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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

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Verse 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Timothy our brother - perhaps Paul's amanuensis of this letter. When writing to Timothy himself, he calls him "my son" (1 Timothy 1:18); writing of him, "brother," etc., and "my beloved son" (1 Corinthians 4:17). He had been sent before to Macedonia, and met Paul at Philippi, when the apostle passed over from Troas to Macedonia (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; notes, 1 Corinthians 16:10-11).

In all Achaia - comprising Hellas and the Peloponnese. The Gentiles and Annaeus Gallio, the proconsul (Acts 18:1-28), strongly testified their disapproval of the accusation brought by the Jews against Paul. Hence, the apostle was enabled to labour in the whole province of Achaia with such success as to establish several churches (1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:4), where, writing from Corinth, he speaks of the "churches" - namely, the Corinthian and others also-Athens, Cenchrea, etc. He addresses 'the church in Corinth' directly, and all "the saints" in the province indirectly. In Galatians 1:2 all the "churches" are addressed directly in the same circular letter. Hence, here he does not say, all the churches, but "all the saints."


Verse 2

Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 3

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

This thanksgiving for his late deliverance forms a suitable introduction, conciliating their favourable reception of his reasons for not having fulfilled his promise of visiting them (2 Corinthians 1:15-24).

Father of mercies - i:e., the SOURCE of all mercies (cf. Isaiah 63:7; Romans 12:1; James 1:17).

Comfort - which flows from His "mercies" experienced. Like a man of faith, be mentions "mercies" and "comfort" before he proceeds to speak of afflictions (2 Corinthians 1:4-6). The "tribulation" of believers is not inconsistent with God's mercy, and does not beget in them suspicion of it; nay, they feel that He is "the God of ALL comfort" - i:e., who imparts the only perfect comfort in every instance (Psalms 146:3; Psalms 146:5; Psalms 146:8; James 5:11).


Verse 4

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Us - idiomatic for me (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

That we may ... comfort them which are in any trouble. The Greek is the same as before - "tribulation". Whatever graces God conferred on him, be considered granted, not for himself alone, but that he might have the greater ability to help others. So participation in all man's afflictions qualified Jesus to be man's comforter in them all (Isaiah 50:4-6; Hebrews 4:15).


Verse 5

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Sufferings - in contrast with "salvation" (2 Corinthians 1:6); as "tribulation" (of mind), with comfort or "consolation."

Of Christ - (cf. Colossians 1:24.) The sufferings endured, whether by Himself or by His Church, with which he identified Himself, are "the sufferings of Christ" (Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45; Acts 4:1; 1 John 4:17-21). Christ calls His people's sufferings His own --

(1) Because of the sympathy and mystical union between Him and us (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 4:10; Hebrews 2:17-18). Christ's own sufferings are revived in His people's (2 Corinthians 4:10).

(2) They are borne for His sake.

(3) They tend to His glory (Ephesians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:14; 1 Peter 4:16).

Abound in us - Greek, 'abound unto us.' The order of the Greek is more forcible than in the English version, 'even so through Christ aboundeth also our comfort.' The sufferings (plural) are many, but the consolation (though singular) swallows up all. Comfort preponderates in this letter, as now by the first letter most of the Corinthians had been much impressed.


Verse 6

And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

We be afflicted, it is for your consolation. Because our afflictions are for the service of the Gospel, you share in our afflictions, and so in our consolation. Their hearts were mirrors reflecting the likenesses of each other (Philippians 2:26-27) (Bengel). Alike the apostle's afflictions and consolations tend, as in him, so in them, by communion with him, to the their consolation (2 Corinthians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:15). The Greek [ thlibometha (Greek #2346)], "afflicted," is the same as before, and ought to be translated, 'whether we be in tribulations.'

Which is effectual - literally, worketh effectually.

In the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer - not similar sufferings, but "the same;" love for Paul making the Corinthians feel his sufferings their own. 'Aleph (') A C, Vulgate, transfer 'which is effectual in enduring the same,' etc., so as to follow the second "consolation," and omit the second "and salvation." The received order is good sense, Our affliction is for your consolation and salvation, which worketh (or is done) effectually in your enduring our sufferings. B Delta G f g support it. Comfort is felt in sharing the sufferings of those we love, and "salvation" - i:e., edification-is promoted thereby. Here follows, in some oldest manuscripts (not as the English version in the beginning of 2 Corinthians 1:7), the clause, 'And our hope is stedfast on your behalf' [ huper (Greek #5228)]. 'Aleph (') supports the English version.


