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Archive for November, 2018

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

In the first main division of the present letter (1 Cor 1:12-7:16) St. Paul gave a general apology for his life and actions; and in the second portion (2 Cor 8:1-9:15) he treated of the collection to be made in Corinth for the poor Christians of Jerus alem. These matters being sufficiently dealt with for the understanding and appreciation of those who were well disposed toward him, the Apostle now turns his attention, in the third part of the body of his letter (2 Cor 11:1-13:10), to his inveterate enemies, the Judaizers, and defends his personal life with a vigor and energy whichcan be felt even by those hardened adversaries. See Introd., iii (b). In the first place he begs them (1 Cor 10:1-6) to mend their ways, so that when he arrives among them he may not be forced to call upon the spiritual powers which God has given him.

2 Cor 10:1. Now I Paul myself beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ, who in presence indeed am lowly among you, but being absent, am bold toward you.

Now I Paul myself, etc. The original is much more emphatic: Αὐτὸς δὲ ἐγὼ Παῦλος (= autos de ego Paulos). Putting autos, myself, at the beginning does not mean that St. Paul now ceased to dictate and began to write. It probably is intended to indicate the introduction of personal matters, or to emphasize that he himself is the person accused and attacked by his adversaries. 

Mildness and modesty, etc., i.e., the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Out of regard for these beautiful virtues of our Lord, which the Apostle wishes to imitate, he asks his adversaries not to force him to call into play the opposite virtues.

Am lowly, i.e., mean, contemptible. This is what his enemies had said about him.

Confido in vobis (bold toward you) of the Vulgate ought to be audax sum in vos, to express the bad sense intended here. Note: Audax in the second Latin phrase can be a synonym for confido, however, it can also have a pejorative sense such as foolhardy, presumptious, rash.

2 Cor 10:2. But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present, with that confidence wherewith I am thought to be bold, against some, who reckon us as if we walked according to the flesh.

But I beseech you, etc. Better, “But I pray” (δέομαι δὲ  = deomai de), etc. The preceding verse is now completed with a strengthened appeal, “I pray.” The Apostle begs that his enemies may not compel him to use against them, when he comes, some of that boldness which they say is characteristic of him when absent.

Against some. The Apostle does not wish all to feel the weight of his authority, but only those who accuse him of living and acting according to the flesh, i.e., according to carnal and worldly principles. See on Rom. 8:4, 5.

2 Cor 10:3. For though we walk in (en) the flesh, we do not war according (kata) to the flesh.

Here St. Paul says that while it is true that he and his companions are mortal men, living in their bodies, they do not by any means war according to the flesh, i.e., they do not discharge their ministry according to human and carnal standards and ways. The flesh is a temporary abode (Εν  = en); it is not a law (κατὰ = kata) with the Apostles.

2 Cor 10:4. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels,
2 Cor 10:5. And every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ;

He now calls attention to the arms he and his companions make use of in the exercise of their ministry. Their weapons are not carnal, i.e., weak, human; but mighty to God, i.e., powerful before God, or in the service of God (τῷ Θεῷ = tou theou). These spiritual arms were all special gifts which the Apostles had received from God to enable them worthily to discharge their ministry, and to pull down the fortifications, i.e., the obstacles, and to destroy the counsels (λογισμοὺς = logismous) , i.e., evil designs, of men against the preaching and propagation of the Gospel.

Every height, etc., i.e., we destroy and overthrow all pride of human spirits that seeks to hinder or corrupt the Gospel, the true knowledge of God; and we bring into subjection every understanding, etc., i.e., all the designs and workings of the natural reason that are opposed to the Gospel, making all obedient to the faith of Christ. True faith consists not only in the assent of the intellect, but also in the submission of the will to God’s revelation. The evidence for faith is not sufficient to force the intellect, but the will freely determines to move the intellect to accept revelation and give its assent.

Verse 5 should begin with destroying counsels. Destroying, i.e., overthrowing (καθαιροῦντες = kathairountes), looks back to “we walking” (περιπατοῦντες = peripatountes) of verse 3.

2 Cor 10:6. And having in readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be fulfilled.

Having in readiness, etc., i.e., being in readiness, etc. The Apostle will allow time for all the Christians at Corinth to be led “unto the obedience of Christ” and His teachings, but after that he is ready to punish all who remain disobedient. He implies that his readers are or soon will be obedient, and hence severe measures will not be necessary.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 10:7-11

From what St. Paul has just said about the spiritual weapons with which he is armed, it is plain that he is not to be despised. His enemies have underestimated his powers and his determination, saying that he was terrible when absent, but cringing when present. He therefore warns his readers not to mistake his threats. Since he is not less a minister of Christ than others who boast of that dignity, he could have said more about his authority than he has done. And if he has boasted of his authority in his letters, he will do so in person when he comes.

2 Cor 10:7. See the things that are according to outward appearance. If any man trust to himself, that he is Christ’s, let him think this again with himself, that as he is Christ’s, so are we also.

See βλέπετε (= blepete). Whether the verb here is imperative, interrogative, or merely declarative is uncertain. Probably it is merely declarative, “You look.” The Apostle means to say that his adversaries look merely at things external, they consider only outward appearances, and hence they thought he was weak and cowardly, not like a true Apostle. But he cautions them to reflect that, if anyone considers himself a minister of Christ, he must not overlook the fact that Paul and Timothy are also equally ministers of Christ and preachers of the Gospel.

2 Cor 10:8. For if also I should boast somewhat more of our power, which the Lord hath given us unto edification, and not for your destruction, I should not he ashamed.

The Apostle has just said that he is at least as much a minister of Christ as his enemies; and he now observes that if he should choose to boast that he is even more, which he will shortly do (2 Cor 11:23 ff; 12:11-12), his contention will not be found without reason and truth ; and hence he will not be ashamed, i.e., he will not be shown to be a pretending impostor.

Also (Vulg., et before si amplius) should most probably be omitted.

2 Cor 10:9. But that I may not be thought as it were to terrify you by epistles,

This verse may depend on the preceding one, and if so, some such expression as, “I say this”; or, “I will not make any further claims, that I may not be thought,” etc., is to be supplied. Such a connection seems very probable, especially in view of the fact that but (Vulg., autem) at the beginning is likely not genuine. However, it makes very good sense to regard this verse as a protasis, of which verse 11 is the apodasis, verse 10 being taken as parenthetic.

This is the only place in the New Testament where ὡς ἂν (= hos an) is followed by an infinitive. Perhaps the two words should be united, ὡςἂν (= hosan), giving the sense of the Latin quasi (to appear as, to seem like, etc.).  Instead of relating to the infinitive, “terrify” (frighten) the two words ὡς (hos) ἂν (an) can be combined ὡςἂν (hosan)  and are then related to the verb “thought” (seem). This makes somewhat better sense. The NABRE reads May I not seem as one frightening you through letters.  The RSVE has would not seem to be frightening you with letters.

By epistles. The plural doubtless refers to the several letters that had preceded this one to Corinth, namely, First Corinthians, the lost letter of 1 Cor. 5:9, and the lost severe letter between 1 and 2 Cor.

2 Cor 10:10. (For his epistles indeed, say they, are weighty and strong; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible).

Say they. The weight of authority is in favor of, it is said; but in either case we should most probably not understand a particular individual, but an indefinite expression referring to the Apostle’s critics.

His speech contemptible, i.e., of no account, lacking in polish and elegance.

2 Cor 10:11. Let such a one think this, that such as we are in word by epistles, when absent, such also we will be indeed when present.

The Apostle warns that when he comes, there will be no lack of correspondence and consistency between his letters and his actions; his vigor in the one will not be found greater than in the other.
We will be is not in the Greek; but it, or something equivalent is to be understood.

The absentes of the Vulgate agrees with sumus and not with epistolas.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

The reason why the Apostle can speak of boasting, as well by his presence as by his letters, is that he glories in the Lord, without exceeding the limits of the province committed to him by God. He and Timothy, therefore, unlike their opponents who commend themselves, wi ll glory only in the work which God has entrusted to them, which work includes the Corinthians. If then he glories concerning them, he is not boastingof other men’s labors. Moreover, he hopes to extend his preaching farther west, and thus have more converts in whom to glory. Those who glory, should not do so on the strength of other men’s labors. Let him who glories, glory in the Lord, as if commended by the Lord Himself who gives success to one’s work.

2 Cor 10:12. For we dare not match, or compare ourselves with some, that commend themselves; but we measure ourselves by ourselves, and compare ourselves with ourselves.

Match. Better, “class,” “number with” (ἐγκρῖναι = enkrinai). The Apostle is ironically referring to his enemies.

But we measure, etc. Our version, like the Vulgate, has perhaps missed the meaning here, because it has failed to take account of the words οὐ συνιοῦσιν (= ou syniasin). they do not understand, which occur in nearly all the MSS. and in the citations of many of the Fathers. Hence the clause should read: “They measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, and (so) they do not understand.” The general sense is: “They make fools of themselves, measuring themselves by their own standards” (Rickaby).

The reading of our version and of the Vulgate here is doubtless explained by the fact that several MSS. and Fathers omit not only the two final words of this verse, but also the two opening words of verse 13, But we. In this way the second clause of the present verse could easily refer to St. Paul and Timothy, and would read: “But we, measuring ourselves by ourselves, etc., will not glory beyond our measure.”

2 Cor 10:13. But we will not glory beyond our measure; but according to the measure of the rule, which God hath measured to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

Which God hath measured to us, i.e., the measure God has assigned to us (οὗ ἐμέρισεν ἡμῖν ὁ Θεὸς μέτρου = ou emerisen hemin ho theos metron). This is the best reading, and the verse should run: “But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of our commission, the measure God hath assigned to us, to reach even unto you.” Unlike his adversaries, the Apostle would not glory, except in his own labors, but those labors included the Corinthians. He was the divinely appointed Apostle of the Gentiles (Acts 11:15; 22:21; Gal. 2:7-9; Eph. 3:7, 8), and hence his preaching and labors were directed by the Holy Ghost (Acts 16:6-9).

2 Cor 10:14. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as if we reached not unto you. For we are come as far as to you in the gospel of Christ.

Here the Apostle simply says that if he glories in the Corinthians, it is because he has a right to do so, since they fall within his province, and since he first brought the Gospel to them. The punctuation of the verse is uncertain. Some put an interrogation point after the first half ending with unto you; more probably there should be only a comma or semi-colon. It is also doubtful whether ἐφικέσθαι (= ephthasamen) should retain its original meaning, “we came first“; or, “we came as far as,” Corinth. It seems more natural to understand the Apostle to mean that he was the first to bring the Gospel to the Corinthians.

2 Cor 10:15. Not glorying beyond measure in other men’s labours; but having hope of your increasing faith, to be magnified in you according to our rule abundantly;
2 Cor 10:16. Yea, unto those places that are beyond you, to preach the gospel, not to glory in another man’s rule, in those things that are made ready to our hand.

These two verses form but one sentence in Greek, and consequently should not be separated by a full stop. The Apostle is referring to his opponents at Corinth who have obtruded themselves into the field of his own labors and commission, and he says literally: “Not boasting beyond our measure in other men’s labors, but having hope that, as your faith increaseth, We shall be magnified in you according to the province allotted to us, so as to preach the Gospel to places that are beyond you, and not to boast of things already done in another man’s province.”

Your increasing faith. An increase of faith at Corinth would be a help in spreading the Gospel to others, and thus through the Corinthians the Apostle’s labors would be increased. Doubtless St. Paul was thinking of Rome and Spain.

Things . . . made ready, etc., i.e., places already evangelized.

2 Cor 10:17. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

See on 1 Cor. 1:31. In glorying only of the work done in the field assigned to him by God St. Paul does not mean that the credit of his labors is due to himself, but only to God who gave him the work and enabled him to perform it. The only right way to glory, therefore, is in the Lord, and this is St. Paul’s rule (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10; Rom. 15:17-19; Gal. 2:8; Eph. 3:7).

2 Cor 10:18. For not he who commendeth himself, is approved, but he, whom God commendeth.

Here the Apostle says for the benefit of his adversaries, the false teachers, that he who commends himself, instead of giving all glory and credit to God, is not approved, i.e., tried, genuine; whereas he whom God commends, as happened in his own case in being divinely called, is reliable and solid and true.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 9

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2018

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 9:1-5

After commending the delegates who are to make the collection at Corinth, St. Paul urges that what the faithful have to give should be collected soon. He himself, perhaps accompanied by some Macedonians, will visit them shortly, and if the alms are gathered before that event, they will not be made ashamed by the presence of their generous neighbors; the reputation they have will be sustained.

2 Cor 9:1. For concerning the ministry, that is done towards the saints, it is superfluous for me to write unto you.

The Apostle has just been speaking of the collectors who are going to Corinth, and now he turns to the collection itself. But it is superfluous to commend that, as he will show in the following verse.

The ministry, i.e., the alms for the poor in Jerusalem.

2 Cor 9:2. For I know your forward mind : for which I boast of you to the Macedonians. That Achaia also is ready from the year past, and your emulation hath provoked very many.

There should be only a comma after Macedonians.

Also (Vulg., et) should be omitted. The sense is: I know your eagerness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, that Achaia has been prepared, etc.

Is ready, i.e., has been prepared (παρεσκεύασται = pareskeuastai), i.e., was begun.

From the year past. See on 2 Cor 8:10.

Your emulation hath provoked, etc., i.e., “your zeal has stimulated very many” (the reading of B K C P); or the emulation created by you has provoked very many (the reading of D F G K L).

2 Cor 9:3. Now I have sent the brethren, that the thing which we boast of concerning you, be not made void in this behalf, that (as I have said) you may be ready:

I have sent, is the epistolary aorist, as in 2 Cor 8:17, 18, 22. The Apostle is sending Titus and his two companions so that the praise he has bestowed on the charity of the Corinthians may not be disproved by facts in regard to the collection, but that they may be in readiness to give. Parentheses here and in the Vulgate are needless.

2 Cor 9:4. Lest, when the Macedonians shall come with me, and find you unprepared, we (not to say ye) should be ashamed in this matter.

The reason is assigned why the collection ought to be completed promptly.
Lest, when, etc. Better, “Lest if (any) Macedonians,” etc. (ἐὰν ἔλθωσι = ean elthosin).

We . . . should be ashamed, at seeing the facts contrary to the praise we have given your charity.

In this matter. Rather, “In regard to this confidence,” i.e., the confidence the Apostle has reposed in the Corinthians.

2 Cor 9:5. Therefore I thought it necessary to desire the brethren that they would go to you before, and prepare this blessing before promised, to be ready, so as a blessing, not as covetousness.

Would go to you before, i.e., that the three delegates would go to Corinth in advance of St. Paul.

This blessing, i.e., the collection for the Palestinians. The collection is here called a “blessing” (εὐλογίαν = eulogian), because contributed willingly (St. Chrys.).

