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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:7-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.
A Summary of 2 Corinthians 13:7-10

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

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

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

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

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

Truth means moral rectitude.

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

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

 The quoniam of the Vulgate should be quum or quando.

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

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

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 

In a short time the Apostle expects to visit Corinth, and hence only a few words are required to terminate this letter. Following the severity that has preceded in the last four chapters some brief expression of kindness now will dispose the faithful to proper dispositions.

2 Cor 13:11. For the rest, brethren, rejoice, be perfect, take exhortation, be of one mind, have peace; and the God of peace and of love shall be with you.

Rejoice (χαιρετε = chairete), i.e., have a holy joy in your belonging to Christ (1 Thess. 5:16).

Be perfect, i.e., correct your faults.

Take exhortation. Rather, “Be comforted,” in spite of the troubles in your Church.

Be of one mind, etc., i.e., keep aloof from parties and divisions.

And the God of peace, etc. The inverse order is found in the best Greek: “And the God of love and peace,” etc. The connection with the two preceding exhortations is very close: “Be of one mind, and the God of love shall be with you; have peace, and the God of peace shall be with you” (Plum.).

2 Cor 13:12. Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the saints salute you.

Salute one another, etc. See on Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20.

All the saints, i.e., all the Christians in the place from which St. Paul was writing this letter. The place is Macedonia, perhaps at Philippi, for all who hold the integrity of 2 Cor.; but Ephesus, for those who believe this verse to be a part of the severe letter written between 1 and 2 Cor.

2 Cor 13:13. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.

 This verse contains the fullest and most instructive of the benedictions found in St. Paul’s letters. The blessing here given is extended to all the Corinthians and embraces everything necessary for them, namely, “the grace of Christ, by which we are justified and saved; the charity of God the Father, by which we are united to Him; and the communication of the Holy Spirit, distributing to us His divine gifts” (St. Thomas). The only blessing which rivals this one in St. Paul is that found at the close of Ephesians. Perhaps the Apostle felt that the Corinthian Church, by reason of its dissensions and strifes, was in particular need of a more complete benediction.

 The Greek Fathers frequently appealed to this verse against the various Anti-Trinitarian heretics. The familiarity with which St. Paul here refers to the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity shows that even at so early a date the faithful, who were far removed from the older centres of Christian thought and teaching, were well acquainted with the doctrine of three Persons in one divine nature. Of course, it was expressed in the baptismal formula (Matt 28:19), and was therefore one of the first doctrines to be taught.

 The Amen is wanting in the best MSS.

These are merely recommendations and should not be considered as an endorsement of any interpretations offered or theological position taken.  A “(P)” marking indicates that the author is Protestant; an “(E)” indicates a work which is part of an ecumenically oriented series; no mark indicates the author is Catholic. A question mark “(?)” accompanying an “(E)” marking indicates that the theological tradition of the author is unknown. “(C)” indicates a Catholic author.

(C) Podcast Study of 2 Corinthians. Twelve episodes. I’ve linked to the archive page. Scroll down to the listing under the year 2009 to find the talks on 2 Cor. You may also wish to listen to the episodes on the Life of St Paul recorded in that same year. If you want to include 1 Cor., scroll down to 2008. Also listed under 2008 are talks on Galatians, our next study.

 (C)  First and Second Letters of St Paul to the Corinthians (Ignatius Study Bible). Extended footnotes on the text. A good resource for beginners.

 (P) The Letters to the Corinthians (New Daily Study Bible).  William Barclay’s famous series. Theologically problematic at times (even to many Protestants). There is a good bit of pastoral wisdom in these works which might be of benefit to clergy.

 (E C) Invitation to the New Testament Epistles, Vol II.  Uses the text of the Jerusalem Bible. Includes commentaries on 1 & 2 Thess., 1 & 2 Cor., Phil., Phlm.

 (C) The First Epistle to the Corinthians (New Testament for Spiritual Reading, Vol. 13).

 (C) St Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians (Navarre Bible Commentary). Deservedly popular. The brain child of St Jose Marie Escriva.

 (C) 2 Corinthians (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture). An exceptionally fine series of commentaries on the New Testament.

 (C) 2 Corinthians (New Testament Message, Vol XII). I find a few things in this book theologically problematic.

 (C) Seven Pauline Letters. Succinct commentaries on Philemon, 1 Thess., 1 & 2 Cor., Philip., Gal., and Rom. Argues for the structural integrity of each letter (i.e., they’re not compiled from fragments).

 (E P) 2 Corinthians (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching).

 (E ?) 1 and 2 Corinthians (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. VII). Pastoral and theological interpretations from the Fathers of the Church.

 (E ?). Ambrosiaster: Commentaries on Romans and 1 & 2 Corinthians (Ancient Christian Text Series). Ambrosiaster is a name give to the author of a several commentaries on various Letters of St Paul. It is derived from the fact that they were once attributed to t Ambrose of Milan.

(C P) St John Chrysostom’s Homilies on 2 Corinthians. This translation was done by Protestants but the New Advent site has not reproduced the translators footnotes and comments which were sometimes hostile to Catholics.

 (C) St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on 2 Corinthians. Online. English translation in the right hand column. Difficult at times.

(C) Second Corinthians (Sacra Pagina Series). Difficult and technical. Argues for the structural integrity of the letter, a position not favored by many modern scholars who contend that the seemingly singular letter is, in fact, a compilation of several (perhaps as many as 4) different letters.

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 13:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of
2 Corinthians 13:1-6 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Cor 13:4. For although he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him : but we shall live with him by the power of God towards you.