Verse 7

And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

So shall ye be - rather, 'so are ye.' He means there is a community of consolation, as of suffering, between me and you.


Verse 8-9

For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

Referring to the imminent risk of life which he ran in Ephesus (Acts 19:23, etc.), when the whole multitude were worked up into a fury by Demetrius, on the plea of Paul having assailed the religion of Diana of Ephesus, and other like dangers.

We had the sentence of death in ourselves - meaning that he looked upon himself as condemned to die. Alford thinks the danger at Ephesus so slight that it cannot be the reference here, without exposing Paul to a charge of cowardice; hence, he supposes some deadly sickness of Paul (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). But "the sufferings of Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:5) would not apply; for Christ never suffered sickness. There is little doubt that, had Paul been found by the mob, he would have been torn in pieces: besides, there were other dangers equally distressing-such as "lyings in wait of the Jews" (Acts 20:19). They, doubtless, had incited the multitude at Ephesus (Acts 19:9), and were the chief of the "many adversaries," like "(wild) beasts," which he had to fight with (1 Corinthians 15:32; 1 Corinthians 16:9). His weak health combined with this to make him regard himself as all but dead (2 Corinthians 11:29; 2 Corinthians 12:10). The very cause of his not having visited Corinth directly, as he had intended, for which he apologizes (2 Corinthians 1:15-23), was, that there might be time to see whether the evils arising there, not only from Greek, but from Jewish disturbers (2 Corinthians 11:22), would be checked by his first letter: their not being fully so was what entailed the need of this second letter. His not specifying this expressly is what we might expect in the outset of this letter; toward the close, when he had won their favourable hearing by a kindly tone, he more distinctly refers to Jewish agitators (2 Cor. 20:22 ).

Above strength - i:e., ordinary powers of endurance.

Despaired - as far as human help or hope was concerned. But in respect to help from God we were "not in despair" (2 Corinthians 4:8).

Verse 9. But - `yea.'

The sentence - rather [ apokrima (Greek #610), not katakrima (Greek #2631)], 'the answer.' When I asked myself what must I expect? the answer was "death," Vulgate. Wahl supports the English version.

In God which raiseth the dead. We had so given up all thoughts of life, that our only hope was fixed on the coming resurrection. So in 1 Corinthians 15:22 this hope buoyed him up in contending with foes savage as wild beasts. Here he touches only on the doctrine, taking it for granted that its truth is admitted by the Corinthians, and urging its bearing on their practice.


Verse 10

Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

Doth deliver. So G. But 'Aleph (') B C read, 'will deliver'-namely, in immediately imminent dangers. 'In whom we trust that He will also (so the Greek) yet deliver us,' refers to God's continuous help hereafter.


Verse 11

Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

Helping together by prayer for us - rather, 'helping together, on our behalf by your supplication' [ deeesei (Greek #1162)]. "For us" in the Greek follows "helping together," not "prayer."

That for the gift ... - literally, 'that on the part of many persons the gift (literally, gift of grace [ charisma (Greek #5486)]) bestowed upon us through (the prayers of) many may be offered thanks for on our behalf.'


Verse 12

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

For. I can confidently expect your prayers for me: "FOR" I walk sincerely toward you.

Our rejoicing , [ Kaucheesis (Greek #2746), 'our glorying.'] Not that he boasts of the testimony of his conscience; nay, this testimony is the thing in which his glorying consists.

In simplicity. So C Delta G f g, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B, Origen, read 'in holiness.'

Godly sincerity - literally, 'sincerity of God;' i:e., sincerity as in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 5:8). We glory in this in spite of all our adversities. Sincerity [ eilikrineia (Greek #1505)] implies what bears examination by sunlight, and is found unadulterated [eilee and krinoo]. He had no selfish aims (as some insinuated) in failing to visit them as he had promised: such aims belonged to his adversaries, not to him (2 Corinthians 2:17). "Fleshly wisdom" suggests insincere courses; but the "grace of God," which influenced him by God's gift (Romans 12:3) suggests straightforward, sincere faithfulness to promises (2 Corinthians 1:17-20), even as God is faithful to His. The policy which subserves selfish interests, or employs unchristian means, or relies on human aids more than on the Divine Spirit, is "fleshly wisdom."

Conversation - conduct.

In the world - even in relation to the world, which is full of disingenuousness.