As a blessing, not as, etc., i.e., as a generous, willing gift, and not as an extortion (πλεονεξίαν = pleonexian). The Apostle wishes the collection to be a free and liberal gift of the Corinthians, and not an extortion of the collectors.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

The Apostle is sending his delegates to Corinth beforehand, in order that the collection may be completed in advance of his own arrival; and yet he hopes haste may not in any way interfere with the generosity and willingness of the Corinthians. Accordingly, before closing this topic, he takes occasion briefly to exhort the faithful to give freely and generously, in view of their future recompense. God will reward their charity with greater benefits, both temporal and spiritual, because their bounty will not only relieve the necessities of those who receive of it, but will also glorify God. Wherefore the Apostle concludes with an act of thanksgiving to the heavenly Father.

2 Cor 9:6. Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings.

St. Paul now tells the Corinthians that as the harvest corresponds to the sowing, so their reward will be in proportion to their generosity in giving: he who gives little will receive little; he that gives much will likewise receive much. The reward, then, will be according to the work performed, as the doctrine of merit teaches.

2 Cor 9:7. Everyone as he hath determined in his heart, not with sadness, or of necessity: For God loveth a cheerful giver.

The alms must be given joyously.

As he hath determined. The Corinthians had already shown a willingness to make the collection (2 Cor 5:2; 8:10 ff), and St. Paul supposes that each one has fixed what he intends to give. Therefore let him give what he has determined, not with sadness, i.e., regretfully, or of necessity, i.e., unwillingly. To enforce his words the Apostle quotes the LXX of Prov. 22:8, which literally runs as follows: “God loveth a man cheerful and a giver.” These words are an addition in the LXX ; they are not in the Hebrew or in the Vulgate of Prov. A similar sentence is found in Sir 35:11.

2 Cor 9:8. And God is able to make all grace abound in you; that ye always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound in every good work,

St. Paul now begins to speak of the fruits of almsgiving. He who gives in charity ought not to fear want in his own case; for God is able to make him always abound in temporal blessings, so that he can take part in every work of beneficence.

All grace means here chiefly earthly blessings, but the term is so comprehensive as to include also spiritual goods.

Sufficiency, i.e., the wherewith to help others.

2 Cor 9:9. As it is written: He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor: his justice remaineth for ever.

The Apostle confirms what he has just said by citing the LXX of Psalm 111:9. The just man scatters his gifts as the sower his grain, and his justice remaineth, etc., i.e., the remembrance of his good deeds will never be forgotten: his reward will await him hereafter. This is the most probable meaning of justice (Succuoorvni) here.

The saeculi of the Vulgate is not in the Greek.

2 Cor 9:10. And he that ministereth seed to the sower, will both give you bread to eat, and will multiply your seed, and increase the growth of the fruits of your justice:

St. Paul now proves from a fact of experience that God will provide “sufficiency” (verse 8) for him who gives in charity.

And he that ministereth, etc. Better, “And he that ministereth seed to the sower and bread to eat, will also provide and multiply your seed,” etc. These words are a quotation from Isaiah 60:10. What the Prophet says of the rain from heaven, St. Paul applies to God’s ordinary Providence, which not only will enable the charitable man to give, but will also increase his temporal possessions, the fruits of his justice, i.e., the reward of his virtue.

2 Cor 9:11. That being enriched in all things, you may abound unto all simplicity, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God.

That . . . you may abound (Vulg., ut . . . abundetis) is not represented in the Greek, which has simply: “Ye being enriched in all things unto all simplicity,” etc. The meaning of the verse is: “Your singleness of heart, your absence of all secondary and selfish motives, provides us with the means of alleviating the distresses of others, and thus elicits from them thanks to God out of the fulness of a grateful heart” (Lias).

2 Cor 9:12. Because the administration of this office doth not only supply the want of the saints, but aboundeth also by many thanksgivings in the Lord,

From this verse to the end of the chapter St. Paul is considering the results of the collection, when finally made and distributed among the poor in Jerusalem.

The administration (διακονία = diakonia), i.e., the performance on the part of the Corinthians of this office (λειτουργίας = leitourgias) i.e., of this public service of almsgiving, not only satisfies the wants of the poor in Jerusalem, but is the cause on the part of the recipients of bountiful thanksgiving to God.

Religious terms are used here to express offices of charity. Thus διακονία = diakonia is a religious word from which deacon is derived; and λειτουργίας = leitourgias  among the Jews meant priestly ministrations (Luke 1: 23; Heb. 8:6; 9:21), among Christians it was used of public worship generally but especially of the Eucharist (Acts 13:2; Rom. 15:16; Philip, 2:17, 20, 25, 30; etc.).

The Vulgate in domino should be simply Deo (τῷ Θεῷ· = to theo).

2 Cor 9:13. By the proof of this ministry, glorifying God for the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ, and for the simplicity of your communicating unto them, and unto all.

This verse explains why the recipients of the bounty give thanks, namely, because the collection is a proof of Corinthian loyalty to the Gospel, and of Corinthian generosity in giving. The Palestinians had somewhat doubted the loyalty and adhesion to the Gospel of Gentile converts, but in this collection they would have an answer to their misgivings, and they would glorify God as a result.

The simplicity of your communicating, i.e., the generosity of your contributions.

2 Cor 9:14. And in their praying for you, being desirous of you, because of the excellent grace of God in you.

The construction is uncertain. Perhaps the meaning is best secured by taking αὐτῶν ἐπιποθούντων (= auto epipothouton) as a genitive absolute, thus giving the following sense: They glorify God for your faith in the Gospel and your liberality in giving (verse 13), while they themselves through prayer intercede for you, and yearn for you, on account of the excellent grace of God, i.e., the grace of Christian faith and charity which is manifest in your exceeding liberality towards them. The Apostle is speaking as if the collection were completed and distributed.

2 Cor 9:15. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

The unspeakable gift is the grace of Christian faith and charity, spoken of in the preceding verse. Foreseeing the good effects which this grace in the Corinthians will have, how it will relieve the distresses of his poor countrymen, how it will unite Jewish and Gentile Christians, and the like, the Apostle concludes this second main portion of his letter with an act of profound thanksgiving to God, the Author of all good.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 8

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

In the second main part of this Epistle (viii-ix), which begins here, St. Paul discusses a difficult question, but with great tact and dexterity of language. He was deeply concerned with the collection for the poor of the Holy City to be made at Corinth, first, because the need was pressing. But there were also other considerations which weighed upon him in this matter. A generous collection at Corinth would not only be a special sign of unity between that Gentile Church and their Jewish brethren so far away, but it would also be an outstanding proof that the Apostle’s own authority had been thoroughly rehabilitated where but recently it had been questioned. Furthermore, how would his lingering adversaries at Corinth and his opponents at Jerusalem regard this collection?

These were some of the considerations which made St. Paul proceed cautiously with the subject in hand. He begins, therefore, by citing the example set by the Macedonian Churches. It was the great success of the collection there that moved him to send Titus to collect among the Corinthians; and he is sure that the faithful of Achaia are not less zealous than their poor neighbors, nor less mindful of the great truth that Christ became poor that they might be enriched. They who were among the first to begin the collection (2 Cor 8:10; 9:2) will not fail to complete it according to their means.

In 1 Cor. 16:1-3 the Apostle had already spoken of this collection, and later, in his Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 15:26, 27), he again returns to it. From St. Luke (Acts 24:17) we know that the proceeds of the collection were finally taken to Jerusalem by St. Paul himself.

2 Cor 8:1. Now we make known unto you, brethren, the grace of God, that hath been given in the churches of Macedonia.

Now (δὲ  = de) marks the transition to another topic, as does also brethren (ἀδελφοί, = adelphoi). The Apostle assumes a more serious tone.

The grace of God, i.e., the effect of the grace of God, which was manifested in the liberality of the Macedonian Christians. The churches of Macedonia which were at Philippi (Acts 16:12), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1), and Berea (Acts 17:10).

2 Cor 8:2. That in much experience of tribulation, they have had abundance of joy; and their very deep poverty hath abounded unto the riches of their simplicity.

The meaning here is that, though tried by many afflictions, the Macedonians experienced so much spiritual joy, and appreciated so keenly the needs of the poor from their own abject poverty (ἡ κατὰ βάθους πτωχεία = kata bathous he ptocheia) , that they made a generous contribution with a simplicity, i.e., a single-mindedness (ἁπλότητος = haplotetos) , which considers only the necessities of others and the glory of God. There are two reasons assigned for the single-minded generosity of the Macedonians, namely, their spiritual joy and their own experience of dire poverty.

2 Cor 8:3. For according to their power (I bear them witness), and beyond their power, they were willing.
2 Cor 8:4. With much entreaty begging of us the grace and communication of the ministry that is done toward the saints.
2 Cor 8:5. And not as we hoped, but they gave their own selves first to the Lord, then to us by the will of God:

These three verses make one sentence in Greek. The meaning is that the Macedonians were not only willing to contribute to the collection, but they gladly gave beyond their means; and more than this, they earnestly entreated the Apostles that they might be allowed to share in the almsgiving to the poor in Jerusalem. Their generosity and willingness exceeded all expectations. And not only did they give beyond their means, but they put their own lives and persons at the disposal, first of Christ, then of His Apostles, being moved by the will, i.e., by the grace of God.

The grace and communication, etc., i.e., the favor to share in helping the poor Christians of Jerusalem.

2 Cor 8:6. Insomuch, that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so also he would finish among you this same grace.

Insomuch, that, etc. Better, “So much so that,” etc., i.e., the generosity of the Macedonians was so great that Paul and Timothy were encouraged to send Titus to Corinth to complete the collection which he had begun there earlier. On a previous occasion Titus had been sent to Corinth to start the collection. Perhaps it was the visit from which he had just returned, and which is again referred to in 2 Cor 12:18. It is, however, thought more probable by certain scholars that the present verse and 2Cor 12:18 refer to a visit by Titus to Corinth prior to the sending of the painful letter and the consequent visit to observe its effects. They rightly observe that a mission to quiet a revolt could not well be associated with one to collect money.

This same grace, i.e., grace of contributing towards the poor.

2 Cor 8:7. That as in all things you abound in faith, and word, and knowledge, and all carefulness; moreover also in your charity towards us, so in this grace also you may abound.

Beginning his exhortation to the Corinthians (verses 7-15) the Apostle reminds them of their faith, their knowledge, their charity, etc., and he says if they so excel in these virtues, they ought also to be conspicuous for their liberality towards the poor.

Faith means the theological virtue by which we believe God’s revelation.

Word . . . knowledge. See on 1 Cor. 1:5.

Carefulness, i.e., earnestness (σπουδῇ  = spoude) in the practice of their faith.

In your charity towards us. Better, “In the charity you have from us,” i.e., in the charity we have awakened in you.

So in this, etc. (ἵνα καὶ ἐν  = hina kai en). The ἵνα (= hina) here is perhaps imperative in meaning, as in 1 Cor. 7:29; Eph. 5:33; Gal. 2:10, etc., and the sense is: Since you abound in those other virtues, see that you abound also in this grace of giving to the poor.

2 Cor 8:8. I speak not as commanding; but by the carefulness of others, approving also the good disposition of your charity.

The Apostle observes that he is not commanding the faithful, but only reminding them of the carefulness of others, i.e., of the earnestness of the Macedonians, and is thus approving, i.e., testing, the good disposition, etc., i.e., the sincerity of their love.

The ingenium of the Vulgate is likely a copyist’s error for ingenuum (Gr., γνήσιον = gnesion, sincerity) .

2 Cor 8:9. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich he became poor, for your sakes; that through his poverty you might be rich.

It was not necessary to command those to be generous who knew, as did the Corinthians, how our Lord Jesus Christ left the riches of heaven and the bosom of His Eternal Father (John 16:28; 17:5) and became poor (Matt. 8:20), in order that they might be made rich with the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). If Christ made such a great sacrifice for the Corinthians, surely they will make a sacrifice for their poor brethren.

This verse offers a very clear proof of the Divinity of Christ.

2 Cor 8:10. And herein I give my advice; for this is profitable for you, who have begun not only to do, but also to be willing, a year ago.

My advice, i.e., my counsel (verse 8).

For this is profitable, i.e., to complete the collection begun before will enrich them with many spiritual blessings. Only counsel is needed for those who are both willing and have already begun.

Have begun to do (ποιῆσαι = poiesai) refers to the readiness with which the Corinthians on a former occasion began the collection, but which was soon broken up by dissensions and party strifes.

To be willing (θέλειν = thelein) expresses the disposition still abiding in the present to carry on the work begun previously.

A year ago can hardly mean that twelve months had intervened since the writing of 1 Cor. 16:2, because that Epistle was written in the spring, and 2 Cor. followed very probably in the succeeding autumn. Perhaps the collection had been decided on sometime before 1 Cor. xvi. 2 was written ; or St. Paul might have been reckoning according to the Macedonian year which, like the Jewish civil year may have begun in autumn. In this latter supposition a year ago would mean last year.

2 Cor 8:11. Now therefore perform ye it also in deed; that as your mind is forward to be willing, so it may be also to perform, out of that which you have.

Knowing their abiding dispositions to help, St. Paul now tells the Corinthians to carry their wishes into effect and complete the collection according to their means. He does not ask them to go beyond their means, as did the Macedonians (verse 3).

2 Cor 8:12. For if the will be forward, it is accepted according to that which a man hath, not according to that which he hath not.

If the will be forward, etc., i.e., if the readiness be there, a man’s alms are acceptable to God according to his means; God does not require one to give more than he can afford. It is the disposition with which one gives, more than what is given, that counts before the Lord (Mark 12:41 ff. ; Luke 21:2 ff.).

2 Cor 8:13. For I mean not that others should be eased, and you burthened, but by an equality.

The meaning here is that St. Paul does not wish the poor in Jerusalem to be relieved by impoverishing the Corinthians, but that there should be some sort of equality between the one and the other. The implication is that the faithful of Corinth were in good circumstances as compared with those of the Holy City.

2 Cor 8:14. In this present time let your abundance supply their want, that their abundance also may supply your want, that there may be an equality.

There are two interpretations of the second part of this verse; namely, that the Palestinian Christians were to give the Corinthians present spiritual help in return for material assistance, and so establish equality among them (Cornely, MacR., Sales, Rick., and most Catholics) ; or that sometime in the future, when the Corinthians are in temporal need the faithful of Palestine will come to their aid with material means and thus compensate them for what they are now asked to give (Maier, Rambaud, Plummer and most non-Catholics). An argument for the latter opinion might be gathered from the following verse, which gives an instance of equality in material things.