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

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

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

The in vobis of the Vulgate should be in vos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:19-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.
A Summary of 2 Corinthians 12:19-21 

At times St. Paul speaks to the Corinthians as if he were on trial before them, as if they were his judges (2 Cor 10:7; 11:1, etc.); but here he gives them to understand that such is not the case. It does not pertain to children to judge their father. Only God is the judge of the Apostles. He writes these things for their edification, that they may correct their vices.

2 Cor 12:19. Of old, think you that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ; but all things, my dearly beloved, for your edification.

 Some authorities understand the conclusion of the Epistle to begin with this verse. But see Introduction VI 5.

Of old (παλαι = palai). A less probable reading has παλιν (= palin), again. The meaning, according to the better reading, is “All this time are you thinking that we are defending ourselves to you?” The sentence may be interrogative or declarative. The answer to it is: “No, for we speak before God, i.e., God is our judge” (1 Cor. 4:3), and in Christ, i.e., as ministers of Christ, to whom we are most intimately united. Therefore, in writing as we do, we seek not to excuse ourselves, but only to edify you, that you be not scandalized in us (Rick.), but that, on the contrary, you be strengthened in faith and grace.

2 Cor 12:20. For I fear lest perhaps when I come I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found by you such as you would not. Lest perhaps contentions, envyings, animosities, dissensions, detractions, whisperings, swellings, seditions, be among you.

The reason he has seen fit to defend himself with a view to their edification is now explained. It is because they are still so deficient in the first elements of the Christian life. He greatly fears that when he arrives both he and the Corinthians will be unpleasantly disappointed. Such surely will be the case if he finds among them factions and party spirits, together with all the evils that follow a wilful lack of unity.

Among you (Vulg., inter vos) is not in the Greek.

2 Cor 12:21. Lest again, when I come, God humble me among you: and I mourn many of them that sinned before, and have not done penance for the uncleannesss, and fornication, and lasciviousness, that they have committed.

 The Apostle’s fears are aggravated by the thought that when he comes he may find that his previous admonitions against impurity have not been heeded, and that many of the Corinthians have lapsed back into their former pagan uncleannesses. It would thus be a great humiliation to him to have to mourn over those who saddened him on his previous visit by not repenting and doing penance for their sins. It would likewise be a grievous pain to him to see many of those that sinned before, i.e., before their conversion, or before his second visit, or before his previous letter, back in their sins.

Have not done penance, etc. This shows that, besides amendment of life, penance is necessary for those who have sinned (Estius).

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:11-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

 A Summary of 2 Corinthians 12:11-18 

How distasteful to the Apostle it was to boast of his labors and of his divine gifts we are constantly reminded by the frequent apologies he makes for so doing. The fact of the matter is that he has been forced to glory by the silence of the Corinthians in not defending him against the calumnies of his adversaries. His deeds among them were a proof that he was a genuine Apostle. The only thing they could complain about was his refusal to accept anything from them ; but this same policy he will continue on his forthcoming visit, being solicitous only for the welfare of their souls. They know that neither he nor his disciples have imposed on them.

2 Cor 12:11. I am become foolish: you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you: for I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, although I be nothing.

Foolish. Reflecting on all he has been saying in his own praise St. Paul admits that he has been acting foolishly; not that his glorying was in reality folly (cf. 2 Cor 12:6; 11:16), but only that it seemed so. In not defending him against his adversaries the Corinthians have forced him to boast. And they are inexcusable in their neglect, because he was in no way inferior to his enemies when he preached at Corinth.

Above measure apostles. See on 2 Cor 11:5.

Although I be nothing. These words are most probably to be connected with what precedes. The Apostle considered equality with his adversaries to be mere nothing.

2 Cor 12:12. Yet the signs of my apostleship have been wrought on you, in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Yet the signs, etc. Better, “Indeed, the signs,” etc. That St. Paul is not inferior to his enemies is placed beyond doubt by the way in which the Church of Corinth was founded.

The signs, or characteristic notes, of true Apostleship, i.e., the visible proofs of the mission of a true Apostle, were wrought by St. Paul among the Corinthians. The first of these signs was patience in bearing all things rather than come short of the mission entrusted to him (2 Cor 6:4; 11:23 ff.); secondly there were the signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds, i.e., the various miracles, which God wrought through him in confirmation of his preaching at Corinth. All of St. Paul’s great Epistles bear witness to the miracles he worked to confirm his doctrine. “It is simply impossible that evidence of this kind for the special purpose for which it is adduced should be otherwise than true. It is given quite incidentally; it is not didactic, i.e., it is no part of an argument the object of which is to produce a belief in miracles; it refers to notorious matter of fact, to fact equally notorious for St. Paul himself and for those to whom he is writing; it shews that he could appeal to it without fear of being challenged” (Sanday).

2 Cor 12:13. For what is there that you have had less than the other churches, but that I myself was not burthensome to you? Pardon me this injury.

 Another reason why the Corinthians should have defended the Apostle was that they had been witnesses and recipients of the same benefits as other Churches. He had exercised even greater regard for them by not burdening them with his support, but since they have been induced by his enemies to consider this as an injury done them, he sarcastically asks pardon for it. That he is speaking in sarcasm is clear from the following verse where he says he will continue this injury of taking nothing for his support.

2 Cor 12:14. Behold now the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burthensome unto you. For I seek not the things that are yours, but you. For neither ought the children to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

 Irony now gives place to earnest affection. Being their spiritual father St. Paul will continue not to seek the temporal goods of the Corinthians, but themselves.

Behold now the third time, etc. Better, “Behold this is the third time,” etc. In view of 2 Cor 13:1 this can only mean that the forthcoming visit to Corinth would be his third. See on 2:1; Introduction, I.

