(369) Comp. σκολοπίζω, impale, ἀνασκολοπίζω, Herod. i. 128. But as the conception of a stake fixed in his flesh has something exaggerated and out of keeping about it, and as the figurative conception of a thorn pressed into the flesh with acute pain might very naturally occur to him from the LXX. (Numbers 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24), the latter signification is to be preferred. Comp. Artem. iii 33: ἄκανθαι καὶ σκόλοπες ὀδύνας σημαίνουσι διὰ τὸ ὀξύ.

τῇ σαρκί] is most naturally attached to σκόλοψ as an appropriating dative (comp. Castalio): a thorn for the flesh, which is destined to torment that sensuous part of my nature which lusts to sin (in specie, to self-exaltation). Fritzsche, who, with Winer, Osiander, and Buttmann, takes τῇ σαρκί as defining more precisely the part of μοι (see as to the σχῆμα καθʼ ὅλον καὶ μέρος, more used by the poets, Nägelsbach on the Il. ii. 171, iii. 438; Reisig, ad Oed. Col. 266; Jacobs, Delect. Epigr. p. 162, 509; Kühner, II. p. 145), objects that τῇ σαρκί seems inappropriate, because it is inconceivable that a σκόλοψ should torment the soul, and not the body. But this objection would apply, in fact, to Fritzsche’s own explanation, and cannot at all hold good, partly because it is certainly possible to think figuratively of a σκόλοψ tormenting the soul (see Artemid. l.c., where, among the figurative references of ἄκανθαι κ. σκόλοπες, he also adduces: καὶ φρόντιδας καὶ λύπας διὰ τὸ τραχύ), partly because σάρξ does not denote the body absolutely, or only according to its susceptibility (Hofmann), but according to its sinful quality which is bound up with the σάρξ. The objection, on the other hand, that salutary torment is not the business of an angel of Satan (Hofmann), leaves out of consideration the divine teleology in the case; comp. on 1 Corinthians 5:5.

ἄγγελος σατᾶν] Paul considers his evil, denoted by σκόλοψ τ. σ., as inflicted on him by Satan, the enemy of the Messiah, as in the N. T. generally the devil appears as the originator of all wickedness and all evil, especially also of bodily evil (Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 372 f.; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 462). By the addition of ἄγγελος σατ. in apposition to σκόλοψ τ. σ. the σκόλοψ is personified, and what is an ἔργον of Satan appears now, under the apostle’s vivid, concrete mode of view, an angel of Satan. The interpretation which takes the indeclinable σατᾶν,(370) occurring only here in the N. T. (see, however, LXX. 1 Kings 11:14; 1 Kings 11:22; 1 Kings 11:25; Aq. Job 1:6), as the genitive, is the usual and right one. For if σατᾶν be taken as a nominative, it must either be a nomen proprium: the angel Satan (Billroth), or it would have to be taken adjectivally: a hostile angel (Cajetanus and others, including Flatt). But the latter is against the standing usage of the N. T., into which שָׂטָו has passed only as a nomen proprium. Against the former no doubt Fritzsche’s reason is not decisive: “sic neminem relinqui, qui ablegare Satanam potuerit” (comp. Rückert), since Satan in his original nature was an angel, and might retain that appellation without the point of view of the sending coming further into consideration; nor can we, with Olshausen, urge the absence of the article, since ἄγγ. σατ. might have assumed the nature of a proper name; but the actual usage is against it, for Satan, so often as he occurs in the N. T., is never named ἄγγελος (Revelation 9:11 is not to the point here, see Düsterdieck in loc.), which was a very natural result of the altered position of the devil, who, from being an ἄγγελος before, had become the prince (Ephesians 2:2) of his kingdom, and now had angels of his own (Matthew 25:41, comp. Barnab. 18).

ἵνα με κολαφίζῃ] design of the giver in ἐδόθη μοι κ. τ. λ.: in order that he may buffet me (Matthew 26:67; 1 Corinthians 4:11; 1 Peter 2:20). The present denotes the still subsisting continuance of the suffering. See Theophyl.: οὐχ ἵνα ἅπαξ με κολαφίσῃ, ἀλλʼ ἀεί. Comp. Chrysostom. The subject is ἄγγελος σατᾶν, as indeed often the continuation of the discourse attaches itself to the apposition, not to the subject proper. See Fritzsche, Diss. II. p. 143 f. Fritzsche himself, indeed, regards σκόλοψ as the subject,(371) and assumes that the vivid conception of the apostle has transferred to the subject what properly belongs only to the apposition, to which view he had been moved by the similar sound of σκόλοψ and κολαφίζῃ, as well as by the personification of σκόλοψ. But how easily might he have found a word which would have suited the conception of the personified σκόλοψ, and would not have been inappropriate to the apposition ἄγγ. σατ.! But in fact he has chosen a word which does not suit σκόλοψ at all, and suits ἄγγ. σατ. exclusively, and hence we are not warranted in denying that the word belongs to ἄγγ. σατ. Besides, this connection is most naturally suggested by the relations of the sense; for only by ἵνα με κολαφ. does ἄγγ. σατ. come to be a complete apposition to σκόλοψ τ. σ., inasmuch as the element of pain in the case expressed in σκόλοψ τ. σ. is not yet implied in the mere ἄγγ. σατᾶν, but is only added by ἵνα με κολαφ.

ἵνα μὴ ὑπεραίρωμαι] paedagogic aim of God’s guidance in this κολαφίζειν. See above. The devil and his angels serve, against their intention, the intention of God. See Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 382 f. In the repetition of the same words there is expressed the deeply felt importance of this telic destination. See Heindorf, ad Phaed. p. 51 ff.; Matthiae, p. 1541. Comp. also Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. xxxix.