2 Cor 8:15. As it is written: He that had much, had nothing over; and he that had little, had no want.

The Apostle now cites a passage from Exod. 16:18, according to the LXX, which in this instance agrees with the Hebrew, to illustrate how there should be equality in temporal goods among the Christians, just as of old God so distributed the manna in the desert that all had what was necessary, superfluities being made to supply needs. Those who gathered more manna than others had not in the end more than they needed, while the others had all that they required.

 A Summary of 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

After his exhortation to the Corinthians regarding the collection to be completed among them, St. Paul recommends those officials who have been appointed to terminate the work. Titus, who had begun the collection, and who loves the Corinthians so much, is not in need of any recommendation. And as regards the two delegates who are to assist him, one was a trusted helper in the Macedonian collection, and the other has proved himself most faithful in many important charges, and is very well disposed towards the Corinthians. Hence all three deserve to be received most cordially by the faithful.

2 Cor 8:16. And thanks be to God, who hath given the same carefulness for you in the heart of Titus.

The Apostle thanks God that Titus is inspired with the same deep interest and zeal for the Corinthians which he himself has for them. This earnestness and solicitude Titus has not only in his words and actions, but also in his heart.

2 Cor 8:17. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more careful, of his own will he went unto you.

The exhortation, i.e., the Apostle’s exhortation to go and complete the collection.

More careful, i.e., very much in earnest.

He went (ἐξῆλθε = exelthe). This is the epistolary aorist, referring to the time when the Corinthians would read this letter. So anxious was Titus to go and complete the collection that he did not need the Apostle’s exhortation, but of his own accord went for this purpose to Corinth, most probably carrying with him this present letter. The epistolary aorist adopts the future time perspective of the recipients of the letter. This practice is somewhat archaic now, hence the RSVCE changes the tense to the future, as if St Paul was writing from his own time perspective: he is going to you of his own accord.

2 Cor 8:18. We have sent also with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel through all the churches.

We have sent. Again the epistolary aorist.

The brother means a fellow-Christian and companion of St. Paul and Titus. Who this “brother” was we do not know. St. Chrysostom thought he was Barnabas or Luke; St. Jerome and Origen said he was Luke; others have conjectured Mark, Silas, Sopater, Aristarchus, or Secundus (Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2).

In the gospel means in preaching the Gospel. There is no reference to St. Luke’s Gospel, which was not written at the time, nor to any other written Gospel.

2 Cor 8:19. And not that only, but he was also ordained by the churches companion of our travels, for this grace, which is administered by us, to the glory of the Lord, and our determined will:

The meaning is that the “brother” just spoken of was not only widely praised for his work in preaching the Gospel, but also had been appointed by the Churches, probably of Macedonia, to accompany St. Paul in his journey to Jerusalem with the alms for the poor.

He was also ordained, i.e., appointed. The word χειροτονηθεὶς (= cheirotonetheis)  in classical Greek means to elect by show of hands, but in later ecclesiastical Greek it was the ordinary word used to signify sacramental ordination by imposition of hands. In this latter sense it is employed in Acts 14:22, the only other place in which it occurs in the New Testament. Here, however, the term probably retains its original meaning, since it is said, “he was ordained by the churches.”

This grace, i.e., this charitable work of making the collection and conveying it to the poor.

Which is administered, etc., i.e., which is discharged by us Apostles to promote the glory of God and to manifest our own ready will (καὶ προθυμίαν ἡμῶν· = kai promthymian hemon) to help the poor.

2 Cor 8:20. Avoiding this, lest any man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us.

Avoiding this, etc. Verse 19 is almost parenthetical, and the connection now goes back to “we have sent” of verse 18. The meaning is that the Apostle is sending the “brother” to assist Titus with the collection so that all suspicion of any fraud on his part may be removed.

This abundance refers to the collection, and indirectly suggests to the Corinthians to make it a generous one.

2 Cor 8:21. For we forecast what may be good not only before God, but also before men.

St. Paul means to say that he is at pains not only to be honest in the sight of God, but also to appear so before men. This is why he had reliable helpers, and witnesses for the work of the collection.

The verse is a quotation from the LXX of Prov. 3:4. Cf. Rom. 12:17; Matt. 5:16.

2 Cor 8:22. And we have sent with them our brother also, whom we have often proved diligent in many things ; but now much more diligent, with much confidence in you,

Our brother. This is the third delegate, who is to assist Titus and “the brother” (verse 18). It is also uncertain who this brother, i.e., fellow-Christian and companion of the Apostle, was. Surely he was not St. Paul’s own brother, but some other tried and trusted co-worker who had great interest in the Corinthians, and in whom, consequently, they would have great confidence. Some authorities refer much confidence back to “we have sent” (verse 18), and in that connection it would be St. Paul who had much confidence in the Corinthians (Estius). The previous view is preferable.

2 Cor 8:23. Either for Titus, who is my companion and fellow labourer towards you, or our brethren, the apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ.

Some things have to be supplied here. The sense is: If there be question of Titus, he is my companion and fellow-worker among you; and as to our brethren (verses 18, 22), they are the Apostles of the Churches, the glory of Christ. The term apostles here has its original and literal meaning of those sent as messengers or legates. There is no implication that these messengers enjoyed Apostolic dignity equal to that of St. Paul or the twelve.

The glory of Christ means that these legates honored and glorified Christ by their holy lives and zealous labors.

Who (Vulg., qui) after Titus is not in the Greek.

2 Cor 8:24. Wherefore shew ye to them, in the sight of the churches, the evidence of your charity, and of our boasting on your behalf.

The Apostle tells the Corinthians to give the delegates of the Churches of Macedonia, who are coming to them, a proof of their charity, and of the good reputation he has given them.

In the sight of, etc. The meaning is that the respect shown to those delegates will be respect shown to the Church from which they come.

In the Vulgate, quae est should be omitted, and gloriae should be gloriationis, to agree with the Greek.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 7

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2018


2 Cor 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God.

As heirs to the glorious promises just mentioned (2 Cor 6:16-18) Christians should cleanse themselves from every kind of defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, i.e., they should be free from all impurity, gluttony, pride, idolatry and the like (1 Cor. vii. 34), in order to perfect the sanctification begun in Baptism.

In the fear of God. Christians cannot avoid sins of the flesh and of the spirit, neither can they attain to perfect holiness of life, unless they have a salutary fear of God. “Love begets security, which sometimes causes negligence, but he who fears is always solicitous” (St. Thomas).


2 Cor 7:2. Receive us. We have injured no man, we have corrupted no man, we have overreached no man.

Receive us. Rather, “Make room for us” (Χωρήσατε ἡμᾶς· = choresate hemas) in your hearts (cf. Matt. 19:11, 12). The reason why the Corinthians ought to open their hearts to the Apostle is given forthwith: he has done them no wrong.
We have injured no man in the exercise of our ministry, we have corrupted no man by teaching false doctrine, we have overreached no man by seeking to enrich ourselves in the preaching of the Gospel. The Apostle is doubtless hinting at the accusations made against him at Corinth, and perhaps also at the practices of the false teachers.

2 Cor 7:3. I speak not this to your condemnation. For we have said before, that you are in our hearts, to die together, and to live together.

I speak not this, etc. Literally, “I speak not to condemn you.” The Apostle is not blaming anyone, but only defending himself.

We have said before, etc. Rather, “I said before,” etc. He had expressed his deep affection for the Corinthians before (2 Cor 1:6; 3:2; 4:12; 6:11, 12).

To die together, etc., probably means that he is willing to share either death or life with them; or that neither death nor life can separate them from the love of his heart.

In the Vulgate praediximus should be praedixi, and vestram should be omitted.

2 Cor 7:4. Great is my confidence for you, great is my glorying for you. I am filled with comfort: I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation.

Confidence means rather “boldness of speech” (παρρησία = parresia), as in 2 Cor 3:12.

Glorying, i.e., boasting. The Apostle perhaps means to say that he is very frank in dealing with the Corinthians, and full of boasting when speaking to others about them; or that he has such confidence in them that he gives way to external boasting in their regard.

I am filled with comfort, etc., i.e., the good news brought from Corinth by Titus filled the Apostle with comfort and joy in spite of all his tribulations at the time. What some of these tribulations were he now proceeds to indicate.

2 Cor 7:5. For also when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we suffered all tribulation; combats without, fears within.

In order to explain the situation in which the good news brought by Titus found him, St. Paul now takes up the narrative broken off at 2 Cor 2:13. Having come to Troas from Ephesus sooner than was originally planned the Apostle did not find Titus there, as had been arranged. So anxious was he to meet his legate and learn of Corinthian conditions that he tarried not at Troas, but went immediately to Macedonia. Even there, however, he had no rest, suffering combats without, i.e., external opposition, perhaps from the Jews, pagans, and false brethren; and fears within, i.e., mental distress, caused by his uncertainty of the Corinthian situation, and probably also by the hostility around him.

2 Cor 7:6. But God, who comforteth the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus.

The humble, i.e., the low-spirited (ταπεινοὺς = tapeinous), those cast down by sorrow, depression and the like, but who trust in God (1 Peter 5:5).

The coming of Titus from Corinth, whither St. Paul had dispatched him to observe the effects of the previous letter.

2 Cor 7:7. And not by his coming only, but also by the consolation, wherewith he was comforted in you, relating to us your desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced the more. 

St. Paul was rejoiced not only by the arrival of Titus, but especially by the comfort he manifested in telling of Corinthian conditions.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 7:8-16

St. Paul knew that his recent letter had caused the Corinthians great sorrow; nevertheless he says that this salutary sadness is now the cause of greater joy. Their sorrow was not of a worldly kind, but according to God, as is evident from the fruits it has borne. This was the end the Apostle had in view when he wrote that severe letter, and therefore he is now comforted. The joy experienced by Titus among the Corinthians has also added to the Apostle’s comfort, and has justified all that he had said to his envoy in their praise. Titus loves them much, and the Apostle trusts them in everything.

2 Cor 7:8. For although I made you sorrowful by my epistle, I do not repent; and if I did repent, seeing that the same epistle (although but for a time) did make you sorrowful;

By my epistle. Literally, “In the letter,” i.e., in the letter he wrote. This again (cf. 2 Cor 2:3, 4, 9) seems to be an allusion to the lost letter of severity which was written after 1 Cor., because it is very hard to see anything in our First Corinthians that could have caused the Apostle so much sorrow and regret as he expresses in this verse and in the other passages of this Epistle just referred to.

The punctuation and connection of clauses in this verse, as well as the reading of the last clause of it, cause not a little confusion. If we put a full stop after the first clause and a comma after the last, perhaps our English version has the best rendering of the verse, thus: “For although I made you sorrowful by my epistle, I do not repent. And if I did repent, seeing that the same epistle (although but for a time) did make you sorrowful, now I am glad,” etc. (verse 9). This rendering agrees almost exactly with that of Lachmann, Tisch., W. H., Comely, MacR., Rick., etc. It gives very good sense, and hence the Vulgate ought likely to be corrected so as to agree with it.

I do not repent, now that I learn through Titus how much good the letter produced. Before meeting his legate and learning from him the fruits of his severe letter, St. Paul did repent having sent it.

2 Cor 7:9. Now I am glad: not because you were made sorrowful; but because you were made sorrowful unto penance. For you were made sorrowful according to God, that you might suffer damage by us in nothing.

According to God, i.e., according to the will of God (Rom. 8:27), as God would have you sorrowful, namely, unto spiritual profit.

Might suffer damage, etc., i.e., by our silence and neglect. It was God’s will that the Corinthians should suffer a passing temporal sorrow in order to escape eternal loss.

2 Cor 7:10. For the sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

The salutary effect of sorrow according to God is now explained. Such sorrow springs from the love of God and produces penance steadfast, etc., i.e., penance that is not repented of (ἀμεταμέλητον = ametameleton), but endures unto salvation.

Steadfast (Vulg., stabilem) is therefore to be connected with penance, and not with salvation, for it is absurd to speak of regretting or repenting of salvation (against MacR.).

The sorrow of the world, i.e., sorrow that comes from worldly considerations and from an attachment to earthly things without regard for God. Sorrow of this kind leads to eternal death, while spiritual sorrow tends to eternal life.

2 Cor 7:11. For behold this selfsame thing, that you were made sorrowful according to God, how great carefulness it worketh in you; yea defence, yea indignation, yea fear, yea desire, yea zeal, yea revenge: in all things you have shewed yourselves to be undefiled in the matter.

The Corinthians are a definite illustration of the good results of sorrow that is according to God.

What great carefulness, i.e., earnestness (σπουδήν = spouden) it wrought in them, as opposed to their previous indifference and neglect in not punishing the offender. It produced a defence, i.e., a clearing of themselves (ἀπολογίαν = apologian) before Titus, and so indirectly before St. Paul, of any sympathy with the sinner (3:5). It caused indignation at his crime; it caused fear of the Apostle’s punishment, desire, i.e., a longing, for his visit, zeal, i.e., a wish to punish the offender, and revenge, i.e., an actual avenging of the crime of the offender.

In all things, etc., i.e., in all these ways just mentioned you have shown yourselves to be guiltless in the matter of the sinful man. That the offender referred to here and in 2 Cor 2:5 was the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1 ff. is by no means certain, or even probable for those who hold the hypothesis of a lost letter between 1 and 2 Cor. The phrase ἁγνοὺς εἶναι ἐν τῷ πράγματι (= hagous en to pragmati) means nothing more than “to be guiltless of an unpleasant affair.”

2 Cor 7:12. Wherefore although I wrote to you, it was not for his sake that did the wrong, nor for him that suffered it; but to manifest our carefulness that we have for you.

Although I wrote to you, etc. The painful letter written between 1 and 2 Cor. is again referred to, according to the modern opinion, which seems more probable to us. It was not so much for the sake of the offender (2 Cor 2:5), nor for the sake of the one who suffered the offence, namely, St. Paul himself, in the opinion we adopt, that the severe letter was written; but to manifest, etc., i.e., to show our zeal and solicitude for your spiritual welfare; or, according to an equally good reading, to make manifest among you in the sight of God the earnestness and zeal you have for us.

2 Cor 7:13. Before God : therefore we were comforted. But in our consolation, we did the more abundantly rejoice for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.

Before God. These words belong to the preceding verse, and should be followed by a full stop. They show the sincerity of the Apostle’s solicitude for the Corinthians, and the great consolation he experienced at the good report of Titus. But besides the comfort of meeting Titus, he experienced a special joy at seeing his legate so full of gladness. Titus had gone to Corinth distressed in spirit, not knowing what he might encounter there, but to his surprise, he was and is refreshed and rejoiced by the docility and loyalty of all the Corinthians.

By you all, i.e., by the majority that inflicted the punishment on the offender (2 Cor 2:5), and also by that ultra-loyal minority that thought the punishment inflicted should have been greater (see on 2 Cor 2:6).