 That St. Luke does not mention St. Paul’s second visit “in sorrow” (2 Cor 2:1) to the Corinthians is no more to be wondered at than his failure to speak of the Apostle’s visit to Arabia (Acts 9:20-26; cf. Gal. 1:17).

2 Cor 12:15. But I most gladly will spend and be spent myself for your souls; although loving you more, I be loved less.

 So great is his affection for the Corinthians that he is willing to spend all he has, including his life, for their souls. This he will gladly do, in spite of their want of affection for him. Some critics make the second clause here independent, and read it interrogatively: “If I love you more abundantly, am I to be loved the less?”

2 Cor 12:16. But be it so : I did not burthen you : but being crafty, I caught you by guile.

 The Apostle makes his adversaries speak. They will say: “Granted that you yourself did not take money from us, yet you were cunning enough to get it out of us through your legates. You did not burden us, but you got others to do so.”

2 Cor 12:17. Did I overreach you by any of them whom I sent to you?

 This verse makes it clear that St. Paul had already sent several of his disciples to Corinth.

Overreach you, by extorting money from you.

2 Cor 12:18. I desired Titus, and I sent with him a brother. Did Titus overreach you? Did we not walk with the same spirit? did we not in the same steps?

 What mission of Titus is referred to here? Perhaps we shall encounter fewest difficulties if we suppose three visits of Titus to Corinth: (a) an earlier one in which he and a brother, literally, “the brother,” started the collection for the poor in Jerusalem, to which the present passage and 2 Cor 8:6 seem to allude; (b) the visit following the painful letter (2 Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13); ( c ) the visit on which he and two brethren were to complete the collection (2 Cor 8:6, 17, 18, 22).

Did we not walk, etc., i.e., were we not the same in spirit and outward conduct?

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 

St. Paul has just proved that he far excels his enemies in the way he has exercised his Apostolic ministry and in the tribulations he has suffered for the Gospel. But in a third particular he has still more surpassed them, namely, in the extraordinary gifts with which he has been favored by God. For the sake, therefore, of giving greater proof of his divine commission, and incidentally to confound his adversaries further, he now speaks of his visions and revelations. He might give many instances, but he prefers, out of humility, to give only one, which, however, is a very striking one. It is more pleasing to him to rejoice in his infirmities and to be judged by his labors and preaching, than to glory in his visions. And since it has pleased God to visit him with heavy crosses, lest he should be puffed up by the magnitude of his revelations, he will glory in his infirmities by which he merits the divine assistance.
2 Cor 12:1. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed) : but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord.

Of the various readings of this verse the following is the most likely: “I must needs glory (Καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ, = kauchasthai dei): it is not indeed expedient, but I will come to visions,” etc. The first clause is also written by good authorities with an interrogation: “Must I needs glory?” The Apostle is forced to glory, although he knows that glorying as a rule is not good.

Visions and revelations may refer here to the same manifestations, although they are by no means to be identified, generally speaking. A vision usually takes place in a state of ecstasy or of rapture, and the one favored with it does not always understand the meaning of the things he sees. A revelation, on the contrary, always implies the unfolding of some truth in such a way that he to whom it is accorded not only sees, but understands the meaning of what he sees. Revelation, therefore, includes vision, but vision does not necessarily imply revelation (St. Thomas, h. 1.).

If (Vulg., si) should be omitted.

2 Cor 12:2. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up to the third heaven.

A man, i.e., St. Paul himself. Humility leads him to speak in the third person.

In Christ, i.e., a Christian, one united to Christ by faith and Baptism.

Above fourteen years, i.e., fourteen years previous to the time he was writing, which would be around 43-44 a.d., if this Epistle was written around 57-58 a.d.

Above is not expressed in the Greek.

Whether in the body, etc. St. Paul is certain of the fact of his having been transferred to heaven, but where his body was he does not know. Perhaps his soul was entirely separated from his body and transferred to heaven; or it may be that he was transferred both body and soul into heaven, or that while remaining in the body he was altogether abstracted from the senses. At any rate, it is certain that his senses had no part in the vision.

The third heaven doubtless means the abode of the blessed; but what is intended by third is only a conjecture. The Jews were accustomed to distinguish three heavens, of which the first was our atmosphere, the second the region of the stars, and the third the dwelling-place of the Almighty, where God is seen as He is in Himself. Probably St. Paul was accommodating himself to this mode of speaking, in order to say that he was in the actual presence of God.

2 Cor 12:3. And I know such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth):
2 Cor 12:4. That he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter.

Some authorities, with Irenaeus, Tertullian, Gregory the Great, and many others think there is question here of another event entirely distinct from the preceding one. They say that St. Paul was elevated “to the third heaven, and thence to paradise” (Clement of Alex., Strom, v. 12). In this opinion “the third heaven” could not mean the presence of God, or, at least, not the actual enjoyment of that presence. The majority of exegetes, however, hold with St. Augustine and St. Thomas that the Apostle is speaking here and in the preceding verse of one and the same event, and that “paradise” is mentioned to express the delights which the Apostle experienced in the third heaven.

Paradise means literally a place of delights. Jewish ideas regarding it were not always uniform. Sometimes they applied it to the “Garden of Eden”; sometimes to the abode of the righteous below the earth; sometimes to heaven, the abode of blessed spirits with God. The last is certainly the meaning given the term here.

Secret words, i.e., unutterable words, things which the Apostle could speak, but which it was not lawful to speak (Vulg.). St. Augustine, St. Thomas, and many others teach that St. Paul actually saw God and the divine essence at this time.

That the present incident is not to be identified with that of Acts 22:17 ff. is clear (a) from the fact that there no word is said about being caught up to heaven, while we are told what the Lord said to Paul; and (b) from the fact that the incident of Acts took place much earlier than the present one, that is, soon after the Apostle’s conversion.