Lastly, as concerning the thing itself, which Paul denotes by σκόλοψ τ. σ. κ. τ. λ., it was certainly known by the Corinthians from their personal acquaintance with Paul without any more precise indication; to us at least any special indication has been denied. For a great host of attempts at explanation, some of them very odd, see Poole’s Synopsis; Calovius, Bibl. ill. p. 518 ff.; Wolf, Cur. The opinions are in the main of three kinds: (1) that Paul means spiritual assaults of the devil (what are called injectiones Satanae), who suggested to him blasphemous thoughts (Gerson, Luther, Calovius), stings of conscience over his earlier life (Luc. Osiander, Mosheim; also Osiander, who includes also a bodily suffering), and the like. The Catholics, however, to whom such an exposition, favouring forms of monastic temptation, could not but be welcome, thought usually of enticements of Satan (awakened, according to Cardinal Hugo, by association with the beautiful Thecla!)(372) to unchastity (Thomas, Lyra, Bellarmine, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, and many others, and still Bisping), for which Augustine and Theophylact are often wrongly quoted as vouchers. (2) That Paul means the temptations on the part of his opponents(373) engaged in the service of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Corinthians 11:15), or the temptations and troubles of his apostolic office in general (Theodoret, Pelagius, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, and many others, including Fritzsche, Schrader, Reiche, Comm. crit. p. 401). (3) That Paul means a very severe bodily suffering (Augustine and many others, including Delitzsch and Hofmann), in connection with which conjecture has lighted on a variety of ailments, such as hypochondriac melancholy (Bartholinus, Wedel, and others), pain in the head ( τίνες already in Chrysostom, Theophylact, Pelagius, Oecumenius, and Jerome, ad Galatians 4:14, mention it; so also Teller), haemorrhoids (Bertholdt), “falling sickness or something similar” (Ewald, Hofmann), epileptic attacks of cramp (Ziegler, Holsten), and several others.

Against No. 1 we cannot urge τῇ σαρκί, since the devil’s influence would have, in operating on the moral consciousness, to start certainly from the σάρξ, where the principle of sin has its seat (Romans 7), but we may urge σκόλοψ and ἵνα με κολαφ., figurative expressions which evidently portray an acute and severe pain. Besides, under such a constant spiritual influence of the devil, Paul would not appear in a manner in keeping with his nature wholly filled by Christ (see especially, Galatians 2:20), and with his pneumatic heroism. Enticements to unchastity are not even to be remotely thought of on account of 1 Corinthians 7:7; it would be an outrage on the great apostle. Against No. 2 it is to be remarked that here a suffering quite peculiar must be meant, as a counterpoise to the quite peculiar distinction which had accrued to him by the ὑπερβολὴ τῶν ἀποκαλύψεων. Besides, adversaries and official troubles belonged necessarily to his calling (see especially, 2 Corinthians 4:7 ff., 2 Corinthians 6:4 ff.), as, indeed, he had these in common with all true preachers of Christ, and knew how to find an honour in them (comp. Galatians 6:17); hence he would certainly not have besought the taking away of these sufferings, 2 Corinthians 12:8. It is believed, no doubt, that this explanation may be shown to suit the context by 2 Corinthians 12:9 compared with 2 Corinthians 12:10 (see especially, Fritzsche, p. 152 f.), but ἀσθένεια in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 expresses only the category, to which also that special suffering belonged. Accordingly No. 3 remains at all events as the most probable, namely, the hypothesis that Paul bore in his person some kind of painful, chronic bodily evil, which seemed to him as inflicted by Satan.(374) Only this evil cannot at all be specified more precisely than that it made itself felt in its paroxysms by shocks of pain, which might be compared to blows; but in what part of the body it had its seat (possibly proceeding from the head) cannot with certainty be inferred from κολαφίζειν, since this word, like the more correct Greek κονδυλίζειν, denotes buffeting with the fist. More specific conjectures are mere fancies, are liable to be enlisted in the service of tendency-criticism (Holsten, who attaches to this suffering the disposition to visionary conditions), and come to some extent into sharp collision with the fact of the apostle’s extraordinary activity and perseverance amid bodily hardships. The hypothesis of a bodily suffering, with the renunciation of any attempt to specify it more precisely, is rightly adhered to, after older expositors, by Emmerling, Olshausen, Rückert, de Wette, Beyschlag, et al. (though Rückert here also appeals to the alleged traces of sickness in our Epistles, such as 1 Corinthians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 4:12, as well as to Galatians 4:13-15); while others, as Neander and Billroth, content themselves with an utter non liquet, although the former is inclined to think of inward temptations.(375)


Verse 8-9

2 Corinthians 12:8-9. ὑπὲρ τούτου] in reference to whom, namely, to this angel of Satan. That τούτου is masculine (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:3), not neuter (Vulgate, Luther, Flatt, Osiander, and others), is evident from the fact that ἵνα ἀποστῇ ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ follows without any other subject. On the latter, comp. Luke 4:13; Acts 5:38; Acts 22:29.

τρίς] is taken since Chrysostom’s time by many as equivalent to πολλάκις; but quite arbitrarily, and not at all in keeping with the small number! No; Paul relates historically, as it really happened, leaving it withal undetermined what intervals had elapsed between these invocations. At his first and second appeal to the Lord no answer was made; but when he had made a third appeal, the answer came. And that he thereupon did not entreat again, was understood of itself from his faithful devotion to Him, whose utterance he had now received. According to Billroth, τρίς is intended to intimate a thrice-repeated succumbing to that pain, a thrice-repeated utter dejection, which, however, is sheer fanc.

τὸν κύριον] not God (Calvin, Neander, and others), but Christ (see 2 Corinthians 12:9), who is, in fact, the heavenly advancer of His kingdom and mighty vanquisher of Satan.(376)

εἴρηκέ μοι] The perfect, which Rückert finds surprising, is what is quite commonly used of the continued subsistence of what has been done: he has spoken, and I have now this utterance abidingly valid. Accordingly the evil itself is to be regarded as still adhering to the apostle. How he received the answer, the χρηματισμός (Matthew 2:12; Luke 2:6; Acts 10:22), from Christ (by some kind of inward speaking, or by means of a vision, as Holsten holds), is entirely unknown to u.

ἀρκεῖ σοι χάρις μου] there suffices for thee my grace, more thou needest not from me than that I am gracious to thee. In this is implied the refusal of the prayer, but at the same time what a comforting affirmation! “Gratia esse potest, etiam ubi maximus doloris sensus est,” Bengel. Rückert (comp. Grotius) takes χάρις quite generally as good-will; but the good-will of the exalted Christ is, in fact, always grace (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:13; Acts 15:11; Romans 5:15), and made itself known especially in the apostle’s consciousness as grace, 1 Corinthians 15:8-9, and often. A special gift of grace, however (Chrysostom: the gift of miracles), is arbitrarily importe.