2 Cor 7:14. And if I have boasted anything to him of you, I have not been put to shame; but as we have spoken all things to you in truth, so also our boasting that was made to Titus is found a truth.

And if. Rather, “For if” (ὅτι εἴ = hoti ei). The Apostle explains why he rejoiced. He has praised the Corinthians to Titus, and now Titus has seen that the praise was deserved.

As we have spoken all things to you, etc., i.e., both when speaking to them, and when speaking about them the Apostle is found to be true, i.e., sincere.

2 Cor 7:15. And his bowels are more abundantly towards you; remembering the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him.

His bowels are, etc., i.e., his affections go out to you. This shows the good effect produced in Titus. The affection of his heart goes out to the Corinthians as he recalls their docility and obedience, which were manifested in the fear and trembling with which they greeted him and were ready to do all that he desired. The Apostle regards as done to himself what was done to his legate. The word translated above as his bowels is σπλάγχνα (splanchna), which is rendered in the RSVCE and NABRE as, heart. Literally the word denotes a things inner organs, (liver, heart, lungs, etc.). Today we might speak of  a gut reaction, or something visceral.

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be erga vos, to agree with the Greek.

2 Cor 7:16. I rejoice that in all things I have confidence in you.

The Apostle’s closing words are calculated to conciliate the Corinthians towards Titus and towards himself, and form a fitting introduction to the plea for charity which is made in the next two chapters. Shortly he will send Titus back to Corinth to look after the collection for the poor in Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:6), and he is encouraged (θαρρῶ  = tharro) to trust the Corinthians in everything.

Here ends the first main division of this Epistle.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 6

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

In verse 20 of the preceding chapter St. Paul had exhorted the Corinthians, especially those who were not yet Christians, to be reconciled to God. He now extends that exhortation directly to the faithful who, while they have received God’s friendship, must be careful not to lose it, if they wish to be saved. They have before them the life of the Apostles, who, in their way of living, in the virtues they practice, and in the vicissitudes they encounter, never allow themselves to be disturbed or moved from their faithfulness.

2 Cor 6:1. And we helping do exhort you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain.

And we helping, etc. Better, “But we co-operating” (συνεργουντες δε = synergountes de), i.e., we Apostles, working together with God (cf. 2 Cor 5:20), do exhort, i.e., do entreat, that you remember your obligation of being faithful to the grace which God has given you in converting you from paganism to Christianity.

2 Cor 6:2. For he saith: In an accepted time have I heard thee; and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

This verse is parenthetical. Citing the LXX of Isaiah 49:8 the Apostle now gives a reason why the Corinthians should heed his exhortation without delay.

For he saith, i.e., God says in Isaiah, etc. The Prophet represents God as addressing His Servant, the Messiah, and through Him His people, assuring Him that His prayers and labors for the salvation of mankind have been heard. Commenting briefly on the words quoted, the Apostle says that the Messianic time spoken of by the Prophet has come, and that therefore everyone should profit by the graces now given, because, if they are abused, there will be no hope of salvation, since another Messiah shall not come. “We must labor now, while still the eleventh hour is left” (St. Chrys.).

2 Cor 6:3. Giving no offence to any man, that our ministry be not blamed:

After the parenthesis in verse 2 the thought goes back to verse 1, and giving no offence, etc., follows immediately upon we helping, etc. (verse 1). Hence the sense is: The Apostles, St. Paul and his companions, give no offence in anything (εν μηδενι = en medeni), i.e., they avoid everything in the exercise of their ministry, and in their dealings with men, that might bring any blemish on their profession and thus keep people from the Gospel. If a preacher of the Gospel leads a life that is out of harmony with his preaching, he gives occasion to men of despising the sacred ministry.

That our ministry. Better, “That the ministry,” etc.

The nemini of the Vulgate should be in nullo.

2 Cor 6:4. But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulations, in necessities, in distresses,
2 Cor 6:5. In stripes, in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in fastings,

But in all things let us exhibit, etc., should be, according to the Greek: “But in everything commending ourselves,” etc. St. Paul is continuing the description of the Apostles’ conduct, as in verses 1 and 3.

Ministers (Vulg., ministros) is nominative in Greek (διακονια = diakonia), agreeing with the subject of the clause, (we) commending, etc., and the sense is: The Apostles, as ministers of God, commending themselves in much patience, etc.

In much patience, etc., i.e., by much patience, the preposition  εν (“in”) being used to indicate instrumentality. Nine classes of things which tried the patience of the Apostles are now mentioned in these two verses; the first three are general, the others particular. Of the last six, three came unsought from without, three are voluntarily assumed.

Tribulations . . . necessities . . . distresses, i.e., a gradation of evils, increasing in pressure.

Stripes refers to the scourgings or beatings of 2 Cor 11:23-25; Acts 16:23.

Prisons. We are told of only one imprisonment of St. Paul previous to this letter, and that was at Philippi, but there must have been others (2 Cor 11:23).

In seditions, i.e., in tumults (Acts 19:23 ff.).

In labours, etc. The Apostle now mentions three classes of troubles which were voluntarily undertaken. Labours, i.e., things that cause weariness and fatigue;

watchings, i.e., things interfering with sleep, such as traveling, praying, anxiety and the like; fastings, i.e., voluntary abstinences from food and drink. For other New Testament references to fasting and its lawfulness, see 2 Cor 11:27; Matt 4:2; Matt 9:15; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:22.

2 Cor 6:6. In chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in sweetness, in the Holy Ghost, in charity unfeigned,
2 Cor 6:7. In the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armour of justice on the right hand and on the left;

From the ways in which patience was especially exercised the Apostle now passes to nine other practices by which he and his companions commended themselves and their ministry.

In chastity, i.e., in general purity of soul and holiness of life.

In knowledge, i.e., in the wisdom of the Gospel, or in the practice of religious truth, or in prudence.

In long-suffering, i.e., in forebearance of injuries.

In sweetness, i.e., in kindness towards others.

In the Holy Ghost. This likely means that the Holy Spirit is the source of the foregoing virtues, and He is mentioned, like the “power of God” below, as the closing member of a series.

The word of truth perhaps does not refer to the Gospel, but to the general sincerity of the Apostles’ utterances.

The power of God, i.e., the special divine assistance which accompanied the whole Apostolic ministry, and which was particularly manifested in the miracles of the Apostles.

By the armour of justice, etc. The preposition changes here from εν (“in”) to δια (“by”). The Apostle probably means that he and his companions made use of all the weapons of justice, or of righteousness, having on the right hand weapons of offence, i.e., virtues by which justice is promoted, and on the left weapons of defense, i.e., virtues by which justice is maintained.

2 Cor 6:8. By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet known;
2 Cor 6:9. As dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed;
2 Cor 6:10. As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.

In a series of antitheses St. Paul now shows how, under all conditions of life, he and his companions conducted themselves as became their high office and ministry. No external condition could make them unfaithful to their duty. When they were honored by God, they were not puffed up; when dishonored by their enemies, they were not discouraged. In their practice of virtue they were not influenced by reports bad or good. Although called deceivers by their enemies, they ever spoke the truth; although they were said to be unknown and insignificant teachers, they were known throughout the Church (1 Cor 13:12; 1 Cor 14:38). While they were always in a dying state, i.e., exposed to death (2 Cor 4:10-11), they were constantly being revived spiritually; while they were chastised, i.e., chastened by God, they were preserved from death (2 Cor 4:8 ff.). Their enemies regarded them as sorrowful, but they were in reality filled with joy (Acts 5:41 ff.). They were derided as paupers and beggars, but they were all the while enriched with the treasures of grace (1 Cor 1:5; cf. Mark 10:27-30).

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 6:11-18

St. Paul now begs the Corinthians to exhibit towards him the great love which he has shown them. And since charity is proved by deeds, he admonishes them to shun the vices of paganism, so repugnant to the sanctity of Christianity. They who have God for their father ought to keep themselves clean from all defilement.

2 Cor 6:11. Our mouth is open to you, O ye Corinthians, our heart is enlarged.

Before giving the severe admonition that follows in 2 Cor 6:14-18, the Apostle explains (in 2 Cor 6:11-13) why he has spoken so freely to the Corinthians (2 Cor 6:3-10) of the labors and sufferings of himself and his companions. It is because he loves them. His heart is enlarged towards them, and he speaks freely and frankly, as a friend to a friend. In spite of their treatment of him, his heart goes out to them.

O ye Corinthians is simply “Corinthians” in Greek. This is the only place in which he addresses them by name (cf. Gal. 3:1; Phil 4:15).

2 Cor 6:12. You are not straitened in us, but in your own bowels you are straitened.

You are not straitened in us, but in your, etc., i.e., there is plenty of room for you in my big heart; but in your heart there is no room for me; you are too full of suspicion and resentment.

Bowels here includes the heart, lungs and liver, rather than the bowels proper. The expressions heart and bowels both meant the seat of the affections (Plum.).

2 Cor 6:13. But having the same recompense, (I speak as to my children), be you also enlarged.

Having is not in the Greek. The sense of the verse is: By way of exchange … let your heart also be enlarged, i.e., reciprocate my love for you.

My children. The term here employed, τέκνοις (=teknois), is more affectionate than υἱόί (= huioi). Children should love their parents. The Apostle now returns to the thought of verse 1, and he tells the Corinthians practically how they can prove their fidelity to God and their love towards himself.

In the Vulgate habentes should be omitted.

2 Cor 6:14. Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness?

2 Cor 6:14-18-7:1 are regarded by some Rationalists as an interpolation, or as belonging to a lost letter of St. Paul’s. See Introduction, III.

Bear not the yoke. Rather, “Bear not unequal yoke” (ἑτεροζυγοῦντες = heterozygountes). There is an allusion here to Deut. 22:10, where it is forbidden to yoke animals of a different kind: “Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together.” The Apostle means that believers and unbelievers belong to different classes, and should not, therefore, have fellowship, one with the other; that is, Christian justice, i.e., righteousness (δικαιοσύνῃ = dikaiosyne), should not be mingled with pagan injustice, i.e., iniquity or lawlessness (ἀνομίᾳ = anomia); neither should light, i.e., the teachings of Christianity, be joined to the darkness, i.e., the ignorance, of paganism.

In the Vulgate jugum should be modified by inaequale, to agree with the Greek.

2 Cor 6:15. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?

Belial is usually read Beliar. It is a Hebrew word meaning, primarily, uselessness or worthlessness; its secondary meaning is extreme wickedness. Thus it was understood in the Old Testament (Deut. 13:13; Nahum 1:15; Job 34:18); but toward the dawn of the Christian era it came to be a designation for Satan. So the Fathers commonly interpret it.

2 Cor 6:16. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God saith : I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The Apostle now says that Christians are the temple of God, and that they therefore should not suffer themselves to be profaned and desecrated by heathen vices and profanations.

You are the temple, etc., should be “We are the temple,” etc., according to the best MSS.

To prove that Christians are the temple of God St. Paul quotes the LXX of Lev. 26:12 with slight variation, and with a recollection of Ezek 37:27. The words quoted were originally spoken of God’s dwelling among the Israelites in the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34), but the divine dwelling is far more perfect among Christians (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Eph. 2:21). The Apostle is emphasizing God’s fidelity to His Christian people.

The Vulgate vos estis should read nos sumus, in accordance with the best Greek.

2 Cor 6:17. Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing:

Wherefore, Go out, etc. The meaning is that Christians must be separated at once and decisively from the corrupt practices and lives of the heathen. The quotation is freely from the LXX of Isa 52:11, which literally was an exhortation to the Jews to leave Babylon as soon as the captivity was ended, and to hold themselves aloof from the contamination of paganism.

2 Cor 6:18. And I will receive you; and I will be a Father to you; and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

This verse appears to be a combination of several passages of the Old Testament. The substance of it is found in Jer. 32:37, 38; 31:9; Deut. 14:1, 2; 32:6, 9. The Apostle is pointing out God’s fatherly care of all the faithful. The mention of daughters shows how all-embracing is this divine solicitude, and is especially intended to give woman, so degraded at Corinth, her proper and dignified place in the Christian family.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

The closing subject of the last chapter is continued through this section. These verses are, in reality, a part of the previous chapter and would better be joined to it. St. Paul has just been saying that the unhesitating hope of a future glorious resurrection is the stay of the Apostles in their sufferings and tribulations. This he again asserts and confirms by the certitude of the glorious transmutation of those whom Christ at His coming will find still living. Neither do the Apostles refuse death, since that will bring their souls home to Christ. Hence St. Paul and his companions, in the discharge of their Apostolic functions, strive only to please Christ, their judge, who will reward everyone according to his merits.

2 Cor 5:1. For we know, if our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved, that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

For (γαρ = gar) shows the close connection with what precedes. 

We know, etc., i.e., the Apostles and all Christians (verse 4) were confident, through faith, that the dissolution of their mortal bodies meant only a passing to a higher state of existence.

House of this habitation. Literally “Tent-dwelling” (οικια του σκηνους = epigeios tou skenous), i.e., a dwelling that has only a transitory existence. “The camp-life of the Israelites in the wilderness, as commemorated by the annual feast of Tabernacles, was a ready and appropriate symbol of man’s transitory life on earth” (Lightfoot).

We have. The present tense indicates the certainty of the fact, and also that the just, already by faith, are in possession of their glorified state.

A building of God, etc., i.e., a spiritual habitation from God of unending duration. The reference is to the glorified body, to which the soul will be joined at the end of the world, and which, together with the soul, will not dwell on earth, but in heaven.

2 Cor 5:2. For in this also we groan, desiring to be clothed upon with our habitation that is from heaven.

St. Paul now confirms the certainty of the future resurrection by the desire which the Apostles and all the just have of clothing themselves with their glorified bodies without passing through death. Such an eager longing God will not permit to be in every way vain (verse 5).

In this (ἐν τούτῳ = en touto) may mean “for this reason” ; or, more likely, “in this tent,” in which we now live, we groan (Rom. 8:19 ff.), desiring to take on the resurrection body over our natural body, and so escape death. This shows that the glorified body will be essentially the same as our present body, although endowed with surpassing gifts.

Habitation (τὸ οἰκητήριον = ho oiketerion) here is a permanent dwelling-place, unlike the transitory habitation (σκήνους = skenous = tent) of verse 1.From heaven, i.e., heavenly, spiritual (1 Cor. 15:49).

2 Cor 5:3. Yet so, that we be found clothed, not naked.

This verse is an explanation of the latter half of verse 2. It is intended to make clear what will be required in order that we be clothed upon, i.e., that we be able to put on our glorified bodies over our mortal ones, without losing the latter. For this it will be necessary that we be clothed (γυμνοὶ = gymnoi), not naked, i.e., that we be still alive, with our mortal bodies, at the Second Coming of Christ. The dead who shall have lost their bodies at the Second Advent shall be clothed anew, but it cannot be said that they shall be “clothed upon.” This is the most probable explanation of a very difficult verse. For various other, but less likely, explanations see Comely, h. 1.; MacR., h. 1.