More abundantly to you-ward (2 Corinthians 2:4). His greater love would manifest his sincerity, especially to them, which his less close connection with the world did not admit of his exhibiting toward it.


Verse 13

For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;

We write none other things (in this letter) ... than what ye read (in my former letter (Bengel); present, because the letter continued still to be read publicly in the church as an inspired apostolic rule). Rather, Paul appeals to their consciousness as witnessing his integrity toward, them, in respect to his writing and his acting, 'I write nothing else to you (to any of you privately: or else, I intend by my writing nothing else) but what ye read openly [ anaginooskete (Greek #314)] in the congregation (1 Thessalonians 5:27); yea, and what you recognize inwardly.' The Greek words for "read" and for "acknowledge" are kindred in sound and root: None other things than what ye know by public reading, or even (so Greek) know full well [ epiginooskete (Greek #1921)] as a fact' (namely, the consistency of my acts with my words: I think exactly as I write).

Even to the end - of my life. Also, to the final consummation, the day of the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:14, end; 1 Corinthians 4:5).


Verse 14

As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

In part. In contrast to "even to the end;" the testimony of his life was not yet completed (Theophylact). Rather, "in part" - i:e., some of you, not all (Grotius). So in 2 Corinthians 2:5; Romans 11:25. The majority at Corinth had willingly complied with Paul's directions in the first letter; but some were still refractory. Hence, arises the difference of tone in different parts of this letter. (See 'Introduction.')

That - `because' (Olshausen).

Your rejoicing - your subject of glorying.

Are - not merely shall be, implies the present recognition of one another as a subject of mutual glorying: about to be realized in its fullness "in the day (of the coming) of the Lord Jesus."


Verse 15

And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before that ye might have a second benefit; And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;

In this confidence - of my character for sincerity being "acknowledged" by you (2 Corinthians 1:12-14).

Was minded - I was intending.

Before - "to come unto you before" visiting Macedonia (where he now was). Compare note, 1 Corinthians 16:5; also 4:18; all which imply that the insinuation of some at Corinth, that he would not come at all, rested on his having thus disappointed them. His change of intention, and ultimate resolution of going through Macedonia first, took place before his sending Timothy from Ephesus into Macedonia, and therefore (1 Corinthians 4:17) before his writing the first letter. Compare Acts 19:21-22 (the order there is "Macedonia and Achaia," not Achaia, Macedonia); Acts 20:1-2.

That ye might have a second benefit - one in going to, the other in returning from Macedonia. The "benefit" consisted in the gratification of having him among them, and receiving spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11-12).


Verse 16

And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.

This intention of visiting them on the way to Macedonia, as well as after having passed through it, must have reached the Corinthians in some way or other-perhaps in the lost letter (1 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 5:9). The sense comes out more clearly in the Greek order, 'By you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come unto you.'


Verse 17

When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?

Use lightness - THE levity of which I am accused; namely, by promising more than I performed.

Or ... according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? The "or" expresses a different alternative: Did I act with levity, or (on the other hand) do I purpose what I purpose like fleshly men, so that my "yea must at all costs, even to the disadvantage of others, be yea, and my "nay" nay? (Matthew 14:7; Matthew 14:9.) The repetition, instead of the single "yea" and "nay," hardly agrees with Alford's view, 'What I purpose, do I purpose according to the changeable purposes of the fleshly man, that there may be with me the yea yea, and the nay nay' (i:e., both affirmation and negation concerning the same thing (Matthew 5:37). But James 5:12 proves that the double "yea" here is not equivalent to the single "yea."


Verse 18

But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.

He adds this lest they might think his DOCTRINE was changeable like his purposes (the change in which he admitted in 2 Corinthians 1:17; while denying that it was due to "lightness:" nay, not to have changed, where there was good reason, would have been to imitate the fleshly minded, who at all costs, hold to their purpose).

True - Greek, 'faithful' (1 Corinthians 1:9).

Our word - the doctrine we preach.

Was not. So C. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, read 'is not.'

Yea and nay - i:e., inconsistent with itself.


Verse 19

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.

Proof of the unchangeableness of the doctrine from the unchangeableness of the subject of it-namely, Jesus Christ. He is called "the Son of God," to show the impossibility of change in One co-equal with God Himself (cf. 1 Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6).

By me and Silvanus and Timotheus. The Son of God, though preached by different preachers, proved to be one and the same. Silvanus is contracted into Silas, Acts 15:22 : cf. 1 Peter 5:12.