γὰρ δύναμίς μου κ. τ. λ.] for my strength is in weakness perfected. The emphasis lies on δύναμις: “Thou hast enough in my grace; for I am not weak and powerless, when there is suffering weakness on the part of the man to whom I am gracious, but exactly under these circumstances are my power and strength brought to perfection, i.e. effective in full measure.” Then, namely, the divine δύναμις of Christ has unhindered scope, not disturbed or limited by any admixture of selfish striving and working. The relation is similar in 1 Corinthians 2:4 f. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:7. With the reading without μου (see the critical remarks), which Hofmann too prefers, there would result the quite general proposition: “for power there attains to its full efficacy, where weakness serves it as the means of its self-exertion” (as Hofmann puts it)—a proposition, which is only true when the δύναμις is different from the ability of the weak subject, and can work with all the less hindrance amidst the powerlessness of the latter. Hence, for the truth of the proposition and in keeping with the context (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:9), the specification of the subject for δύναμις cannot at all be dispensed wit.

ἥδιστα οὖν μᾶλλον καυχήσομαι κ. τ. λ.] the altered tone proceeding from that answer of Christ. Grotius(377) and others, including Emmerling, join ΄ᾶλλον with ἥδιστα, although ΄ᾶλλον is used to heighten the comparative, but not the superlative (see on 2 Corinthians 7:13). Estius (comp. previously, Erasmus) finds in μᾶλλον: “magis ac potius, quam in ulla alia re, qua videar excellere;” Bengel and Billroth: ἐν ταῖς ἀποκαλύψεσιν; Rückert: more than of what I can (my talents and performances); comp. also Ewald. But against all this is the consideration that Paul must have written: ΄ᾶλλον ἐν ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ΄ου καυχήσο΄αι. As the text stands, ΄ᾶλλον belongs necessarily to καυχήσο΄αι (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:7), not to its object. And the reference of μᾶλλον is furnished by the context. Previously, namely, Paul had stated how he had prayed the Lord to take away his suffering. Now, however, after mentioning the answer received, he says: With the utmost willingness (maxima cum voluptate, comp. 2 Corinthians 12:15) therefore will I, encouraged by the word of the Lord which I have, only all the more (comp. on 2 Corinthians 7:7) glory in my weaknesses; all the more boldly will I now triumph in my states of suffering, which exhibit me in my weakness; comp. Romans 5:3; Romans 8:35 ff. More than would have been otherwise the case, is the courage of the καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ταῖς ἀσθενείαις increased in him by that utterance of the Lor.

ἵνα ἐπισκηνώσῃ κ. τ. λ.] Aim of the ΄ᾶλλον καυχήσο΄αι κ. τ. λ. And the Lord’s answer itself has, in fact, placed this goal before his eyes, and assured him of his reaching it. The ἐπʼ ἐ΄έ is conceived of as: may take its abode on me, i.e. may come down before me and unite itself with me for abiding protection, comfort, strengthening, etc.(378) The choice of the word ἐπισκην. leads us to conclude that he has conceived of the case as analogous to the Shechinah (comp. on John 1:14; John 14:23). The direction from above downward is not withal implied in ἐπί by itself, which rather indicates direction in general (comp. Polyb. iv. 18. 8 : ἐπισκηνοῦν ἐπὶ τὰς οἰκίας, to go into quarters in the houses), but is given in the context. Comp. Psalms 104:12.


Verse 10

2 Corinthians 12:10. διό] because, namely, in such circumstances with such a mood the power of Christ joins itself with m.

εὐδοκῶ ἐν ἀσθεν.] I take pleasure in weaknesses, bear them with inward assent and willingly, when they befall me. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:4. “Contumax enim adversus tormenta fides,” Tacitus, Hist. i. 3; Seneca, de prov. iv. 4. ἀσθ. are here, as in the whole context, situations of human powerlessness, brought about by allotted experiences of suffering. Afterwards four, partly more, partly less special, kinds of such situations are adduced. Rückert, quite at variance with the context, understands diseases to be mean.

ἐν ὕβρεσιν] passive: in cases of arrogant treatment, which I experience. On the plural, comp. Plato, Legg. i. p. 627 A Dem. 522. 13; Sirach 10:8. They bring into necessities ( ἀναγκ.); and persecutions drive into straitened positions ( στενοχ.), out of which no issue is apparent (comp. on 2 Corinthians 4:8).

ὑπὲρ χριστοῦ] belongs neither to all five elements (so usually), nor simply to the last four points (Hofmann), but to εὐδοκῶ: for Christ’s sake, because by such sufferings His honour and His work are promoted. That Paul meant sufferings for Christ, was, indeed, self-evident. But he wishes to assign the specific motive for his εὐδοκῶ.

τότε δύνατός εἰμι] inwardly through Christ’s power. See 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. τότε, then, is emphatic, here with the feeling of victoriousness. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:54; Colossians 3:4; Hom. Il. xi. 191 f., 206 f.; Plato, Phil. p. 17 D, Conv. p. 192 B. On the idea, comp. the expression on of Moses in Philo, Vit. M. 1, p. 613 B: τὸ ἀσθενὲς ὑμῶν δύναμίς ἐστιν.


Verse 11

2 Corinthians 12:11. Paul now comes to a stand, and surveys how much he has said in commendation of himself from chap. 11 onward. This retrospect extorts from him the admission: γέγονα ἄφρων, but as respects its contents he at once proceeds to justify himself, and to impute the blame to the readers. It is not to be taken either as a question or in the sense of a hypothetical protasis (Hofmann gives a choice between the two). The ὑμεῖς κ. τ. λ., asyndetic, but all the more striking, gives no ground for such a weakening of the meanin.

γέγονα ἄφρων] ironical exclamation; for it is clear from 2 Corinthians 11:16, 2 Corinthians 12:6, that Paul did not really regard his apologetic καυχᾶσθαι hitherto as a work of folly. But the opponents took it so! In the emphatically prefixed γέγονα (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:17) there is implied: it has come to pass that I am a fool! This now subsists as accomplished fact! “Receptui canit,” Benge.

