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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

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Verse 1-2

2 Corinthians 1:1-2. Paul, an apostle — Appointed and made such, not by my own will or choice, or those of any man, or any number of men; but by the will of God — Who called me by his grace to that sacred and important office; see Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:15; and Timothy, our — Or rather a, brother — St. Paul, writing to Timothy, styles him his son; writing of him, his brother. From this it is evident that Timothy was with the apostle when this second epistle to the Corinthians was written; and by joining his name with his own in this epistle, he did him the greatest honour, and highly advanced his credit with the Corinthians, and all other Christians who should read it. To the church of God which is at Corinth — Whom he hath mercifully called out from the world and united to himself. With all the saints which are in all Achaia — “Corinth being the metropolis of the province of Achaia, the brethren in those parts, no doubt, had frequent intercourse with those in Corinth, and by that means had an opportunity of hearing this letter read in the Christian assemblies at Corinth. But as they had equal need, with the Corinthians, of the admonitions and advices contained in this letter, it was addressed to them likewise, that they might be entitled to take copies of it, in order to read it in their public meetings for their own edification.” — Macknight. Grace be to you, &c. — See on Romans 1:7.


Verses 3-7

2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Blessed be God, &c. — A solemn and beautiful introduction, highly suitable to the apostolical spirit; even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ — Who is his only-begotten Son, both as to his divine and human nature; see Hebrews 1:2; Luke 1:35; and as he is Mediator, appointed, authorized, and qualified by the Father for that office. The Father of mercies — From whose paternal compassion and readiness to forgive the penitent, that sincerely believe in and turn to him, all our hopes are derived; and the God of all comfort — Whose nature it is ever to have mercy; and who knows how to proportion his supports to the exigence of every trial. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation — Bestows comfort on us, his apostles and ministers, for the sake of others; that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble — He that has experienced one kind of affliction is able to comfort others in that affliction: he that has experienced all kinds of afflictions, is able to comfort others in all. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us — The sufferings endured for his sake, which he accounts his own; so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ — “The consolation of which the apostle speaks was derived from the presence of Christ with him in his affliction; from a sense of the love of Christ shed abroad in his heart; from the joy which the success of the gospel gave him; from the assured hope of the reward which was prepared for him; from his knowledge of the influence of his sufferings to encourage others; and from the enlarged views which he had of the government of God, whereby all things are made to work for good to them who love God; so that he was entirely reconciled to his sufferings;” finding by experience, that his consolation quite overbalanced them all. Whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation — Namely, when you see with what Christian courage and patience we are enabled to bear afflictions; and salvation — By encouraging you to undergo the like, and so to obtain salvation; or, for your present comfort, and present and future salvation; which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings — That is, the prospect or hope of which salvation is of sufficient power to enable you to endure the like sufferings which we have endured, if you should be called thereto; see 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Romans 8:18. Or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort — That we may be the better able to comfort you. And our hope of you — Grounded on your patience in suffering for Christ’s sake; is steadfast — Firm and unshaken; knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings — By Christian sympathy, and enduring the like yourselves; so shall ye be also of the consolation — Which arises from principles and hopes which are not peculiar to us, who are apostles, or to other ministers of the gospel, but common to all sincere believers, such as I trust you in general are.