Yet so. Better, “If only,” or “if indeed” (εἴ γε = ei ge with א C K L P, or εἴγε [= eige] with B D F G; the two terms are sometimes interchanged in meaning), i.e., we can “be clothed upon,” if  indeed we shall be still living with our present bodies.  Note: ei ge represents two word (yet so); eige is a single word which can be variously translated (if indeed; seeing that, unless, etc.).

2 Cor 5:4. For we also, who are in this tabernacle, do groan, being burthened; because we would not be unclothed, but clothed upon, that that which is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

After the parenthetical explanation given in verse 3, the Apostle returns to the thought of verse 2.

We also, etc., i.e., we Christians, living in our material dwellings, do groan, i.e., long to be free from our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:23); and yet we are burthened, i.e., oppressed with the fear of death, because we do not want to pass through death to resurrection, but rather from this present life to a higher, immortal existence, so that our bodies may not go into corruption, but be transformed from a perishable into an imperishable state (2 Cor 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:54).

2 Cor 5:5. Now he that maketh us for this very thing, is God, who hath given us the pledge of the Spirit.

Now. Better, “But” (δὲ = de), which implies the introduction of a surprising truth, namely, the realization of the wish in verse 4, which shall be fulfilled in those who are alive at the Second Coming; or, perhaps, the possession of a glorified body by all the just (verse 1).

This very thing refers to what is mortal being absorbed by life (verse 4), or to the glorification of the body (verse 1). As an earnest of the realization of these blessings God has given the faithful at their conversion His Holy Spirit and special gifts (cf. Rom. 8:15-17, 23; Eph. 1:14; 4:30).

2 Cor 5:6. Therefore having always confidence, knowing that, while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord.

The thought begun here, and broken by the parenthesis of verse 7, is completed in verse 8: Having always confidence (6) . . . we are confident (8), etc.

The Apostle now begins to sum up the results of faith in future glorification of both body and soul. Confident of the glory that awaits them hereafter, and knowing that presence in the body is an impediment to the realization of their glorious union with Christ, St. Paul and his companions are willing to suffer death, much as they loathe it (verse 4), if this be necessary “to be present with the Lord” (verse 8), that is, if Christ does not come during their life-time and transform their mortal bodies without death.

2 Cor 5:7. (For we walk by faith, and not by sight.)

It might be objected against the Apostle that the just are already united to Christ by faith. Wherefore he observes that in this world we have, through faith, only an indirect and imperfect knowledge of God, whereas we long for direct vision and complete union with Him (1 Cor 13:12). 

2 Cor 5:8. But we are confident, and have a good will to be absent rather from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

See above, on verse 6. The Apostles were hoping that Christ might come during their mortal lives, and thus they would be glorified without passing through the portals of death. But if Christ was not to come, then welcome death, so that they might be at home with the Lord. This verse affords a clear proof that purified souls immediately after death are admitted to the vision of God (St. Thomas, h. 1. ; Denz. Ench. 11th ed., no. 693).

2 Cor 5:9. And therefore we labour, whether absent or present, to please him.

The one supreme aim of the Apostle’s life and labors was to please Christ and have the divine approval. This secured, it made little difference after all whether the day of judgment found him present, i.e., still living in the body, or absent, i.e., separated from his body by death. It is clear from this verse that St. Paul had no revelation regarding the time of the Second Advent.

2 Cor 5:10. For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.

The importance of striving above all things and at all times to please Christ is seen in this that, whether living or dead at the time of the Second Coming, all men must appear before the tribunal of Christ to be judged according to what they have done while in the body.

We must all, etc., i.e., all men, even children who die before the use of reason, must appear in the General Judgment. Sinless children will be present then, “not to be judged, but to see the glory of the Judge, in order that both the mercy and justice of God may be manifested in their case” (St. Thomas).

The proper things, etc., should be: “The things done in the body,” according to the Greek.

According as he hath done. This shows that we are to be judged hereafter according to our works, and not alone according to our faith, as some teach.

In the Vulgate propria corporis should be ea quae per corpus (gessit).

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 5:11-13

Having spoken so plainly of the lofty motives which guide his life and actions the Apostle might suspect that his enemies would again accuse him of boasting (cf. 2 Cor 3:1). But he has written thus, not to commend himself, but that the faithful may understand him and may know how to reply to those who calumniate him. He and his companions have labored only for the faithful and for God.

2 Cor 5:11Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we use persuasion to men; but to God we are manifest. And I trust also that in your consciences we are manifest.

The fear of the Lord, i.e., the fear inspired by the thought of the judgment to come.

We use persuasion to men, etc. The Apostle means that he and his companions had to use persuasion to convince men of their integrity, and thus further the work of the Gospel; but to God their sincerity was manifest. He trusts that the Corinthians have ceased to mistrust him, at least in their consciences, if not always in their actions, and that they now see him as God sees him.

2 Cor 5:12. We commend not ourselves again to you, but give you occasion to glory in our behalf; that you may have somewhat to answer them who glory in face and not in heart.

We commend not ourselves again, etc. Better, “We are not again commending ourselves to you.” From what the Apostle has just been saying the Corinthians must not think him boastful again (2 Cor 5:1); for what he has said was only for the purpose of giving them something to use against the false teachers, who glory in face, etc., i.e., who have the appearance of Apostolic virtues without the reality (Cornely), who boast of their exclusive privileges, their descent from Abraham, and the like, but are seriously wanting in the interior graces of true Apostles.

2 Cor 5:13. For whether we be transported in mind, it is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for you.

For whether we be transported in mind. Better, “For whether we were beside ourselves” (εἴτε γὰρ ἐξέστημεν = eite gar exestemen) , i.e., whether you thought we were mad when we spoke of our graces and privileges, it was for God’s glory; or whether you think we are at other times in our right mind, it is for your spiritual welfare. Whatever the Apostles did was for God’s glory and for the benefit of the Corinthians.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

After saying that the Apostles direct all their actions to the glory of God and the good of souls, St. Paul indicates more specifically the moving power of the Apostolic life, namely, the love of Christ, who, by His example in dying for all men, invites all to embrace a new life, in which they shall live for Him alone who alone died for them. The Apostles are living this new life, and hence they now judge all things by the standard of faith. This grace they have received from the Father, who has not only reconciled them to Himself, but has also called them to the Apostolic ministry; they are ministers of Christ for the purpose of leading all men to Christ, who was made sin that we might be made just.

2 Cor 5:14. For the charity of Christ presseth us: judging this, that if one died for all, then all were dead.
The charity of Christ, i.e., the love Christ has towards us (Rom. 5:5, 8).

Presseth (συνέχει = synechei), i.e., restricts us from turning to objects other than the service of God and of our neighbor. And the reason for this is that since Christ died for all men, for the salvation of all, therefore all have died in Him, i.e., have participated in His death, sharing in its merits, so far as Christ is concerned. The death of Christ is considered equivalent to the death of all men, as a substitute for that of all.

That if one died for all. Better, “That one died for all.”

Then all were dead. Better, “Then all died” (ἀπέθανον· = apethanon), i.e., all participated in Christ’s death, Christ having died vicariously for all. This is by far the most probable interpretation of this passage. See on Rom. vi. 2 ff.

In the Vulgate quoniam si should be simply quod.

2 Cor 5:15. And Christ died for all; that they also, who live, may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again.

Christ should be omitted. The verse is closely connected with the preceding. Christ died for all, that all, having shared in His death, should now die to themselves, and live to Him in the new life of grace begun at Baptism.

They also, who live. This more probably refers to those who live the life of grace; not to all men on earth.

And rose again. See on Rom. 4:25; 5:9, 10.

In the Vulgate Christus should be omitted.

2 Cor 5:16. Wherefore henceforth, we know no man according to the flesh. And if we have known Christ according to the flesh; but now we know him so no longer.

The connection between this verse and what precedes is very close and intelligible, although some have thought that it breaks the argument, and must therefore be a subsequent insertion. There is no doubt about its authenticity. Since Christians should live now only for Christ and for others in Him, it follows that the Apostles henceforth, i.e., from their conversion, when they began to live the new, spiritual life, looked upon and judged men, not according to human standards and natural considerations, but according to the standards of faith and the life of grace.

And if we have known Christ, etc. Better, “Even if” (εἰ καὶ = ei kai with B א D) we have known Christ,” i.e., if before our conversion we considered Christ as a mere man, even as an impostor, it is not so any longer: now we recognize Him as the true Son of God, as the Lord and Saviour of all. There is no question in this verse of a personal acquaintance between St. Paul and Christ while our Lord was on earth.

2 Cor 5:17. If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new.

The change in the Apostles, which the preceding verse describes, is now extended to all Christians. If any man be in Christ, through Baptism, he has become a new creature, morally and spiritually (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 2:10, 15 ; Col. 3:9, 10).

The old things, etc., i.e., unregenerate man with his perverse inclinations and sins, are passed away, i.e., no longer exist.

They are made new, i.e., the whole man belongs to a new order.

All things (Vulg., omnia) should be omitted, according to the best Greek.

2 Cor 5:18. But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.

This great change and complete renovation is from God, the Father, who sent His Son into the world to redeem us Christians and reconcile us to Himself by means of the sacrifice of the cross, and who has given to us, i.e., to us Apostles, the appointment of continuing the work of Christ. That the first us of this verse refers to all men is clear from the world of verse 19; and that the second us means the Apostles is also clear from in us of verse 19.

2 Cor 5:19. For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins; and he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation.

The thought of the preceding verse is amplified and explained.

For God indeed. Better, “God, as it were” (ὡς ὅτι Θεὸς  = hos hoti theos). God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, i.e., through Christ, in virtue of Christ’s merits, (a) by wiping out men’s sins, for which Christ atoned (1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 1:14, 22), and (b) by confiding to the Apostles the office of preaching the Gospel, of administering the Sacraments, etc.

In the Vulgate quoniam quidem would better be ut quod (Estius).

2 Cor 5:20. For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.

In consequence of the ministry confided to the Apostles they were ambassadors of Christ, announcing in the name of Christ the message of the Father to the world.

We beseech you, etc., to be converted to God, implying that some of his readers were in need of reconciliation with God.

2 Cor 5:21. Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in him.

To move those who were in need of repentance the Apostle recalls how much God has done for men. In order that we might be redeemed from our sins and justified, God hath made, etc., i.e., has treated His only Son, who was sinless, as if He were sin itself (Rom. 8:3); “He suffered Him to be condemned as a sinner, and to die as one accursed” (St. Chrys.). It is improbable that the meaning here is that Christ was made a victim for sin, as is clear from the antithesis between sin and justice; Christ was made a sinner as far as this was consistent with His entire sanctity, i.e., He took upon Himself our sins (Isa. 53:6) and suffered for them (MacR.).

Be made the justice, i.e., be justified, in him, i.e., by reason of our union with Him, who is our head. Our sins were external to Christ, who nevertheless suffered for them; but the justice of God, i.e., real internal sanctity, is communicated to us through the merits of Christ (1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 1:14, 22).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 30, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

The subject of the preceding chapter is continued in this section, which might well have been made a part of that chapter. What the Apostle has already said about the sublimity of the Gospel ministry and the confidence with which its preachers speak is more than sufficient to refute the calumny that he spoke with arrogance. Consequently he terminates this subject by repeating that he has preached the Gospel clearly, openly, and without timidity; and if some think his preaching is obscure, it is because their minds are blinded by Satan. As for himself, he is the servant of Christ and is trying to spread the light which has been divinely bestowed on him. 

2 Cor 4:1. Therefore, seeing we have this ministration, according as we have obtained mercy, we faint not;

Since, as just said in the preceding chapter, the Christian ministration, i.e., the preaching of the Gospel, is of such an exalted character, we, i.e., St. Paul and his companions, in obedience to a gracious and gratuitous call from God, preach without fear or hesitation. 

As we have obtained mercy should be connected with what precedes. 

2 Cor 4:2. But we renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God. 

Of dishonesty, i.e., of shame (αἰσχύνης = aischune) . The Apostle is referring to everything in conduct and preaching that shame would naturally hide, and also to the policy of concealing the Gospel truth through shame of the folly of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18, 21; Rom. 1:16). 

Craftiness means unscrupulous conduct and underhand practices, which were made use of by the false teachers in order to win over the Corinthians. 

Nor adulterating, etc., i.e., not corrupting the Gospel with erroneous teachings. From all things of this kind the Apostles kept aloof; manifesting, on the contrary, the truths of the Gospel in such a way that they commended themselves to every man of conscience, and this in the sight of God.

2 Cor 4:3. And if our gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost,
2 Cor 4:4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.

A difficulty occurs here. If the Gospel is so openly preached, how does it continue veiled to so many? There are two reasons for this: (a) The perversity of the will of those who, of their own choice, shut their eyes to the light of the Gospel (2 Cor 3:13), preferring to go the way of perdition (1 Cor. 1:18); and (b) the devil, who blinds the minds and hardens the hearts of his votaries, turning their eyes to earthly things. 

The god of this world, i.e., of this age (αἰών = aion) , namely, Satan whom our Lord called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and whom St. Paul elsewhere designates as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Satan is called the god of this wicked age, in so far as it lives according to his maxims, obeys and serves him; and he, in turn, blinds the minds of his unbelieving followers, leading them away from the faith by his evil suggestions, so that the light of the Gospel, whose object is the glory of Christ, does not shine unto them.

Christ is the image of God, (a) on account of the identity of nature between Himself and the Father; (b) because He is generated by the Father; (c) because He is equal to the Father (St. Thomas). Cf. Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3. 

The glory of Christ is, then, the glory of God, which, being contemplated in the Gospel, has the power of transforming souls into its own likeness (2 Cor 3:18). God, therefore, is the supreme source of the Gospel; the Gospel is the revelation of the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son in turn is the revelation of the Father (John 14:7 ff.).

In the Vulgate Deus should be written with a small d. 

2 Cor 4:5. For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus.

This verse is closely connected with the preceding one. The Apostles do not seek their own advantage in their preaching; they preach Jesus Christ as Lord, i.e., as the Saviour and Master of all men, regarding themselves only as servants of the faithful for Christ’s sake.

We may read Jesus Christ with א A C D, Old Lat., Goth.; or “Christ Jesus” with B H K L, Copt., Arm. 

Through Jesus. Better, “For Jesus’ sake” (with B D F G). 

Our (Vulg., nostrum) should be omitted. 

2 Cor 4:6. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

The best supported reading here is: “For God who said, ‘Out of darkness light shall shine,’ is he that hath shone in our hearts for the illumination of the knowledge,” etc. The radical reason why the Apostles preach Jesus Christ, and not themselves, is because such is the will of God, who in the beginning of the world made light shine out of darkness, and who through Christ has made the light of faith shine in the hearts of the Apostles in order that, through their preaching, they might enlighten the world with a knowledge of the glory of God, as it was revealed in the person of Christ, i.e., in His Divinity, His actions, His doctrine, etc. 

