The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 13:1-6~In verse 20 of the preceding chapter St. Paul expressed the fear that when he would come to Corinth he might be found other than he would like. Following up this thought he now says explicitly that he will be severe on those who by their impenitence provoke him. He therefore exhorts them beforehand to examine into their lives, because he will exercise his authority.

2 Cor 13:1. Behold, this is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word stand.

The third time, etc., doubtless implies that he had visited Corinth twice before. All suggestions about intentions to come, or being willing to come, or letters being counted as visits, are unnatural and may be safely set aside (Plum.). See on 2 Cor 2:1; 12:14, 21.

In the mouth, etc., is a substantial quotation from the LXX of Deut. 19:15, which speaks of two and three, whereas the Hebrew has two or three witnesses. In the MSS. and (B A D F G) is preferred to or (א, Vulg., Aug.). The Apostle means that he will proceed against the guilty in a strictly legal manner (Matt 18:16; John 8:17). St. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and others have thought that the witnesses here spoken of mean the Apostle’s visits to Corinth, but this is very improbable. St. Paul would hardly refer to the Law in such an equivocal manner.

Behold (Vulg., Ecce) is most probably not genuine.

2 Cor 13:2. I have told before, and foretell, as present, and now absent, to them that sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again, I will not spare.

According to the best Greek reading “the second time” (δευτερον = deuteron) should be inserted after as present. The sense is: I have warned before, when present the second time, and now, being absent, I warn again them that sinned before, and all similar sinners, that if I come again, etc.

To them that sinned before, i.e., before the Apostle’s second visit.

All the rest refers to those who have fallen into sin since that visit

In the Vulgate secundo should be inserted after ut praesens, to agree with the best Greek.

2 Cor 13:3. Do you seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me, who towards you Is not weak, but is mighty in you?

Do you seek, etc. This interrogative form is in the Vulgate also, and makes good sense; but the best Greek reading has since, or seeing that, which gives a different meaning: Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, I cannot spare, but am rather forced to show my power as an Apostle, and to make it plain that Christ speaks through me with power and authority (2 Cor 12:12 ; 1 Cor. 11:30). The verse is to be closely connected with the preceding.

For επει (= epei = “do”) Origen and Theodoret sometimes read εἰ (=ei = “if,” “foreasmuch as”) [Vulg., an] sometimes η (= ay = “or”).

2 Cor 13:4. For although 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 towards you.

For although, etc. This translation supposes the reading of εἰ (= ei = “although”) after γαρ (=gar = “for”); but there is more authority for the omission of εἰ (= ei). The meaning of the better reading is: For he was indeed crucified through weakness, etc. In either case the sense is practically the same. Note: The conjunctive “for” (gar) must come before “although” (ei) in English translations even though the order is reversed in Greek. εἰ  (ei = “although”) may have been mistakenly inserted here because of its usage in the previous verse  where it has the meaning of “if”. This is a copying error called dittography.

Through weakness, i.e., inasmuch as He took a weak and mortal nature, He willingly suffered and died; and yet that selfsame nature now liveth by the power of God a glorious and immortal life. The ministers of Christ participate in His weakness and in His power as God, i.e., in His glorious and risen life. Hence they suffer and are condemned to death for His sake (2 Cor 4:10-11), but in them are also revealed the life and the power of God, and they are made the judges of the faithful.

We shall live, etc., refers not to the future life beyond the grave, but to the Apostle’s vigorous action in dealing later with the Corinthians.

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos.

2 Cor 13:5. Try your own selves if you be in the faith; prove ye yourselves. Know you not your own selves, that Christ Jesus is in you, unless perhaps you be reprobntes?

Here the Apostle says that the Corinthians, instead of seeking a proof of Christ speaking in him (verse 3), ought rather to be testing and proving themselves, to see whether they are in the faith, and whether Christ is in their hearts.

In the faith, i.e., if you have a living faith. There is question of the theological virtue of faith, and that enlivened by charity, otherwise their faith would be no certain proof that Christ was in them or even among them (MacR.). St. Chrysostom thinks the faith of miracles (1 Cor. 12:9) is meant, but that is improbable for the reason just given.

Unless perhaps, etc. Since δοκιμάζετε (= dokimazete), prove ye, is here used, as generally, in a good sense, with the expectation that the result will be one of approval, St. Paul seems to imply that the majority of the Corinthians are in the state of grace; but he apparently has doubt regarding some of them who, being unable to stand the test and bear the proof, will be found to be reprobates (αδοκιμοι = adokimoi), i.e., without a living faith. The reprobation of the unpredestined is not in question here.

2 Cor 13:6. But I trust that you shall know that we are not reprobates.

Whatever may be the outcome of the examination which the Corinthians are advised to give themselves, St. Paul expects that they will at least find out that Christ is with him and his companions, enabling them to exercise their power and authority as true Apostles. If need be, he will take severe measures when he arrives.


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