2 Cor 12:5. For such a one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities.

St. Paul speaks of himself at present as of two persons, not only out of humility, but also because “he who was caught up to the third heaven and heard unspeakable words is a different Paul from him who says, “Of such a one I will glory” (Origen). “He speaks of a divided experience, of two selves, two Pauls: one Paul in the third heaven, enjoying the Beatific Vision; another yet on earth, struggling, tempted, tried, and buffeted by Satan” (Robertson). Regarding this latter Paul he will not glory, save in his infirmities.

2 Cor 12:6. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me.

For though I should have, etc. Better, “For if I should wish,” etc. It is not certain whether ἐὰν γὰρ θελήσω (= ean gar theleso)  is aorist subjunctive or future indicative. The Apostle means that if he should choose to boast about revelations which he has had, and which he has a right to disclose, he would not be foolish, because he would be telling what is true; but he abstains from doing so lest any should get a more exalted idea of him than their experience of his conduct and preaching would warrant: he prefers to be judged by his life and teaching, not by what he can truly tell of his privileges.

Anything (Vulg., aliquid) is omitted in the best Greek MSS.

2 Cor 12:7. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.

The text and the punctuation are uncertain here, but the general meaning is plain: Lest the Apostle should become proud on account of the extraordinary revelations granted him, there was given him some unusual bodily suffering of a very humiliating nature. Literally the verse should go somewhat as follows: “And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations—wherefore, that I should not be lifted up over much, there was given me a thorn in the flesh,” etc. The Apostle begins with the revelations, then suddenly breaks off with διό (= dio) wherefore (with B א A G). He is doubtless referring to the revelations, just spoken of, which he could truthfully disclose.

There was given me by God (St. Aug.) through the instrumentality of Satan. Naturally Satan’s purpose in afflicting the Apostle was not the same as God’s : God intended the repression of pride; Satan had some evil end in view.

A sting of my flesh. Literally, “A thorn in (or for) my flesh.” The word for “thorn” (σκόλοψ = skolops) here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is found four times in the LXX (Num. 33:55; Ezek 28:24; Hos 2:6; Sir 43:19), and always means a “thorn” or “splinter.” “There is no doubt that the Alexandrian use of σκόλοψ (= skolops) for ‘thorn’ is here intended” (Field, Otium Norvicense, III. p. 115). The idea conveyed is one of acute pain, looking back perhaps to Num. 33:55. Of course the expression is metaphorical; and hence what does the Apostle mean? The explanations have been many and various, but all, both ancient and modern, agree in this, that there is question of physical suffering of some kind. It is not certain, however, that the present passage and Gal. 4:13-14 refer to the same ἀσθένεια (= astheneia = infirmity sickness, etc.,), although this is commonly assumed.

That the “thorn” (Vulg., stimulus) here spoken of does not refer to temptations against purity, as most modern ascetical writers and many modern commentators believe, is proved beyond question by the following considerations: (a) Such a view was held by no Greek Father, nor by any Latin Father of the first six centuries; (b) St. Paul is speaking of something extraordinary, personal and permanent, which cannot be said of temptations to impurity; (c) he could not speak of glorying (verse 9), or of taking pleasure (verse 10) in carnal temptations. The “thorn in the flesh,” therefore, doubtless refers to some chronic physical malady, such as epilepsy, malarial fever, acute ophthalmia, or the like (St. Basil, St. Greg. Naz., St. Aug., St. Thomas, Cajetan, Corn., Le Camus, Light., Ramsay, Farrar, Plum., etc.).

An angel, etc., i.e., a messenger of Satan. The Apostle calls his malady a messenger or instrument of the devil very likely because it was inflicted by the evil one, with God’s permission, however.

To buffet me. Literally, “In order that he may buffet me” (ινα με κολαφιζη = hina me kolaphize) . The present tense is used to show the continual recurrence of the attack (St. Chrys.).

2 Cor 12:8. For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me.

For which thing, i.e., concerning this foe, i.e., the messenger of Satan, thrice I besought, i.e., the Apostle asked the Lord, i.e., Christ (verse 9) three times to be delivered from his affliction before he received the divine reply.

2 Cor 12:9. And he said to me : My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

And he said. Literally, “And he hath said.” The use of the perfect implies that the force of the reply continues.

My grace, etc. The request was refused, but something better was given, namely, grace, by which he could merit a supernatural reward.

Power, i.e., strength (δύναμις = dynamis), namely, of Christ. The power of God is most perfectly realized and appreciated when human strength is wanting, i.e., when weak human agents are made use of to accomplish great results.

Gladly therefore. Literally, “Most gladly therefore.” He means that he will most gladly glory in his infirmities rather than ask to be relieved from them, so that the power of Christ, sustaining and giving triumph by His grace, may continue with him. Thus the Apostle’s chronic illness would cause a continuous manifestation of divine power in him (MacR.).

2 Cor 12:10. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful.

For which cause, i.e., because the power of Christ is continually manifested in his infirmities the Apostle is content with all his sufferings.

For Christ. The Apostle not only endures his afflictions and trials, but he takes pleasure in them for Christ’s sake. It is when he himself is weak and unequal to the task before him that the strength of Christ’s grace is particularly manifested, helping him to accomplish what would naturally be impossible.