ὑμεῖς με ἠναγκάσατε· ἐγὼ γὰρ κ. τ. λ.] This justifies him and blames the Corinthians for that γέγονα ἄφρ. The emphatic ὑμεῖς, and afterwards the ἐγώ, the emphasis of which Rückert failed to perceive, correspond to each other significantly: you have compelled me; for I had a claim to be commended by you, instead of commending myself. The stress is on ὑφʼ ὑμῶν, next to the ἐγώ, in which there is a side-glance at the pseudo-apostles, boastful themselves, and boasted of by their partisan.

οὐδὲν γὰρ ὑστέρησα κ. τ. λ.] Reason assigned for ἐγὼ ὤφελον. See, moreover, on 2 Corinthians 11:5. The aorist refers to the time of his working at Corinth. The negative form of expression is a pointed litote.

εἰ καὶ οὐδέν εἰμι] although I am quite without value and without importance. The same humility as in 1 Corinthians 15:8-10. But how fraught with shame for the opposing party, with which those false apostles were of so great account! And in this way the significant weight of this closing concessive clause is stronger and more telling than if it were attached as protasis to what follows (Hofmann). It is more striking.

In regard to οὐδὲν εἶναι, see on 1 Corinthians 13:2; Galatians 6:3.


Verse 12

2 Corinthians 12:12. Proof of the previous οὐδὲν ὑστέρησα τῶν ὑπερλ. ἀποστ: The signs, indeed (yet without producing among you the due recognition), of the apostle were wrought among gou. The μέν solitarium leaves it to the reader to supply for himself the corresponding contrast, so that it may be translated by our truly indeed. See especially, Baeumlein, Partik. p. 163; Maetzner, ad Antiph. p. 153; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 1. The contrast to be supplied here is put beyond doubt by the idea of the σημεῖα which is placed emphatically and significantly at the head; hence we must reject what Billroth (followed by Olshausen) supplies; but even otherwise you can make no complaint about anything.

τὰ σημεῖα τοῦ ἀποστ. is that which divinely evinces the apostle to be such, that by which one discerns the apostle. ἀπόστολος with the article does not denote the ideal of an apostle (Billroth), which would be at variance with his humility, but the apostle in abstracto. Bengel says aptly: “ejus, qui sit apostolus.”

κατειργάσθη ἐν ὑμῖν] namely, which I was with you. The I, however, retreats modestly behind the passive expression. The compoundperficere notat maxime rem arduam factuque difficilem,” Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 107.

ἐν πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ] the manner of the κατειργάσθη ἐν ὑμῖν, strengthening the force of the proof: in all manner of perseverance, so that amidst adverse and painful circumstances there was perseverance with all possible stedfastness in fully exhibiting these signs of an apostle. The view followed by many older expositors since Chrysostom: “primum signum nominat patientiam,” is erroneous, since the ὑπομονή is not a specifically apostolic σημεῖον.(379)

σημείοις κ. τέρασι καὶ δυνάμεσι] whereby those signs of an apostle were accomplished, so that σημείοις is here meant in a narrower sense (miraculous signs) than the previous τὰ σημεῖα. The three words in emphatic accumulation denote the same thing under the two different relations of its miraculous significance ( σημ. κ. τέρ.) and of its nature ( δύν. deeds of power, 1 Corinthians 12:10). Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 2:4; Acts 2:22. The notions of σημεῖα and τέρατα are equivalent. See on Romans 15:19.

Paul therefore wrought miracles also in Corinth, and wrought them as legitimations of his apostleship (Hebrews 2:4). Comp. Romans 15:19; Acts 15:12.

On the accumulation of terms, comp. Cic. Tusc. ii. 40 26: “His ego pluribus nominibus unam rem declarari volo, sed utor, ut quam maxime significem, pluribus.” Comp. also Cic. de Fin. iii. 4. 14; Nat. D ii. 7. 18.

How at variance with our passage is the historical criticism, which lays down à priori the negation of miracles!


Verse 13

2 Corinthians 12:13. τί γάρ ἐστινὑμῶν] Bitterly ironical justification of what was said in 2 Corinthians 12:12. For what is there, in which you were placed at a disadvantage towards the other churches (in which I wrought), except, etc.? that is to say: for in nothing have you come behind, as compared with the other churches, except, etc. Quite arbitrarily Grotius limits this question, which embraces the whole blissful apostolic working, to the communication of gifts by the laying on of hands.

ὑπέρ] means nothing else than beyond, but in the direction downward (reference to the minus) which ἡττήθητε specifies. Comp. Winer, p. 376 [E. T. 502]. Rückert, overlooking the comparative sense of ἡττήθητε, says: there is here an ironical confession that all churches had disadvantage from Paul, and it is only denied that the disadvantage of the Corinthian was greater than that of the other churches. This would not suit at all as assigning a reason for 2 Corinthians 12:12. In assigning a reason, Paul could not but say: ye have in nothing come off worse; but to say, for your disadvantage has not been greater, would, with all its irony, be inappropriate. On the accusative of more precise definition with ἡττήθητε, comp. Xen. Cyr. i. 4. 5 : ἡττῷτο. The more usual construction or ἐν .

εἰ μὴ ὅτι κ. τ. λ.] In this exception (“specie exceptionis firmat quod dieit,” Grotius) lies the painful bitterness of the passage, which in the request that follows χαρίσασθε κ. τ. λ. becomes still sharper. It is the love, deeply hurt in its pure consciousness, that speak.

αὐτὸς ἐγώ] I myself; this places his own person over against the apostolic services indicated in τίἡττήθητε. Comp. in general on Romans 9:3. Rückert (so also Bengel) holds that Paul has already had in his mind what he subjoins in 2 Corinthians 12:16-18. Such an arbitrary prolepsis of the reference is the more untenable, seeing that with 2 Corinthians 12:14-15 another train of ideas intervene.

οὐ κατενάρκησα ὑμῶν] See on 2 Corinthians 11:8. Only by the fact that he has not been burdensome to them in accepting payment and the like, has Paul asserted himself as an apostle less among them than among the other churches! For this injustice they are to pardon him!