Was not yea and nay, but in him was yea , [ egeneto (Greek #1096) ... gegonen (Greek #1096)] - 'was not made, in our preaching and its results, yea and nay, but is made yea in Him' - i:e., is confirmed as true in Him by the Spirit which He has given us in our union with Him (2 Corinthians 1:21-22), of which Spirit miracles were a subordinate manifestation. Christ preached by us proved to be yea (i:e., fulfilled) in Christ Himself (Bengel).


Verse 20

For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Rather, How many soever be the promises of God in Him is the "yea" ('faithfulness to His word;' contrasted with the "yea and nay," 2 Corinthians 1:19; - i:e., man's inconstancy to one's word).

And in him Amen. 'Aleph (') A B C Delta f g, Vulgate, read 'wherefore also through Him is the Amen' - i:e., In Him is faithfulness, ("yea") to His word, 'wherefore through Him' is the immutable verification of it ("Amen"). As "yea" is His word, so "Amen" is His oath, which makes our assurance of the fulfillment doubly sure. Compare "two immutable things" (namely, His word and His oath) in which it was impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18; Revelation 3:14). All the Old Testament and New Testament promises are secure in their fulfillment for us in Christ.

Unto the glory of God by us - Greek, 'for glory unto God by us' (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:15) i:e., by our ministerial labours; by us His promises and His unchangeable faithfulness to them are proclaimed. Billroth not so well explains, He sets the "yea" of verification to all God's promises, wherefore also through Him the "Amen" of our announcement of it is brought about to the glory of God. Where God saith Yea, we can only say Amen (1 Corinthians 14:16).


Verse 21

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;

Stablisheth us with you in Christ - literally, into Christ; i:e., into ever-closer union with Christ.

Anointed us. As "Christ" is the "Anointed," so 'He hath anointed [Greek, chrisas, akin to Christos (Greek #5547), Christianoi (Greek #5546): aorist, once for all anointed - i:e., here in the general sense consecrated, called to the holy office of king and prophet to God (Revelation 1:6); but bebaioon (Greek #950) is stablishing continually] us, alike ministers and believing people, with the Spirit (1 John 2:20-27). Hence, we become "a sweet savour of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15).

(Is) God; who hath also sealed - rather put the "is" after "God:" 'He which stablisheth us, and hath anointed us, namely, God, is He who also hath sealed us' - i:e., guaranteed the unchangeable truth of our preaching, by giving us His Holy Spirit, the crowning confirmation. A seal assures the possession of property to one; "sealed" is the crowning assurance of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 9:2).

The earnest of the Spirit - i:e., the Spirit as the earnest (i:e., money given by a purchaser as a pledge for the full payment of the sum premised). The Holy Spirit is to the believer now as a first instalment to assure him his full inheritance as a son of God shall be his hereafter (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:23): the pledge of the fulfillment of "all the promises" (2 Corinthians 1:20).


Verse 22

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 23

Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

Moreover I - Greek, 'But I (for my part),' who changed my purpose of coming to you, in contrast to GOD who assure us of His promises being unchangeably fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20-22).

Call God - the all-knowing One, who avenge willful unfaithfulness to promises.

For a record upon my soul - as a witness to the secret purposes of my soul, and against it, if I lie (Malachi 3:5) in saying it was not levity, but regard to you, that made me change.

To spare you - in order not to come in a rebuking spirit, as I should have been obliged if I had come then.

I came not as yet , [ ouketi (Greek #3765)] - no longer; i:e., I gave up my purpose of then visiting Corinth. He wished to gave them time for repentance, that he might not have to use severity toward them. Hence, he sent Titus before him. Compare 2 Corinthians 10:10-11 : his detractors represented him as threatening what he had not courage to perform (1 Corinthians 4:18-19).


Verse 24

Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

Not for that - i:e., Not that. "Faith" is here emphatic. He had "dominion" in discipline; but in matters of, "faith" he was only a 'fellow-helper of their joy' (namely, in believing: Philippians 1:25). The Greek is, 'Not that we lord it over your faith.' This he adds to soften the magisterial tone of 2 Corinthians 1:23 His desire is to cause them not sorrow (2 Corinthians 2:1-2), but "joy." "By faith (Romans 11:20) ye stand:" therefore it is that I do not lord over but "help" your faith, the source of all true "joy" (Romans 15:13).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-corinthians-1.html. 1871-8.

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