In the face of Christ is doubtless an allusion to the “face of Moses” (2 Cor 3:7), with which Christ’s face is contrasted; but the meaning seems to point rather to the person of Christ, who was the revelation of the glory of the Father.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

St. Paul has described very clearly the excellence of the Apostolic ministry. This is now understood. But how reconcile the discharge of such exalted functions as fall to the lot of Christian ministers with the weakness and abject misery of the lives of the Apostles? Looking at the lowly condition of St. Paul and his companions, their adversaries could easily make a case against them by telling their converts not to believe them and not to follow them, seeing that they were abandoned and rejected of God. The Apostle, therefore, anticipates this objection by showing that God chose weak instruments (a) to make it plain that the power of the Gospel was not from men, but from Himself; and (b) to render the Apostles more like to Christ whose death and Resurrection they exemplified and preached for the life and salvation of the faithful. 

2 Cor 4:7. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us. 

This treasure, i.e., the exalted office of the Christian ministry. 

In earthen vessels, i.e., in fragile vessels made of clay. The allusion is not only to man’s body, but especially to his weak human nature, as is clear from verse 8. God chose weak instruments to spread His Gospel, in order to make it plain that the efficacy of their preaching and the excellence of their message were due to Him, and not to themselves. 

2 Cor 4:8. In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute:

Five illustrations of the contrast between the “treasure” and the “earthen vessels” now follow (verses 8-1 1). 

In all things we suffer, etc. More literally, “Pressed on every side, but not crushed”; “perplexed, but not unto despairing.” The participles in Greek look back to Εχομεν (=echomen)  we have, of verse 7. 

2 Cor 4:9. We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not: 

We suffer persecution, etc. Better, “Pursued, but not deserted,” by God so as to be captured by enemies; “struck down (as in battle), but not destroyed.” 

2 Cor 4:10. Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.

The divine purpose of the Apostles’ suffering is now explained. By their continual tortures and exposure to death the

Apostles represented and, in a sense, repeated the sufferings of Christ, in order that their many deliverances might be a proof of the life of the risen Jesus whose rescuing power was thus manifested in them. Like Christ’s Resurrection, the Apostles were witnesses to the truth of the Gospel, for they showed that Jesus is still alive and able to save (Plum.). 

The mortification of Jesus means the dying, or putting to death of Jesus, although νέκρωσιν (=nekrosis) is used elsewhere in the New Testament only once (Rom. 4:19), and then to describe the “deadness” of Sara’s womb. 

2 Cor 4:11. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

The thought of the preceding verse is brought out more clearly. 

We who live, etc., i.e., we the living, are constantly exposed to death, although constantly rescued by the living Christ. God wishes the lives of the Apostles to be such in order that now, while on earth, they may manifest in their mortal bodies the life, i.e., the triumph of Jesus who died and is risen again for us. 

2 Cor 4:12. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

The Apostles were continually exposed to death for their preaching, but they were sustained by the living Jesus to work for the spiritual life and salvation of the faithful. “The Corinthian Church enjoyed the fruit of supernatural life, gathered for it by the Apostles’ perils” (Rick.).

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Having explained the purpose of God in permitting the sufferings of the Apostles, St. Paul now speaks of the end the Apostles themselves had in view in the exercise of their difficult ministry. In spite of the constant menace of death they ceased not to preach the Gospel, knowing that a glorious resurrection awaited them and their converts, that God’s glory was promoted by their labors, and that an eternal reward would be given in exchange for their transitory sufferings.

2 Cor 4:13. But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken ; we also believe, for which cause we speak also:

The Apostle wishes to say that the same trust and confidence in God sustains him and his companions in their tribulations which sustained the Psalmist in his desolation and sorrow. As the Psalmist spoke in consequence of his faith in the divine promises, so the Apostles fearlessly preach because of the same faith. St. Paul quotes the LXX of Psalm 116:10, which in form only differs from the Hebrew: “I believed, for I must speak.” The Psalmist believed that God would deliver him from the death, tears, and dangers spoken of in Ps 116:1-9, and therefore he spoke the thanksgiving part of Psalm 116, of which the first verse (10) is given here. The Apostles believed that God would never forsake them, and therefore they spoke the Gospel truths.

2 Cor 4:14Knowing that he who raised up Jesus, will raise us up also with Jesus, and place us with you.

Who raised up Jesus. Better, “Who raised up the Lord Jesus” (with manuscripts C D F G K L P). In their sufferings the Apostles are encouraged by the hope that as God raised Jesus, their Head, from the grave, so He will one day raise them from the dead and unite them and their converts with their divine Chieftain.

With Jesus, rather than “through Jesus,” according to the best MSS. The preposition “with” indicates not time, but the unity of all the faithful in and with Christ.

And place us, etc., i.e., will place us Apostles with you alive in the kingdom of God. For this same use of παραστησει, see Acts 1:3; Acts 9:41.

The Apostle here, as in 5:1-8, speaks as if he did not expect to be alive at the Second Coming of Christ; whereas in 1 Cor 15:51-52, he spoke as though he might live to see that event. This shows that he had no revelation in the matter: he knew “not the day nor the hour” (Matt 25:13).

Jesus (Vulg., Jesum) in the first part of the verse should be preceded by “Lord” (Dominum), as in the best MSS.

2 Cor 4:15. For all things are for your sakes; that the grace abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

For (γαρ) looks back to the last words of the preceding verse. The prominence given the faithful there, with whom he hoped to be associated in heaven, reminds the Apostles here that all his labors, sufferings, trials, etc., as well as his deliverances, have been for their sakes, that they may have life (verse 12), and that the grace, i.e., the divine help, granted to him in answer to their prayers, may call forth their thanksgiving, thus giving glory to God. The glory of God was, therefore, the ultimate end of all the labors and sufferings of the Apostles.

2 Cor 4:16. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For which cause, etc., i.e., since all their trials and labors are for the good of the faithful and the glory of God, the Apostles faint not (verse 1), i.e., never lose courage. And although their bodies, again and again rescued from destruction and death, are gradually wasting away, their souls and spiritual faculties grow stronger every day in view of the rewards awaiting them hereafter (verse 17).

2 Cor 4:17. For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.

For that which is at present momentary, etc. Better “For our present light affliction,” etc. “Our” before “present” is omitted by B and St. Chrysostom.

Present is contrasted with eternal, light with weight, tribulation with glory.

Momentary (Vulg., momentaneum) is not in the best MSS.

Above measure exceedingly shows how far the reward surpasses what is performed. God punishes less than we deserve, and rewards more than we merit (St. Thomas).

This verse is a proof that the good works of the just are meritorious of eternal life (Conc. Trid., Sess. VI. cap. 16).

2 Cor 4:18. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal.

The Apostles hope to have part in the rewards just described because they do not seek the passing things of this world, such as riches, pleasure, glory and the like, but the lasting goods of the world above that is not seen with bodily eyes.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 25, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Cor 3:1-6

Often the Apostle had felt it necessary to speak to the Corinthians about himself and his authority. His enemies had made use of this to accuse him of boasting and arrogance, and thus tried to lead away the neophytes from one who, as they said, had to praise himself to get a following. Having, therefore, in the closing verses of the preceding chapter again spoken of himself and his ministry he is reminded of the sneer of his adversaries, and he consequently now, before going on with his general apology, takes occasion to tell his readers that he is in no need of self-recommendation, since the faithful themselves are his testimonial. If he speaks with assurance and authority it is because he has been divinely constituted a minister of the New Testament.

2 Cor 3:1. Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you?

Do we begin again, etc. This implies that the Apostle had already been accused of self-recommendation. Perhaps the reference is to such passages as I Cor. 2:16; 3:10; 4:9-16; 91-5, 15-22, etc., which might lead to such accusations. If chapters 10-13 are a part, or contains portions of the lost letter between 1 and 2 Cor. the “again” here is easily understood; for in those chapters the Apostle felt constrained to indulge considerably in what his enemies called boasting.

Or do we need, etc., i.e., are St. Paul and his companions who founded the Corinthian Church in need of recommendation to, or by the faithful there? Does a father need recommendation to his own children? If a preacher who has not founded, or taken part in founding, a Christian community comes to them, letters of recommendation are indeed necessary (Acts 15:25-27; 18:27; 1 Cor. 16:10- 11); but it is not so with the founder and spiritual father.

2 Cor 3:2. You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men:

The Corinthians themselves were to St. Paul and Timothy something far better than an ordinary letter of recommendation; they were the Apostle’s letter, written not with ink on perishable papyrus, but in lasting characters of love and affection on immortal souls.

Read by all men, i.e., all men could see the ties of affection that existed between St. Paul and the Corinthian faithful. This statement is rendered more literally true by the civil and social prominence of Corinth.

2 Cor 3:3. Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.

Being manifested, etc., i.e., it is widely known that the Corinthian faithful were converted by Christ, through the grace of the Holy Ghost and the ministry of St. Paul and his companions. Christ, therefore, is the principal author of the Apostle’s letter of commendation, because it was His word and the grace of His Holy Spirit that brought the Corinthians to the faith.

With the spirit, etc. Christ, by the Spirit of the living and life-giving God, wrote on the hearts of the Corinthians through the preaching of the Apostles, a knowledge of the truths of faith which has been so fruitful in virtue and sanctity of life that it is entirely evident that the human agents of that divine message were true and genuine Apostles.

Tables of stone is a reference to the Ten Commandments which were written in the desert, on two stone tables (Ex 31:18; 32:15, 16).

In the fleshy tables of the heart. Better, “On tables (that are) hearts of flesh.” The Vulgate cordis should be cordibus, according to the best Greek.

2 Cor 3:4. And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God.

And such confidence, etc. The Apostle means to say that his confidence that the faith of the Corinthians is a sure testimony of the validity of his Apostleship is felt even when he puts himself in the presence of God. His assurance did not come from his own merits or personal ability, but through the grace of Christ.

2 Cor 3:5. Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.

The preceding verse is now better explained. St. Paul means to say that solely of our natural strength and ability it is not possible that we should be able even to think, much less to wish or to do, anything supernaturally good and meritorious of life eternal. For the beginning, as well as the completion, of each and every salutary act we need the grace of God ; and such is the doctrine of the Church against the Pelagians, who denied all need of grace, and against the Semi-pelagians, who denied the necessity of grace for the beginning of a salutary act (cf. St. Aug., De dono persev. 13; De praedest. sanct. 2; cont. duos epis. Pel. 18, etc.; St. Thomas, h. 1. ; Counc. of Orange, can. 7). Canon 7 of the Council of Orange: 180 [DS 377] Can. 7. If anyone affirms that without the illumination and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,—who gives to all sweetness in consenting to and believing in the truth,—through the strength of nature he can think anything good which pertains to the salvation of eternal life, as he should, or choose, or consent to salvation, that is to the evangelical proclamation, he is deceived by the heretical spirit, not understanding the voice of God speaking in the Gospel: “Without me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]; and that of the Apostle: Not that we are fit to think everything by ourselves as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God [2 Cor. 3:5; cf]. St Thomas on the necessity of grace: Summa Theologiæ I-II Q. 109.

The words of ourselves, as of ourselves are to be connected with not that we are sufficient. Our whole sufficiency in super natural things is from God, as from its primary and principal cause.

We are sufficient (Vulg., sufficientes simus) should be “we were sufficient,” sufficientes essemus, according to the best MSS.

2 Cor 3:6. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.

The Apostle and his companions have not only received all their supernatural sufficiency from God, but by Him also have they been enriched with the gifts necessary to be fit, i.e., competent, ministers of the New Covenant of grace established between God and man by Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31 ff. ; Heb. 8:8; 9:15).

Not in the letter, etc. “He has been urging the superiority of his own claims on their affection and obedience to those of his Judaizing opponents. He now points to the boundless superiority of the dispensation of which he is the minister to that which the Judaizers represent” (Plummer). The latter represent the Old Covenant, which was founded on the written law, indicating, indeed, the good to be done and the evil to be avoided, but without giving the necessary grace to fulfil its mandates. The New Covenant, on the contrary, which is the law of the Spirit, gives all the help required to observe its precepts. See on Rom. 4:15; 5:20; 7:7; 8:2-3.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 25, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Cor 2:1-4.

The vindication begun in 2 Cor 2:15 is continued here. The reason the Apostle did not pay the Corinthians the visit which he had intended and which they desired was because their disorders were such that another visit from him would be to their sorrow, and not to their joy. Hence he preferred to write to them.

 2 Cor 2:1. But I determined this with myself, not to come to you again in sorrow.

Not to come to you again, etc. Better, “Not again in sorrow to come to you” (B א A C D F G), i.e., he would not pay them a second sorrowful visit. This implies that he had already come to them in sorrow, which certainly could not refer to the first time he visited Corinth and founded the Church with great success and reason for joy (Acts 18:1 ff.). That the Apostle here refers to a second visit to Corinth, which must have occurred after writing 1 Cor., is further confirmed by 2 Cor 12:14; 13:1, where he speaks of his coming visit as the third.

 2 Cor 2:2. For if I make you sorrowful, who is he then that can make me glad, but the same who is made sorrowful by me? 

Here the Apostle tenderly observes that if he comes to Corinth bringing pain to the faithful, there will be no one else there who can give joy to him ; if his visit must cause them sorrow, they will not be in a condition to contribute to his joy, and they alone can give him joy. The singular ὁ λυπούμενος (= ho lympoumenos)  sums up the Corinthian Church as one individual (Plum.).

 2 Cor 2:3. And I wrote this same to you ; that I may not, when I come, have sorrow upon sorrow, from them of whom I ought to rejoice: having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.

 I wrote this, etc. Comparing this passage with vii. 8 we see that there must be a reference here to some Epistle previous to the present one.

This can refer back to the determination of verse 1, or, more probably, to the severe rebuke which he had been obliged to send before, and to which allusion is made in verse 4. Now since the language of this and the following verse cannot well be applied to 1 Cor., we must conclude that the Apostle is referring to what he said in the lost letter written between 1 and 2 Cor. He wrote that severe Epistle that the Corinthians might correct their disorders before he should arrive, and thus make his visit one of joy.

To you (Vulg., vobis after scripsi) should be omitted according to the best authorities.

2 Cor 2:4. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears : not that you should be made sorrowful : but that you might know the charity I have more abundantly towards you.

Here again the reference seems plainly to be to a letter more severe than our First Corinthians.

I wrote to you, etc., i.e., in the lost letter between 1 and 2 Cor. The Apostle’s purpose in writing was not to cause sorrow, but to show the greatness of his charity for the faithful, whose disorders he would not be so cruel as to condone, but whose feelings he would spare by writing rather than by appearing before them in person. He wanted to correct them, but with as little pain as possible.