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

 The Apostle passes now from the severe condemnation just uttered against his adversaries to a further commendation of his own life and labors. Again (2 Cor 11:1), therefore, he craves the indulgence of his readers to hear him patiently, although he may seem to speak foolishly. He is simply forced to boast of himself because of the boasting of others and the toleration that has been given them. If those others can boast, then he also can boast. They glory in their Jewish origin, but he too is of the seed of Abraham; they vaunt their dignity as ministers of Christ, but he more than they is a minister of Christ. His greater sufferings and labors in behalf of the Gospel and the Churches are witnesses to his life and character.
2 Cor 11:16. I say again, (let no man think me to be foolish, otherwise take me as one foolish, that I also may glory a little).
There should be no parentheses here, as all the Greek and Latin Fathers admit. The Apostle is repeating the thought of verse 1, and hence he says, I say again. The meaning is: “I repeat it, let no one think me foolish ; but even if you do (εἰ δὲ μή γε), then bear with me as foolish, that I too (as well as my adversaries) may boast a little. The verse should be followed by a period.
2 Cor 11:17. That which I speak, I speak not according to God, but as it were in foolishness, in this matter of glorying.
The Apostle admits that what he is about to say in his own favor is not according to “the Lord” (icvpiov), i.e., is not in agreement with the general rule of our Lord, who enjoined humility and condemned self-praise in His disciples (Matt. 6:1-6; Luke 17:10; 18:11-14). But that this general rule does not apply in the present instance, when self-praise is needed to counteract the bad influence of his enemies (2 Cor 12:11), is clearly implied in the qualification, as it were, which the Apostle immediately adds. If the self-praise that follows were really unjustified then indeed it would be foolishness and “not according to the Lord”; but St. Paul has just said in the preceding verse that he is not foolish, even though his readers may think him so. Therefore, there can be no doubt about the rightfulness of speaking his own praises here, nor, consequently, of the inspiration of his words.
God (Vulg., Deum) should be “the Lord,” Dominion; and gloriae of the Vulgate should be gloriationis.
2 Cor 11:18. Seeing that many glory according to the flesh, I will glory also.
A first reason for his self-praise is given.
Many (πολλοὶ = polloi) seems to include more than the false teachers alone.
According to the flesh, i.e., in exterior, worldly things, such as, birth, wealth, learning, circumcision, Hebrew parentage and the like (St. Chrys.). In these things the false teachers gloried.
I will glory also. The Apostle will show his readers that these things were not wanting to him either.
2 Cor 11:19. For you gladly suffer the foolish; whereas yourselves are wise.
Another reason why he has a right to glory is furnished by the conduct of the Corinthians toward the false teachers, whose foolishness in praising themselves they gladly suffer. Of course they were enabled to do this, the Apostle sarcastically observes, because they were so wise. It is a characteristic of wisdom to be tolerant of foolishness.
2 Cor 11:20. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face.
So extraordinary was the wisdom of the Corinthians that they tolerated far worse things than folly. They put up with tyranny, with extortion, with craftiness, with arrogance, with violence and insult from their seducers. Surely they can bear with the Apostle’s foolishness.
Bondage likely refers to the yoke of the Law which the false teachers were trying to impose.
Devour you, i.e., exact large remunerations for their services (cf. Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).
Take from you, i.e., ensnare you, by preaching the Gospel for fraud and personal gain (2 Cor 2:17; 2 Cor 4:2; 2 Cor 12:16).
If a man be lifted up, i.e., uplifteth himself, by extolling his descent from Abraham.
If a man strike you, etc., i.e., treat you outrageously (Mark 14:65; Acts 23:2).
2 Cor 11:21. I speak according to dishonour, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also.
The Apostle sarcastically admits that he and his companions were inferior to the Judaizers in certain respects, such as, in bringing the Corinthians into bondage, in robbing them, and the like. With biting sarcasm he confesses his dishonour, i.e., his disgrace, in being so weak in matters like these.
Wherein if any man, etc. Rather, “Wherein any man dare,” etc. Casting aside all sarcasm now St. Paul says that if there is question of real boldness, at any time, or on the part of any person, he also is bold. He thus asserts his equality with any of his enemies, although his humility makes him call this assertion foolish.
The words in this part (Vulg., in hac parte) are not represented in the best MSS.
2 Cor 11:22. They are Hebrews: so am I. They are Israelites: so am I. They are the seed of Abraham: so am I.
To show that he is in nowise inferior to his adversaries St. Paul now takes up the various points which they, no doubt, had been urging in their own favor. They were Hebrews, i.e., descendants of the Hebrew race (Gen 11:14-15 the word Hebrew means “descendant of Eber”); they were Israelites, i.e., from among the chosen people of God (Exodus 19:5-6; Rom 9:4) ; they were of the seed of Abraham, to whom the Messianic promises had been made (Rom 9:5-8; Gal 3:16). To all these distinctions the Apostle asserts his equal claim.
2 Cor 11:23. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise): I am more; in many more labours, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.
The false teachers had boasted that they were in a special sense ministers of Christ, but St. Paul affirms that he is much more so. They pretended to be διακονοι χριστου (diakonoi christou), but he was so in reality.
I speak as one less wise. Literally, “I speak as one beside himself.” He apologizes for language which his readers may think extravagant.
The Apostle’s greater labors and sufferings are a proof of his superior claims. He labored more abundantly, he was imprisoned more frequently, he was scourged more often, he was exposed to death on more occasions.
St. Paul does not mean his words to be taken in a relative sense, as if implying that his opponents had labored, were imprisoned, had been scourged, etc., but that he had done and suffered more: his words here express an absolute, and not merely a relative excess.
One instance of imprisonment before this Epistle is given in Acts 16:20-40; but Clement of Rome speaks of seven in all (1 Clement 5:6). From the Acts and the Epistles we know definitely of only four: the one at Philippi, one at Caesarea, and two in Rome.
2 Cor 11:24. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one.
The Apostle here and in the following verse gives some examples of his sufferings and exposure to death. He was scourged five times by the Jews. Each scourging consisted, according to law, of forty stripes (Deut 25:3); but in order not to exceed the number the Jews usually administered only thirty-nine, thirteen on the bare breast, and thirteen on each shoulder. The scourge was made of leather thongs. Sometimes these severe floggings resulted in death.
Of these scourgings of the Apostle by the Jews we have no other record.
2 Cor 11:25. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea.
