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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
2 Corinthians 1

 

 

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Verse 1

Address and Benedictory Greeting, 2 Corinthians 1:1-7.

1. An apostle—Note on 1 Corinthians 1:1.

Our brother—Literally, the brother. Note 1 Corinthians 1:1. Even with Timothy, whom he addresses as his own son, and endorses as working the work of the Lord, as I, (1 Corinthians 16:10.) Paul is obliged to assert himself as solely an apostle.

All Achaia—Including the whole of southern Greece. As Corinth was the political capital, so now it is also the Christian capital.


Verse 2

2. Grace be to you—Doddridge says that this benediction occurs in eleven of Paul’s epistles. The apostle would scatter his benedictions wherever Christian Churches can be found.


Verse 3

3. Father of mercies—As if all mercies were the offspring of the divine heart.

God of all comfort—The Jews too strongly held that the afflicted were the objects of God’s hatred; but the apostle finds that God is the supreme consoler of the afflicted. Modern atheistic philosophy denies any proof of divine goodness in the creation. But whatever proof of divine wrath there is in the creation, Christianity finds an infinite mercy in redemption.


Verse 4

4. Able to comfort—The consolations St. Paul receives from God, he receives not for himself alone. They are gifts wherewith he is able to console and enrich others. The fulness of the generous heart overflows, nay, empties itself, in blessings upon its fellow-sufferers.


Verse 5

5. Sufferings of Christ—Not as some render, sufferings for Christ; but the same sufferings in kind as those of Christ; or rather, sufferings undergone by Christians in their oneness with Christ, so that they are his.

By Christ—For Christ makes consolation to abound to all who undergo his sufferings. The martyr for Christ has rejoiced and triumphed in the flame through Christ.


Verse 6

6. For your—St. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 1:4, says that being divinely consoled with that divine consolation he can console others; he now assures the Corinthians that those others whom he would console thus are themselves. Whether afflicted or comforted, that affliction or comfort shall redound to the blessing of his dear Corinthians. Which refers to consolation and salvation; for they are effectual in producing in the Corinthians a firm endurance of the same sufferings as Paul himself underwent in Christ’s service. A like spiritual blessedness produces a like spiritual endurance.


Verse 7

7. The Corinthian patience in the sufferings for Christ’s sake, and their maintenance of a firm confession of Christ in Corinth amid unpopularity and persecution, inspired a hope that was steadfast that they would be final partakers of an eternal consolation.

St. Paul now opens the great topics of the epistle. The report brought by Titus in regard to the Corinthian temper on receiving his first epistle, incites him to a full dissertation upon—


Verse 8

a. His affliction in Asia, and his purpose to visit them, 2 Corinthians 1:8-14.

8. Have you ignorant—St. Paul’s frequent phrase in introducing a new information. Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, and other passages.

Trouble—What this trouble, or rather, affliction, even to despair of life, was, is variously decided by commentators. Some identify it with his danger at Ephesus in Demetrius’s riot; but in that affair he was clearly not allowed to encounter as much danger as he wished. Some refer it to his fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus; but the literal reality of such an event is improbable. We identify it without doubt with the “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:7, where see our note.

Alford, who identifies that “thorn” as sore eyes, nevertheless starts here on the right track: “The expression,” he says, “seems rather to regard a deadly sickness than a persecution.” St. Paul does not say that the trouble was at Ephesus, but in Asia. Assuming that his anxiety about the effect of his epistle on the Corinthians, joined with the excitements of the riot, affected his nervous system before leaving Ephesus, the paroxysm by which life was in despair doubtless took place at Troas.

Pressed out of measure— Literally, we were overwhelmingly, above our strength, borne down. He was prostrated by epilepsy, and his life was despaired of. To identifying this trouble as a sickness Meyer objects—1. That 2 Corinthians 1:5 speaks of sufferings of Christ; 2. 2 Corinthians 1:7 makes the Corinthians partakers; and, 3. Paul speaks in the plural, as if others shared. But, 1. Paul’s being overwhelmed with an almost fatal anxiety for the Corinthian Church was eminently identical with the sufferings of Christ. 2. The Corinthians being partakers can only mean that they had their share in the great mass of sufferings for Christ, not that they nearly died with him in Asia. 3. Paul’s use of the plural is counterbalanced by his use of the singular life, death, sentence of death—all of which certainly must be held as individual. 4. We make a fuller break between 2 Corinthians 1:7-8 than Meyer, which isolates Paul’s trouble from the sufferings of which the Corinthians were partakers.


