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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
2 Corinthians 13

 

 

Verse 1

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

This is the third time I am coming to you - not merely preparing to come (2 Corinthians 12:14). This proves an intermediate visit between the two in Acts 18:1, etc.; 20:2.

In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established - quoted from Deuteronomy 19:15, Septuagint 'I will judge, after having tested every statement by examining witnesses.' The apostle, where ordinary testimony was to be had, does not look for an immediate revelation, nor does he order the culprits to be cast out of the church before his arrival. So Alford, Meyer, Conybeare, etc. I prefer (with Chrysostom, Billroth, etc.) the "two or three witnesses" to mean his two or three visits. As surely as a statement supported by two or three witnesses is true, so will my present third journey bring my threats to realization.


Verse 2

I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:

Rather, 'I have already said (at my second visit), and declare (now) beforehand, AS (I did) WHEN I WAS PRESENT THE SECOND TIME, so also (I declare) NOW in my absence ('Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit the "I write," wrongly in the English version, Greek text) to them which heretofore have sinned (namely, before my second visit, 2 Corinthians 12:21), and to all others,' (who have sinned since my second visit, or are in danger of sinning, etc.) 'I have said already' applies chiefly to 'them which have sinned heretofore;' 'I declare' (now) to 'all others' who have sinned since, etc. The English version, "as if I were present, the second time" - namely, this time-is inconsistent with 2 Corinthians 13:1, "this is the third time I am coming." Paul could not have called the same journey "the second" and "the third time" of his coming. The antithesis between "the second time" and "now" is palpable.

If I come again - whensoever I come again (Acts 20:2). These were probably the words of his former threat, which he now repeats.

I will not spare - in contrast to his forbearance toward transgressors at his second visit.


Verse 3

Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.

Since - the reason why he will not spare: since ye challenge me to a "proof" that Christ speaks in me. It would be better if ye would "prove your own selves" (2 Corinthians 13:5). This disproves the assertion that Scripture nowhere asserts the infallibility of its writers when writing it. Christ spake through Paul; lived in Paul (Galatians 2:20); suffered in Paul (Colossians 1:24; Acts 9:4-5).

Which - `who' (Christ).

Is not weak - not without power of chastisement in relation to you, by me generally, and in this very letter.

Mighty in you - has given proofs of power in miracles, and in punishing offenders (1 Corinthians 5:5). Ye need not put me to the proof. Long ago Christ has exhibited His power by me among you (2 Corinthians 12:12). It is not me, but Christ, whom ye wrong, by derogating from my authority.


Verse 4

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

Though. So A C Vulgate, Hilary, Origen. But 'Aleph (') B Delta G f g omit it. Then translate, 'For He was even crucified,' etc.

Through weakness - Greek, 'from weakness;' i:e., His assumption of our weakness (susceptibility for suffering) was the necessary condition from which the possibility of His crucifixion flowed (Hebrews 2:14; Philippians 2:7-8).

By - Greek, 'from;' 'owing to.'

The power of God - the Father (Romans 1:4; Romans 6:4; Ephesians 1:20).

Weak in him - i:e., in virtue of apostolic union with Him, and after His pattern, weakness predominates in us for a time (exhibited in "infirmities" and weak "bodily presence" (2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10); also in our not putting into immediate exercise our power of punishing, as Christ for a time kept in abeyance His power).

We shall live with him - not only hereafter, free from present infirmities, in the resurrection (Philippians 3:21), but presently in the exercise of our apostolic authority against offenders, which flows to us, in respect to you, from the power of God. 'With Him' - i:e., even as He now exercises His power in His resurrection life, after His weakness for a time.


Verse 5

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Examine - Greek, 'Try yourselves.'

Prove your own selves. This should be your first aim, rather than seeking "a proof of Christ speaking in me" (2 Corinthians 13:3).

Your own selves. If ye try your own selves ye will see that Christ is in you (Romans 8:10). Finding Christ in yourselves, by faith, ye may believe that He 'speaks in me' (2 Corinthians 13:3), by whose ministry ye have received this faith. Compare "we ... in Him" (2 Corinthians 13:4). To doubt it would be the sin of Israel, who, after so many experimental proofs of God's presence, still cried (Exodus 17:7). "Is the Lord among us or not?" (cf. Mark 8:11.)