Beating with rods was a Roman form of punishment, and there was no legal limit to the number of blows. Only one of these beatings of St. Paul has been recorded by St. Luke in the Acts (Acts 16:22-23). Our Lord was scourged according to the Roman method (John 19:1).
Stoned, at Lystra (Acts 14:18).
Thrice I suffered shipwreck. We have no other record of this. The shipwreck on the way to Rome was several years later (Acts 27:39-44).
A day (νυχθημερον = nychthēmeron) means a full day of twenty-four hours.
I was. Literally, “I have passed” (πεποιηκα = pepoieka) , as in Acts 20:3.
The depth of the sea (εν τω βυθω = en to bytho). Better, “In the sea.” The term βυθω (bytho) means the deep, the sea. We know nothing further of this incident, but perhaps Theodoret gives the right explanation: “The hull of the vessel went to pieces, and all night and day I spent, being carried hither and thither by the waves.” He was likely clinging to pieces of the wreckage.
2 Cor 11:26. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren.
The general meaning is that St. Paul was often in divers perils throughout his journeyings. Much of the countries through which he passed, especially in Asia Minor (Strabo) was beset with robbers. Waters. Literally, “rivers.” Bridges and ferries were rare in those times, and floods were frequent.
False brethren doubtless refers chiefly to the Judaizers (Gal. 2:4).
2 Cor 11:27. In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
He now enumerates a number of sufferings which resulted from his poverty.
Labour and painfulness very probably refer to earning his own living by manual work (1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8).
Fastings coming immediately after hunger and thirst which must have been involuntary afflictions, doubtless means “fastings” freely suffered.
In cold and nakedness, as when robbed, cast into prison, and drenched by floods, storms and the like.
2 Cor 11:28. Besides those things which are without: my daily instance, the solicitude for all the churches. .
Those things which are without (των παρεκτος = ton parektos). This is a strange expression. παρεκτος (parektos) occurs elsewhere only in Matt 5:32; Acts 26:29, where it has the sense of exception. The meaning here, then, is perhaps: “things left unmentioned” (St. Chrys., and other Greeks). St. Paul, therefore, is speaking of three classes of sufferings: those which he has mentioned, those which he omits, and those which he is about to mention (Plum.).
My daily instance, i.e., that which daily presses upon me. This seems to be the meaning of επιστασις (= epistasis), the best Greek reading here, followed by μου (= moi). In classical Greek επιστασις (epistasis) means a halt, a stopping for rest (Xen., Anab. II. iv. 26). The Apostle is referring to the ceaseless daily appeals for help, advice, decision in difficulties and the like, made to him by the faithful (Cornely, Bisping, etc.).
The solicitude, etc., his watchful care of all the Churches which he has founded.
All (πασων = pason) might even embrace other Churches than those founded by St. Paul, but certainly can not mean that he had supreme jurisdiction over all Christendom.
2 Cor 11:29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire?
Two illustrations are now given of the Apostle’s solicitude for the Churches. New converts were sometimes naturally weak in faith, conduct or the like (1 Cor 8:10-13), and St. Paul made their trials his own in order to strengthen them. Some, too, were easily scandalized, i.e., led into sin by others’ example, and this gave the ardent Apostle intense pain (1 Cor 12:26). We have to determine the exact meaning of πυρουμαι (= pyroumai), I am on fire, from the context, which here is in favor of keen pain rather than of indignation, although the latter is not excluded.
2 Cor 11:30. If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity.
The present verse is closely connected with what has preceded (2 Cor 11:23-29) and with what follows, and it refers to both. Since his adversaries, by their own conduct, force the Apostle to boast, he will not glory, as they do, in his birth, prosperity, ancestry, or the like, but rather in his infirmities.
2 Cor 11:31. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not.
Lest his readers may be growing doubtful of all he has said and is going to say, the Apostle now solemnly swears by the Father Almighty that what he is saying is true.
The God and Father, etc. See on 1 Cor. 15:24.
Who is blessed for ever refers to the Father.
Our (Vulg., nostri) and “Christ” (Vulg., Christi) are not represented in the best Greek MSS.
2 Cor 11:32. At Damascus, the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me.
In this and in the following verse we have an example of those abrupt transitions so characteristic of this letter. To say that they are therefore a gloss and are to be omitted, as some Rationalists do, is absurd. Perhaps the Apostle’s enemies had pointed to his flight from Damascus and to his visions (2 Cor 12:1) as proofs that he was both a coward and a mad man, and this would explain why he takes up those two incidents.
Damascus . . . the city of the Damascenes (Acts 9:23-25), the capital of Syria, goes back to the days of Abraham (Gen 14:15) and was founded by Uz, grandson of Sem (Josephus, Antiq. L. vi. 4). It is situated at the eastern foot of the Anti-Libanus on the high road of commerce between Egypt and Upper Syria and between Tyre and the Far East.
The governor, etc. Literally, “The ethnarch of Aretas the king.” Aretas IV was King of Arabia Nabataea 9 B.C. to 40 a.d., with Petra as his capital. His daughter was married to Herod Antipas, and was afterwards divorced by Herod for the sake of a marriage with Herodias (Mark 6:17). How Damascus was subject to the Arab King shortly after St. Paul’s conversion is not easy to explain; for Syria was a Roman province from some time before the Christian era until 33 a.d., as is proved by the fact that Damascene coins from 30 B.C. to 33 a.d. bear the name of Augustus or of Tiberius. These coins are wanting from 34 to 62 a.d., but after 62 we have them with Nero’s name.
We know from Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 4, 5) that Herod Antipas and Aretas became bad friends when Herod divorced the latter’s daughter in order to marry Herodias, and that in a battle over some frontier disputes around 32 a.d. Aretas completely defeated Herod. A few years later, in 37 a.d., Caligula became Emperor. He disliked Antipas, and perhaps showed his antipathy by giving Damascus over to his enemy Aretas. This would explain how the latter was governor of that city when St. Paul had to fly from it.
Guarded the city, etc. St. Luke (Acts 9:24) says that the Jews “watched the gates day and night, that they might kill him,” but this is no contradiction of the present passage. Since it was the Jews who moved the ethnarch to persecute St. Paul they would naturally watch the gates of the city together with Aretas’ guards because they had determined to kill the Apostle (Acts 23:12).
2 Cor 11:33. And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands.
This same incident is narrated in Acts 9:23-25.
A window. Literally, “an aperture” (θυριδος = thyridos). An opening in the wall around the city of Damascus is still shown as the place.
The flight from Damascus probably took place after St. Paul’s return from Arabia (Gal 1:17). If St. Luke seems to make it follow soon after the Apostle’s conversion, it is because he omits explicit mention of the retirement to Arabia, although he leaves room for it (cf. Acts 9:19).