Verse 9

9. Sentence—Well expressed by Alford: “We had in ourselves the response of death; that is, our answer within ourselves to the question ‘life or death?’ was ‘death.’ The Greek word may signify sentence or answer. being the answer given by a judge when his sentence or verdict upon the accused was asked.

Raiseth the dead—Esteeming his recovery as nearly a resurrection. And the greatness of the danger raised his thoughts from self to the Author of life.


Verse 10

10. Doth deliver—The danger and the deliverance were continuous. The nervous predisposition still hung over Paul, and his life was a constant deliverance from death. We may suggest as a strong proof of the real nature of Paul’s danger, his continued reserve in specifically naming it. Had it been a beast-fight, or a conspiracy, or an assault, or even “a weakness of the eyes,” he would have specified it; but here, as elsewhere, from its humiliating character it is covered under allusions and metaphors.


Verse 11

11. Helping… by prayer for us—It would seem that although, according to 2 Corinthians 1:8, the Corinthians knew nothing of this particular collapse, yet Paul’s general predisposition was known to them, and was the subject of intercession in his behalf.

By the means—That is, by the intercession of many persons in the Corinthian Church.

Gift—Restoration from the attack of disease. Says Doddridge, “Nothing is more reasonable than that mercies obtained by prayer should be owned by praise.”


Verse 12

12. For—Connects with the trust of 2 Corinthians 1:10. The testimony of his conscience is the ground of his rejoicing. For simplicity the better reading is holiness.

Godly sincerity—Literally, sincerity of God.

Fleshly wisdom—The reverse of the holiness and godly sincerity; implying that hypocritical self-interest imputed to him by the detractors from his apostleship whom he is about to encounter in this epistle. St. Paul’s joy was that on a survey his conscience assured him that his life was the reverse of the picture drawn by his opponents.

Conversation—The Greek word signifies, in its classical use, business in a worldly sense: in the New Testament it signifies moral conduct, good or bad.

More abundantly— Because he had had more abundant time and occasions to manifest his holiness and sincerity to the Church whose founder-apostle Paul had been.

To you-ward—Toward you.


Verse 13

13. Write none other… than what ye read—There is no lurking design, no concealed subsense in his words. They mean what they say, just as they are read by his Corinthians.

Or acknowledge—Knowing beforehand that they are truth.

Shall acknowledge—As there is no hypocrisy, so there will be no apostasy.


Verse 14

14. In part—Either meaning a part of you have acknowledged me; or, you have acknowledged as to the part of my life and character that you have thus far seen and understood, although another large part has needed much explanation and defence; or, you have, partially but not adequately, acknowledged. The second we think the real sense.

Your rejoicing— Rather, your boast; the opposite of shame, as rejoicing is the opposite of sorrow.

Day… Jesus—Our boasting of each other now and ever will be ratified and completed at the judgment-day.


Verse 15

PART FIRST.

PAUL’S MAINTENANCE OF HIS APOSTLESHIP, 2 Corinthians 1:15 to 2 Corinthians 11:17.

I. DEFENCE OF HIS IMPUGNED CHANGE OF PLAN OF TRAVEL, 2 Corinthians 1:15 to 2 Corinthians 2:17.

1. His change of plan was not of fickle will, but of divine motive, 2 Corinthians 1:15-22.

15. This confidence—Of our mutual boast of each other. Before, qualifies minded, and should be placed before it. This purpose was before his first epistle, and was a subordinate part of his plan, as stated Acts 19:21.

A second benefit—A double benefit, by a double visit, as described next verse.


Verse 16

16. And—By the plan here proposed Corinth was to have been both Paul’s sallying and his rallying point—his centre and capital—during this European visit. But the news brought by the Chloe folks, confirmed by Stephanas and his colleagues, shook Corinth out of its supreme place in his confidence. This sinking of Corinth capital is implied in 1 Corinthians 16:5, and probably became known at Corinth through Stephanas and colleagues, and, perhaps, through Titus and Timothy, and gave vantage ground to St. Paul’s detractors.

Into… out of—He would have crossed the AEgean, straight from Ephesus to Corinth; thence he would have visited Macedonia and gone back again.

Of you to be brought on my way—By a furnishing of travelling outfit and an escort of honour. So high did the Corinthian saints stand in the apostle’s expectations. Then to be told (1 Corinthians 16:5) that they were to be an incident subordinate to Macedonia, was a severe check upon Corinth. St. Paul’s opponents could now say that he was fickle; was vexed because Corinth had not sufficiently idolized him; and that thence he was a self-seeking pseudo-apostle. Paul will now give a different version of his change of purpose.