Verses 8-11

2 Corinthians 1:8-11. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant — As if he had said, We speak thus concerning the sufferings wherewith God is pleased to exercise his people, because we have lately experienced them in a large measure: of our trouble which came to us in Asia — It is probable that the apostle here refers either to some opposition which he met with in his journey through Galatia and Phrygia, (Acts 18:23,) of which no particular account has reached us; or to the tumult excited by Demetrius, as is related Acts 19:23-41. “It may be said, perhaps, that it does not appear from the history that any danger threatened Paul’s life in the uproar at Ephesus, so imminent as that from which he here represents himself to have been delivered. This matter, it is true, is not stated by the historian in form; but the personal danger of the apostle we cannot doubt must have been extreme, when the whole city was filled with confusion; when the populace had seized his companions; when, in the distraction of his mind, he insisted on coming forth among them; when the Christians, who were about him, would not suffer him; when his friends, certain of the chief of Asia, sent to him, desiring that he would not adventure himself into the tumult; when, lastly, he was obliged to quit immediately the place and the country; and, when the tumult was ceased, to depart into Macedonia. Nothing could be more expressive of the circumstances in which the history describes him to have been at the time when the epistle purports to have been written,” than the verses under consideration. “It is the calm recollection of a mind emerged from the confusion of instant danger. It is that devotion and solemnity of thought which follows a recent deliverance. There is just enough of particularity in the passage to show that it is to be referred to the tumult at Ephesus.” — Paley. That we were pressed out of measure — The Corinthians knew before that he had been in trouble. He now declares the greatness and the fruit of it; above strength — Above the ordinary strength of a Christian, even of an apostle; insomuch that we despaired even of life — Ourselves, and were looked upon by others as dead men. We had the sentence of death in ourselves — That is, not only did others apprehend this concerning us, but we ourselves did indeed think that the appointed end of our life and ministry was come. That we should not trust in ourselves — That, for the future, we should put no confidence in our own wisdom or power to elude the designs of our enemies, nor merely regard human probabilities; but in the greatest and most extreme dangers should learn to repose a cheerful confidence in the power and providence of that God who, at his own pleasure, raiseth the dead by his almighty word; who delivered us from so great a death — As then threatened us; and doth still deliver — In the various dangers with which we are continually surrounded. In whom we trust that he will yet deliver us — From every evil, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom. Ye also — As well as other churches; helping by prayer for us — From this we learn, that the most eminent saints may be assisted and benefited by the prayers of persons much inferior to them in station and piety; which is a great encouragement to us to pray for one another, and a reason for our desiring each other’s prayers. That for the gift — Namely, my deliverance; bestowed by the means of many persons praying for it, thanks may be given by many on our behalf — Since nothing can be more reasonable than that mercies obtained by prayer should be acknowledged in praise.


Verses 12-14

2 Corinthians 1:12-14. For, &c. — I am more imboldened to look for this, because I am conscious of my integrity; seeing our rejoicing is this — Even in the deepest adversity, a rejoicing which no external calamities can impair, or injuries destroy; the testimony of our conscience — In the sight of God, who searcheth the secrets of all hearts, however men may suspect or censure us; that in simplicity — Aiming singly at the glory of God; and godly sincerity — Without any tincture of guile, dissimulation, or disguise; not with fleshly (carnal) wisdom — Which is so ungenerously and unrighteously imputed to us; but by the grace of God — Which hath created us anew, and continues to help our infirmities; we have had — In time past, and still continue to have, our conversation in the world, in all places which we have visited, and in which we have had our abode, in every circumstance; and more abundantly to you-ward — That is, which has more evidently discovered itself in our converse among you. For we write none other things — Namely, concerning our conversation: than what you read or acknowledge — Than what I have always declared respecting myself, in the epistles I have sent to you and other churches; and what you know in yourselves, and cannot but own to be true; as also you have acknowledged in part — That is, in some measure, or some of you; that we are your rejoicing — That ye rejoice in having known us; as ye also are ours — As we also rejoice in the success of our labours among you; and we trust shall rejoice therein in the day of the Lord Jesus — When we hope to present you before Christ as the seals of our ministry.


Verse 15-16

2 Corinthians 1:15-16. And in this confidence — That is, being confident of this, namely, of our mutual affection to, and esteem for, each other; I was minded — εβουλομην, I purposed; to come unto you before — Or first, as προτερον seems here to signify. “As soon as the apostle was informed, by some of the family of Chloe, that dissensions had arisen among the Corinthian brethren, he determined to go to Corinth first; that is, before he went into Macedonia. His intention was to go straightway to Corinth by sea, because he wished to be there soon, in the expectation that his presence among the Corinthians would put an end to their divisions, either in the way of persuasion or of punishment. Wherefore, to prepare the Corinthians for his coming, he notified his resolution to them by Timothy and Erastus; but after their departure, having great success in preaching, and the messengers from Corinth arriving with a letter from the sincere part of the church, the apostle judged it prudent to delay his visit to Corinth, to give them who had sinned time to repent. And therefore, instead of going straightway to Corinth, by sea, he resolved to go by the way of Macedonia. This alteration of his purpose he signified to the Corinthians in his first epistle, 1 Corinthians 16:5-7.” That you might have a second benefit — So our translators have rendered δευτεραν χαριν; that is, a further confirmation and edification in gifts and graces, wherewith ye were enriched by my first coming to you. And to pass by you into Macedonia — To make you a short visit in my way thither; and then, having despatched my business in the churches there, to come again to you from Macedonia, and make a longer stay; and of you to be brought (sent) forward toward Judea — When I shall go thither to deliver the money raised by the contribution of the Gentile Christians, for the relief of their distressed Jewish brethren.