Verse 14

2 Corinthians 12:14. After that cutting irony comes the language of paternal earnestness, inasmuch as Paul once more (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:9-12) assures them that even on his impending third arrival among them he will remain true to his principle of not burdening them, and explains why he will do s.

ἰδού] vivid realizing of the position in the changing play of emotio.

τρότον] emphatically prefixed, belongs to ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:1), not to ἑτοίμως ἔχω, as Beza, Grotius, Estius, Emmerling, Flatt, and others, also Baur (in the Theol. Jahrb. 1850, 2, p. 139 ff.), Lange, Apost. Zeitalt. I. p. 200 f., would have it,(380) since, according to the context, it was not on his third readiness to come that anything depended, but on the third arrival, for only as having arrived, could he be burdensome to the readers. Comp. the Introd., and see Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1830, p. 614 ff.; Neander, I. p. 414; Anger, Rat. temp. p. 71; Wieseler, Chronol. d. ap.Zeitalt. p. 233. Chrysostom aptly says: καὶ δεύτερον παρεγενόμην καὶ τρίτον τοῦτο παρεσκεύασμαι ἐλθεῖν, καὶ οὐ καταναρκήσω ὑμῶν.

οὐ γὰρ ζητῶ κ. τ. λ.] for my endeavour is not directed to yours, but to you; you yourselves (your ψυχαί, 2 Corinthians 12:15)—namely, that I may win you for the salvation in Christ (Matthew 18:15; 1 Corinthians 9:19)—are the aim of my striving. “Dictum vere apostolicum,” Grotius. Comp. Cic. de Fin. ii 26: “Me igitur ipsum ames oportet, non mea, si veri amici futuri sumus.” Comp. also Philippians 4:17.

οὐ γὰρ ὀφείλει κ. τ. λ.] Confirmation of the principle previously expressed, from a rule of the natural rightful relations between parents and children; for Paul was indeed the spiritual father of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:15). The negative part of this confirmation corresponds to οὐ ζητῶ τὰ μῶν, and the positive to the ὑμᾶς; for, while Paul ζητεῖ αὐτούς (not τὰ αὐτῶν), he is the father, who gathers for his children treasures, namely, the blessings of the Messianic kingdo.

οἱ γονεῖς] sc. ὀφείλουσι θησαυρίζειν, not as Beza holds: θησαυρίζουσι; for ὀφείλει is not impersonal. That by the first half of the verse, moreover, the duty of children in love to support and provide for their parents is not excluded, is clear from the very θησαυρίζειν, and is just as obvious of itself as that in the second part the θησαυρίζειν is not to be urged as a duty of parents (1 Timothy 5:8), but always has merely its relative obligation, subordinate to the higher spiritual care (Matthew 6:33, 2 Corinthians 12:19-21; Ephesians 6:4; Mark 8:36).


Verse 15

2 Corinthians 12:15. Paul applies what was said generally in 2 Corinthians 12:14 : οὐ γὰρ ὀφείλει κ. τ. λ., to himself ( ἐγώ, I on my part): I, however, will very willingly spend and be spent for the good of your souls, in order, namely, to prepare them for the salvation of eternal life (Hebrews 10:39; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 1:9; James 1:21). Theodoret rightly says: ἐγὼ δὲ τῶν φύσει πατέρων καὶ πλέον τι ποιεῖν ἐπαγγέλλομαι.

For examples of δαπανᾶκ ( ἐκ strengthens, Polyb. xxv. 8. 4, xxi. 8. 9, xvii. 11. 10) used of the life, see Kypke, II. p. 272. On the subject-matter, comp. Horace, Od. i. 12. 38 f.: “animaeque magnae prodigum Paullum.”

εἰ περισσοτ. ὑμᾶς ἀγαπῶν ἧττον ἀγαπῶμαι] εἰ does not stand for εἰ καί (which is read by Elzevir and Tischendorf), for which Rückert takes it, but is the simple if, and that not even in the sense of ἐπεί or ὅτι, as it is used “ne quid confidentius, directius affirmetur” (Dissen, ad Dem, de Cor. p. 195), but, as is here most in keeping with tender delicacy in the expression of a harsh thought, in the purely hypothetical sense: if, which I leave undecided, etc. In view of the possible case, that he finds the less love among his readers, the more he loves them (this is implied in the mutual reference of the two comparatives, see Matthiae, § 455, Rem. 7),(381) the apostle will most gladly sacrifice his own (what he has from others, or even by his own work) and himself (comp. Romans 9:3; Philippians 2:17) for their souls, in order that thus he may do his utmost to overcome this supposed—and possibly existing—disproportion between his loving and being loved by stimulating and increasing the latter (Romans 12:21; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Hofmann, not observing the clever turn of the hypothetical expression of the thought, without reason finds this view absurd, and with sufficient crudeness and clumsiness takes εἰ to ἀγαπῶμαι as an independent question, to which Paul himself makes answer with ἔστω δέ (in the sense: be it so withal, I will let it rest there). To this interrogative view Hofmann ought all the less to have resorted, seeing that interrogation in such an indirect form (Winer, p. 474 [E. T. 639], and see on Matthew 12:10; Luke 13:23) is wholly without example in Paul, often as he has had an opportunity for using it. It is found often in Luke, more rarely in Matthew and Mark. Except in the writings of these three, the N. T. does not present that independent use of the indirectly interrogative εἰ.


Verses 16-18

2 Corinthians 12:16-18. Refutation of the possible slander, which assuredly was also actually ventured on the part of his adversaries, that, if he had not himself directly burdened the Corinthians, he had still done so in a cunning way indirectly by means of his emissaries.

In 2 Corinthians 12:16 Paul does not, indeed, speak in the person of his opponents, for otherwise, instead of ἐγώ, he must have expressed himself in the third person; but he clothes his speech in the words of his adversaries.(382)

ἔστω δέ] concessive: but be it so, it may, however, be the case that I have not oppressed you. Comp. Plat. Gorg. p. 516 C, al. (Krüger, § 54, 4. 2); also the εἶεν, very common in classical writers, Stallbaum, ad Plat. Euthyph. p. 13 D Reisig, ad Oed. Col. 1303, and for the similar use of the Latin esto, sit ita sane, Cicero, Tusc. i. 43. 102; De Fin. iv. 45.