Verse 17

17. Lightness—Volatility, fickleness.

According to the flesh—From self-seeking and desire to be idolized.

With me—Instead of with God, my divine director.

Yea… nay—An independent, selfish claim, to decide affirmatively or negatively, as he should see fit, from worldly motives.


Verse 18

18. Our word toward you—Our speech, whether by letter, by converse, or by preaching.

Not yea… nay—Was not of our own fickle human decision.


Verse 19

19. For—Paul exemplifies this denial of selfish fickleness, first, 2 Corinthians 1:19-22, in regard to his preaching, and then, 2 Corinthians 1:23 to 2 Corinthians 2:4, in regard to the case in question, his change of journey-plan.

The Son of God. The great theme and soul of all our preaching, Christ, is the ever changeless affirmative, the immutable yea.

Silvanus and Timotheus—The true Pauline preachers, in distinction from the Judaizers and other factionists.

Not yea and nay—Fickle and contradictory; sometimes affirmative and sometimes negative.

But in him was yea—God’s blessed gospel affirmation resided in him.


Verse 20

20. St. Paul now tells of what the yea in Christ was an affirmation, namely, the promises of God.

All the promises—Literally, How many soever are the promises of God, in him (Christ) is the yea; all God’s promises find their expression in Christ.

And in him—By the best reading, Wherefore also through him is the Amen to God to his glory through us. As the yea of God’s promises is in Christ, so our responsive Amen is through Christ to God’s glory. Christ is thus made, by the apostle, the medium through whom God’s promises become ours, and our praises becomes God’s. By this the Christine party are made to realize that they cannot well represent St. Paul as the depreciator of Christ.


Verse 21

21. St. Paul now traces the gospel preached by him and his colleagues to its source, God, to shut off the imputation of his opposers, who trace it to man or to Satan. And the seal and surety of its origin in God, he will soon, appealing to the consciousness of his brethren, affirm to be the witness of the Spirit.


Verse 22

22. Earnest—The word αρραβων means that small part of the price paid down “to bind the bargain,” as a pawn or pledge left as security that the full price will be paid. See Genesis 38:17-18. The Spirit of God given in our hearts is a small advance gift, and a pledge of the eternal gift of the heavenly life. Stanley says: “The word was probably derived by the Greeks and Romans from the language of the Phenician traders, as ‘tariff,’ ‘cargo,’ etc., are derived in English and other modern languages, from Spanish traders.”


Verse 23

2. Paul’s motive for changing his plan of visit, was a wish not to come to their grief, 2 Corinthians 1:23 to 2 Corinthians 2:4.

St. Paul most earnestly protests that his not coming, as planned, was to spare them, 2 Corinthians 1:23. Not that by the term spare he claims to be lord of their faith; for faith must be free, and by a free faith do they stand; but by severe purifying of their Church he would really aid their joy, 24. But his spare, means, that he determined, even in his own behalf, not to come with an afflicting mission to them. See 2 Corinthians 2:1. This in his own behalf, for if he saddened them, his own sole consolers, he abolished the sole source of his own comfort, 2 Corinthians 2:2. And he wrote the very severities of his first epistle in order that, the severities being finished in the writing, when he should come he would find a purified Church, and no grief, but a common joy, 2. 3. His writing was, indeed, in tears; but his object in writing was not their grief, but a manifestation of his own love in bringing them to purity and rectitude.


Verse 23

23. For a record—Literally, as a witness.

Upon my soul—Upon which I invoke the divine penalty in case of falsehood. This is a most solemn adjuration. It expresses the deep intensity of his wish to expel from their minds the notion that his change of plan was from fickleness in him, or slight to them, or any other motive than a desire to spare them a severe visitation. St. Paul repeatedly makes asseveration, in this epistle, since his truth and rectitude stand impeached by his detractors on the most important of all subjects. The sacred loftiness of these formulae raise them above profanity.

To spare you—To avoid meeting you with discipline.


Verse 24

24. Not—This verse is interposed parenthetically in order to soften the phrase spare you.

Faith—The discipline concerned morals, not faith.

Helpers of your joy—By abstaining from visit and discipline, except when they would secure your purification as a Church, and your joy as Christians.

By faith ye stand—Have freely stood and still stand; and that amid all the dangers and disciplines you have incurred. And that continued stand is the source of the joy of which I would be your helper.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-corinthians-1.html. 1874-1909.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
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