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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

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Verse 1

2 Corinthians 1:1. Paul. . . and Timothy our (Gr. ‘the’) brother. See on 1 Corinthians 1:1. Timothy had been sent to Corinth along with the First Epistle (1 Corinthians 4:17), and along with him Erastus (Acts 19:22), and probably Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17). Timothy had now returned to him and is here associated with the apostle himself in the salutation of a church which he knew so well. And as our apostle employed an amanuensis in the writing of his letters to the churches (with the exception probably of that to the Galatians, Galatians 6:11), Timothy was in all likelihood the penman of this Epistle,—unto the church ... at Corinth, with all the saints ... in the whole of Achaia—the name of the whole Roman province of Greece, northward to Macedonia. There appear to have been converts scattered up and down this whole province of which Corinth was the capital, in addition to the little “church at Cenchreæ,” the eastern port of Corinth (Romans 16:1). These would be affiliated with the mother church at the capital, meeting by themselves in little knots where numerous and near enough to each other, but looking to Corinth as their centre and the headauarters of Christianity in the province. All these the apostle embraces in his salutation to the church of Corinth.


Verse 2

2 Corinthians 1:2. Grace, etc. See on 1 Corinthians 1:3.


Verse 3

2 Corinthians 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father, etc.—not ‘Blessed is God’ (as Alford unnaturally and inconsistently with his own rendering of the same words in Ephesians 1:3),—the Father of mercies and God of all comfort—Divine mercies of which, at the time referred to, the apostle had had special experience—who comforteth us(1) in all our trouble, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any trouble, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. How the capacity to sympathise with the suffering is acquired by the personal experience of suffering, and deepened in proportion to the ex-tent and variety of that experience, who does not know? The perfection of it is found in One alone (Hebrews 4:14-16).


Verse 5

2 Corinthians 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us. In what sense? Those touching words of the glorified One to Saul, on his way to Damascus, seem to furnish the answer: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me—I am Jesus, Whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9:4-5): as if to say, ‘Whatsoever is done to my cause, and to my people for my sake, is done to Me.’ He Himself, as His Father’s witness on earth, could say, “The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me” (Romans 14:3, from Psalms 69:7-9). In this sense Christians “fill up that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (Colossians 1:24), and have “the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformable unto His death” (Philippians 3:10),—even to our comfort also aboundeth through Christ—according to His own promise, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:31): “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast borne witness of me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome” (Acts 23:11).


Verse 6

2 Corinthians 1:6. But whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in you the patient endurance of the same sufferings. What that suffering of his own was, to which he here refers—and his consolation under which he hopes they shared in—is now explained.


Verse 8

2 Corinthians 1:8. For I would not have you ignorant concerning our trouble which befell us in Asia. Proconsular Asia is meant—the western part of Asia Minor, embracing Mysia, etc. The reference here is probably not to the rush that was made in Ephesus upon the apostle’s party in consequence of the success of his preaching (Acts 19:24), but rather to that complication of dangers to which he alludes so feelingly in his address to the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20:19),—that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life. The apostle seems to labour under the difficulty of finding words to express what he felt at the time referred to. That it was some severe illness is the opinion of some excellent critics; but this seems quite alien from the strain of the passage. What with “the lying in wait of the Jews,” plotting his death wherever he went, he seems never to have felt secure of his life for a day, and at times to have given up hope of escape.

Ver, 9. Yea, we ourselves have had the answer (not ‘sentence’) of death within ourselves. The thought seems to be, ‘Looking up, to discern what God might mean by this, and asking ourselves whither all was tending, the answer seemed to be, Thou art now to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ No wonder that under a continuance of this impression his strength got worn down, and he was at times ready to sink under the pressure. The noblest natures are not superior to this, and specially men of such keen sensibilities as our apostle. But it drove him to the one Source of courage and strength to hold on,—that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead. The reference is not specifically to the final resurrection, but to the great general principle on which Abraham acted when “he that had received the promises offered up his only son, of whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called, accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:17-19), and see Romans 4:19-20.


Verse 10

2 Corinthians 1:10. who delivered us out of so great a death. The word points to ‘such a kind of death,’ rather than to its greatness,—and will deliver: in whom our hope is that he will also still deliver us—so that though already delivered from that oppressive, crushing sense of impending death just described, he was so far from thinking all danger past that it seemed still to dog his steps; but his former fears were gone, the past deliverance assuring him that he had work yet to do for that Master whom he loved to serve.


Verse 11

2 Corinthians 1:11. ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication—delicately taking it for granted that they were doing it, and so virtually soliciting their prayers,—that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf—his preservation, in answer to their prayers, giving occasion for the thanksgiving of many on his behalf.


Verse 12

2 Corinthians 1:12. For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness(1) and sincerity of God—‘in purity of motive, and integrity of heart, as in the sight of the great Searcher of hearts,’—not with (‘in’) fleshly wisdom, but with (‘in’) the grace of God—not even trusting to our own judgment how to act, but under the guidance of Divine grace,—we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward, ‘If there is one place more than another where I have acted on this principle, it is Corinth and among you.’ It would have been hypocrisy to ask their prayers for him had he been conscious of pursuing a crooked policy. But conscious as he was that he had but one object in view throughout his whole apostolic work—to finish his course with joy and the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), yea, “glorying” in the consciousness of this, though maligned by self-seeking enemies, he could freely ask them to unite with him in prayer for his deliverance from the perils by which he was then surrounded, and the anxieties which were well-nigh weighing him down.