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos, or erga vos.

A Summary of 2 Cor 2:5-11.

According to the traditional opinion, followed by Comely, MacRory and most Catholic exegetes, St. Paul is speaking in this section of the incestuous man of 1 Cor. 5:1-8. But Le Camus, Lemonnyer and many other recent interpreters believe that the present passage and 2 Cor 7:8-12 refer to some other offender of whom we know nothing outside this letter, and who in some way gave particular offence to St. Paul. In favor of this latter opinion it is argued (a) that the language of the present passage is too mild to refer to a crime so heinous as incest; (b) that if the incestuous man is meant here, his crime was even greater than represented in 1 Cor. 5:1;; for, since 2 Cor 7:12 and this passage are the same, it would follow that the incestuous man married his father’s wife while his father was still living—a crime which we can hardly imagine the Corinthians would have tolerated for a moment; (c) in 1 Cor. 5:1 ff. the Apostle is resenting a stain on the whole Church, whereas here the offence seems to be rather an individual affair. These arguments, however, are not entirely convincing. At any rate, St. Paul is now urging charity toward a repentant sinner. The obedience of the faithful has been manifest before in punishing crime, and now it will not be wanting in granting pardon. The Apostle, therefore, promises to ratify their decision.
2 Cor 2:5. And if any one have caused grief, he hath not grieved me; but in part, that I may not burden you all.

The sense is that the offender referred to has not only grieved St. Paul, but in a measure all the faithful. The conditional form, if any one, etc., is used to spare the feelings of the repentant sinner.

But in part, etc. Better, “But in measure (not to be too severe with him) all of you.” The offender has grieved the whole Church, although ἀπὸ μέρους (= apo merous) may imply that some of the Christians were not pained. This could apply to the incestuous man, or to the other offender.

2 Cor 2:6. To him who is such a one, this rebuke is sufficient, which is given by many:

To him who is, etc. The meaning is: The punishment he has received from many is sufficient for one who has committed such a crime. St. Paul had ordered the excommunication of the incestuous man (1 Cor. 5:1, 13), and if the reference here is to him, the faithful are now told that they may resume friendly relations with him.

By many. This may imply that many were present when the sentence was pronounced, or that a minority of the Christians were not satisfied with the penalty. Did they think it insufficient or too severe? Since the context implies that this minority were devoted to St. Paul, it would seem that they regarded the penalty as inadequate. This interpretation is made very probable by what follows.

2 Cor 2:7. So that on the contrary, you should rather forgive him and comfort himlest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

On the contrary, etc., i.e., instead of continuing the punishment of the repentant sinner, or wishing that he had received a severer penalty, the faithful ought now to forgive him and comfort him, lest a continuation of severity do more harm than good.

2 Cor 2:8. Wherefore, I beseech you, that you would confirm your charity towards him.

Confirm your charity, etc. “Your” should be omitted. The sense is given by Theodoret: “Unite the member to the body, add the sheep to the fold, show him warm affection.” How the faithful are to do this is not stated. Although a legal term, κυρῶσαι (= kyrosai), to ratify, perhaps does not mean that a formal decree is suggested.
2 Cor 2:9. For to this end also did I write, that I may know the experiment of you, whether you be obedient in all things.
Did I write. As in verse 3, the reference here seems to be to the lost letter which was written between 1 and 2 Cor., rather than to our First Corinthians. In that former letter St. Paul put to test the obedience of the Corinthians by requesting that they punish the sinner, and now he again tries them by asking that they receive back their repentant brother. He wants to see if the faithful are obedient in all things.
2 Cor 2:10. And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also. For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ.

The Apostle tells the Corinthians not to hesitate to forgive the sinner, because he will ratify their action. Have pardoned should be present, “pardon” (χαρίζεσθε = charizesthe).

What I have pardoned. Very probably the Apostle means here that he has already forgiven the sinner in question, and that the Corinthians need not hesitate, therefore, in forgiving him also. It is possible that some other pardon is referred to, such as the remission of the punishment he had intended to inflict by handing the guilty man over to the power of Satan (1 Cor. 5:3-5).

If I have pardoned, etc. The conditional form here, as in verse 5, is merely a mild way of stating the fact; no doubt is implied.

In the person of Christ, i.e., with the authority of Christ (Estius), or in the presence and with the approval of Christ (Cornely). In forgiving the offender St. Paul did not act merely to please the faithful.

The donastis of the Vulgate should be donatis.
2 Cor 2:11. That we be not overreached by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his devices.

The purpose St. Paul had in pardoning the sinner was to defeat the machinations of Satan who might make use of severe punishment to tempt the offender to despair.

We, i.e., St. Paul and the Corinthian Christians, must not allow our efforts for good to be turned to evil by the low devices of the wicked one.

We are not ignorant, etc. St. Paul and the faithful knew from Scripture that Satan could draw evil out of good, as of old he had tempted Eve to sin under the guise of good (Gen. 3:4-5)

A Summary of 2 Cor 2:12-17.

Speaking in verse 4 of his great sorrow and anguish of heart the Apostle was led to digress (verses 5-11) into speaking about the cause of his pain; but now he returns to the thought of the first part of the chapter. It was his great charity for the Corinthians that caused him to defer his visit and change his plan to go to them. After writing to them he sent Titus to Corinth, hoping to meet him later at Troas and receive his report of Corinthian conditions. Titus finally returned and the two met in Macedonia. St. Paul was delighted at the good news, and thanked God, who throughout his ministry had been so faithful to him, giving his labors everywhere divine assistance and approval.

2 Cor 2:12. And when I was come to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and a door was opened unto me in the Lord, 
 2 Cor 2:13. I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but bidding them farewell, I went into Macedonia.

To Troas. Troas was the name of a district and of a town on the northwest coast of Asia Minor. The town is referred to here. St. Paul had arranged to meet Titus returning from Corinth at Troas, but having been himself obliged to leave Ephesus earlier than was expected (Acts 19:23), he arrived at Troas before the appointed time and did not find his ambassador there. So anxious was the Apostle about the effect of his letter and the mission of Titus to Corinth that, though he found an excellent opening for preaching the Gospel at Troas, he pressed on across the Aegean Sea into Macedonia, in order to meet Titus sooner.

For the gospel of Christ, i.e., for preaching the Gospel. On a previous occasion St. Paul had preached at Troas (Acts 16:8).

No rest in my spirit. Better, “No relief for my spirit.” The Apostle’s mind was in a state of extreme anxiety and tension, and so he could not tarry at Troas. The opportunity here was not so pressing as the crisis at Corinth. There was danger in delay.

My brother, i.e., my fellow-worker in preaching the Gospel. Titus was afterwards made Bishop of Crete (Titus i. 5), and St. Paul addressed one of his last Epistles to him.

2 Cor 2:14. Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Now thanks be to God, etc. The Greek is much stronger and marks the transition more emphatically; Τῷ δὲ Θεῷ χάρις (= to de Theo charis). So relieved and exhilarated was St. Paul by the news learned through Titus that he burst out into thanksgiving for God’s great mercies to him in preaching the Gospel, which have caused his labors and those of his companions to issue in triumph everywhere.

Maketh us to triumph. This is the sense commonly given to θριαμβεύοντι (= thriambeuonti) here, but in the only other passage of the New Testament where it occurs (Col. 2:15) and in classical Greek it means “to lead in triumph.”

In Christ Jesus, i.e., by means of Christ’s help.

Jesus is not in the Greek.

The odour of his knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of God in Christ, diffused by the Apostles and their followers in every part of the world. God is revealed in Christ, and this revelation was preached everywhere by the Apostles. The preaching of the Apostles and their co-workers is represented as a sweet perfume ascending from earth to heaven.

In the Vulgate Jesu should be omitted.

2 Cor 2:15. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.

We are the good odour, etc., i.e., the Apostles were the sweet fragrance of Christ unto God at all times. They were this also to those among men who were ready to welcome the revelation of Christ, namely, to those that are saved, i.e., to those that are in the way of salvation (Luke 13:23; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 1:18) ; and to them that perish, i.e., to those who are in the way of perdition (2 Cor 4:3; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Thess. 2:10).

2 Cor 2:16. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death : but to the others the odour of life unto life. And for these things who is so sufficient?

Of death … of life. The best MSS. Read: The preaching of the Apostles is a source of spiritual life to those who are willing to receive it and put it into practice; but to those who refuse it, or fail to conform their lives to its requirements, it occasions spiritual ruin. The true preachers of the Gospel are, like their divine Master, “set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34).

Who is so sufficient? “So” should be omitted. If the preaching of the Apostles is so tremendous, being an occasion of life to some and of death to others, who of himself and with his own strength is capable of undertaking it. St. Paul is emphasizing the responsibility of the Apostolate preparatory to an inquiry into his own Apostolic office and a vindication of his own conduct.

The tam of the Vulgate should be omitted.

2 Cor 2:17. For we are not as many, adulterating the word of God; but with sincerity, but as from God, before God, in Christ we speak.

Unlike certain teachers, as in Corinth, who mixed false doctrines with the Gospel teaching, or degraded that teaching by seeking money through it, St. Paul and his companions preached with sincerity, as sent and inspired by God, and as laboring in God’s presence and with His approval through the grace given them as members and ministers of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Rom. 16:10).

Many cannot mean the majority here, at least as regards the Church at large. The reference is doubtless to the ludaizers who were scattered about in Corinth and other places.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians Chapter 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 25, 2018

Text in red are my additions.


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:1-2~As in the previous letter so here, St. Paul begins by an assertion of his Apostolic authority and divine commission. Timothy, his faithful companion and fellow-laborer in preaching the Gospel (1 Cor 16:10; Rom 16:21), is associated in the writing of this Epistle because, since the Apostle is going to speak much of himself and defend his life and actions against his adversaries, he could have no better witness than Timothy, and no one who was more highly esteemed by the Corinthians. Here too, all the faithful, not only of Corinth, but of the whole Roman Province of Achaia, are addressed.

2 Cor 1:1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia:

Paul, an apostle, etc. See on Rom 1:1Here is what Fr. Callan wrote in his comments on Rom 1:1~Paul. The Apostle probably assumed this name for the first time in Cyprus when he converted the Proconsul Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7-12), perhaps, as St. Jerome says (in Philem.), in honor of his victory in making so great a convert. St. Thomas and others, however, think he was called both Paul and Saul from his infancy; the latter being his Jewish, and the former his Latin name. As Tarsus, the Apostle’s birth place, was under the Roman Empire, it seems not improbable that he should have been given a Latin, as well as a Jewish name, from the beginning. It seems unlikely (pace St Jerome) that St Paul would have been so ostentatious as to “honor his victory in making so great a convert” as to adopt the name Paulus from the Proconsul Sergius Paulus Gallio.

Of Jesus Christ (Vulg., Jesu Christi) is according toA D G K; whereas B M P read, “Of Christ Jesus.”

Our brother. Literally, “The brother,” i.e., not only a fellow-Christian, but a co-laborer in preaching the Gospel. In five other Epistles (Philip., Col., 1 and 2 Thess. and Philem.) Timothy is similarly associated with St. Paul.

With all the saints, etc., i.e., this letter is addressed to Corinth, and also to all the other Christian communities of Achaia. Unlike Galatians, however, this was not a circular Epistle. It embraced the outlying Churches of Achaia only so far as they shared the disorders and opinions of the central Church at Corinth.

Achaia was a distinct Roman Province including the Peloponnesus and north Greece as far as Macedonia. Corinth was its capital.

2 Cor 1:2. Grace unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

See on Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3. Concerning grace and peace Fr. Callan wrote this on Rom 1:7~Grace . . . peace, etc. This form of well-wishing, which occurs in nearly all the Epistles of St. Paul, is found nowhere before the Apostle, and therefore seems to have been his own creation (Lagrange). Grace, in its proper sense, is a special gift of God by which one is made holy and agreeable in God’s sight, and is rendered a participant of the divine nature, a brother of Christ, and heir to the glory of the Father in heaven. Peace with God insures interior tranquility of mind and soul, and is one of the most precious effects of grace. St. Paul here speaks of these eminent gifts as coming from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, thus placing the latter on a level with the former, but not identifying the two as persons.

At 1 Cor 1:3 he wrote~Cf. 1 Thess 1:1 and 3:11, where the Father and the Son stand together as subjects of a verb in the singular, showing the perfect unity of their nature.


A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11~The Apostle has lately passed through dire perils, for deliverance from which he now thanks God, especially since his trials and his safe escape from them have been ordained to the ultimate good and comfort of his dear ones in the faith. It was by their prayers that he was assisted in time of danger, and he trusts to their devout cooperation for deliverance from similar circumstances in the future.

2 Cor 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

The Apostle now thanks God the Father for the mercy and comfort which he, Timothy, and perhaps other fellow-laborers (verse 19) have experienced in their trials and toils.

The God and Father ( ο θεος και πατηρ). The one article for the two names shows that they both refer to the one Divine Person. The Father is called the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as the Saviour Himself said: “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God” (John 20:17).

The Father of mercies, etc., i.e., the merciful Father who is the source of all consolation (Eph 2:4).

2 Cor 1:4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.

God comforts St. Paul, Timothy and their fellow-workers in the ministry, in order that they in turn may comfort the faithful in their afflictions.

Distress represents the same word in Greek (θλιψει) as tribulation; and likewise comfort and comforteth render the same Greek terms as exhortation and exhorted. The same variation between our version and the Vulgate, on the one hand, and the Greek text, on the other, occurs again in verse 6.

The et . . . et (“also”) of the Vulgate here are not in the Greek.

2 Cor 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

If the sufferings of the Apostles were extraordinary, their consolations were correspondingly great.

The sufferings of Christ, i.e., the sufferings which Christ bore for the diffusion of the Gospel and the salvation of souls, and which are continued in the members of His mystical body (Col 1:24). There is no thought here of Christ now suffering in glory.

2 Cor 1:6. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.

The Apostle wishes to say now that whatever happens to him and his fellow workers for Christ—whether it be joy or sorrow, comfort or affliction, it is all ordained for the good of the faithful. Their afflictions beget patience, and their comfort inspires hope in the goodness of God.

The text of this verse causes much confusion. In the first place the Vulgate clause, sive autem tribulamur pro vestra exhortatione et salute must be omitted as a repetition of the last part of the first clause (a case of scribal dittography). The corresponding words in our version, or whether we beexhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation must likewise be omitted.

This done, there are two principal readings of the verse: (a) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is wrought out in the endurance of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted it is for your consolation, knowing that,” etc. [as in verse 7] (see manuscripts B D F G K L); (b) “Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer” (see manuscripts A C M P). The latter reading is more like the Vulgate and is preferable.