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:7-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions. 

A Summary of
2 Corinthians 11:7-15 

Although St. Paul had a right to temporal support from the faithful, he willingly surrendered this for the sake of greater reward and greater success in his preaching (1 Cor. 9:1-18). The false teachers, however, observed the contrary practice. They not only took support from the faithful, but they pointed to St. Paul’s way of acting as unbecoming an Apostle and as a sign that he was not a true Apostle. Beginning, therefore, to show, not only his equality with his adversaries, but his vast superiority to them, the Apostle recalls first to the Corinthians the integrity of his life among them. He then goes on to say that he will continue to preach the Gospel gratis in Achaia, so that his enemies will not be able to boast at least this equality with him; they are not true Apostles anyway, but ministers of Satan.

2 Cor 11:7. Or did I commit a fault, humbling myself, that you might be exalted? Because I preached unto you the gospel of God freely?

 The Apostle now asks if he was blameworthy in working for his support at his own humble handicraft (1 Cor. 4:12; Acts 18:3), in order to be of no expense to the faithful while preaching the Gospel to them.

That you might be exalted, i.e., that you might be raised from the depths of paganism to the sanctity of faith and grace, and to the dignity of Christianity.

2 Cor 11:8. I have taken from other churches, receiving wages of them for your ministry.

 Here St. Paul says that, in addition to working with his own hands while at Corinth, he took, literally, robbed (ἐσύλησα = esylesa), from other churches, i.e., he allowed the Churches of Macedonia to give him more than they could well afford towards helping his work among the Corinthians. Thus his mission to Achaia was supported partly by his own labor, partly by assistance received from Macedonia.

For your ministry, i.e., for my work among you.

2 Cor 11:9. And, when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was wanting to me, the brethren supplied who came from Macedonia; and in all things I have kept myself from being burthensome to you, and so I will keep myself.

Wanted, i.e., he was in want.

The brethren, i.e., Silas and Timothy (Acts 18:1, 5).

And so I will keep myself shows the Apostle’s approval of his past practice and his determination to continue it for the future in Achaia.

2 Cor 11:10. The truth of Christ is in me, that this glorying shall not be broken off in me in the regions of Achaia.

 The Apostle appeals to his own sincerity, which is grounded on the truth of Christ within him, that he will never permit anything to hinder, literally, block (φραγήσεται = phragesetai) , his boasting that he was not a temporal burden to the faithful of Achaia.

2 Cor 11:11. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth it.

 St. Paul’s enemies had likely said that he did not accept temporal assistance from the Corinthians because he did not like them well enough to wish to be under obligations to them. The truth was that he wished them to understand that his ministry among them was one of love, and not of earthly gain. This God knew.

2 Cor 11:12. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off the occasion from them that desire occasion, that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

Wherein they glory. The false teachers took remuneration for their labors (verse 20; 1 Cor. 9:12), and apparently gloried in it, or in the amount they received, thinking their collections were a sign of approval on the part of the faithful. “They would gladly have had St. Paul for an example to quote and a rival to meet on this ground; and that is the occasion which he says he is resolved to cut off” (Rickaby).

2 Cor 11:13. For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

For such false, etc. Better, “For such men as these are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”

2 Cor 11:14. And no wonder : for Satan himself transformed himself into an angel of light.

 It is not wonderful that the false teachers can simulate the actions and preaching of true Apostles, because even Satan, the prince of darkness (Luke 22:53; Col. 1:13; Eph. 6:12), can, with God’s permission, transform himself into an angel of light, i.e., can appear to be a good angel, for the purpose of seducing men.

2 Cor 11:15. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of justice, whose end shall be according to their works.

His ministers, i.e., the false teachers, the Judaizers, who were champions of the Law, which St. Paul declared was abrogated.

Ministers of justice, i.e., the true Apostles who, through the preaching of the Gospel, enabled men to become just and holy in God’s sight. The false teachers may deceive men, but God in the end will deal with them according to their evil lives and works.

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.