Verse 13

2 Corinthians 1:13. For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read (in this Letter), or even acknowledge (without the need of our writing it), and I hope ye will acknowledge unto the end;(2) as also ye did acknowledge us in part, or ‘in some degree,’ as in chap. 2 Corinthians 2:5; Romans 11:25; Romans 15:15; Romans 15:24,—that we are your glorying, as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus. It is affecting to find one of so lofty a devoutness of spirit and transparency of character—on finding that his triumphs at Corinth had been clouded by the coolness of his converts’ attachment to their spiritual father, and his whole claim to apostleship called in question by some—clinging to the persuasion that there were some there still who even then owned him in his true character, as he gladly did them, and that in the day of the Lord Jesus this would come out fully to weir mutual joy.


Verse 15

2 Corinthians 1:15. And in this confidence—of the cordial footing on which we stood to each other,—I was minded to come unto you before—before going to Macedonia, sailing direct from Ephesus to Corinth (almost in a straight course from east to west),—that ye might have a second benefit—the benefit of a return visit from Macedonia, as expressed in the next clause but one.


Verse 16

2 Corinthians 1:16. and by you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come unto you, and of you to be set forward unto Judea. This was his original plan, to pay two visits to Corinth, on his way both to and from Macedonia, including the expectation of a loving convoy from them on his way to the coast. That plan, however, had been modified ere he wrote his First Epistle, as is plain from chap. 1 Corinthians 16:5-7, where all he proposes is to pay them one visit, on his way from Macedonia; for “his times were in God’s hands,” and he was not omniscient to foresee the hindrances that might occur.


Verse 17

2 Corinthians 1:17. When I therefore was thus minded, did I shew fickleness? This shews that his original plan had somehow become known at Corinth—either through Timothy (1 Corinthians 4:17), or in the letter referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:9—and that advantage had been taken of the change to his prejudice,—that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?—‘saying yes and no to the same thing as suits the whim of the moment.’ That this is the meaning is clear from what follows.


Verse 18

2 Corinthians 1:18. But as God is true—a solemn asseveration, having the force of an appeal to God, or an oath,—our word toward you is not yea and nay—‘the word of one not to be depended on.’ No wonder that he makes such an appeal; for by such insinuations he feels his whole credit at stake.


Verse 19

2 Corinthians 1:19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timothy. It has been observed (by Paley), as an undesigned coincidence between the history in the Acts and this Epistle, that both there (Acts 18:5) and here we find both Silas (or Silvanus) and Timothy at Corinth with the apostle, all ministering there together, and it has been noted that in both Epistles to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), these three are found associated at that time in the work of the Gospel,—was not yea and nay, but in him is yea. The argument is this: ‘When we were with you, was it vacillating, fickle preachers that preached to you the unchanging One, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever? Did we hold Him forth to you as stability itself, while we ourselves were the reverse? Were ye assured that He was the faithful and true Witness by men in whose own word no trust could be placed?’ It is an appeal to the incongruity of the thing, and to their whole bearing at Corinth as men, like their message, honest and true; and conscious of this himself, there is a certain hurt feeling in the appeal, as what ought not to have been extorted from him.


Verse 20

2 Corinthians 1:20. For how many soever be the promises of God, in him is the yea; wherefore also through him is the ‘Amen, unto the glory of God through us. This is but an expansion of the preceding statement; but deeming it too precious to be used only for his own defence, he is here drawn on to a more catholic and richer use of the same truth.


Verse 21

2 Corinthians 1:21. Now he which stablisheth us with you in ChristGr. ‘into Christ’ (the pregnant sense of the Greek preposition)—not only inserting us into, but keeping us in Christ; compare 1 Corinthians 1:30, “Of Him (God) are ye in Christ Jesus,”—and anointed us, is God;


Verse 22

2 Corinthians 1:22. who also sealed us, and gave us the earnest of the spirit (meaning the Spirit as the earnest of future glory) in our hearts. There is a noble climax here:—‘Our whole stability in the faith is of God; of God also it is that we “have an anointing from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27); it is He too who “sealed us unto the day of redemption”(Ephesians 4:30); and put the earnest of that redemption into our hearts, in the indwelling of the Holy Ghost: so all is of God.’ Prolonging his argument against the charge of fickleness, it is as if he had said: ‘We and ye yourselves, if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious, are so bound up with God in Christ and with the Spirit, who is the living bond of this union, that the thought of any wilful instability of purpose in our dealings one with the other is abhorrent to me, and ought to be so felt by you.’ Still, they might wish to know the cause of the change, such as it was; and they shall now have it.


Verse 23

2 Corinthians 1:23. But I call God for a witness upon my soul, that to spare you (and for that reason only) I forbare to come unto Corinth. Little would they expect such an explanation, and evidently he would fain have concealed it from them; but since he must be plain with them, with such suspicions attaching to him, he uses the most solemn of all asseverations in doing it, and the “I” is emphatic:—‘Let enemies say what they will, I protest it before God.’ In his First Epistle (1 Corinthians 4:21) he had asked them to say whether he was to come to them with a rod (on the one hand), or (what he earnestly wished) in love and a spirit of meekness; and finding that they were not ripe for the latter way, rather than come to them at all on his way to Macedonia (as intended), he simply reserved his visit till after his return: that was his whole case.


Verse 24

2 Corinthians 1:24. Not that we have lordship over your faith—‘not domineering over you in things spiritual.’ This explanation seems intended to qualify the words “to spare you,” lest it should be thought that the spirit in which he even yet wished to come to them was one of imperiousness; far from it,—but (on the contrary) are helpers of your joy; for by faith ye stand. ‘Well may we disclaim any such undue interference; for ye stand, not on us, but each to his own Master on the footing of his own faith; nor can any one, not even an apostle of Jesus Christ, come in between him and God, the Judge of all.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/2-corinthians-1.html. 1879-90.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 6th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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