ἐγώ] my own perso.

ἀλλʼ ὑπάρχων κ. τ. λ.] no longer depends on ἔστω δέ, but is the contrast—to be read as an exclamation—of ἔστω δὲ, ἐγὼ οὐ κατεβάρ. ὑ΄ᾶς: but cunningly I, et.

δόλῳ] This would have been the case, if he had made plunder of them indirectly by a third han.

ἔλαβον] caught, figure taken from hunting. See on 2 Corinthians 11:20. Comp. on δόλῳ λαμβάν. Soph. Phil. 101, 107, 1266.—2 Corinthians 12:17-18 now show in lively questions, appealing to the reader’s own experience, how untrue that ἀλλʼ ὑπάρχωνἔλαβον was. Have I then overreached you by one of those whom I sent to you? namely, by claims for money, and the like. The construction is anacoluthic, inasmuch as Paul, for emphasis, prefixes absolutely the τινα ὧν ἀπέσταλκα πρὸς ὑμᾶς as the object of what he wishes to say, and then subjoins the further statement independently of it, so that the accusative remains the more emphatically pendent—a usage found also in classical writers. See Bernhardy, p. 133.

ὧν] τούτων οὕς. Comp. Romans 15:18.

In 2 Corinthians 12:18 he now mentions, by way of example, Titus, whom he had encouraged to travel to Corinth, and his fellow-envoy, and he asks, significantly repeating ἐπλεονέκτ. and prefixing it: Has Titus overreached you? This journey of Titus to Corinth is not, as is otherwise usually supposed, the one mentioned in chap. 8, which had yet to be made, and in which Titus had two companions (2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:22), but the one made soon after our first Epistle, and mentioned in chap. 7. The fact that Titus ‘only is here mentioned, and not also Timothy (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10), is made use of to support the opinion that Timothy had not come to Corinth at all (see the Introd.). Comp. Rück. pp. 380, 409. But how groundlessly! From the long and close connection of the apostle with the Corinthians it may be even à priori concluded, that he had sent various persons to Corinth beside Titus; and he himself testifies this by the plural ὧν ἀπέσταλκα. But here he names only Titus instar omnium as the one last sent. Besides, it would not have been even proper to say: I have sent Timothy to you, since Timothy, in fact, was joint-sender of the letter (2 Corinthians 1:1).

τὸν ἀδελφόν] the brother (fellow-Christian) well known to them (but unknown to us).(383) That in that mission he was quite subordinate to Titus is clear from συναπέστ., and from the fact that in what follows the conduct of Titus alone is spoken o.

τῷ αὐτῷ πνευμ.] with the same Spirit, namely, with the Holy Spirit determining our walk and excluding all πλεονεξία. The dative is that of manner to the question how? Comp. Acts 9:31; Acts 21:21; Romans 13:13. It may, however, also be just as fitly taken as dative of the norm (Galatians 5:16; Galatians 6:16). We cannot decide the point. If the inward agreement is denoted by τῷ αὐτῷ πνευμ., the likeness of outward procedure is expressed by τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἴχυεσι (comp. Plat. Phaed. p. 276 D: τῷ ταὐτὸν ἴχνος μετιόντι). But here the dative is local, as in Acts 14:16; Jude 1:11 (comp. Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 225 f.). So Pind. Pyth. x 20: ἐμβέβακεν ἴχνεσιν πατρός, comp. with Nem. vi 27: ἴχνεσιν ἐν πραξιδάμαντος ἐὸν πόδα νέμων. Whose are the footsteps, in which the two walked? The footsteps of Paul, in which Titus followed his predecessor (comp. Lucian, Herm. 73), so that they thereby became the same, in which both walked—said with reference to the unselfishness maintained by both. The context does not yield any reference to Christ (1 Peter 2:21).


Verse 19

2 Corinthians 12:19. His vindication itself is now concluded. But in order that he may not appear, by thus answering for himself, to install the readers as judges over him, he further guards his apostolic dignity against this risk. Carrying them in mediam rem, he says: For long you have been thinking that we are answering for ourselves to you! Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:3. Correction of this opinion: Before God we speak in Christ; it is God in presence of whom (as Judge) we speak in Christ’s fellowship (as the element in which we subsist and live). ἐν χ. gives to λαλοῦμεν its definite Christian character (which, with Paul, was at the same time the apostolic one). Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:17. But, that he may not suppress the proper relation of his apology to the readers, he adds lovingly: but the whole, beloved, (we speak) for your edification, for the perfecting of your Christian lif.

πάλαι δοκεῖτε ὅτι ὑμῖν ἀπολογ.] After adopting the reading πάλαι (see the critical remarks) this sentence is no longer to be taken interrogatively, because otherwise an unsuitable emphasis would be laid on πάλαι. Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Rückert have also deleted the mark of interrogation. πάλαι means nothing else than for a long time, in which, however, the past to be thought of may be very short according to the relative nature of the notion of time, as e.g. Hom. Od. xx. 293 f. μοῖραν μὲν δὴ ξεῖνος ἔχει πάλαι, ὡς ἐπέοικεν, ἴσην Plat. Gorg. p. 456 A Phaed. p. 63 D, al.; see Stallbaum, ad Plat. Apol. p. 18 B Xen. Anab. iv. 8. 14, iv. 5. 5; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 481. So also the Latin dudum, jamdudum. Here the meaning is, that the readers are already for long, during the continuation of this apology, remaining of opinion, etc. As respects the connection with the present, see further, Plato, Phaedr. p. 273 C Xen. Anab. vii. 6. 37. There exists no reason for attaching πάλαι to 2 Corinthians 12:18 (Hofmann, then taking δοκεῖτε interrogatively), and it would, standing after ἴχνεσι, come in after a tame and dragging fashion, while it would have had its fitting position between οὐ and τῷ αὐτῷ.

