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 13:7-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017


By the threat of the preceding section the Apostle had in mind only to avert the necessity of using severity upon his
arrival in Corinth. He therefore now asks God by His grace to turn the faithful from evil ways, because he much prefers to find them abounding in all good, rather than to have the occasion of exercising his authority. The purpose of writing this letter has also been to move them to penance, and thus to obviate the need of severity when he comes.

2 Cor 13:7. Now we pray God, that you may do no evil, not that we may appear approved, but that you may do that which is good, and that we may be as reprobates.

Not that we may appear approved, etc. Better, “Not wishing that we be shown approved.” The Apostle prays God that he and his companions may have no occasion to exercise and prove their authority among the Corinthians. He much prefers to be suspected of lacking the power of Christ to punish. It is more important in his judgment that they should do no evil than that he should “appear approved” by showing his authority, although this may cause some to regard him and his companions as reprobates, i.e., unproved, and therefore without the power of Christ.

2 Cor 13:8. For we can do nothing: against the truth; but for the truth.

If the Corinthians are free from evil the Apostles will be disarmed; for they have no power to oppose good, but evil

Truth means moral rectitude.

2 Cor 13:9. For we rejoice that we are weak, and you are strong. This also we pray for, your perfection.

That we are weak. Rather, “When iorav) we are weak,” i.e., the Apostles rejoiced when there was no occasion for showing their power and authority, owing to the strong and fervent faith of the Corinthians. Instead of desiring a chance to display their authority the Apostles rather prayed for the perfection of the faithful, which would make all exercise of authority needless.

The quoniam of the Vulgate should be quum or quando.

2 Cor 13:10. Therefore I write these things, being absent, that, being present, I may not deal more severely, according to the power which the Lord hath given me unto edification, and not unto destruction.

The purpose of this letter, or of the last four chapters of it, is again (cf. 2 Cor 12:19) indicated, namely, that the Corinthians may amend and perfect their lives before he arrives among them in person. The Apostle does not want to use his God-given power for destruction, i.e., in punishing, but for edification, i.e., for building up the kingdom of God on earth.


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