A Summary of
2 Corinthians 11:1-6 

After having forcefully vindicated his Apostolic authority against his adversaries the Apostle now draws a comparison between himself and them for the sake of refuting them more completely. He shows how far superior to them he really is, and how unworthy they are of the esteem and authority they have enjoyed among the Corinthians. Beginning, therefore, to praise himself he asks the indulgence of the faithful and explains his reasons. In speaking of himself he seeks only the good of his converts who are exposed to the danger of being led into error. He has a right, however, to glory because he is in nowise inferior, at least in knowledge, to his opponents who extol themselves so excessively.

2 Cor 11:1. Would to God you could bear with some little of my folly: but do bear with me.

 St. Paul asks the toleration of his readers while he indulges in some little . . . folly, literally, “in a little bit of foolishness,” i.e., self-praise. His adversaries have praised themselves to an extreme degree, but he will say only a little in his own behalf.

Do bear (ἀνείχεσθέ = aneichesthe) may be indicative or imperative. If indicative, as the Greek Fathers think, the Apostle corrects what he has just spoken of as an impossible wish: “Would to God you could . . . but indeed you do bear,” etc. More probably the imperative is correct, as appears from the following verse, where a reason is assigned for the petition.

2 Cor 11:2. For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God. For I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

I am jealous. So ardent and elevated is the Apostle’s feeling for the Corinthians that he is sure they will bear with him in his folly; for in praising himself he is not seeking his own glory, but only their salvation and security against seduction.

With the jealousy of God, i.e., the jealousy or zeal which St. Paul entertained for the Corinthians was similar to that which God had for the people of Israel, and which He now has for Christians. Like a father or friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29), the Apostle had espoused the Corinthian Church to one husband, i.e., to Christ, through faith and Baptism, and he hoped to present her on the day of judgment as a chaste virgin, i.e., as free from corruption in faith, to her heavenly Spouse.

 This verse, as in 2 Cor 10:13-17, is a clear proof that the Apostle is addressing the whole Corinthian Church, and not the disloyal faction only. This, however, does not mean that the third part of the Epistle (2 Cor 10:1-13:10) was not intended chiefly for the Apostle’s adversaries. Those who were guilty knew to whom his words applied.

2 Cor 11:3. But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted, and fall from the simplicity that is in Christ.

As the serpent seduced Eve. See Gen. 3:1-6. The Church of Corinth, as a second Eve, is espoused to Christ, the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). She must beware lest, like Eve, she listen to the voice of the same tempter, who ever lieth in wait to deceive, and so lose the privileges she was destined to enjoy (Lias).

The simplicity, etc., should read, as in the best MSS., “The simplicity and the purity (καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος = kai tes hagnotetos) that is towards Christ,” i.e., the simple and pure teachings of the faith of Christ. A local Church, like that of Corinth, might fall away from the pure faith of Christ, but the universal Church can never fail (Matt. 16:18).

So (Vulg., ita) is not in the best MSS.

2 Cor 11:4. For if he that cometh preacheth another Christ, whom we have not preached; or if you receive another Spirit, whom you have not received; or another gospel which you have not received; you might well bear with him.

 This verse has received many explanations, of which we give the two most natural and probable, (a) If he that cometh to you as a teacher, could preach another Christ, literally, “another Jesus,” different from that whom we have preached to you, or if at his preaching you could receive another Spirit and other gifts superior to those received at our preaching, or if he could announce to you another gospel more sublime than that which we have announced, you might well bear with him, i.e., listen to and follow him. Such, however, is not the case, since there is only one Jesus, only one Spirit and only one Gospel (2 Cor 11:5; Gal. 1:6-9). Therefore you have abandoned without reason our teaching, to go after false teachers.

He that cometh (ὁ ἐρχόμενος = ho erchomenos) does not mean a particular individual, but refers to a class of intruders, namely, the Judaizers.

 This is the older interpretation of the present verse. But modern scholars give another explanation, (b) I, says the Apostle (verse 3), have good reason to fear for you; for if a false apostle comes to you and preaches a different doctrine about Christ from that preached by me, or tells you that the converts of the other Apostles have received gifts superior to yours, or teaches that the Gospel announced by the other Apostles contains conditions of salvation other than those I have announced, you have borne (ἀνήχεσθε = anechesthe, as in א D G K L M P) with him finely (καλῶς = kalos). The past tense is used, you have borne, to indicate that such a condition did exist, but not now any longer. We prefer the first interpretation.

2 Cor 11:5. For I suppose that I have done nothing less than the great apostles.

 If the false teachers had really been superior to St. Paul and had preached a more sublime Gospel, the Corinthians would have had reason to bear with them. But such was not the case. St. Paul affirms that he is not in the least inferior to them in any way.

 In this interpretation, which harmonizes with the first explanation of the preceding verse, great apostles is used ironically, as of those who would be great, or were considered great. If the expression “great apostles” be referred to the twelve, this verse agrees rather with the second interpretation of the preceding verse. It is doubtful if there is here any reference to the older Apostles, Peter, James and John; but if there is, the Apostle is referring to his spiritual gifts and right to preach, and not to any authority to govern the Church as a whole.

2 Cor 11:6. For although I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but in all things we have been made manifest to you.

 Here the reference is plainly to the false teachers, who perhaps were more polished and elegant in their use of language than was St. Paul, but who were by no means his superior in knowledge (1 Cor. 1:5). The Apostle speaks modestly; but it may be that he is referring to what his opponents say about his speech, without admitting that they are right. Perhaps he wishes to allow that he is not a polished orator (1 Cor. 2:1, 4).

 That St. Paul is not inferior to any in knowledge of heavenly truths the Corinthians themselves are witnesses, because in all things, i.e., in all his actions and dealings with them, he has been made manifest, i.e., has been frank and open.

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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions. 

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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Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10:7-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.  

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 hos an can be combined 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.

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