ὑμῖν] Dative of destination. Comp. Acts 19:33; Plato, Protag. p. 359 D Pol. x. p. 607 B. Vobis, i.e. vobis judicibus, has here the chief emphasis, which Rückert has aptly vindicated. The earlier expositors, not recognising this, have accordingly not hit on the purpose and meaning of the passage; as still Billroth: “It might seem that he wished to recommend himself” (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:1, 2 Corinthians 5:12). To this his answer is: “I speak before God in Christ, i.e. my sentiments in what I say are not selfish, but upright and pure.” Comp. Chrysostom, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Grotiu.

κατέναντι τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν χρ. λαλοῦμεν] to be taken together,(384) as in 2 Corinthians 2:17.

τὰ δὲ πάντα] sc. λαλοῦμεν. Grotius and others, including Griesbach, Scholz, Olshausen, and Ewald, read τάδε as one word, and connect it with the previous λαλοῦ΄εν. But for what end? The mode of expression in the usual way of writing it is quite Pauline, and makes the important thought more emphatically prominent; ὅδε never occurs with Paul, and the reference of τάδε to what goes before would at least not be in accordance with the common usage (comp. on Luke 10:39).


Verse 20

2 Corinthians 12:20 f.(385) Subjective justification of what was just said, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν οἰκοδομῆς. For I fear to find you on my arrival such as have very great need of οἰκοδο΄ή.

The sharp lesson which he now gives his readers down to 2 Corinthians 13:10, although introducing it not without tenderness to their feelings ( φοβοῦ΄αι, and then the negative form of expression), could not but wholly cancel the thought: ἡ΄ῖν ἀπολογεῖται, and make them feel his apostolic position afresh in all its ascendancy. It is in this way that the victor speaks who has reconquered his domain, and this language at the end of the letter completes the mastery shown in its well-calculated arrangemen.

κἀγὼ εὑρεθῶ ὑμῖν κ. τ. λ.] and that I shall be found such an one as you do not wish, namely, as τιμωρὸς καὶ κολαστῆς, Theophylact; 1 Corinthians 4:21. The negation attaches itself to οἵους in the first clause, but in this second to θέλετε, by which there is produced a climax in the expressio.

ὑ΄ῖν] Reference of εὑρεθῶ: for you, to your judgment based on experience. Comp. Romans 7:10; 2 Peter 3:14. This is more delicate and expressive than the meaning of the common interpretation: by you (dative with the passive), Romans 10:20.

What follows is not, with Rückert, to be regarded as if μήπως down to ἀκαταστασίαι were a more precise explanation regarding the condition of the Corinthians (consequently regarding that μήπως ἐλθὼν οὐχ οἵους θέλω εὕρω ὑμᾶς), and, 2 Corinthians 12:21, a more precise explanation regarding the apostle’s duty to punish (consequently regarding that κἀγὼθέλετε)). Against this it may be decisively urged that 2 Corinthians 12:21 brings forward quite a different category of sinful states from 2 Corinthians 12:20, and that 2 Corinthians 12:21, rightly understood, does not yet express any threat of punishment. No; the arrangement of the passage is this: After Paul has said that he is afraid of not finding them such as he wishes them, and of being found by them such as they would not wish him, he now gives the more precise explanation of that first apprehension ( μήπωςεὕρω ὑμᾶς), by adducing two kinds of sins, which he fears to find among them, namely, (1) the mischiefs occasioned by partisan feeling; and (2) the sins of impurity, which would bow him down and make him sad. The further explanation regarding the second apprehension expressed, κἀγὼ εὑρεθῶ ὑμῖν οἷον οὐ θέλετε, thereupon follows only at 2 Corinthians 13:1 ff.

΄ήπως ἔρεις κ. τ. λ.] sc εὑρεθῶσιν ἐν ὑμῖν.

ἔρεις, ζῆλος] contentions,(386) jealousy. See 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 3:3.

θυμοί] irae, excitements of anger. See on Romans 2:8; Galatians 5:20.

ἐριθεῖαι] party-intrigues. See on Romans 2:8, and the excursus of Fritzsche, I. p. 143 ff.(387)

καταλαλίαι, ψιθυρισμοί] slanders, whisperings. See on Romans 1:30.

φυσιώσεις] Manifestations of conceited inflation; elsewhere only in the Fathers. ἀκαταστασίαι] disorderly relations, confusions, comp. 1 Corinthians 14:33.


Verse 21

2 Corinthians 12:21. The interrogative interpretation (Lachmann, Lücke) is, viewed in itself, compatible not only with the reading ταπεινώσει (Lachmann), but also with the deliberative subjunctive of the Recepta (Lücke). Comp. Xenophon, Oec. iv. 4 : μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν τὸν περσῶν βασιλέα μιμήσασθαι; see in general, Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 159 f.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 203. But the usual non-interrogative explanation, which makes μή still dependent on φοβοῦμαι, not only makes the passage appear more emphatic (by the three parallels, μήπως

μήπως

μή), but is also the only interpretation suited to the context, since, in fact, after the apprehension quite definitely expressed in 2 Corinthians 12:20, the negative question, in the case of which a No is to be conceived as the answer (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:17-18), would be inappropriate.

In μή compared with the previous μήπως there lies a climax as regards the definiteness of the conceptio.

πάλιν] goes along with ἐλθόντος μον ταπεινώσῃ με θ. μ. πρὸς ὑμ. (comp. on 2 Corinthians 2:1), so that Paul reminds them how already at his second visit (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:9) he had experienced such humiliation. Connected merely with ἐλθόντος μου (Beza, Grotius, Flatt, de Wette, Wieseler, and many others), it would be without important bearin.

ἐλθόντος μου τάπ. με] a construction also of frequent occurrence in classical writers. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 9:14, and see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 270 [E. T. 315].

ταπεινώσει με, not of bodily (Hofmann), but of mental bending, as in dejection. Comp. Polyb. iii. 116. 8, iv. 80. 3. “Nihil erat, quo magis exultaret apostolus, quam prospero suae praedicationis successu (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:20; Philippians 4:1); contra nihil erat, unde tristiore et demissiore animo redderetur, quam quum cerneret, se frustra laborasse,” Beza. Comp. Chrysostcm. The future ταπεινώσει (see the critical remarks), which expresses the apprehension that the sad case of this humiliation will withal actually still occur (see on Colossians 2:8), stands in a climactic relation to the previous subjunctives; the apprehension increases.