2 Cor 1:7. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.

The Apostle expresses his unwavering hope that as the Corinthians bear their afflictions courageously they may also experience much comfort and consolation.

That our hope, etc. ( Vulg., Ut spes nostra, etc.) should be “And our hope,” etc. This clause is transferred by the Vatican MS. and many other authorities to the middle of the preceding verse, but such placing is against the best internal and external evidence. It is true that the participle knowing is without an antecedent, but this is not uncommon in St. Paul.

 2 Cor 1:8. For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life.

A particular instance of great suffering endured by St. Paul, and perhaps by Timothy, in Asia is now recalled to the minds of the Corinthians. What was this terrible affliction? Since it seemed to be well known to the Corinthians, it was probably the report of the rebellion in Corinth against the Apostle’s authority. It overwhelmed him with grief. Now this could hardly be said of the uproar caused by Demetrius at Ephesus (Acts 19:23), for Timothy was not there at that time (Acts 19:22). Neither could we easily suppose it to have been some mere private distress caused by sickness, shipwreck or the like.

In Asia, i.e., in the Roman Province of Asia, which consisted of the coastlands of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea, of which Ephesus was the capital.

That we were pressed, etc., i.e., exceedingly above our strength, so that we were weary, etc., i.e., so that we despaired even of life. The Apostle is saying that his affliction was more than his natural strength could support, but which he was able to bear by the grace of God (1 Cor. 19:13).

2 Cor 1:9. But we had in ourselves the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.

So great was the affliction of St. Paul and Timothy that they felt sure they must die, if left to their own strength. This extremity of suffering was given them that they might learn to trust in God who is able to raise the dead to life, and so, a fortiori, can rescue from death (Rom. 4:17).

But (ἀλλὰ) is not adversative here; it confirms what was said before and should be translated, “Nay.”

The answer of death, i.e., the sentence, the judgment, the expectation of death (St. Chrys.).

2 Cor 1:10. Who hath delivered and doth deliver us out of so great dangers: in whom we trust that he will yet also deliver us.

So great dangers. More literally, “So great a death.” The danger was naturally tantamount to death.

That he will yet also, etc. This shows that the same situation might occur again, which is against the supposition that the affliction in question was caused by the uproar of the silversmiths (Acts 19:23).

And doth deliver (Vulg., et emit with F G K L) would better be “and will deliver,” et eruet (B א C).

2 Cor 1:11. You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.

The Apostle is confident that in future the help of God will not be wanting to him, because he trusts in the prayers of all the faithful, and of the Corinthians in particular.

That for this gift, etc. The meaning is: That from many persons (faces) thanks may be given on our behalf for the gift obtained for us through the prayers of many. St. Paul desires many prayers to be offered for him and his companions, so that when the favor is obtained God may be honored by the thanksgiving of many.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

There has been a mutual sharing of benefits between St. Paul and the Corinthians: the good things which he experienced, like the evils that he suffered, have both turned to the welfare of the faithful ; while he, in turn, has been assisted by their prayers in rising above his afflictions. And he is confident that they will continue to help in the future as in the past. This confidence is grounded on the testimony of his conscience that when with them he always acted with the utmost sincerity and candor, and he firmly trusts they will find that same spirit of sincerity in this letter, and that they will continue to acknowledge that they have reason to glory in him and his helpers as their Apostles, while he and his co-workers will rejoice in them as in their spiritual children when Christ comes in judgment. This section leads up to the first part of the body of the Epistle in which the Apostle gives a general defense of his Apostolic life. The Judaizers at Corinth as in other places sought by defaming the Apostle, to destroy his Apostolic authority, and thus remove the great obstacle to the spread of their errors. They said he was a weak and inconstant man who was always changing his mind and plans, that he was proud and full of conceit, that he forced people to accept his doctrines by constant threats, and so on. Such reports as these naturally made some, if not many, of the faithful suspicious of St. Paul. But when the Apostle learned of conditions at Corinth he lost no time in refuting these calumnies of his adversaries, so that when he would later arrive there the situation might not demand severity. Therefore in the first part of the present Epistle (2 Cor 1:12-7:16) he is chiefly at pains to disprove accusations of fickleness and inconstancy (2 Cor 1:15-2:17); to show that he was not guilty of pride and arrogance (2 Cor 3:1-4:6); and finally, by laying bare his motives in preaching and by explaining the reasons that impelled him in the exercise of his ministry, to foil all the efforts of his enemies (2 Cor 4:7-6:10). The Apostle terminates this part of his letter with an affectionate exhortation to the faithful to entertain towards him the same tender love which he has always cherished for them (2 Cor 6:11-7:16).

2 Cor 1:12. For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity if heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conversed in this world : and more abundantly towards you.

For our glory is this, etc., i.e., the reason for glorying in the future help of the prayers of the Corinthians is founded on the testimony of his conscience that, while he and his companions were doing the work of God among them, they were at all times moved by candor and sincerity.

In simplicity. This is according to D F L, the Vulgate, Old Latin, and Syriac versions; but the best Greek MSS. read: “In holiness” (ἐν ἁγιότητι), and this reading has been adopted by all modern critics.

Sincerity of God, i.e., the sincerity that comes from God, God given sincerity.

Carnal wisdom is here set over against “simplicity” (holiness) and sincerity, and means the product of hypocrisy and duplicity; it is not to be confounded with the “wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 2:5-6).

In the grace of God, i.e., moved by the grace of God.

We have conversed, etc., i.e., St. Paul and his co-workers have everywhere in their preaching been moved in simplicity and candor by God’s grace, but more especially so at Corinth, where they refused even the support to which they were entitled (2 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Cor. 9:1-15).

Of heart (Vulg., cordis) should be omitted.

2 Cor 1:13. For we write no other things to you, than what you have read and known. And I hope that you shall know unto the end: 
2 Cor 1:14. As also you have known us in part, that we are your glory, as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You have read and known. Better, “You read and even acknowledge.” The meaning is that he is not writing anything in this Epistle which the Corinthians do not already know from his life and conduct when among them, and from the other letters he has sent them and which they have.

And I hope, etc. This clause should be separated from what follows in verse 14 by a comma only. The Apostle is not quite certain, but he hopes the Corinthians will continue to the end of their lives, even to the end of the world, to acknowledge, as in part, i.e., as some of them have already done, that he and his companions, as Apostles, are their glory, while they are his glory, as his spiritual children, in the day of judgment.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 1:15-22

The Judaizers who sought to destroy the Apostle’s authority and work at Corinth charged him, among other things, with fickleness and instability, and they gave as an instance his change of plan regarding his visit to Corinth from Ephesus. Against these calumniators he now asserts the consistency of his teaching, which is based on the truthfulness of God Himself, and upon the special character as Apostles with which God has consecrated him and his companions for their ministerial labors and duties.

2 Cor 1:15. And in this confidence I had a mind to come to you before, that you might have a second grace:
2 Cor 1:16. And to pass by you into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be brought on my way towards Judea.

In this confidence, etc., i.e., in view of the Apostle’s firm belief in the mutual reasons for glorying which existed between the Corinthians and himself, he had at first planned to go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, then to Macedonia, and finally back to Corinth again; and it seems he had made known this plan, or a part of it, to the faithful at Corinth, perhaps through the letter, now lost, which he first sent them (1 Cor. 5:9). When, therefore, he told them in 1 Cor. 16:5 ff. that he had made other arrangements and would go first to Macedonia and then come to Corinth, his enemies seized upon this change to accuse him of lightmindedness and inconsistency.

A second grace. i.e., a second joy and a spiritual favor. The first joy would be on his way to Macedonia, the second on his return from there. Some, with Estius, hold that the first “grace” was when St. Paul first preached the Gospel at Corinth, and that consequently the “second grace” here would have been his second visit there. But this view would be against the very probable opinion that the Apostle paid a hurried visit to Corinth between the writing of our First and Second Corinthians (see Introduction, 1).

Towards Judea, whither he was to carry the collection for the poor Christians of Palestine.

2 Cor 1:17. Whereas then I was thus minded, did I use lightness? Or, the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that there should be with me, it is and it is not?

Did I use lightness? i.e., did I change my mind out of mere fickleness? That he did not is shown by the fact that his resolutions are not made according to human considerations and passions, but according to the illumination and direction of the Holy Ghost. If he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth, it was because the Spirit restrained him, as had happened before, when he and Silas attempted to go into Bithynia (Acts 16:7).

That I purpose. The change here from the past to the present tense draws attention to the Apostle’s general conduct.

That there should be, etc. Better, “So that with me it is now ‘Yea, yea,’ and now ‘Nay, nay.’ ” i.e., that he should resolve to do a thing while at the same time having the intention not to do it.

Both in the English and in the Vulgate here the affirmation and the negation should be repeated twice to agree with the Greek.

2 Cor 1:18. But God is faithful, for our preaching which was to you, was not, It is, and It is not. 

Digressing for a moment from the question of his visit to Corinth St. Paul insists upon the consistency of his teaching in general.

God is faithful. This may mean that he calls God, as by an oath, to witness the truth of what he is saying (cf. 2 Cor 11:10; Rom. 14:11) ; or, more likely, that “God is faithful to His promises; He had promised to send you preachers of truth, and therefore since I am sent to you, our preaching is not ‘Yes and No’ i.e., there is no falsity in it” (St. Thomas).

Our preaching . . . was not. Better, “Our preaching . . . is not” (B K A C D F G P), i.e., all the promises and preaching of the Apostle and his companions are reliable and consistent.

The Vulgate qui fuit and in illo are not represented in the Greek.

2 Cor 1:19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me, and Sylvanus, and Timothy, was not, It is and It is not, but, It is, was in him.

In this and the three following verses St. Paul is proving the faithfulness and consistency of his promises and of his preaching at all times. His argument is: “Just as the Son of God whom we preached to you was faithful to God’s promises (verse 19), since through Him were fulfilled all the promises of God (verse 20), so we ministers of that faithful Christ, having been confirmed and anointed by God (verse 21) and sealed with the pledge of His Spirit (verse 22), are also faithful to our promises and consistent in our preaching.”

The Son of God, etc., whom we preached to you, and who, as God, is truth and immutability itself, was not fickle and unfaithful, but, on the contrary, was the fulfillment of all God’s promises to men.

Silvanus was doubtless the same as Silas (Acts 15:40; 16:1 ff.), who, together with Paul and Timothy, had labored in the foundation of the Church in Corinth (Acts 18:5).

2 Cor 1:20. For all the promises of God are in him. It is; therefore also by him, amen to God, unto our glory.

The last words of the preceding verse are now explained.

For all the promises, etc. Better, “For how many soever are the promises,” etc., i.e., all the Messianic promises made by God to the Patriarchs and Prophets (1 Cor 7:1; Rom. 9:4; Gal. 3:16-21; Heb. 6:12; 8:6; 11:13, etc.) are verified and fulfilled in Christ.

Therefore also by him. Better, “Wherefore also through him.” The meaning is that since through Christ have been fulfilled all the Messianic promises, through Him also is made possible the Amen by which the fulfill ment of those promises is acknowledged. The Apostle is alluding to the practice on the part of the faithful of saying Amen in response to the prayers of the priest in the public religious assemblies (1 Cor. 14:16).

To God, unto our glory. Better, “To God’s glory through us.” The sense is that the acknowledgment of the fulfillment of God’s promises, as preached by Paul and his companions (which is expressed by the word Amen), redounds to the glory of God.

The nostram of the Vulgate should be per nos.

2 Cor 1:21. Now he that confirmeth us with you in Christ, and that hath anointed us, is God:

As Christ, whom the Apostles have announced, is unchangeable, so is their preaching of Him, and this by a special spiritual anointing which they have received from God.

Confirmeth us, i.e., renders us Apostles firm and unchangeable in teaching the doctrines of revelation to the faithful. The words with you imply that the faithful also received from God the firmness and stability with which they retained the doctrines preached to them.

Hath anointed us, i.e., has especially called us to preach the Gospel, and has given us the graces necessary to discharge this high office. The word χρίω (= chriō) from which the name Christ is derived, is used only four times in the New Testament, and in each instance of our Saviour (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9). Therefore the anointing here spoken of must mean that Paul and his companions were especially called to preach the Gospel and perform their ministry. The reference is not to the Sacrament of Confirmation, nor to Baptism, which is received by all the faithful, but more properly to ordination, since God was the anointer and the purpose of the anointing was to enable the Apostles to discharge the spiritual duties of their ministry. In the Old Testament kings, priests, and prophets were anointed before undertaking their offices (1 Sam 9:16; Ex 40:13).

 2 Cor 1:22. Who also hath sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts.

Hath sealed us. Not only did God anoint and consecrate Paul and his companions for the work of preaching the Gospel, but He also stamped upon them, as it were, the seal of His divine authority and sanction by giving them the power of miracles, and by enriching them with the various gifts of the Holy Ghost These gifts were a pledge and an earnest of the still more precious endowments reserved for them in the life to come.

The pledge of the Spirit
. The sense is that the Holy Ghost dwelling in the hearts of the Apostles was an earnest of the still greater gifts awaiting them hereafter.


2 Cor 1:23. But I call God to witness upon my soul, that to spare you, I came not any more to Corinth: not because we exercise dominion over your faith : but we are helpers of your joy: for in faith you stand.

After having proved the firmness and consistency of his promises and preaching the Apostle now returns to the subject of verse 17, and explains why he did not go directly from Ephesus to Corinth as he had planned.

Upon my soul, etc. He calls God to witness against his soul, meaning that God should destroy it, if he is not telling the truth when he says that the reason why he did not come to Corinth as first planned was in order to spare the Corinthians. The condition of the Church there was so bad that the Apostle could not at the time have gone thither without using great severity, and hence he preferred to remain away till later. But even in this he was not acting “according to the flesh”: he was acting under the guidance of the Spirit, as in Acts 16:7 (St. Chrys.).

I came not any more. The Apostle here seems to be repeating the complaint of the Corinthians, who regretted that he “came not any more to Corinth.” He means to say that he did not pay the visit alluded to in verse 15 above. This statement does not interfere with the very probable opinion which holds that St. Paul paid a short and painful visit to Corinth after writing 1 Cor. (2 Cor. 12:14, 21; 13:1), because that painful visit was not of the nature, duration or extent of the one alluded to in verse 15 above, and promised very likely in the lost letter to the Corinthians of which there is question in 1 Cor. 5:9.

Not because we exercise, etc. Better, “Not that we exercise,” etc. Having just spoken of sparing the Corinthians the Apostle now explains his meaning. He does not want the faithful to think that he and his companions desire to tyrannize over their faith, using despotic methods with them: rather he wishes to promote their joy in believing; and since, on account of their factions and disorders he could not do this, he preferred to remain away. As regards their faith they were not in need of correction, but they were at fault in other matters (Theod.).

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