Except ye be reprobates. The Greek softens it, 'somewhat reprobates' [ adokimoi (Greek #96)] - i:e., not abiding the "proof" (alluding to the same word in the context). Image from metals (Jeremiah 6:30; Daniel 5:27; Romans 1:28).


Verse 6

But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

We are not reprobates - not unable to abide the "proof." "I trust that" your own Christianity will be known by you on your proving it ("yes shall know," answers to "know ... your own selves," 2 Corinthians 13:5) as "proof" that we are not reprobates, but that 'Christ speaks in me,' without needing a proof from me more trying to yourselves. If ye know your own Christianity, ye will not doubt my apostleship, for ye are the fruits of my apostleship.


Verse 7

Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. I pray. 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'we pray.'

Not that we should appear approved - not to gain credit for ourselves by your Christian conduct, but for your good, (Alford). But the antithesis to "reprobates" suggests supplying the ellipsis: ('therefore our aim is) not [ ouch (Greek #3756), objective; but mee (Greek #3361), subjective, in the preceding clause] that we may appear approved,' by your giving us occasion to restrain you when ye do evil; 'but that ye should do what is right' ( kalon (Greek #2570)); here not in general, but right in relation to his apostolic authority and teaching.

Though we be as reprobates - though we be thereby deprived of occasion for exercising apostolic power (namely, in punishing), and so may appear 'as void of proof' of Christ speaking in us.


Verse 8

For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

Our apostolic power is given us only for the furtherance of the truth. Where you are "for the truth," we cannot punish you for the sake of showing our authority (2 Corinthians 13:10).


Verse 9

For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

We are glad - Greek, 'rejoice.' So far are we from grieving.

When we are weak - you giving no occasion by disobedience for displaying our power; so we seeming "weak," being compassed with "infirmities" (2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 11:29-30).

Ye are strong - "mighty" in faith and the fruits of the Spirit.

And , [ de (Greek #1161)]. So C. Not in 'Aleph (') A B Delta f g, Vulgate.

We wish - Greek, 'pray for.'

Your perfection , [ katartisin (Greek #2676)] - 'perfect restoration;' literally, that of a dislocated limb. Compare 2 Corinthians 13:11, "Be perfect" [ katartizesthe (Greek #2675)], a kindred word; also in 1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:12.


Verse 10

Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

Therefore - because I wish the "sharpness" to be in my letters rather than in deeds.

Edification, and not to destruction - for building up ... not for casting down [ kathairesin (Greek #2506)]. To "use sharpness" seems to be casting down rather than building up; therefore he prefers not to have to use it.


Verse 11

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Farewell - meaning [ chairete (Greek #5463)] also 'rejoice:' thus in bidding farewell he returns to that with which he set out (2 Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 4:4).

Be perfect - by filling up what is lacking in your Christian character (Ephesians 4:13).

Be of good comfort (2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 7:8-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:18).


Verse 12-13

Greet one another with an holy kiss.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 14

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion

The benediction proves the Divine Trinity in unity. "The grace of ... Christ" comes first, for only by it we come to "the love of God" the Father (John 14:6). God was first revealed to man in Christ (John 1:18). The variety in the order of Persons proves that 'in this Trinity none is afore or after other' ('Athanasian Creed').

Communion - joint fellowship or participation in the same Holy Spirit, which joins in one Catholic Church, His temple, Jews and Gentiles. Whoever has 'the fellowship of the Holy Spirit' has also 'the grace of our Lord Jesus,' and "the love of God," and vice versa; for the three are inseparable, as the three Persons of the Trinity, The doctrine was not revealed fully until Christ came, and the whole scheme of redemption was manifested in Him: we know the Holy Three in One more in their relations to us (set forth summarily in this benediction) than in their mutual relations to one another (Deuteronomy 29:29). Amen. So C Delta f, Vulgate. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A B G g. Probably added subsequently for the exigencies of public, worship.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-corinthians-13.html. 1871-8.

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