θεός μου] as Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4. In the humbling experiences of his office Paul sees paedagogic decrees of his Go.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς] not among you, for how superfluous that would be! but: in reference to you, in my relation to you. So also Rückert, who, however (comp. Chrysostom, Osiander, and several), explains ταπεινώσις of Paul’s seeing himself compelled “to appear before them not with the joyful pride of a father over his good children, but with the punitive earnestness of a judge.” But the punitive earnestness of the judge is in fact no ταπεινώσις, but an act of the apostolic authority, and only follows subsequently, after the ταπεινώσις has taken place by the observation of the punishment-deserving state, which has made him feel that his efforts have been without resul.

πολλοὺς τῶν προημαρτηκότων καὶ μὴ μετανοησάντων], On προημαρτ., comp. Herodian, iii. 14. 8 : ἀπολογεῖσθαι πρὸς τὰ προημαρτημένα. According to Rückert, Paul has written thus inexactly, instead of πολλοὺς τῶν προημαρτ. τοὺς μὴ μετανοήσαντας. How arbitrary! In that case he would have expressed himself with downright inaccuracy. Lücke, l.c. p. 20, explains it more ingeniously: “Cogitavit rem ita, ut primum poneret Christianorum ex ethnicis potissimum τῶν προημαρτηκότων καὶ μὴ μετανοησάντων genus universum, cujus generis homines essent ubique ecclesiarum, deinde vero ex isto hominum genere multos eos, qui Corinthi essent, designaret definiretque.” But the reference to the unconverted sinners, who ubique ecclesiarum essent, is quite foreign to the context, since Paul had simply to do with the Corinthians (comp. previously πρὸς ὑμᾶς), and hence these could not seek the genus of the προημαρτηκότων κ. τ. λ. here meant elsewhere than just in their own church. The right interpretation results undoubtedly from the order of the thoughts specified at 2 Corinthians 12:20, according to which ἐπὶ τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ κ. τ. λ. cannot belong to μετανοησ. (comp. Lucian, de salt 84: μετανοῆσαι ἐφʼ οἷς ἐποίησεν), as it is usually taken, but only to πενθήσω: and that I will lament(388) many of those, who have previously sinned and shall not have repented, on account of the uncleanness, etc. Thus Paul passes over from the sinful states named in 2 Corinthians 12:20 to quite another category of sins, and the course of thought accordingly is: “I fear that I shall not only meet with contentions, etc., among you, but that I shall have also to bewail many of the then still unconverted sinners among you on account of the sins of impurity which they have committed (Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 13:17).” Not all προημαρτηκότες καὶ μὴ μετανοήσαντες in Corinth were impure sinners, but Paul fears that he will encounter many of them as such; hence he could not write at all otherwise than: πολλοὺς τῶν προημαρτηκότων καὶ μὴ μετανοησάντων.(389) This explanation is adopted by Winer, p. 590 [E. T. 792], Bisping, and Kling.

The perfect participle προημαρτ. denotes the continuance of the condition from earlier times; and καὶ μὴ μετανοησάντων has the sense of the futurum exactum: and who shall not have repented at my arrival. The προ in προημαρτ. expresses the sinning that had taken place in earlier times, which Lücke (comp. Olshausen) refers to the time before conversion (comp. the passages of Justin, Apolog. 1:61; Clement, Strom. iv. 12 in Lücke, p. 18 f.). But as the evils adduced in 2 Corinthians 12:20 only set in after the conversion, we are not warranted (see the plan of the passage specified at 2 Corinthians 12:20) to assume for the sins named in 2 Corinthians 12:21 the time before conversion, as, indeed, 1 Corinthians 5:1 also points to the time after conversion. But if we ask how far Paul with his προ looks back into the past of the Corinthians that had elapsed since their conversion, it might, if we regard 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 by themselves, appear as if he referred not further back than to that time, in which the contentions (2 Corinthians 12:20) and the sins of impurity censured in 1 Corinthians 5:1 (2 Corinthians 12:21) emerged. But as this happened only after his second visit, and as he says in 2 Corinthians 13:2 that he had foretold (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:1) punishment to the προημαρτηκόσι already at his second visit, it follows that with his προ he glances back from the present to the time before his second visit. After his first visit there had already emerged in Corinth evils, which humbled him at his second visit (2 Corinthians 12:21), and on account of which he at that time threatened (see on 2 Corinthians 13:2) these προημαρτηκότες with punishment; after his second presence there had now broken out, in addition, the contentions and sins of impurity which we know from his Epistles; and to all this, consequently to the whole time till after his first and before his second visit, he looks back, inasmuch as he says not merely ἡμαρτηκότων, but προημαρτηκότων Consequently Billroth is wrong in restricting the word merely to those “whom I already, through my second sojourn among you, know as sinners;” and Estius says too indefinitely, and also quite arbitrarily, as regards προ, not starting from the present time: ante scriptam priorem epistolam, while many others, like Rückert, do not enter on the question at al.

ἐπὶ τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ κ. τ. λ.] if connected with μετανοησάντων, would be in respect or on account of. But, apart from the fact that μετανοεῖν (which, we may add, Paul has only here) is in the N. T. never connected with ἐπί (as Joel 2:13; Amos 7:3, LXX.), but with ἀπό (Acts 8:22; Hebrews 6:1) or ἐκ (Revelation 2:21 f., Revelation 16:11), in this particular case the necessary and correct connection (see previously on πολλ. τ. προημ. κ. μὴ μετανοησ.) is with πενθήσω, the ground of which it specifies: o2Co 12:Just so Aeschin. p. 84, 14; Plut. Agis, 17; Revelation 18:11; 1 Samuel 15:35; Ezra 10:6, al. ἀκαθαρσία, here of licentious impurity, Romans 1:24; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19. Then: πορνεία, fornication in specie. Lastly: ἀσέλγεια, licentious wantonness and abandonment (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; Wisdom of Solomon 14:26).

ἔπραξαν] have practised. Comp. on Romans 1:32.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/2-corinthians-12.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 27th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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