Verses 17-20

2 Corinthians 1:17-20. When I therefore was thus minded — Having, therefore, purposed this; did I use lightness — Did I lightly change my purpose? or, the things that I purpose in general; do I purpose according to the flesh — Are my purposes grounded on carnal or worldly considerations? that with me there should be yea and nay — Sometimes one, sometimes the other; that is, variableness and inconstancy in my counsels and actions, that none should know how to depend upon me for what they had to expect from me? But as God is true — I solemnly protest, that, as the God whom I serve is faithful; our word to you — On this and other occasions, and the doctrine we have preached to you; was not yea and nay — Wavering and uncertain; but that my behaviour and testimony have been always uniform, invariable, and consistent with my professions. For the Son of God, who was preached by us — That is, our preaching concerning him, was not yea and nay — Was not variable and inconsistent with itself; but in him was yea — As he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, the declarations of his Word, and the engagements of his covenant, are inviolably the same. For all the promises of God — Many and precious as they are; in him are yea and amen — Are made with truth, and fulfilled with fidelity; or are surely established and accomplished in and through him. They are yea with respect to God promising; amen with respect to men believing; yea with respect to the apostles; amen with respect to their hearers. Unto the glory of God by us — As is declared by us in our ministry.


Verse 21-22

2 Corinthians 1:21-22. Now he which stablisheth us — Apostles and teachers; with you — All true believers; in the faith of Christ — Or he who confirms both you and us in the truth; and hath anointed us — With the oil of gladness, with joy in the Holy Ghost; thereby giving us strength both to do and suffer his will: or, he who hath consecrated us to this apostolic office, and endued us with the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, thereby qualifying us for it; is God — From whom alone every good and perfect gift cometh. Who hath also sealed us — Stamped his image on our hearts; thus marking and sealing us as his own property. Anciently, seals were used for marking goods, as the property of the person who had put his seal on them, that they might be distinguished from the goods of others. Thus all believers are said to be sealed with the Spirit of promise, or which was promised, (Ephesians 1:13,) because they are thereby marked as Christ’s property. Thus, likewise, the servants of God are said to be sealed on their foreheads for the same purpose, Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4. The apostles therefore are said to have been sealed of God, because by the sanctifying graces and the extraordinary gifts conferred upon them, they were declared to be both his servants and the apostles of his Son, and could not be suspected either of fraud or falsehood. And given us the earnest of the Spirit — Those sacred communications of his grace, which are the anticipation of our future felicity. There is a difference between an earnest and a pledge. A pledge is to be restored when the debt is paid; but an earnest is not taken away, but completed. Such an earnest is the Spirit; the first-fruits of which true believers have, (Romans 8:23,) and wait for all its fulness. The apostle is thought by some to allude to the custom of hiring servants by giving them earnest-money; as if he had said, He hath hired us to be his servants, and the apostles of his Son, by giving us the Holy Spirit in his gifts and graces. These are called the earnests with which the apostles were hired, because they were to them a sure proof of those far greater blessings which God would bestow on them in the life to come, as the wages of their faithful services. For the same reason all believers are represented as having the earnest of the Spirit given them, 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14.


Verse 23-24

2 Corinthians 1:23-24. Moreover, I call God to record — As if he had said, That you may believe me in what I am going to affirm, I call God as a witness, upon, or against my soul — If I do not speak the truth. Was not Paul now speaking by the Spirit? And can a more solemn oath be conceived? Who then can imagine that Christ ever designed to forbid swearing? That to spare you — That out of tenderness to you, and to avoid punishing you; I came not as yet to Corinth — That is, I deferred coming, lest I should be obliged to use severity against you. He says elegantly, to Corinth, not to you, when he is intimating his power to punish. Not that we have dominion over your faith — Power to impose upon you articles of faith or rules of practice, which the Lord hath not enjoined, or have any authority to dictate what you should believe or do; this is the prerogative of God alone: nor would we exert the power with which Christ hath endowed us, to any tyrannical or overbearing purposes. But are helpers of your joy — Co- workers with Christ to promote your comfort, by establishing you in that faith from which all comfort springs; for by faith ye stand εστηκατε, ye have stood hitherto, and this will be a means of strengthening your faith, by which alone you can continue in the favour of God, and in union with him, and obtain a right and title to eternal life. Here we see the light in which ministers should always consider themselves, and in which they are to be considered by others; not as having dominion over the faith of their people, or having a right to dictate by their own authority what they shall believe, or what they shall do, but as helpers of their joy, by helping them forward in faith and holiness. In this view how amiable does their office appear! and how friendly to the happiness of mankind! How far then are they from true benevolence who would expose it to ridicule and contempt?

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-corinthians-1.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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